During my personal blogging hiatus, I was spending a lot of my free time on Amazing Audiobooks and on running The Hub, but I did make some time to write — it just wasn’t here. In case you missed any of it and are some sort of Gretchen Completionist, here are my words, elsewhere:
I’m still settling in at my new job, so I thought I’d get back to blogging by writing about some of the things I wish I’d written about while I was learning and growing in my previous position. Since the post I did on the Minecraft competition we held still gets me a lot of questions about how to do the same, I thought I’d write about another unusual, successful-by-some-metrics program.
Like all libraries, my last library had regulars. A particular group of regulars formed my core audience when I started to spin up programs: they were the ones who’d come to drop-in gaming and movie screenings regularly, so when I decided it was time to form a TAB, they were the first ones I went to, and they were my most faithful attendees.
As they got older and our teen services offerings grew, their use of the library changed (once they started driving, they did a lot less just hanging out!), but they were still the kids I knew best and the kids I could count on to come to things.
But it wasn’t just me counting on them, I was encouraged to discover. One day, one of these girls came to me and said that she and her friends had formed a paranormal investigation team, and while they had the equipment they needed and had done some investigations, they were having trouble getting access to other locations because grownups weren’t really interested in a bunch of teens running around on their property after dark. They wanted to know if they could incorporate as a library club so I could help them talk to the adults at those places.
We’re halfway through November (already?!), which means we’re also halfway through National Novel Writing Month. My library’s never done any NaNoWriMo programs before (we do have a memoir writing group, though), so when one of my teen patrons asked this year if we were doing anything, I decided we’d give it a try!
Our NaNoWriMo support has been a collaboration between me and the adult services department and I’m happy with how things have gone so far. We have a pretty cool Municipal Liaison who’s willing to work with us, so on the first Saturday of the month, we hosted a meet-up for participants and the head of reference and I talked about library resources one might use to research a novel and resources for teen writers specifically. Exactly half of the people at the meet-in were teens, and it went well!
This Saturday we’re hosting a write-in (five hours of NaNoWriMo participants cranking out words), which is mostly just going to be us providing space. We’ve also created book displays about writing that’ll be up for the entire month. If you want to read a bit more about our NaNoWriMo support, I’ve written a post about it for the YALSAblog.
How is your library supporting NaNoWriMo this year?
Logo designed by and stolen from the Indie Librarian
I’m participating in the Library Day in the Life Project (now in its seventh round) this week. To quote the project wiki, “the Library Day in the Life Project is a semi-annual event coordinated by Bobbi Newman of Librarian by Day. Twice a year librarians, library staff and library students from all over the globe share a day (or week) in their life through blog posts, photos, video and Twitter updates.”
Since I worked on Saturday, I had today off, so I’m going to talk about what I did on Saturday and the librarian-ish things I did today. (more…)
Last weekend my library hosted a Minecraft competition that has been my most successful program to date. I don’t think there are a lot of other public libraries out there who have done much Minecraft-related programming, so I thought I’d write about what we did, how we did it, and how it worked.
For the uninitiated: Minecraft is a “sandbox game,” which means it’s an open-ended environment in which the player comes up with his or her own objectives and then sets out to achieve them. In Minecraft, the world is made up of cubes of different materials and the player can harvest those materials and combine them in different configuration to build tools, other building materials, furniture, food, and different kinds of mechanisms. The focus of the game is exploration and creativity and people have done some really awesomestuff with it. (more…)
Find the Future is so great on so many levels. For library lovers, it’s an awesome way to get to know the library better, to have a unique experience with the library, and to contribute something to the collection. For New Yorkers who are into writing or social media or scavenger hunts or games or going on quirky missions, this is an awesome way to show them that the library can be a cool place for cool things. And for people across the country, this is a stellar way to showcase what libraries are, what they have, and what they can be about. (And non-library people did take notice: Laura Miller wrote a piece for Salon called Why libraries still matter about… well, just that, focusing on NYPL specifically.) We need to talk about what we do and we need to be out in the community and offer unique, relevant things. Find the Future is such a fabulous intersection of libraries and community and games and the more I read, the more excited I was about it.
And then I found out that an acquaintance-whom-I’d-like-to-make-into-a-friend, former IRS employee, crusader for social justice, and trained fire marshall Jen Bokoff, was to be one of those lucky 500 people! She is super excited about it, and I’m really happy that she agreed to let me interview her before and afterward. I’m curious about the game itself, but I’m especially interested in Jen’s perspective on libraries–and whether or not it changes after her epic experience this weekend. (more…)
September’s drawing to a close, but there are still a few days left in the YALSA blog’s 30 Days of Back to School. My latest post is about working with non-YA librarians:
In my last post, I talked about my job search and mentioned that I had an interview the next day. I was lucky enough to be offered that job (yay!) and had my first week at work last week. The library where I’m now working has never had a dedicated YA librarian before and I’m excited about developing great teen services, but there’s only so much I can do as just one person. Many YA librarians find themselves on something of a team of one, the only professional at their libraries dedicated to serving teens. When we’re not at the desk or in the building, taking care of teens’ reference questions and readers’ advisory requests falls to non-YA staff members.
That’s right! I got a job! I’m now the Teen Services Librarian at the New Canaan Library in New Canaan, Connecticut. I think the library and I are a good match for one another, and I’m so excited to finally putting into practice everything I learned during my MLS and my work while I was a library student and all of the great ideas I’ve seen on listservs and blogs. And I’m looking forward to doing so in collaboration with my non-YA coworkers! Click through for my thoughts on the necessity of collaboration and working with librarians in adult services and children’s services.
Craft programs usually go over pretty well with teens and if you’re smart about where you get your supplies, they don’t have to be expensive events. A couple of projects have caught my eye recently and I thought I’d share them.
Henna programs (with permission slips if necessary) come up on the listservs every few months or so. Instructables user creativegirlz has detailed instructions and pictures.
James and Sylvia at Make show you how to make your own crazy putty. This one involves Borax and it might be a little ambitious, but for libraries with particularly crafty (or mad scientist-like!) teens, this could be a fun project.
Upcycling (using items you were planning to discard and transforming them into something new) is a great way to cut down on craft program costs. If you’ve done t-shirt surgery programs already and you’re looking for another way to put old t-shirts to use, Michelle, a first-year MFADT student at Parsons, shows you how you can turn an old t-shirt into a grocery bag (or a purse for teens).
When my Youth Services class visited the Greenwood (IN) Public Library in February, one of the things assistant children’s services department head Anne Guthrie mentioned in passing was that you could make your own finger puppets by cutting open a small stuffed toy and sewing in the fingertip of a glove. I loved the DIY aspect of this and was struck by how easy and clever it was, so when we had to do an assignment that required us to plan a library program in detail (like, fifteen-page-writeup level detail!), I outlined a preschool storytime with a “tails” theme and created mice finger puppets that could be used as manipulatives during a recitation of “Three Blind Mice” using Anne’s method.
They took me longer to make than I was expecting, but I think that was mostly due to lack of experience not only with making finger puppets like this but with sewing in general. Even for a domestic arts pro, though, it’d be tough to whip up a batch of 30 the night before a program. If your library has a strong volunteer group, especially including people with sewing experience, this could be a good project to farm out to them.
Blind Mice Finger Puppets
Materials: stuffed mice (I used cat toys from a local pet store), an old glove, fabric scraps for tails, a little bit of sew-on velcro, a seam ripper, needle, thread, and scissors
Mouse #1, pre-surgery
1. Using a seam ripper and scissors, cut a finger-sized hole in the bottom of the mouse. Pull out a fingertip-sized chunk of stuffing (and maybe catnip), but make sure to leave in enough stuffing for the toy to keep its shape.
This mouse's seam was reinforced with glue, hence the gross ragged edges around the edge of the fabric
2. Cut a fingertip off of an old glove. It helps to put on the glove, put your finger into the toy, and then mark around the bottom of the toy so you know how much to cut off. More tightly-fitting gloves work better than loose ones, and if you plan to have children use these as manipulatives, be sure to plan for little fingers.
Reminds me of my marching band days
3. Insert the glove fingertip into the toy and sew around the edges. A whipstitch is easy, but if you’re not using a thread color that blends in, it makes the fingerpuppet look a little like Frankenstein’s monster. I also recommend choosing toys made of a forgiving fabric; the knit mouse in my collection really showed off every mistake in cutting and stitching.
4. To create detachable tails, fold a rectangular bit of fabric in half (or in quarters with the raw edges on the inside) and sew the sides together. Then fold over a bit of the end of the tail and sew it down to create an elongated t-shape. Cut a piece of velcro to size, cut off the mouse’s original tail (if it has one), and sew the velcro onto the new tail and the mouse’s behind.
Removable tail--no carving knife necessary!
5. Repeat as many times as necessary to create your own nest/colony/harvest/horde/mischief of finger puppet mice.
My mischief of mice earned me an A!
While the storytime I planned was tail-themed, these could be reused for a more general animal storytime, a pets storytime (although the detachable tails are a little sad in that case!), or a nursery rhyme-themed program. They’re not too hard, especially once you’ve gotten a little practice, and they’re pretty cheap, too.