Monday, April 23, 2012


This year's Collaborative Summer Library Program theme is Dream Big. Which is very appropriate for libraries all across the country. Seriously, if there were ever a time that libraries needed to dream big, it is now. Too many libraries are experiencing budget cuts, staff layoffs and less hours. Yet this inspiring theme brings librarians back to square one with their young readers and reminds everyone that libraries are the perfect place to dream big dreams. All hope is not lost, so as the strong advocates of reading all summer long, librarians will plan programs that will fill the summer months, but the memories will last long after the little ones are back in school. What should creative libraries do for Dream Big... Read. Well, the ideas are endless but as the theme says, read. That is read further in this blog. Summer Reading Programs don't always have to go along with the CSLP, but this year's theme is just too wonderful to pass up. This is due in part that all children dream. (Don't let the secret out, but so do some adults.) They dream of hitting a home run in the big league, or becoming a world class ballerina or some just dream of a tree house where everyone in the neighborhood hands out. All dreams are important, whether they are big or small. All paths to dreams and how to make them come true can easily be found in the library. With this in mind it is never too early to think of ways to entice children to participate in the summer long programs. It's as easy as giving them a sneak peak to the summer's events. One way to give a hint but not spoil the surprise is to place clues around the library to see if children can piece together what the theme is for this year. For example, pictures of night skies, stars, and other items that are related to dreams. Once the children have found the pictures (four or five) have them fill out a form that asks them what they believe all the pictures have in common. If they get it right, the library could provide a small gift such as a sticker, pencil or piece of candy. Another activity that might take some time, and a little bit of money but it may worth the effort in order to grab children's attention and interest in coming to the library during he summer. Have a craft day before summer where each child could make a dream catcher. Once the dream catchers are made, ask the children if the staff could hang the catchers in the library. Most children will enjoy having their work of art on display. Once the library is decorated, a sign can be placed at the check out desk "Catch your dream at the Library this Summer." If this doesn't generate questions and interest, it would be very surprising. Last but not least, if a librarian wants to generate a "buzz" simply place the word "Dream" all around the library. Patrons who notice the signs will begin to wonder about the placement of the word in the library. When the questions begin to come, answering them will be as easy as, "stay tuned, it's coming this summer." It's a little bit of sneaky way of getting interest,but it's all in fun. The purpose of Summer Reading programs is not to fill the days with long reading assignments. (If it were, kids would take off faster than a tornado.) Have fun with the theme. If the librarians are having fun, the children will too. So get a little creative, but by all means get started EARLY. Children are already DREAMING about summer vacation. Why not help them find their dreams a the library!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Everyone Belongs At The Library! (National Library Week 2012)

The best description of a library it is a place where everyone is welcomed. It is one of the few place where kids and older folks mingle together on a Saturday afternoon and most everyone is content. A librarian on an Internet discussion forum once commented the the library is the community's living room. Yes, it is that and so much more. This year's theme for National Library Week is You belong at the Library. With this in mind where is the one place where everyone feels they belong? At their schools, on the playground, and with their families. Come to think of it, libraries are the perfect home away from oasis. It is the place where there is something for everyone. That is a very tall order to fill, but libraries have managed this task for years. Almost flawlessly. Hey, there are just somethings that are beyond human control. This celebration of libraries comes every year and it is a reminder for every library user, librarian and library administrator, that libraries are an essential part of every day life. This week should also remind library enthusiasts to take a stand and contact their Congressman and Senator to remind them that the library is important to them and their community. If there are no voices to declare the significant role of libraries. , than the silence will be interrupted by library's doors slamming shut for good. That can not happen. The hardest part of any endeavor is getting started. Librarians know this all to well, especially when it comes to working with patrons and asking them to get involved in letter writing campaigns to lawmakers. Quite frankly, some patrons would prefer a root canal than contacting politicians. It would go without saying that most politicians would prefer that the patrons go for the root canal instead of making them read one more letter. The obvious solution is to invite lawmaker to the library so that they can see for themselves how citizens use and enjoy the library. Everyone is happy. Lawmakers have the perfect opportunity to meet and greet the public. The patrons have the perfect opportunity to express their support for the library. It's a win win situation. Many libraries have used this week as an event to bring local officials and citizens together. Others used this week as an opportunity to reach out to old patrons and find new library fans. Both ways of celebrating is good. However, it is important to keep in mind that it's okay to continue the celebrating after the week is over. Librarians' can keep the spirit of "You Belong" at the library when promoting library programs. Why not personalize it when inviting patrons and lawmakers to library events, such as fundraising. The attention getting line could read, "Congressman Brown belongs @ the library" or "Ms. Smith and baby Jessica belong @ the Library." Who could not respond to a warm invite like that. Everyone wants a place where they can call their home, their oasis. Perhaps next year's theme could be "Escape to the Library."

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fool's -- Foolish Musings About Libraries

It's a day late but it's never too late or too early to examine foolish "beliefs" about libraries in general. Librarians, no matter the size of the library, have heard these foolish statements at least once or twice whispered in the library, in the schools or in local stores. These foolish beliefs sometimes have a life of their own. Which leads to to a creation of an urban legends which are taken as gospel truths. Here's an attempt to at least arm librarians and advocates with responses that will stop the urban legends from growing. Who knows, it might even help educate patrons about libraries. Foolish beliefs number one: Libraries are Obsolete. Of course, this is easy to say when ebooks, social media and apps appear to be able to provide patrons with everything they need in an instant. Truth is statistics prove that during hard economic times, demand for library services go up not down. Libraries' "brand" is books. The challenge now is to tweak the brand just a bit to "information". Foolish belief number two: Librarians read all day long. If only that were true! The bonus part of librarianship is discovering great authors and books. However, it's not because librarians get to read all the time. On the contrary, its due to diligent reading of book reviews, collection development criteria, and patron's requests. After all this is done, reading for entertainment is done after library hours. Foolish belief number three: A high school diploma is the only requirement for librarians. No, not really. In some small libraries this may be the case. However, they are few and far between. A professional librarian has a Master's Degree in Library/information Science. It shouldn't be a shock, however it is to most people. Foolish belief number four: Libraries refuse to keep up with the times. if that were true, patrons would still be looking for their books in card catalogs of long ago. Libraries biggest struggle is not with technology but rather with budgets. Too often the latest in technology often comes with a price tag that is out of reach for many libraries. If only money grew on trees! Thank goodness for grants! Foolish belief number five: Librarians are quiet, smart and mousy. Um... not really. If the secret ever got out, the world would never be the same. Librarians are smart but quiet and mousy is just an "act". In reality, librarians are a wild but tamed group of professionals. If these foolish beliefs could be put the rest librarians could focus on other library related interests. Such as, how to entertain eighty children while waiting for a performer that is extremely late for a library program. Never a dull moment at public libraries!