Jamuary @ the Library

Back in late November/early December, we set about the task of brainstorming ideas for January at the Children’s Library.  Brittany suggested “Jamuary,” and I liked it right away, but it really didn’t knock my socks off.  BUT then all sorts of stars aligned and Jamuary has been one of the funnest themes we’ve had so far.

Our Jamuary display featuring non-fiction, fiction, and music cds.  Lots of swirling music notes definitely are eye-catching to our patrons.

Changing topics for a minute!  See the Jamuary lettering and small music notes?  They’re easier to see on the picture below this paragraph. Those are all individually cut – even the little stripey-parts of the font.  It took less than ten minutes.  You want to know how?  I splurged and bought myself a Silhouette printer for my Hafuboti business since it could save time on cutting paper.  It’s been a blast to use at the library too.  We may be approaching our Friends to see if they’ll buy us the larger version the next time that they go on sale (usually around Christmas, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled).  And no, Silhouette‘s not paying me anything to advertise here – I’m just really pleased with the product.

A close-up picture of our Jamuary signs that I sticky-tacked to our windows' woodwork. They look really sharp and match our marketing.

Back to Jamuary!

What initially got me excited about it is when we were brainstorming this Jennifer, our new Children’s Librarian, had yet to start working with us.  When Jennifer and I started brainstorming ideas (yes, we do a lot of brainstorming at our library) for the winter storytime session theme, she came to me with “Story Jam.”  What?! My jaw dropped when she suggested that, and I explained that we’d been thinking of calling January “Jamuary.”  At that point, when things like that come together, I feel it unwise to ignore the universe’s apparent urging.

A fun logo to go along with our storytime session marketing. I snuck in our mascot in some of the stickers. And  yes, that's a ukulele. I sort of want it.

The image above is of a ukulele – there’s a reason for that.  Throughout November I had been trying to find someone to accompany me musically during a family sing-along storytime in December, and was failing at finding someone.  When I came across this blog post by Tess Goldwasser, and I thought to myself “hey, I played the flute seriously for most of my primary school years, so I think I can do this.”  I also thought of my favorite music teachers when I was younger, and none of them focused on the piano. My most favorite was the teacher with the autoharp (turns out that autoharps are expensive).

I wasted no time and ordered a ukulele.  After doing so I mentioned it to Mary whose response would set us on an exciting musical course.  She said, “I want to play the ukulele!”  And it was like lightning had struck: what if we formed a band?  I asked Brittany and she expressed excitement at the prospect.  Then I asked my Library Director if she’d be behind us forming a ukulele band.  She was!  I sought out other interested staff members and then put forth a proposal to our Friends group for them to purchase the ukuleles and some other supplies for us.  They approved it a few days later, and thus our ukulele band (yet to be named) was formed.

A photograph of our ukulele band minus one. Each ukulele has a name, but our band does not as of yet.

Our little band (who have just now begun focused practicing), has garnered a lot of interest.  We’ve had a local paper cover us – front page y’all, and the Nebraska Library Association’s quarterly newsletter will be running an article on us in February.  Plus, these instruments fit in perfectly with our Jamuary theme!  To motivate our practicing, we’re having Jam Day on January 31st where patrons may request any song from our playlist and we’ll stop everything and play for them.  We’re also having a very special musical storytime that day where we’ll be performing.

A picture of my ukulele stardust on a field of colorful pom-poms.

On a side note: can I tell you how much I love my ukulele?  She’s purple and sparkly.  Her name is Stardust (after Carl Sagan, Lawrence Krauss, Neil Gaiman – husband of the awesome ukulele-playing Amanda Palmer, and Fletcher Hanks).  She usually hangs out at my desk at work, and whenever I get frustrated or overwhelmed I’ve taken to picking her up and practicing for a few minutes.  It’s one of the best stress-relief instruments (bad pun intended) I’ve ever used.

Back – again – to Jamuary!

We weren’t quite sure where to go with the decor for the month.  I knew that I didn’t want dangly things since we’d just had them in December and would likely have them in February.  And then I saw this on Pinterest, which made me think of this, and I approached Mary with the idea of doing character silhouettes in our windows.  We had several debates on how to do it, and ultimately decided to go all-black with music notes floating around the characters.

As Mary would complete characters, she’d hold them up, and they looked really neat (if a bit warped from the black paint curling the paper).  It wasn’t until she started taping them up that I saw how freaking gorgeous they are.

Two of the five children's picture book silhouettes that Mary painted and cut out.A silhouette of Curious George the monkey on our main door.

I love them, and I might actually cry when we take them down for February. They are one of my favorite things we’ve done decor-wise so far.  I mean, they’re clean, elegant, and so dramatic.  You can’t really see them when you’re approaching the library to come inside during the day.  It’s once you’re inside that they seem to magically appear.  And the kids so far have loved them once they realize what Mary has done.

Here's a photo showing how the characters (now with the floating music notes) look like at night from the outside-looking-in.

More children's picture book characters in our front windows include a Rainbow Magic Fairy and Mo Willems' Pigeon. All of the characters seem to interact or at least be aware of the music notes floating around them.

Brittany took on our Great Wall of Pun and came up with “These Books Rock” featuring books about rocks, minerals, etc.  She didn’t tell me what she was doing with the display – she just went and blew my mind.  She used this font from dafont.com and then colored them in using crayons.

"These books rock" pun - books about rocks, minerals, and gems are on display. Each letter of the phrase is colored to look like a gem or mineral.

That’s crayons, y’all.  And there’s more.  What she colored wasn’t random – oh no.  Each letter is made to look like a different gem or mineral which she made a reference sheet for us to use if anyone asks.

A close-up of the coloring done with crayons for the large sign that was made for our rock book display. The S is "Vandanite and Barite."

Also, it makes me think of Breaking Bad, which makes this display one of my favorite Great Wall of Pun displays. “They’re MINERALS, Marie!”

We actually have even MORE as part of Jamuary, but this post is already quite long.  Furthermore, it ties into our first-ever Winter Reading Program which we’re calling Reading Rocks.  Yes, this theme has gone wild.  I will definitely be covering our Winter Reading Program soon.  I also have so much more to share about what’s been going on at our library.  I’m extremely excited about how this year’s shaping up – we’ve definitely hit the ground running!

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