Category: How To

Picture Book City: More Signs

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My “next week” got pushed back quite a bit given the stress of Summer Reading Program preparation, and then I got to participate in the amazing “Show Me the Awesome” initiative!

But I’m back with more information about Picture Book City! This time, with several more pictures of signs in the neighborhoods.

The endcap directional signs. On the other side, they run backwards -- in the order that a patron would see them if they walked in from that side of the stacks.

The endcap directional signs. On the other side, they run backwards — in the order that a patron would see them if they walked in from that side of the stacks.

I love using the endcaps signs when I’m taking patrons through Picture Book City. I’m very intentional in how I answer reference questions since I want the organizational system to be transparent. For example, my narrative as I show patrons where the Dora books are might sound something like this:

“We changed how the picture books are shelved. All of the books with the blue sticker (points to endcap blue) are in the Favorites neighborhood, where we shelve all of friends like Dora, Disney, Spongebob.”

The shelf labels! We went with patron friendly language here. The orange color already indicates "Concepts," so we listed the street on the label.

The shelf labels! We went with patron friendly language here. The orange color already indicates “Concepts,” so we listed the street on the label.

The shelf labels are mostly to help our clerks and pages re-shelve correctly — they are adjusting to PBC, too — but it also looks so clean and nice and organized. It makes my librarian heart happy.

A full section, with signs!

A full section, with signs!

Overall, I’ve been ridiculously happy with the signs and their reception by patrons in Picture Book City!

Next time, I’m planning on posting the final list of neighborhoods/streets & including the information sheet that we have available in the Youth Services area for patrons to use!

Webinar: Read It, Make It, Take It

Yesterday, I presented a webinar for NEFLIN about using crafts in storytime. (If you’re from the webinar, welcome! If you’re a regular Storytime Katie reader, consider this a bonus post!)

The slides for the presentation are available on SlideShare, though they did upload with a weird gray bar through the background images. And the handout is available right here.

Thank you for attending, if you did, I had a great time!

Show Me the Awesome: Part 5

Show Me the Awesome Logo by John LeMasney!

Artwork designed by John LeMasney!

Today, I’m participating in the amazing series, “Show Me the Awesome!” that was started by Kelly, Liz, & Sophie. For more AWESOME, please check over at their sites for the official link-up. Also, don’t forget to tag your related posts with #30awesome on Twitter, Tumblr, Vine and/or Instagram if you’re liking what you’re reading and want to talk about it!

This is Part Five of a five part series about how I grew my storytime attendance. In the past three years since I took over storytime, I’ve increased our program attendance by 61% compared to the last successful season. (For the statistics nerds out there, I’m comparing Summer 2009 from before I took over to Winter 2012/2013.) And I promise that these are simple measures that almost every library can do, regardless of budget.

Part Five: Motivational Poster Time

(My last tips for increasing your storytime attendance all wound up sounding like motivational posters…so enjoy clicking the links to see what I’m talking about!)

1. Hang in there, this will take time. I grew bit by bit — that 61% did NOT happen overnight. And you shouldn’t expect it to. I’m still growing my attendance, THREE YEARS after taking over.

2. Keep trying. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. So, passing out flyers didn’t work for you — what are you going to do next? Leave some at a nearby daycare? Look into partnerships at the pediatrician’s offices around you? Keep trying!

3. Be yourself and find a way to be happy. No matter what size attendance you actually have in storytime, those are your patrons. Make storytime the best for them and the best for you.

And that about wraps it up. I hope you’ve gained some useful tips, I hope your storytime numbers increase, and I hope we keep sharing the awesome!

Show Me the Awesome: Part 4

Show Me the Awesome Logo by John LeMasney!

Artwork designed by John LeMasney!

Today, I’m participating in the amazing series, “Show Me the Awesome!” that was started by Kelly, Liz, & Sophie. For more AWESOME, please check over at their sites for the official link-up. Also, don’t forget to tag your related posts with #30awesome on Twitter, Tumblr, Vine and/or Instagram if you’re liking what you’re reading and want to talk about it!

This is Part Four of a five part series about how I grew my storytime attendance. In the past three years since I took over storytime, I’ve increased our program attendance by 61% compared to the last successful season. (For the statistics nerds out there, I’m comparing Summer 2009 from before I took over to Winter 2012/2013.) And I promise that these are simple measures that almost every library can do, regardless of budget.

Part Four: Personalize It

This is going to be a short and quick entry, because this is super simple to implement — personalize your storytimes. The more familiar you become to your storytime families and vice versa, the more important storytime becomes to them and the more parents will value your advice and tips.

Here’s a list of ways that I’ve found successful:

  • Learn the names of your storytime kids. Use nametags if you have to, or registration sheets.
  • Learn the names of your storytime parents! They are coming and participating too!
  • If you’re using themes, add in themes you know they’ll love and relate to! When I had only three or four year-olds boys for a few weeks running, I decided to do a dinosaurs theme since I knew they’d be over the moon. Last August, I did a “School” theme at the end of summer to help the kids going to grade school adjust.
  • If you can, send home extra take-home sheets or coloring pages for siblings that used to come to storytime. Since my library does coloring sheets all the time and we have the budget for it, there’s no problem to send Lupita home with a sheet for Danny now that he’s in school.
  • Provide read-a-likes! I have a ridiculously scary memory, so I remember from week-to-week that Bella really loved “Hilda Must Be Dancing,” so I pulled out “Brontorina” for storytime a few weeks later. Guess what? Bella loved that one, too.
  • Share details of your life. When I sprained my foot last month, I explained that I couldn’t stomp my foot during the welcome song. This week I had Damian say to me, “Remember when your foot was hurt? It’s better now!” Another Mom asked me about library science since she knew what school I had attended.

I’m sure there are many more things that you’ve done to personalize your storytimes! Let me know if you’ve got any other suggestions in the comments. I’d really love for this to be a great discussion, but that only works if you’re willing to share.

Show Me the Awesome: Part 3

Show Me the Awesome Logo by John LeMasney!

Artwork designed by John LeMasney!

Today, I’m participating in the amazing series, “Show Me the Awesome!” that was started by Kelly, Liz, & Sophie. For more AWESOME, please check over at their sites for the official link-up. Also, don’t forget to tag your related posts with #30awesome on Twitter, Tumblr, Vine and/or Instagram if you’re liking what you’re reading and want to talk about it!

This is Part Three of a five part series about how I grew my storytime attendance. In the past three years since I took over storytime, I’ve increased our program attendance by 61% compared to the last successful season. (For the statistics nerds out there, I’m comparing Summer 2009 from before I took over to Winter 2012/2013.) And I promise that these are simple measures that almost every library can do, regardless of budget.

Part Three: Change Is Good; Keep It Fresh

I know. I already said that you need stability and that preschoolers crave consistency. But once you get your routine established, shake it up every now and again.

Glitter!

Glitter!

1. Bring out surprises in storytime. On days when the kids have been remarkably wonderful or days when I sense the group needs a pick-me-up, I will often pull out the glitter and add it to our storytime craft. Just last week, I had bubbles at the end of my program. Do you give away stickers at the end of storytime? Get puffy stickers or fuzzy stickers for a treat!

2. Try something new. For about four weeks, I put toys out after storytime ended for kids to play with in our storytime room. When the kids started to stay after storytime, I moved it upstairs to our Youth Services area. Now kids can play while parents select books or talk to me about problems/concerns/ideas. I’ve heard everything from temper tantrums to picky eaters to toilet training — and I can get you the resources you need to help you out. This extension of storytime worked wonders for developing family relationships, but it only worked because I dared to try something new!

20130417-143618.jpg3. Find out what makes you excited to do storytime. For me, that was flannelboards. I *love* using and making them. If I need to get excited about a theme, I usually turn to the flannelboard. I make sure to do a different flannelboard every week. (That’s not to say I’ll never re-use flannelboards though, I just try not to in a single storytime session.) Even if our song cube is the same, and I’m reading familiar books — kids see a new story or rhyme every week on the board.

4. Take breaks. I run four storytime “sessions” a year. (September-October. November Off. December-January. February Off. March-April. May Off. June-July. August Off.) Those months off give me time to recharge, to develop new initiatives — like Growing Readers, to create new storytime props & flannelboards, to focus my attention on weeding or creating Picture Book City. And like I said in Part One, be honest and transparent towards families about why you need a break. If you can’t take time off, see if someone else can cover for you for just two weeks. I truly believe you’ll feel re-energized when you come back to storytime.

There are lots of other ways to keep storytime fresh for both you and your patrons! If you’re struggling to find out how to liven things up, ask a co-worker to observe your storytime — I bet they’ll help you brainstorm. Ask for help on Twitter or listservs, librarians are out there and ready to listen/help. And if you have any questions for me, leave them in the comments or @katietweetsya.

Show Me the Awesome: Part 2

Show Me the Awesome Logo by John LeMasney!

Logo designed by John LeMasney!

Today, I’m participating in the amazing series, “Show Me the Awesome!” that was started by Kelly, Liz, & Sophie. For more AWESOME, please check over at their sites for the official link-up. Also, don’t forget to tag your related posts with #30awesome on Twitter, Tumblr, Vine and/or Instagram if you’re liking what you’re reading and want to talk about it!

This is Part Two of a five part series about how I grew my storytime attendance. In the past three years since I took over storytime, I’ve increased our program attendance by 61% compared to the last successful season. (For the statistics nerds out there, I’m comparing Summer 2009 from before I took over to Winter 2012/2013.) And I promise that these are simple measures that almost every library can do, regardless of budget.

Part Two: Preschoolers Are Creatures of Habit (And secretly, so are their parents!)

I touched upon my library’s revolving door of staff members in this ALSC post, but I’ll recap here. Essentially, my library is super close to a library school. We’d hire a library student as an assistant, they would get their degree and then a full-time job, and then we’d hire another assistant. From when I started at my library in Fall of 2006 to when I took over storytime in Fall of 2009, six different librarians/library assistants had been in charge of storytime.

My patrons needed some stability. And here’s how I fixed it:

1. I picked a day for storytime and stuck with it, for a long time. Storytime had been bounced around the calendar from Tuesday morning to Monday nights to Wednesday morning, etc. If word of mouth had any hope to travel, the day and time for storytime had to be consistent. I picked Thursday mornings, based on our after-school programs and room availability. And I refused to move it for at least a year.

Applesauce, our storytime mascot!

Applesauce in his storytime chair!

2. After adjusting to six different styles of storytime presenters, I wanted to create traditions at my library — something that older siblings could tell to their younger siblings: “And then…at the end of storytime, Applesauce comes out! You can pet him, you can stick your hand in his mouth, he doesn’t have any teeth.” I bought a Folkmanis golden retriever puppet that can live at the library and be in storytime no matter who is doing the presenting. I have to say, it was a great, friendly puppet choice and I’ve never (knock on wood!) had a child scared of him.

3. After trying several different opening/closing songs, I went with a “Farmer in the Dell” rewrite for both. It’s only now — after two years of singing these songs — that my patrons are chiming in.

Storytime Rules

(There are a few translation errors in the picture; I’ve since corrected them.)

4. And it was also time to lay down the rules. I sat down and wrote some basic thoughts out, and wrote down the necessary storytime rules I needed patrons to know. My co-worker made a sign, I wound up re-vamping it recently to include picture cues for the kids. If rules are your thing too, you can download the PDF version of this (error free) at the original post. This move was for my parents. Once I started to build an audience, I wanted to make sure we were all on the same page for expectations. It took me about a year before I realized this and I wish I had done it much sooner.

5. I gave myself permission to re-use books, songs, fingerplays, and flannelboards. Yes, almost every preschooler knows the story of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Does that mean when I pull out the flannelboard, they all moan and cry, “Oh no, Miss Katie. Not that one again!”? Nope. They squeal with delight, with recognition. And the one toddler who doesn’t know the book walks away with a new story that day.

Not only did these changes help my community and my families, I really feel like they grounded me in storytime. By making these decisions and changes, I started to own my storytime style — which made it easier for me to do what I needed to do for my job. But owning my style also made me love storytime. It made me jump out of bed on Thursday mornings and get to work already in a good mood, ready to face the day and the growing groups of preschoolers.

Show Me the Awesome!

Logo by John LeMasney!

Logo by John LeMasney!

Today, I’m participating in the amazing series, “Show Me the Awesome!” that was started by Kelly, Liz, & Sophie. For more AWESOME, please check over at their sites for the official link-up. Also, don’t forget to tag your related posts with #30awesome on Twitter, Tumblr, Vine and/or Instagram if you’re liking what you’re reading and want to talk about it!

This is Part One of a five part series about how I grew my storytime attendance. In the past three years since I took over storytime, I’ve increased our program attendance by 61% compared to the last successful season. (For the statistics nerds out there, I’m comparing Summer 2009 from before I took over to Winter 2012/2013.) And I promise that these are simple measures that almost every library can do, regardless of budget.

Part One: Parents Are Busy

Of course, we all know that our storytime parents are running all over town often balancing kids, work, school, home, and all those activities and fun things. But after a session of storytime that had 20 sign-ups, but literally ONLY one child and caregiver showed the whole six weeks that we were scheduled, I had to re-evaluate how to help my busy families.

1. I started doing reminder calls the night before a program. Simple, about a twenty minute process that my paraprofessional staff does on Wednesday nights. It’s a quick speech, “Hi, this is the library calling to remind Sophia that she is signed up for storytime tomorrow, May 2nd, beginning at 10:00 am. Hope to see her there!” When a parent signs up for storytime, I explain our reminder calls are a courtesy since families have tons of activities to keep track of on their schedules.

2. Since I knew that parents were worried about being late, I pushed back the start of storytime, but only in actuality! All of our publicity states that storytime begins at 10:00 am, but I do not take anyone into the storytime room until 10:05 am. This gives parents a five-minute cushion for when their child doesn’t want to put their coat on or if the baby decides to spit-up on themselves the minute they’re put in the car seat.

3. Roll-over sign-ups. If a family has been regularly attending storytime in the Winter session, I will automatically sign them up for the Spring session. My families love this, though I know it’s not always possible for every library. But there are tons of ways to make sign-up easier for families, I’ll help you brainstorm if you’re stuck!

storytimereminders4. Reminder cards for the breaks between sessions. At the last session of storytime, I pass out these cards so parents can stick them on the fridge and have a visual reminder about when the next storytime session will be starting. Hopefully it doesn’t get lost with all the storytime crafts displayed next to it!

5. And as for attendance, I do not require families to attend every week of the session they’ve signed up for. I don’t use strikes or count it against them if they can’t make it. Parents who miss every session do not qualify for roll-over sign-ups, but they always have a chance to re-register, as long as the program is open.

That brings me to the end of Part One! I think the biggest tip I can give with regards to parents and families is to be transparent. Occasionally I’ll have a new mom asking me why we’re not going into the storytime room right away, and once I explain about my five-minute cushion, I get the slow head nod of approval.

By answering questions honestly, and explaining to parents and caregivers the benefits of the rule for *them,* storytime becomes an activity that takes their busy lives into consideration instead of another thing to fit in on the schedule.

Signs in Picture Book City

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One of my biggest concerns and thoughts about re-organizing the picture book was that I really wanted to make it very clear to patrons that this change was about them being able to find their own materials. To help them in that endeavor, I knew that we needed to put up lots and lots of signs.

Here’s a few pictures of the different kinds of signs we’ve done:

Our overhead sign, hanging from the ceiling.

I made this sign in Publisher and my fabulous co-worker backed it with poster board. It looks beautiful (despite the awful fluorescent lights in the picture) and it really pops in the department.

Signs in the bookcases, at the beginning of each neighborhood.
This one is from the Bedtime neighborhood.

Another Publisher file that I worked on. I color-matched the heading to the color of the label, hoping for good color recognition by our patrons.

Right now, we’re working on more signs for Picture Book City after sitting with it for a month to make sure we weren’t moving everything all over again. This week at the library, I’m making endcap directions and my co-worker is working on individual shelf labels.

I’ll post pictures of those next week!

Picture Book City: Catalog

picturebookcitypng

This post is LONG overdue, but as soon as I had written it, we had to change everything in the catalog and start over!

There were a lot of questions about how we were going to display the call numbers in the catalog. We are very lucky that we have almost complete autonomy on what we can list in the catalog, as far as number of characters etc. And we thought that we wouldn’t have a problem including the slashes that we use on the book spines. So, that’s the direction that we first went with:

My library's copies are the first two listed.

My library’s copies are the first two listed.

(You can see that some of our multiple copies got split up between neighborhoods!)

I loved how this looked in the catalog. I thought it was very clear that the neighborhood and street were linked. My staff members had learned how to read the calls again, and patrons were giving us positive feedback.

And then we ran a report.

And those sweet, beautiful looking slashes messed up how our reports were run. And we had to get rid of all the slashes. Now, our catalog looks like this:

Still functioning, but I miss those slashes.

Still functioning, but I miss those slashes.

Staff and patrons have adjusted from this change (we made it about a month ago now), and everyone is still able to navigate without the slashes. I will likely always miss the look of them, but understand and support letting them go for functionality.

Next up, signs in Picture Book City!

New Books In Picture Book City

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Besides the obvious re-cataloging going on, I’m still purchasing new books. As they arrive in the library, I now have the task of reading each book and deciding where it will go in our neighborhoods.

Messy desk, with books in process!

Messy desk, with books in process!

When new books arrive, I take them back to my desk and read the, to figure out where they will go. It’s a bit of a messy process as you can see from the picture!

If I have trouble deciding where the book will go, I do look in our catalog and see what subject headings have been assigned. (Since we’re a part of a large consortium, it is rare that we are the first library to receive any title.) Sometimes that helps and sometimes it confuses me even more!

The biggest problem that I’ve come across is when I want to be a book into two different neighborhoods. Larger libraries would have the option of buying a second copy, but with $1000 for picture books for the year, I don’t always have the option. So I’ve been keeping a wishlist of titles that I would like doubles of if I can get them/afford them.

After I decide where the books are going, I make the labels and take them back to Tech Services where they then get barcoded and added to the catalog.

Next week, come back for a look at how the books appear in our catalog and a status update on how complete the project is after a full month of working on it!