Creative Displays

My office is actually a shared workspace with my staff. We have lots of storage for supplies and counter space to spread out and work on upcoming projects. And at the very front of the room is a large window-great for looking out and keeping an eye on the department, but not so great when you’re trying to work of desk and patrons can easily look in.

My staff and I are always trying to come up with creative ways to utilize the windows and they’ve become a prime display space. During the voting for our state picture book award, we hang up a large poster of all the nominees and set up a voting box in front of the windows. One of the activities for the Summer Reading Program is to send a postcard to the library, so our windows display the postcards we receive.

When we took a storytime break and created a Cookie Club’ (inspired by Marge Loch-Wouters’ brilliant Cookie Club!) our windows became a display space for the decorated paper cookies. When the kids visited the library, they got to decorate a cookie and place it in the window. The kids loved it and it also worked as extra promotion for the Cookie Club. People would walk in, see the windows, and ask about the Cookie Club.

cookie club‘ Credit: Sarah Bean Thompson

‘ In February, we asked our patrons why they loved the library. They filled out the answer on paper hearts and covered our windows in library love. Our teen department created a similar display on a bookshelf. It was so much fun to read all the answers and I was thrilled when one heart read “the helpful librarians.”

valentines‘ Credit: Sarah Bean Thompson

Even though there are times I wish our office area was arranged differently, we’ve made the best of it by creating a fun display space that offers library promotion-and lots of library love.

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?’  The’ YALSA Blog‘ and the’ ALSC Blog‘ both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.‘ 


Measuring Program Success

Working with tweens can be fun and also frustrating. My branch will have a large after school crowd of tweens but they’re not at the library to attend a program or hang out. Instead they are at the library to meet with a tutor, work on homework, or grab a book quickly before they rush off to their extracurricular activities. No matter how much we advertise programs to this age group, our attendance can sometimes be low. Or at least it feels low when we’ve put a lot of effort into planning a program that we hope will be a big success.

It’s hard to get caught up in numbers and statistics when it comes to programming. It’s also hard not to compare programs with each other. Sometimes I think about how we can get a group of 30 or more toddlers for storytime but I’m lucky if I can get a few tweens for a program.

But I can’t get caught up in measuring program success by numbers. Instead I focus on the stories. Like the middle schooler who came to every single Hunger Games program we provided last year, won the movie tickets in the giveaway, and came to the library this year and said “thank you so much for having those programs about The Hunger Games! They were my favorite and I met my best friend-and we’re still friends today and we met at the library.”

Or the tween who attended a recent program and was excited to win a set of books she hadn’t read yet.

Or the tween who gets excited to meet someone else who shares their interests when they thought’  they were the only one who liked Doctor Who, or Origami Yoda, or Cupcake Club.

When I feel down about tween programs and wonder what we could do better to reach this age group, I remind myself of all that we have provided for tweens and that we are successful. We are providing a place for tweens to come, meet other tweens, and participate in a program just for them-and that’s a success.


Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?’  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.‘ 

Origami Yoda

The tweens at my library love the Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger. With so many fans, I knew this series would be great for a program. For’ my program inspiration, I used several of the activities in Art2-D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling. I was nervous about putting on an origami program, because I am not very skilled at origami myself.

I set up the room with origami paper and additional supplies we would need for drawing our own comics as well as print outs of how to do some of the more difficult origami folds. Nine tweens gathered on a Sunday afternoon at my library to learn how to do origami and talk about the series.

We started the program out by talking about the book series and why they liked it (it’s funny and they liked the drawings throughout). About half of the group had read the books, the other half were attending the program either for the Star Wars or origami aspect. I started the group out with the’ simple five fold Origami Yoda‘ that the author has posted to his website. This also gave me a good way to gauge how well the group could handle origami. Most of them had some trouble getting started but quickly figured it out. Once we made our Origami Yoda’s, we talked about the books some more and talked about favorite characters (Origami Yoda was the ultimate favorite character). While some of the origami was a bit complicated, the group stuck with it and they tried their hardest to complete Darth Paper and Origami R2-D2.’ In addition to origami, we made eraser Wookies and learned how to draw a simple Darth Vader helmet, both from the Art2-D2 book. Continue reading