Banned Books Week 2016

Banned books week is here and I didn’t have plans to do a huge display but I had an idea I wanted to try and thought banned books week would be a good test. 

Last year I put out a display with the usual caution tape and only displayed the nicest looking books we had that I thought might get checked out. This year the adult shelver (code name Robin) helped cover the books in brown Kraft paper and write caution, danger, banned, etc on them along with the titles. I made up a little sign with some of the titles and why they were banned or challenged and it has been really cool to see the patrons interact with the books and look at the list. 

One patron’s voice was getting louder and more frantic each time she spied a title she had read ending with “Carrie?!? That’s one of my favorite books!”  She ended up going home with a copy of slaughterhouse-five. I also had a family say they looked at the display but they owned almost everything we had. 

I know it isn’t a huge display but it seems to be working really well for us and my boss really liked it so that is a plus. I think some people are hesitant to take the books or think they are fake but I reassure them that they are real books they can check out and they think it is cool. It has gotten much more foot traffic than any other display I have put up. 



Ahoy me mateys!
For our pirateology program I scheduled several fun pirate-themed activities. Registration was more limited than I like to do because I only got 25 kaleidoscope kits. This is also my first time using a kit, but the silver acetate paper seemed expensive to buy so it was more economical to just get the kits with everything.


The shelver (codename Luna)  was a great deckhand and agreed to pose for a picture.

We started out the evening with having the kids pick out a pirate hat the adult shelver had assembled earlier. Normally I would have the kids do a craft like that but I was afraid the kaleidoscopes would take too long and I wanted the hats to look kind of fancy just in case the PR lady or the paper came to take pictures. (Nope I never get a heads up if it is happening, no it is never if I take the time to wear makeup or dress up a bit).

Then I had a little flag code puzzle for the kids to work on. I try to have something little at the beginning because I have some families show up early but too many that roll in 10 minutes late. If I started the bulk of the program on time I would end up repeating myself for 30 minutes so I plan a mini activity and wait. Then we went over some pirate vocabulary which was very important because the pirateology program just happened to land on Talk Like A Pirate Day. Grr! Arrr! Avast! Aye, aye!

Before we could work on our kaleidoscopes we needed to find some jewels for them. We had set up a plastic container on each table with a few inches of sand and jewels buried inside. All was fun and games until a centipede appeared! One of the dads took care of the problem, but not before the librarian screamed a little. I really have no clue where the centipede came from as we set up the containers a good 6 hours before the program. To bad it wasn’t during the halloween program!

Finally we set to work on the kaleidoscopes. I really prefer to test out experiments and activities, but I didn’t have a kaleidoscope kit to spare so I just had fingers crossed they would work well enough. Luckily I need not have worried as we spent a bulk of our time decorating and assembling the kaleidoscopes.

With 15 minutes of program time remaining we announced the treasure hunt. I had previously made “riddles” with clues hidden throughout the library. I made the answers to the clues specific places or things in the library instead of looking up answers to questions because a few of my families have kids that are just learning to read. One riddle I found on the internet was along the lines of “A quiet place no one can see, this is where you go to pee.”  But I did try to pick things I thought it would be good for the kids to know about, like the dinosaur books and our display cases. Each kid got a roll of paper with the first clue. I was afraid of a big mess if everyone had the same clues so I had several different starting points that narrowed down so that everyone had the same ending clues, but different beginning clues. The final clue was for kids to return back to their seat where they got a chocolate coin and a certificate for being an honorary pirate. We also happened to have weeded some pirate books earlier in the summer so I put them aside to use as a giveaway at the end of the program.

Overall I think the pirateology program went well and I would do it again next year.

Program Stats:
Attendance: 40 or so as I never really get an accurate count
Activity 1: Flag codes
Activity 2: Pirate vocabulary
Activity 3: Jewel Dig
Activity 4: Pirate kaleidoscopes
Activity 5: Pirate library treasure hunt
Activity 6: Book Plunder


Junior Scientists: Edible Experiments

I was asked to do more science programs because they are generally popular and the kids really seem to enjoy them. To be honest I enjoy them too, but they make me nervous. My science background is not terribly strong and I always worry that people will ask me questions I won’t be able to answer or that when I am trying to simplify a concept I am actually totally getting it wrong and spreading misinformation. However, I really wanted to do a science night that had an edible component. Luckily for me the kids loved it and it was probably everyone’s favorite program this year. Mmmm, sometimes science is sweet!

We started with the rainbow skittles & water experiment. I had them arrange their skittles in any design they wanted around a large styrofoam plate. Then at the count of 3 we all added water to the plate until it was touching all of the skittles and waited for the “rainbow” to appear. The kids thought this was so cool. I actually probably gave them a little too much water, so next time I’ll cut down on that so there is less mess. We talked about color being dissolved and moving from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration.


The next experiment was supposed to be dancing worms. You soak gummy worms in a solution of baking soda and then put them in vinegar and the resulting reaction makes them wiggle and squirm. It was on 800 blogs and all over pinterest and I tried it twice and couldn’t get it to work. Instead of doing a dud experiment I got two 2 liters of 7up and brought in some raisins from home and we did a dancing raising experiment instead. I explained about carbonation and buoyancy and let the kids drink the pop when they were done. I think this was the weakest experiment of the bunch and I might skip it next time.

I may have mentioned before that I have a problem with attendees coming late and I didn’t want to be interrupted mid experiment. So I had everyone prep for this experiment when they were first getting seated by sorting and opening five different flavors of jolly ranchers. My assistant, shelver Luna, added warm water to all the cups while the kids were busy working on their skittles so that the candy would be dissolved by the time we got to the….

Now we were on to the big experiment of the day. I had planned for this one to take a bulk of the program time and I was actually pretty spot on. Every table had 5 different flavors of jolly rancher flavored water in cups and every kid had their own small cup and a pipette. They were supposed to take 1 squirt of different flavors and mix them and note the results on a sheet I had made. Of course it quickly turned into making mixes of all the flavors but I don’t care the kids had fun and they probably could have kept going until all the water was gone except I had one last experiment up my sleeve.

The baking soda and vinegar experiment is a classic but since we had purchased pipettes I thought it would be more fun to set out plates of baking soda and let the kids squirt in some colored vinegar. Each table got two cups of colored vinegar to use. I made red & yellow sets as well as red and blue sets. I have read that you can use jello to make this smell better and not have to color the vinegar, but I forgot to get some so I will keep it in mind for next time. I didn’t explain anything about this experiment because by now my voice was almost non-existent.

Junior Scientists – Edible Experiments
Attendance: 45 or so
Activity 1: Skittles Experiment
Activity 2: Dancing Raisins
Activity 3: Liquid candy mixing experiment
Activity 4: Vinegar + Baking Soda

I will definitely be running this program again. It might sound silly but I really want to get a lab coat for the science programs and maybe get a little in-character. I will have to think of a scientist name for myself.

Lego Club

Before I started working at the library they had a bucket of lego bricks* that they occasionally pulled out for a lego night here and there but no real lego club. For the next few months I wanted to run a consistent lego club to see how that would impact attendance. So I scheduled Thursday and Saturday sessions of Lego building fun and the signup sheets were always full, but we never had everyone who signed up actually show up, which is sometimes annoying and sometimes a good thing because I can spend more one on one time with the patrons that do come.

*Note you cannot just call them legos, they are Lego bricks.


I started off the Lego Club with a kickoff session, meaning that I had an activity as well  just providing bricks. This activity happened to be making edible lego bricks out of rice crispies, frosting, and m&m candies.

May Attendance: Thursday: 18, Saturday:4
June Attendance: Thursday: 22, Saturday: 15
July Attendance: Thursday: 22, Saturday: 19
August Attendance: Thursday: 18,  Saturday: 8