Monday, April 15, 2013

A Plethora of Programs, Innovative and Engaging #sljtt

The bulk of the afternoon at SLJ's Think Tank was spent in conversation about the topics most of interest to the youth librarians in attendance. The intrepid Kiera Parrott of the Darien Library used her experience running the KidLibCamp unconference to get attendees talking about topics like outreach, services to youth with special needs, and maker spaces. I was thrilled to be part of the "Readers, Thinkers, Makers: Innovative Programs for Kids (and their Families)" conversation, where the programming ideas were absolutely flying.

I want to share the great ideas coming from libraries all over the country. If I've failed to attribute a program you shared, please set me to rights--I'm awful with names, and ideas were coming so fast I wasn't able to reliably take down who's doing what.

Tape Town @ NYPL
(photo from Kristy Raffensberger)
What's going on in the library world for preschoolers:
  • Tricycle Music Fest -- San Francisco Public Library provides families the opportunity to rock out to "kindie" music at the library
  • Sunday in the Streets -- San Francisco Public Library takes advantage of their city's Sunday Streets program, which closes down streets to vehicle traffic, to meet their customers outside the library
  • Tape Town -- Kristy Raffensberger with NYPL uses different colors of electrical tape to make zig-zagged roads on her library's floor; kids drive around to various parts of the Tape Town, each of which offers the opportunity to play with some of the library's toys and to read like-themed stories
  • New Year's Eve Party for families -- count down to noon (midnight is too late for the little ones!) at an exciting, games-filled event with plenty of dancing and stories
  • Dads and Donuts story time -- get more males involved in their children's literacy by crafting story times just for them
  • Preschool Science -- engage young children in exploring how their world works through story times and programs with hands-on STEM components
  • Music and Movement programs -- offer special programs that focus on enjoying songs, dance, and rhythmic play
  • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles story time -- take advantage of the preschooler's fascination with things that go by offering programs centered around that topic, complete with ample time to play with toy cars and a train table
  • Glow in the Dark story time -- Kristy Raffensberger with NYPL offers an engaging special story time that boasts a number of luminescent components
  • Stuffed Animal Sleepovers -- some librarians create slideshows of the animals spending the night at the library, and some create videos; a great tip is to tell children what books were their stuffed friends' favorites--they're almost guaranteed to check them out!
  • Petting Zoo -- bring a petting zoo to the library grounds; kids who live in urban and many suburban areas won't have any other opportunities to meet and interact with live farm animals


Gingerbread House
What's going on in the library world for school-age kids:
  • Star Party -- share the myths that go with the constellations we see; invite a local stargazing group to bring their telescopes to the library for kids to look into the night sky
  • Reading to Dogs -- get in touch with your local therapy dog group to bring animals to the library for struggling and/or reluctant readers
  • School-Age Science -- get kids involved in building and testing their science creations for a fun way to reinforce science concepts
  • Minecraft -- lots of libraries are starting to offer opportunities for their young customers to play LEGO Minecraft in the library, thus building coding, social, and collaboration skills
  • Star Wars programs -- limit yourself to craft tables and displays of books, or go all out and offer games, activities, and photo ops with Stormtroopers
  • Gingerbread Houses -- for whatever reason, lots of kids don't make gingerbread houses at home anymore; engage their creativity by offering it at the library
  • Mock Newbery -- engage kids in meaningful book discussion, and get them excited about ALA Awards by involving them in the selection process
  • Scratch programming -- use the visual programming language to introduce coding and problem-solving
  • LEGO Club -- there's no simpler way, in my book, to engage lots of kids in interesting engineering projects and interaction with their peers
  • Display Contests -- involve kids in creating themed displays (about books, holidays, anything), then have a neutral panel of library staff judge; multi-branch systems can have interbranch competitions


What's going on in the library world for teens:
  • V.I.P. "Very Important Performer" program -- this program takes advantage of talents in the community, allowing teens to showcase their abilities and be treated like a star, limo ride and all; the program incorporates arts and career options in a fun, aspirational way
  • Pizza and a Player -- athletes from local minor league teams come chat with teens in a relaxed setting, sharing their stories and answering questions about what classes to take in high school, what skills to hone, and why college is still important even if you aspire to be a professional athlete
  • March Madness Book Battles -- set up a bracket of favorite YA titles, then vote in rounds until a single title reigns supreme


Our think tank group finished by sharing some of our go-to programming resources:


Whew! That's a lot of information! What would you add to the lists? Let's get programming!



I was able to participate in the first SLJ Public Library Leadership Think Tank in New York City. The one-day event, according to SLJ's Editor-in-Chief Rebecca T. Miller, aimed to serve as a lightning strike--a meaningful influx of energy and ideas for the librarians gathered from all over the country. I've been recapping my takeaways from the conference in a series of posts; see my first post, on Pam Sandlian Smith's charge to foster a culture of optimism, as well as my post inspired by the conversations on collaboration.


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