In the books I loved to read as a kid, libraries are crazy old buildings full of secrets. The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn sends Anthony Monday all over the library, following obscure clues to uncover something of great wealth. I vividly remember the scene from Yobgorgle: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario where Eugene Winkleman visits the Rochester Public Library and the children’s librarian tells him there is a secret room – which he must find for himself.
I think that it’s important that libraries find lots of different ways to interact with patrons. Not only because our new post 2.0 world is participatory, but because it is important that libraries nurture discovery. As I talked about here, the library allows us to conduct intellectual experiments. The value of libraries is firmly rooted in self-directed learning and enjoyment. To underscore that value, we need to keep patrons engaged, puzzled, and on their toes.**
Below is a round-up of a few of the passive programs and experiential stations I’ve set up in the past few months:
The Ball of String
The Ball of String idea is lifted from AnyThink libraries. AnyThink is doing some really innovative stuff! They were a community where only 10% of people had library cards, and 63% were under 45 years old. Part of their recipe for rejuvenating their relationship with the community was shifting to a more experiential model of library service. There’s a good article about AnyThink here. I learned about their “experience zones” via Stacie Ledden in the ALATT FB group – one was simply a ball of string.
The Mystery Mystery
This was inspired by the “Blind Date with a Book” displays that were happening in libraries on Valentine’s day. So far we’ve had five. There is not currently a kid one, and the adult one has sat around for a while since we moved it off the main circ desk. Our library uses Encore, and I tag the books in the catalog.
After seeing the Mystery, Mystery, one of our 12 year old regular patrons had the idea to “take two books and package them together, and patrons don’t know which one they are getting.” We have done 23 Lucky Picks. Most of them were chosen by me, with the exception of the current ones, which were chosen by the patron and include picture books as well as chapter books (he chose one of the picture books because it was the first book he ever read at our library). Circulation has also slowed down after moving them to the shelves from the circ desk. At another branch in the system, the branch manager had the idea to wrap the lucky picks in some gift wrap she had. Those seem to be moving quicker – everyone loves presents.
The Craft Station
One comment we recently received was the suggestion to “make an area for 8-12 year olds.” The craft station provides more for this age to do in the library. We’ve gone through three crafts – a paper plate clover was up for a week, a paper plate Easter basket was up for two weeks, and a (non-paper plate) Garden craft just went up for April. We now also have crayons and coloring sheets out on this station. The coloring has been used, I’m not sure if the crafts have been done other than when the facilitator of one of our crafts programs didn’t show up. The April craft may be more countable, as there is a place for the finished craft to be displayed in the library.
The Viewfinder Station
This is also less quantifiable. I watched kids be amazed and delighted by the viewfinder, and some of them did write down what they saw on the sheet – “rockets” and “izrael.”
Type-spiration Station for Poetry Month
This will be up for April, so we’ll see how it went at the end of the month. So far we’ve had one kid type away and then ask “hey, how do you print this out?”
Your Library Fortune
Reader’s advisory, 3rd grade style. Fortunes are:
- You will read a mystery
- You will read a book with a red cover
- There will be a talking animal in the book
- Call number 821
- Librarian’s choice
- Author’s first name will be Jane
- The title of your book will start with S
- Something historical or hysterical
Books about the conclave, biographies of former popes, and the opportunity to make your own origami pope hat.
A sweet tale of requited love: Our director writes, “Dear Gone With the Wind, I’ve loved you since high school and will love you forever.” Our hearts are aflutter because Gone With the Wind has “always felt the same way!”
**Librarians might wish to think of patrons as cats, as depicted in this Monty Python Sketch.