Raised by the Library…

I hear a lot about folks who claim they were “raised in the library”. This always seems super cool to me since I definitely was not raised in my library.

I have some VERY vivid memories about the libraries of my youth. I can smell the smells, remember the way the weight of the book(s!) felt in my little hands as I walked out the door and into the sunshine. There are even some cool residual details from after library trips that are burned in my brain, as if there was pixie dust from those buildings that permeated the space time continuum and an event’s mere proximity to a library visit also made it special.

On my first trip to a Public Library I checked out Roald Dahl’s The Witches from a library in New Jersey. I went home and climbed a cherry tree in full bloom in our front yard and read until I was scared I’d finish the book and have the story end.

When we moved to Maine I quietly stalked the shelves of our small Library and found a small blue tome, the kind that had it’s title written in gold on its spine. (The kind of book you can call a freakin’ tome and mean it!) Inside there were little poems about mermaids and shipwrecks, cresting waves and the lonely pitch of ships in the fog. I would sneak back to that shelf for “my book” many times. As an adult I’m putting off calling and being “that patron” who asks for “the small blue book in the 811′s with a nautical focus”. I shudder at both the reality that I must do this or I will simply die and the empathy I will feel for the person on the other end of that phone call. Especially when I’ll ask in vain if they know “what happened to it?” when it will surely be long removed from the collection…

A lot of us have stories like these and I love meeting other librarians and hearing their renditions of this story but I never got to say I was “raised by my library”. It’s silly to be envious of this claim but sometimes I am. Like I’m not core enough for my job because I didn’t have that immersion. Is it possible that this is on par with Jewish Guilt or Catholic Guilt? If so, I’m devoted to the art form…

However, right now I’m sitting in an airport on the way to my wedding. I’ve spent the day attending a training for women on leadership because of the generosity of our Friends. I was given gifts and hugs all day by staff and then driven to the airport by a patron. On the way here the most fabulous 12 year old ever told me I was the coolest person in the world when I described what my wedding would be like. Then he asked me to plan his wedding when the time comes.

I’ve been gifted with a handmade Christmas wreath from a Kindergarten class, a Robert Frost quote translated into gorgeous oil pastel art from a senator’s husband, a 5 pack (FIVE!) of custom made cd’s when I left VT from a teenager, the consideration, time, love and conversation from the entire staff of my first library after heartbreak, lessons in foreign languages from kids whose language was the only constant in their lives as fleeing refugees, the volunteer efforts from friends as I ventured into unchartered Library territory and made them stay up all night with dozens of teenagers, and now with the freedom to explore the boundaries of my profession to depths I never dreamed possible… and all while they ask for info on my wedding registry…

I may not have been raised by my library as a child but as a human and an adult I have been raised by my libraries. And I am so lucky.

OMG, There’s Gonna’ be a Book…

Today is such a mixed up kind of day. Recently I lost one of my favorite fathers from library world to a terrible motorcycle accident. Yesterday morning one of the kids (now 20) from my first library also passed away from a motorcycle accident. Geez…

There are some incredible things afoot in my world so I didn’t imagine writing this post would feel so bittersweet.

I’ve been waiting a really long time to announce that I’m writing a book with the amazing folks at ABC-CLIO Libraries Unlimited. I am STOKED. I am so incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with such a great group of people on a topic that is my absolute favorite thing to talk about ever- Progressive Programming for Tweens and Teens. It’s going to cover a lot of what folks have a tendency to ask me about: Lego Club, my Teen Volunteer Program, the 3D’s of 3D Printing and a LOT more. I’m writing it from the perspective of a “non-librarian” and my goal is to create something accessible for stay-at-home moms, kick ass nannies, teachers, and anyone working with kids who wants to try something new that’s grounded in experience.

I’ve been helping my incredible coworkers present at a variety of conferences lately and barreling down the road to the various conferences I’ve had a lot of time to think. (Well, in between laughing at how hilarious they all are…) Some of these really sad things are coming on the heels of these other great things (like I’m getting married in two weeks!) and it mirrors perfectly what I’m trying so hard to achieve in work right now – balance. Balance between the warm body work and the brain work I do, between addressing the inappropriate behavior of kids and rewarding their great antics, and between following my own message of staying inspiredand getting shit done.




Library Rocks Yo!

Recently I set up what might be the easiest anti-program of all- a large sheet of blank paper with the word Doodle written across it in a bouncy, bubbly script. It was doodled upon for days and as I went over to clean it up when it was full I found this scrolled across one area. It’s great to see a simple program work but even better to find validation literally written across it at its conclusion. Yay!


Create Your Own Divergent Release Party: Part 3

Well, the week is finally upon us!  This Friday thousands of teens (and non-teen fans of YA) will flock in costume (and not) to their local theater to catch a glimpse of Divergent come to life.

I will be celebrating in my usual way for this kind of thing- in a panic that no one will come to the huge event I have planned and then rapidly winding my way through all the crazy activities I’ve planned when a ton of kids do show up.

Here’s where my party stands at this point:

Building Leap Photo Booth - Green screen photos will make it appear teens are leaping off of a building

Fear Maze  - Teens drink a blue drink, enter a sensory maze with 5 potential channels which will “sort” them into their factions.  It will be constructed from large cardboard boxes, black garbage bags and box fans which will fill everything with air.  There will be various sensory challenges like crawling through stringy things, over wet things, over crunchy things, etc.  Anyone who can’t finish they will be Factionless.  Upon emerging teens  will be given a faction button (made on our button maker!) to wear proudly.  They will then report to their faction to do their duty. (tee-hee!)
Amity Faction Duty - Make popcorn, hand popcorn out to teen participants, train your next faction member in how to make popcorn and hand it out
Abnegation Faction Duty - Use Metal Stamping equipment to teach teen participants how to make watch sized piece of washer bling and train your next Abnegation member how to do this.  Also, for the daring I’ll have a no mirror makeup challenge set up!
Candor Faction Duty - Lead teen participants through a positive honesty exercise I saw here.
Divergent  Faction Duty - Tattoo (temporarily) teen participants and the next Dauntless member, teach the next Dauntless Member how to tattoo.  These tattoos will be created using our vinyl cutter so they’re totally unique and like nothing else out there!
Erudite Faction Duty - Explain to the next Erudite Teen that you are actually in charge of the Fear Maze Entrance. Once you have debriefed the next member on how it works, go lead teen participants through the maze.
Movie Previews - Blasting on one huge white wall will be the official trailers and teasers from the Divergent Website!
Volunteers- So far I have 15-20 volunteers who will  run all the stations.  The are enough volunteers that they can each work for half the party then play the rest of the time!
Prizes: We got 5 movie tickets donated and bought three paperbacks to give away.  Also, a local makeup artist agreed to volunteer at the event so we’ll be giving away 15-minute on the spot makeovers!
Decorations- I’ve found some great faction specific images I have cached on Pinterest for each alcove/faction activity.  I’ll give away the posters at the end of the night (inadvertent help breaking down!) to kids who didn’t win our other prizes.
I’ll be cutting, stretching & hanging black garbage bags to help create a Dystopian , garbage strewn vibe.  (That’s what the picture is of but there will be more pictures to follow, I promise!)
The popcorn bags all have little Amity Trees glued to them to make it look as if it’s a government issued snack.
Oh!  And volunteers will be cosplaying their favorite factions!  That oughta’ add to the vibe!
Now to find some dubstep to blast in that fear maze, excuse me…