Monday, May 2, 2016

Summer Reading Registration

I've always known there were different ways to conduct your Summer Reading Program. Heck, the way I run our is very different from the way I ran it ten years ago. If you ever want to start a...spirited discussion amongst children's librarians, toss out a question like, "Is it better to count by minutes, or by books read?" or, "Prizes or no prizes?"

Recent threads online, however, have shown me how drastically different summer reading can look from library to library. So, I thought I would give a run-down of how we do things, with the understanding that this is how thing work here, and they may not work the same at your here, and that's completely okay! This could get extremely long, so I'll start with what leads up to registration, which begins for us May 27, the last day of school (used to be the middle of May - one change I've made in recent years).

What April looks like...

By now I have done all my fund raising and scheduling and planning (except for my first year, when I came on the job at this time, and NOTHING had been done yet.) I am spending so much time at the copier, someone asked me today if I was running laps. The 5,000 flyers to go out to the schools were thankfully sent out to a commercial printer, but I still have volunteer applications and packets, raffle tickets (we went through over 10,000 last year), 1500 registration forms, equal number of packets/schedules, and approximately 1 million "READO" boards. All of these need to be updated/revised, and will inevitably have a glaring error I only notice after the copies are done. Then they all need to be stapled/cut apart/etc., and I don't have my teen volunteers in place yet.

I am also winding down story times, and scheduling/beginning my class visits, field trips, etc. I will be spending one full day dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange at a local cosplay event, and another at a military appreciation event (no costume), both to promote the SRP and the major Harry Potter event we decided to add to the mix, because hey, why not?

My story times and crafts are planned, so I am purchasing materials, and cutting out pieces parts, and hoarding the books I want to read, now and through 


This month's schedule is rapidly filling up with said field trips, and I have 4 volunteer training sessions scheduled. I deliver the flyers (and volunteer forms where appropriate) to the schools, and make note of how many students each has (in the fall I take a stack of books to the schools with the highest percentage participating).

Registration begins on the last day of school. That 'school day' is traditionally only an hour long, and everyone is already in a celebratory mood, so we capitalize on that! To register, parents fill out a little half-sheet form for each child:

I added the e-mail option last year, and it worked REALLY well for getting out notifications!

I usually have a craft for kids to work on while Mom or Dad tries to remember how old everybody is, and t-shirts hanging on the wall so sizes can be an educated guess. Once the forms are done, they get an information/instruction packet, and a "READO" board for each child. There are three different READO boards, but they look like this:

NAME _______________________________________

I read a book about dinosaurs.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a book about science.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I attended a library program.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a book I picked because I liked the cover.
Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read every day this week.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a story that happened in another country.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read to a friend.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a book with a female main character.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I listened to someone tell me a story.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I made a recipe from a cookbook.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read out loud to an adult.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a mystery story.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I wrote a letter to a friend.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read somewhere other than my house.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a historical fiction book.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I attended a library program.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a book about love.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a book that was on display.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a book about families.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read in my pajamas.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a book about nature.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a book that is also a movie or TV show.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a poetry book..

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a graphic novel.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________
I read a fantasy book.

Date             Parent Init.
____           _________

(spacing way off because it's landscape on the paper, but you get the idea)

The game board is new this year. We used to give prizes or raffle tickets for every hour/4 books/200 pages read, with a free book, t-shirt, and coupon to a local establishment at the 5th prize. Last year we switched to days read. This year we are doing away with the small prizes entirely, but keeping the big raffle items (as motivation to continue all summer). Instead:

First READO (5 in a row) - coupon plus a raffle ticket
Second READO - free book plus a raffle ticket
Third READO - t-shirt plus a raffle ticket
Every subsequent READO - raffle ticket

So far, the parents I have shown this to have really liked it. Lets hope the kids feel the same! I am going to challenge my own kids to get blackouts on each of the boards, just for fun.

Of course, planning ahead, this means we also need suggested book lists of, say, historical fiction for younger readers...another task for the "to do" list.

The packet itself contains:
- instructions for earning prizes
- schedule of weekly story times (2 preschool, one kinder/first, one second grade and up. We also have two for large groups that aren't advertised)
- schedule of weekly tween activities
- schedule of weekly teen activities
- schedule of weekly family activities
- list of sponsors
- information about free lunches (served here Monday-Friday), free movies at the local theater and at the zoo, and anything else that is offered to kids for free during the summer.

Kids can start earning prizes as soon as they are registered, so the books really start flying off the shelves at opening registration. That is a day I see many of my regulars, as well as families who can't make it in much during the school year except for rushed visits. I really love the whole atmosphere of the day - school ending, fun beginning, everyone relaxed and chatting and happy! Best part of the whole summer!

After the first day, my teen volunteers handle most of the registration and awarding prizes. I keep a spreadsheet with all the information on the cards (password protected), and every morning before we open, I update with new registrations, prizes received, etc. This way I can get statistics at a moment's notice, and if someone's form is misfiled, I can easily bring them up and see which prize they are on. A little work to set up, and you have to keep up with it, but so worth it! (Yes, I know there are online programs you can buy, but I haven't seen any that look worth the money to me. And if people are registering online, you miss the visiting, the craft, etc. No thanks!)

Just 25 days away! Time to get back to that "to do" list!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Harry Potter and a Whole Lot More!

Ohmigosh my feet hurt. Like, really, really hurt. WHY do women wear heels? Really, why??? Ow, ow, 


Needless to say, I never wear heels. But, I couldn't really be Bellatrix Lestrange in sensible flats, could I?

Let me start over. If you are at all in tune with the Harry Potter world, you know that a much-anticipated eighth book is set to come out July 31 - the script of the play set to open July 30, featuring Harry and Ginny's son. To those like my husband who say, "Ginny who?": this is a huge deal, trust me. So huge, library staff took approximately 2.3 seconds to decide we need to do something major on July 30 to celebrate it.

To help us plan it, we asked around about local cosplayers, and were immediately given one name: Jana. We met with her to brainstorm, and her first suggestion was that we have a booth at the 2nd Annual Alamogordo Aeon Adventure, which she was organizing, to advertise and raise money. I should note, at no point did she suggest I wear heels, so I can't blame that part on her. Our FOL spotted us the money for some raffle items, and we started planning our costumes. Getting paid to dress up? Heck, yeah!

Yesterday was the day, and I arrived bright and early with my van loaded down. We had free bookmarks kids could make, and some of last year's SRP shirts (hoping to unload a few on superhero fans!)

And, of course, the raffle items. We have ten in all, from a golden snitch necklace I really want, to a Triwizard Cup, to a copy of the first book with a hand-tooled leather cover - created by the multi-talented Jana (who also made many of the costumes you will see in a bit).

We also revived an old "Plinko" board, with Mad-Eyed Moody's eyeball as the ball.

Hermione (in her summer wardrobe) was my partner for the day, and even though I was dressed as Bellatrix, we got along all right for the day. Filthy mudblood.

She tried conducting our young assistant in his first kazoo recital,

but I don't think they are ready for public performances just yet.

There was, however, plenty of live entertainment right next to us most of the day, from belly dancing,

to medieval fighting and dancing,

even a demonstration of how medieval Irish wolfhounds would rip a man's throat out.

Well, okay, Maggie here is only a puppy, so she doesn't quite have the ripping-out-your-throat thing down. But, she sure did try to snuffle off all my makeup! Vicious beast.

Then there was this guy, who fortunately started flinging fire around AFTER my kids left.

That was pretty much the last picture I took, because this was when a gust of wind suddenly took our canopy - cinder blocks and all - and sent it into the next space, sending everything on the tables flying. While this guy with the fire didn't get much more than a breeze. Gotta love New Mexico.

I did, however, get some pictures of some of the many great costumes, so I'll leave you with those. The day was a lot of fun, and our raffle is off to a great start! We will sell tickets until our event July 30, so if you are local, there is still time to get some at the library!

This young lady really is Wonder Woman! I met her last month when I was judging the city science fair. Still in high school herself, she was our section's head judge, and showed some amazing leadership skills and maturity beyond her age. At the Aeon event she was helping with the Student Council's booth, and when our canopy went flying she jumped up to help gather everything back up, then duct-taped our poles to the cinder blocks. If I remember correctly, she plans to go into nursing - I would not be surprised to walk into the hospital in a few years and find her the head of the entire nursing staff!

Power and cuteness all in one! This lady runs one of the downtown businesses, a thrift shop that benefits Kitty City, local feline rescue. This particular kitty just turned 8 weeks old, and was enjoying his first trip outdoors (I would love to know what was going on in his mind!)

Especially when he saw...

What the...

Holy. Cow. Er, mantis. This guy was AMAZING. He just strode up and down the street like it was nothing. Do you have any idea how many small children I would have taken out in the first five minutes (assuming I stayed up that long?)

And, Jana made that costume, too!

Oh, and here's Jana:

I should have made her smile, but you can see how lovely she is! During set-up, she was in "normal human" clothes, and she said people did a double take when they heard her voice - they are too used to seeing her in various costumes! 

That was an amusing part of the day for me - waving to people I know, mostly library patrons, who would frown a little and wave back with a look of, "Why is this person...OH MISS AMI!"

Name this Game of Thrones character:

The anonymity of costumes means hugging random people who would otherwise find that rather weird.

And check out his sidearm!

I found Waldo! Carmen Sandiego was with him, but I didn't get her picture. I did tell him that we have all his books at the library, and we love his work.

Check out those stilts - they are curved, and they bounce! I saw him dancing with people quite a bit, he was obviously having a ball. I probably shouldn't complain about my heels any more.

Another Wonder Woman, and another costume by Jana!

I choose you!

"And on your way back from the battle, don't forget to pick up some eggs."

Lots of younger cutie patooties:

And some not-so-younger.

Above is one of my former students!

These guys were dressed as security guards. Pretty convincing, too.

The gentleman above had very gallant manners to go with his costume.

This group was fun:

View of the shield:

Okay, I REALLY can't complain about my heels, check out these shoes:

And, of course, there were some fellow Hogwarts students! I completely missed photographing the Luna at the next booth, but these ladies were brilliant:

And, did you know Ana and Elsa went to Hogwarts?

Of course, Ana was in Gryffindor, and Elsa...Slytherin!

Yes, that's me on the left. I think I looked more like a zombie than Bellatrix, even with the dark mark:

which won't come off. Hmm.

After several washings and conditionings and a lot of combing, my hair is voting we switch to someone like Madam Trelawny for July.

Besides, she wears sensible shoes.

***First two pictures totally stolen from Hermione, who has her own blog you need to check out: Lisa's Lighthearted Library Blog

Friday, April 8, 2016

Review: And Then Another Sheep Turned Up, by Laura Gehl

And Then Another Sheep Turned Up

Mama set another place.
Papa found an extra seat.
Hannah squeezed to make more space,
Thrilled to have a guest to greet.

Uh-oh! As the sheep family Passover seder begins, more and more guests show up!

For those not familiar with Jewish customs, guests are always welcomed at the Passover seder, even when unexpected - but, goodness, this table is getting crowded! In between each arrival, the rituals and foods of seder are mentioned - but never really explained, so it might help to have a guide or glossary on hand. 

This would be a great introductory book to read to children who have been invited to share their first seder, as long as more explanation is given along the way. Of course it is also just a fun book for the child who is familiar with Passover - and all children can identify with the little ones falling asleep before the grown-ups finish celebrating!

The cadence and refrain would make this a good choice for an interactive read-aloud, and the different characters showing up would lend well to a flannel board. A solid choice for any library or classroom wanting to add titles in this subject area.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Family Coloring Day

Today one of the Adult Reference Librarians, Lisa, and I co-hosted our first annual Family Coloring Day, and we'll have to call it a success!

Our opening rush filled every seat for a couple hours, then people started trickling back out for lunch and other engagements. The rest of the afternoon was quiet but steady, with more than 70 people making their way through.

Of course, we had coloring pages, for both adults and kids:

from - these are really fun!

As well as zentangle supplies and inspirations, for anyone who preferred drawing: 

We had several small tables set up with a variety of coloring materials - colored pencils, gel pens, thin markers. These were our biggest expense, but they can all be used again.

We also had this table, with some dry erase markers:

One of my coworkers (thanks, Amanda!) printed out this gigantic mandala and taped it together for me. I traced it with black permanent marker on plastic sheeting, which you can buy by the yard at Walmart. We look forward to getting much more use out of this - a nice passive program for either kids or adults!

There were plenty of adults coloring, but they weren't as keen on having their pictures taken!

I also bought a plain white vinyl table topper, and put it out with some sharpies:

I have a plethora of tablecloths for Halloween, but I am always scrambling at Christmas. I thought the kids might get a kick out of seeing their artwork displayed come December, so I sketched out a few things to get them started, and put it near the mandala table.

This white board happened to be left out, and it was easier to make use of it than it was to put it away! Librarians can be lazy like that.

Near our sink, we also had an area for playing with watercolor paints.

Emphasis on water.

I had SO much fun surfing Pinterest and coming up with sample projects!

Something about the black Sharpie on top of the paint makes it look so polished!

Even examples of mistakes can be helpful.

This idea (and the text/photos on the top) came from Nurture Store, which has a huge variety of activity ideas:

I also found some great tips and techniques at Adventures in Making, a community blog that I think is going to take up a lot of my time in the near future!

As a little added incentive, we raffled off two door prizes - contributed by HarperCollins

And, of course, there were snacks!

Decorations courtesy of my children, who have to add their own flair to everything.

Can't imagine where that came from.