Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’s birthday! Dr. Seuss is one of the most beloved authors of children’s book in the English language. I created a book trough about 2 weeks ago celebrating the event (the trough banner is featured above). I originally filled it with Seuss board books, picture books, easy readers, and Spanish versions, and could not keep the trough stocked often enough!  Even the more obscure titles are circulating. I ended up adding CD kits (each kit contains a book and CD) and audiobooks just to keep the trough from looking empty. I think it’s great that this will bring some attention to the kits and audiobooks. I’m sure that some patrons who would never give these items a second look may be tempted to try them out. Hmmm, this gives me an idea – the next time we feature an author, perhaps we can create flyers or bookmarks to promote the ebook versions. We can also include the qr code to make it easier for those with devices that have qr code readers (see previous post here). Definitely something to thing about.

Winter Storytime

Birch in snow

I was asked to do a special theme storytime at one of the branches and I approached this assignment with a lot of excitement! This was the perfect opportunity to add a few storytime elements that I hadn’t used previously as backup for the librarians. Normally, I would do four books and intersperse them with songs and fingerplays. I wanted to do a more complex storytime this time, with props and more interactivity. I started out by Googling winter-themed picture books (librarian blogs and Goodreads) that performed well and came up with lineup. At the same time, I looked into ideas that would make the storytime fun and interactive.

flannel_snowmanI really wanted to do something with a flannel board and found one from a terrific site called MiSS ALiSON iS BLOGGiNG! Perfect for what I wanted to achieve! I planned on handing out snowman pieces and letting the kids put them on the snowman as I called out each verse. I also gave a lot of thought toward the songs. Since there didn’t seem to be a lot of winter-themed, non-Christmas songs that were well-known, I decided to use songs based on popular children’s tunes. That way, at least the tunes would be familiar to the kids. winter_st_program3I also felt a handout with the words to the fingerplays and songs would be helpful. I wanted to encourage the parents to sing along if nothing else! In designing the handout, I actually had a lot of fun coming up with the images and layout. Some photoshopping skills required! And I have to give credit to the following sites for giving me inspiration for the songs and fingerplays: Jbrary and storytime katie. Fantastic resources for storytime, especially if you’re new at it – check them out!

snowman_puppetsWe have a snowman monkey mitt at my library but I really wanted to use finger puppets. So I made some! I found a template on the internet here and modified it to my liking. The white flannel pieces wouldn’t stay glued together so I sewed the front and back together with yarn. It really didn’t take that long to make five puppets – I would say about 30 minutes in all. So, in addition to learning new songs, I was also getting a chance to be creative by making flannel boards, finger puppets, and handouts. They don’t teach this in library school!

Here is the outline for my Winter Storytime:



Opening Rhyme: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Fingerplay: Snowflakes, Snowflakes
Song: Snowflake, Snowflake
Book: A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke
Song: A Hat Goes on My Head
Book: The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
Song: Hibernation
Book: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Song: Snow, Snow, See the Snow
Flannel board: Hey, Mr. Snowman
Book: Snow Men at Night by Caralyn Buehner
Fingerplay: Five Little Snowmen Riding on a Sled

marshmallow snowmanAfter the opening rhyme, I launched the winter theme by saying how it didn’t seem like we were having winter weather here in southern California, so we would use our fingers to pretend they were snowflakes. That got the (snow)ball rolling and things flowed smoothly from there. The group was a little more quiet than I’d hoped, but the kids and parents laughed in all the right places. AND I was really glad to see the kids fully participate in the motions of the songs and fingerplays, even if they weren’t too vocal. The marshmallow snowman craft at the end was a huge hit! I wasn’t sure how it would go over. This was my first time doing a real craft (other than coloring sheets!) and it didn’t seem … terribly exciting … to me. But the kids were all super thrilled and the parents were happily snapping pictures with their camera phones at the end.

Book Programs with a Twist

blind date with a book display

Book displays are ways for libraries to highlight certain books in their collections, and they’re usually centered around a theme. For instance, a display can be focused on a holiday or an event or even a color. In March, I plan to gather up books with green covers and set up a display to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Last month, I set up a children’s Chinese New Year display featuring informational and picture books about this holiday. I also included a few props to somewhat capture the flavor and festiveness of Chinese New Year. It’s a great way to increase cultural awareness and increase the circulation of  books that may not normally get much attention. It was a resounding success–the books were all checked out (including the backups) a week before the lunar new year even began.

For Valentine’s Day this year, I took the plunge and set up a book display that I had seen on various library Pinterest boards: Blind Date with a Book. I wrapped several books in craft paper so patrons are for all intents and purposes blindly checking out books–except for a clue or two hinted on the front. Each wrapped book included a slip where patrons can “rate their date.” This is a great (and fun!) way for patrons to try out a book they may not otherwise pick up.


Rate Your Date form adapted from one by Furman University Libraries

Since we didn’t have a barcode label maker, I simply wrote the barcode number on the back of each book. I love programs like this where both the librarian and the patrons take risks. The librarian isn’t sure how patrons will respond to an out-of-the-ordinary book display and the patrons aren’t sure what kinds of books they’re getting. Hopefully, both will be pleasantly surprised!

Going Robotics

Robot Arm from LEGO® MINDSTORMS®

Robot Arm from LEGO® MINDSTORMS®

For the past two weeks, I’ve been thinking long and hard about how I would develop and implement the teen Summer Reading Program (SRP). My goals are to provide programs to local teen residents, engage the local community, and encourage reading during summer break. This means that programs and incentives need to appeal to teen audiences. Brainstorming and discussions with my branch manager led to the idea of Teen Wii Night as well as Origami and Robotics Workshops. I wanted programs that were participatory and felt these fit the bill. In addition to planning and carrying out these programs, I will also need to reach out to local businesses to request donations that will be given as reading prizes. Then I will need to consider marketing and things like instruction sheets and booklists.



The Wii and origami events will be fairly straightforward to carry out – we have equipment we can borrow for the Wii night and there is a library assistant at another branch who is an origami master and can teach the workshop. The Robotics program was always going to be the difficult one to implement. I did a lot of research on the internet; I wanted to make sure that such programs were feasible and had a good chance of success. Looking at libraries that had implemented programs on robot building, it appeared that most used LEGO® MINDSTORMS® as the platform. I reached out to a teen librarian at the San Francisco Public Library – he generously shared his thoughts about the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robotics program that SFPL hosted last year and answered my questions in great detail. He explained how they structured the program and what he would do differently when the library hosts the program again this spring.



After discussing with my branch manager, we agreed that we would not likely receive funding for a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robotics program in time for SRP. I am still going forward with plans for such a program, but for fall or winter. I strongly believe in a program like this for teens – it will be fun for them but even more importantly, it promotes 21st century skills (teamwork, computer programming, engineering, robotics technology) that will carry them forward to college and career. My next step is to apply for grants so that we may purchase several LEGO® MINDSTORMS® education sets that can be shared between teens during a workshop. For SRP, however, we will be going with a simpler robotics kit for each teen, one that is inexpensive and less time-consuming. It’s probably better for the sake of my own sanity to start off with something basic before I tackle something that is much more ambitious!

Promoting Library E-books

I read a very intriguing post in the ACRL TechConnect Blog on promoting library e-books: give e-books a physical presence by using dummy bookmarks much like the way dummy books replace physical books shelved elsewhere for whatever reason. Since online library collections are still largely invisible to users, the staff at Florida International University created plastic dummy bookmarks and dispersed them throughout the stacks in locations where the titles would have been shelved had they been physical books. Each bookmark was printed with the book cover’s image, title, author, and call number. A library user browsing the stacks can note titles that are available as e-books within each subject section.

You can brainstorm all sorts of ideas off this concept, as the comments following the ACRL post show. I especially like the idea of using QR codes on these bookmarks. Scanning one of these codes will take the user immediately to the online catalog page where the e-book can be checked out. I’d like to see a display of  print books that have matching e-books in our library and produce bookmarks containing QR codes that link to corresponding e-book records. Not only does this physical display create more awareness of the library’s e-book offerings and digital collection website, it also gives patrons easy and convenient access to these e-books via QR codes. Of course, you run into the problem of the e-book already being checked out because of the marketing. At least the online page will also offer the option of placing the e-book on hold. The premise is that once users get a chance to see how it all works, they will  be encouraged to use the e-book lending program.

Oh, and a cool note on the way I found the ACRL blog post – through Carnegie-Stout Public Library’s Pinterest board

© 2016 JoAnne Chen