Holiday Challenge Accepted

Ah, what a magical time of year! ‘Tis the season to both make warm and fuzzy memories for the majority of the population all while alienating and/or denigrating the minorities.  Where staff hang garlands and deck their halls although they feel incredibly uncomfortable with this practice – all while feeling required to participate in the celebrations or be considered a Grinch or Scrooge who is waging a personal war against Christmas. Oh man, that Elf on the Shelf at the library is so gonna tattle on that person! Don’t forget to put out the token menorah!

But let’s take a step back and look at a group of Christmas celebrators who may feel alienated by your library’s Christmas decor: those in mourning. Over the past three years my husband and I have had three major loved ones die – two in this year alone. And let me tell you what: neither one of us feels like slapping on a fake smile in order to make others feel good about this time of year. We are surrounded by constant reminders that we will never again have a Christmas together with those we’ve lost. It sucks to say the very least.

Over the course of the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I have had a major shift in how I view holidays at the library. Because our community overwhelmingly celebrates Christmas, I thought that I was doing what was best by making our space join in on the festivities. Now I feel incredibly uncomfortable with this. Last year I chose to keep up my previous holiday blog posts. This year I removed them. Why? Because of horrible anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic comments written on posts of Storytime Underground‘s Facebook group. On Christmas-related posts. This is a youth services librarian group. These things were being said by youth service librarians. Merry Christmas?

So, this year I have decided to not participate in feeding the Christmas beast. I mean, if you can’t put together a Christmas-tastic program or come up with ways to decorate your library on your own? Um. Maybe make time for learning how to use Pinterest and/or google “library christmas decor.” You will find an overabundance of help and ideas – just no longer on this blog.

Instead, I’ve decided to put together several posts highlighting winter holidays that somehow get constantly ignored. These are ones that, for whatever reason, all-inclusive children-level holiday-program celebrating librarians tend to leave out (although they automatically leave out Atheists or others who just don’t do holidays – this is why I’m specifically focusing on Children’s programming/decor because if you’re gonna be all-inclusive, there must be a discussion about how Santa isn’t real, and that’s more of an Adult thing that I could write another entire blog post on). These are holidays that could cause controversy because they’re not warm ‘n fuzzy, or not celebrated by as many people in the US.

In the comments section of another site’s pandering post about holiday celebrations in the library (I’m choosing not to link to it), a librarian joked that finding a picture book on Satanic holidays wasn’t going to happen.

My immediate thought?

So, I’m putting other posts on hold for now until 2017 (including this year’s awesome non-holiday Decemberley theme that has warm fuzzies out the wazoo). Until then I will be putting together alternative holiday programs for youth service librarians. The posts will have sign templates, imagery that can be used in displays, passive program ideas, etc.

All of this said, I am in no way an expert in any of these celebrations, so if you celebrate any of them that I cover, then I’d truly appreciate your thoughts and reactions to what I’ve created. I want to get it right. Though, I truly do believe that libraries should not do holidays. If you want to help the sad children who won’t have a Christmas without the library’s intervention? Then please help those children by volunteering your time and talents to local organizations – that would be awesome and way more appropriate.

Finally, I have two thank yous to share:

I’d like to thank the youth service librarian who gave me the idea for this series. She very seriously wrote to me that she would absolutely love to see a Krampusnacht display at her public library since it’s one of her favorite holidays and Christmas is super-de-dooper represented with their decor. You know who you are – and you’re gonna be thrilled with the kick-off post for this series. 

And to the librarian who joked about Satanic picture books: I appreciate the shove that you gave me to make a difference in this world. I think it’s gonna be great.

Here’s links to the various celebrations as they are posted:

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our Summer Reading Program

For Bryce’s Summer Reading Hype Videos I ended up doing two videos. I did this mainly because I had two ideas that I loved, and I could’t decide between them. The first idea was my TRIP Tips video, but the second was much more ambitious. It took learning some new ukulele, animation, and sound mixing skills. Enjoy!
 CLICK HERE if you’d like to have the lyrics and ukulele chords for this song. And yes, it’s a major earworm courtesy of Ringo Starr’s Octopus’ Garden. Have I mentioned that I’m a Beatles fan? Cuz I totally am.

Be sure to watch all of the videos that other librarian bloggers have created for this project. Bryce has been sharing these videos on her blog by updating this post every week. They are all awesome!

So You Think You Can Present

2016 became the year that I jumped head first into presenting in the library world.

2016 also became the year that I got a major ego check in the library world.

And yes, those two things are related.

When I was asked by the Three Rivers Library System to speak about Summer Reading Programs, I freaked out a bit, but I had faith in my skills. How hard could presenting be for me? After all, I have a theatrical background, I don’t get very nervous in front of crowds, and I have lots to share. So I agreed.

^^^^^
This poster for the event was the best thing about the event. Truth.

The “presentation” happened, and I was not happy with it.  However, I chalked it up to a combo of fibro flaring which led to lack-o-focused preparation. Needless to say, I was grateful that the attendees hadn’t paid for the experience of watching me ramble my little head off.

Cut to about a month later.

As part of being this year’s Chair of the School, Children, and Young People’s section of the Nebraska Library Association, the Chair of the Public Library and Trustee section Pat Leach worked with me to create a mini-conference event. Pat had helped me feel welcomed at my first NLA Board Meeting (where I had been shaking in my shoes), and I was excited to work with her. So, when she asked if I knew of someone who would present in one or two breakout sessions, I volunteered. I was excited to visit different regions of Nebraska, try out a different presentation/redeem myself, and just get to know more Nebraska librarians.

This post won’t take into consideration the Guerrilla Storytimes because they aren’t presentations per se.  I mainly moderated the time and read question prompts – attendees created the content.

It was completely unintentional, but what this experience afforded me was basically a presentation boot camp. After all, I got to watch the keynote speaker give the same presentation three days in a row. I watched how she worked the crowd, kept things moving, and handled technical hiccups.

Looking back, I can confidently say that the librarians who attended my first Welcome presentation would not recognize the presentation as being the same one I gave two days later.

Let’s break these vastly-different-yet-the-same presentations down, shall we?

Now, I know that I am one to sometimes, er, be over-dramatic in my retelling of things, but in this case? It is 100% plain truth that it was terrible. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so shaken to my core about anything performance-wise before. So, please learn from me and do not make my mistakes.

This time around I had written out a much more in-depth outline of the presentation to help keep me on track. I had even created a basic “menu” for people to take notes on. However, I never actually went through some practice runs of my presentation. If I had, then I would have realized some important things. Mainly, that my laptop was suddenly struggling with playing videos. It would freeze up my whole system. Yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhh…

So there I am, with four audience members in this nice conference room, and I am blathering on even worse than I did in my Summer of All Fears program. And that’s when it happens – nope, not the laptop (not yet) – two of the four people start talking during my presentation. And these are two ladies who work at the same library – so it wasn’t like friends who hadn’t seen each other in months. I had never imagined in a million years that any library worker would be so rude. And attendee #3 was texting on her phone the whole time (and yes, I can tell when a person is taking notes on their phone vs. texting). Attendee #4 was the only one who seemed to care that there were words coming out of my mouth.

I really debated whether or not to share that information since it would be pretty dang easy for those two librarians to recognize themselves (assuming that they’ll ever read this). But, you know what? I hope that they feel some level of shame for their behavior because it was so incredibly rude. It absolutely crushed me, and I didn’t have the tools to know what to do about it.

And yes, the grand finale of my presentation was a video. And yes, my laptop froze. And finally one of the talking ladies seemed to take notice as I’m basically reenacting the video’s highlights and offered to let me use her laptop. So I played the video and kept a brave face on as I wrapped things up, though all I wanted to do was go into a bathroom and cry.

Being the analytical person I am, I had spent the rest of the day trying to break down how things broke down. I decided to put the video first since it really clearly describes what I’d be talking about. I also decided to ask Pat about what to do in case of audience rudeness. Pat’s sage advice for what to do with this apparently common problem was to 1. ask a question of one of the ladies to try and break up their chatting, and if that doesn’t work, 2. ask them to take their conversation elsewhere.

It was then that I also realized that I could be taking notes on how the keynote speaker handled her presentation. So, on day two I focused my energy on that.

To say that I was terrified of presenting the very next day would be an understatement. I was trying to fake it until I made it, and that never really happened. I had lost my confidence, but I was determined to make it better than the day before. It also helped that I was with Pat, because if I’d been travelling on my own, I likely would have been wallowing in despair.

Anywho, here’s the breakdown of my experience:

I really liked having the video play first. It ensured that there wasn’t anything wrong with that library’s projector system (because if there was, then there’d be time to ask someone for help). I had also added more examples from my library.

Things were going okay despite my lack of confidence, but then I noticed it: there were people SLEEPING in the audience. It was after lunch and because I had shown the video first, I had dimmed the lights. I really should have brought the lights back up after it played.

But you know what? I discovered my first “audience angel” in the crowd. This librarian was in the front row, and she was giving out such positive and supportive vibes that I wanted to stop everything and give her a hug (which I practically did after I was done). She made me reflect on how I am as an audience member, and I think that from now on I will try and be an angel in the audience for speakers. I mean, I’ve always thought of myself as a good audience member, but I never thought about giving back to the presenter in as simple of a way as smiling at her as she spoke. Darn tootin’ I’m doing that from now on.

UPDATE: In 2017 I actually had a first-time speaker come up to me after she presented and called me her angel and she thanked me for being such a positive presence in the crowd. I had no idea it was her first time speaking. I almost cried when she told me this since she had no idea about the experience that I chronicle here.

Overall, the biggest takeaways from this presentation was that I needed to figure out how not to ramble (because whereas the earlier portions of the presentation were better, the ending sort of derailed and I was left rambling). I needed to find a kick-booty ending statement and leave it there, even if I had more ideas on the topic.

I also realized that I needed a Powerpoint presentation, and I needed one bad. Fortunately, it was the final leg of our journey, and I’d be home that night. So I stayed up late and created a presentation that would allow people to look at it and not stare me down for the entire length of my presentation. And ohmygosh a slideshow was exactly what I needed to focus my topics.

The intimidating thing about this final presentation was that it was basically in my backyard: I knew at least half the people attending, and others I knew by reputation. Eep! But I really upped my “fake it ’til you make it” attitude, and went into a reverse-denial mode. None of these people knew what had happened on the previous days, and they deserved to get the best that I had to give.

Was it perfect? Nope. The biggest issue was that there was a problem with the Powerpoint presentation. The fonts were all whackadoo, and I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t be able to see the notes I had made under each slide. A friend told me later that the way to avoid the Powerpoint issue was to save the presentation as a pdf – that way everything’s locked and loaded.

And I could figure out the notes issue on my own (whispers: put them on notecards).

The night before I had a fabulous realization (if I do say so myself): I could throw Mardi Gras beads into the crowd at the end – which I did. It was a BLAST for everyone, and bonus? They wore their shnazzy necklaces afterwards, making people who went to the other presentation jealous (heh).

And you know what? I actually got applause at the end.

What?!

I was actually stunned – I’ve never received applause like that at any of my presentations. And let me tell you what: I loved it in an incredibly relieved way.

Now here’s the funny/sad thing that I realized while looking back at these three presentations: if I had given Presentation #3 on day 1? I would have thought it a failure. So, even though I went through the hecky-pooh, I ultimately achieved my goal after the first presentation: to make each following presentation better. And by golly, I’m proud of Presentation #3 – goofs and all!

And you know what? A day later an amazing online librarian friend asked if I’d work on a presentation with her for another state’s annual conference. I said “HECK YEAH! BRING IT!”

UPDATE: Our presentation at the Nevada Library Association’s Conference was AMAZING!!!!! We spoke to a standing-room-only crowd and it went smooth as butter. I highly recommend partnering up on presentations because you have one another to lean on when presenting. So have hope! You can do this!

So there you have it: a tale of the same presentation given three days in a row.

How about y’all? Any tips for us presentation noobs? Any tales of terror and/or speaking redemption you’d like to share? Please do!

Surprise!

It wasn’t until very recently that I had a revelation:

When a patron is in our library and discovers something neat like our Summer Reading Program Booklets, and they’re all like, “Wow! I had no idea!” and I’m all Beamy McBeamface and like, “I know! Isn’t it great?!”

That’s just wrong.

It took me taking a step back and observing just the facts and I realized:

  1. No one should be surprised at how awesome we are.
  2. No one should be surprised at the great resources we have.
  3. No one should feel silly for not knowing something.
  4. For everyone who is pleasantly surprised about something, there could be countless people who may never realize something about us unless we share it.

So I’ve been looking back to times where people have been surprised at something that we do. Then we need to figure out how to share that thing we do.

That way, we have knowledgeable and excited people coming through our doors.

I must give credit to where the seed of this realization was sown: in Bryce Don’t Play’s Iron Fist course.  She had us think about our library as a foreign land where the customs and expectations may be unknown to those visiting us. I’d been focusing on the expectations, and hadn’t really thought much about our “customs.”

With all that in mind, here are the first few deliberate attempts at sharing our world with others:

I had added this image to our website events, and then a few months later realized that this would be a helpful tidbit on our events bulletin board. I’ve lost count of how many new visitors will take a look at our bulletin board to see what’s happening, so this would be a great place to share this very important information.

While writing this, I just realized that we need to add this little tidbit to our flyers/advertising. I mean, how many people see “library” and assume that they need a library card to do stuff with us? I don’t know, but I bet the numbers would likely surprise me.

The number two piece of information that I’ve heard many people be pleasantly surprised about: our Summer Reading Booklets. I’ve started the process of letting more people know about this, but I’ve got a way to go. I’m imagining a fun/informative video.

Yep, while posting this, I realized that I didn’t indicate that YOU DON’T NEED A LIBRARY CARD TO PARTICIPATE. Oh well, this is a learning process.

How about you: what have you noticed patrons being surprised about in your library (if anything)? Or do you have any tips or tricks to share with me about informing/advocating for what happens at your library?