Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Quirky Craft Supplies

There are certain craft supplies most children's librarians have on hand: markers, construction paper, gluesticks, popsicle sticks, etc.  Lately I've had more obscure items come into my possession, and I'm pretty excited to use them in programs.
Okay, I know what you're thinking.  Beads are not quirky.  However, what I am showing you in the picture is merely the tip of the iceberg. I have a massive amount of beads.  One of my co-workers who is also an artist recently went through and sorted all of them, which took her about a week.  I'm hoping to use then in a program this spring.  I think my kids would enjoy making beaded animals--in fifth grade a made a lot of lizards just like the one pictured here.

Image found here

Drink umbrellas!  A co-worker had some of these leftover and gave me a handful. I can't decide if I want to craft with them or use them in a display at some point. What to do, what to do.

Imagine found here

And now, for our grand finale, my most bizarre but also my most awesome item: bowler hats that can fit into the palm of your hand!  As you can see from the above picture, these come with the gin that my father buys, and he decided to save them.  As soon as I saw them, I immediately knew I wanted to grab them and do something with them at the library.  I think I might use these in a snowman craft--some styrofoam balls, yarn, and these hats would make adorable snowmen.  Since I'm sure my father will keep accruing hats, I need to think of some other things I can use them for.  Also, I'm not really sure what to tell the kids if they ask where I got the hats.  I may just say they're from a craft store.  Other suggestions welcome.

So there you have it.  My weirdest craft supplies. Do you have anything particularly bizarre or awesome that you're hoping to use?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Attending Author Events

So, I am just extraordinary lucky to have an amazing bookstore in my town, Lemuria Books. They're Mississippi's oldest independent bookstore, and I've been going there since I was a child. Not only are they supportive of libraries (10% personal discount! 20% institutional discount! bringing authors to schools!), but they have relationships with so many awesome authors and publishing people that the events that they have are outstanding.  Here's a few recent ones:

David Wiesner!  Talking about his latest, Mr. Wuffles. He talked about his art process, and some of his other favorites.  He's so incredibly talented!

 I had a special surprise at this one: this is my childhood school libraian. She lives in the area and we run into each other at various events and library things. It's so special for me to be able to work with her now! Also you should ignore the fact that I look like a complete lunatic in this picture.

  This is Ashley Elston!  Her debut, The Rules for Disappearing, was out from Disney-Hyperion earlier this year.  She's from Louisiana, and OH MY GOSH, she's so sweet.  She's genuine, and she talks like me! The book is great and I can't wait to have her back next year (she's already agreed!) to talk to some of my students.

 Lauren Kate came through Mississippi and read an excerpt from her new book, Teardrop. Not pictured are the 10 or 12 teens that are spending their Saturday afternoon hanging on her every word.  Also pictured here is Emily, who runs the children/YA room at Lemuria.  She's kind of magic.

Other authors I've been lucky enough to meet through Lemuria include Shannon Hale, my beloved Myra McEntire*, Sarah Frances Hardy, Katie D. Anderson, Obert Skye, Robin Preiss Glasser, Marissa Meyer, Anna Dewdney, and more!

Are you lucky enough to have an independent bookstore in your area, please support them! And be sure to check for author events to the places that you're traveling over the holidays. You may get lucky enough to meet someone willing to stop by your library!

(*If you're really, really lucky, you may meet a kindred spirit. Who makes you banana bread. And becomes a friend.)

In conclusion: go to where the book people are, y'all.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Recent Things Ally Has Been Enthusiastic About (3)

Hey y'all!

I haven't been enthusiastic about anything in awhile, so here's some of the things that have excited me lately:


I've been on a rereading kick. Here's what I've reread lately:

When our sweet friend Sophie linked to this article about Terry Pratchett's daughter adapting the Wee Free Men for the big screen, I rushed to reread all of the Tiffany Aching books. Even if you haven't read any other Discworld books, you need to check these out.  They're wonderful.

Also right now Liz and I are both rereading my beloved Jellicoe Road. There aren't words to talk about how much I love this book. Rereading with Liz has been fun, and we may continue with other books.  Seriously, I could do a whole post about rereading. Maybe I will...

Do y'all read Stacked? Because if you don't, you're being dumb.  Kelly and Kimberly are hilarious, and right now they're running a contemporary YA week series (that will be extended through next week!). The booklists are extraordinarily helpful, all the guest posts have been wonderful and insightful, and this one about Australian YA was delightful. I have blogged elsewhere about my absolute obsession with ozya, and I think it's just about time for me to make another Fishpond order!

STORYTIME UNDERGROUND. People, this is the best resource ever. I'm adding additional storytimes and I went on ST Underground's facebook group to ask for advice and OH MY GOODNESS. These storytimers know everything, and are delighted to share it. My new storytimes are going to be awesome because of the wealth of knowledge at my disposal here. Thanks to Cory, Amy, and Kendra for helping organize it!

What are you enthusiastic about this week?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Liz Goes to ILA

Fall is apparently the season for state library association conferences!  Lots of people I know have been going to theirs lately.  A few weeks ago, my boss and I headed to ILA, which was held at the Mariott in Coralville, Iowa.  For those of you who don't know, Coralville is right outside Iowa City.  Today's post will not only serve as a summary of the event, but prove that I am bad about remembering to take photos at conferences.  We both decided to skip the pre-conference activities on Wednesday.  The conference was already going to be taking me out of the office for two days, and I missed one of my regular programs because of it.

While not available at the conference, nor something I wore at the conference, this t-shirt was a gift from my Uncle Mark last Christmas.  I thought we needed to work the state of Iowa in here somehow.

Of course, Thursday started with an opening session.  There was talk of fundraisers and upcoming officer elections, plus a brief tribute to the retiring state librarian.  A speaker also gave a talk called Your Congress In Action.  A lot of emphasis was placed on what a big difference talking to Congress can make for your libraries and communities.  The talk ended a note that implied that as our country becomes less educated, we will turn into a developing country. 

My first session of the day was targeted at Youth Services Librarians and was called Marketing Teen and Tween Programs and Services.  Three panelists led this session: a teen librarian in an urban, low income community, a youth librarian from a wealthy suburb of Des Moines, and a youth librarian who works in a small town.  This session was an overview of how to market programs for youth--the panelists talk about what they've done that has and hasn't worked.  What I really enjoyed about this session was the fact that each presenting librarian brought paper samples of their effective samples, so we could take them home and look into doing something similar ourselves.  My director and I collaborate on teen programming, so I grabbed a few things to show him.

I did not attend the official ILA lunch.  Instead, I wandered outside with the intention of driving somewhere.  While in the lobby, I was talking to a university reference librarian about parking options, because I hated the fact that the hotel was making us pay to park in their garage.  I wound up going to lunch with this librarian and several of her friends.

My after lunch session was geared towards storytellers and was called "Coming to Our Senses: Imagination, Reciprocity, and Shifting Bullyism."  This session was an important reminder about how storytime lets us feel empathy, which has its place when you work with the public.  We did exercises where we were split into pairs, told stories about places we loved to to our partner, and they'd tell our story back to us.  I actually feel that this session could have taken up two blocks of time and served its purpose better.

This book is one of the nominees for the award.  I love Jan Thomas!

I followed this up by attending a session about the New Bridge to Reading Picture Book Award.  This is a new award in Iowa that's designed to showcase books that make great read alouds.  A committee of librarians, teachers, and other early literacy leaders help nominate books, then kids as young as preschool and as old as fifth grade (I think) can vote on the award.  After talking about the award and answering questions, the presenters talked about some of the books that had been nominated.  This gave me some great ideas about books to purchase for my collection.  A book can still be storytime worthy, even if it doesn't win any awards or get lots of starred reviews.

I stopped by the Youth Services Subdivision Meeting which was very short.  There weren't a lot of big items on the agenda.  After the meeting two librarian friends and I decided to roam the exhibit hall and check out the alleged social that was happening.  We deemed the beverages available too expensive, but we did hang around the exhibit hall around six because a giant stuffed panda was being raffled off.  Sadly, the winner of the panda did not run up to receive it shrieking with enthusiasm, which I totally would have done.  My friends and I decided to have a drink while waiting for one friend's husband, at which point we all decided to stay at the hotel and eat, which was pretty good.

We began Friday afternoon with another opening session and a speech Healthiest State Initiative, which focused on how people are better off in life if they eat healthier and exercise more.  A lot of the information presented felt like stuff I kind of already knew.


The next session I went to was one of my favorites of the whole conference, namely Yoga for Storytime.  This session was led by a yoga instructor who showed us how we could use yoga poses to tell stories such as "Goldilocks and the Three Bears, "or how it could be incorporated into a picture book such as Duck On A Bike.  A lot of yoga poses are named after animals, which makes it easy to incorporate them into storytime.  The instructor recommended the book Storytime Yoga, which I've purcahsed for my collection.

Friday was only a half day, some my final program was Older Teens and Young Adult Programming.  This session focused on programming for people who are in their twenties and thirties.  The presenters were from a town of 26,000 and all of their ideas were awesome.  I'm not sure if their tips would work in my much smaller library, but ti's great to have their ideas for future reference.  Also, after their presentation, Samantha Helmick was kind enough to talk to me about her experience developing a video game collection at her library.  It's something my boss and I have discussed, but don't know how to tackle.

After that, that was it.  I ran errands in Iowa City for the rest of the day, which included a trip to the awesome independent bookstore Prairie Lights.  ILA was an awesome opportunity to network with other librarians and learn about things I could possibly do at my library.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Recent Things Liz Has Been Enthusiastic About (2)

Admittedly, I don't have as many books to list as Ally.  This would be because she reads about twice as much as I do per year. But I can be JUST AS ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT WHAT I HAVE READ!

This is probably my very favorite book of 2013.  I initially picked it up because every person I know who's read it has raved about it, and with good reason.  Ryan Dean West is a brilliantly drawn character and is completely endearing.  Smith's writing is not only spectacular but made me laugh out loud, especially since some of my college friends are rugby players.  I expect to see this one getting some Printz love.

 One type of picture book that doesn't get much love in the library blogging world is the calm-down book.  Once Upon A Northern Night is the perfect book to curl up with if you're trying to lull a child to sleep.  Also?  This one has stunning illustrations.  I'm wondering if we might see it pop up during Caldecott season.


Believe it or not, I have a reason for posting about these three books together.  We are having an AUTHOR PANEL at my library!  As you all know, November is National Novel Writing Month.  My boss and I thought long and hard about authors we know of in the Iowa and Twin Cities area, since the Twin Cities are a 4.5 hour drive away from us.  We decided to focus on young adult and middle grade authors, so we have Brian Farrey, Wendy Delsol, and Kelly Barnhill coming.  If you're in the Iowa area and would like to attend, Tweet me and I'll give you further details.

I have decided to start rewatching all of Gilmore Girls!  I started watching this show my senior year of high school, when the first five seasons were out on DVD.  I remember one time my mother yelled at me for watching four episodes in a row (in my defense, it was Thanksgiving break).  It may seem odd that I'm mentioning this show on a library blog, but considering how witty this show is and how many books are mentioned, it's a great show for book lovers.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fall @ Your Library

So, the summer rush has faded, school is well underway (down here, kids have been in school for 3 months already), and the fall pickup in library activity has begun.  How do you respond?


Here are a few of the programs we've been doing for the last couple of months:

Afterschool - My full-time employee, D, runs this one beautifully. It's designed for K-5th graders, but our average age is 2nd/3rd graders and we have a lot of fun. D reads a few longform picture books, and we're currently reading chapters from Caroline Carlson's glorious debut, MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT. Our school district's mascot is the Pirate, so a pirate book is a HUGE hit--we even decorated our storytime room to reflect it! (My staff is the best and most creative staff in all the land.)

This is Pete. 

Here are the awesome q-tip skeletons D had them make for their Halloween craft. Also Cheetos!

We had a local author/artist/radio personality/twitter celebrity, Marshall Ramsey, stop by last month.  He's the political cartoonist for the local paper and he has done a wonderful picture book called BANJO'S DREAM.  He gave us a sneak preview and even drew some pictures for the kids!  He's a great supporter of libraries and we always love having him.

Today he stopped by my office to leave me a copy of the finished book. He even drew me a little Banjo to go with it!

The Fall Reading Challenge is something my library has every year.  This is the Sixth Annual challenge, and I'm challenging K-5th graders to read 500 pages in October and November.  The kids that reach their goal get to come to a celebratory dinner at the library in December and get a free meal and a prize donated by our local bookstore. Our library-wide goal is 20,000 pages in two months and we're making serious progress!

Progress chart! We're about six rungs higher now than when this was taken last week. We're going to blow the top off of this thing!

But our biggest, most awesome fall program is our Fall Family Festival.

I rocked that Minnie Mouse costume, y'all.
The Fall Family festival is an annual event.  It attracts a large crowd, and this year didn't disappoint. I had 103 people come to the library for the progam! We always do food, a craft, and games! Everyone has a great time.  I was out of the branch for a huge portion of the month, so a LOT of the planning fell on D.  She did a wonderful job. The food was spooky and fun, the games were great, and everyone had a good time.

We absolutely could not have gotten it done without our teen volunteers! We had two girls who are homeschooled come at about 10 in the morning to help with setup, food prep. I HIGHLY recommend finding a wide variety of teen volunteers that are willing to help you out, but these homeschool kids (there's a large homeschool population in my town) have been a lifesaver for me for programs during the day.  The families I work with are grateful for the opportunity for their kids to get some volunteer experience at the library and I get an extra hand when the rest of my regular volunteers are at school!  I'll leave you with some super-fun pictures of our evening:

Holy cow this cake was good.
One of our regular kids came as a tornado!!

 This is Amelia, one of my beautiful preschool patrons.  She and her sisters brighten my day every time they walk in. The night of the festival was also her birthday, hence the crown.  It's a little blurry, mainly because Amelia is almost always in motion. She is dressed as Belle, who is my favorite Disney princess. Because she reads, obviously. Picture used with special permission from Amelia's sweet mom, Randi.

What has YOUR library been doing this fall?