Just in Time for Veteran’s Day

The Northport-East Northport Public Library has added another Backpack Storytime to their collection, this one designed especially for military families. According to the library’s website:

Each Backpack Storytime contains 3-4 books on a particular theme, a music CD, manipulatives such as puppets and puzzles, and suggested enrichment activities.  Designed for children ages 3 and up, Backpack Storytimes circulate for seven days.  Families can borrow one at a time. (Read more about the Backpack Storytimes here.)

As Veteran’s Day approached, librarians Liz and Janet rushed to get the backpacks ready to circulate. They used free material they found on the Zero to Three website and MilitaryOneSource.com, and books they found in Coming Together Around Military Families®, a kit designed by Zero to Three. Two-sided handouts include information that is hard to find elsewhere, such as specialized advice to parents who frequently relocate with babies and toddlers and families who have to renegotiate daily routines after a deployed parent returns home. 

“I was surprised at how much was out there,” Doris Gebel said.

Several of the items came to the library as a donation from the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester, NY in appreciation of the recognition the library gives to Veterans. The Library has created a U.S. Military Coupon Booklet in recognition of the nation’s military

Whether you are currently serving or have served in the U.S. Military (including the
Reserves and National Guard) you and your family members can obtain this coupon booklet. The booklet provides discount coupons for the Library Cafe, photocopies,
programs, bus trips, overdue fines, and other Library services. Just come to the Circulation Desk at either library building.

The coupon book and other military familiy-friendly inititaives were spear-headed by Michelle Vagner and the Community Services Library Staff. 

The Northport-East Northport Public Library received a Coming Together Around Military Families® kit from Dorinda Silver Williams at Zero to Three, and has kindly shared it with SCLS. If you work at a Suffolk library and would like to borrow the kit to review its contents (posters, handouts, and board books specially designed for military families) please contact the SCLS Youth Services office. If you have questions about the Backpack Storytimes, please contact the Youth and Parent Services department of the Northport-East Northport Library.

Book Club Kits at the Madison Public Library

My best friend lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and this Saturday we took a trip to the downtown branch with her baby girl to get the storytime schedule. I was struck by this great idea: a table full of book club kits for children and tweens. The sign reads:

Ever wish your friend could get their hands on the book you’re reading?? Borrow as many copies as you need for your friends or your Book Club. Great for the classroom, too!

A folder with supplementary material comes with each set of books. What a great way to get kids interested in forming a book club!

Another fun activity at the Madison Public Library is Donuts with Dad, a program offered once a month on Saturdays. The librarian I met reported that over a hundred people have shown up at this special time for fathers and their kids to enjoy stories, movies and snacks.

Later this year, the downtown branch will close for major renovations. I look forward to seeing the finished building and finding more great ideas at the Madison Public Library!

Homework Help

School is starting up and it won’t be long before kids are in your library looking for homework help. In a few weeks, WBLI will begin running an ad campaign that will direct thousands of listeners to Live-brary.com to find the “word of the day.” That word will allow them to enter into a weekly drawing for $50 gift certificates to Friendly’s. What does that mean for librarians?

Now is the time to try the Brainfuse product!

If you haven’t logged in yet, I urge you to try it before the ad campaign begins on September 19th. You can try it two ways: you can pretend you are a student and ask a question, or you can simply tell the tutor you are a librarian testing out the product so you’re ready to show it to kids, teens, and parents. The tutor will gladly demonstrate the site for you. Remember, this is no bother to the tutors – they are getting paid and right now is a slow time of year for the service!

In addition to trying the service, please take advantage of the free promotional kit SCLS Youth Services has prepared. If your library does not have this kit yet, contact Tracy at SCLS. To assist you with promoting the service, Live-brary.com and Homework Help talking points are available here.

Practice demonstrating the service to a patron today!

Every Child Ready to Read

On Wednesday, October 26th at 10:00am, SCLS Youth Services will host a meeting for children’s services staff focusing on the Every Child Ready to Read 2nd Edition. Whether you are new to the ECRR program or have been implementing its principals for years, all Suffolk Library staff members are welcome to join us at the session to learn new ways to incorporate ECRR into your daily interactions with parents and caregivers. Jeanne McDermott of the Amagansett Free Library will be on hand to discuss her experience with the ECRR program from her work as an intern at the Brooklyn Public Library.  

Back in April, ALSC offered a webinar called Supporting Early Literacy Through Language-Rich Library Environments with presenter Saroj Ghoting. One suggestion from the Minneapolis Public Library is to create early literacy games (pictured to the right) and placing them in your children’s area. The exercises are accompanied by a one page sheet describing why the game is beneficial to young children. They are easy to create with any desktop publishing software, magnetic paper, and a cookie sheet, and can be rotated throughout the year.

Kristine Casper also participated in the April 21st webinar and had this to say about it:

So often we think of the competencies of Every Child Ready to Read from the programming perspective. This presentation incorporated them into the physical space, making me rethink the way we have utilized the open areas of the department.  It had a lot of ideas, not just for places with a lot of space and budgets, but also for those with limited space.  I liked when she said just start with one idea – one end cap. 

The recording of the Supporting Early Literacy Through Language-Rich Library Environments is available online, and may be beneficial to watch in conjunction with attending the children’s librarians meeting on October 26th.  


iPads Replace Desktop Computers at North Shore Public Library

As the children’s game computers at the North Shore Public Library (NSPL) get older and begin to expire, Lori, the Children’s Department Manager, is turning to mobile technology to replace them. The children she sees as young as three years old are gravitating towards their parent’s smart phones, not desktop machines they may not have even seen before. When Lori encountered a young boy using an iPad to communicate with his parent due to his disability, the wheels began turning in her mind. The money she budgeted for game computers could be used to purchase iPads and apps.

“The apps I’ve selected for the iPads range from as little as $.99 to $7.99 each,” Lori says. This is cheaper than buying computer software, and much easier to install and update. The reviews in Children’s Technology Review are “spot on,” Lori says, and she almost exclusively buys the apps they recommend. She steers clear of free apps, which often start out as “free” but then ask for payment for enticing features.

The iPads are checked out to patrons on their library cards at the main circulation desk, and then the iPads can be used anywhere in the library. A policy is written that parents read the first time they check out an iPad. Tom Donlon, the Technology Librarian at NSPL, has embraced the project and set up a number of helpful features. The iPads are synced to one another. If Lori purchases an app on one iPad, the others are updated with the same app within seconds. The iPads have an electronic tether on them, and at any time staff can see where an iPad is in the building. If the device is taken out of the library, a screen appears that says: Please return to the North Shore Public Library.

The iPads are ready to launch this week. Last Friday, Lori was testing them with kids and teens in the library. Immediately the children’s game computer stations emptied out – the kids clearly preferred the iPads. Eventually the stations for desktop computers can be removed and the space can be utilized in fresh ways.

In case there is a queue for the 8 iPads – perhaps after storytime – NSPL has purchased Playaway Views that kids can use in the library while they are waiting. Florence, a children’s librarian at NSPL, has specifically purchased the high quality “book-movies” produced by Weston Woods which are available from Playaway.

The Adult Department at NSPL will also be circulating iPads to adults. Those iPads will have internet capability (the ones in the children’s room do not.) This project is truly a collaborative effort between all the departments of the library.

Watering Hole Tales

If you hear a bell ringing at the Babylon Village Pool on Wednesday afternoons, it’s not the Ice Cream Man – it’s a librarian from the Babylon Public Library ready to share some stories by the pool! I joined Ann G. as she read a selection of books to children taking a break from the water. Ann had a crowd of almost 30 children listening attentively to books such as When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore. I was grateful to Ann for the opportunity to read the last story of the day, A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Ann greeted many of the children by their names, and one girl immediately asked her mom if they could stop at the library to make a craft and pick up some books after swimming.

Over the years, the crowd for poolside tales has ranged from a few children to a large-sized crowd. One afternoon Ann B. was even asked to read to a birthday party celebrating at the pool (cake was included!) On the day I accompanied Ann G., some older boys were listening from the back row. One tween turned to his friend and said, “This reminds me of when I was four.” Ah, memories!

Back at the library, the children’s room is decorated for the theme “A Reading Safari,” including a gigantic tiger and these handmade treasures created by Karin. In case you can’t get to the Bronx Zoo for free Wednesdays, stop by the Babylon Library to read to these critters!

Parents and Children Get Together to Talk about Books

The New York Council for the Humanities’ Together—Book Talk for Kids and Parents program provides funding for libraries to create a welcoming forum for families to come together to talk about books. Each of the six 90-minute Together sessions is co-facilitated by a public librarian and a humanities scholar from the local community. The sessions explore key themes in American life such as courage, freedom, and what it means to be American.

According to Erika Halstead, the Program Officer for the New York Council for the Humanities, six libraries in Suffolk County have received a grant to host a Together—Book Talk for Kids and Parents program:

• Brentwood Public Library (fall 2008)

• Floyd Memorial Library (spring 2009)

• South Huntington Public Library (fall 2009, fall 2010)

• Emma S. Clark Memorial Library (spring 2010)

• Rogers Memorial Library (spring 2011)

• Northport-East Northport Public Library (fall 2011)

This summer, Brentwood Public Library is hosting a Family Reading and Discussion Program through a Together extension grant. I stopped by on Wednesday night, July 13th to participate in the discussion. Myrna and her collaborator Yolanda, a teacher at Southeast Elementary School, are pictured here with the featured books The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles.

The Together program is a wonderful opportunity for families to spend time together talking about ideas and experiences and it all starts with a book as a catalyst. It is great to hear a parent share their experiences and hear a child say, “Mom, I never knew that happened.” And kids have lots of ideas and experiences to share that they may not have even considered talking about until we bring them in a group and encourage them to share. It’s a great way to bring everyone together to read and talk and hopefully the reading and conversations will continue at home. – Myrna, Children’s Librarian at Brentwood Public Library

Check back with the blog in the fall for the latest from the Northport-East Northport Public Library, who will be partnering on the Together project with Heather Forest, storyteller and speaker at the September 14th SCLS program “The Magic of Words.”

Would you like to offer the Together program at your library? The deadline for spring 2012 applications is December 1, 2011.


On one of the hottest days of the year so far, Linda and Amy took me on a stroll through Sachem Public Library’s beautiful gardens, which are aptly named Inside/Out.

The purpose of the space, Linda says, “is to extend the library’s space outdoors, to get people up and moving.”

Strolling through the garden is one way to get moving; 11 laps around the circular path equals one mile. But Amy has a different kind of movement in mind with the two outdoor programs she’s planning for kids this summer: Mud and Where the Wild Things Are. “They can have their wild rumpus out here!” she says.

A brand new service this year is the Nature Explorer Kits, which are available for families to take out into the garden. Four types of kits are available, the Nature Explorer Kit, Nature Builder Kit 1 and Nature Builder Kit 2 (designed for older kids) and Nature Musician. These kits feature tools and toys children can use to explore, build, and make music in the outdoors. Many of the items are made out of natural wood.

For all the tech-types in the community, Sachem has extended its Wi-Fi services into the gardens. For music lovers, outdoor concerts are planned throughout the summer. With its contemplative garden, nature walk, and occasional wild rumpus, Inside/Out truly has something for everyone.

Buttons Spread the Word at Brookhaven

Jamie and Michelle (and other staff members at the Brookhaven Free Library) are sporting freshly minted buttons. These red and white badges were created by Michelle using SCLS’s new button making systems. The button colors tie in with Brookhaven’s theme “Celebrate Reading Under the Big Top” and the message reads: Program registration begins June 20th. Update your library card today!    

Do you have an upcoming event you’d like to promote with buttons? Give SCLS Youth Services a call to schedule an appointment to use the 1”, 1.5”, or 2.25” button making system.

Children’s Book Apps: Coming to a Library Near You?

At last week’s meeting of Suffolk County Children’s Department Managers, iPads in the children’s room were a hot topic. Purchasing iPads to replace children’s game computers, circulating iPads directly to customers, and using iPads in children’s programs were discussed. But with new children’s book apps coming on the market every day, what should you collect for a library iPad? Fortunately, librarians have a few more sources today than they did six months ago.

Kirkus has been reviewing children’s book apps since earlier this year. The column called “Interactive E-Books” appears at the beginning of each issue. At SLJ’s Day of Dialog, Touch and Go, SLJ’s new review blog for apps, was announced and a press release is up on their site. At the moment I’m writing this, nothing yet appears on this brand new blog. But while the world waits for Touch and Go’s first review, take a look at this discussion among the members of SLJ’s advisory board for reviewing kids’ book apps.