SeptZENber

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 | hafuboti.com

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 | hafuboti.com

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 | hafuboti.com

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 EarlierIsEasier.org 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.

Ahem.

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 earlieriseasier.org | hafuboti.com

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 | hafuboti.com

One more artsy-fartsy photo:

Using the corner of a computer carol to feature early learning/literacy tips from earlieriseasier.org | hafuboti.com

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 storytimeunderground.org | hafuboti.com

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 hafuboti.com. I’d love to hear/see them!

Pumpkin Patchwork Quilts

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

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.

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 | hafuboti.com

THEY ARE SO ADORABLE!!!

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 | hafuboti.com

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 | hafuboti.com

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 | hafuboti.com

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 | hafuboti.com

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!

Our Chalkboard Window

At some point this past summer I had a flash of inspiration. It’s probably because I saw yet another awesome chalkboard sidewalk sign on Pinterest, which made me want to do something like that.

Then the location of it came about because although I love having windows everywhere in our building, I don’t like the one that’s right by my desk. Light would bounce off of parked cars and into my eyes and I would have to creatively place various objects in the window sill in order to block it. Also people would randomly bang on the window or just stare creepily through it and at me.

Front exterior of the Children's Library with an arrow pointing at the front office window | hafuboti.com

I took the above picture right after I had finished cleaning every window in the library (both inside and outside). I adore this picture because of how shiny those widows are. Just look at ’em! You could eat off of those windows, although gravity would make it difficult.

So one day I was like “OMG WE CAN PUT THE CHALK BOARD INSIDE THE WINDOW SILL TO KEEP THE BOARD LOOKING NICE, ADVERTISING OUR EVENTS TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER COME INSIDE OUR LIBRARY, ALL THE WHILE GIVING ME MORE PRIVACY!” I pretty much sent an email like that to my Director. Caps and all. Thankfully she loved the idea and suggested that her very handy dad might be able to put something together.

And, like two weeks later I had an awesome chalkboard in the window! Our Director’s dad had the perfect sized wood piece, and leftover chalk paint from a previous project so when it arrive it was practically a completed project: woohoo! It is utterly gratifying to have a flash of inspiration turn into reality that fast.

I then asked our very talented Natasia to take over the task of making the board look great – and that she did. She took some donated violet paint and painted the plain wooden backside, and then used chalk markers for almost all of the signs (we tried regular chalk and it was too hard work with as well as to read).

Check it out:

Our first chalkboard window sign at the library | hafuboti.com

As you can see above, we changed the chalkboard weekly during the busy summer months. For all of the non-summer-programming months, we change it on a month-by-month basis:

Exterior view of our chalkboard window in September featuring the month's children's events | hafuboti.com

You might have noticed on the second photo that there’s a small image in the lower left-hand corner of the window. That was our way of communicating a very important fact that we felt should really stand out and get non-library members’ attention. It’s taped to the window, and not to the chalkboard. Here’s a rainy day closeup:

A cartoon version of our Children's Librarian's head telling readers that they don't need a library card to attend our events | hafuboti.com

Boom. Marketing our events to anyone who walks by.

I added some fun photocopied book covers to the back side so that I wasn’t just looking at a giant purple rectangle. And our Director picked up a tension rod to keep the board from falling in on me (the wood is heavy and getting hit with it would definitely hurt).

Ah, the cheerful privacy! Plus, on occasion I can hear kids on the outside excitedly exclaim things about our events.

It’s also been a big hit with our community! We’ve had many people tell us that it’s great to see a breakdown of what’s going on in an easy-to-read format. It has also helped get people to the right location when we’re having a children’s event at our other library building. For example: when we had our most recent Kitty Cafe, the Humane Society representative went to the Children’s Library thinking that the event was there. The building was closed, but there was the event listed on our chalkboard which indicated where she needed to go instead. Yay! Kitty cat-tastrophe diverted!

Have you done anything like this at your library? Please share in the comments – I’d love to know about it. And as always, don’t hesitate to ask me any questions about this. Chalk On.

Family Fandom Festival

Have you made it through all of my holiday postings?

If your answer is “yes,” then you know what you should do?

Sparkly pink words of "Treat Yo Self" | hafuboti.com

I know that I will!

While working on all of my holiday posts, I kept debating whether or not to create foundation programs for pop-culture-based celebrations. The thought of writing at least a dozen more holiday posts made me want to cry. But then I had a flash of inspiration:

LET US CELEBRATE THEM, ONE AND ALL!!!

I shall call this program The Family Fandom Festival where all ages and all fandoms can come to the library and celebrate their holiday nerdery together.

Family Fandom Festival for libraries flyer featuring many pop-culture celebrations | hafuboti.com

Click on the above flyer template to get a larger version that you can download and use for your library’s celebration.

This event could be done in so many ways – especially depending on who in your community would enjoy cosplaying during the holiday season (and not just as Antasay Lauscay). Here’s a list of holidays that I selected, but you can definitely find and incorporate more – after all, the more the merrier!

Get some meat lovers pizzas, dust off your Vader helmet, and ring your bells!
*whispers* so much pop cultuuuuure…

DISPLAY & ACTIVITIES

Here are two scavenger hunt sheets that you can also use for a display. Click on the two image collages for a letter-sized version that you can download and print:

Imagery from pop culture holiday events for a scavenger hunt or display | hafuboti.com

Set of images from various pop culture holiday celebrations for a scavenger hunt or library display | hafuboti.com

SONGS

You have so many options here! Whether you have a sing-along portion of the event, or put together a playlist for background music – you’ll be sure to have fun with lots of these:





And in honor of my all-time favorite princess Carrie Fisher:
And there you have it: the final post of Library Holidaypalooza!

Hopefully you learned something (I know that I did) and have been inspired. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll rethink holiday programming at your library as a result. If not? At least I know that I tried.

If you happen to have started at the end of this series, then you should start here, or you can follow the holidays tag.

…OR IS IT?!

(It totally is. I am utterly sick and tired of coming up with holiday programs.)

Deal with it | hafuboti.com