Tag Archives: programming

The Solar Eclipse Experience

16 Aug

Solar_eclipse_1999_4_NRAt this point (especially if you work in a library), if you haven’t heard about the solar eclipse then I want to be you! We applied for the NASA grant and didn’t get it, so my children’s and teen programming librarians decided that we would offer a program anyway and buy some glasses for the program participants. We went back and forth on how many pairs of glasses to order, how popular we thought the program would be, who we could have come in to actually do the program, etc. We were finally able to get one of our middle school teachers to put a program together for us (right before school started and she was kind enough to volunteer her time). We decided to only order enough glasses for the program participants and opened the program up to 40 kids. Well, needless to say, the program is completely filled with an additional 25 kids on our waiting list.

I come into the library yesterday morning, ready to open my office and I seen an email pinned to my door, it’s from Amazon. They’re refunding us our money for the glasses because they cannot verify with the manufacturer that our glasses are properly certified. I have 40 kids planning on coming to a program in less than 36 hours who are expecting glasses. It was not an enjoyable way to start my day.

After hours of searching online, calling local retailers and doing a ton of research, we made our decision. We’d proceed with the program, email the participants ahead of time explaining the situation, provide the kids with instructions and materials to create a pinhole solar eclipse viewer and hope for the best. So far, I haven’t heard any major complaints, but as the director I made the tough call to choose not to hand out our glasses. My librarians did the research and chose the glasses that appeared to be certified (and it says it right there, printed on the glasses), but I don’t want any eye injuries as a result of handing out faulty solar eclipse glasses, so that’s where we stand. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to field calls from community members asking if we have glasses to give away and trying to get into the solar eclipse program that has been full for a month.

I can’t wait for the eclipse to be over.


Far Too Common a Problem Results in Unexpected Heroes

28 Jun

I think at this point almost everyone who follows social and community issues has heard of the skyrocketing numbers of deaths due to drug overdoses, specifically that of heroin in the past few years. It’s a national crisis and you can learn more about the startling number of people it affects on a daily basis from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What people may not be familiar with is that public librarians are being trained in administering the antidote – that’s right those so called meek and mild shushing librarians – on the front lines of the opioid epidemic across the United States.

The first article a friend shared with me was from Philly.com about a branch of the Philadelphia library that has trained staff to administer Narcan, the antidote for a suspected opioid overdose. I’d heard the story before it was published, but reading about how these librarians save lives on a regular basis both in and around their building and then go right back to their job is amazing. Other articles have been posted in recent weeks, including a CNN article that was posted just the other day. You’ll find similar stories in areas all over the United States as librarians step up in their communities to try and make a difference. Just as they have by hiring social workers who come in to help provide services for the homeless population, by offering a place where children from low-income families can find lunch during the summer when they’re out of school and help people polish resumes and submit online job applications when they don’t have access to the Internet at home. Librarians have been community heroes for years.

Thankfully, we haven’t had to deal with the specific issue of opioid overdoses in our library, but after a program I attended at our local mosque about sharing the Islam faith with the community, I’ve been thinking more and more about what we can do to make a difference in our community.

My plan is to provide community dialog problems that address social issues like the opioid epidemic, bullying, racial equality, LGBT+ rights, and so much more. I’m hoping that the library becomes the meeting space for organizations who are already doing amazing work in these fields to come together to not only educate the public, but to also create a shared sense of responsibility for what happens in our own backyard and to, again make a difference. I clearly haven’t fleshed out all the details to this long-range program idea, but I’m really excited about the potential partnerships we can form and how we can positively affect our community.

Holocaust Survivor Program

31 Mar

zen_classic_logo_2_1000.jpgWe had a HUGE crowd for this program on a Wednesday evening. At a time when there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors living, I felt strongly that we needed to give our community the opportunity to hear about this horrific historical event from a first-perspective. It also worked out really well to offer this program as just recently the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia was vandalized with 75-100 headstones being toppled over and damaged like many other Jewish cemeteries across America.

We were able to partner with the Holocaust Awareness Museum and  Education Center in Philadelphia. The Education Director came out to our library and provided a 10-15 minute overview of the Holocaust with a PowerPoint slideshow including photographs and then he introduced, Dave Tuck, a Holocaust survivor – he was sent to a concentration camp at the age of 12 and was later liberated on May 5, 1945 and then immigrated to America in 1950. At the time of his liberation, he weighed only 78 pounds, a concept that is horrific and almost unbelievable, if not for the proof standing in front of you. What amazed me the most was Dave Tuck’s view on life after living through such a horrible time – he was married for a number of years to, clearly the love of his life, has a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren and spends his time talking with school groups and groups like the one at the library; sharing his memories so as to not have something like this ever happen again.

I would strongly suggest that if you are able to offer a program like this at your library, you do it. Sharing first-person history truly makes history come alive and reminds us that if the old adage, “history repeats itself” we make sure that the right parts of history are repeated and others never, ever happen again.


Community Survey Results

16 Mar

We created a community survey using Survey Monkey and also had it available on paper for people who stopped in the library and were willing to fill it out. After about six weeks, we gathered 333 responses, about 1/3 of which were gathered online, while the majority were gathered on paper. We also made the survey available at the Community Center and Senior Center in the hopes of getting more people to fill it out.

The results are in and it’s so interesting what people know and don’t know about our library. Many people are unfamiliar with our online resources, many people don’t know our hours or that our book drop is available 24/7 (even when the library is open) and there are always requests for more – more materials, more programs, more space.

Overall, I’d say that most of the people who filled out our survey are happy with the services we provide, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we have things to work on as well.  The first being customer service, one interaction is all people need to form an opinion about an organization and sometimes that opinion isn’t always positive.  I’m hoping that through our customer service training that we just covered last month, this will begin to improve. I also hope that by working at the desks along side my staff, I can see for myself what’s happening as well as set an example of what we should be doing.

The question becomes, why don’t people know about (insert resources, programs, materials here)? What can we do to better promote ourselves in the community. We are continuing to work towards a number of goals this year and I’m beginning to line up some ideas for next year as well – projects that take time and funding. I’d like to begin promoting ourselves better, something I’ve known for a long time and something that we are continuing to work towards as we create our strategic plan and new website design.

Finally, I keep reminding myself that we can’t change everything we do and we can’t make everyone happy, but we can continue to listen to our community and provide resources and programs that our community wants and needs.

Partnering with Parks & Recreation

12 Jan

71cb890892149fa66a4512232e657367.jpgI had a meeting with our township’s Parks & Recreation department recently and it was so wonderful that it didn’t end up like an episode of the NBC show Parks & Recreation, rather we’re planning for ways to partner with each other while also not stepping on each other’s toes. Our community has a brand new community center which is a HUGE draw for our residents and our Parks & Rec department is not only running the center but also moved their office to the building as well, so we’re all adjusting as programming has changed, spaces have changed and learning how we can partner together.

While our Board of Supervisors is looking for us to partner together, we are both trying to figure out ways to do so, while not undercutting the funds the community center needs to run and at the same time, not charging library patrons for programs. Needless to say, we’ve gotten really creative about how we partner. We offering a fitness class once a month to promote the community center programs, while also promoting healthy living and health literacy from the library perspective. The Parks & Rec staff have given us a certain number of spaces for our patrons to experience these classes for free.

We’re also offering a library card drive next month – which is super simple! Library card applications and a staff member at the community center for a few hours to promote library programs.

We’re also putting together a joint grant application for a Healthy Living series of programs over the course of the year. Four programs, one for each season – Swim-Up Storytime at the Community Center pool with fun music and craft for the summer, Soups & Stews for healthy eating in the fall, an essential oils program in the winter and a container gardening program for the spring. We’re hoping that by off-setting the cost through a grant, we won’t have to worry about charging residents for the program and the Community Center/Parks & Rec department will be compensated for the use of the space and for any instructors we need to hire for the programs.

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