Archive for the 'Libraries' Category

A Typical Tuesday During Summer Reading

My lovely friend Abby has a series of posts on her blog about a Day in the Life of a Children’s Librarian, and I have always wanted to do one.  I also kind of promised Lindsay that I would do one during BEDA, which I never got around to.  So today was a pretty cool day at work, and I thought I would share a step by step look at what I did.  Some of you might say that this is NOT a typical day, but I will do this every Tuesday for six weeks this summer, so yes, it is pretty typical for me.

8:35  Get in to work and check the book drop.  My boss and I are supposed to be at work at 9:00, but both of us snuck in at the same time today.  That is how hardcore things are during the summer at my library.

8:40  Set up the room for storytime and make quick example of the craft.

9:00  Went over stories for the program and jumped up and down in excitement over a delivery of new smelly markers from Dick Blick (they are so fancy!!!).

9:30  Storytime for one of the daycares with 27 people there.  We did around the world stories including “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” by Mem Fox, “My Granny Went to Market” by Stella Blackstone, and “Say Hello” by Rachel Isadora.  We also sang one of my very favorite songs “Sally the Camel.”  It’s great, look it up.

10:00  Craft time with the daycare.  All the kids got reading passports that we stamped with a “World Traveler” stamp and they drew their portrait inside.  Each week they will get a new stamp in their passport and then they take it home on the last day.  They also made their own personal flags out of cardstock and popsicle sticks.

10:20  Quickly clean up and reset the room at the same time for the next storytime.

10:30  Storytime for the public.  Do the same thing all over again for a crowd of 50.  It was one little guy’s last storytime before he moves and it was super sad to see him go.  He came to my very first storytime at the library over two years ago.  *Sniffle*

11:20  Clean up the room and reset it for the teen program this afternoon

11:40 Gather some last minute supplies for the teen program and then search frantically for my car keys.

11:50 Finally find my keys and head home for lunch.  (Even though I am at home, I use my lunch break to check work emails.)

12:40  Back at the library.  Spend a few minutes at the desk checking stuff in and shelving things.  Help a few kids pick up summer reading stuff.  Go over the I Spy that our lovely page did for the display window and say that it looks awesome.

1:30 Last minute set up for the teen program.  Get out display books and enough pens and pencils for the scavenger hunt.

1:45  Kids start arriving early so we start dishing out the ice cream cones.

2:00  The program has just started and the stream of kids coming in is not stopping.  I run to the store to get more ice cream!  We end up having 43 kids show up!!  They all eat their ice cream and then break up into teams for a library scavenger hunt.  I worried they might think it was kind of lame, but they went CRAZY over it.  They were running around the library like little cockroaches searching for the answers.  I loved it, but according to my boss, this is the last one we do for a while 🙂

2:40  Announce the winner of the hunt and give away prize books to 8 lucky kids.

2:45  Kids clear out and we clean up the drips of ice cream and put away the bean bag chairs.

3:10  Finish out my regular shift by working the desk.  I shelve, check stuff in, help people search for the hidden pictures in the library, and chat with a nice family that comes in for storytime.

5:00  Head home for a quick bite to eat.

6:00  Back at the library to get ready for our Family Night program.  A local wildlife rescue guy is bringing his reptiles to the library.

6:25  Let in the massive group of people gathered outside the door and try to get them to keep an aisle clear in the middle of the room.

6:35  We start the program and these are the things that happen

*115 people show up.

*My camera batteries run out after he brings out the second animal.

*I yell A LOT to get people to quiet down.  I adore my patrons, but they are always rowdy when performers come.

*The giant tortoise poops on the kitchen floor.

*When the tortoise tries to walk on the carpet he can’t get any traction so he just sits there swinging his huge legs.  SO CUTE!

*The cobra poops all over the presenter and our floor.

*The cobra literally escapes his container and we all scream bloody murder.  He doesn’t get very far, but it literally sounds like we are all being massacred.  I am halfway out the door ala George Costanza in a fire.  In a situation like that, I was like, “You’re on your own kids!”

*He brings out a Ball Python that is the hugest thing ever.  It is shedding its snake skin all over the carpet.

*Everybody gets a chance to touch all the animals (except that crafty cobra) and they all seem to have had a marvelous time.  Most kids go home with a piece of snake skin.  I was even brave enough to touch some of them.

7:30  I vacuum up the snake skin and try to clean the cobra poop off the carpet (I did not succeed).

7:50  I put the new receipt printer in the cash register since I have the magic touch.

8:05  I finally head home.

Phew!  So, every Tuesday for the next five weeks I have four programs.  But then I am halfway done with my programming for the week, so it is pretty easy peasy from here on out.  Sorry this was such a long post, but it was a really LONG day.


P.S.  Man, kids and parents are going to be talking about the escaped cobra for a long time.  It was so awesome how we all freaked out, and then laughed about it.


Amazon Gets a Library Card

Lindsay started on a more serious tone today, and I’m going to continue.

Amazon announced this morning that they were going to “launch library lending for Kindle books.”  It was a very exciting morning.  My fingers couldn’t move fast enough between tweeting about it and ichatting my co-worker (yeah, we use ichat at work. jealous? :)) about what it would mean and how it would work.

Now I won’t pretend to know everything about how eBook lending works and all that*, but I feel like I have a decent grasp on it as not just a librarian, but as one who purchases additional copies of eBooks for my library.  (We’re in a consortium of several libraries who share e-copies of many books, but we can buy extra copies that are only for our patrons.  Those are the ones I buy – the YA ones.)  And after tweeting about it a lot today, I learned that average users don’t really understand how it all works – and really, why should they need to?  Except in certain times.  Like today.  When great-sounding news may have a catch that is missed in press releases.

So in case you want to know, here’s how it works.  If you want to check out an eBook from your local library (for FREE, btw), you’d probably go through a company called Overdrive.  Your local library uses this company to purchase eBooks and audiobooks for you to download (“check out”) to your computer or device for a specific length of time.  Here’s the part you may not know:  There are a few different formats for eBooks and audiobooks.  And your library buys multiple copies of the same books in these formats.

Audiobooks come in wma and mp3 formats.  That’s probably something you’re at least a little familiar with.  For the eBooks we currently buy through Overdrive, there are PDF files and EPUB files.  The basic difference is that PDF text remains static (you can only zoom in/out) while EPUB text is reflowable (size can be increased, pages reload, etc.)  So Twilight, for example,  is available for me as an eBook in both PDF and EPUB but as an audiobook only in the wma format.  (I suspect it’s not available in mp3.)  And the catch is not that it confuses patrons (though it does), but that EACH version of the book costs money.  It’s as if you’re buying both a hardback and paperback copy because people will want to read differently or will only be able to read it a certain way, depending on their device.

Still with me?  Here’s where the Amazon stuff comes in.  Amazon has a whole new file format for their eBooks.  Kindle books come in AZW files.  Their files are specific and have their own DRM (Digital Rights Management), which makes them unable to work on non-Kindle devices.  So while Amazon’s news about wanting to lend books is fantastic for library patrons and libraries, as a purchaser of library copies of eBooks, I’m a little concerned we’ll have another file format to purchase an eBook in.  There are lots of answers we’re still waiting for.

If you want to know more about Amazon and lending, here’s a few articles to read:
Kindle Library Lending and Overdrive – What it means for libraries and schools from Overdrive
Some Questions for Overdrive and Amazon about the Kindle Lending Library-Update from Librarian by Day

– Jill

*Librarian friends, please correct me if you see ANYTHING wrong or misleading.

I Get My Craft On, Because I Have To

I would not consider myself a crafty person at all.  That’s why I was terrified when I learned that my current job would require me to do a craft every week with preschoolers.  At my other libraries I hardly did any crafts at all, so that’s why I literally curled up in the fetal position upon learning they would be such a huge part of my job.

Well, two years later, I have pretty much caught on to the general rule of storytime crafts at my library.  Let the kids use the smelly markers and let them play with the glue and they will be happy campers.  Anything more complicated than that and the moms/dads have to do all the work and then nobody is happy.

I also learned that when making the examples, it is always best to do it myself.  That way I know exactly how the craft is done and if there are any weird hiccups I need to be aware of.  (I learned this the hard way after having volunteers make one of the examples for our big Holiday Party.  They did a great job, but they didn’t tell me that the little rubber stampers they used all had plastic coverings on them that needed to be taken off.  All night long parents were fighting with the plastic, trying to take it off the stamps.  I felt terrible.  Lesson learned.)

Sometimes, I have to dash off the examples really fast right before storytime.  Other times, I really put a lot of effort into it, and then they come home with me and earn a place on my fridge.  Here are a few of my favorites from my personal collection.

My family

This is about as simple as a craft can get.  I just found a pretty frame pattern on the internet and then printed it on cardstock for all the kids.  Our storytime was about families, so I had them all draw a family portrait.  I am the world’s worst artist, so I actually spent a lot of time on my picture.  From left to right it is me (I almost forgot to put myself in, that’s why I am leaning in from the side), my sister (I apologize to Anne for drawing hips like Giles does), my dad, and my mom.  The cats are Addie, Hermione, Penelope (who kind of looks like a mouse), Pippi, and Amy, Callie, and Tigger (my parents’ cats).  The kids were fascinated by my picture and loved to hear all about my cats.  It was a great motivator for them to draw their own pets in their pictures.


This is one of the more involved crafts I have tried.  The cupcake liners make perfect flowers, and we have a million tongue depressors at the library so I try to use them every chance I get.  The insides of the flowers are little foam smiley faces that I flipped over so the back is showing.  This was the type of craft that some kids got really into, while others just colored all over the sheet.  I brought it home with me because I loved my ladybug and bumblebee so much.

Swim Fishy Swim

This was the first craft to make my refrigerator.  This was a summer reading craft last year, and I always try to be a little more ambitious when it comes to summer stuff.  Not only do more people come, but we also have a lot more volunteers to keep busy, so we can do more complicated crafts.  For this one, we used an X-acto knife to cut out a fish shape from a piece of blue cardstock.  We used the fish themselves for a craft with the older kids later.  Then we put a piece of contact paper over the fish so that the sticky side was facing up.  We placed the plastic backing from the contact paper over the paper so that we could stack them easily without them sticking together.  All of this was done ahead of time.

When it came time to do the craft with the kids, they stuck pieces of tissue paper, aluminum foil, sequins, and a googily eye onto the fish.  The goal is to cover up as much of the sticky stuff as possible.  Then they could decorate around their fish.  I am extremely proud of my brain coral.  That is some of the best art I think I’ve ever done.  The final step was to put plastic wrap over the top and tape it to the back.  That covered up any extra stickiness and makes it look like the fish is under water.  It is apparently also makes it yummy for cats because Pippi loves to chew on my picture.  You might be able to see her little teeth marks near the top left.

So, I am getting used to doing crafts on a weekly basis, and have even received some compliments from parents about the stuff we do each week.  I actually look forward to planning them (sometimes).

Also, if you ever come over to my house and see artwork on the fridge, please don’t ask if it was done by my kids at the daycares or at the library (those pictures are all in my office) because you can just assume they are mine.


How evil is your library card?

Soooo I didn’t blog yesterday….because Steve and I were busy buying a house! It isn’t OFFICIALLY ours yet, but we are on our way to being proud poppas (yup, I am choosing to be a poppa in this situation instead of a momma) of a cozy little bungalow!

Wonder what mysteries we will discover in our bungalow?!

But I got a super exciting EVIL post today!

While twittering at/for work, I came across @Evilwylie’s offer of free EVIL LIBRARY CARDS!

“Nope, don’t explain, I’m sold.” <–my head.

Coolest thing ever, right? It gets cooler! @Evilwylie happens to live near my library and so we are going to get our evil library cards from the evil man himself 🙂

I tend to really really like evil things. Not real evil things (after all, I'm a Ravenclaw, not a Slytherin…but I married a Slytherin…) I really really like funny, dark, melancholy things like Emily the Strange, skeletons, Alkaline Trio, Murder She Wrote, sloths, etc. So an evil library card? YES PLZ!

I like to imagine that my Rainy Day book for Little Dead Girls is evil enough to deserve being checked out with an evil library card…


Hogwarts in the Library

There are many cool things that I love about my library.  One of the greatest things is a volunteer named Toni.  Every few months, she fills our humble display case at the library with the most unbelievable creations.  It is literally impossible to describe how amazing her displays are.  In the time that I have been there I have seen the case transformed into Beatrix Potter’s garden, a Mardi Gras/New Orleans celebration, a winter wonderland, a celebration of classic literature, and an underwater paradise.

Ever since I started there has been talk of doing a Harry Potter display.  It took us a while to get it together because Toni had never read the books or seen the movies, and I was worried that we couldn’t actually pull it off without it looking kitschy and commercialized.  Well, after many months of planning, the display is up now and I will admit that I never should have doubted her.  It is pitch-perfect.  We are really making it an event at the library by having a trivia contest and other programs going on while the display is up.  Of course, this means that everyone in town is finding out that the children’s librarian is a Harry Potter freak (as the local paper points out), but that’s okay with me 🙂

There is a lot of my stuff hidden somewhere in the display, which makes me very proud.  This is the first display that I can really say I had a lot of say in so I am very proud of it.  Here are some pictures of the display, which  totally don’t do it justice.



If you are a big fan of the series, you will see a LOT of familiar things in there.  We always do an “I Spy” to go with each of our displays and we are going to do two of them for Harry Potter.  One for regular people and little kids with things like “Find the 12 owls, find the bacon, etc…” and then another one for super fans with things like “Find the Monster Book of Monsters, find Padfoot, find the Felix Felicius…”

If you want to see all the pictures I took, you can go to my Flickr page.  You should definitely check out the other pics because then you can see the castle that we have at the entrance of the library.  The display has only been finished for a few days and we have already had a huge response.  So if you are in the Iowa City area, you should come by the Solon Library and check it out!!!


Ballad of a Children’s Librarian

During the past six weeks, I have done thirty-six storytimes by myself,

six teen programs,

and emceed six family nights without losing my voice,

for I am a children’s librarian.

I have watched 140 people cram into a room made for 80.

I have touched a baby alligator’s tail and fossils from the Devonian period,

for I am a children’s librarian.

I have gained upper body strength and painful back spasms from moving tables and chairs multiple times per day.

I have killed one vacuum while picking up sand, flour, popcorn, dirt, chips, sequins, and (fake) snow,

for I am a children’s librarian.

I have explained to not one, but two kids that they can’t have another prize if they threw theirs up on the roof.

I have made boats, sharks, bubble machines, terrariums, octopuses, and painted with sand,

for I am a children’s librarian.

I have placed multiple holds on the Clique series and Diary of a Wimpy Kid books whilst controlling my gag reflex.

I have worked so hard that I sweat through my clothes with three hours left to go of my shift,

for I am a children’s librarian.

I have battled screaming toddlers, water balloons, rude people, and sulky teens.

I have dealt with a power outage, bad weather, a movie that stopped in the middle for no reason, and figuring out how to open the attic door (we have an attic???),

for I am a children’s librarian.

I have impersonated an ocean wave, a seal, a turtle, many fish, and a snail.

In doing so, I have made a fool of myself in front of the whole town and several times made it into the local paper,

for I am a children’s librarian.

The summer reading program is now over, and I have survived to see another year.  Pretty soon the kids will go back to school and public librarians everywhere can breathe a much-needed sigh of relief.  I am already feeling the stress melt off my shoulders.  To all of you librarians suffering through the final push of summer reading, I wish you luck!  You can do it (Abby)!!!!


Why Amber didn’t do the 48-Hour Book Challenge Either

1. Last weekend, I stumbled upon the final episode (well, it was one of the Specials really) of the VICAR OF DIBLEY–MY NEW FAVORITEST SHOW. So I put all the DVDs on hold on at the library when I got to work on Tuesday, and they arrived for me on Friday meaning allllllllll weekend (when I have not been shopping for Velvet ribbon with Mom or playing Kickball with Steve) I have been watching pure loveliness such as this:

***first thing I think about when watching any British show or movie: who was he/she in the Harry Potter films??? In the case of Dibley, it was Dawn French’s voice that caught my attention…She was the Fat Lady!!!

Owen looked awfully familiar, too, although I couldn’t remember so I had to look him up–He was Barty Crouch! Haha, and apparently Cecil will be Kreacher in both Deathly Hallows!

2. Also, I totally forgot about the #48hbc until this week so I felt a little panicked to come up with a reading plan! Books that I would have read if I had done the challenge: Heist Society by Ally Carter, The Westing Game by Ellen Ranskin, and The Magic Thief: Found by Sarah Prineas. I just finished The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee which was EXCELLENT, but Jen already told you that 😉


Why I Didn’t do the 48-Hour Book Challenge

I was SO excited for the 48-Hour Book Challenge this year.  I’ve had it marked on my calendar since I heard the date.  Unfortunately, it did not happen for me this year for several reasons…

1)  I’m catsitting this weekend.  Normally, this wouldn’t really affect anything because reading and petting a cat at the same time is pretty nice, but there’s half an hour between my apartment and my friend’s and because of reason #2, I’m not staying there.  This means a lot of time in the car, and I didn’t get any audiobooks from my library.

2)  Family unexpectedly came Friday night.  I had some family come into town Friday night and needed somewhere to stay.  Unfortunately my apartment needed cleaned but I didn’t have time until Friday after work.  So Friday night was a whirlwind and my reading wouldn’t start until Saturday morning.  Still do-able, I know.  But let’s move on to #3.

3)  I’M MENTALLY EXHAUSTED.  Work has been so exhausting this week.  I feel like my brain doesn’t shut off anymore.  Our Summer Library Challenge starts this Monday.  That probably explains enough for all your librarian friends in the blogworld.  We’ve been tying up loose ends involving prizes, and I’ve been spending A LOT of time this week on stuff for the summer teen volunteers.  Let me just say this:  Figuring out a schedule for approx. 50 teens to volunteer every hour the library’s open is kind of difficult.  Throw in actually creating the schedule, letting the teens know, telling staff things they need to know, preparing time cards, etc. etc., I’m tired.  Oh, and I worked yesterday for several hours.

4)  I read a lot last week and am a little burnt out.  Last weekend, I unfortunately did not have any plans, which I’ve concluded is just sad for a 3-day holiday weekend, so I read A LOT.  I finished The Line by Teri Hall (great!), Dark Life by Kat Falls (great!), and Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter (also great!) and got through about half of The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (so far, great! 🙂 ).

I think I might tackle a 48-hour book challenge another weekend on my own.  Good luck to all of your readers participating!  I’m enjoying your updates and book reviews!  🙂

– Jill

Totally Awesome Fish Alert!

Today at work, I spent the last few minutes searching the interwebs for pictures of weird ocean animals to hide around the library.  Last year we hid funny Mona Lisa pictures throughout the building and the kids loved it!  Since this year’s summer reading theme is water, I decided to do the funny sea creatures.  I found ten really weird animals and I am psyched.

The cutest one I’ve found is the dumbo octopus.  Isn’t he so precious???

I just want to tickle his little ears!!!

But the coolest fish I have found was on the website Weird Sea Monsters (which is great by the way….check out the piglet squid… gives Dumbo a run for his money).  It is called the barreleye fish and it is nothing short of amazing.  Just look at this picture!

It doesn't even look real!!!

It has a freakin’ transparent head!!!  Apparently this picture is of the first live specimen ever found.  It is an elusive little guy.  I think I am so fascinated by it because it kind of looks like it has a human face.  Doesn’t it look like a baby??  The things that look like eyes are not actually its eyes, they are noses (I think).  The eyes are somewhere in the transparent dome thingy.  Go to the website and watch the video and you will probably understand it better than me.

I love that I get to discover things like this all in a day’s work.  I can’t wait to talk about it to the kids this summer!


P.S.  I find it interesting that the pic was taken in 2004, but just now released to the public…..I wonder what else scientists are hiding from us……Nessie perhaps?

One of the reasons I love my job.

Because I get to DANCE! with little kids! and giant dogs! Seriously, my fellow librarians knew how happy this would make me that they didn’t even ask–I just got an email one afternoon that said “Amber, we are going to film you dancing to Beyonce tomorrow. Dress appropriately.”

(filmed for the River Bandits’ Library Night which then got rained out booooo)