Library Services for Children Journal Club

I am so excited to announce a brand new way to keep up with professional development/reading: the Library Services for Children Journal Club!!!

This club is the brainchild of Jbrary’s Lindsey and her colleague, Christie. Every other month, Lindsey and/or Christie will pick a journal article or two based on a certain topic. November’s topic is on executive function, and future topics will focus on one of six research themes that include areas such as STEAM and community engagement.

The purpose of this club is to both promote professional development among individuals and to also encourage library staff to engage in professional dialogue. Those who are interested in participating can host a meeting in their community or they can participate online via blogs and Twitter.

While I don’t know about the rest of you, I have not been great about keeping up with scholarly research in our field. This is due to a lack of time and not a lack of interest. With this club, I hope to get my butt into gear and create a habit of reading up on research. I have already sent this idea out to my staff members and will have a group of people to hold me accountable to actually doing the reading (and, really, Lindsey and Christie are doing the hard work of finding the readings, which I very much appreciate!).

I’ll also be blogging about the various articles (if I have time) and will try to join the Twitter debate, though we all know I’m not great at Twitter.

If you’re interested, visit the Library Services for Children Journal Club website and see how you can get involved!

Advertisements

To Blog or Not To Blog

To Blog

You may have noticed that my blogging has slowed down. And, considering that I was never a frequent blogger in the first place, that’s sort of saying something.

I started this blog back in 2011, when I was still a brand new children’s librarian. Back then, blogging was easy. Storytime was a large part of my job (I was doing 3 different storytimes a week), and I had enough time to blog at work. Therefore, this blog was predominantly about storytime, and I was able to publish a few posts a month. Easy peasy.

When I moved to my current position 3 years ago, I didn’t know what to do with the blog. I didn’t have as many storytime plans to post (I basically do 1 storytime a month most months), and while I was doing lots of other fun things, those posts weren’t getting as many hits as my storytime posts. I also couldn’t blog at work anymore (unless it was on my break), so I found myself scrambling to write posts at home.

But a high-quality blog takes time and effort, and work/life balance when you work full time is both tricky and very important. Three years ago, I spent a lot of my outside of work time working on work-related stuff (blogging, making flannelboards, catching up on professional blog reading). I enjoyed (and still enjoy) doing all of those things but, as the months went on, I started to feel bogged down by how much of my life was centered around work and work-related stuff. So I started to cut back on how much work I do at home.

As I started cutting back on doing work-related stuff at home, I started filling my personal time with other activities. I exercise regularly. I meal plan. I volunteer. I’m studying Spanish. I started a book club with my three besties (which kind of ties in with work, except that we don’t read children’s books). And do you know what I’ve found? By having a better work/life balance, I am actually happier and more productive when I’m at work!

Several months ago, when it looked like I would be moving from salaried to hourly, I seriously considered giving up the blog all together. But the law didn’t go through, and it looks like I’ll remain salaried for the foreseeable future. And, honestly, I don’t think I could give up the blog. Maybe someday. But not right now. I love it too much, and I think it’s important that we keep ideas and information flowing in the profession.

I can’t promise that I’ll blog regularly. Personal time is too precious, and in addition to all of the things that I’ve mentioned before, I’m also house hunting this year. But I promise I’ll try not to leave you hanging. And maybe someday, as I continue to figure out this work/life balance thing, I’ll find a system that allows me to consistently blog at least once (maybe twice?) a month. Until then, I’ll just keep on keeping on.

I’m Going to Try a Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal

It has been a bumpy road for me and my bullet journal, and I haven’t even officially started yet!

When keeping a bullet journal first became super popular a few years back, I was torn between “Yes! This is right up my alley! I’m totally going to do this!” and “…But I kind of already do? But, like, on post-its and stuff?” So while everyone on the Internet started posting about their bullet journal habits, I continued to alternate between the conflicting feelings of “THIS IS SO AWESOME!” and “Why is everyone freaking out about this? It’s not a new concept. I do this already!”

And then I forgot about bullet journaling, almost completely…until a few weeks ago.

I was scrolling through Buzzfeed when I stumbled upon this post. Suddenly, my urge to bullet journal increased by leaps and bounds. I immediately grabbed the nearest notebook and pen and washi tape and got to work, only to discover that:

  1. I am not nearly artistic enough for a pretty bullet journal.
  2. I am not interested in a basic bullet journal. (It’s the Taurus in me; I love beautiful things.)
  3. I do not have time to invest in creating a pretty bullet journal.

I was just about to give up when I found this planner at Target. I picked it up on a whim [side note: I really need a chaperone in Target to keep me from picking up things on a whim] and immediately thought, “Hey, this could work for bullet journaling!”

This is a massive tome of a planner! It has a space in front for you to map out your big picture goals for the year, each month starts out with a monthly calendar, and each page is dedicated to a single day (excluding the weekends, which are smooshed together on one page). On each day page, there’s a place for your schedule, your to do list (with a separate place for your top three things to do), a notes section, a quote, a gratitude, and plenty of space for you to write other things.

Needless to say that my inner Taurus was very happy with this planner. So, yeah, I bought the (overly priced) planner. And I’m going to try the whole bullet journal thing in September. I’ll let you know how it goes.

P.S. Is it still bullet journaling if you use a planner?

Confessions of a Children’s Librarian

Shh! I have a librarian secret.

Well, I actually have many librarian secrets. And most of them probably aren’t even that scandalous of secrets, because I bet a lot of us probably feel this way. But still, there are a few things that I don’t mention out loud very often. And because I’m in a sharing mood, I figure I should go ahead and mention them here. So here you go…

Secret #1: I don’t care for a lot of today’s most popular children’s books…

Nope

I don’t get Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I couldn’t make it past more than a few pages in Geronimo Stilton because the cheese jokes were just too cheesy for me. I’m far too old to appreciate the potty humor in Captain Underpants. Monster High kind of scares me, simply because the monsters remind me of Bratz dolls (which also scared me back in the early 2000s). Speaking of things scaring me, don’t get me started on the bobblehead covers for the Who Was series… While I can appreciate the Minecraft game, some of the Minecraft fiction books have me lamenting the state of children’s literature. And can someone please tell me when Caillou is going to disappear for good?

…But I still get excited when I see children reading them.

Rey Dancing

What can I say? I’m a librarian. It doesn’t matter if I like the books or not. What’s important is whether or not the child I’m helping likes the books. So when a kid asks me for Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I’m all, “YEAH! Let’s see what kind of shenanigans Greg is getting up to in Old School!” And when someone else asks me for Monster High or the Who Was series I…admittedly don’t look at the covers…but I very happily hand them over. When someone asks me for Caillou…I manage not to cringe. Most of the time. And when I get to booktalk books that I actually like? Well, that’s just an added bonus.

Secret #2: I hate the evening shift…

I am all for library’s being open during the evening. And I understand that someone has to staff the desk at that time. But that doesn’t mean that I actually like it. I’m most productive in the mornings and early afternoons, so coming in at noon means that most of my productivity has vanished for the day. Don’t get me wrong, I still do stuff and try to make the best of it, but I spend most of the shift feeling apathetic and blah until it’s time to go home and I can wrap myself up in a blanket, eat pizza, and watch Netflix.

…But I love working on the weekends.

Lets Go

I get insanely excited when I have a weekend off, but when I do have to work weekends, I’m pretty okay with it. The library has a completely different atmosphere on Saturdays and Sundays. I mean, think about it, people can choose to go anywhere on their day off, and they choose the library!!! How awesome is that? Weekends at my library are typically packed and busy and full of book recommendations and crafts and trying to figure out why so many kids still love to play Roblox. And at the end of the shift, my coworkers and I all walk out of the building together (no 9 PM shifts on the weekends!).

Secret #3: I’m growing disillusioned with Summer Reading…

Miss Piggy No

Which is extra sad because Summer Reading is one of the cornerstones of children’s librarianship, and I’m only 5 years into my career. But I just can’t get myself all that excited over handing out trinkets. My library also hands out books as the 2nd and 3rd prizes, and that’s a little better (because I of course want to give away free books), but I feel that even book prizes are not that great for kids who are either developing or dormant readers. So I feel like Summer Reading is ultimately for the kids who would be reading anyway (either by choice or because their parents are forcing them). And that makes me sad.

…But more and more libraries are taking a look at changing their Summer Reading Programs

New Girl Excited

I don’t know what the answer is to the SRP problem, but I do know that there’s a lot of talk about SRP in the children’s librarianship field, and more and more people are agreeing that timesheets and trinkets may not be the way to go. In the meantime, I just have to keep reminding myself that SRP is doing some good! It is bringing kids into the library, and some of them definitely are reading (and reading lots!). So I’m just going to have to soldier on and continue to try to get kids excited about reading (even if reading for trinkets isn’t all that exciting).

Secret #4: Sometimes I suck at Reader’s Advisory…

Elmo Shrug

I love reader’s advisory, and I’m constantly trying to expand my knowledge of children’s literature. And, not to brag or anything, but there are definitely days when I am ON FIRE when it comes to connecting books to readers. But there are also days where I completely draw a blank. Days where I can’t think of the authors for some of the most popular books. Days when I can’t pinpoint exactly what kind of book the customer wants. Days when I do find a good book, but I can’t articulate why its a good book. Etc.

…But I am working on it.

Working

Reader’s advisory is just one of those things that you just have to practice, practice, practice. And I do. A lot. Like I said, I really enjoy it, so I really don’t mind spending time trying to familiarize myself with various genres and authors and books. RA is actually something that I’d like to talk more about on this blog, but I just don’t have the time right now. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I’m just going to have to keep practicing.

Secret #5: This one might get me in trouble but…I kind of think the MLS is just a piece of paper…

Sorry

I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s diploma (including my own), but…come on! Everything I learned about children’s librarianship, I learned on the job (because my focus wasn’t children’s librarianship in grad school). I also work with a lot of people who are AMAZING, but who don’t have an MLS. I did enjoy getting my MLS, and I will highly recommend my program to anyone who genuinely wants to get an MLS. But I ultimately feel like the MLS is an expensive piece of paper that divides the profession.

…But I LOVE continuing education!

Brand New Info

The ALSC classes I have taken were wonderful! I love webinars! I very happily read The Book Whisperer and From Cover to Cover and felt so enlightened about books and how we use them with children when I finished! I think it’s VERY important to continue to learn and grow in the profession. I just don’t think spending thousands of dollars on a piece of paper is necessarily the way to do it.*

*This is mostly for public libraries. I have no idea how this applies to academic or special libraries. I do kinda feel that if I became a corporate librarian after grad school, my business information classes would have been very beneficial. But I have a sneaky feeling that people could probably learn all of that stuff on the job too.

So there you have it, folks. My secrets. What are some of yours?

Working Hard!

I’m just popping in to say that I’m alive and well, and I haven’t abandoned this blog or anything.  We’re currently going through a bit of a slow period at work.  While I’m still doing preschool storytime on a weekly basis, I’m taking a break from posting them on this blog because I am typing up some entries that I have scheduled to post in January.  I will be the blogging queen in January (seriously, I already have 4 posts ready and scheduled to go, and I have more to work on).  But until then, I will be MIA.

Happy Holidays!

The Return of Storytime

Our Summer Reading program ended last week, which means that our regular preschool storytime resumes this week!  I’m super excited to be taking over storytime again.  We had a great two months of celebrity storytime, but I’ve been seriously missing flannelboards and fingerplays and reading picture books to preschoolers.  I’ve spent the past two weeks revamping my storytime routine, and I’ve added a few new components to it.

1.  Writing Activity.

As we all know, the new version of ECRR has an emphasis on writing.  However, incorporating writing into storytime can be a little tricky (but definitely doable; the more I think about it, the more ideas I get for it!).  So how am I going to add writing to the storytime curriculum?  Well, I went out and bought a small white board, and I plan to start each storytime (after the opening song, of course) with a question about our theme, and then I’ll write the children’s answers down on the white board!  I may be the one who’s doing the writing, but the children will be taking in the written words and learning that we write from left to right and from top to bottom.  They even might start recognizing a few sight words!

2.  Rhyme Cube.

Looking back at my past storytimes, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t sing enough!  To solve this problem, I made a rhyme cube with six rhymes/songs that the children will either already know or learn fairly quickly.  I also chose rhymes that I don’t incorporate regularly into storytime.  For example, we do variations of If You’re Happy and You Know It and The Hokey Pokey quite a lot.  Can you imagine singing If You’re Going to the Moon, Wear Your Boots and then rolling the rhyme cube and having it land on the original If You’re Happy and You Know It?  That would drive me crazy, so I stuck with songs we don’t use as often:  The Itsy Bitsy Spider, I’m a Little Teacup, The Noble Duke of York, This is the Way the Lady Rides, Twinkle, Twinkle and Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

3.  iPad Apps.

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to attend ALA Annual.  While I was there, I attended a session called There’s an App for That.  It was there that I learned about all the cool things we can do with iPads in our libraries.  By the end of the two hours, I was determined to buy my own iPad and start incorporating it into my storytimes.  I admit that I’m a bit nervous about this one.  However, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I intend to use the iPad in storytimes, and I have a plan.  Now I just need to see how it works out.  I’ll update more about this at a later date.