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



Sunday, August 21, 2016

BookFace! Yes, BookFace!

Three Cheers for Teen Volunteers!

About 4 years ago I posted my first "BookFace" on Piper Loves the Library.  I thought I would make it a quarterly mini-series.  A simple easy post that was all about fun and reading trends.  But some ideas just barely come together and then flop.  (see for yourself!)
Well, with #SummerReadingPrograms wrapping up I felt the need to take some photos of our teen volunteers.  Yet the teen volunteers suddenly went all "too cool for photos".  Hmmm...I had an answer for that.  BookFace revival!  And they were willing! (Silent victory...I needed to walk the cool walk to get the photos)

They were willing to sit in front of the stacks...all "library like"! 

We have the best teens!  We do.  

 Not only do they volunteer to help with children's programs...they read!

And that my friends, is How It Went Down...which happens to be one of my favorite summer reads.  

My heartfelt thanks for the wonderfully kind, generously patient and tremendously talented teens that rocked our summer.  You brought many smiles to the little kids and to the staff as well.  We appreciate you and the time you give to making this, your library something special.  We could not have survived Summer Reading Programs without you. Thank you.

~ mrs breen 

Art Gallery in the Library

Summer Art and A Saturday Social

Summer Art Programs...I adore them!  This year we were all about the self-portrait.  I had a purpose and a plan.  Let's build self esteem.  Let's think about who we are and what is important to us. What do we love?  Let's express that with color and design.


If you follow our blog you know that Piper and I work in an amazingly diverse community.  And if you follow the nightly news, you know that the world has been very unsettled this year.  When there is a crisis in the world we have books at the ready in our little library.  We know that our library families are connected across the globe with their extended families.  We pay attention. 

 I was inspired by pinterest to try self-portraits on black paper and ...WOW!  I think the kids rocked it!

When our art groups met, we talked about all the things that make us who we are.  Maybe we love basketball, or do we show that in our self-portrait?  Maybe swimming is important or you love the ocean.  Can we show that with color?  Do we have goals or dreams and how can we include them in the self-portrait?

I can not even begin to tell you how much I love these masterpieces.  Being part of  self-discovery conversations and witness to creative concentration was quite incredible.  

On Saturday, August 6th, our little library hosted a Saturday Social with lemonade, cookies and summer art projects on display.  The self-portraits were the central part of this exhibit.  

We are every color in our library.  This is important to recognize...every beautiful color.  We do our best to reduce prejudice by reaching out across town to build all inclusive children's programs.  Our volunteers, our families and our friends come from all backgrounds.  We encourage multicultural lives in programming, making fun friendships with people who come from different backgrounds, different countries, different faiths.  It's important to me. It's important to our children and their future.

 Every portrait tells a story.  Amen

peace ~ Piper and Jane

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pikachu, Pikachu, why can't we find you?

Oh yes we did!  Pokemon fandom fun!

Tonight at Prime Time with Piper and Mrs Breen we discovered that Pikacho was hiding  in our Story Time room.  Piper is quite proud that our library is a gym/Poke stop...but honestly...we turn off all devices for story time and yet....there he was behind the green house.

Here's the full photo of the flannel board with little mouse:

When the pajama-clad children arrived with their parents Pikachu was completely hidden behind the green house and little mouse was worried. He missed his friend. Here's the simple story I created. 

"Little Mouse loves his neighborhood and his neighborhood loves him.  He visits his friends often and sometimes he's a little late coming home. And we have to go looking for him.  This morning Little Mouse and Pikachu went out to play...but someone forgot to come home today.  

Hmmm.  Pikachu, Pikachu, why can't we find you?  Do you think he's hiding?  Perhaps behind one of the houses?  Which one shall we check?  Ahh, yes, the pirate house.  Oh, not there.  Pikachu, Pikachu, why can't we find you? (and so on)"

This game is a big matter who and where.  We have an adorable duck hiding behind a truck. It will also link you to Little Mouse (the original!)  Check it out.

P.S. (Piper Script)  Shhhh...I have Jane's phone, playing Pokemon Go right now! Shhhhh!


Saturday, July 30, 2016

How to Host A Drive-in Movie Night

Pinterest to Program!

Alrighty then...we're back!  Just that like that!  

We've wanted to do this program, in the library, for more than two years and alas, we made it happen.  SO. MUCH. FUN.  I mean it.  You need to do this for the cute factor alone.

I pinned this idea to my pinterest page ages ago.  Promoted the idea in a department meeting in January and by July our kids were zooming around the program room. O.M.Goodness!

My plan began with boxes, supplies and a movie.  

Paper plate tires from Target
Volunteers cut out yellow construction paper headlights/taillights before the program
Assortment of stickers
Blue paper and white chalk for you license plate (obviously I have a Vanity Plate! JANE12 )
Mounting squares to stick on tires and lights
Big red paper for front of car and sticky spray to make it stay (this was done before program)

I decided on a movie ahead of time.  Corduroy.  20 minutes.  Perfection.  A wonderfully retro movie that I adore with just the right amount of suspense for all ages..  Kids were ages 3-5 with siblings on both sides of that.  Parents were assorted ages!  

Boxes came from everywhere.  You know, it takes a village!  Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, our local Family Resource Center and our branch manager. We had plenty of boxes.

Twenty minutes of car building...parents really enjoyed helping with this.  One table featured tire installation!

Headlights and detailing on two other tables.  

License plates were of your own design on the backside of the car.  White chalk on blue rectangles.  

Eventually we all pulled into parking places.  Some even backed in!  The sun set in the story time room and the movie began. (please take a note here: my colleague, Joe, saved the day on the movie with tech set up while I ran off for refreshments.  I owe him big.  My advice - set up the tech FIRST to be sure all systems are go.  Remember this and thank me later!)  

We had a great time and sent our beautiful families home with sporty new cars...oh, and one MONSTER car!  Indeed!  

FYI: This is an easy program.  There are a few things I would change or tweak when I do it again.

Show two movies: one 20 minutes and one 10 minutes with refreshments in between.  Our kids ate in their cars - easy clean up. 

Have teen volunteers prep the boxes with the color paper and license plate.  I also fortified the back of each car with book tape.  Teens could do that too.  Car prep was time consuming.

Warm up aka settle down the crowd with a song once they're in their cars...tell it as a story..."okay, here we are at the drive-in...I think there's a cool song on the radio...quick, quick...turn on your radios!  Can you hear it???"...Steve's Songs - Drivin' In My Car would be excellent here!  

I offered chalk in many colors if anyone wanted to draw on their cars, some did.

I asked parents to sign photo release forms - they all did!

Let your director know you did a really amazing program. (hopefully she's reading this)

Eat ice cream after clean up! You deserve it.  

Oh, I also handed over all of my leftover supplies to Miss Dee.  She's hosting the program at our Main Library and no doubt she will tweak it before it makes it to Bailey!  Have fun my friends.  (original idea credit was Christina Ho on Pinterest)

Piper says hello.  We hope to return to weekly blog posts soon. We miss our Flannel Friday friends.   #librariestransform #summerreadingisExhausting.  

Thanks for stopping by.  

peace ~ piper and jane