Cats VS Dogs

This year we split our Summer Reading Program into two 5 week repeating storytime sessions (vs. the previous 8 week single session program). We had incredible numbers, people grasped the concept quickly, and it was no longer a cliquish event. There was less work for the Children’s Librarian in terms of planning five storytimes vs. eight, but we were all feeling the extra two weeks at the end.

I bring this up because this is the first time that our summer programming has run into August. At the beginning of the summer I assumed that we’d take August off like we’d previously done in terms of our monthly themes/decorating.

That all changed in early July when I realized that we had two big events happening in August: we were starting a new therapy dog storytime, and our first costume character was coming to the library. The character? Pete the Cat. I had pinned this image from Pesky Library a while ago, so the basic idea was floating around in the recesses of my mind: Cats VS Dogs!

And I knew it was going to be a great theme as everything fell into place so smoothly. It was obvious that Pete the Cat would represent Team Cat. It took only a minute to realize who would represent Team Dog: Clifford the Big Red Dog! The red and blue color schemes were perfect! So I made these images to use in various ways throughout the month – click on any of them for a larger version for your own use:

And here’s a blank version of the Pete the Cat flyer I created to advertise our big visit at the end of this month in case you’d like use it:

Brittany stepped up in a major way and took on the task of designing/executing the front windows. She came up with an awesome way of handling tissue paper (if only Mary and I had thought of this back when we had our first tissue paper in the window experience!). She mod podged the tissue paper onto one side of white craft paper. With how much natural sunlight we get in our library in the summer months, the color is perfectly visible through the non-tissue papered side. Its vibrancy is only a little muted. To draw the lines and anything black on the design she used a basic black Sharpie.

Here’s a shot of it from the inside (which, believe it or not, is the plain white side of the paper):

I tried and tried to get a good shot of the exterior, but the downside of having awesome front windows is the amount of glare that happens – especially in pictures. But I think that you get the general idea of how dramatic it is for kids when they approach:

It wasn’t until these awesome windows were completed that I realized the somewhat funny dynamic between these two characters: Clifford’s looking down at the children as they come inside – all affable dog. Pete? Looking as aloof as a cat can look! I love it.

One of my big projects resulted from the fact that we move one of our activity tables near our circulation desk to serve as the grand prize book table for the entire month of August. This leaves us with a big empty concrete area near the back of our space. I can’t even tell you how my mind come up with this idea: let’s put life-sized Clifford paw prints back there!

It took Brittany doing some math based on Clifford having the build of a Great Dane. She figured that the pad of the 25′ tall dog would be 2′ around. So I took several sheets of poster board (had to add some extra to one edge to get it to approximately 2′ around), some red construction paper to bulk up the size of the toes, and made feet. It was incredibly fun to do!

I was super happy that we had a pair of knee pads leftover from when we moved our children’s materials over to the Children’s Library for when I taped these down. And I had to tape them like crazy since 1. kids would be hopping/bopping all over them, and 2. they had to hold up to being wet from either the nearby water fountain or our weekly floor mopping. Once that was done, I posted a sign explaining to everyone what the paw prints were (you can see it on the side of the computer carrel in this picture):

Here’s the paw print that I made for that sign if you’d like to either do something similar, or just want a red paw print:

To continue the paw prints, and to also make a pretty easy display, I cut out (and hole punched) red and blue paw prints for our display area above our reading bench. There’s a cat side and a dog side, but any books that feature both dogs and cats go in the middle. This has been quite a popular display:

For our Great Wall-o-Pun Brittany made a fabulous display featuring nonfiction cat and dog books. It’s been another highly checked-out display:

I put together this month’s scavenger hunt with some help from my team. I was really stuck on challenging the kids with something new, while wanting to keep it as simple as possible for the staff. We ended up having kids look for dog tags in different shapes where kids would need to draw the shape of four different colored dog tags:

Any Cowboy Bebop fans out there? Yeah, I totally did that on purpose. So far this has been quite popular, and there has been a lot of parents working with their children on this: YAY! We swap out the tags every Saturday to keep it fresh throughout the month. I printed the tags out on cardstock, covered the front with packing tape, and then used a small hole punch to make it look more tag-like.

Here’s a bunch of printables that you can use. I was sure to save different variations on the tags so that you can use whichever suits your needs. Click on any of the following to get a larger version of what you’d like:



In many posts I’ve mentioned that we give out stickers as prizes. In general, these are not prepackaged stickers. Instead, I use the spine label stickers for books and make custom stickers to match our theme. This time around, I made a dog/cat set so that the children can choose which team’s sticker that they’d like. It occurred to me that y’all might want to see what this looks like:

The kids absolutely love these stickers and are usually excited to see what the stickers will be each month.

Finally (yes, it’s been a heck of a push heading into August), I had the idea of using two money funnels to represent Team Dog and Team Cat. Initially I had planned on this being a fundraiser for our Friends group. But then my boss shared with me that she’d been in contact with the Pilger Public Library to see if we could do anything for them since they sustained some damage in the tornadoes earlier this year. They were happy with anything financial we could provide – so that’s what we turned the funnels into: a fundraiser for Pilger Public Library!

Here’s my dog/cat fundraiser funnels along with a very simple sign trying to explain what’s going on in kids’ terms:

This has been a HUGE hit. People have come into our library just to donate to one funnel or the other. Both parents and kids love choosing which funnel, and I’ve heard some wonderful conversations between parents and their children about helping others.

To help keep the fundraiser on people’s minds, and to let them know the status of this friendly competition, I turned our whiteboard into an update board:

And that’s been Cats VS Dogs month at our Children’s Library! WHEW!

I can only think of one other theme that’s had such a strong/positive reaction from kids and parents alike: LEGO month. But I feel like this month’s theme has really knocked it out of the park. I think that having the fundraiser to help another community in our state has given this a special feeling.

And finally, just in case you were wondering, Hafukiti wanted it to be clear that I’m totally Team Cat.

Cats Vs. Dogs: a friendly competition between everyone's favorite pets with Pete the Cat representing the cats, and Clifford the Dog representing, well, dogs |

To Display or Not Display

Warning: I’m going to go on a lengthy-for-me philosophical post in terms of the motivation for the displays that we do at our libraries.  This is unusual for me, but thought it worthy enough to bring up here – and thought that others might want to think about this and/or share their thoughts. It began as an aside in my Genre Dating Game post, but decided it had become long enough that it deserved its very own post.

The other day an awesome librarian on Twitter posed the question of who was doing a “blind date with a book” display this year.  His concern was that he felt it had been “overdone.”  I get his question, but it gave me pause and took me down a different path.  I almost felt like it was a question of is it more important to impress other librarians online with new/creative displays than share something fun with your community?  “Blind date with a book” has indeed been all over the place in the library world, but how many patrons in your community have experienced this novel idea? (bad pun intended) From what I can tell online, these displays generally get a good response – so why not do it if you haven’t done it before?  If you did it before and you had a wonderful community response, then why not do it again? Conversely, should you begrudgingly create a display that doesn’t inspire you just because it’s popular in other libraries?

This simple interaction on Twitter really made me think about my motivations on why I create displays and then post them to my blog.  Have I shunned display ideas because they were popular?  I mean, it’s my typical knee-jerk reaction to distrust or question popular things.  In general I enjoy going against the grain.  So I really had to step back and contemplate what I do and why – and I’m very grateful to that librarian for giving me something upon which I should reflect.

Hafukiti snuggled under a floral comforter. My calico kitty looks thoughtful and pretty dang adorable (because he is). He really doesn't care about the topic of this conversation. He only cares about two words: "kitty treats."

I think that overall I use my blog to share creative ideas with a creative community.  Do I enjoy getting a positive response to something new I created?  Heck yeah!  Do I enjoy sharing the sources of others’ ideas that I’ve tried out at our library?  Double-heck yeah!!  My hope is that through this online sharing (of both the old and new), our communities will benefit from the energy and great ideas that are generated.  Furthermore, I hope that I can help save a librarian out there some time when creating a display by posting signs and other printables for him/her to use.  It’s also my personal taste that I prefer not to repeat myself in terms of displays/themes, but if something we did at my library had a profound response, then you bet your sweet bippy I’d do it again the next year.

Do I think that this is the most important issue facing a constantly-embattled public library world?  Heck no.  But I think that there’s a lot of creative-type people in libraryland who get a huge sense of pride and accomplishment when they create a pleasing and popular display.  I’d love to hear from any of you out there if you have thoughts about this.  Am I overthinking this?  Do you find yourself inspired or not-so-much when you see a really popular display idea?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments if you’d like.  I just thought this was something I’ve been thinking about that others might want to think about too.

Wrapping-Up Christmas (Trees)

When I decided to purchase a fake tree for Christmas, it was a somewhat big decision since we live in a one-bedroom apartment and storage space is extremely limited.  However, I had seen this post on the awesome Epbot, and felt confident that using cling wrap was the solution for us.  And it was!

Using cheap clingwrap to store our fake Christmas tree was a perfect solution for our small apartment's lack of storage space.

Since it’s only a four foot tree I was able to do it by myself, and yes, it was oddly fun.  It now lives in the space next to our washing machine – a place that it would not have fit if I’d tried to store it in its original box.

That’s all!  I know it’s a crazy-brief post, but I thought I’d share a success story based on something seen online.