15 August 2017
Our teens had their regularly scheduled monthly programs this summer, and one of them was a food challenge I'd been wanting to do for a long time.
I set it up similar to a television cooking competition. Each table had several mixing bowls, one knife, and two cutting boards. I set out a variety of other kitchen tools for the groups to share. Since our library doesn't have a full kitchen, I made sure the microwave and toaster oven were plugged in and ready to use.
I purchased a variety of food items for the teens to work with, and divided them into three groups: snack, dinner, and dessert. The teens could use items left over from previous rounds, but couldn't access the new food choices until we got to each round.
As they "cooked" (I use this term generously because one teen used some hot water and one microwaved a piece of S.pam, but other than that no one actually cooked anything), I walked around and asked them about what they were cooking. When I called time, I had them describe their dish, then everyone got a chance to taste it. I managed to survive the night without tasting any of their creations, and I'm sure my stomach is grateful.
If I were to do this program again, I think I would specify what types of things their meals needed to include or given them a goal to aim for like having everyone make a sandwich or a salad. Obviously it would also be nice to have a kitchen to work with, but it's possible to make a pseudo-kitchen out of small appliances.
10 August 2017
One of the most popular programs of last summer was our library obstacle course. We set up an obstacle course on our library lawn using pool noodles, hula hoops, and other common items, and kids really enjoyed running through the obstacle course. One of my young patrons made a point to suggest to me not once but several times that we have another obstacle course this summer.
I set up an obstacle course using the same items as last year. There were two tunnels to crawl through, pool noodles to zig zag around, pool noodles to jump over, hula hoops to jump in, a yarn "laser maze" to crawl through, etc. etc. I mapped out what I was doing beforehand and it took maybe twenty minutes to set up the course. Then kids lined up and went through. Most of them went back and did a second (and third and fourth and tenth) round through the course.
This type of activity is a great one for utilizing volunteers. If I could have borrowed the high school football team, for example, I would have stationed one of them at each event in the course to assist/demonstrate/encourage the kids going through it.
08 August 2017
Another change I made to our summer programming this year was to move one of our storytimes outdoors. We have road construction right in front of our library and our town has essentially been split in half. Because of this, I bravely crossed the road construction every week and brought our storytime outdoors. I read the same books I had read in our normal indoor storytime, but I didn't have a craft for the children to complete, Instead, I brought out our bubble machine and the kids chased bubbles over the lawn for five or ten minutes at the end of storytime.
This is another example of a community partnership, in that the local daycare center was able to bring their classes over to attend storytime; they wouldn't have been able to do this had we held storytime at our library. More kids were able to attend storytime, we had it in a different location, and overall the response was very positive. I will definitely repeat this next summer.
03 August 2017
This summer we were able to partner with our local senior center to create a butterfly garden. We met over at the senior center and read a book about the life cycle of the butterfly, then we headed outside to plant some flowers. Seniors, kids, and caregivers worked together to plant flowers in individual pots, water them, and set them in our new garden area. We are hoping to get a bench for the area later on.
All of the flowers, pots, soil, etc. were donated from local garden centers, so this project did not cost anything for our library or for the senior center. Partnerships like this are a great way to get people who don't visit the library to remember that it is available as a resource for them.
01 August 2017
Now that our summer reading program is finished, I can finally explain the things I did at my library this summer.
For our kickoff event, we have always had a performer, and we usually hold it on the lawn of the library. In addition to a performer this year, we had these things:
- Free ice cream from a local dairy
- A photo booth with SRP-related props
- Miniature ponies
- Face painting with our teens
I ended up being really sick on the day of our kickoff event, so I missed out on all the fun. However, aside from a table for people to sign up for summer reading, the rest of these things were run by outside groups and didn't require much staff involvement. There were enough different things for people to do that they could enjoy themselves, and no one felt like they had to stay on the lawn for the entire event, either. Events that are easy on our staff and enjoyable to our patrons are a win-win in my book.
Looking back at the end of summer, I can't think of anything I would do differently, except for not being sick.
How was your summer kickoff? Are you making any changes for next year?