Leaf Piles @ The Library

Leaf Piles @ the Library | One of the most enjoyed passive programs at our Children's Library which was created as a solution to an annoying problem | Hafuboti@gmail.com

This fall our Children’s Library will be losing it’s large Ash tree that is home to our library dragon. We’re ready with an addendum to our dragon’s story (he’s grown so much that he has to use our entire row of Bradford Pear trees as a home), but we’re even more sad about losing its autumn leaves.

For the first several years that our Children’s Library was opened, we dreaded the approach of fall because it meant an endless battle with the yellow leaves that would blow into our building and just make a mess throughout the neighborhood. It felt futile to keep sweeping leaves back outside, and we didn’t want to bring out the vacuum several times per day.

And then a magical thing happened. It looked a bit like this:

Leaf Piles @ the Library | One of the most enjoyed passive programs at our Children's Library which was created as a solution to an annoying problem | Hafuboti@gmail.com


Let me explain: three years ago Ashlynn, one of our awesome team members, decided to take matters into her own hands and grabbed a rake. She made three decent-sized leaf piles on the side yard and told us that she’d keep raking them up in case kids wanted to play in them. This solved the problem of the rogue leaves getting everywhere, and was a HUGE hit with both kids and their parents/caregivers. After all, many of our patrons live in newer housing developments that don’t have mature trees, and although playing in leaf piles is great, it does double lawn work.

Sadly, last year there wasn’t really an autumn. We left work one evening and there were leaves just starting to turn yellow, and we arrived the next day to a bare tree and no leaves in sight. A big freezing storm had rolled through overnight and didn’t leave us enough leaves to even make an ant-sized pile.

But this year? It is AWESOME!!! We decided to do two larger piles, and within hours families were frolicking in our foliage. Heh.

Here’s a few photos for you to see how we do it (there’s a second smaller pile on the other side of the tree – it’s pictured above – you just can’t see it in any of the following pictures). And if you like what you see in the photos, then keep scrolling because I’ll share some resources and more information in case you want to try leaf piles at your library!

Leaf Piles @ the Library | One of the most enjoyed passive programs at our Children's Library which was created as a solution to an annoying problem | Hafuboti@gmail.com

Leaf Piles @ the Library | One of the most enjoyed passive programs at our Children's Library which was created as a solution to an annoying problem | Hafuboti@gmail.com

Leaf Piles @ the Library | One of the most enjoyed passive programs at our Children's Library which was created as a solution to an annoying problem | Hafuboti@gmail.com

Things to know and use:

  • I used this font and this font for the sign. On the leafy font, I used Photoshop to fill in the leaves with fall colors. But if you don’t have access to Photoshop, then you can print out the wording in brown and use colored pencils to fill in the leaves for a similar look.
  • Recently I’ve been more consciously trying to point out early literacy skills in the things that we do. With this sign we hit hard the importance of play. Then on the back we share two songs that can be sung while playing. Hooray for even more early literacy skills!
  • Here’s the front of the sign’s text (minus the legal disclaimer since you’d need to make it your own), and the back of the sign. Feel free to use both or either one, and modify to your heart’s content.
  • The sign itself was one from an older event. I tore up brown butcher paper up, lightly pasted it on the front and back, and then covered the whole thing (but not the bottom) in packing tape. Then I used looped scotch tape to arrange/place the various cut outs and used even more packing tape to secure it and lightly laminate it. It needs to hold up outside, but we do plan on bringing it inside if it gets rainy.
  • We’re going to try and slowly move the leaf pile locations around the yard. The previous time we kept them in the same place and they left a circle of brown grass all throughout the following summer. Oops.
  • We do our best in counting the number of people having fun with our leaves. After all, it’s a bit more active passive program since we do need to go out and rebuild the piles at least once-a-day.
  • At some point I need to start posting about core concepts/ideas that have really helped me as someone in the library world – especially from the management standpoint. I mention this because this is the perfect example of librarian problem-solving at its best. I mean, we face lots of issues and challenges being in such a small space, and I’ve learned to reframe these things as being the perfect chance for creative problem-solving. Which we should excel at. We’re library people.

And that’s about it! Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions either in the comments, or through email (hafuboti@gmail.com).

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.


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!

Socially Shiny

Combining Storytime Underground's Storytime for Social Justice logo, and my purple shiny muppet crystal | hafuboti.com

Since accepting Storytime Underground’Resolve to Rock several years ago (but in my own sparkly way), I have come to look forward to January’s reflection and goal setting. I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but having a librarycentric/professional focus has helped me really appreciate their power.

This year the SU Joint Chiefs have a different challenge: Storytime for Social Justice. Basically, we need to focus on and bring awesome aspects of social justice into our libraries and programming in only ways that YS-peeps can. Even if you don’t have a blog (which you totally should) you can still join in on this.

There Went 2016

While 2016 was a very difficult year overall, my professional life went through a metamorphosis. I discovered a lot about myself, how I view myself, and what I want to do in the library world – and for the world at large.

My biggest fail was not following through on my plan to write a nice note to each Nebraska youth service librarian that I could find. It was like turning this hope into a resolution totally took the wind out of my sails. But, over time I realized that I still want to do it, but as a Punk Rock Book Jockey, and not as the Chair of the School, Children, and Young People’s section of the Nebraska Library Association.

My biggest successes really boil down to figuring out what I truly meant by being shiny in the library world:

  • I spoke on behalf of my library in front of the Nebraska Senate General Affairs Committee (you can read it on page 75 of the transcript ). I sort of stumbled into doing it, and now that I’ve done it, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
  • I gave my first presentations. It was rough going for awhile, but ultimately had a happy ending. This, in turn, led to me co-presenting at the Nevada Library Association’s annual conference (which was friggin’ AWESOME).
  • The idea for Punk Rock Book Jockeys was formed.
  • I became a published artist! I submitted this artwork based on Banksy’s The Flower Bomber to Resist!, and it was accepted:

A modified version of Banksy's Flower Bomber featuring a female librarian throwing Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale | hafuboti.com

I must give another heartfelt thank you to Jessamyn for both telling me about the call for entries and encouraging me to submit.

Here Comes 2017

Here’s a small sampling of my hopes and goals which, shockingly – I know, tie in with social justice:

  • Finish writing my Accessibility Series post for Bryce Don’t Play. This has been a tough piece for me to write on many levels, and so I tend to distract myself with other things and procrastinate ::has a moment of self-realization while typing this post:: Heh.
  • Continue working on Punk Rock Book Jockeys.
  • I have a massive artsy-early-literacy-skills-diversity thing I’m hoping to get going. OooOOOoOoooo…mysterious vagueness…
  • I’m gonna continue adding more diversity to our library’s collection. Tied in with this is that I want to make sure that more diverse titles get featured in our displays.
  • Become fluent in conversational Spanish. As a fibromyalgia manager, it can be a struggle to do physical things to help during this uncertain and downright terrifying time in our country. While watching the January 21st protests I thought “at least I can still raise my voice,” and that’s when this goal occurred to me. If I succeed, then I want to try to also gain fluency in Arabic. This world could use more understanding in a multitude of ways.
  • Learn more children’s names who visit the library. I’ve been working on this for a few months already, and the reaction from both the kids and parents has really inspired me to work harder on this. If I draw a blank, I do what Reading with Red‘s Brooke does and say “friend.” Like, “Hi, friend!” Even that can get a beaming smile.

And there you have it: my super-shiny mostly social justicey goals for 2017! If reading my goals somehow sparked your own, then I’d love to know. Please feel free to comment on this post or email them to me. I hope to touch base with you around this time next year to see how you did.

¡Listo o no aquí voy!


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!!!!!!


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!

Summer Reading Party

Back in April a group of amazing librarians and I received an unexpected invitation from Bryce of Bryce Don’t Play. She was wanting to know if we’d be willing to put together short videos for her team members out in the Washington County Collaborative Library System (WCCLS for short – be sure to check out their fabulous series featuring P.A.C. Cat – I’m totally inspired to do something similar when we upgrade our catalog system this fall). The goal was to make our videos hype videos to help inspire them throughout the summer season.

Lemme see…create a fun video for librarians? I could maaaaaaaybe possibly do that. Heh.

I had ideas for several videos, and Bryce graciously let me make more than one. But today I’m sharing the first since Bryce is sharing one video per week. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen most of the other participants’ videos – and I am utterly thrilled to be a part of such an inspiring and talented group of librarians – y’all are gonna be in for some real treats.

Okay, with out further ado, here’s my Summer T.R.I.P. Tips video:

I know what you’re thinking: gosh, Rebecca made that look so easy – she’s a video rock star! (heh) To help dispel your sweet but very misguided belief, I put together a blooper reel from just a few of the many takes it took me to take this video to the next level.


To answer your main question that I suspect you have: I had never met those little boys before I asked their mom (whom I also didn’t know) if we could videotape me tripping them. I am so glad that the first family I asked readily agreed! I don’t think my blood pressure could’ve handled asking more moms or dads.

I also created a Radioactive Man library mashup image (seen very briefly in the video) that I wanted to share here:

And there you have it! The first in a virtual summer librarian par-tay!