Building Extravaganza!

I made a rare Saturday appearance yesterday and went all in with a Building Extravaganza! all ages program.

Geodesic dome made with Swedish Fish and toothpicks

The star of the show was building with Swedish Fish and toothpicks. I had lots of ideas but knew I needed a take-home activity and started looking online. Originally, this was planned for jelly beans, but the store was out, and I’m glad — the Swedish Fish upped the wow factor for the adults and teens. Simple and fun!

Other activities:

  • Little Builders. This area was inspired by my coworker’s Little Builders program (similar to Little Chefs). Lots of building toys and materials out for the 0-5 set to build and destroy. A popular choice continues to be empty hot cocoa cans, which we saved from a program last December. It’s now August, and they’re still popular as drums and building materials.
  • Family Engineering. I had an activity from this book, but the materials slowly made their way to the Little Builders zone. I love how easy it is to add these ideas to my program. Copy the signs, gather the materials, done.
  • Strawbees. I had a few of these kits out, and they were a fun option for teens and older kids when they ran out of Swedish Fish ideas. I’m still not sold, but the more I play with these, the more I get them.

The best part is all of these are activities that can be repeated as part of another program. So many candy possibilities — will Dots work better? What about the original jelly beans? Candy corn? I can’t wait.

Creating Joy

Last month, I ordered a giant photo print for my apartment and had it shipped to work. As soon as it arrived, my coworkers swarmed. “There’s a package on your desk. It has DINOSAURS!”

FullSizeRender(1)Photojojo always makes me smile. And while I love the photo print, the memory stuck in my mind is how excited my coworkers were. One moment in a long work day but enough joy to brighten a dreary day weeks later.

And was there a dinosaur? Absolutely.

Dinosaur figure

Sometimes it takes something a little unusual to bring about a smile: an interesting architectural detail, a fun display, or even something as simple as a new toy. How are you creating joy for your customers?

p.s. The new dinosaur is happily settled with my Photojojo Brachiosaurus at home. It’s a very happy bookshelf.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover

This book was an unusual read for me, both because it’s a historical romance (only my third EVER!) and because I kind of reviewed it on Goodreads. I spend far more time talking about books than writing about them, but I had to made a confession about this one, and the Goodreads review was as good of a time as any.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (The Rules of Scoundrels, #4)Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I totally judged this book by the cover.


For actual reviews of the book, I recommend Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ squee-filled review and the Dear Author recommended read review.

Putting the “cat” in catapult

spoon catapultThis week we had an amazing training day to exchange program ideas. It was a blast — we got to be customers for little bits of time and connect with fellow librarians in the process. The final presentation was from a RAFT specialist, who let us try a few of their premade low-cost STEM kits. Armed with spoon catapults, the cotton balls and pompoms were flying, and we even got to keep the catapult, which I did, because hey, I own a catapult!

And this is where the cat comes in. It turns out a spoon catapult is the perfect delivery device for a cat treat and adds a bit of enrichment for the cat, who gets to track it down. I’m not entirely sure how the cat felt about the activity itself, but the total number of treats distributed has increased significantly since the training day, so it’s going over fairly well.

To build your own, you will need a plastic spoon, a rubber band, and a cork (one from a bottle of wine works great). Use the rubber band to attach the cork to the spoon. That’s it!

It’s also a great physical science learning activity. In an all-human environment, substitute pompoms, cotton balls, or other soft objects for the cat treats.

Spoon Slinger Instructions from RAFT (PDF)

I would like a donut, please

The Art of Asking by Amanda PalmerThe Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer is one of those books I instantly wanted to put on five different coworkers’ desks the second I returned it. As someone who is asked questions for a living, it was fascinating to dive deep into the other side. And it definitely has value to reference librarians thinking about relationship building with customers.

That is not why I chose to blog about the book.

Amanda bravely talks about how she has made it through the years and how taking is continually a challenge for her. It is for many of us.

“To the artists, creators, scientist, nonprofit-runners, librarians, strange-thinkers, start-uppers, and inventors, to all people everywhere who are afraid to accept the help, in whatever form it’s appearing:

Please, take the donuts.”

Seriously, librarians, how do we make this list in a musician/artist’s book?

It’s not the act of taking that’s so difficult — it’s the fear of perception of accepting help in a service profession. What will people think?

“Try to picture getting angry at Florence Nightingale for snacking on a donut while taking a break from tirelessly helping the sick. It’s difficult.”

Take. The. Donuts.

Sprinkled donut

This is harder for me now, in a job I love, in a job where I could easily spend 60 hours a week trying to do more. Accept the help, the love, the donuts. Take vacations. Leave work in the library. Do great work, but don’t be a martyr. You can get eight hours of sleep, have hobbies, enjoy life, even with a job that requires selflessness.

In 2015, in addition to being quick to offer help, I’ll also be quicker to accept it. Because donuts are awesome.

Favorite Books of 2014

Favorite Picture Books, 2014

One of my favorite parts of working in a public library is being surrounded by gorgeous picture books, both new and old. These are the four best ones I read this year.

Peggy  Peggy by Anna Walker. An adorable tale about a hen who goes on a brave adventure in the city.

The Book with No Pictures The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. Not technically a picture book, but a joy to read aloud. Best read with someone else nearby. Pets count.
Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers. Dark but beautifully written and illustrated. I felt quite content the morning I read this.
Smoky Night Smoky Night by Eve Bunting. I picked this book up after reading a phenomenal blog post on resources for talking with children about race. There were tears at my desk.

Coming Sunday: The full list of my favorite 2014 reads.