Sunday, January 30, 2011

Easy programming: A movie birthday!

When I began my job in September, it was only a couple weeks into being the new kid I had to brainstorm programming for the new year. One of my philosophies as a librarian is to keep it simple. I don't see the point in creating something incredibly convoluted when something simple can be extremely effective.

So when asked what I wanted to do for one of my events during one of our school district's Fridays off in the dead of winter (stuck inside time with little excitement here in the cold snowy Wisconsin icebox), I thought throwing a birthday party for a movie would be a good idea. And wasn't I lucky that Disney's classic 101 Dalmatians happened to be celebrating its 50th anniversary? It always was one of my favorites and I thought, why not?

We set the party for January 21, and we were holding it at 1:01 p.m.

The party was extremely successful, pulling in 60 attendees, ranging in age from the littlest to the middle school crowd -- exactly the demographic I hoped to grab for this event. So what did we do?

I remind you: keep it simple.

First, I asked one of my coworkers to make up a spotted cake. I left it purposely vague, but I did suggest a spotted cake could be interpreted any way she wished, down to spotted frosting or even cupcakes (get it?). In the midst of thinking through other events, one of the local community members got wind of our event and came by my office asking if I'd be interested in having him bring his pet dalmatian to the party.

Now anyone who knows dalmatians knows they can be extremely high strung and aren't always the best parts. I spent probably half an hour with this guy talking with him about his dog, who happened to do events at the fire department periodically, and I decided to test my luck on having a dog at the event. I'm lucky enough to have not only a digital camera, but a digital photo printer, as well. I knew immediately we'd have an opportunity for the kids to each have their photos taken with the dog and take the souvenir home immediately. Any parent can tell you that a photo like that is more fun and valuable as a program takeaway than a plastic toy of some sort.

So, cake and a dog. What else could we do? At any good birthday, what do you do?

I didn't have to think too much or too long to come up with pin-the-tail-on-the-dalmatian. I did a little Googling and pulled up this dalmatian puppy image which featured an excellent tail, and then I blew it up using this program. When I printed the poster, I cut the tail out separately, then reprinted the poster post-photoshopping the tail out of the image (that way I got a full size tail and then a full-size poster sans-tail). Because the poster printed up pixelated from being stretched out, I took a black sharpie to it. Easy peasy. Now I had an image that I could tape together and make a larger poster.

At any good kid party, there's also face painting. I had a coworker kind enough to help out by manning a station to face paint the kids into dalmatians. We had a box of face crayons and pulled them out to use. We didn't limit the kids to black and white; we let them become green or purple dalmatians if they wished.

And last, but certainly not least, I brought 2 craft activities for the kids. The first was exceptionally simple: I printed out six different 101 Dalmatians coloring sheets and brought out my huge tub of crayons (which is a big deal, since we just have a small one in our children's area). I ended up moving this activity from our programming room to the children's room since our programming room has a capacity of 30 (and 60 is more than 30. . .) but no one complained.

The second crafty activity was making a dog tag. I used the die cut to make about 50 round tags (which look suspiciously like fish bowls when you don't put a hole punch in the top), as well as about 50 heart tags. I cut plenty of thread for the actual necklace part and pulled out a tub of glitter paint, glitter, markers, and stickers. This was a total hit, as anything that lets kids make a mess should be.

Tables were set up around the programming room, and the cake and cupcakes were on display in the middle with a couple of cool dalmatian posters. When the program began, we all sang "Happy Birthday" to the movie, then let everyone meander from table to table. The kids loved meeting the dog, playing pin-the-tale, and, of course, enjoying cake!

One thing I forgot to mention about the program: one of the original goals was to collect food donations for our local shelter. I don't think we did a great job advertising that, since we picked up only a couple of boxes of dry food. If I were to do this in the future, I'd plug it harder, but there is no denying that 60 in attendance was an awesome success for such a simple program. I think in total, it was about 2 hours of prep for the program -- and it was completely worth it. Parents and kids left happy, and we were able to involve community members, as well as play to the strength of employee talents we had.

If you're looking for an easy program and one with guaranteed fun, think simple. No need to do something wild. And as always, feel free to steal this. Remix it and make it your own or feel free to steal it 100%.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Library Day in the Life!

I've been a bad library blogger, but not for naught. I have so much stored up to share. It's just sitting down and doing it. But today, I bring you an installment of Library Day in the Life!

On Mondays, I am the evening librarian, so my day begins later than most!

11:45 a.m.: Roll into work and remember the towering pile of books on my desk is meant to be checked out. Half are circ record check outs from story time (oops) and the other half are meant for two separate teacher collections, one on friendship and one on horses. Noted to self we need more horse stories -- we own more books about sea horses than ponies.

12:15 p.m.: Being by making up a blog post about our new teen book club and creating a GoodReads group for it. Email all the people who joined. Emailed the author of the book we chose about setting up a Facebook chat with my kids. Then tackle this box on my desk with a day care kit. I needed to update the contents, and as I opened the file I figured out someone already did. Print, print, print. Then on to going through the piles of new youth and teen books. I don't read them all but pay attention to titles, covers, and authors, as well as books that look like potential good story time picks. Write up my stats from Friday's programs. We had 60 kids at our 101 Dalmatian birthday party and 5 at my new high school book club. Then I wrote up my numbers from story times and remembered I had a baby bag to make up. Which leads me to . . .

12:45 p.m.: Make up a baby bag for a patron. We have a program where expecting moms can request a Welcome Baby bag. It includes a ton of new parenting information, baby's first board book, and a coupon for baby's first library card. I whip it up and call the mom-to-be.

1:00 p.m.: I remember I haven't even read through the stories for story time today. I breeze through them and make sure everything I need is together. I deal with a few questions from coworkers and talk to my boss about some things she wants me to think about, including putting the I Spy books together. I did a display of them a couple weeks ago, and now patrons are trying to find them but discover that they're by different authors. Sent an email to pubyac asking for help with how to fund a book club. See, we can't get enough current books to borrow from the system, and my boss and I are against the idea of becoming the default book club library (the one people know they can rely on). So we're toying with some other options.

1:30 p.m.: I'm out of the office for story times. I do preschool, kindergarten, and day care story time at the Lutheran school. This week's theme is transportation, and I bring Duck on a Bike, Freight Train, Sputter Sputter Sput, and Sheep in a Jeep. We sing "Wheels on the Bus" (huge hit!) and play a few rousing rounds of Little Mouse.

1:45 p.m.: Preschool story time. This is my all-time favorite group of kids. I get hugs before AND after I start. When I finish their story time, the kids tell me they wish I could come EVERY DAY to sing and read to them. My little heart? It MELTS.

2:20 p.m.: Kindergarten story time. This group is always so rowdy. And boy are they cheaters at little mouse.

2:40 p.m.: Day care story time. I don't do Little Mouse with them because we make a craft. We make Stop Light Necklaces. Yeah, I totally stole the entire story time from here. And the craft they LOVED and did with such pride. One issue I remembered too late from this, though, is that in Wisconsin, we don't have normal stop lights. So, we don't have the up and down kind but the side to side kind. One of the kids put his lights on backward. . .and the teachers? They said they were eager to play "Stoplight" with them. SWEET. Awesome craft as always.

3:15 p.m.: Lunch at home. The best part of where I work is that I get to eat lunch at home every day. I spent the hour catching up on critique work for a crit group I'm a part of, emailing some folks, and putzing on Twitter.

4:15 p.m.: Back at work. I email with the girl who works across town about a meeting we have Friday in the Milwaukee burbs. I do some emailing with a magician and finish putting the order of books together for our book club. My community service person shows up a little early and I'm caught without something for her to do, again. I get her started on shelf reading since she's pretty good at it. This is followed by talking with a coworker about summer reading for so long that. . .

5:05 p.m.: I make us both late for our reference desk shifts. Eesh. I relieve my coworker and set up shop. I'm VERY lucky in my job, since I can read at the reference desk. This is necessary because I need the mental break, and it's actually my thinking time. I have a few transactions all night, including one by a little boy who tells me all about the book he's getting. It's about microscopic bugs. Then he says they live all over our bodies and his mom must have a TON because she's so big. Mom and I were dying of laughter. Kid made my night.

6:15 p.m.: Boss is waiting for her program to begin, so we get to talking about teens and what mine want from programming. She's shocked and not shocked. I give my community service person another small task of shelving books.

7:00 p.m.: Coworker and I talk about what to do in the teen area since it's so crammed on space. I tell her I'll go up tomorrow and work on it because I've got some ideas for improvement. Space! We need it SO BAD.

8:15 p.m.: Write myself a to-do list for tomorrow after seeing I'm only on desk 2 hours. I can accomplish so much. My list includes making out the summer reading plans, booking a magician, making magic happen in the teen area, prepping a middle school book talk for February, and planning/buying the supplies for my huge story time next month on pets.

8:29 p.m.: Coworker asks to buzz out early to pick up her kid from sports practice. Apologizes. I am the worst supervisor ever because I don't think it requires an apology. Things come up. We have one minute before close. I lock up the kid's area, then head upstairs to help my other coworker lock up.

8:35 p.m.: I'm at home and popping dinner in!

This was a pretty average day. I didn't get enough done but then felt completely fulfilled with story time stuff. I feel like I am pretty bad at the administration stuff at work but am good at the fun and creative things. Nothing makes me happier than visiting 80 kids and making them fall in love with a story.