Three Summer Savers

Hafuboti shares three of her library's best time and stress-savers during the hectic summer months |

In the almost-decade that I’ve worked at a public library (how the heckie-pooh did that happen?!), I can unequivocally state that summers are, at their mildest, hectic. And over time, our Children’s Library team has come up with a couple of simple time-savers/stress-reducers that I thought I should share to hopefully help someone else out there.


A cat freaks out and has a very wordy existential crisis. |

This evolved from a tip that I learned from this ALSC blog post by Abby Johnson many years ago (and which I implemented at our library). We have one spot in our Children’s Library where we make themed displays throughout the year – except in June and July. This year we even skipped having a sign that mentions in a theme-related way that these are popular books in our community. Did it affect our circulation of those items? No. Have patrons complained that the don’t get the concept? No.

And hey – if you’re a larger library that has plenty of titles to fill up summer-themed displays? Then go for it! For us, it takes one family to check out all of the theme-related books in our collection, therefore we’d rather keep the space dynamic with items almost constantly moving. It also majorly helps us out on shelving since we throw whatever we grab up into the empty spots and it looks great. Hooray for face-outs!!!

If you try this then you may be amazed at how many people think that you carefully curate the just-returned items. It’s also a lot of fun to tell a patron who compliments these “displays” that it’s actually the community and patrons like her who are the designers.


Does Hafuboti regret this really bad Salt 'n Pepa pun? No. No she does not. |

If your library happens to keep its books flushed, then this tip is for you. If your library doesn’t do this, then you’re only getting two tips from this post. ::trombone wah-wah:: Now I’ve heard other terms for the practice of bringing the books’ spines up to the edge of the shelf, but “flushing” is what I learned when I worked at a bookstore years ago, and that’s what’s stuck with me.

Within a few months of working at my library, I came to the conclusion that flushing DVDs was a Sisyphean task. I asked our Director if we could just push back all of the DVDs to save time while also keeping the shelves looking neat and orderly. Thankfully he said yes. And so for years we have enjoyed not flushing that section.

Cut to a few years ago: keeping items flush at the Children’s Library can be a weekly challenge to say the least, but in the summertime it felt nearly impossible. That’s when I was like, “Wait. We’ve been here before.” And after discussing the pros and cons (the conniest being that it makes the spines a little less easy to see), we checked with our Director and she said to go for it!

Now every year on the last day of school, we go through and joyfully push back all of the Junior Fiction, Early Reader Fiction, and Junior Graphic Novels.

And when school’s back in session (or even a little before that depending on how busy it is or isn’t), we go back to flushing.


As ALSC puts it: "Babies Need Books Every Day." Don't upset the baby. |

Sometimes we run out of space on our reshelving cart(s), and then items start to pile up on our back counter. The last time this majorly happened to us was four years ago during the summer. I came up with this improvisation back then, and it wasn’t until this year that we needed to do it again (and for more sections than just our Picture Books).

I created and printed out a few signs, then put the ready-to-be-shelved items on top of the lower bookcases, and finally attached the signs to the bookends that were holding up the books. This year we even needed to do this in the movie section! Here’s a photo depicting (and recreating) what I’m trying to explain:

It's a simple sign with an emoji letting library patrons know that their library is use. Like, a lot. |

You’d be surprised at how many of those items would check out – especially in the Picture Book section. And once we had more than a few minutes of quiet, we went and shelved those items like the wind. We do have a very part time library page, but she has to rotate between our two library buildings. If we had never gotten a quiet time for us to get the excess shelved, then at least we would have helped her in terms of getting the items to the correct areas for her next shift at our library.

(And in the above picture you can also see our Junior Fiction Books shoved back.)


Here’s a set of the signs I created for you to download and print if/when you need them. It should hopefully save you some time if you’re rushing around trying to get things done. Click on each image to get a non-logo’d version of the respective sign.

You know you want this sign for your popular library and its books. Get it at For free. | You know you want this sign for your popular library and its movies. Get it at For free. |

And there you have it: three of our tips!

Do you have any tips or tricks that you’d like to share? Feel free to comment even if it seems like something obvious. You never know what will be a revelation to someone out there. I mean, looking back it seems so obvious that we should shove back our often shoved-back books just like we do with our DVDs. You just never know.

Display Power!

Simple and slim organizers used to make book displays on our library's endcaps (and hopefully walls, too)! |

This year I was given the go-ahead to do some creative reworking of our teen space, and it’s been pretty fun. One of the best decisions I made was ordering a bunch of these Umbra Strum Wall Organizers (FYI: I’m not being paid for this recommendation).

Simple and slim organizers used to make book displays on our library's endcaps (and hopefully walls, too)! |

We’ve been wanting to order a slat wall endcaps for this area, but daaaaaang are they expensive! My solution was much cheaper, slimmer,  and can move if we ever need them to. Plus they just look fabulous and help define the Young Adult section.

I do plan on adding a fifth bracket to that shorter bookcase on the right – I just ran out of time and I was too excited to share this solution with y’all. I can be cute like that. And I also plan on sharing with y’all more of the changes that I’m making in this area once they’re done. Again, I could have waited to share everything at once, but see the aforementioned statement on my cuteness.

(or is it…?)
(probably not because sometimes my cuteness verges on adorableness)


It turns out that I got some of my themes/months confused. I had thought that our Pokemon Go decor had been in September. Nope. It was a bonus August theme (thank you to my team for pointing this out to me – and I’ve gone back and corrected my earlier posts as a result). Basically for September’s theme we wanted something relaxing and peaceful; thus SeptZENber was born.

Natasia made a stunning tissue paper mandala in our front windows:

The front windows and door at our Children's Library featuring a lovely tissue paper and Mod Podge mandala in celebration of SeptZENber |

I would find myself gazing at it when I needed a mental break from the tasks at hand. It looked especially beautiful in the morning sunlight since our building faces east. We also received a larger-than-normal amount of compliments and questions on the application technique from our patrons.

Natasia further continued the loveliness with our reading bench display:

Beautiful "Relaxing Reads" library display with a simplified flowery mandala |

HUGER THAN NORMAL thank you goes to Natasia for this picture. I absolutely failed at getting good pics of all of her hard work which I hope to have corrected for future posts. It’s worth noting that this display was quite popular with parents who were in the midst of back-to-school stresslandia.

If you look closely at the above pic, you’ll notice a smallish peace sign with something on it on one of the window frames – that was part of our monthly scavenger hunt. It was one where the kids had to find the different colored peace signs and put it on their worksheet. Then they had to unscramble the letters to spell out a simple word like peace or love – depending on the week (or their age – we didn’t make preschoolers do the word scramble).

We also had special classes with Two Keys Creative Studio on stone mandalas and stone painting. Thank you to the instructor Sarah Fettin-Kuester for providing this pretty cool picture from one of our classes:

Image of library class attendees showing off their painted stone mandalas. Photo courtesy of Two Keys Creative Studio |

It was during this class that Sarah discussed cultural appropriation and what a fine line it can be while giving a lesson about mandalas and what they meant in Hinduism and Buddhism. As a result, I had an “OMG I NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS THAT WAY ” revelation. And because of this realization, I do not plan to repeat this exact theme, class, or use mandala coloring sheets for any of our passive coloring programs. I’d much rather err on the side of respect.

We also had a local yoga instructor come in and host classes for both young ones and their families. They were a big hit, and I only had to handle one complaint that “yoga is demonic and anyone who does it invites demons in to possess them.” True story. I believe that the patron and I had a good discussion about this since I try and do yoga to help with my chronic pain, and not once have I been possessed. In the end she was grateful that I took the time to listen and thoughtfully respond. Again – erring on the side of respect.

And that was really the biggest lesson I learned during SeptZenber:

Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if we all erred on the side of respect? 

Our Early Literacy Corner

A few weeks ago, Cory Eckert (of Storytime Underground fame) shared a quote on Facebook from about how important repetition is in a child’s life:

Repetition is a key ingredient to building a healthy brain. When your child asks for the same book, activity or outfit again and again, this is really just their brain demanding what it needs– lots of repetition to help cement those learning pathways!

Her post rocked my mind for two reasons: 1. I hadn’t been aware of Earlier Is Easier – and dang if this isn’t a super-de-duper resource for parents/caretakers of young ones, and 2. THE COMPLAINT ABOUT AND DENIAL OF CHECKING SOMETHING OUT AGAIN BY PARENTS HAPPENS WAY TOO OFTEN.


But seriously, I’d say at least once-a-week I hear a parent or grandparent refuse to re-check something out that the child so desperately wants to rewatch or reread. If I get a chance to, then I try and gently mention that repetition is important and valuable to children.

I shared this quote with my library team, and we brainstormed a way to share it with our community. We always have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how best to use our tiny space, which can be fun, but also a big challenge. Ashlynn was the one who finally came up with the idea of using the back side of our computer carols. It wasn’t until after I put up the display that I realized that it was literally an “early literacy corner.” Heh.

Check it out:

The Early Literacy Corner at Gretna Public Library's Children's Library featuring information from |

Close up on the pamphlet holders because people are always unsure of whether or not they can take something – be it a pamphlet or a book on display:

Red dot sign on a pamphlet holder that says "Please take one, two, three, or four - we can print out many more!" on it to encourage patrons to take as many pamphlets as they'd like |

One more artsy-fartsy photo:

Using the corner of a computer carol to feature early learning/literacy tips from |

And it won’t always be the same tip on each side – I just really wanted to mimic repetition to really send the concept home. All that I used was some looped scotch tape, and then contact paper to put up those signs and pamphlet holders.

Hopefully this inspires you to look at unexpected locations for early literacy tips. Like maybe on paper towel dispensers:

Putting early literacy tips on laminated card stock on our paper towel dispensers. Literacy tips are found at |

You can find/print out these and other great early literacy tips at Storytime Underground‘s Fast Facts. All I did was print them out on card stock and laminate them before sticking them up with packing tape. Yay for fast and easy! I swap these signs out about once every month or so.

Please feel free to share any of the ways that you get important information out to your community – either by commenting here or sending me an email at I’d love to hear/see them!

Pumpkin Patchwork Quilts

October 2016 written out with the "O"s modified to look like patchwork pumpkins |

Long story short: I am WAY behind on sharing with y’all all the fun themes we’ve had over the past (counts on fingers) five months or so.


Lemme start catchin’ y’all up!

This year we decided to focus October’s theme around pumpkins! After all, the area’s most popular pumpkin patch is part of our community. And considering how cheesy it is, I likely came up with the idea of making it sound like a Wheel of Fortune Before & After puzzle category: Pumpkin Patchwork Quilts.

Natasia, our awesome artist-in-residence/team member, took the theme and ran with it. I wish that my photography skills were better so that I could really show off her talent.

These were the best pics I’d taken of the tissue/scrapbook paper pumpkins she’d made to go along the bottom of our front windows:

Tissue and scrapbook paper "quilted" pumpkins |


I regret to inform you that I never did get a good exterior shot of those pumpkins – you can get a glimpse of them in this interior shot. And yes, there are other fun things that you’ll see that I’ll show off more in a moment:

Paper lantern pumpkins suspended from the ceiling with tissue paper and scrapbook paper pumpkins in the window of our library |

And here are the special pumpkins that she made out of scrapbook and poster board:

Scrapbook and poster board pumpkins for our reading bench display |

These pumpkins were all that we used for our reading bench display’s sign. We kept it simple and neat without using any words, and people completely got that autumn-themed books were featured – with some football thrown in to keep it interesting…ier. Interestingier. I’m going with it.

And yes, I’m going to make you wait to see more of the adorable pumpkins that Natasia hung from our ceiling. Instead, I’ll show you the cute Five Little Pumpkins sign that she made on our whiteboard. I believe that Jennifer, our fantastic Children’s Librarian, made the cute and very popular worksheet:

Five Little Pumpkins rhyme featured on a white board behind our passive "decorate your own pumpkin" worksheet |

And here’s my favorite pic by far. It reminds me of when I left for work one evening with everything zen, and walked in the next day to a pumpkin wonderland:

Pumpkins made out of orange paper lanterns with paper leafs and painted scotch tape over newspaper for the stems |

These paper lantern pumpkins feature paper leafs and stems made from rolled newspaper wrapped in masking tape and painted a dark green.

You can also see more “patchwork pumpkins” on the wall in the back. We made pumpkin counting into our passive program – so if kids got within five of the correct number, they’d earn a special coloring bookmark featuring our dragon mascot carrying a big pumpkin.

And there you have it: our cheery October theme of Pumpkin Patchwork Quilts!