Let the Sunshine In

The words "Yule Blessings" above a Celtic knot all in gold foil | hafuboti.com

All-inclusive holiday programming and displays would not be complete without the roots of modern Christmas celebrations: Yule! The Pagan Yuletide consists of 12 days of celebrating with feasting, gift giving, and special rituals dedicated to each day or night. I honestly fell down a bit of a rabbit hole while researching this holiday because of how interesting it is. I mean, I knew that a lot of Christmas’ symbols and traditions were based on Yule, but I was pretty shocked at how much of it is.

To help focus this holiday into a program that you could have in your library, I decided to focus on one of the days of the Yule Season: Winter Solstice. I have seen some children’s programming pop up now and then, but they generally focus on the scientific aspects of the day/night, and leave out the pagan connection. Some day we’ll find it – the pagan connection – the lovers, the dreamers, and meeeee…

MARKETING

I have created two flyer templates for potential Winter Solstice programs. There are two because I had two ideas, and I liked them both. I stayed away from the Yule season colors of red, green, white, and gold because I was concerned that patrons might get confused and expect it to be what they thought that a Christmas program should be.

The words "Winter Solstice Celebration" above a sabbat wheel all in sunrise colors | hafuboti.com

The words "Winter Solstice Storytime" above a sabbat wheel with holly imagery | hafuboti.com

The imagery I chose were a sunrise, holly, and the Wheel of the Year – all important parts of this winter celebration. I used this font. Click on either image above for a bigger letter-sized image that you can download and use.

BOOKS

I read lots of reviews for picture books that would pop-up when doing a Winter Solstice search. From a pagan perspective, it seems like most were lacking, or were thinly-veiled Christmas books. There were two, though, that stood out and look like potentially good storytime reads:

Elsie & Pooka Stories of the Sabbats and Seasons: Yule & Imbolc (978-1941175903) by Lora Craig-Gaddis

Rupert’s Tales: The Wheel of the Year – Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, and Ostara (978-0764339875) by Kyrja
(You should also get the companion book of this series that’s about the other four celebrations in the year)

Also, here’s a wonderful Goodreads list created by the even more wonderful Catherine Bellamy full of other options!

SONGS/RHYMES

All things sunshiny would work for songs and rhymes in this storytime. Here are some special things that I’ve come across while planning this program:

Morning Verse words in red for a Solstice program at your library | hafuboti.com

Here’s a neat Snow King poem.

Here’s Silent Night (Solstice Night) by Karina Skye.

Did you know that Deck the Halls was a more Yule-centric song? Someone decided to censor the verses that mentioned drinking. Heh.

ACTIVITIES

I’d recommend trying to find a local pagan group and inviting them to the event to share stories and talk about how they choose to celebrate. They could also do a variation of a Yule Candle Ritual (you can use electric candles for safety).

And if you’re in an area that allows it, then having a special bonfire would be amazing and I want to go there.

You can have the kids jingle bells to help chase away the night (and any scary things that may lurk in it). And you can have them shout for the sun to return. A variation on this would be to have the kids create cards for the sun, asking for it to please return.

One of the most popular events we’ve done in recent memory was creating gift candles. We did the “use clip art for kids to use markers and trace the images onto tissue paper” version. I LOVE THIS VERSION MORE. I can imagine a family gathering around their sheet of tissue paper while using their fingers to paint suns and sunbeams.  This would truly be a special memento that they will cherish for years.

One of the things we learned when doing this was to have dish towels to cover your hand that’s holding the candle because it gets HOT. The other thing was that we should have at minimum four people with hair dryers helping in the program. It takes some time for the wax to melt, and during that time a line of kids can form.

If you’re not comfortable with, or don’t have the budget for that particular craft, then this paper art would be lovely. As well as these sun faces. I can imagine a bunch of shiny sun faces in our library’s windows which would cheer everyone up during this time of year. This would be both a beautiful craft or an addition to an inclusive holiday display.

And there you have it: a good foundation for a more Pagan Winter Solstice program for your library. And as always, if you’re a practicing Pagan and feel that I have made any sort of error in this post, or if you have extra ideas to add to this post, then please share! Either in the comments or send me an email at hafuboti@gmail.com.

Want to know why I wrote this post? Here ya go.

Mini-Master’s of Library Science

Colorful Mini-Master's of Library Science at the Gretna Public Library for children who want to learn more about their library.Many months ago I was chatting with the wonderful Miss Meg from Miss Meg’s Storytime. If you don’t know her blog, then please stop reading and follow the above link. These words will wait for you over here, and you’ll be in for real storytime awesomeness treats over on her blog.

Okay, so Meg and I were chatting on Facebook where I was bemoaning the discovery of a sign that one of my team members had made. I give that teammate HUGE kudos for taking the initiative in trying to fix a perceived problem. However, the sign sent out an unwelcoming vibe – and it featured this symbol:

And when I spoke with that team member – she totally got it and we took down the sign.

But here’s the issue that led to that sign’s creation:
kids wandering back behind our circulation desk.

I’m actually incredibly grateful that the sign had been made and posted because it was the jolt that I needed to really think about this situation. I mean, what was the problem with kids being behind the desk with us? Yes, rules are important, but why wouldn’t we foster kids’ curiosity and ownership of their library?

So, that’s what Meg and I chatted about – and what happened as a result was nothing short of magic. Together we came up with the Mini-Master’s in Library Science!

We were incredibly excited about the thought of this and how it could be used. I mean, what if we welcomed kids behind the desk and share with them the joy that we have with our jobs? Both kids and parents would learn more about librarianship and the importance of education within it. But most important, both the children and the librarians would be making incredibly special memories. Squeeeee!!!

Meg ran with it right away and created her certificate. A storytime fan of hers had asked if she could have her 9th birthday party at the library with Meg (I mean, how awesome is that in and of itself?!). Well, Meg presented the attendees with certificates and frames to put them in! The local newspaper covered it:

Newspaper coverage of the first mini-master's of library science. Miss Meg bestowed these certificates during a birthday party at the library after the attendees took a tour and learned about library science.
^^^SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!^^^

I hope that Meg will write about the experience on her blog sometime, because there were some very special moments during that event. Like, at least one got me ultra misty eyed. I’ll be sure to add a link here if and when she does.

For me, it took me months and months to finally get ours going, but going we got it! I asked our library page put take the template that Meg shared with me (and she’d share with you, too, if you ask her) and adjust it for your library.  And guess what?! I’ll share our template with you, too!

Gretna Public Library in Nebraska's Mini-Master's of Library Science degree that children can be awarded after a library tour and recommending a book to one of the librarians.
It’s a Microsoft Publisher file – so you’ll need to reach out and email me at hafuboti@gmail.com and I’ll send that file to you. If you don’t have Publisher, then still ask! I can take the certificate and try to convert it to whatever program that you have.

The debut of our Mini-Master’s program happened just a few weeks ago:
C.J., on the far left, had told me a week before that he wanted to be a librarian when he grew up. ::melts:: So I asked his dad if I could take his boys on a library tour the following week. It happened and it was just as amazing as I’d hoped. I looked forward to it all week, and those boys just ate up all the “behind the scenes” stuff. And after they presented me with books that they’d recommend (a Frankenstein board book and a Thomas book), I presented them with their degrees!

Rebecca McCorkindale shares the special moment of C.J. and Mitchell being the first to earn their Mini-Master's of Library Science. A.k.a. BABY LIBRARIANS!!! Such an awesome library memory for everyone in

I shared the above photo that their dad took for me on our library’s Facebook page (after getting the dad’s permission) and it was an enormous hit!
::intones a la Oprah:: ADVOCACYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!

Even better? One of the local papers was there covering another story (our therapy dog storytime) and took some shots and published it the following week:

The Gretna Breeze's photos of the Mini-Master's experience at our library.
And now the boys have permission to come around the desk and check out their own books as long as we’re not too busy. They took advantage of that the other day – and though it was a wee bit chaotic (getting the younger brother Mitchell to take turns is a lesson in and of itself), I could tell that it meant the world to C.J. He would practically burst with pride whenever he perfectly scanned a bar code on the first try.

I hope that you take a look at possibly incorporating a Mini-Master’s degree into your library’s programming. It’s a joyous experience for everyone involved. And I even asked a girl yesterday if she’d like to have a special library tour on her next visit (we were closing in a few minutes and couldn’t fit one in at the time) – and the glowing grin she had while nodding? Pure. Magic.

I can hardly wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First Library Card Celebration

library card celebration

 

Over the past few months, my overall vision for our library has become about making good memories for everyone at our library. I have been working on a two-parter post to delve into this new managerial perspective, but I just had to share a new tradition that we started at our library.

Because IT. IS. AWESOME!!!!!!

Ahem.

One of the neatest experiences at our library is when a child finally turns six years old, and thus becomes old enough to get a library card. There are times that kids have come in still wearing their party hats and have proudly stated that they are now six and would like to get their first card.

But what if we could make this experience even better? To really signify to the kids that this is an awesome thing happening (and hopefully an experience they will cherish for the rest of their lives).

How about make a special pledge for the kids to recite? Eh, too serious.

Have a monthly library party for kids who got their first card? Nah – too much work that would not equate directly to the moment the first card is given.

I also didn’t want it to be something to take away from the focus of what’s special: getting a library card for the first time.

To make a long story short: I believe the idea came to me while watching MLP: Friendship Is Magic. Pinkie Pie had hidden confetti cannons around Twilight’s castle. What about those little confetti poppers?  I loved those as a kid!  But they’d be WAY too loud (and slightly dangerous) in our small space. But what if there was a quieter/cheaper confetti shooter out there? Pinterest to the rescue!

After handing this project over to Natasia, she ran with it and made some really beautiful cannons. Feel free to ask in the comments (or via email: hafuboti@gmail.com) if you’d like details on what she did and I’ll happily share.

Here’s our first confetti cannon trial:

I wish that the video could show how amazing the confetti is – it goes up high and shimmers beautifully as it flutters down. It also doesn’t take a whole lot of confetti to be effective (about a teaspoon I’d guess).

And here’s our very first kid to get this special treatment:

I’ve lost count of how many kids we’ve given this special treatment to, but lemme tell ya what: this has been even better than I had hoped. A mothers shared with us that her (under six) daughter gathered up some of the confetti that we shot when her older brother got his first card. Now the little girl keeps it in her pocket because it’s special. Everyone who happens to be in the library at the time end up smiling and cheering with us for our newest patron. It’s simply joyful.

When I shared this in Storytime Underground’s Facebook group, the main comments were about the mess.

Now lemme tell you what’s what: I hate a messy/disorganized work space. I’ve banned glitter except for in rare cases. But to have the library look like a fun party went down? I can live with that. For a bit. And a suggestion from a Director at a nearby library turned out to be perfect: get a manual floor sweeper. I think her words were, “it’s a confetti beast.”  We purchased one of these and have been very happy with that purchase.

The confetti has been very impressive in terms of how far it can go. But you know what? I think that most people who see it will not think “messy,” but “I wonder what happened here? It looks like they had fun!” We also hand sweep-up confetti on our circ desk to reuse to cut down on waste.

And there you have it: one of the funnest passive things we’ve ever done. Do you do anything special for first library cards (regardless of age)? I’d love to know about it!

Get Your Readathon On

Back in April, my Director sent me an email along with a link to #Readathon2016. In her email, she suggested that we take part in this national fundraiser for Every Child Ready to Read. I wish that I could say that I was super-enthusiastic for this event at the get-go, but honestly, I saw it as one more thing to add to the pre-summer reading stress pile. I chatted with my Director about it for awhile, and what can I say? Her enthusiasm was catching.

So, I started thinking about what made races fun for me. Before fibromyalgia came into my life, I had been a runner who was hoping to transition from running 10K’s to half marathons. I wasn’t a huge fan of running, but I always loved the races. And the mementos I always enjoyed having were my race bibs and participation medals. I mean, I even framed my first racing bib.

Yes, that’s me pre-fibro.

And that became my goal: get medals and make race bibs. Make this event feel like a reading race (without the competition factor).

We purchased 100 reading medals and neck ribbons. They were the cheapest good-quality medals we could find. Yes, they’re expensive, but we believe in upping the quality of what we give out to our community so that it’s likely to be kept as a memento and not thrown out after a day or two. Plus, in case #Readathon2016 was a flop, this year’s CSLP theme is about sports/games and we knew that we could find ways of distributing any leftover medals.

The smartest thing we did was put a medal around the event flyer holder. Kids and parents would see the awesome medal and ask how they could get one. It was one of the best advertising tools we’d ever had (so far).

I then designed our own race bibs. I started in the 100’s just so the numbers would fill the bib and look good. Here’s how they looked:

Finally, the only other prep work we did was created a “race form” where we took down names, bib numbers, start times, and then end times.

The day of the event came, and the first nine people through our doors the moment we opened, were there for the Readathon!

We stared off by pinning on the bibs, ran out of safety pins, then used string to make them like necklaces

And my most hopeful wish for the event came true: there were families all over our library – both inside and outside – reading together. I was crying tears of joy on the inside.

My favorite picture from the event.

And then Jennifer, our Children’s Librarian, started singing Chariots of Fire as she hung the medals around completers’ necks. And I joined in after I realized what she was doing (because I’m a total ham): And everyone who signed up completed the “race!” Our Children’s Library is currently only opened for 2 hours on Saturdays, and we wanted to make the reading time achievable for any age – so we set a goal of reading for 30 minutes on-site. Most read for longer than that, and we were thrilled with how seriously the kids took it. One boy had his mom get out her phone and use its timer app.

The thing that never occurred to me, and that made my heart grow three sizes that day, is that there were so many happy conversations as people were leaving. Two little girls were thrilled to have won their VERY FIRST MEDAL EVER. A little girl told her babysitter that she couldn’t wait to show off her medal to her both parents and grandparents. It was those overheard conversations and the pride on kids’ faces when they were presented with their medals that made this such an amazing event.

Yeah, I suspect that we didn’t do a great deal of money-raising for Every Child Ready to Read, but we created a great deal of awareness for the program. Plus we made some really great memories for both participants and our library team. And that’s what I consider a huge win for us!

Im in ur blog…

…writing about kitties!

Today I’m a guest contributor at the awesome ALSC blog!!!

Click on pretty much anything on this post and it’ll lead you to a super sweet story that an attendee shares about our Kitty Cafe!

Click here to learn the origins along with tips about having your own Kitty Cafe (which you totally should do).

A HUGE thank you to the ALSC blog for sharing Christina, Zoe, and Abigail’s story.