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).

LAFE Library

Looking for a LAFE sign in a particular language? Check out this LAFE Library that links to each sign set | hafuboti.com #LibrariesR4Every1 #LAFE

Looking for a particular language’s set of signs? Look for it here! I’ll be adding new languages both to this list and the original list on my first LAFE post (it’s under all of the artwork – it’s easy to miss).

Don’t see a language that is part of your community? Find a community member who can get you or me the translation and send it to me at hafuboti@gmail.com.

Spot an error on any of the translations? Comment here or email me the correction at hafuboti@gmail.com.

Thank you for spreading the message – keep up your hard but rewarding work!

Afaan Oromo
American Sign Language
Diné Bizaad

Hatian Creole
Irish Gaeilge
Southern Sotho

Sign After Sign

Sign After Sign: sharing three behavioral expectation signs that we have at our Children's Library: age, cell phones, and clothing | Hafuboti.com

Oh hai!

To say the very least: my life has ramped up intensity almost to my breaking point. But I miss blogging! But blogging takes time and energy – two things that I have very little of right now! It’s a Catch-Shmoopitty-Shmoo!

But I’ve had a handful of library workers, from Nebraska and beyond, reach out to me about our policies and signs. And when I hear a question regularly or notice a consistent issue, then I know that whatever it is is something that should be addressed one way or another. So after I shared our info with them, I thought that I should share this with you!

I’ve written about my seeing the signs previously, and have continued to try and be aware of when a sign may be of help (and not passive-aggressive). We’ve had a pair of signs at our Children’s Library for years now that I never thought to share here. They’re on both of our exterior doors:

Our library's age policy in terms of how old you must be before you're allowed to be in the library alone | Hafuboti.com

Our Children's Library's "no cell phone calls" sign that is posted at both entrances/exits | Hafuboti.com

It really does help to have these signs posted in order to point them out to either children or their caregivers (though we still get shocked/offended parents who are embarrassed that they got called out on policy violations).

This summer is the first time in about two years where we’ve added to these expectations signs:

A simple yet punny sign stating our library's policy on what's expected in terms of patrons being fully clothed to be in our library | Hafuboti.com

I must say that I had a blast looking at baby goat images – especially the ones in pajamas. I ended up cobbling together the image using doggie shoes, vest, and a toddler’s pair of pants.

I had several librarian friends share concerns that some snarky patrons would bring in actual baby goats in clothes, and I was like “OMG DO YOU THINK THEY WILL?! HECK YEAH!!!!!” I’ll be sure to update here if that ever happens (and I really want that to happen).

But back to the point!

I thought y’all might like to see how we post our signs so that you can see how small they are, and how they’re placed. The ones at the front entrance routinely get moved around depending on how we decorate the windows – which I think is a bonus since signs posted and left in the same position become a piece of the background for our regulars.

How we place some of our behavior expectations/policies at the Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

And yes – you’re getting a sneak peak of what we’ve done with our decor for the summer theme Libraries Rock!


Enhanced closeup of the behavior expectations/policies near our front entrance at the Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

And our side entrance:

The side entrance of our Children's Library where we post the same behavior expectation signs as we have at our front entrance | Hafuboti.com

In case you don’t know what the Mister Rogers & Friends mini window display is: check it out.


Closeup view of our behavior expectations signs on the side entrance of our Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

As always, feel free to use/modify any of the images/signs in this post! And also as always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions however you’re most comfortable (in comments, email, Facebook, etc).

Forgetful February: 2017 & 2018

We forgot to get pictures of our library's decor for both February 2017 AND 2018. What remains is one picture and one passive program | Hafuboti.com

Funny story: apparently neither Natasia nor I remembered to take pictures of her great February decor in both 2017 and 2018! Okay, not so funny, but more…er, adorable?

So I’ll keep this short ‘n sweet.

What survives from 2017 is the prep for February’s window and the scavenger hunt. The theme was Toss Kindness Like Confetti.

The month prior we had this set out at our circulation desk:

How we had our patrons participate in the decorating of February's windows for our theme of "Toss Kindness Like Confetti" | Hafuboti.com

We ended up with less hearts than we’d hoped – the biggest reason being that kids wanted to write EVERY book, movie, and character that they liked on the front and back of a single heart. In the end we had to supplement the planned design with blank hearts. The design was a giant green heart made up of these smaller hearts.

Why green? you may ask. Well, it’s our city’s official color (Gretna green).

Then, for the scavenger hunt:

Confetti Hearts passive program scavenger hunt for February | Hafuboti.com

And here are the pieces:

A set of four confetti-filled hearts to use for the "Throw Kindness Like Confetti" scavenger hunt at our Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

Click on the sign and/or the hearts’ images to get logo-free jpegs for you to use.

And there you have it! The remnants of our previous two Februaries.


The Third Annual Kitty Café


Learn more about how to run a Kitty Cafe event for your own library (plus get some free printables)! | Hafuboti.comIt has been two years since I first shared with y’all about our Kitty Café event, and I thought that now would be a good time to give you some updates and videos. After all, the internet was create as a platform for cat videos.

And since I now have you thinking about cat videos, here’s the video that I made from last year’s Kitty Café:


Now on to the updates:

  • It is still my favorite event of the year. It helps that I’m a cat person. So if you’re not a cat person, then your mileage may vary.

    Attendance numbers! I totally forgot to share that in my original post, but now I have several years to give you a better idea of our results. We are a small library and having a dozen people show up is a successful event for us. Actually, if anyone shows up we consider it a success because even if it’s one person, then we have a chance to create a wonderful memory for him or her. But I digress.

    The first year we had 142 people attend. The second year we had 80. This year we had 177!

  • This year we finally hit on a room configuration that works. We got rid of every possible hiding spot for the kittens, and the Nebraska Humane Society workers brought an easily set-up cage (without a top) for the kittens to retreat to. It was basically their safe zone. Once the kittens were in there, no one was allowed to try to pet or play with them – you could only watch them. It’s also where the litter, food, and carriers were kept.

  • We also got rid of the cafe tables that we tried last year, and even removed most of the chairs around the room. We kept maybe ten up around the periphery. This was perfect for the more elderly of our visitors and provided a place for coats (even with the air on, there were so many people in the room that it was on the warm side). Having the chairs around the periphery also freed up room for people to form circles on the floor. This allowed us to make sure every group had “kitten time,” and easily move the kittens from group to group.

  • That said, for the first time this year, we had to make people wait to enter the “kitten zone” until people left. Thankfully, wait time was less than ten minutes, and for around a dozen people.

  • Since making it clear that you wouldn’t be able to leave with a kitten from the event, we didn’t get a single complaint.

  • We finally connected with our local coffee shop, and they provided the coffee. It is much better than what we make, and we even ran out this year and had to make an emergency coffee run.

  • We did have one parent complain that we didn’t have non-coffee drinks available. We’ll take that into serious consideration for next year and discuss it as a team, but I have a feeling we might advertise that you can bring your own lidded drinks.

  • I decided to gussy up the decor this year. After all, this was the first time many of our guests were visiting our library, and I wanted to try and convey what a special place they’d come to. I created a new sign to both welcome and say goodbye to our visitors. Click on each image below to download a pdf for you to use:

    The open sign for our library's Kitty Café | Hafuboti.comOur goodbye sign at our library's Kitty Café event | Hafuboti@gmail.com(I printed/cut out and glued a few extra kitten-in-cups pictures and taped them around the open sign to give it more oomph)

I also printed and cut out large cat heads to sprinkle around our meeting room’s walls. Not only were they cute, but they hid a myriad of damage that our walls have suffered throughout the years. I also printed and cut out the words Meow! Meow! Meow! and Kitty Café to post in the room. I thought that this would provide fun backgrounds for photos/videos. Next year I think that I’ll add Gretna Public Library’s to the Kitty Café sign because, well, branding.

And now to my favorite decor: floating kitties in coffee cups!!!!! Squee!!!!! I made a dozen of these images featuring the logos for the Nebraska Humane Society, our local coffee shop, and our library. Then we printed out the front/back images onto cardstock and spent an hour cutting, cutting, and more cutting. And then we took string and glue (I recommend Aileen’s Turbo Tacky Glue), and sandwiched the string between the two cutouts.

When that was done, we hung them up in our entryway so that it immediately set the tone for the event (i.e. that it’s going to be awesome). And after it was over, we gave the Nebraska Humane Society workers their choice of these kitties-in-cups. They were thrilled to hang them up at the shelter (bonus advertising for all!!!).

I bet you’re like “Oh how I wish that I could have kittens in to-go coffee cups at our Kitty Café event.” ::wistfully looks out window::

Do I have great news for you: you can have your own kittens in to-go coffee cups at your Kitty Café event! I went ahead and created/saved the two dozen images for you to add your own logo(s) to!!! Click on the image below to get a zip file full of kitten cuteness in jpeg form:

A dozen kittens in to-go coffee cups (including their reverses) to customize and make into great kitty cafe decor! | Hafuboti.com

Please know that I’d love to hear from you in the comments or via email (hafuboti@gmail.com) if you have any questions or would like to share your experience of having a Kitty Café in your library!

Finally, I’ll leave you with our 2017 Kitty Café video: