Monday, March 27, 2017

Librarian Partnerships and ....

Heroes in the Community

Think about it!  Who are the heroes in your community?  
Make a list...maybe these colorful characters found on the walls of Wolcott School
should be included.  Yes? 

MY sure to place the Lunch Lady on your list!

 It doesn't get better than this on a school day or any day to the students I know!

Jarrett J. Krosoczka is the creator, author-illustrator of the Lunch Lady series, fun graphic novels.  Following a recent visit to the Wolcott School, here in West Hartford, CT, Jarrett Krosoczka has reached his very own hero status!  Really!  Kids love authors.  How do I know this?  Because I am the Children's Specialist with the West Hartford Public Libraries and those school kids visit me. And we talk!

Wolcott School media specialist, Sarah Lynch, and I have a school librarian/public librarian partnership based on our shared vision for the children and families in our community. The benefit of this partnership for the diverse community we serve is immense.

   - students, teachers & library staff recognize we work together ...they know our names!

   - students & families are willing to discuss literacy needs with both of us due to trust

   - teachers understand that public librarian visits are organized with the school librarian &          will take place in the school library  #librariestransform 

   -we've revived the LUNCH BUNCH - the public librarian visits the school during 
          lunch to meet with a (teacher)select group of students for a book discussion group.

   - we expand the excitement of school author visits to the public library with photos,
           orignal artwork & new purchases of the author's books for students to borrow 

   -parents love seeing that their children have a relationship with the public library due to 
          shared artwork, familiarity with librarian, and knowledge of the collection.  This is
          confidence building

   -parents find comfort in the coordinated effort between the two librarians

   -Sarah and I attend events in each other's building because we care for our kids

We work in a community of almost 70 different languages.  New Americans, first generation Americans and welcoming immigrant families are part of our experience.  We have the opportunity to assist families with assimilation.  Librarians are ambassadors.










It's so much fun when the school works together creating artwork promoting an author/illustrator visit.  Special thanks to Wolcott School art teacher, Katie Zeranski,        
for this wonderful project "Lunch Lady Inspired Superheroes and Supervillains" 


I'm considering a Saturday Pop-Up Art challenge inspired by Jarrett Krosoczka's Lunch Lady

  ...Librarian Lady!! Stop in and create an original librarian hero, or villain...YES!

One more thing to note is that Jarrett Krosocka is a fan of libraries.  He is interested in the school library and public library partnership.  He "gets" the budget concerns we all face.  He understands the value we serve in a community - all the more reason why he is a hero! 

To learn more about Jarrett Krosoczka, all of his books and creative activities, be sure to check out his website, click here


 Thanks for visiting Piper Loves the Library.  We love comments and we'll answer questions.  If you liked this blog post you may enjoy Sarah Lynch's previous author/illustrator visit with Grace Lin

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mindfully Thankful and not Thanksgiving

How We Said Thank You
 Family Story Time @ Thanksgiving Time

Thanksgiving story time has presented a problem for me for all 28 years in children's library services. I have been blessed with supervisors who recognize the changing world and the often narrow path we walk in the children's departments of public libraries.  Mind you we walk these paths with open arms.  

The majority of time our fall story time session ends 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving.  This purposeful pause in programming allows approximately 29 holidays to pass before we resume programming in mid January.  It's a long break but we do offer a variety of specials throughout this time. Think: Family Game Day, Lego Play, Pop-Up Art, Yoga for Two, Calm Coloring...these specials "mix it up" for families and staff.  It's a nice change of pace and no focus on any holiday.


Working in a richly diverse community with more than 60 languages spoken in our neighborhood I do not ever wish to make a family or a child unwelcome or uncomfortable in the library.  This is their library.  
This year our library system has been playing with the Children's schedule - with all good intentions.  We are trying to find the right recipe for children and family programming for three different buildings, three different communities  And we'll get there. But in the mean time...Monday night's Prime Time with Piper met on Nov 21 and I did not do a Thanksgiving story.  Nope.  Turkey craft?  Never.  This book? No.

The majority of parents attending are foreign born.  Their beautiful children are first generation Americans.  Our relationship is built on trust.  They trust their preschoolers with my silliness, my off-key singing and my book selections. I trust they will do the good work of reading, singing and playing until I see them again. Our early literacy program is not the place for a lesson on America's treatment of indigenous people.  It is also not the place for me to mislead these families with a tale of  the 1621 first Thanksgiving, Myles Standish, the pilgrims and the Wampanoags.  My respect for First/Native Nations and for the library families will not allow me to do that.  No way.  

So what did we do?  We learned to say Thank You in sign language.  Here's a link.  We learned to make the heart shape with our hands.  We read a book about caring for our family. We shared a story of filling our heart with happiness and being ever-so-grateful for that happiness. We danced to a hip-hop version of If You're Happy and You Know It.  

And then we moved to the craft table and mindfully created collage hearts with torn pieces of origami paper.  As I glued my pieces I voiced: I am thankful for my family, my library friends, good books, good food, ice cream, my Piper dog, the beach, the warm sun.  Yep.  That worked for me.  Beautiful hearts, beautiful children and multi-lingual parents silently signed thank you.  And they all had hugs for Piper!  

This post, How I Learned to Savor Thanksgiving by Meteor Blade, has helped me both understand the history and maintain my love of family/food gatherings each fall. 
I like having deep conversations on ideas often held in conflict.  Children's books place me there.  Loving a story that has horrible reviews or not liking a book that everyone loves, problematic characters bring about amazing conversations.  Talk to me - we'll both learn.  But Thanksgiving with three year olds - I will trust their parents to tell them what they wish.  Older children, proper books and we can talk truth.  

P.S.(Piper Script) Hopefully next year we won't have a program on top of Thanksgiving.  

Thanks for reading.  We love your comments 
~ Jane and Piper


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Big Thinking for a Little Branch

For the Love of Bryant Park
and the girl who introduced us!

Bryant Park is a 9.603-acre privately managed public park located in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues,  between 40th & 42nd Streets  click here for more

Once upon a time, seems like only yesterday, my daughter lived in NYC.  She told me of this park, her favorite for all it has to offer, and it happens to be located on the back side of the New York Public Library.  Can you even stand it?  For this librarian is a dream come true.  I stop at Bryant Park almost every time I go to the city.  I actually stop at the park more than the library...hush! That will be our secret!  That and the champagne!

A library colleague visited the park a month ago and she was thrilled to have a fencing lesson!  Yes, fencing in the park!  In those fancy fencing jackets! There is so much to do here.  They have ping pong tables, checkers, chess, backgammon, wi-fi, an art cart, putters & putting and yoga.  During November the park is teaching juggling and they featured the movie, Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, on Monday the 21st.  (follow them on Twitter and you'll be in the know!)

This park with the stunning skyscrapers of NYC marking the four walls and the generous open space middle is a dream come true for many in my field.  Libraries across the nation are reclaiming space.  Removing outdated reference sections, replacing heavy furniture with small footprint pieces and opening up floor plans. It is exactly what many community members want in their libraries.  Bryant Park offers open green space anchored by the amazing NYPL. It doesn't get better. 

When you can't find it inside make it happen outside!  Many librarians work in small busy libraries with popular collections.  Removing a stack and opening up the space visually is good but if we have some outdoor space to utilize...I say go for it.   Open the doors, people!!


Now on to the point of today's blog!  Of course I have a motive here!  Three library directors and three branch managers into this little branch and I'm still singing the same song...can we be "like Bryant Park", please?  Can we look at the NYPL/Park relationship? Think big, little branch, think bigger!  Do you think we could have....
     A shady outside patio by the bay window for chess, and checkers and wi-fi users
     Ping pong tables on the side lawn
     Art cart by the picnic tables
     Yoga in the early morning in the parking lot, (free street parking)
My little branch has some usable green space.  Not much, but some.  Enough for the above! If we ever offer a day for hula hooping again we shall do it outside.  On our first day of Yoga for 2 we had more than 80 people in our community room - they were climbing the walls and that's not a yoga position!  We need to take that outside.  Our children's movement class - Party Like a Preschooler would be joyful with the green grass all around.  

We have an abundance of Teen volunteers each summer.  Volunteering is required in some of our high school courses.  Our Teens can help with this open air addition to the branch.  

Bryant Park is an outstanding model of community engagement and there's much to learn from this library/park proximity.  Thank you Bryant Park for inspiring dreams for the community.  Maybe I should suggest a field trip? (we can sip champagne or a steamy hot chocolate here before taking the train home - that's what Piper does!)

Many thanks to my daughter, the former NYC dweller, now suburban mom in N.C.  She visits a few area libraries with her children; one even has a small playground tucked into the property.  Swings!  Don't worry I won't go there!  But really, swings!  Or I could just ask for the Bryant Park Carousel!  #aparkforallseasons #librariestransform

Thanks for visiting Piper Loves the Library.  We love city parks as well.  How about you? 
~ Jane & Piper

P.S. (Piper Script) If management is by any chance reading this...Piper and I have many more ideas for our mid-century modern library.  We'll be happy to show you our pinterest page!  We're available!  


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Librarians, Mugshots and Barking, oh my!

Banned Books Week 2016
Stand Up for Your Right to Read

The American Library Association sets aside a week each fall to celebrate our freedom to read.  Piper always feels the need to bark about it and... well...I usually follow along with the! click! click! It is remarkable to think about the many books challenged and banned.  Children's titles too!  Displays invite our kids and community to talk-it-up...or in Piper's terms: Bark!

This is the reference desk in children's.  Inquiring kids needed to know whhaaaat?!

And then this happened.

Of course we posted it on the Library's FB page!

It happened again.

Librarians standing up for the right to read!

On Saturday our Reference Librarian took a seat...but...shhhhh
she's reading a banned book!


We are undoubtedly partners in crime in our little branch.  I saw the idea on FB, printed it- I need visual reminders - and placed it in my Banned Books Week folder.  We discovered that black plastic mug-shot frame in the basement.  I have Andrew to thank for PhotoShop on the new laptop.  (yay! alas!)  Faxon's Joe deserves a giant round of applause for patiently playing "photoshop"each day.  I am grateful to the Circ Staff for working double duty and allowing me to steal Joe.  Many thanks to our staff for stepping up and standing out.  #Pramodsaidyes 

P. S. (Piper Script) Desiree told me to start thinking about next year.   Check out the photo I found on The Reading Room.  
                                                                                ....we could do such cool stuff with this idea.  

Click here for more Banned Books Week ideas.

Friday, September 30, 2016

How to host a community art project on Dot Day

Our families love Dot Day
       and collaborative art projects

The Faxon Library patrons participate in community art projects many times throughout the year because, well, ART!!!!! And really...CREATIVITY!!!! Art projects abound in our branch because they stimulate our environment, make us all smarter and reinforce that sense of individual ownership and library membership.

There is value to exploring the arts for patrons of all ages.  The developmental benefits of art for children include motor skills, language development, decision making, critical thinking, visual learning and fun!  Let them create or as Peter Reynolds, author and illustrator of The Dot encourages, "make your mark"

Creativity, courage and collaboration....please listen to the story.

We hosted International Dot Day on Saturday, September 17th this year.  We registered here with the official International Dot Day.   You will find everything you need to host your own event on this website. 
A few years ago I created flannel circles in assorted colors and sizes to encourage dot play on the flannel board.  I am entertained by arrangements throughout the day.  Periodically the dots end up on the floor in a new arrangement.  I wonder...did they get tired of standing or just the natural flow of creativity?

How we made our community project at the top of the page: 

-One piece of white foam core board and one large piece of a deep plum paper for background 
-Using the paper cutter I pre-cut a bunch of stems and glued them in place
-scissors and glue sticks on the table-paper in lots of colors.  I cut a few circles - no tracing - just went for circle shapes

47 people contributed to this masterpiece
and easily 50 toddlers and parents played with the flannel board.   Success!

Community Art/Passive program/Pop-up makerspace ~ it's all part of what we do! Thanks for visiting Piper Loves the Library.  We love comments too.

P.S. (piper script) Another post on Dot Day! click here


Friday, September 16, 2016

How to program for calm, confident and caring

Talk to the Animals on Tuesdays!

September brings the beginning of a new story time session and for our little branch, a brand new program.  I've had this in my brain-works for two years.  I was inspired by a visit to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC. The Museum has the cutest station for caring for animals.  My brain instantly flashed COMPASSION, EMPATHY, KINDNESS, let's bring this to a Family Program.  

And here we are...Talk to the Animals is our newest addition to programs and my heart is happy.  We need this kindness, nurturing program now NOW more than ever in my 28 years of children's library service.

The branch has new puppets, (thank you Mrs W), all Folkmanis puppets because they are the very best.  We have feeding bowls, baby bottles, eye droppers and baby blankets.  We're awaiting a scale and two stethoscopes.   

The puppets have their own little beds inside of a book cubby.  It really is too cute.  The book cubby folds in half and closes after the families leave.  Everything goes in the cubby. (translation = easy clean-up!)  We even have multiple copies of books in the cubby to read with our soft, snuggly, adorable animals.

Raising readers...both toddlers and animals, all in one program!  Honestly...who says that little puppy can't read?  Animals read and talk in most of the books on my library shelves! 

Now here's a funny thing...I'm walking my walk...feeling all special about the fancy new puppets and how the kids will love them...and aren't we all on trend with social/emotional development/mentoring when a conversation with a colleague opened my eyes to..... Mutt-i-grees!  
Ha!  Of course!  Mutt-i-grees  

" Developed by the NSAL’s Pet Savers Foundation in collaboration with Yale University School of the 21st Century and funded by the Cesar Millan Foundation, the goal of the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum is to enable children to grow up to be calm, confident, and caring. It has been implemented in thousands of schools across the country and Canada."

They have an established curriculum for libraries and schools.  Humbled and informed in less than one minute!  No trusted librarian would miss the opportunity to connect with success - so I emailed for their curriculum and now we are indeed even cooler than we were before!  Collaboration is always the key.   Does it get any better than this for a partner in children's programs?  

We're presenting a modified program for families with children of all ages.  Our outline looks like this: 

         1. Welcome to Talk to the animals (please find a puppet friend to sit with you today)
         2.  Read a book
         3.  Share some Mutt-i-grees' goodness
         4.  Flannel story or song  
         5.  Social time. Care for your animal: snuggle, sing, play, read to your animal
         6.  Return your snuggly friend to the cubby and we all sing the goodbye song

Six simple steps.  30 minutes.  Steps 1 and 5 have instrumental music playing to make everyone more comfortable.  (Amazingly, some adults have a hard time playing pretend in a group setting...really?!  I wonder what they have to say about me when they leave?!!)

Here are some of the flannels we're planning to share, they link to their blog posting.

Developing and piloting a new program is something I adore.  Bringing "my baby" to a colleague to "take it live" is something I need to work on.  #trueconfession  
Miss Laurie presents Talk to the Animals on Tuesdays!  Miss Laurie is our science and animal "go to specialist" and she's the person who knew about Mutt-i-grees.  You see, it was meant to be.  The snuggly animal puppets are in very capable, confident, caring and kind hands.  Yep.  It's all good.  

P.S. (piper script)  So many new friends in the library now.  I'm beginning to feel old.

A boy's best friend