Last month our Children’s Library celebrated its second year of being opened. Our library is a rarity in that our City decided that it wanted to give us a second location that would house our children’s collection because we were running out of space. It’s an odd situation that definitely has its challenges, but as time goes by I think we’re figuring it out, and it’s inspired a lot of creativity in terms of how we use the space.
The Main Library gained so much space that it’s finally able to “breathe.” However, our children’s collection had to shrink, and our events/activity area became teeny-tiny. At some point in the very near future I’ll have to share some of the things we’ve done in order to maximize space without it looking too cluttered (as well as boost circulation).
This anniversary is especially poignant for me, because the Children’s Library’s first birthday party was the very first major event I planned as the (at the time unofficial) Creative Director. It also marked the point of when I began to supervise the Children’s Library. It seems very unreal that it’s been over a year – and it’s been an amazing, crazy, tough, wild, and wonderful time.
Anywho – to the celebration!
I focused on the decorations and props, while Jennifer focused on the planning the actual party – it was a fantastic collaboration. Brittany, who is a baking goddess, made us some awesome cake pops as well.
Between Brittany and I, we blew up around 300 balloons (mostly small ones for the balloon drop, but also about 2 dozen larger ones for decorations). Brittany hung the zig-zag streamers that we made/saved from last year, and I hung the balloons.
I also created this big sign that we hung up outside one of the office walls near the reading bench. It didn’t turn out quite like I’d hoped, but it still did the trick. It was a hoot to hear a few kids exclaim “Hey – I’m older than the library!”
Last year I created the story of our Library Dragon, who was given the name Booker T. Dragon by a contest we held with the children. Jennifer took that story and adjusted it to be more like our Christmas Melodrama where there were cue words for the kids to shout things. I made the paddle-props for this (and then did the prompting as Jennifer read the story). Seriously, if you can’t find a picture book that will work for you or your event – then make one! It’s a great way to model to both kids and parents that making up stories can be fun.
We had the kids sign an awesome birthday card, created by our talented Mary. After the party we went outside and hung it in our Reading Tree which is where Booker lives.
I was sure to post to social media the special Thank You note we happened to discover the next morning. Booker had seen the card! If you look closely, the lower-right hand side of the card is a little bit singed.
Jennifer also printed out some “dragon footprints” to play a version of musical chairs where she played music and then stopped it. Any child who wasn’t on a foot when the music stopped had to go over to Jennifer and pick an age-appropriate (which were color-coded) task to do out of a jar. At first the kids were trying ever-so hard to land on a footprint until they realized one-by-one that it was more fun to draw a silly task (such as act like a chicken, or sing Happy Birthday as fast as possible).
After the game, all of the kids grabbed their coats and went outside to sing happy birthday to both the library and Booker. They circled around the base of the tree and sang as loud as possible. I had brought my ukulele outside to lead the group, but was quickly reminded of my marching band days where we had to tune outside in cold weather because of how our instruments would go flat. Yeah, the uke was useless.
BUT, about a hundred yards away is our City Hall where if they missed the spectacle of our loud singing, then they’d see the card that was left hanging in the tree for a few more days. It never hurts to remind them that we do really creative things in the community.
After the kids came back inside, we had the best moment of all: the balloon drop. Remember how I mentioned that Brittany and I had blown up close to three hundred balloons? Well, the day before the event, Brittany figured out how to hang our small parachute from the ceiling so that it was rigged to flap open. Thank goodness she figured this out because I was sort of overwhelmed by the task (I’m not a fan of heights).
The balloon drop was a blast! The kids went nuts, and once some of them began to deliberately pop the balloons, we told them that the sound frightened Booker – and the popping immediately stopped. We had leftover SRP bags that we handed out for kids to stuff and take a bag of balloons home with them (hooray for the bonus cleanup help).
We then handed out the cake pops. I held the vanilla, and Brittany held the chocolate – only one per participant. I was impressed with how polite everyone was when there were cake pops at stake. And only one tween tried to get away with getting two, but his mom totally called him on it – heh.
We continued to hand out bags of balloons for two more days – which was a huge hit with the patrons who had been unable to attend. We made one mom who had two sick kids at home very happy – it was a simple indoor activity for them over the weekend once they felt a bit better. The leftover delicious cake pops only lasted another half-day. They were also a very much appreciated surprise to many patrons.
That about covers our celebration. I hope that I might have inspired you to consider celebrating your library’s birthday as well – at least with the children of your community. You might already have an anniversary celebration, but making it a “birthday party” with the kids is something that they can really get behind. It’s such a fun way to remind people of your presence, and it’s fantastic PR (we made the front cover of one of our local papers – and the other ran a much longer inside story).
Overall I’m really excited to see what this next year brings – especially as I take the time to look back and reflect upon how much our programming has changed and grown, even as our space has shrunk. I can’t wait to see what happens.