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.

Teen Reading & Discussion Program: Great Stories Club Grant

The American Library Association (ALA) is accepting applications for the Great Stories Club, a grant program in which library workers lead reading and discussion programs with underserved teens in their communities.

Application and guidelines:
Deadline: July 9, 2018

Grantees will receive:

  • 11 paperback copies of up to four book selections (10 to gift to participants; one for discussion leader/library collection)
  • Travel and accommodation expenses paid for one staff member to attend a 1½-day project orientation workshop in Chicago
  • Programming materials, including discussion guides, related reading lists and promotional resources

Watch this webinar recording to get...

  • An overview of the Great Stories Club program and application process
  • A review of the grant requirements
  • Instructions for the online application process, including the option to apply for two Great Stories Club grants at once and select 3-4 books from a longer reading list
  • Strategies for establishing or stengthening a community outreach partnership

Working with small groups of approximately 10 teens, grantees will host reading and discussion programs for up to four thematically related books. The titles — selected in consultation with librarian advisors and humanities scholars — are chosen to resonate with reluctant readers struggling with complex issues like academic probation, detention, incarceration, violence and poverty.

All types of libraries are eligible, as long as they work in partnership with, or are located within, organizations that serve under-resourced youth, such as alternative high schools, juvenile justice organizations, homeless shelters, foster care agencies, teen parenting programs, residential treatment facilities and other nonprofit and community agencies. Libraries located in high-poverty communities are also eligible to apply, though outreach partnerships with youth-focused organizations are still encouraged.

Apply now for the Great Stories Club, a reading and discussion programs for underserved teens
Great Stories Club website
webinar recording

Photo credit: Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library in Topeka, KS via Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0); photo was modified by cropping and resizing image

Free Webinars in May

ImagePlan to attend these free webinars; all you need is your computer & speakers or headphones (no microphone needed.) If you attend a live webinar, it may be counted as a Category B continuing education activity towards renewing librarian certification.

Webinars with a ★ are the ones I think you'll find most useful.


Let Patrons Create a Poet-Tree

How do you share a love for words, poetry, and expression with patrons who think poetry is boring?  A "Poet Tree" is part "stealth programming" and part National Poetry Month display, that can appeal to all ages.

The idea of the poet-tree is to create a space where patrons of all ages can celebrate poetry by writing and sharing it.
Encourage members to write original poems or copy them from your library's poetry collection onto index cards or die-cut leaves.
As people walk by, they can add to the poetry or simply read the poems that others have shared.

Your tree can be made of construction paper posted on a bulletin board, or "a small potted tree, a fake tree that you buy, or a makeshift tree you cobble together. Feel free to use your library's Christmas tree or a shrubbery of some sort. The tree needs to be able to stand alone and provide branches on which to hang things." Get more tree ideas from Lindsey Dunn here.

You can download free printable leaves from FirstPalette for a variety of shapes and sizes that include maple leaves, oak leaves, oval-shaped leaves, heart-shaped leaves, and star-shaped leaves. And download a free ready-to-display poster from the NoveList Book Squad you can use to encourage patrons to "leaf" the tree.

Lindsey says, "In short, having a poet-tree can encourage participation, increase circulation numbers of the poetry collection, create material for participation in library programs, and stimulate conversations between staff members and library patrons. It's a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month!"

Source: Steal this idea: Read and share a poem on the poet-tree, by Lindsey Dunn at the NoveList blog
Image credit: NoveList Book Squad (PDF)


Bite-Size Learning Videos

Take 20 minutes to view one of the bite-sized training videos in the new Digital Bytes series, created by the Wisconsin Valley Library Service.

Each topic is broken into short lessons, meant to be practical and applicable to any size of library. Each one consists of a video, a Digital Byte Training Guide, and links to Further Reading that supplement the recording.

The series so far includes these three topics:

  1. Customer Service: The Role of Body Language
    "This byte focuses on customer service in the library, and more specifically, how body language and facial expressions can have an impact on the service we provide."
  2. Customer Service: The Role of Positive Language
    "This byte focuses on how using positive language can improve library service. What phrases should we be using regularly? Which ones should we avoid?"
  3. Customer Service, Phone and Email Tips
    "This byte focuses on customer service in the library, and more specifically, how we can best communicate with patrons and colleagues over the phone and via email."

The trainings are meant to be viewed as bite-sized pieces, and at least two are planned to be released each month.

Source: Digital Bytes: Bite-Sized Training Coming Next Week

CCBC Spring Book Sale This Saturday, April 7

Drive to Madison this Saturday for bargains on new & gently-used books at the Friends of the CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center) Spring Book Sale.

Date: Saturday, April 7, 2018
   8–9am: Friends of the CCBC members only (but anyone can join at door)
   9am–1pm: everyone welcome
Location: Room 401 Teacher Education Building (CCBC Conference Room), 225 N. Mills St. on the UW-Madison Campus (map and parking information)

$4 hardcover picture books and non-fiction ($3 Friends members)
$2 paperbacks  ($1 Friends members)
$2 hardcover fiction and board books (everyone)
Noon  -  1 p.m.  All books $1!

We will be restocking the sale at least once on Saturday, so don't worry if you can't get there right away!

What payment methods are accepted?
Cash, check, or institutional purchase order (you must have your institution or district’s tax exempt number, if applicable. Your institution will then be billed).
No credit cards accepted.

This sale features hundreds of new and gently-used children's and young adult books.
The sale will include hardcover trade, formula nonfiction, and paperback reprints.

All proceeds benefit the Friends of the CCBC, Inc., which supports the work of the Cooperative Children's Book Center, a library serving pre-service and practicing librarians and teachers across Wisconsin.

Source: Friends of the CCBC
Image credit: Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons

10 Free Ways to Add STEM Concepts to Storytime

If you feel a little intimidated by math and science, incorporating STEM concepts into storytimes could help both your staff and a child's caregiver see how science, technology, engineering, and math are a part of daily life.

In the article 10 Tips for Adding STEM Concepts to Storytime, authors Saroj Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz write:

We believe that every storytime theme has a math and/or science strand in it. By highlighting and playing with those concepts, we are enriching children’s storytime experiences.
This approach, rather than a more staff-intensive, occasional program, is sustainable and enables all children to learn about math and science as long as they can, at a minimum, go to storytime, thus reaching the largest number of children.
For example, a storytime book such as The Napping House (HBG, 1983) by Audrey Wood offers opportunities to talk about any number of concepts of science and math, such as the weather we see out the window, the rainbow, weight, sequence, measurement and comparison, and prediction by observing the animals in the pictures.

Here are snippets from 3 of the 10 concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Include matching activities. They support math concepts of categorizing and grouping ...
  2. Go beyond mere counting. Parents and caregivers often reduce math thinking to counting. You can expand on this by talking about other concepts including patterns ...
  3. Use science or math words using phrase such as “What do you think will happen next?” or “What do you predict will happen?”

Read 10 Tips for Adding STEM Concepts to Storytime for ideas on how you can make STEM a part of storytimes at your library.

Hat tip to Resources for STEM/STEAM Projects and Programs at WebJunction
Image credit: Franklin Park Library, Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic; the photo was cropped from the original

Help Children Build Money Skills With These Free Tools

Your library can start a Money as You Grow book club to introduce children to important money concepts through books. (By the way, Money Smart Week is April 21-28, 2018, and April is National Financial Literacy Month!)

Here are free tools from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to get started:

  • A list of 16 books for children ages 4 to 10, including two in Spanish
  • Quick Parent Guides for each book, containing reading tips along with questions and activities for children
  • Implementation Guide for libraries and community organizations, with Ice breakers for book club meetings, and suggestions for bringing together parents as a group to reinforce the money lessons and share ideas

The Parent Guides and Implementation Guides can be ordered free of charge from the Government Printing Office’s secure ordering site.

Ready to start a book club at your library? Just follow these steps:

  1. Download the Program Facilitator's Implementation Guide
  2. Make a display of books that are on the Money as You Grow reading list.
  3. Order free copies of the Money as You Grow Parent Guides (please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery)
  4. Schedule your first book club!
  5. Send your feedback to

You can order free printed copies of the discussion guides in bulk at from the Government Printing Office’s secure ordering site.

Here's a list of the book titles, for which CFPB offers a free downloadable discussion guide for each:

Title Ages Key concepts
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday 4 and up Prioritizing, saving
A Bargain for Frances 6 and up Setting goals, staying true to yourself
The Berenstain Bears & Mama’s New Job 4 and up Setting goals, staying true to yourself
The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money 4 and up Making decisions, spending
A Chair for My Mother 6 and up Setting goals, earning
Count on Pablo 5 to 7 Solving problems, earning
Curious George Saves His Pennies 4 to 7 Making decisions, sharing and borrowing
Just Shopping with Mom 4 and up Prioritizing, spending
Lemonade in Winter 3 to 7 Solving problems, spending
My Rows and Piles of Coins 4 to 7 Setting goals, saving
Ox-Cart Man 4 and up Earning, setting goals
The Purse 4 and up Solving problems, setting goals
The Rag Coat 6 to 9 Solving problems, sharing and borrowing
Sheep in a Shop 4 and up Making decisions, solving problems
Those Shoes 5 to 8 Prioritizing, sharing and borrowing
Tia Isa Wants a Car 4 to 8 Solving problems, saving

Money as You Grow book club (CFPB)
Money as You Grow Book Club: How to Help Families Build Their Children’s Money Skills (WebJunction)
Money Smart Week, a national initiative between the ALA and the Federal Reserve Bank

Image credit: Money as You Grow poster free download from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

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