Reading is often considered a solitary past time, just as libraries are often considered to be places of silence. Modern libraries are challenging these ideas and attempting to become social and community centers where reading is communal and noise is expected.
But, let’s start with you. What do you think of when you imagine a library? I’m going to assume you’re all quite familiar with Hale, and perhaps Hale is what comes to mind when you think of libraries. Many people imagine libraries as giant book warehouses and librarians to be guardians of “quality” literature. While libraries and librarianship in the USA were definitely built around this model initially, libraries and librarians have changed significantly over the last 20 years. This is evident from even a cursory glance at Hale Library with it’s plethora of computers and it’s Ask A Librarian station instead of a Reference Desk.
Public libraries are also making an important transition from viewing themselves as strongholds of “standards” and simply providing resources to community gathering spaces and collaborative creators of resources. Some of you are probably familiar with the Manhattan Public Library. MPL is considered a Major Service Center 2 which serves a regional population of more than 50,000 with citizens from surrounding communities utilizing it’s services. MPL, like other libraries its size, has programs and materials for all age ranges from newborns to senior citizens. They also provide computer and Internet access, video game events, and home school resources. Prior to joining the staff at NCKLS, I considered Hale and MPL to be standard libraries. While working at NCKLS last fall and this spring, I’ve traveled to each of the NCKLS libraries, and I’ve been surprised and excited to discover the wide variety of libraries within NCKLS. So, I’m going to share some with you.
With Hale and MPL in mind, I’d like to show you some of the libraries that are part of NCKLS. The first category is Gateway libraries. There are 17 gateway libraries in NCKLS. These libraries serve populations of fewer than 500 people, communities that don’t have grocery stores, don’t have restaurants, and don’t have schools. These small communities don’t even have gas stations, but they do have libraries. Often the libraries are single room structures with tiny budgets and few hours of operation, but they are still there because the communities value them.
The Hope Community Library is one such library.It consists of one room with four walls of shelf space. Although it is in a community of only 361 people, the Hope library provides weekly storytimes and laptop checkout within its services.
The Lyon County DistrictLibrary 1 is located in Allen and serves a population of 177 from three communities: Allen, Redding, and Admire. This library has a larger area to work with Hope Community Library, and they recently refurbished a back room to afford themselves a programming space. They have weekly storytimes and provide outreach to the closest elementary school.
The next category of libraries are the linking libraries. These are located in communities with populations of 501-1000 people. There are 12 linking libraries in NCKLS.
The Enterprise library serves a population of 849. They have weekly craft days where every class at the local elementary school visits the library for an hour to do a craft with the librarian. Last summer they participated in the Summer Food Service Program which provides free meals, during the summer, to children who would normally receive free breakfast and lunch through the school during the academic year. Although Enterprise with within a 13 minute drive to the Abilene Public Library, when the Enterprise library burnt down, the community rallied to build new library.
TheRiley City library has a brand new building which was constructed entirely by volunteers. The community has a population of 974. The new library shares the building with the community Bread Basket. Riley City Library provides regular storytimes and craft programs. They have puzzles and toys for kids to play with in the library. The Riley City Librarian discovered a growing population of Spanish speakers in Riley who were not utilizing the library; however, now the library has a Spanish speaking volunteer who works one afternoon a week and these new citizens have started utilizing the library.
Moving up in size we come to the ServiceCenter 1 Libraries that serve communities of 1001-2500 citizens. There are 7 Service Center 1 libraries in NCKLS.
Council Groves has a population of 2,169. The Council Groves Public Library provides children’s and teen programs, including weekly storytimes with crafts. They have a dedicated teen area.
Marion City Library services a population of 1887. They are located in an old Santa Fe Train depot which the city refurbished rather than demolishing. Recently, the library was able to add a community room to their facility. They have weekly storytimes, along with seasonal programs such as visits from Santa and Halloween parties. The library is one of 12 Kansas libraries given a star rating by Library Journal in 2013.
Next come the Service Center 2 libraries which serve populations of 2501 – 10,000 people. There are 7 service center 2 libraries in NCKLS.
The Hillsboro Public library services a population of 2926. Like many libraries in small communities, this library is housed within the HillsboroCivic Center. Hillsboro provides children’s programming like storytimes and seasonal events. They have an extensive collection for children and teens, with a designated teen space. They provide toys, puzzles, and games for children and teens as well as having different early literacy activities available for children to learn from.
Wamego Public Library serves a population of 4435. They have an extensive children’s collection with special programming rooms. The library has toys and puzzles for children to play with. They also provide multiple storytimes each week along with seasonal programming. They have a strong teen volunteer program which they rely upon for helping with summer reading.
For this next category we skip over the Major Service Center 1 group which serve populations of 10,001 – 25,000 to the Major Service Center 2 with serves a population of 25,001-100,000 people. There are four Major Service Center libraries within NCKLS as well as a Library system, consisting of multiple branches in Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee counties. With it’s branches combined together, this library system qualifies as the 5th Major Service Center 2 in the NCKLS region. The PottWab library system was created in such a way that Wamego is not part of it; instead, each of the branches are in communities of approximately the same size.
Emporia Public Library serves a population of 24,971 people. They have extensive programming with multiple storytimes a week, daycare and school outreach programs, and teen clubs and events. The library hosts an annual William Allen White event, as well as other seasonal programs. Emporia has a significant number of Spanish-speaking residents, and the library is working to create bilingual storytimes as well as providing a large Spanish collection for all age ranges. Emporia Public Library has an annual Stories and Swim program at their local swim center.
So, what are some of the collaborative and social programs that the NCKLS libraries are offering? Most libraries break their programming up based on age ranges. Today I’m going to talk about programming for children and teens, but almost all libraries that provide any programming at all also provide programs for adults, such as author visits, concerts, and art exhibits.Although not all library programs center on reading, generally speaking, libraries try to have programs that include books and learning in one form or another. Even the parties and crafts are often tied into a book, author, illustrator, or book series.
Following the library format, I’ve broken programs out based on age ranges. Although there are many, many different programs offered at the NCKLS libraries, I’m going to focus on the book and reading related programs.
Storytimes are one of the most common library programs for children. Storytimes are generally geared towards preschoolers, but the age range has extended over the last decade or so to include the youngest of babies. Some libraries also offer family storytimes that school aged children attend. Storytimes are the ultimate collaborative reading experience. Librarians not only read aloud, but they ask questions of the audience to engage listeners. Movement and play have become a big part of storytimes as well. Often during a story, the librarian will ask children to participate by imitating character actions, making animal or machine sounds, or by predicting what will happen next.Additionally, storytimes typically include retelling of stories. When retelling a tale, librarians will often hand out props so that children can reenact specific events. Attending storytime give children an opportunity to meet peers and practice behavior appropriate for a semi-structured environment at the same time as they are enjoying books. Storytimes are also a social outlet for parents.
The State early literacy initiative 6 by 6 focuses on the six skills children need in order tobe ready to learn to read when they start school: Have Fun with Books (Print Motivation); Notice Print All Around You (Print Awareness); Talk, Talk, Talk (Vocabulary); Tell Stories About Everything (Narrative); Look for Letters Everywhere (Letter Knowledge); Take Time to Rhyme, Sing, and Play Word Games (Phonological Awareness).Libraries create both active and passive programs around these concepts. The images on this slide are all of passive programs where the materials for extending a book through play are used to help teach one or more of the early literacy skills. With these materials, there are directions to help parents understand what their children are learning as they interact with the activities. Often, early literacy tips are also included in storytime resources.At the libraries that have early literacy stations with toys and activities, children and parents are encouraged to play together. Additionally, children from different families often come together to play. The most popular early literacy stations have been those tied to well-known and loved books, such as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Green Eggs & Ham.
Another preschool program is Kansas Reads to Preschoolers. The Kansas Reads to Preschoolers program is a week long event that takes place every November. Each year a different books is selected, and libraries across the state plan programs around that book. The Kansas Reads to Preschoolers program encourages outreach, and copies of the year’s book are given to children who attend programs at the library, as well as being provided to children at local daycares and preschools. These children are often unable to attend regular library storytimes and programs because of scheduling conflicts, so this outreach is a way to bring them into the library-user community.This year the book was Dog’s Colorful Day which, as you can see, allows for a lot of different activities from color sorting to dog washing. Typically, the library events tied to Kansas Reads to Preschoolers are more elaborate than a regular storytime, but they always include a reading of the year’s book. Because the program focuses on one book, librarians across the state are able to share program ideas and resources.
The 1000 books before Kindergarten program promotes reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers and encourages parent and child bonding through reading. The way these programs work in libraries is that libraries provide recommended reading lists for specific age ranges. Within the library there is usually some sort of art display that is broken into 10 units. When child has listened to 100 books, she gets to put a sticker or some other marker into the first “unit.” As she hears more books, she adds stickers to each “unit” until she’s put a sticker in each of the 10. Often, the library has some small prize or reward for each 100 books. Many libraries also have a party each season to celebrate the children who’ve “read” 1000 books. This program not only encourages reading, the creation of the art, as well as the celebrations, make the program a collaborative,community event.
Our next age range is school aged children. Within library facilities, materials for elementary aged children are housed in the same area as materials for babies and preschoolers. However, programming for elementary aged children is frequently significantly different from preschool programming.
Summer Reading is standard program in the USA. Most public libraries participate in one way or another. Often the program is ongoing over the summer with prizes and special programs to draw children and teens into the library and keep them reading when school is out. Many states in the USA use the Collaborative Summer Library Program materials, so that if you travel in the summer (and visit the local libraries) you may find the exact same art, prizes, and promotional materials as those used in Kansas. Summer reading is a HUGE program for libraries and has grown from a program focused on elementary aged children to include preschoolers, teens, and adults. Even very small libraries usually have at least one summer reading event. Reading programs for other seasons have been growing over the last few years. Often they are framed as month-long challenges with special opening and closing programs and public rewards, like the yard signs on this slide. Libraries are trying to create programs that bring their communities together around the pleasures of reading as well as the importance of libraries in the continuation of education and self-improvement.
Author and illustrator visits and other performers often draw large crowds. Libraries that don’t have the facility space for such large crowds get creative in staging these events. Emporia Public Library has a great deal of programming outside during the summer, while Marion City Library utilizes other community space for large events.
Many libraries have created after-school clubs that meet on a regular basis. Sometimes patrons have to register for these clubs, and sometimes they are drop-in events. Some libraries provide homework help during a drop-in time period, while others organize specific programs. Lego clubs are becoming popular, but many libraries try to tie school age events to specific books, series, or authors. With all of these events, an important goal is to create a social setting where participants feel comfortable reading, talking about books, and expressing themselves. This is one reason some libraries require registration, so that the participants have time to become friends and can count on seeing each other at upcoming events.
The READ with a Dog program is a national program that involves therapy dogs who have been trained specifically for use in libraries. The target audience for this program is beginning and/ or struggling readers. Many children need to practice reading aloud, but doing so can be intimidating. The dogs are non-judgmental listeners who, at the same time, provide comfort and positive reinforcement simply by virtue of wanting to snuggle. Libraries in communities without therapy dogs have been creative in creating other reading opportunities such as Read to a Turtle, Read to a Hermit Crab, and Read to Fish programs.
Finally we come to teen or young adult programming. For most libraries, patrons are considered teens starting in 6th grade. While many younger children read teen books prior to reaching 6th grade, and many teens continue to select books from children’s collections, teen programming is almost always fairly strict about age range of participants. In part, this is because having younger children attend teen events will drive teens away, and in part because some activities are centered around materials that some parents would consider inappropriate for younger children.
Teen events often tie-in with popular teen books allowing teens to share their passion for a book or series of books with each other. Media tie-in programs are also popular. This Cupcake Wars program married the two by asking the participants to decorate their cupcakes based on a book or series. Providing food at teen events is a HUGE draw.Reenactment events are also popular and can be used as intergenerational programs if the teens are interested in sharing performances.
Because what is popular with teens changes so quickly, Teen services librarians find it helpful to have Teen Library Advisory Boards to help select and plan programs. The teens that are in the teen advisory boards (known as TAB and TLAB) often form the core of the participants in any teen programming. Many libraries find that homeschooled teens are especially interested in TLAB groups because it provides them with expanded social opportunities. These teens will often volunteer at the library along with other community teens. Teen volunteers can be trained to do storytime outreach and in some communities make summer reading programs possible. TLAB and teen volunteers also review new books, recommend books to librarians and each other, create book displays, and join in with other programs offered by the library, such as technology tutoring.
The North Central Kansas Library System is one of seven regional systems in the state of Kansas. Each regionalsystem provides support forthe libraries within its counties. NCKLS is made up of 12 counties. NCKLS offices are located within the Manhattan Public Library building, and we share the Director and some staff with MPL. However, NCKLS has 8 full-time staff members who are not members of the MPL staff. Manhattan Public Library is, in fact, one of our regional library systems, so the resources we provide MPL are the same as those we provide other libraries. Although NCKLS provides a wide-range of services to our regional libraries, in this presentation, I’ve only included those that we provide to youth services librarians. Keep in mind, however, that many of the libraries within the NCKLS region do not have dedicated youth services librarians, and instead one or two library staff members who may have no training in youth services are responsible for all youth programming, collection development, reference, and readers’ advisory services.
NCKLS has created storytime kits for libraries to use in order to add props and interactivity to their storytimes. These kits are all created around a broad theme. They include 1 – 12 books, rhymes, songs, and activities related to either the theme or a specific book, materials (like flannel boards or folder stories) for retelling stories, and other interactive items(like puppets, toys, and games) for use in or after storytime. These kits check out to the libraries for 1 month each. Our goal in the selection of books for the kits was that they would contain enough variety within the theme that one kit could provide up to 4 different storytimes for a library. Items in the kits can also be used to create a passive program like the early literacy stations discussed earlier.
The state has created early literacy kits that are similar to the storytime kits. They too include interactive materialsrelated to a theme. However, these kits are specifically designed to be used as in passive programs. Each kit focuses on just one book with activities and toys that promote specific early literacy skills. The kits provide signs and directions for how to best use the materials to promote these skills. These early literacy kits can be checked out by libraries for up to 3 months, and they contain enough materials to rotate different activities (usually 2 at a time) over those three months.Because we hoped to expand the possibilities of these kits, NCKLS has purchased 7 supplemental books that can be checked out with the early literacy kits. These books all relate to the same theme as the original book in the kits. With the supplemental books, the early literacy kits can be repurposed for use in storytime. Recently, the state has begun making Circle Storytime kits, similar to the storytime kits NCKLS loans. The new state kits can be checked out by libraries, preschools and daycares, or individual patrons. They are available through interlibrary loan and are listed on the state library OPAC.
The newest programming resources that NCKLS is creating are for teen and tween programs. These are our Maker Kits. Each maker kit provides materials for an experience based program rather than a product based program. This means that the kits contain the materials to create something collaboratively that participants learn from but do not take home. This is a shift in thinking for many libraries, where taking home an end product from every programhas been common practice. We are very excited about these program resources because the maker movement is sweeping the library world. Many of the NCKLS libraries are interested in experimenting with makerspaces and activities, but to have a makerspace within a library is both expensive and requires a great deal of space. These kits will allow our libraries to provide maker programs without having to dedicate either the money or the space permanently. The theme of the maker kit in this slide is robots. It contains 5 different robots that can be built, 8 robot books for teens, and ideas, directions, and resources for programs related to robots.
NCKLS provides important informational and educational services to the librarians within the region. We share resources for local, regional, and national continuing education events. To do this, NCKLS tracks webinars, conferences, and workshops and notifies the libraries in our system of them.
NCKLS also provides continuing education opportunities and workshops within our geographic area. Among these opportunities is an annual Summer Reading workshop. Because summer reading is such a huge part of children’s and teen librarianship, all the regions in the state work together to bring in a professional presenter for summer reading workshops. This presenter tours the state providing workshops that are customized, to one degree or another, to each regions’ requests. NCKLS also organizes an annual Fall workshop related to children’s or teen services. Along with these annual workshops, I’ve provided “on demand” workshops, such as a craft workshop focused on the summer reading theme and a workshop for the creation of folder stories. NCKLS provides other training opportunities through webinars we’ve created in house (like my storytime training videos) or webinars that we host. Librarians who attend workshops and webinars receive continuing education credits.
As the youth consultant, I provide collection management support to the regional libraries, from book suggestions shared at the annual Book Fair to help weeding local collections. For those of you who don’t know the term weeding, it is the process of deciding which books should be removed from a library collection based on currency of information, quality of the title, condition of the book, and number of circulations. Since many of our regional libraries have only recently moved to electronic catalogs, tracking circulations is sometimes difficult. Weeding can be an especially daunting task, and one that is often misunderstood by library patrons.I also provide collection analysis upon request. Since each of these tasks should be performed regularly, while I’m helping librarians perform the tasks, I also teach them how to do the tasks on their own in the future.
NCKLS has a rotating collection that is utilized by most of the libraries within our region. The rotating collection has around 26,000 books with approximately 7,800 children’s and teen books. This collection provides extended resources for the libraries who have limited budgets for purchasing materials, and the rotating collection is shared by 47 libraries within the region. Libraries receive a new selection of books every 2 month and can request up to 350 books from the collection at each rotation. Part of this collection is made up of children’s and teen books. Libraries can customize their books based on genre, age range, and fiction vs. nonfiction.
I select the books for the children’s and teen rotating collection. To do this, I utilize review journals such as Horn Book, Booklist, VOYA, Bulletin, and School Library Journal. I also select based on the various book awards, from the Caldecott to quick picks for reluctant young adult readers. The rotating collection provides libraries with access to many classics that they have had to discard based on condition and have been unable to repurchase. This means that I need to save some of my budget for replacing these standard items regularly. In addition to this, NCKLS tries to purchase “extra” books related to each summer’s summer reading theme. This year that means extra science books. Just as each library must consider it’s patrons when selecting titles, I have to keep in mind the mores and preferences of the libraries NCKLS serves. It is important to purchase high-quality materials, but also to purchase materials that will circulate and will not cause the librarians difficulties with their communities. Although I have broader leeway than individual library selectors, I have to remember that quality is not the only criteria I must consider when I select a title.
One of NCKLS’ annual goals this year is to reach out to all the school libraries within our region. Although we have connections with a few school libraries, we’d like to expand this because we feel there are many ways we can help school media specialists. An example of this is that NCKLS can provide school library patrons with State Library cards so that those patrons can check out electronic and audio books through the state collection, as well as requesting interlibrary loan items from around the state. In the past, NCKLS has also provided book mending workshops to school media specialists. We hope to offer this class again in May. I know that some of you are education majors, can you think of any suggestions for how NCKLS could better support school librarians and paraprofessionals?
The North Central Kansas Library System provides many resources to the libraries within our region. We’re excited about what these libraries provide their communities from access to print and electronic resources to a social focal point that can be lacking in communities were fewer and fewer businesses are present.
Community Reading: Libraries and the Social Experience of Books
Libraries and the Social Experience of Books
What else does NCKLS do for Youth
• Rotating Collection:
• Review Journals
• Support for School Libraries:
• State Library Cards
• Continuing Education
• What do you suggest?