Saturday, January 15, 2011

This week at the library; or, from San Diego to giant zebras

I am blogging this, or most of it, in bed, late Friday night. I don't usually blog in bed, but I can't sleep until I get all this out of my head so...this is going to be a long post.

More on ALA Midwinter; or, What are you going to do with all those books?

A fine time was had by all, many exhibits were visited, many ARCs were obtained. I won't list everything and most of my stuff hasn't gotten back yet - you've heard about the highlights. For those inquiring minds, wanting to know exactly what I am going to do with 80lbs of books....a few special books were picked up specifically for various librarian friends and bloggers. A few very special books will stay on my personal shelves until I get around to buying a real one. Young adult books I skim to see if we'll be buying them or not, then they will either be summer reading books (every kid who signs up for summer reading, age 0 to 18, receives a free book) or incorporated into teen drawing prizes. Middle grade I will read and blog, then the same fate awaits, except for a couple things I somehow ended up with multiples of so I might do a little giveaway. F&Gs (folded and gathered I think that means, it's picture book galleys) I will read and show to various other librarians, then if I personally like the art they'll be cut up and added to my picture book art collages that cover my walls. If it's not something I want to stare at all the time, they'll go into collage bins for craft projects at the library.

Other sundry Midwinter observations

I'll do another post on the award winners, maybe. Does anybody really need to hear another "take" on these titles? I have to go over them anyways to decide what we're buying and what we're not touching with a ten foot pole. I went to the "Neil Gaiman discourses and Nancy Pearl tries to get a word in edgewise program" (it's not that I don't like Neil Gaiman, despite the whole Sandman trauma thing, I just dislike the whole concept of celebrities, even authors. I feel uncomfortable sitting amongst a predominantly female group of professionals swooning over a guy who looks like he hasn't slept in the last three years. it's embarrassing. I think even he is a little embarrassed. Or I hope so.) I went to several publisher previews and I agree with one of the editors, I think it was at HarperCollins, who said they weren't good at booktalking. Uh uh. Maybe they should give advance advance copies to librarians and have them booktalk their titles? Or something? I like previews though, even if they are a little dry. I was very excited to learn that Houghton Mifflin is putting together a website for Scientists in the Field. Yay! A complete list finally!

I probably had other things, but I haven't had time to go through my notebook and decipher my scribbles.

My triumphant return; or, Why cute animals don't make good pilots

So, I'm coming back on Frontier Airlines (although I thought it was American and wasted a lot of time freaking out that I wasn't on any flight lists and they had no planes going where I was going). As far as I can tell, Frontier has bought some rather rickety planes, painted cute animals on them, and up we go. It was ok while we were flying from San Diego with Hector the Sea Otter. But, after a very lengthy layover in Denver (world's most boring airport) we were launched into the air with James the White Tailed Deer (or maybe it was Jason. A J name I'm pretty sure). Now sea otters are buoyant. They're zippy. Give a sea otter some wings and a little rocket fuel and you can totally see them taking to the air. Where do you see the majority of deer? Dead on the road. Deer are not natural levitators. Flight is a foreign concept to them. This was proved when the pilot, in that very cheerful voice they usually reserve for telling you a mysterious light is blinking and you'll not be able to take off "for a short while", told us there was no problem at all, it was totally routine, and they were just going to let the landing gear down for a few minutes to cool the brakes. Huh? Now this didn't bother me much. I figure once you're flying, you're flying and if something goes wrong and suddenly you're not, well, there's not really anything you can do about it but hope your mom can find your password lists and knows how to close out all your email accounts and your blog. But one of my fellow passengers had clearly not achieved this acceptance and in an effort to relax her, we engaged in a little light conversation, where we were going, what the weather was like, had this ever happened while you were flying before, what we did for a living...

"you're a librarian? is that really a career anymore?"

Being a public servant, and the point of the exchange being to calm her down (in my mind at least) and being kind of bored at the moment, I decided to give her my patent pending 15 minute lecture on the services, products, and uses of the modern library, specifically the library at which I work, the programs and services we provide, function of each staff member, and how the community uses us, finishing up with circulation and program statistics for the past year and a quick overview of the library job market in various field.

"oh. I've always really liked libraries, I used to go to ours all the time."

Anyhow, we arrive safely, no thanks to James the White-Tailed Deer and just in time for me to go to bed in order to get up so I could go to work the next day and do...

Preschool Storytime

Nobody has ever let me forget the time I had a snake-themed storytime on Valentine's Day. I like snakes. Kids like snakes. I still don't see what the big deal was. Anyways, now I do the snake storytime earlier and we had it this week. We did our regular Jumping and Counting with Jim Gill (and boy was I stiff from all that plane sitting) and our "Miss Jennifer can't remember names so we have to sing them every week" song. Then we read The day Jimmy's Boa ate the wash by Steven Kellogg, and Critter Sitter (can't remember the author at the moment) and did several stirring renditions of Silverstein's "I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor" with felt strips to simulate ravening snakes. I wasn't sure how Critter Sitter would go, but all the kids wanted to figure out which animal escaped when and was in which picture. We made wiggly snakes with paper and popsicle sticks and tried out our new glitter glue pens from Discount School Supply. This was all good. But then came...

Middle School Madness

So, we've been having increasing problems with our middle school kids after school. We have a group of 10 to 30 middle school kids who come to the library every day after school. They are not "bad", but they are noisy, disruptive, constantly moving around the library and between levels, racing up and down the ramp to the upper level, hanging out in giant groups at the stairs, blocking entrances, playing hide and seek and tag in the stacks, and, ok, they are kind of sassy.

We have a teen area and 2 study rooms upstairs, 1 large study room, a children's area, and a children's program room downstairs. We have available board games, scratch paper and crayons, magnetic poetry, books, comics, magazines, and three after school programs a week. We have scheduled a second desk person upstairs (our main information desk is downstairs) on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. We have tried kicking the kids out of the library - and routinely kick out 5 or more every week, but they're back again and just as bad the next day. I've had them do volunteer tasks, but as soon as they're done....well, they're back at it again, and I have a finite number of tasks.

I don't know if it was the absence of my calming presence, the distraction of the staff (both I and our director were gone at the same time, our cataloguer is retiring - has retired as of today - and we have our big book sale next week) or the weather, but the kids were just NUTS. Enough was enough, and we are having a grand brainstorming and discussion of the problem on Monday. I've gotten lots of ideas from Pubyac in just a few days, but feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on the issue. Despite this stressful problem and the mountain of books and stuff on my desk, I decided I could wait any longer and sallied forth to purchase...

Our new circulating gaming collection

The kids have been asking for this since we started Wii gaming in the library last year, and now it's finally happening (although they totally don't deserve it. grrr). I bought $250 worth of Wii games, rated E and E+, heavy on the Lego as that was the main request. We'll start circulating them sometime in the next two weeks, and I look forward to seeing how many holds we can pile on in the first day they're available...however, this was only a momentary respite from the main problem of the middle schoolers and I had what seemed to me to be a brilliant idea which led to...

The Giant Zebra

Wanted to have the kids involved in deciding their fate, I put it to them thus: "Everyone wants to use the library. You're disturbing other patrons and we have to have some kind of compromise or change so everyone can use the library comfortably. Before we implement a negative thing, like calling the police "what? what? but we haven't done anything today!" or your parents (further wails of horror) I want you to give me practical suggestions of things you can do in the library or ways we can deal with all of you here after school so everybody is happy." So, little speech went well, kids enthusiastic, some reasonable ideas, and then one of the quieter middle school kids suddenly pipes up..."could we have a zebra?" Uh...what? "yeah, a giant stuffed zebra would be cool!" okaaay, maybe art projects involving creating a giant zebra on the large bulletin board upstairs? Dialogue goes downhill from there and I get 10 suggestions in my suggestion box for adding a giant zebra to the teen area. Middle schoolers! It's like herding cats! (and I actually said that to them the other day, in complete exasperation, after I kicked them out of the library and was attempting to move them off library grounds, and after a brief pause, they all went up the block meowing happily at each other. gotta love 'em). Anyhow, I have that to look forward to on Monday, but meanwhile we finished out the week with...

The Three Year Old Birthday Party

This is the second year Pattie Woods, our local Parent Educator, and I have been doing a party for each age group up to five. We had about 20 people today, and offered community information, the birthday bags provided by Parent Connections, crafts, cookies, and games, all with a circus theme. I'm a little disappointed with the low turn-out we've been getting for these programs. Partly the weather, partly insufficient publicity I think. But the age designation may be limiting it as well. We discussed turning them into a monthly "meet and greet" session, giving parents and kids of all ages an opportunity to meet Miss Pattie and the youth services librarian (that would be me) and sample lots of different kinds of programs for different ages, kind of see what we do at the library. Maybe invite some of the school librarians to stop by? We'll think about it for next year.


Ms. Yingling said...

So sorry about the middle schoolers. Several of mine got banned from the public library, and I did have quite the talk with them. That's not the behavior I expect at the school library, and I do try to let them know that they need to be a positive reflection on the school when they are out in public. Herding cats indeed. Good luck.

Jennifer said...

I think we just haven't been clear and consistent with them - once we've gotten some definite "if you do this, then this will happen" policies in place, things will calm down. But it will probably tka e little while at the beginning of each semester!