Saturday, November 30, 2013

Best Books of 2013

It's that time of year again!  Best book lists are being released across the literary spectrum.  I will admit that I am a big fan of best book lists.  I think of them like a collection development report card.  Did I get my ordering right this year?  They also give me a second chance to pick up a title that I may have missed.  

As I go through the titles on the "best" lists, I put them into a spreadsheet.  I like to do this because it shows me which titles are getting the most press.  There is a big difference between the Amazon list and the School Library Journal list, as they speak to different audiences (sales vs. school libraries).  Neither is wrong.  A good collection needs popular books, such as those that will appear on the Amazon or Publisher's Weekly lists.  On the other hand, you need ones that are thought-provoking and cover nonfiction topics, such as those from School Library Journal.  My favorite lists include:
Other than collection development, what can you do with these lists?  Here are some of the things that I do:
  • hoard titles that are on multiple lists the week before ALA's Youth Media Awards.  I like to add shiny labels to them right away and create a special display.
  • create a "Best of 2013" display.  Customers love anything that says "best of".  Plus, if they are good titles, we want them to circ so they don't end up weeded.
  • have your tech person run the top 10 titles that your library has circulated over the past year.  This type of list is fun to put out on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  Then, you can compare your list to the experts.  It is never a surprise for me when Diary of a Wimpy Kid ends up in our top 10.
These are just a few of my ideas.  What do you do?


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Story Time Set-Up, Round 2

Back in July a bunch of us showed off how we do story time.  Since then my location has changed so I have been doing some trial-and-error methods in the new location.  While the planning portion of story time has remained the same, putting it into action has changed quite a bit.

First off, we have a dedicated story time room.  This is a great element as our children's room has a lot going on.  I tend to explain it as a great adventure for kids, but the story time room has none of the exciting components of the department.  By having a separate space without the distractions of the department, kids know that this is the room where they have to listen.  

At my last location, I was able to put out a table with kids' nametags on it.  A table here would not work as there is no space for it outside the door.  Here, I have tried standing at the door and passing them out as kids come in, but this gives me a traffic backup into the department.  I have also tried sitting at the front of the room and having kids come up to me to get them as they straggle in, but I miss the shy kids who don't want to talk to anybody.  I also miss the latecomers.  This is an area where I am still working out some kinks. 

This is our Story Time room.  It holds 25 kids and their entourage (parents, siblings, etc.) comfortably.  What it doesn't have is room for strollers.  Those all need to wait outside of the room.

There are benches around the outside of the room where a lot of the parents will sit.  I am still undecided on the benches.  My big issue is that we run 2 baby times, 3 2 year old story times, and 1 preschool story time.  By having benches, you are not encouraging the parent to sit with their child so they are missing out on the parent-child interaction.  Then again, when this room was built 10 years ago, story times for babies and 2 year olds were not as prevalent as they are today.

When I perform story time, I sit or kneel at the front of the room.  I want to be at the kids' level, but I want them all to be able to see what is going on.  I also use a lot of music.  What this room is missing is a plug at an adult level.  For me to plug in the iPod, the cord has to go to a side wall, which means that I need to block it with both the flannelboard and an extra chair.  As we all know, kids find equipment and cords fascinating so I need to remove access to it.

The flannelboard has become a source of big fascination for the kids.  When I came in, I was told by staff that they really don't use it other than to hold big books.  If you have seen all of my Flannel Friday posts, you will know that I love using the flannelboard and props to make story time fun.  What I am missing at the moment, though, is a carpet or mat to go at the base of the flannelboard to create a "no go" zone.  Check out Mel's Desk for why this is a good thing.

Books are still faced out on one of the window sills at the front of the room.  I am really missing a space that is taller than the kids' hands to put my stuff on, but I make do.

To make it work, I hide my props, stickers, etc. behind the books on the window sill.  This way I have half a chance to catch them if the kiddos make a break for my space.

As you can see above, it gets a little more glitchy when I prepare for baby story time.  Mine requires a lot of extras, from board book sets to balls to flannelboard parts.  The parents are good are helping to keep the stuff on the windowsills, but it still causes a distraction.  Most kids, when given the choice between balls or stories will choose balls.  Having the balls out in the open is distracting.  I am almost thinking of putting them behind the flannelboard and babygating the whole corner.

So that is my set-up at the new place.  If you missed out on the first time around, what do you do?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Flannel Friday-I Know an Old Lady

This week for our Flannel Friday Thanksgiving Extravaganza I am showing off I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson.  I love to use it for my story times because it is fun and cumulative.  Plus, by making it into puppet form, it adds some interactivity to the program.  Now the glitch is that I made this prop in my younger days and did not write down the source.  (Note to self-always right down the source!)  If you know where it came from, please let me know and I will add it to this post.

Above is my old lady.  The top of her head is taped to the back of the bag, while her body is taped to the front.  When you put items in the bag, it makes it look like she is eating them.

This is my food.  When I retell it for my younger kids, I like to have all of the food out on my magnetboard in order.  Not only does it mean that I pull it off in order to feed to the old lady, but it lets the kiddos see what is coming next.  They really do like to be in the "know".

When I tell this story to preschoolers, I don't have all of the pieces out ahead of time.  They like the surprise.  To make it easier on me, I first number the backs of all of the pieces.  This lets me pile them up in order quickly, rather than paging through the story to see the order.  I also write out the story and number the words so I know when to pull out the next piece.

While I couldn't find where I got this story from, I did find another old lady here.  You can either make food out of clip art or use some from Making Learning Fun.

This week's Flannel Friday Thanksgiving/Chanukah Extravaganza is being hosted by Tracey at 1234 More Storytimes.  Stop by for some great ideas!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Picture Book Month Display

This month's fun display is celebrating Picture Book Month.  For me, this is a GREAT department display.  Why?
  • Picture Book Month promotes materials for half of our age group.  Plus, they have promo materials right on their web site!
  • There are enough books to support a display so staff don't have to totally change the theme more often that every 2 weeks-1 month.
  • As we all purchase picture books in our department, we are all experts and should be able to refill the display as books are used.

How to make your own Picture Book Month display:
  • Pull out your favorite picture books, those that you feel should be represented, or those that have gotten lost in your department and are on the brink of being weeded.
  • Find some space.  Above is an awesome display space for my department.  It is at the end of a shelving unit and is on the main traffic path for the department.  Most everybody walks by this display.
  • Print off a sign or promo materials from the Picture Book Month web site.  Signage should look nice.  If you put it in a plexi stand, make sure the plexi is not cracked or broken.  If you don't have a plexi stand, try laminating the sign.
  • Arrange your books.  It really is a skill to make a display look good.  Size and color matter!  I start by putting my tallest books in the middle of each shelf and building around them.  Similar colors should be near each other.  For example, you can see on the Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes has a lot of yellow.  To tie in with Pete the Cat, the lettering in A Pocket for Corduroy is also yellow and there are yellow details on the George and Martha book.   
  • Enjoy watching people use your display.  Remember that it is not annoying to refill the display multiple times a day.  In a good display, the books will disappear.  

MI KidLib 2014

Anne Clark, Andrea Vernola, and I have been hard at work putting together Michigan's first unconference geared towards YS librarians based on the model set up by Darien Library's annual KidLib Camp.  Registration is now open!

For those who are unfamiliar with what an unconference is, read up about them here.  These are not presentation-based, but rather discussion-based.  Our goal is to facilitate discussions on a variety of topics.  Personally, I am hoping that more people want to learn about STEAM programming as that is my new big thing (hint, hint).

This is a free program (other than lunch) so we are hoping that cost isn't a factor.  If you can't attend this year, this program will be rotating if there is interest since we are all from different parts of the state.

MI KidLib is for any YS librarian (current or aspiring).  You don't have to live in Michigan if you want to attend.  Our location this year is about 90 minutes north of Toledo, 40 minutes from Sarnia, or 30 minutes from Windsor.

Are you interested???  Stop by our web site today to register or suggest topics for the 3 break-out sessions.
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