These past few weeks I’ve had a ton of fun playing at home with Baby E. It’s hard to think of things to do with a 7-month-old. We do have play dates, we go to the library, story time and run errands. We take walks and read stories. We play with toys and jump in the bouncer. We still run out of fun things to do! So my best friend, who happens to be the World’s Best Teacher and Child Development Expert, came over one Saturday and we created some awesome things for Ella to play with. The best part? It was very little money and you can create the things we did with stuff around your house.
First we made some sensory boards. Baby E has LOVED touching different textures. We hot glued a bunch of different textures to a foam board. We included fabrics, beads, and some shiny things. Things like sandpaper and pom poms (just make sure they can’t be pulled off) work great, too! Here are some pics of Baby E playing with her sensory board.
Baby E also LOVES music! So we decided to make some homemade musical instruments. We found some small plastic containers on clearance at Michaels. We filled them with different items I found around the house like rice, pasta, coins, beans, and glitter. We’ve had MANY hours of family fun during music time.
Baby E has also been pulling my hair like crazy. Her Abuela gave her a doll and she pulls her doll’s hair out. So we found this neat idea online. We hot glued the end of a ribbon into a travel wipes container and then stuffed the rest of it in there. Then, we let her pull it out to her heart’s content.
We also filled a ziplock bag with hair gel and a bunch of little erasers and glitter to make her a sensory bag. We found that on pinterest.
Here some of our favorite books about texture:
Fuzzy Fuzzy Fuzzy by Sandra Boynton
THat’s not my Dolly by Fiona Watt
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhart
Spiky Slimy Smooth by Jane Brocket
In my last few days here, I had a special visit from one of my favorite school groups that I normally work with consistently through the year on a special project. We serve as their only library and it’s been a lot of fun working with them the last 3 years. I felt like my intro to the library presentation was a little stale, so I did some sleuthing to find a new presentation software. I found powtoon. It’s awesome! It’s easy and fun! And you can use parts of it for free!
For parents with children in elementary school and middle school, it helps give your standard PowerPoint presentation a little more pizazz and interesting. If you just want to create some animated cartoons-it’s cool for that, too.
I thoroughly enjoyed creating the presentation AND I’m totally going to miss my local Charter School kids!
” Okay, I’ll do it. I’ll be strong, but it’s really hard to say so long! I wish you didn’t have to go…but for each goodbye…there’s a new hello.”
This book popped into my head this afternoon. I went over to the shelf and took it out and read it. It’s one of my favorite books because it takes something hard, like saying goodbye, and makes it fun. In the end, we get the message that life moves on, things change, new challenges arise.
This is appropriate for me now because I am leaving my beloved post at my library. I’d like to take a second and write a note to my patrons, 99.9% of whom will never read this post, but I want to write it.
I will be leaving my place as a Children’s Librarian and moving on to do some work that I consider to be very important, spending more time being a Mommy. That doesn’t mean I think everyone should do what I’m doing. In fact, I have a great deal of respect and awe for the billions of parents who work full-time. This is what was right for me and my family, for me to work less and be home more. I am beyond excited about this move. I can’t wait to spend more time with my daughter! However, like all goodbyes, it’s a little bittersweet. Before I go, I just wanted you to know some things.
I have loved every second of working with the children at my library. They have affected me in ways that I could not have imagined 5 1/2 years ago, when I walked through these doors in my green (literally, they were green, but also figuratively, 2 weeks shy of graduating from grad school) shoes. I was given the opportunity to start my professional career at one of the best libraries I have ever encountered. It has truly been a privilege to serve this community, and it’s not one I ever took lightly.
That’s why I want you to know the value of your tax dollars. The very fact that it makes me sad to leave the patrons of this library (not to mention the staff!) should tell you a lot about what happens in a public library. It should make you think twice about not wanting to support your own public library. This community has become like an extended family where we share recipes, and books, and funny stories. It’s a place where little children have come running through the doors screaming, “MS SARA! MS SARA! I POOPIED ON THE POTTY!” Now, tell me this; if this was just a building that housed books, would your children really want to share their biggest news with us?
I’ll tell you why you should support your library. It’s not just about facts, or numbers, or literacy or getting value for tax dollars. It’s something immeasurable. It’s about a community. I can’t speak for your library, but the staff of this library isn’t here to just give you information, access to materials both educational and entertaining, but actually cares about meeting your needs, whatever they are. Whether you have an energetic 3-year-old that cannot sit still in a regular story time, are struggling with a disease in your family, need to print your credit report, want to learn how to send an email, help applying for a job and much more, Librarians are there to help you. I have spent the last 5 1/2 years watching the staff of this library selflessly accomplish tasks for people that are not part of their job, that are not part of library policy, that have nothing to do with books, movies, or cds, but have more to do with supporting people on their journey through life .
That’s why I became I librarian. I saw this unique opportunity to be in a building, in a community, where people came when they didn’t know where else to go. I don’t know about your experiences, but my experiences in this library have taught me that Librarians are “yes” people. Can you address this envelope for me? yes. Can you help me find a homeless shelter?yes. Can you teach me how to work this newfangled device? yes. Can you fax this? yes. Can you get me this rare book? yes. Can you read me the basic principles of Scientology over the phone? yes. (I actually had that question). Can you listen to endless stories about my struggles? yes.Can you love my children? yes. The Librarians I have worked with here, and elsewhere have taught me more about the kind of person I want to be (and sometimes the kind of person I don’t want to be) than they have taught me about information literacy.
It’s not just the Librarians that have taught me so much, but it’s the patrons, too. I have watched many people in this community overhear a conversation and stand up, walk over, and extend a hand to solve a problem. I have watched children grow up, seen a community mourn icons, and watched them come together to dance the “Tooty Ta” in story time. I’ve seen seasoned moms take new moms under their wings and relieve the stress (and sometimes terror) they are feeling, right there in the back of my story time. For every incident that makes me afraid of the world Baby E will grow up in, I have seen interactions in this building that have brought me peace about humanity. This is priceless.
I want you to know that a library like this cannot exist (or keep existing), if the community does not rise up and support it. It doesn’t matter that you can buy books on your kindle from your couch. It’s true that some people cannot do that. It’s more true that people need this building. Ask the group of senior citizens that sit in the Reading Room near my desk and discuss politics, weather, grandchildren, and then support each other through loss of spouses, sickness, and struggle. Ask that Mom with the three-year-old that can’t sit still and isn’t welcomed to play anywhere else. Ask the family that can’t afford the internet, or a computer, or a printer for their children to do homework at home. Ask the parents who didn’t go to college or don’t speak English who have to navigate the education system on their own. Ask the families in my story times. They will tell you that this building is essential. If you want to keep this place, full of “yes” people, then you should be doing whatever you can to support it. That might mean you have to open your pocketbook, pay your fines (or just stop stealing our stuff and taking your library books to the beach and bringing them back full of sand), write a letter to your congressman, make a donation, or maybe just be friendly when there’s a policy you don’t like.
For me, I’m not leaving the library world entirely, while I am taking a break from Children’s Services. I will always be a Librarian and I will always be a library user and supporter.
However, “Oh no! It’s time to go!” is relevant for me. It’s time for me to move on to a different type of adventure, with my own children. I hope this venture has been a successful one for me. I hope I did my very best every minute I could. I hope I’m leaving something behind here in this building where I got my start because I am taking so, so much with me. I hope every single child that I have met in this building has known how much I never took sitting in this seat for granted. I knew that the right book, the much-needed answer, the opening of a door to information, the right smile, the right encouraging word, the when possible “yes,” the well placed “no” could make a huge difference. If there are places I have failed, days I was too grumpy, tired, or self-involved to be what I knew I should, (and I know there were those days) I will regret them. I’m very grateful to have been made part of many children’s lives. I’m grateful for the quiet moments with small children, the hugs, the laughter and fun. I’m grateful for learning from some of the most compassionate, dedicated, intelligent and fun Librarians and Library Assistants in the world. I’m grateful for the things I’ve learned from those who work with me. I’m grateful for the difficult moments where my patience was tested, cleaning up vomit, and dealing with difficult patrons. Those moments taught me about where I fall short and inspired me to handle situations differently.
This goodbye is sad for me in some ways because I know that I will not see some of these children grow up into the talented, energetic, intelligent, and creative adults I know they will be. Mostly, it’s a happy goodbye, because of what I am going to do, for the new hellos that will happen for the patrons here, and, for me.
Maybe I’m just being super sentimental and over dramatic and I have romanticized the impact of the public library in a community. If that’s the case, it’s a good thing nobody ever reads this blog.
More good books about goodbyes:
Aliki. Hello, Goodbye.
Chwast, Seymour. Goodbye, Hello: Everything Your Family Needs to Know When You Move
Henkes, Kevin. Wemberly Worried.
Juster, Norton. The Hello Goodbye Window.
Penn, Audrey. The Kissing Hand.
Waber, Bernard. Ira Says Goodbye.
It has been an interesting journey, moving from library content creator, to library content user. By that, I mean, I never experienced library programs for children as a parent until now. I only knew what it looked like from the Librarian side. Now, the table has turned. It has been an eye-opening experience to use the library as a Mom with a young child.
Library X, where I work, is an excellent library where the staff has always worked hard to make every patron welcome, birth to 99 years old. However, I don’t actually live near enough to this library to attend programs there with my child. Library X has always worked hard at creating programs for working parents, but we have a ways to go.
Since Baby E is now getting to the age where she will sit up (kinda) and not randomly scream for hours (more on that another day), I wanted to take her to story time. Alas! Silly me! Libraries are not for babies! Library X (and others in the county consortium it is part of) has excellent programs for babies. So, of course, I thought I would find equally amazing programs for babies at the libraries near my home. An anomaly occurred; I was wrong. There were very few baby story times offered, and even fewer baby story times offered for families who may have working adults.
Why is Pajama story time for ages 3 and up?!?! Babies wear PJ’s, too! In fact, babies are the highest demographic of PJ wearers!
With only one option per week, I quickly realized that Baby E and I would be doing our own story time alone. We would have to wait for the once a month story time that welcomed babies and was at night.
It’s fine for me, but I started to think about what we are saying to parents when we do not offer programming for babies, or, when we create barriers in the library for them. Then, I put my librarian hat on and I am appalled at what little is offered for babies in the two neighboring counties.
So, I asked around and was really enraged over the experience friends of mine have had while visiting libraries with small children. Lots of shushing and mean looks when a baby is crying. There were no materials appropriate for babies (hello! You can wipe off board books even if they get slobbered on!), people making rude comments about breastfeeding moms, or little ones demoralized for eating snacks, crying, or talking too loudly. There were no toys to play with, no fish to look at. No place to “be” a baby. I started to wonder what we are saying to parents. Are we telling parents that their babies don’t belong?
Also, why is the only place I can take my child to play indoors without getting harassed, a fast food restaurant?
How could you NOT want to see this ALL. THE. TIME.
There’s been lots of research done that babies should be around books. Here’s a fun article about it.
Research has shown that babies start to absorb things from the moment they are born and now research shows even before they are born! So why wouldn’t we create a vast array of programming for our littlest ones? Not only during the day, but in the evening and on weekends, too. I know it’s not easy, but when we treat babies like an afterthought in the library, we are basically telling parents they don’t belong. If you catch a family with young babies, make them feel welcome, create FREE and fun programming for them, they will be library users for life. So, why don’t we do this? Why don’t we teach young Mom’s how to read to their babies and sing to them, and then educate them along the way?!
I suspect that there isn’t enough staff to create programming for babies on the weekends and in the evenings, but there has to be something we can do! So, I created a list of ways we can make libraries more friendly for babies. And by we, I mean the public library in which Baby E and I would like to attend regularly (it’s too bad they will never see this, or if they do, they probably will not know I am talking about them!)
How to make libraries more friendly to babies (specifically my baby).
1. Create programming for babies and parents with children under 2 and programs for children who have working parents. If you can’t do it every week, do it once a month. New parents are too tired for every week, anyway. Allow babies to come to programs for preschoolers. Most parents will take a crying baby out, so they will not disturb your story time and they will also learn a lot about how to behave from their older (and wiser?) peers.
2. Abolish limits on borrowing books! Lots of parents with young children don’t want to come to the library every week. They are also VERY tired (I know this from experience) and the thought of reading the same book over and over is something they can not handle until their child is 2 and sleeping through the night. Literally, there are days when I feel like if I read Goodnight, Moon one more time I will vomit and then light the book on fire. When you are a tired new parent, you can’t handle things like LIMITS on books. I get 2 hours of sleep at a time for about 6 hours a night and my baby doesn’t nap and I’m basically like a feeding, diapering, soothing machine. Ain’t nobody got time for limits! Let me take home 14 board books so I can read one each night to my baby for two weeks then bring them back.
3. Get a collection for babies. I know board books have high turn over, but guess what!? They are CHEAP! You can also wipe them off if they get put in someone’s mouth. I take board books home from my library and wipe them off BEFORE I give them to Baby E and then again when I bring them back. I bet a lot of parents do this, too.
4. Create a space for babies and parents of young children. Get a changing table in the bathroom, try to find a space for nursing moms, or at least educate yourself and your patrons about parents who may be nursing in public. Get some toys or a fish tank for babies to look at. New parents want to get out of the house and bring their baby somewhere! I know a patron who parked her baby in front of our fish tank and read a magazine for an hour a few times a week. It made her feel human.
5. Make sure the aisles in your children’s area are wide enough for strollers. I nearly had a fit in Target the other day because I couldn’t get a cart OR a stroller through the baby clothes aisles. HELLO?! BABY CLOTHES usually means baby, which usually means stroller or cart. UGH! Also, if your library has a “No Strollers Allowed” sign and it suddenly goes missing, I probably ripped it down. Seriously?! I know space is tight, but how do you expect a Mom of three, with a 5 month old to come into the library and leave with ANYTHING (don’t you want your circ to go up?!) if they can’t have a stroller!
6. Educate your staff and other patrons about why we welcome babies (and the noise and smells and mess that come with them) in the library. Make signs, or fliers, or announcements, or SOMETHING. If a baby is crying, don’t stare at the parents. They know the baby is crying. They may hear the baby crying all night long. Nobody is more frustrated that their baby is crying than the person who is caring for the crying baby. Give them a break. Give them a smile. Don’t stare. Don’t humph. Don’t roll your eyes. Remind your patrons that the library is for everyone. If someone came in and coughed, or had to yell because they were hard of hearing, you wouldn’t be rude to them, so why are we rude to babies. They can’t help their crying! I am sure they’d rather be talking!
I know my library isn’t perfect, but we do try hard to accommodate patrons of all ages. If your 18 month old wants a library card, they should be allowed to have one. It doesn’t hurt the library, and it makes your patron numbers go up. I think we need to seriously re-evaluate our priorities in a library. We are public service institutions. I know people will say we aren’t day care centers or playgrounds. That may be true, but I can tell you one thing from experience, nobody holds a grudge like a new Mom who was desperate for some human contact and to find a place to play, read, and sing with their baby and is turned away, hushed, or otherwise scorned.
No Strollers Allowed Libraries: You’ve been warned.
The summer is flying by and it’s super hot out! Mrs. Janson and Mrs. Sara have been staying cool by reading inside. Here’s where we are so far:
Mrs. Janson has read 36 books. This week she read A LOT of pirate books. One of her favorites is Pirate Pete: Talk Like A Pirate by Kim Kennedy. It’s a lot of fun to read out loud! Did you know you can learn how to speak pirate using one of the library’s free databases; Mango languages? Go here and check it out: http://libraries.mangolanguages.com/indian-valley/login?u=842005
Other pirate books we recommend:
Pirates Don’t Take Baths by John Segal
How I became a Pirate by Melinda Long
Pirates Don’t Change Diapers by Melinda Long (Mrs. Sara can especially identify with this one).
Mrs. Sara has read 600 minutes. Her favorite story that she read to Baby E was Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? by Eve Bunting. It’s an adorable story about a duck who can’t find his socks- I won’t give away anymore of the story.
Wondering where you are on the road to free mini-golf? Time to find out!
Mrs. Janson has read 25 books! Her favorite was Doreen Cronin’s Diary of a Worm. Here’s what Mrs. Janson said about it, “I always like authors with a sense of humor…You can’t help but enjoy any of her picture books.” Check them out in the easy section under C for Cronin. She also enjoyed Sea Glass by Anita Shreve- this is a good book for Moms and Dads!
Mrs. Sara has read 450 minutes. Her favorite books to read to Baby E have been Sandra Boynton’s board books. Mrs. Sara is also listening to The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan to get ready for the book club that is meeting on July 20 at 12:00. If you are in 3rd grade and up- join us to discuss it and bring your lunch!
Summer Reading Challenge Week #1
Have you started reading yet? Come in to the library and check out how much Mrs. Sara and Mrs. Janson have read by looking at the bulletin board above the biographies. We are using some mole tunnels to track our progress.
Mrs. Janson read 6 books this week. Her favorite was, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’dell. It is a great survival story that has been around a while but she had never read it. Her favorite picture book this week is Duck on a Bike by David Shannon.
Mrs. Sara has read 150 minutes this week. She reads 3 pictures book every night to her daughter, Elliana. Elliana’s favorite picture books are Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans and How do Dinosaurs Learn their Colors by Jane Yolen. Mrs. Sara’s favorite book was A Big Guy Took my Ball by Mo Willems. Mrs. Sara is also reading a Young Adult/Tween book she’s enjoying called, The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Fredericks.
Remember to keep track of your books and minutes if you want a free game of mini-golf!