Archive for July, 2009

Bringing the teens in

GoGreenBag2Wednesday was my last teen program of the summer. My numbers haven’t been great but I’ve always just been happy to have more than one teen show up. The Improv program (that I mentioned in my last post) was my largest program to date.

This week we were making a “Go Green Bag” out of recycled magazines. I got the idea from the Teen Librarian at the Lane Library in Hamilton, Ohio (close to where my husband went to graduate school the first time). I came upon this idea while browsing their teen page when I was searching for craft ideas this past spring. I was curious what this bag was and how successful the program was so I emailed the Teen Librarian and she was kind enough to send me the directions that she had used. (I’ll post a photo of my bag soon.)

Last week I put together an example bag so that I could see where the teens might have problems and give them advice on making the bag. It took me a bit longer than an hour to put together so I also found another weaving pattern out of old magazines that I figured would work if the teens didn’t want to attempt the bag.

As I was working and after I finished my bag, my co-workers all kept commenting about how cool this bag was. One of them even asked for a copy of the directions. Tuesday afternoon I put the bag out on the counter for display hoping to promote the program. Then Wednesday came, I had no idea how many teens would show up. I figured I’d get a few semi-regulars which would have made a total of four so I set up for about eight. Then they just kept coming in and coming in. I ended up with a total of 13 and they were all so excited about making the bag. Three guys showed even showed up, two of them made the coasters, one made the bag.

Time was definitely an issue and I had no idea that they would all be so selective on what magazine pages they wanted to use in their bags. GoGreenBag5You only see blips of the pages once the bag is woven but a few of the younger girls were extremely concerned about the pages they chose to the point that they only got one out of five panels woven together.

This program was the perfect way to end the summer. Having a new library has definitely helped bring in new teens but even teens who came into the old library came to this program. We’ve even had adults asking for us to have a program on making this bag.


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It’s been quite a couple of weeks. On July 12 our new library building opened to the public. It was an amazing and exhausting experience. We have no idea how many people were actually there because our front doors were open for the first 45 minutes we were open and the little laser beam that measures as our gate has to be broken to count people. Well, there was never a time that it had a chance to reestablish to pick up all of the people coming in. It’s pretty amazing that the doors were open for a solid 45 minutes with people streaming in. I’ve posted photos of the opening on the website but they really don’t do the mob scene justice.

The first week we were open we were constantly busy and in the first 8 days we were open we made over 250 cards, 100 more than we usually do in one month. Things slowed down a bit this week but it was still super busy. It makes the time fly by but we’re all exhausted after our shifts.

Thank goodness that our planning for the programming went well and things were scheduled just right. For my first programs, we invited a guy from a local improv theatre to come in and do improv games with the kids. No craft to plan on my part! I wasn’t sure if I would participate but when I was talking to the guy, he said that the previous day the librarian had just sat in back and watched which felt really awkward to him. So I got in on the fun and the kids had a blast. I can’t recommend this program enough. The only planning on our part was scheduling him and giving him the ages of the kids he would be working with. He did the rest of the work and the kids loved it.

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Ah, what an important lesson…and one I’m learning about programming in the library all the time.  I’ve been on the job just exactly 2 months yesterday and have already  had my share of successes and not-so-much-successes in the programming area.  Yesterday though, I learned that it’s important to take a risk.

I’ve been doing programs every other Saturday this summer to varying success.  My first, for knitting, drew a pretty good crowd.  My second, for karaoke, only brought in three and I did the most singing.  Yesterday, I had scheduled a sidewalk chalking contest.

All week, I’ve been preparing myself mentally for low or no attendance.  I told myself that maybe this would be a better program for the school year so I could outreach to art classes.  I reminded myself that the chalk was a donation from Wal-Mart, so if no one came, at least I didn’t waste any money.  I was glad the prizes I bought could be recycled for use at a later program down the line, etc., etc., etc.

The program started at 2 yesterday and by 2:30, I had 8 teens chalking the sidewalk outside the library.  There were a total of 11 at the program (some just watching), but only one of the 11 was a teen who had previously attended my programs.

I guess I’m happy to have some validation to my suspicion that you can get more kids involved by giving them different kinds of opportunities.  My drop-in gaming has been an easy success and it’s great to see the same kids every week at that program, but it can also pay off to take a chance and offer something different for the kids who want it but would never ask.  Now the trick is just to figure out what works.  Now I can add chalking to the list of what works.

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Sorry for my lenghty blog hiatus…turns out summertime in the library is sort of insane.  I’ve been very sleepy at the end of my days!

So about a week ago, I had a volunteer who chose from a list of chores around the library to clean the grimy board books.  When I took her down to the Youth Department, the board books were all clean, so instead, the youth services manager asked her to hunt for “rats” in the picture book section.  She showed my volunteer examples of what a ratty picture book would look like (worn out spine, ripped pages, etc.) and then set the volunteer to work.  I returned to my task upstairs and the youth services manager went in to do a storytime.

About 30 minutes later, I get a call from one of the assistants in the youth department.

“Anna.  We have a very eager volunteer down here, but soon there aren’t going to be any books on the shelf to check out!  What should we do?”

My volunteer had pulled books only from A to C, but had about a book truck and a half FULL of picture books!  I simply asked her to organize them so they were all standing up (she had been piling to this point), telling her that this would be plenty to get the youth department started on replacing ratty books in the collection.  Then I sent her off to shelve some DVDs and paperbacks.

When the youth services manager came out of storytime we all had a good laugh as she pulled the equivilant of about one booktruck shelf from what the volunteer had classified as “rats.”  Later that day, after the volunteer was gone of course, I helped the staff in the youth department get all the books back to their rightful places on the shelf.

We’re learning all the time with this volunteer program, and on this particular day, I think we all learned a lesson about how you might think you’re explaining yourself fully, but to a 14-year-old, it’s about as clear as mud!

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Last Thursday, I had an amazing and crazy day. It was another Thursday with Kidscape (my weekly program for 6-11 year olds). At 1:50pm, a group of kids were waiting outside the door to the story room where we have our program. At 2pm, we were nearing capacity and 18 kids were sitting on the floor anxiously awaiting the program to start. Just before we started our weekly ice breaker, a few more kids came in. As we were playing the ice breaker game (name and title of your favorite book) more kids came in. By the end of the ice breaker there were so many kids in the room that they almost didn’t fit. Being quick on my feet I divided the group up between kids who were 9 and under and those that were older. It was definitely a challenge to manage about 35 kids in one small room that feels a bit crowded with 18 in the room.

I showed the kids how to make an 8-page comic book out of one sheet of paper and then showed them how to bind a simple book using a pamphlet stitch. With the two groups, one was binding books while the other was decorating their cover. I had planned to do a collage type of cover using old magazines but with so many kids we just broke out the markers and they didn’t know any different. Several of the younger kids had started to decorate the insides of their books too and they were annoyed with me when I told them that the pages went a different way than they had planned.

All in all it was a really successful program and the kids obviously loved their books. I had done a similar program with the teens on Wednesday and one of them showed me what she had done with her book later in the week.

This week has been all about moving to our new library. I don’t remember the last time I was this worn out. Even more tired and physically worn out than my first week on the job. It’s going well and the new library finally looks like a real library now that a lot of the books are there. By Friday we’ll be completely out of the old library, except for one more program in the gym upstairs. While it’s exciting to be part of a move to a new library, I’m not sure it’s something I want to do again for quite a while.

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