Ideas to Make Your Library Shine

Sharing ideas from around the system & around the country, on programming, fundraising, grants, free stuff, and more.
Brought to you by the Winnefox Library System.

WLA's Leadership Development Institute: Apply by May 31

Wisconsin Library Association's 3rd annual Leadership Development Institute is open to both members and non-members — apply by May 31, 2019 to participate. Thirty participants will be accepted.

The Leadership Development Institute ...

  • provides the tools and insight to improve your leadership effectiveness and help your library respond to a rapidly shifting competitive landscape
  • is designed for those who must think strategically about emerging institutional and informational needs, changing expectations of library leaders, new technologies, and long-range plans for the library
  • curriculum will deepen your insights and broaden your repertoire of useful approaches to leadership
  • provides a valuable opportunity to assess your own leadership strengths and weaknesses in a supportive and engaging learning environment

Date: August 7-9, 2019
Location: Madison Public Library, 201 West Mifflin Street, Madison,WI 53703
Cost: $300 for WLA members; $375 for non-members


  • Winnefox is sponsoring a scholarship for one of our libraries' directors to attend; contact Mark Arend for details.
  • A limited number of scholarships are available through WLA to cover the registration fee; indicate on the application form if you're interested in being considered.

Full details at the WLA website.

image credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day prank from Kennedy LibraryApril 1st means April Fools’ Day pranks, and libraries are enthusiastic participants sharing whimsey via their websites, Facebook, and other social media. ALA rounds up their favorite lighthearted library pranks and hoaxes each year at American Libraries magazine's April Fools' Day Archives, where you'll find gems like these:

"We are very excited to add an invisibility cloak to our Library of Things collection! This is an incredible opportunity for the community of Hillsboro to try out cutting-edge technology, so be sure get your hold request in soon. You can find it in the catalog here:" [Hillsboro Public Library, 2018]

"Brookfield (Conn.) Library and Sewickley (Pa.) Public Library hosted April Fools’ cupcake decorating programs for teens. Fortunately, both programs made cupcakes that looked like mashed potatoes, popcorn, or peas and carrots, rather than tasted like them." [2012]

Sacramento (Calif.) Public Library announced that their Library of Things had evolved into a new Library of Cats, with apparently a lengthy borrowing period: “Patrons can now borrow a kitten and return a cat.” [2015]

Ride-along-reader. "Enjoy this new Library service launching April 1." [Sacramento Public Library, 2018]Ride-along-reader from Sacramento Public Library, 2018

Here's a bonus I found at Oakfield Public Library's Facebook page via the Cheshire Public Library: Gullible's Travels

Image credits:
• Coffee Banned from Library Premises, Kennedy Library via Flickr, Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic
• Ride-along-reader, Sacramento Public Library via Facebook


Host a Craft Supply Swap

Invite people to get rid of extra craft supplies and pick out something new by hosting a Craft Supply Swap at your library.

Pflugerville Library in Texas held their event last month, and here are guidelines they provided to participants:

  • You will receive tickets by staff based on the value of the items you bring.
    • Bring items that are gently used or new only.
    • If items have been exposed to smoke or pet hair, they need to be labeled as such.
    • Please keep small items, like buttons and beads, or sets of items, like markers and pencils, bagged.
    • Small tools are welcome, but please avoid bringing expensive and/or large machinery (sewing machines, die cutters, etc.)
  • Once you have received your tickets, your items will be grouped with similar items at our different stations.
  • “Shopping” for items with your tickets will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m.
  • If you have items left at the end of the swap, you may take them with your or leave them with staff to be used at the library or donated to Goodwill.

Holding a swap can support recycling, re-inspire local crafters, and bring new people into your library.

And don't forget to create displays of crafting books for attendees to check out!

• Pflugerville Library's Facebook event
• calendar event that includes all their guidelines and full details
photos of the swap

Hat tip: WebJunction's Social Library, Volume 127
Image credit: Pflugerville Library's Facebook post


Star Wars Day is May the 4th

Planning any Star Wars-themed activities for May the 4th ("May the Fourth Be With You") or Revenge of the 5th ("Revenge of the Sith") days?

If so, you may want to check these resources from the Teen Services Underground blog for new program and activity ideas:

Bonus: 21 Star Wars food ideas that are out of this world

Source: Teen Services Underground blog


Space & Astronomy Hands-on STEM Activities

If you're looking for another source of hands-on STEM activities, try Science Snacks from Exploratorium, a website full of activities that use inexpensive and readily-available materials. Each "Snack" includes a materials list, step-by-step directions, and an explanation of the science at work in the activity; some also include video demos.

Because the 2019 Summer Library Program theme is space, here's a sample of activities they provide on the topics of astronomy, space sciences and exploration, and planetary science that you could try at your library this summer:

  • Blue Sky: discover why the sky is blue and the sunset is red
  • CD Spectroscope: turn an old CD into a tool to reveal the wavelengths of light that mix together to create the colors you see
  • Earth and Moon: create a scale model of the earth-moon system using spheres of different sizes
  • Glue Stick Sunset: model the scattering of light by the atmosphere, which makes the sky appear blue and our sunsets red
  • Handy Measuring Tool: use just your hand and a ratio to estimate sizes or distance
  • Height Sight: build an inclinometer to measure the height of a distant object, like a flying paper rocket or the North Star
  • Self-Centered Globe: make the pattern of sunlight and shadow on an Earth globe match the pattern of day and night on our planet
  • Size and Distance: trick your brain into thinking that two similar objects of different sizes are really the same size, by removing clues to the actual size and distance of an object
  • Tide-O-Matic: build a simple model to explore the influence of the sun and moon on our tides

Hat tip: Three Good Places to Find Hands-on STEM Activities
Image source: Pixabay


Storytime Goes On, Despite Snowy Weather

During the recent Polar Vortex weather event that brought days of sub-zero temperatures to the Midwest, some public libraries were closed and storytimes were cancelled. To help prevent parents and kids from coming down with "Cabin Fever", children's librarian Ms. Dana at the La Crosse (WI) Public Library recorded her storytime while the library was closed to the cold. Ms. Dana says to her viewers, "Stay snuggly and warm and enjoy!"

Your staff could give this a try! Using the Facebook app on a tablet or phone, while logged to an account that's connected to your library's Facebook account, you could do a Facebook Live session that would be recorded and available to watch from your library's Facebook page anytime.

Big Talk From Small Libraries Free 1-Day Online Conference

ImageThe Big Talk From Small Libraries 2019 one-day online conference is this month,  Everyone is welcome to attend, regardless of how big or small the library, if your library serves a few hundred or a few thousand, this is the day for you. It's aimed at librarians from small libraries; the smaller the better. Each of the speakers will be from a small library or works directly with small libraries.

Friday February 22, 2019
8:45am - 5pm CST (register once to attend any or all of the sessions)
Register here
GoToWebinar login instructions will be e-mailed to registered attendees the day before the conference

You can see full descriptions of each session and presenter bios, and here in brief is the day's schedule:

8:45-9:00am Welcome to the Conference & Introductions
9:00-9:50am Accreditation, Grants, and Seed Library all in One Year!
10:00-10:50am Teaching iPad and iPhone to Seniors
11:00-11:50am Best Small Library in America 2018: Madison County Public Libraries
12:00-12:50pm – Lightning Round:
   12:00 – Library @ the Theater
   12:10 – Marketing Out Loud: How Small Libraries Can Make Marketing Fun & Interactive
   12:20 – Building New Services from Scratch: Lessons Learned from Startup Library Cultures
   12:30 – SAT Bootcamp
   12:40 – Tiny Library Inside Small Library
1:00-1:50pm Make a Mini Makerspace
2:00-2:50pm Small Library, Big Partnerships
3:00-3:50pm But We Don’t Have an OA Librarian: Open Education with No Budget
4:00-4:50pm Improving Graphics Workflow for Efficient, Consistent Service: SRSU Case Study

You are welcome to watch as an individual or to host a group viewing of the conference. If several staff members from the same library want to attend, you can just register for one seat and have staff members view/listen together via one workstation. You can also host a viewing party this same way and invite staff from other libraries. For any group viewings, if you know who will be there, you can list your Additional Attendees on your one registration.

This conference is organized and hosted by the Nebraska Library Commission, and is co-sponsored by the Association for Rural & Small Libraries.

Reference: Big Talk From Small Libraries website
Photo credit: building previously used by the Mill Pond Public Library in Kingston, WI

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