I’ve been wanting to host a music - based storytime for preschoolers at the library for a long time, and I finally had my first one. Fitting it into our busy schedule was difficult, but I decided to add it once a week for a month and see how it goes. Currently in our library system, all storytimes occur on a Tuesday or a Thursday, so I wanted to add another option on a different day in case there are families who can’t make it on the usual days. Wednesday morning seems like it will work great for us. Plus, our preschool storytime numbers have slightly declined over the past years as more of our 3-5 population are attending preschool. This program was planned for a broader age range, 1-5, which usually results in better attendance for us. Our numbers were good for the first week, with 25 kids attending.
The supplies - I recently attended Mother Goose on the Loose training, and I knew I wanted to incorporate some musical instruments. I used shaker eggs, rhythm sticks, a parachute, and bubbles.
Here was the agenda for the first week:
Welcome and warm-up time
Marching Medley - Ralph’s World
Silly Dance Contest - Jim Gill
We Shake Our Eggs Together
Going to Kentucky
We Tap Our Sticks Together
Tap, Tap, Tap Your Sticks (Jamaroo on YouTube)
Let’s Get Out the Parachute - (Intellidance video from YouTube); The Parachute Goes Up and Down (to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus. The parachute shakes really fast, shakes really slow, goes round and round)
Hello, Bubbles Tiny Tim (I had a little turtle, his name was Tiny Tim…)
Book: Five Little Monkeys Sitting In a Tree by Eileen Christelow
Goodbye Rhyme: My Hands Say Goodbye With a Clap
What worked - The instruments! They loved the rhythm sticks in particular. They also adored the parachute. I bought a 12 foot parachute and it was the perfect size for 25 kids and their adults.
What did not - The recorded music was a bust. I tried something different and added a playlist to my phone. This was so much more convenient and I loved it, until I realized that my Bluetooth speaker wasn’t nearly loud enough to be heard over 25 kids, so I had to drop some planned activities. Back to my CDs next week. Also, I’m going to tweak bubble time a bit. I bought Gymboree bubbles, which were great, but I could not keep up with the kids. They popped as soon as I blew them. For next session, I’m either borrowing a bubble machine or enlisting parent volunteers.
True confession time! I was having so much fun and got so excited I forgot to read the book! What kind of librarian does that? It was supposed to go before parachute time, but I was too pumped, and skipped it. I saved it at the last moment and whipped out the book in five minutes. They were pretty tired by then and happily sat and listened.
I’m so excited about our upcoming library card application drive! This year, we’re reaching out to all public school students, K-5, in our library district and inviting them to get library cards, with the goal of 100% library card ownership for elementary students. That’s over 10,000 applications! We timed the drive with Library Card Sign-up Month in September.
Our first step was getting the school staff on board. We reached out to our superintendants, telling them about the program and gaining their support. Then we talked to the principals, got them on board, and asked for them to write a letter urging their students to get a card (or we’d write one they could sign if it was easier). Every single school opted to participate! For each student, we dropped off an application and the letter from the school’s principal. We’ll return each Friday to pick up completed applications and deliver new cards to the classroom. We’re keeping statistics on each school, tracking participation on our website, and the school in each corporation with the highest percentage of library card ownership will win an awesome prize (probably a performance from a local live animal show). The principals and teachers are pumped and getting into the competitive spirit.
So, what was our biggest hurdle? I knew that in order for this to work, ALL children must be eligible for a library card, regardless of past fines and fees. I took it to our Library Board, and I’m excited to say that the Board gave us permission to waive all overdue fines on the cards of the children that respond to the drive. Also, we created a new profile for students whose cards are blocked due to outstanding or damaged materials. The cards will look exactly the same, allow the kids to check out materials (a lower amount than the normal profile and not including DVDs), and access digital content (eBooks and databases). We get to welcome these kids back to the library for a fresh start! Our Board wasn’t ready to go for anything more drastic, but this is a wonderful alternative that will allow these kids to once again have access. Plus, the Board gave me their support to create a fine forgiveness program (such as a Read It Off program) to empower kids and help them manage their fines when they might not have the money to pay them. Hopefully, this will result in increased library access in our communities.
I can’t wait to visit the schools and get our first batch of cards!
The ILF’s Children’s and Young People Division (CYPD) conference is always an enlightening and fun get-together with fellow Indiana Children’s Librarians. This is my first year going as a Branch Manager, and it’s interesting to see how my interests have changed since the last time I attended a few years ago.
Linda Braun from Seattle Public Library kicked off the conference with a really thought provoking session on learning about our communities and adopting the changes they desire. One thing she said that really resonated with me is when she encouraged us to be the advocate for the change you want to see in your library. It’s easy to become stagnant, either because it’s always been done one way or because as a manager, you’re afraid of the reaction you’ll get from staff. The push-back. We’ve all experienced it. So how do we keep it from stopping us? Be bossy, she says! Stand up for what you think is right and ask staff to get on board or jump off the ship. That can be easier said than done, but it’s important for management to set the course and get staff to buy-in, embrace the idea, and take the lead. We were selected to lead because our supervisors trusted we were the right ones for the job. Sometimes, we just need to trust our intuition, be that advocate, and start turning the slow moving ship. If you don’t speak up for the change you want, you can’t expect it to magically happen. We make it happen. And this session gave us a lot to think about when it comes to being the change you want to see. I’m excited to see the change these children’s librarians can create in their communities.