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.
I spent a few hours last night at our new community center talking with residents about the library and signing up residents with library cards. Many of the people I saw come through the doors were people I see in the library on a regular basis. I gave them updated an event calendar and let them know about some new programs we’re offering. Others had questions about how to update their library card and although I couldn’t update their cards on site, I let them know what they needed to bring to the library and how easy it was to update their cards. I talked to a few people about OverDrive for eBooks and audio books and also showed a lot of people Playaways and how easy they are to use.
We donated a few Playaways to the Community Center that focus on guided meditation after a suggestion of a regular library user and new community user. I’m excited to roll out this really cool partnership and hope that many people take advantage of trying out meditation.
In the end, I was able to sign up four people for library cards (which isn’t too many), but I think it is so important to remind people that we still exist and to show them everything that we have to offer them for free! I’ll be stopping by the community center again on Saturday morning to hopefully hit up another group of people!
Empathy, in my humble opinion, is one of those things that is vital to a caring, respectful and well-balanced individual. Empathy, or “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another” is severely lacking in a world where shooting unarmed individuals, massive terrorist attacks and outright violence is astoundingly common. (Google) Maybe it’s partly because of the world we live in – where social media means world news is at your finger tips and media outlets are reporting news on a 24/7 basis. That being said, we need to teach children now to celebrate differences, to share their feelings and to be empathetic.
So how can we teach children to be empathetic to family and friends, to the people in their community and to the people in the world around them? A lot of teaching can be done at home with adults, siblings, relatives, and pets, while teachers and schools can create communities of caring to encourage children to be empathetic to their classmates, teachers, and school staff. And a lot of teaching, discussing and understanding can come from reading stories. Books teach children about themselves, but also gives children the opportunity to look at the world from another perspective.
Take a look at what Melissa from Imagination Soup guest posted at All the Wonders about empathy. And if you want an author’s perspective, check out what Sara Pennypacker has to say about her book, Pax on Brightly. And your resources don’t have to stop there – the Washington Post provides a list of 24 books from Preschool through High School that show kindness an empathy. Although I haven’t gotten a chance to put together my list of books about empathy, I have created a great list of 25 books with characters set outside the United States to give a more global perspective to kids, so you can definitely check that out as well.
I’ve mentioned Emily Arrow before on my blog, but that was before I got a copy of her Storytime Singalong, Vol. 1 CD. This CD is absolutely pure gold for storytimes and families! Emily has done a few of her own songs, but what I absolutely am in awe of is her ability to take an already awesome picture book and make a song about it too! Check out Emily’s website and her YouTube channel to see some of the cute music videos.
I sent a copy of the CD to a friend with an almost- 5 year old and a 2 year old and they haven’t stopped listening to it, in fact, they are now singing the songs a capella together as a family in the grocery store. As my friend put it, “It’s a welcome change to the Frozen soundtrack that I’ve listened to for so long.” And when I asked her almost 5-year old what her favorite song was, she replied without hesitation, “Number 5” (which is based on the book, Are We There, Yeti? by Aslyn Anstee).
So whether you’re a librarian looking for great new music for storytime (I just used Emily’s Max the Brave song for storytime this week) or a family looking for ways to have fun and get moving together, please check out Emily Arrow, because the CD case says “Vol. 1” and I’d love, love, love to see a “Vol. 2.”
There are some amazing resources out there to help you promote or better understand the 5 Early Literacy Practices.
Almost every library you come across with some sort of information about early literacy practices, so I only put up a couple. If you have other go-to resources, please share and I’ll add them to the list. There is a considerable amount of research and content available about early literacy and it can definitely help teachers, librarians, parents and caregivers understand how very important early literacy is to small children.