STEM in the Library

Having science, technology, engineering, and math programs in the library is nothing new. When the library had grant funding for programs, we had instructors from outside organizations present programs such as The Mystery of Chemistry, Rube Goldberg Marble Machine, The Science of Toys, and Radical Robots. Now that we no longer have grant funding and have a tighter budget, I’m trying to keep STEM in the library with some in-house programming. One such program was Build Your Own City. I asked coworkers to bring in their recycling and set out everything on a long table. Each participant received a large flat piece of cardboard, their choice of recyclables, tape, and glue. I set out some books about buildings and cities for inspiration. We brainstormed things we liked in our city and things we think our city is missing. Each person designed her own city. At the end, each person shared her city with the group. Another program is LEGO Club. Using grant money, I purchased several boxes of LEGO bricks. Once a month, LEGO Club meets to build anything and everything. I set out books about buildings, bridges, and skyscrapers for inspiration. At the end of the hour, each participant can choose one creation to put in a display case in the library for everyone to see. It is interesting to see how many parents and children work together to create their masterpieces. To celebrate International Games Day, we hold a gaming program in the library. Last November, in addition to the traditional board games and Wii games, I created a live-action Angry Birds game. I saved boxes and tubes of different shapes and sizes. Participants worked in teams; one team set up the structure, and the other team tried to knock it down. The structure that lasted the longest won a point for the construction team. It was a lot of fun, but it was also more challenging than participants originally thought it would be. I chimed in every once in a while to ask questions like, “How do you think you could make your structure more sturdy?” and “Why does that tower fall over but that tower stays standing?” Teams became more strategic as time went on, noticing things like the number of boxes on the base level made a difference. Build Your Own City LEGO Angry Birds

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book Day

Some programs, like LEGO Club, are automatically going to be a hit. Unfortunately, book-centered programs are sometimes not so popular. To change this, I decided to do a program based on the beloved Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. I had originally planned to set this up in stations, but based on the number of kids who attended and the fact that I did not have volunteer help, we did each activity as a group. The first activity was Pin the Booger on Greg Heffley. In the format of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, kids stuck “boogers” made of tacky poster adhesive to a poster of the character. Next was the Rowley Jefferson bean bag toss. I drew the character’s face on a large piece of foam board and cut out the mouth. Kids took turns trying to toss bean bags through the mouth. We then moved to tables for writing and drawing activities such as a trivia contest, a Pictionary-style guessing game, and shared comic drawing. Afterward, we did a team mummy wrap with toilet paper. At the end of the program, I drew names to win free Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. It was a fun program that attracted both boys and girls in the upper elementary crowd.DOAWK bean bag toss DOAWK booger

Thing #10: Librarianship

I started working in libraries by accident.  It was never a career that had crossed my mind.  I grew up in a small town that didn’t have a library, so I never spent much time at the library.  I wanted to be an elementary teacher.  After college, I moved to Aurora, Colorado.  I worked as a paraprofessional for Denver Public Schools for a year, then began applying for teaching  jobs.  I sent out dozens of applications with very little response.  Feeling defeated, I started looking for other jobs.  I saw an opening at the public library and applied there as a backup.  I finally landed an interview for a 3rd grade teaching position.  The same day, I was called to interview for the library assistant position.  I interviewed at the school one day, the library the next.  A day later, I was offered the library job.  (I was later informed that they chose someone with experience for the teaching job.)

As I learned the library assistant job, I realized that it had the fun parts of teaching (helping people, research, teaching classes) without the bad parts of teaching (politics, standardized tests, angry parents, disciplining a classroom of 35+ kids).  I worked there for almost two years before I moved to a new city and a new job.  As an assistant librarian in the young adult department of a suburban library, I discovered my passion for programming, outreach, and marketing, as well as working with teens. 

I moved back to my home state of Nebraska after almost three years working in YA.  I’m now a part-time library assistant for Lincoln City Libraries.  Working at a branch library means doing a little bit of everything.  However, working part-time means I miss out on doing special projects and programs. 

From 2009 to 2010, I worked on my MLS online through Clarion University.  I graduated last December.  Now I’m looking for that elusive full-time professional position.  I would love to work in youth services and do programming and outreach.  But with tight budgets all around, library positions are few and far between.  In a year and a half, changes will take place in my personal life that will allow me the flexibility to move.  In the meantime, I will continue to work as a library assistant and participate in professional development activities to keep my skills sharp and my options open.

Poster Session- Book Bundles

A colleague and I presented at the New Members Round Table poster session at the 2010 Nebraska Library Association conference.

Below is the proposal for our project, Grab & Go Book Bundles:

Grab & Go Book Bundles

Today’s library patrons are busy people.  Some are professionals dropping by on their way home from a long day at work.  Others are parents with impatient children.  In order to best serve those who do not have time for leisurely browsing, we created Grab & Go Book Bundles for children and adults.

Each book bundle for children consists of three to six books and/or DVDs on a specific topic.  Examples of topics include First Day of School, Author Mo Willems, and Things That Go.  These items are held together with rubber bands and have a colorful, laminated tag displaying the topic.  Each book bundle for adults contains two to four fiction and/or non-fiction books on topics such as Author Nicholas Sparks, BBQ Cookbooks, or Murder Mysteries.  These bundles are displayed near the circulation desk and have been used heavily since the inception of the project earlier this year.

In October 2010, circulation statistics for picture books had increased 27 percent over October 2009.  This boost in numbers led us to continue displaying the book bundles.