Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Reading Club: Week 7 or - ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT -

See that drink there? I am waiting until the end of this week to indulge in a few because that means summer reading club is over and it's time to celebrate. But for now, here's how week seven stacked up.

We didn't get any new teen sign ups this week, so we're still at 114 teens participating this year in the summer reading club. I got a stack of registrations this week from one of the summer school teachers who had her class participate (something I think I might try more thoughtfully next year to do), and we're up to 335 youth signed up. We had another pre-reader sign up, and we were at 79 for that group. That brings us to a total of 527 participants for summer reading club. For what it's worth, I planned for 100 teens and surpassed that, and I planned for 45 pre-readers, and I also surpassed that. Color me thrilled. I'm more eager to see completion rates, which I'll know at the middle of the month.

Monday we had our regular Lego Club, with 15 people coming out. We had no internet for a period of time on Monday, and part of me wonders if that's part of why attendance for Lego Club's been down the last couple of weeks (we were internet-down last Monday, too).

Tuesday, which we called International Day, was a shot in the dark for me. I gave the responsibility for the program over to a coworker before summer started, and when she left for a new job, it was given to another coworker. I was in the dark mostly about what the plans were, but I trusted it'd work -- and I got quite an interesting shopping list of supplies, which in the end, only one of the things ended up being used (but we can always use tissue paper and gold wrapping paper later, at least). My coworker took the kids on a trip to England, where they got to learn a bit about the royal family, played a game of trying to make the soldier laugh, and then she took them to Peru, where they learned about the government, the rain forests, and the Inca. They got to make these beautiful Incan fans as their craft at the end. It was a nice program and kept the kids interested, and we had 54 come out. I was thrilled we could do it outside since the weather finally cooperated. This was the program where my intern finally understood what the strange stress of being a librarian was like -- as much as it's sort of a strange thing to say, I feel like this was an important moment for her to experience. I had gone inside to take care of something, and she was dropped into the program, wherein a mother approached her and another coworker and complained that we didn't have enough glue that worked for all of the kids. That was the straw, folks, but it was an important one to learn: you're never going to make everyone happy, and the things people will complain about are bizarre (because really, my small library having over 50 working glue bottles so each kid can have one . . .).

Wednesday was our last official Tween program of the summer, and when I told the kids that, they were really upset. They absolutely loved having a program of their own, and they have been rabid about making things. Perhaps it was the insanity of summer hitting me, but my program was Potato Art -- I gave the kids potatoes and knives and let them make stamps of the potatoes. Did you read that? I gave the kids knives. We only had one small nick, and the girl who did it was kind of the one I'd expect it from (and she was fine, bandaged it, and kept on carving). They had more fun carving designs than painting, which leads me again to think I could just hand them anything and they'd keep themselves entertained for an hour. We had 15 tweens out for the program.

Thursday was our last teen book club of the summer (officially -- the regular school-time program picks up again on the 18th) and this was where we did the thing with the balloons. So funny story: just earlier that day, my intern and I were talking about success with teen programming, since I'd seen it come up on one of the YALSA list servs. I told her I think any book discussion with at least 2 people is a success, and programs that bring out 5-7 are good, and anything above that is total gravy -- I've had a gravy of a summer, as it turns out, but more on that in a later wrap up post. I bring this up because this week's book club was on the small side, but it was just as successful to me as if we'd had 10 or 12 out, like we've had at some other book club meetings.

The summer mobile collection had its last day on Wednesday, and in the end, we checked out nearly 30 books, and we signed up 15 kids for summer reading club. There were also 21 entries into our prize drawings, meaning the kids were using it to do the program quite well. Though the numbers sound low, I'm quite impressed. We had no advertising of the mobile collection, and it gave me a real jumping off point for the future. Incorporating this sort of program is something I want to do more of, and I think I have reason to do so. Especially when it comes to getting kids participating with the library and getting our faces out there. I feel like I got to meet a lot of my patrons this summer through this program, which is important with this age group. This is something I'm going to talk more about later, too.

I just have to make it through this week, and I will be so, so happy. Plans for this week, besides surviving, include cleaning my office out and going on a shopping trip for supplies to replenish the waning stuff (and cash in on back-to-school sales).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Teen Book Club: Up, Up, and Away!

No one would suggest I run a conventional teen book club, and that's one of the things I'm proud of. I know teens like to be silly and do fun things, and it's not always necessary to sit and discuss a book in depth. I've done book club using Legos and using Play Doh and making Post Secret cards.

While I was reading this week's book, which was Nova Ren Suma's June release Imaginary Girls, I was thinking about how I could run with something in the book and twist it enough to make it an activity for book discussion. What kept coming back to me was the imagery in the book, and one image that kept coming back to me was one in which the main character's older sister writes a series of demands on balloons that she ties with red ribbon. She lets them go and because of her magical powers, people do what the balloons say when they find them.

So I thought....why can't we?

I decorated our meeting room with colorful balloons that were tied with red ribbon.

I was impressed with how close the blue balloon matched the book's cover color.

Then when the group came in, they began writing their little demands/wishes onto the balloons with permanent markers.

Then we untied them from the backs of the chairs (proof the ribbon is red here!). I told everyone we had a place to take the balloons. I got some amused looks at this point, but then everything clicked into place when I led them outside.

One of our group members is wearing sunglasses in this photo, which, if you've read the book, you know fits the story so well. But, here's the pile of balloons. We wrote on each and every one of them. The wishes ran from things like wishing one of our group members would never stop talking, to receiving a pile of books in one's room, to having a cheesecake delivered to the library, and mine, which was having someone bring me $22 in $2 bills only.

Then we each took our balloons from the ground, and it was time to let the demands find their new homes.



And away!

This was a fun activity, and it was definitely a way to tie the story to the discussion quite easily.

As you probably saw in the first picture, we also pulled down our big screen and had a chat with Nova Ren Suma herself. I've had a lot of people ask how I do our author chats, and really, it's simple. I get in touch with the author a month or more in advance and ask if we can chat. Our chats are about 20 minutes long, and as of yet, we haven't done a Skype chat (we will come fall). Instead, we've used Chatzy to set up private chat rooms and type to talk. It's free to set one up, and you can email the link to the other party. What I like about this set up is that coming up with questions can be done on the spot, so the conversation can build as it flows naturally, and it allows us to chat between typing. There's not pressure on the teens to come up with something on the spot, and there's less pressure to be completely focused on the chat. Plus, when you let the teens type, they get to talk to an author themselves! It's a huge thrill for them, and it's fun to connect them with the people writing books for them.

So after our balloon demand release, a short book club discussion about characters and setting, and then a chat with the author, we'd used up an hour and a half and had a LOT of fun.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Library Day in the Life

It seems like last time I did library day in the life, my day was much busier than today. In fact, for being two weeks out from the end of summer reading, today was incredibly quiet and uneventful. I got a lot of little things done. I'll post another day in the life later this week, just to give an idea of how wildly different every day is. But for now!

7:45 am: On Mondays, I always get into work early. It gives me time to pull weekly prize winners for summer reading and to swap out the weekly puzzles and coloring sheets. I also spent this time refilling the empty spots in our new books display for picture books and juvenile fiction. I also updated our statistics for programming last week. I made up a box for people to drop toilet and paper towel tubes into for a program I plan on doing in the fall.

8:30 am: I knock out a ton of emails, including an email to a company that offered a donation for summer reading prizes which we haven't received yet. They wanted the names of all our participants, and I said there was no way I'd be typing out 500 names from our paper records. I then wrote up an email with all our stats and notes from last week's youth programming, along with a preview of what's to come this week and sent it to the entire staff and our dedicated volunteers.

8:45 am: I updated our teen blog with this week's events, and I drafted a post for later this week showcasing new books we just got in. I downloaded photos from our teen death by chocolate party and posted them on our facebook page. While these downloaded (I had 30 great photos!), I filled out a form for one of our summer prize donors to let them know how we used the prize.

9:00 am: I finished uploading the photos, organizing the album, and updated our Facebook status. I then scheduled out the drafted blog posts for the rest of the week. Done!

9:30 am: I talked with my boss about how burned out I am on summer reading club and we talked about hiring someone for a staff member who left not too long ago. We're so understaffed that this comes as a huge relief.

9:45 am: I dissembled last week's Lego Club creations that were on display in our children's room.

10:00 am: I finally get a chance to write out a weekly to-do list, which is much shorter than the last few weeks. I tracked down stamps to put on all of the thank you letters to our prize donors upstairs at the reference desk, and I tackle a quick reference question while up there. When my coworker gets off the phone, I pass the question to her then walk to the post office to mail my thank you letters.

10:15 am: De-newing time! I went through all of the new books on the teen shelf and on the picture book display and took off anything that was new before May (or in the case of picture books, I took off a few seasonally-inappropriate titles). I seem to have forgotten to do the juvenile fiction new books, so it's on the agenda for some time else this week. This makes all of our shelves look tidier, and it helps to make people see the real new stuff when it comes in.

10:30 am: I talked to our Friends Group about whether they had a meeting and needed the meeting room this morning, and I found out I could get it set up for Lego Club as soon as I wanted to. I pulled the tables to the side, laid down our table clothes, and dumped out the Legos. I went back to my office and cut some more name tags for displaying the kids' creations, and my regular adult volunteer came in. I chatted to catch up with her and to talk about the goals for this week.

10:45 am: I reviewed the fall programming plans and made sure all the dates submitted to the park district for their brochure matched what I had down, and they did. I made a note to myself to put holds on the books for teen book club and to update the teen blog with the programs. I'll be posting about my fall programming plans here soon!

11:15 am: It's collection development time. I like to buy a month ahead, meaning I like to buy September releases in August. So I began making a cart of September books, and caught up my cart with notes I'd made to myself from the journals I'd read earlier this month. September looks to be a pretty busy pub month! My intern comes in, too, and we talk about the mobile collection (which she's been in charge of).

11:30 am: My boss needs to help someone in the back, so I hop on desk in children's for a minute. I had a prereader bring back her log, and I was able to give her some prize money and her summer reading shirt, since she met that milestone. My intern helped me shelve some books, then she was off to the high school.

11:45 am - 12:45 pm: Lunch! During my lunch, I did some emailing, reading, and a little bit of writing. I so appreciate being able to come home for lunch, since it lets me take care of personal stuff out of the office and in my own element. Plus, it means fresh food for lunch every day.

12:45 pm: When I get back to work, I run into my intern and she gives me the run down on what was checked out at the school from the mobile collection. Then I got the news our internet was down again (this being about day 10 this summer), but for some reason, my wireless was working.

12:50 pm: Fortunately, I was able to access Baker and Taylor again and did a little more work on collection development stuff. I finished putting together teen books and began working on juvenile fiction and non-fiction.

1:30 pm: Lego Club time! I had 15 kids, mostly boys, building with the huge pile of Legos on the floor. While they did that, I read through School Library Journal, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, and Booklist for reviews. I kind of hate them all, to be honest, but it gave me something productive to do during that time.

2:00 pm: It's still Lego Club time, and my adult volunteer comes by to check in and see if I have any other things for her to do (I don't). We talk about cleaning my office storage space this week and make a plan to tackle it after tomorrow, since it's our last big staff intensive event.

2:20 pm: I had gone to the back to drop the journals off in my office, and one of my teens had come by to see me. I gave everyone at Lego Club the 10 minute warning, and I spent the time catching up with one of my most dedicated teens. As the kids bring up their Lego creations, I make up display tags for them.

2:30 pm: All of the kids have left, and my teen helps me clean up all the Legos! It was really kind, and we got to talk some more. We ended up chatting until 3 pm, wherein we touched upon Siobhan Vivian's book Not That Kind of Girl (which she plans on redesigning the cover for), Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls (this week's book club book), our September lock in (which she gave me some great ideas for!), Summer School, Dr. Who, and whether or not there are secret messages embedded in our carpet. It was nice to catch up with her, and it's always fun with her particularly because she's a huge reader -- I send her home with piles and she always reads them.

3:00 pm: Collection development. I knocked out all of it except for media, and tomorrow's plan is to weed through what I've got down to just the things I really want. My method for collection development is to knock everything interesting into a cart, then go back and eliminate things that sound too similar, that don't really sound like they'd be great, etc. It's a long process of doing collection development, but I like how I do it, and I think I do a pretty good job of making a balanced collection this way. I like seeing my options and picking accordingly. I do have to say I'm a little tired of juvenile historical fiction, as it seems everything falls into that category lately, and frankly, it's not a hugely popular genre. Give me more DOAWK* readalikes.

5:00 pm: It took me two hours to get Baker and Taylor under my control, and it's time for me to head home! Like I said, it was a quiet day at work, and I got a ton of little things done. Tomorrow promises to be a little more insane, so if I remember, I'll try to do a day in the life for it, as well.

* You know you're a youth services librarian if you know what that means!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chocolate Olympics & Death by Chocolate

While last week I talked about programs that didn't cost money, today I'm going to share two programs I did (that were essentially the same thing) that ran me about $90 together. For drawing 60 kids, I think the cost was definitely worth it, but I think this is the kind of program that could probably be modified in many ways to be cheaper.

This is also a staff intensive program, unless you run it in a more competitive way than I did. I chose to do stations, rather than group events, except for the final contest. I had myself, two volunteers, and an additional staff member to help out, but again, I think modifications can easily be made.

I have photos from my tween stations, but I'll talk, too, about the other events I did for the teens.

The Set Up

I brainstormed and researched different ways of running this program until I found the right combination of events for my tiny space. I did plan it with the intention of doing it outside under our big tent, but with the weather throwing us a heat wave (and, um, chocolate not being good under those conditions), I had chosen the right activities to modify it for primarily indoor space.

- Dark chocolate bars (I bought 2 of the 10 packs, but you can do more or less)
- 15 different types of candy bars (you can use more or less)
- 2 bags of mini candy bars for prizes
- 12 boxes of chocolate pudding
- Sour gummy worms
- 2 family size bags of plain M&Ms
- 1 family size bag of whoppers
- 2 large containers of chocolate sprinkles
- 2 family size boxes of oreos
- 1 or 2 bags of Hershey kisses
- Plastic cups
- Plastic spoons
- Pie tins (these were the most expensive items I bought)
- Napkins
- Construction or other painting/drawing appropriate paper
- Masking or Duct tape

The Program

Let's go station by station. At the tween event, two of the stations were set up to be unmanned, though we ended up manning one of them out of sanitary sake. In no particular order:

First up: the "Chocolate Puzzle." This was our unmanned station that we used in both programs (reusing the same materials). I purchased 15 kinds of candy bars, ranging from well-known Snickers and Butterfinger, to Kit Kat, and to the hard-to-guess Mars bar. I cut them into pieces -- halves for the smaller bars and quarters for the full size bars -- then put them into bags with a number attached. I then made up a guessing sheet that had 15 blank spots for the kids to guess which which kind of candy bar was in each bag.

I didn't put a sheet out for the kids to see the answers. Instead, I made them hold on to their response sheets until the end of the program. I had them take a seat as I held up each numbered bag and they told me their guess. I had written on the sheets that anyone who got 10 of the 15 correct would win a prize, but seeing I had a ton of prize candy, I let anyone who got 5 or more right win.

The next station I'll talk about is the "Stack and Sort." This table had two events, since they were each shorter ones.

First, the "sort." I went through the bags of M&Ms and sorted them into 30-some bags of 75 M&Ms each, with a variety of colors. I didn't count out colors for equality, just the number of candies in each bag. For this event, kids paired up and competed against another pair to see which group could sort their M&Ms by color fastest. Not as easy as it sounds, since they're working together as teams and need to have a plan. When one team finished, they were winners and got to pick out a prize. Both teams then got to enjoy their bag of M&Ms before diving into the second activity at this table.

The "stack" also relied on team work -- the pairs each took turns adding one Oreo at a time to create a tower. They were racing against another team doing the same thing. Whoever made the tallest tower won a prize. The challenge to this was, of course, the team work and the fact that the team across the table also shook the table, making the tower bases a bit unstable. When the kids finished this task, they didn't get to eat the cookies. . . until everyone had gone. Then they were able to help themselves if they wished.

What we thought would be one of the less exciting stations actually became one of the favorites: the "Whopper Relay." As you can see, we laid a piece of tape across the floor, and we had two kids line up along the wall opposite that line. They were each given one Whopper, had to get on their hands and knees, and roll the Whopper with their nose from one side of the room to that line, then they had to turn around and roll it back. The first kid to make it both ways would win.

This was easily the funniest part of the program, as we learned some kids were pretty darn good at using their nose to roll a Whopper. Even the teens loved this station and found it as funny as we did.

One of our non-pictured events was called "Chocolate Pudding Pie Surprise," and it's one we used for the teens only (due to attendance). In this program, we made up 15 pies made of chocolate pudding and dropped 6 sour gummy worms inside each. Two kids sat across the table from one another, their hands behind their back, and they had to race to retrieve the gummy worms from inside the pie using only their mouths and teeth. They were given a cup beside their pie tin to drop them into, and when they believed they'd fished out all of the worms, they were able to call stop. The person who pulled all six out first won, and they got to get a prize. We also let the kids keep their pudding pies if they wished, and I have to say, I was pretty surprised everyone wanted to keep them...and the worms.

This station wasn't one everyone wanted to do for obvious mess reasons, which is one reason I think setting it up station style was a good way to go. And keeping it for a smaller group, too, helped keep the cost/mess down. We told all of the teens if they dropped their pie from the table, they'd be responsible for licking it up off the ground.

None of the pies ended up on the floor!

Because I still wanted Tweens to play with chocolate pudding, their station was Pudding Finger Painting. This station was one meant to be unmanned, but due to sanitary concerns, we did man it.

For this, we set up a big bowl of chocolate pudding, construction paper, plastic cups, spoons, and napkins out. We told the kids they needed to spoon their "paint" from the bowl and use their cup of pudding to paint. They almost all painted something about loving chocolate, then turned to enjoying the pudding from their cups. I had worries they would lick chocolate from their fingers or spoons and put it back into the big bowl, but no one did.

Another unpictured event we had for the teens was our dark chocolate Pictionary game. Using the same yellow construction paper and two packs of dark chocolate bars, the teens pulled a clue from an envelope (where my volunteer and I had created 40 different clues) and they were to draw the clue with the chocolate bar. This was, by far, one of the favorite events, as the kids loved how the dark chocolate drew just like a brown crayon (and they loved drawing things from Harry Potter to zombies to hotels and mail boxes).

When someone guessed the correct item being drawn, they won a prize and became the drawer. Eventually, though, this program became sort of self-directed, as the kids really just wanted to draw (then eat...) the dark chocolate. Fine with me!

For the tweens, we also did a "Chocolate Shuffleboard." As you can see, I lined up two tables, not precisely flush with the walls, and I had my volunteer put duct tape down as point lines. The kids got to pick their puck from the bucket (which had Baby Ruth, Crunch, and Butterfinger bars -- think different shapes and aerodynamics!). We made four point brackets, then two extra spaces indicated as X's on the tables, and the kids lined up in groups of 2-4 at the end of the table pictured. They had three shots to score points, and whoever in the group earned the highest number of points won.

Though this was one of those last minute adds to the program, the kids enjoyed it a lot and came back more than once to do it.

Finally, we did three "Chocolate Relays" outside under the tent, despite the oppressive heat. The first involved chocolate sprinkles and cups -- the kids lined up in equal teams (we did multiple rounds for the tweens and one round with bigger teams for the teens). The first person to go was given a cup of chocolate sprinkles and a spoon, and on the opposite side of the tent, there was an empty cup. The goal was for the teams to transport the sprinkles by spoon from their side to the empty cup on the other. When the first team emptied the cup they held, the race was over, and we judged which team had gotten the most sprinkles into the other cup. The point of the race, of course, is determining if going fast was better than going slow and steady or whether it was worth doing big scoops or small scoops of sprinkles.

After that relay, we did a second one. The kids stayed in their same teams, but this time, each was given a pair of oven mitts. The first person in each team put them on, then they raced down to the table on the other end of the tent, where a bowl of Hershey Kisses waited. With the mitts on, they had to unwrap the Kiss, eat it, throw out the wrapper, then run back to their team and swap mitts with the next person up. While it sounds easy, opening the Kiss is challenging with the mitts on, ESPECIALLY when the chocolate has begun melting from the heat. Because the adults were laughing so hard at the kids, we were challenged to try it ourselves -- and we did, like the good sports we are. It was challenging, but in a very funny way. The first team to have all their players complete the task won a prize.

The final relay we did only with the teens, and it was one we came up with on the spot. Each player on a team was given a spoon and instructed to put it in their mouth. The first player needed to come down to the table then scoop a Whopper out of a plastic cup with the spoon in their mouth (we held the cups for them). They then raced back to their team, where they had to pass the Whopper from their spoon to the spoon in the next player's mouth. Then that person ran down and deposited the Whopper into the cup again and so forth. It wasn't an easy one for them, either, as we told them if the Whopper fell on the ground, they had to pick it up with the spoon in their mouths. And yes, this happened more than once. As usual, the first team to finish the relay won.

Lessons Learned

I actually had a lot more chocolate left over than I anticipated, so I was very loose with my definition of "winning." I let anyone who wanted prize candy take it, especially in the end, so it would all disappear (and it did).

One of the things I was worried about was not having enough activities and the huge mess that would come at the end. Here's the thing: because it was so staff intensive and we couldn't lead kids around from station to station, it ended up working out perfectly. The kids picked where they wanted to go, and we let them do any activity they wanted to do multiple times. As far as the clean up was concerned, there really was no mess. The messiest activity was the sprinkle race, but because it was outside, we didn't really need to clean up much of anything. All of our indoor activities were done on tables covered in the $1 table cloths that made clean up as easy as wrapping up the mess on the table and tossing it. Simple!

Without doubt, this was fun for both me and the kids, and it's a program I would not only recommend but would do again. I have a ton of other activity ideas to keep it fresh if I did it in the future. It also gives me a lot of hope that my fall "Minute to Win it" program will be as popular as this one was.

Of Note

The thing that probably surprised me the most was that we had more boys than girls in both programs. And I loved how easily transferable the activities were between the age groups, too, and both the tweens and teens had equal amounts of fun doing the silly activities.

I think this is a program that could work for the whole family, too. Pricey, sure, but for an activity that brings this much joy to both the participants and staff (and not to mention the incredible photos we've got!), it's worth doing it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Reading Club: Week 6

Week 6 has come and gone for summer reading, meaning we only have 2 weeks left of summer reading! Technically, there are three weeks, since we keep the prize store open for an extra week for stragglers, but programming and other events are done the week after next.

We're up to 114 teens signed up for the summer reading club, 78 pre-readers, and 312 youth. That brings our total to 504 signed up, which is officially more than last year.

Programming was exhausting but so much fun this week. We did not have the weather on our side, though, as we enjoyed a week of absolute heat and humidity, and that took a toll on attendance and my programming plans. But I made changes as I went, and things ended up just fine. I have to remind myself all the time that I'm the only one who knows what the plan really was, so no one can be disappointed if not everything happened.

As usual, we had our Monday Lego Club, though the crowd was low, with only 15 attendees.

Tuesday was our Recycled Costume Show, which I blogged about already, and we had about 35 show up for this program. This was a program I think was impacted the most by the heat, since we had to move inside.

On Wednesday, we ran our tween program, and this week we did Chocolate Olympics. I plan to blog about this program, since it's one that was a total blast (though a shade pricey). The kids had a lot of fun, and we even managed to sneak outside for a little bit to do a couple events. I may or may not have been conned into participating in a couple events myself by these kids. We ended up having nearly 40 for this program, which was a wonderful attendance.

Thursday, we took the Chocolate Olympics idea and morphed it a tiny bit for the teens, calling it our Death by Chocolate party. Again, I'll slip in the information about this program in a post next week, but this was another hugely popular program that left a lot of teens very happy (and messy, which was my favorite part!). We had 20 for this program, which is a great turn out, and I loved that it was more boys than girls.

All of the programs were a blast but super exhausting, since they were all staff-intensive programs. We have just two more staff intensive programs next week -- an international festival and a tween art program -- along with teen book club. Then the following week we have our final performer, along with a teen Lego competition. The end is so in sight, and I can't wait to be done and on to seeing what our final completion numbers are, among other things. I'm ready to sit down and really think about what worked well and what can be changed for next year. I'm also super excited to start talking about the new fall programming planned, since I'm trying some new ideas out.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Going Green: A Recycled Costume Show

The theme of the week is no cost programming, and today's program at work was one of the favorites so far this summer: a recycled costume show.

I mentioned before that there are always programs you inherit when you start a new job, and this is one of the traditional summer programs at my library. I think it's a really cool program and one I plan on keeping around. It's easy to organize and cost free, and it lets kids of all ages express their creativity.


This is an easy one: anything recycled. But start saving things well in advance of your program, and have your staff help out. I had bubble wrap, packing paper, cardboard, tinsel, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, cereal boxes, soda bottles, and other regularly recyclable materials. My supplies also included most of last year's summer reading club decorations, which meant there were a ton of shark fins, some plastic shovels and goggles, and, perhaps the crowd favorite, the wicker luau fans like these.

I then pulled out glue, scissors, yarn, stick on foam shapes, craft fuzz balls, tape, duct tape, and a handful of other supplies I wanted to deplete.

Set Up

In the past, this program has been held under our big outdoor tent, with a "red carpet" positioned in the middle so that at the end of creation time, the kids could walk the runway to the MC. That was the plan for this year until we had an extreme heat warning issued, and I decided it was best to keep this program inside. The contingency plan involved putting all the non-recyclables on the floor and the craft supplies on one table. We pulled together a punch of tables for the kids to create on, some with chairs and some without (as I've found, the kids are all different about their preference, so I leave it open).

I didn't want to miss out on the kids showing off their creations, so my contingency was a library parade. I told the kids 10 minutes prior to the end of the program, we'd go on a parade throughout the stacks.

Running the Program

Like with the beaded creations program, I made no plans. Instead, I made myself available to the kids for helping with cutting, knot tying, etc. I told the kids as they came to make anything they wanted to, and they did!

As soon as creation time was done, we lined up and took a tour of the library. Some of the kids thought this parade was the best part of the program because they got to have the attention of all the patrons. Everyone got to oooh and ahhh over their costumes. Costumes ranged from an incredible robot (body and helmit with a jet pack in the back!) to a mask with a straw attached (so she could wear a mask and still drink water), as well as crowns, wigs, and bubble wrap skirts. The teens who showed up made themselves an elephant hat (which she plans to wear for Halloween) and a mailbox hat. These kids were wildly creative and imaginative, and I'm eager to go through our photos, since I know I didn't get to see everything they made.

Once our parade was done, I took the kids back to our creation space and told them the program was over, but they should feel free to take any supplies they wanted to to continue their costumes at home. Lucky for me, many of them did, meaning I had fewer things to put back into storage for next year's costume show.

Lessons Learned

What I loved about this program was it really brought in all ages. I had very young kids and I had teenagers making costume pieces. They even helped one another out, which is always one of those end goals.

I had my intern helping me out with this program, but were I doing it again, I'd love more help. While it requires little in terms of set up and in instruction, it sure helps to have people around for clean up and for taking photos and helping kids with some of the harder tasks, such as cutting tape or making holds through cardboard, etc.

I'd also make the parade a bigger deal -- I can't get too down about this, though, since this was a serious last minute improvisation for the fact I decided not to hold the program outside in the heat. But the kids loved it so much, I do plan on doing that part again. The parents got a kick out of taking photos of their kids marching in the parade, and the kids liked to show off everything they'd made (and not all of them made costumes, so not having a runway show let everyone show off what they made, regardless of whether it was wearable or not).

This is a program I highly recommend for all ages, and it's one that can be done any time of the year, and one that could be particularly well done during April's Earth Week. What a way to encourage kids to recycle and to think about the ways the things they use every day can be re-purposed. We don't always have to teach through lecturing; sometimes, it's as simple as letting them create and discover.



Really, what do you have to lose?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beaded Creations: A Tween Program

I ran a no cost and extremely easy program last week that brought in 15 tweens for over an hour of easy fun that encouraged their creativity and imagination. You read the first part right: no cost. I called the program "beaded creations," and it involved nothing more than the craft supplies that took up shelf space in my office.


I cleaned my shelves and pulled out two boxes of beads. These included a huge tub of pony beads, as well as a number of smaller beads, fancy beads, alphabet beads, and crystal beads. I pulled out a few rolls of regular yarn, as well as fishing line thin string, some elastic, and some wire string. I still had a ton of safety pins left over from Canada Day and so I pulled those out, too. I also took out a couple tape rolls and a handful of scissors.

Set Up

I put all of the non-bead supplies on one table, save for a few pairs of scissors. That table was at the front of the room so when the kids entered, they went there first.

I grabbed a pile of bowls from our staff lounge and put a few on each of the four tables in our programming room, dumping a mix of beads into each bowl. I'm not a purist by any means, and I know I like the idea of discovery, so I mixed all the different kinds of beads together. Pony beads were hanging out with the Fs and Hs, and the crystal beads mixed with the triangle-style beads.

The Plan

Guess what? I had none. I didn't come up with any patterns, nor did I come up with any sort of jewelry for the kids to make. Instead, this was more of an open studio program, where the kids could make anything their minds could come up with. I find these programs work extremely well for this age group; they're so creative and during the school year, they're so regimented, they don't get the opportunity to just play like they need to. Yes, I said it: they need to play.

This program brought both boys and girls. The boys had just as much fun as the girls. The idea that jewelry is a girl thing isn't really common in this age group, honestly. They just want to have fun, and I'm all about encouraging it.

A couple of our boys made alphabet necklaces using all of the alphabet beads in a nonsensical way, and one of the boys found half beads he popped onto his pinkie fingers and played vikings with (then he made them party vikings by putting a ring on the fingers beneath the 'helmets'). Girls made necklaces, bracelets, and one girl used a ton of the pins to make a birthday necklace (then she gave me one of her creations to keep!).

Lessons Learned

This program was so easy and it was popular. The kids asked me to do it again, so it's one I'll definitely try out again in the spring.

Perhaps one thing I didn't think about was how much knot tying the kids would want me to do. I didn't mind it at all, but when they asked me to tie knots for their little rings, well, it was a test of my own finger dexterity (I have tiny hands, but not that tiny). I think if I do this again, I might splurge and buy actual fasteners for the jewelry so the kids could make longer lasting creations.

These sorts of programs are great for cleaning out your supplies and for encouraging creativity, and they work so well with the 8-12 year old set. You don't have to reinvent the wheel for successful programs, nor do you have to do a lot of planning or prep work. Sometimes keeping it as simple as possible is what you need to do: for the most part, these kids want a safe place to be that's not at home and they want to hang out with people their age, as well as adults who like spending time with them and laughing with them.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Reading Club: Week 5

Week five is out of sight and out of mind. We're on to week six tomorrow, which means we've only got two more weeks of summer reading club.

Maybe what's scary is that I've already finished planning my fall programming and have plans sketched out through next March already. I'm ready for something new!

This week, our registrations continued to grow. We now have 107 teens signed up, 76 pre-readers signed up, and 307 youth signed up. That brings us to almost 500 total! I am so thrilled with the teen sign ups, in part because it's a huge number for our small town, it's more than double last year's numbers, and it's higher than the numbers I pulled at my previous library system which served a much larger population. I'm thrilled, too, to see such a large pre-reader sign up.

In terms of programming this week, our numbers were down quite a bit. I think there are a number of reasons for this, but I'm not going to be sad to say we still had good numbers.

On Monday, we had our Lego Club and it brought 20 kids out for fun! Their creations are getting more and more complicated and huge. The thing I think I love most about Lego Club, aside from the creativity it breeds and the excellent displays we get in the children's room because of it, is that it really gets kids to collaborate. They work together on making things, and I love seeing that.

On Tuesday, we had our last system-supported performers, and it was a folk band. I was a little nervous at first, but they ended up being excellent. Even I had a blast, since I knew most of the songs. One of the things that we're required to do for these programs is have a sign language interpreter. We used to have a staff member who did it, but after she left, we've hired a local company to do it (we're home to the state deaf school, so this is a population our library serves regularly). However, for these programs, we don't usually have deaf attendees; this week, we did! And the girl who came had a total blast, minus a complication she had when her younger sister began heckling the band and not listening to her. I had to do the gross adult thing and call her mom at the deaf girl's request to say the younger daughter wasn't behaving. I never got an answer from mom, but it was one of those moments where I felt like I had to be a real adult (and reminded me of the responsibility I have to my kids, too). We ended up having over 70 attend this program, which is lower than most Tuesday programs and was a little disappointing for me, especially because the band was fantastic.

Wednesday was our regular tween program, and we did beaded creations. I plan on blogging about this program since it was marvelously simple and fun. We had 15 tweens come out (again a low number), and the kids made all sorts of fun jewelry out of beads. The thing I love about this age group is that the attendance was 50/50 male/female. Boys don't care they're making jewelry at this age, and they have fun doing it.

Thursday was our teen book group, where we discussed Holly Black's White Cat. We also talked about programming ideas for the fall, and they're all stoked about the events. As much as this group is a book club, I use them as my advisory board, too, and it's so helpful to have it all in one, rather than having multiple groups. They enjoy telling me what sounds good and what sounds lame. At the end of this meeting, I pulled out a bag of ARCs and let the kids dive in, then I went up to the teen area with them and did individual reader's advisory with them. I know what kinds of books they like since I see them every other week, and I love sending them home with piles of books to read.

We continued our mobile collection this week, signing up 12 teens so far for the reading program, and lending out about 20 books. I cannot emphasize how thrilled I am this program is in play and working out as it is.

This week is probably the last very staff intensive programming week, but it's one I have been looking forward to all summer. I've amped up the tweens and teens for their separate chocolate parties (where they are going to get messy!) and we have our annual recycled fashion show. Of course, these outside events happen during the most sweltering week of heat we've had so far this summer -- which means they'll be three times as fun.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Mid-summer Reminder to Keep It Real (& Laugh!)

Of all the age groups I work with, I think I have the most fun with the tween crowd. They're an energetic bunch, fun to talk to, and they are down with doing anything and there's never any shame. I've been doing a program for them each week and consistently have great turn out.

Today's program, which I'll blog about later, was a beaded creations program. It was super laid back, and the kids could do anything they wanted.

You know what they wanted to do and I let them do, between stringing beads and making knots (me making the knots, not them, of course)? They wanted to play with my people clicker.

They had clicker races.
I challenged them to make it to some arbitrary number by the time I finished knotting someone's ring (seriously - they gave me these tiny strings to tie, and even though I have the world's smallest hands, it wasn't easy!)
They showed off how good they were at turning it back to 0.
One girl showed her little sister, who was 2, how to use it.

Then I told them if they were that into my clicker, I could do a whole program of it. And the idea not only excited them, but they suggested we only have one clicker for the program so they could all share.

I suppose this is like when I had a lock in, and the teens were most interested in using our cardboard Edward Cullen as an artistic canvas. His bedazzled jeans and glowing green gem eyes were the highlight of the night.

Sometimes, stepping back to think about the little things that bring your patrons joy is just a reminder that what matters to them is less what you do and more that you're doing something for them. That shows you care. And the more you laugh about the little things that bring the kids joy, the less the imperfections/problems/things that didn't go exactly as you planned matter.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Going Mobile

Pictured above is most of my new teen mobile collection, built thanks to the generous support of the Family Dollar/YALSA grant I won for the summer. I've been asked a lot about it, and I thought I'd give the run down of the whys and hows of going mobile.

How it started

One of the challenges of our community is that, despite being fairly small, we are spread out. We serve hundreds of square miles of farm land, and we live in a county where there is no public transportation. Despite our library's fairly favorable location in downtown and about a mile from the schools, no location is ideal in a rural setting.

That got me thinking about teen participation in the library. Many teens can walk over after school for programs, but what about teens during the summer? Then I started wondering why I couldn't make the effort to serve the kids and do it where they were: the school. Summer school here is one month long, Monday through Thursday, and every kid who attends also receives a free lunch.

And here, I thought, was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I could go over to the lunch room for an hour once or twice a week, bring a selection of books, and bring all of the necessary summer reading club materials, and then I could get the teens involved in the program without them needing to trek to the physical library building. Moreover, I knew this would be an opportunity to get to know the teens in my area a bit more and it would be a chance to gauge what kinds of books my teens were reading. Since my teen collection is upstairs and my office and the desk I work at are downstairs, it's not always easy to know what is moving.


Admittedly, I didn't go about this in the most logical way. The logical manner would have been getting in touch with the school prior to applying for the grant to set this collection up. The challenge to that, of course, is what happens if the grant doesn't get approved. I knew I didn't have the budget to fund this myself (at least, I didn't think I did -- more on that in a minute), so my plan depended upon the grant.

When I found out I got the money, that's when I got in touch with the school's summer school coordinator, as well as the school librarian. We met to talk about the logistics of the collection. I had envisioned buying a selection of new books and having the kids check them out with their library cards, but after this meeting, I changed my plans, and I think I did so for the better.

Some of the considerations that needed to be talked about included the check out process -- did the kids need their library cards? It seemed like a hindrance, since many kids don't have cards for the precise reason I mentioned before: transportation. Then there's the issue of fines: how do you charge for late or lost materials? That could get the parents involved and get tricky. Then there's the issue of storage and transport. That was the easiest to tackle.

After that meeting, I brainstormed and came up with a plan of attack: I'd buy only paperback books, teens could check out books with their library card, school ID, or simply their name and phone number, and because I was doing a paperback collection, I wasn't going to charge overdue or lost fees. Of course, I wouldn't tell the kids that. I just gave them a due date (the last day of summer school) and it would be taking my chances. I was lent a book truck from the school library and given space in the administrative offices to park it. Easy enough!

Purchasing and Organizing

Creating my collection was actually very easy. I've done a ton of book talking this year, and I had a good sense of the kinds of books my kids were interested in. So naturally, those were first picks. Following those, I decided to really focus on titles that the kids wouldn't get quick access to elsewhere: popular teen fiction written in Spanish and a selection of titles with appeal to reluctant readers. When I budgeted for the collection, I gave myself about $600 to play with. I believe I ended up spending about $550 and came away with over 80 books -- keeping in mind that Spanish books are almost twice the cost of English editions of the same work, I thought that money stretched quite well. I also pulled a few personal copies of extra paperbacks I had at home since I knew they'd go to good use here.

As books rolled into the library, I pulled my copies from the tech room. I didn't know how I wanted to mark them, but after thinking about how I'd use the collection after this summer, I figured I should follow our standard marking procedure. Barcodes and stamps were attached, but I did not include spine labels. I wanted to make this a true browsing collection, and since that step is a quick and easy one, it could be saved for later, when we included these titles in our general collection post-summer.

Since I didn't want to add these books to my library's standard catalog because of the set up of the program, I went about organizing the books through LibraryThing. I kept it quite simple, and I included a private field in my login side for me to include the names of the kids who checked out the title (along with their phone number and a record of how many times a particular title checked out). You can see my entire library collection by going here, and then toggle the library collection on the top left to "Teen Mobile Collection."

Preparing For Day One

I knew I'd have a cart available to me, but everything else I knew was on my own. I made two signs to post on the book cart and brought an acrylic holder to include a third. They all were simple, explaining that these books were from my library and anyone could check them out. And oh, here's a chance to sign up for the summer reading club. I emphasized that since the kids were already going to be reading for homework, they should sign up and actually earn prizes for their homework.

That's the line that sells them.

Along with those items, I brought with me a paper check out log. Because I didn't want to have the liability of losing a computer nor did I know about the internet availability at the school, I thought writing out the books and kids information by hand would be easier. I could transfer that information to the LibraryThing account upon returning.

I also brought a handful of summer reading program registration cards, reading logs, activity sheets, and prize money, along with envelopes that showed what the prizes for that week were (so kids who checked in the first day or any time after could know what the choices were and participate right there). We'd, of course, put their prize entries into the real buckets when we got back to the library.

Day One in Action

When I got to the cafeteria, where I was setting up for the kids lunch hour, I had no idea what the arrangement would look like. I came in, took a seat at the table nearest the front of the door, and got all my materials in order. I was ready!

At first, there wasn't any interaction. But then, the kids started reading my signs and talking to me -- so many knew me from the classroom visits, they felt comfortable just walking up and asking what I was doing. And when I told them, it was like I turned on the light. They were thrilled, and they were asking how to check stuff out, how much they could check out, and how they could sign up for the club. It was a wonderful opportunity to be face to face with the kids for even 30 minutes!

Filling out the registration cards and explaining the program was so much fun, and on the first day, I registered 5 new kids for the program (many who came to see me were already a part) and I checked out books to 5 kids, too. For getting no advertising in the schools beyond what I mentioned in classroom visits, it was a huge success!

When I got back to the library, I simply input the student information into the private field of the LibraryThing account, slipped the registration cards into our library's bigger file for them, and was done for the day. I made the mobile collection registration cards a different color than our regular ones, to make retrieving them for our return trips easy.

Days Two and Three and On...

On day two (which was two days later), we were able to register 5 more teens for the program and we received nearly all of the checked out items from two days before and checked out material to a lot more kids, too.

Day three, I let my intern take over completely. I want her to have this project now, as a way to really work with teens the way I know she wants to. She came back that day having registered three more kids and checking out a wealth more items. We also had people check in their reading logs, meaning that when we go back tomorrow, kids will get their prizes delivered to them.

That's part of the deal, of course: we're bringing the prizes to the kids, making their participation in summer reading little more than doing the reading and showing us their logs.

Impressions and Take Aways

This program was so easy to coordinate that I hope it continues in the future. I want to make it happen next summer and maybe in a more regular way. Integrating into the classrooms could be a potential next step, even. But for now, here's what I'm really getting from it:

  • Kids are dying to read. They're interested in the popular fiction (and fun non-fiction) titles, and giving them few restrictions is key. Because in the end, they're good kids. The books will come back. They have been coming back for us each time we return.
  • Getting to spend one-on-one time with the kids helps me learn who they are and helps them learn who I am, too. I had a brother duo come up to me, one in 7th grade and one in 10th. The 7th grader recited to his brother all about the program, verbatim, from what I had shared during my school talks. The 7th grader signed up eagerly while his brother talked about how it was a scam. I assured him it wasn't, but it was his brother who convinced him to sign up because he trusted me and knew me. Honestly, this was one of those moments that made me realize how important going TO the kids was. It builds a huge sense of trust in me and in my organization.
  • We signed up more than 12 kids in our 3 visits. That's 12 more kids actively involved in our reading program. Would they have signed up if we weren't at the school? Likely not. We're more mobile than them, and we're catering to their needs.
  • Hearing and seeing what books excites the kids helps me in thinking about not only collection development, but also in programming. My kids are RABID about Raina Telegmeier's Smile and Zombie Haiku. I sense a worthy program in comics and in, err, zombies.
  • We're tapping an opportunity that has huge growth potential. Why can't we have this collection at other events where we'll see the kids? Maybe events where we'll see kids AND their parents, where then we can also get kids who don't have cards their own cards? This experiment will lead to more experiments, which, if I remember correctly, is one of the key aspects of being a librarian: trying things out.

We still have a couple weeks left of the program, so I'll update again at the end. I'm eager to see what changes and improvements can be made for the future, and I'm eager to see how much involvement we gain, now that the kids know we're there.

This is a program I'd highly encourage other librarians who serve teens to consider, especially if you find yourself in an area like mine, where transportation is a huge issue. And though the start up costs are high, they can be cost effective for any budget. All you have to do is pull paperbacks from your own stacks. You can save good books that come into your donations, too. Once you set up the initial collection, it's yours to use however. I plan on popping mine back into regular circulation at the end of summer, but I plan on keeping the LibraryThing list so I can pull these titles out again for other outreach opportunities.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Reading Club: Week 4 (or the Half Past Point!)

It's officially past the half way point now, and I'm now counting down the minutes until summer reading is over. I'm also at the point where I know exactly all the supplies I need for the rest of my programs, which is to say, I kind of feel like it's under control and manageable.

But it was a big week, despite our offering a smaller number of programs. Our numbers are looking great, and I've officially met the goal I set for myself in terms of teen registration.

We have 100 teens signed up for summer reading, 68 pre-readers, and 294 youth, bringing out total to 456! We are on track to beat last year's summer reading numbers.

What helped bring our teen numbers over the 3 digit mark (thereby doubling last year's numbers) was the mobile collection that started this week. Starting last Wednesday, my intern and I will be visiting the summer school during their lunch period. During our visit, we set up a small cart of books and all of our registration materials (including prizes and prize money) for the kids to check out. They can sign up and participate with us at the schools, and they're welcome to borrow books for us during the duration of summer reading without their library card. The response we've gotten from this so far has been fantastic -- in our two days (about 30 minutes each time), we signed up 12 new summer reading participants and checked out as many books, too. I'll be posting about this huge and exciting project this week, but it's one that has given me excellent face time with kids in a way I would otherwise not get in the library.

With the holiday on Monday and my inability to gauge whether we'd be slow or we'd be swamped, I kept programming low key this week.

On Tuesday, we had an all-ages movie day and showed Gnomeo and Juliet. Because our programming room is tight, we have to limit attendance for these programs and require attendees get a ticket. I think the entire set up is very unfriendly, but it's how it has to be. To accommodate a crowd, I decided to hold two showings of the movie -- one at 11 am and one at 1:30. We had sign ups for both sessions, but I believe people kind of forget summer school began on Tuesday, meaning our first showing had no attendees and our second had 50. I had cookies and lemonade donated from a local service organization for them to enjoy.

Wednesday was our tween program, and we had a candy sushi and a movie day. I put out a couple examples of candy sushi (easy ones -- I cut a rice krispie into thirds, then put a Swedish fish on top and wrapped it in a thin strip cut from a fruit roll up and I took a giant marshmallow and pulled a Swedish fish through the middle) and I put out the supplies. We had giant marshmallows, Swedish fish, fruit roll ups, gummy worms, and gummy life savers, and we played Megamind. 30 kids came out, and they ATE. We ran out of half our food, so I went and replenished empty plates with more food from our cabinets, and it was all gone. I think tweens are better eaters than teens, so I know who I'll be turning to in the future to clean our extra snacks up.

Wednesday was also our first day doing the mobile collection, as I mentioned earlier.

Thursday, we had a teen program that everyone told me I was insane for running: tie dying. I did it outside under our tent, pulling out 4 tables and covering them in cheap (read: throwaway) table cloths. I told the kids to bring something to tie dye, and of the 16 kids who came, only 2 didn't have something. Luckily, the library is next door to the dollar store, so they walked over and bought something. This program was a blast, and I loved seeing the teens go to town dying. Moreover, I used this as an opportunity to feel out some fall programming ideas, and I think I've got some very excited teens. Clean up for the program was easy, since we just tossed the table cloths and excess dye we had (which was little -- the box claimed we'd be able to make over 30 dyed shirts, but we made 20 and hard little to no dye left). That's my shirt to the left. Not bad for my first time doing tie dye, huh?

Friday was our story time, and it was also the second day of our mobile collection. I had a blast listening to a pair of brothers, one going into 7th grade and one going into 10th grade. The 7th grader repeated, nearly verbatim, my speech I gave in his class about the program and all the cool prizes teens could win for participating, while his 10th grade brother thought it was all a scam. They bickered back and forth, with the 7th grader signing up and his brother telling me no way, no how, it was a scam. Then he came back 10 minutes later and signed up. Excitedly, even.

I've been thinking about areas of improvement for next year and areas of expansion, and one of the things that came up with this week was getting the school classes involved. I had a teacher ask for registration materials so she could do the program with her class, and I thought this was an opportunity worth pursuing next year. The teacher planned on using a lot of what I'd created in passive programming as classroom learning opportunities. Maybe next year, I'll reach out sooner to the schools and see if the summer school classes can incorporate our program in their curricula -- imagine the greater participation, too!

That said, I am a very, very, VERY tired librarian. I'm counting down to August 6th, our last day, and I'm counting down to a much earned vacation out of the country just a couple weeks after that.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I posted about some of my trifold young adult book lists earlier, but I've added a handful more, and these will probably be the last ones I do for a long time. They're easy to take out of hand. But, feel free to steal and use as you wish. Just credit, please.

Books for Reluctant Readers

Clean Reads

Sports Fiction

Historical Reads


Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer Reading Club: Week 3

The end of the third week of summer reading club signals to me that it's almost the forth week, which means we're almost half way through the program and through summer. It's both scary and mystifying -- how did it go so fast? It feels like it's going slow! Alas, it's been another good week, and this was the last week before kicking off a new program, which is our teen mobile collection.

This week's sign up numbers (as of Friday) indicate continued participation. So far, we have 83 teens signed up (which is way up from last year's 50-some!), 281 children age 4-12 signed up, and 67 pre-readers signed up. I'm incredibly pleased with the pre-reader sign up; I looked up last year's stats on the number of kids under 4 signed up for summer reading, and there were only 43. We're knocking that out of the ballpark this year, and I think it's an area I'll be thinking about more in the coming months, as well.

For those of you who do a pre-reader summer reading program, have you seen growth like this? What sorts of programs do you offer this specific age group? My area of expertise in youth services really is in the 8 and older category, so I'm curious what sorts of things you do for your prereaders and caregivers both during the summer and the rest of the year.

On Monday, we had our weekly Lego/Games Club, and we had 33 attendees -- the largest so far! I wasn't there, since I was in New Orleans, but it sounds like my intern did a marvelous job, and as usual, the creations the kids made were intricate and fun to look at when I got back.

On Tuesday, we had a storyteller brought in from our system. He was worlds stronger than the week before's performer, and he really got the kids engaged and interested in his stories. We had a total of 83 attendees, which is a good number. I was a little bummed, though, since it was probably the first perfect day we'd had all summer, and I hoped for a larger turnout.
Wednesday was our Tween Canada Day party, where we had 22 attendees. I talked about this program in depth here. As much as I love working with teenagers, I really have a soft spot for this age group. What I love about 9-12 year olds is that they're interested in making things, and they're not only eager to try things, but they're still willing to try new things (and they're okay with failing!). Not only that, but it's both boys and girls who love doing this stuff -- and they're willing to do both "girl" and "guy" activities without caring.

With the incredible turn out I've had this year for Tween programs, you bet I'll be incorporating it a lot more during the school year and reaching out to these kids.
I was out sick on Thursday, which was our teen book club discussion of Lish McBride's Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. I admit to not being into the book, and I quit after 100 pages (which, as you'll remember, I tell the kids to do if they reach page 50 and can't get into a book). My intern ran the discussion, and while the turnout was lower than prior book clubs, I heard she was fantastic with the teens and the ones who came had a good time.
Friday was our first storytime without our regular story time staff member, who took a job at a new library. It sounded like the kids had a blast though, as their laughter could be heard from the meeting room all the way in the children's room. I love when I hear them having fun!

Overall, it was a quieter week, but one where more and more kids were beginning to earn their prizes for reading. I've had a number of youth and teens finish the reading programs already, and now they're all in the midst of doing the passive programming portion of the summer reading club -- something I'll talk about more in depth soon.

This coming week, since it's a holiday week, means we'll either be slammed with patrons or will be very quiet. I've structured the programming to reflect this, choosing to show a couple of movies, rather than engage in staff-heavy programming.