Parachute ideas for all kinds of programs!

Stumped for ideas for using the parachute at storytime?

Think outside the picture books stacks!

Here are some great ideas for incorporating material from other areas of your collection.

Want to make your own clip art?

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started!

Some easy ways to spice up your site!

Be sure to suggest your favorites in the comments!

Ideas for incorporating factual materials into storytime

There is lots of great nonfiction for kids out there. If I missed your favorite, leave a comment!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Flannel Friday Holiday Extravaganza: Rudolph, Rudolph

Super excited for Flannel Friday's Holiday Extravaganza today! My contribution is a fun version of "Rudolph, Rudolph!" wherein Rudolph the Reindeer's nose(s) is the wrong color! If you follow the Flannel Friday Facebook group, you already knew I was going to post this, so sorry I didn't surprise you and come up with something completely different!

Rudolph with some failed noses and the winner!
A felt play set of "Rudolph, Rudolph" would make a great homemade Christmas gift! This could be fun to do at a Sunday School class as well. I do think it it is appropriate it for library programs, but my personal preference is to advertise in advance if a storytime will include references to Christmas and other religious holidays.

Here's the first verse:
Rudolph, Rudolph!
What will you do? 

You can't guide Santa,
If your nose is blue! 

The idea and the words came from Oopsey-Daisy. My version is milk filter with pom-poms for the noses. They have Velcro (actual brand name Velcro!) strips on the back. Of course, after I made the whole thing, I realized it would be a lot sturdier and more durable to make it as a magnet board story. So, that would be my suggestion for you if you make a version for storytime.You know how that kind of thing occurs to you only after you've finished it a different way that was probably harder and more time consuming? Story of my life.

This is going to be my last Flannel Friday post for the year due to an incredibly busy December at work and at home. So I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays and thank you for reading my blog this year. I have been incredibly touched and overwhelmed by the many positive comments and emails I have received in 2011. I hope to really knock your socks off in 2012. Unless the world ends. In which case, all bets are off. So many cliches in this paragraph!

Today's Holiday Extravaganza roundup will be over at Loons and Quines. Can't wait to see everyone's posts! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Flannel Friday: Gregory Groundhog Looks for His Shadow

I know Groundhog Day is months away, but here is a great story for it or even just a shadows theme: Gregory Groundhog Looks for His Shadow. Words and patterns are from Magnet Board Fun by Liz Wilmes, but I would not suggest doing this story on the magnet board. I think it's a lot easier to tell on the flannel board as you can make the pieces reversible instead of having two sets of animals.

It's a simple story. Gregory has lost his shadow and goes into the woods to find it. He sees lots of shadows, but they turn out be for different animals (bear, deer, frog, etc.). This part is fun for the kids because they see the shadowy outline and can try and guess what the animal is.

Spoiler alert! Eventually Gregory finds his shadow and they are reunited.  Can you see his shadow?

This week's Flannel Friday is being hosted by Katie (@sharingsoda on Twitter) of Storytime Secrets. I hope everyone in the U.S. had a Happy Turkey Day yesterday! Don't forget that next week (December 2nd) Flannel Friday will be having its first Holiday Extravaganza! We hope to have record participation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kids Today

photo by kr4gin on Flickr Thanks for CC licensing! 
I stumbled upon a newspaper clipping that I thought some of us would find interesting. It is called "Unruly Students Given Warning at [City] Public Library" and covers the problems (noise, theft, playing radios, smoking) that can be associated with groups of teens in a library setting. Apparently, it was so bad that the mayor himself came over to warn the "unruly students" that "drastic action" up to and including closing the library could be taken if the situation continued. The police had even been visiting regularly in the evenings to keep an eye on the situation, to no avail.

Sound familiar? I found it interesting that the article was published on October 17, 1962, which means that the teenagers in question are now my parents' age (actually older). I had a mental image of a preteen version of my Mom and Dad smoking in the library and frankly that is hilarious. I searched the Google archives of our local paper and didn't see a follow-up. So, chin up, modern librarians! We're not the first generation to deal with unruly patrons, and probably not the last either. Happy Thanksgiving! 

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

School Age Program Idea: Sewing Camp!

Sample felt pincushion
It can be so hard to put together a program for school age kids that they will actually show up for! I was thrilled today when we hosted our first sewing camp. I got the idea from the wonderful book (and blog) Sewing School, which I was introduced to by my friend Anne at Canton Public Library. Side note: has anyone noticed how many librarians are named Anne? It is almost as crazy as all the Katies.

We did registration (capped at 15 & we filled it easily but a couple kids didn't show, so we had 10 total, including 2 boys) and limited it to kids over 7. I decided on 7 because I wanted them to not be so young that they would get bored or frustrated if they struggled. We picked a gender neutral project (felt pincushions). We provided all the supplies: templates, embroidery floss, needles, pins, felt, stuffing, and fabric scissors. We also copied instructions for all the kids so they could bring them home.

We also gave out these stickers
We wanted to start with a simple project because we had no idea what kind of background the kids would have. Some of them were really quite good and finished quickly, and others were total beginners. Our promotional materials said we weren't expecting any knowledge or experience with sewing. I don't really sew myself, but luckily one of my co-workers is a seamstress (she even sewed some of our puppets from a show last year, which I was super impressed by) and she agreed to help me out. That is her handiwork up in the picture of our sample craft.

This was a really fun, cheap, and simple program. We definitely want to repeat it in the future with a different project. We pre-threaded the needles for the kids to save them the frustration of trying to do it themselves and it was a big help, so I would advise doing that if you put this program on at your library. I'd reccomend having 1 adult for every 3-5 kids as some will need a lot more direction than others. It might be useful to ask the parents when registering if their children have any sewing experience, so you know what you're going into.

I'm going to leave you with a few links for some additional advice if you want to try a sewing program at your library:
-Sew Mama Sew has a great post filled with advice on how to teach younger kids to sew. Lots of comments on this one.
-Sewing School also has a post with suggestions for items that are especially child friendly to include in your sewing kit. I think a kids' sewing kit would be a great gift for the holidays. Sewing books are one of our most popular nonfiction circulating books.

Has anyone done a sewing program before? Or other fabric crafts?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Flannel Friday: Two of Everything

Today for Flannel Friday, I'm sharing my version of the folktale known as "Two of Everything." I used Diane Briggs's patterns from 52 Programs for Preschoolers, which is also the source of the words. I was able to get this book through ILL and I do not have a copy of the patterns, but Amazon has several used copies starting at $0.01.

Essentially the story goes like this... Husband finds mysterious pot buried in his yard. He digs it out and drags out. He has a little trouble carrying the pot comfortably while also hanging on to his one gold coin, so he puts the coin in the pot. When he goes to retrieve the coin, to his surprise there are now two coins.

He and his wife get a little greedy duplicating their belongings and things are going swimmingly... until the wife trips and falls into the pot! Not wanting two wives of his own, the husband panics... and then trips and falls into the pot himself.
 The new couple builds a house next door and they all live happily ever after.

Today's Flannel Friday is being hosted by the lovely Cate at Storytiming. (@storytimingcate on Twitter). 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Plea for Sharing

I've been participating in Flannel Friday for over 6 months now, and it has reinvigorated my love of storytelling to children. I love being able to share my ideas and get to see others' too. You may have noticed, dear readers, that often my flannels are made (or at the least inspired by) from patterns in professional resource books like Storytime Magic. I would never have discovered most of these wonderful planning books without being able to borrow them through our statewide ILL system, MeLCat. 

I am so grateful to my colleagues around the state who allow these resources to be loaned to librarians like myself. I hope that by writing this I can encourage some libraries whose collections are In Library Use or Staff Only to rethink this position. Yes, these books are expensive and it is handy for them to always be at our fingertips, instead of being lost or damaged out in the wild.  But they are invaluable to working professionals in libraries, child care facilities, schools, and countless other settings as well. Not to mention the educational advantages of being able to use them as a student aspiring to work in our field or other related ones.

So, what I am trying to say, is please consider allowing these gems to circulate after you've had a chance to go through them and absorb their great ideas. If nothing else, it would help keep this blog going! I have a whole drawer full of felt and I am dying to find another great book full of ideas to use it all up!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Flannel Friday: Snowball Friends

Here is a very simple flannelboard called "Snowball Friends," (by Liz and Dick Wilmes, in their 2's Experience: Feltboard Fun book)  which I have used for a winter toddler storytime. Very simply, a few snowballs are friends and they decide to roll down a hill one at a time. At the bottom, they climb onto each other's shoulders and make a snowman. The best part is rolling the snowballs down the hill on the board. At the same time, you can have the kids "roll" their fists and chant "roll, roll, roll, roll!"

This week's Flannel Friday is being hosted by Sharon (@ReadingChick). Don't forget that I recently made an announcement about Flannel Friday and the holidays, read that here.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Flannel Friday Roundup for November 4, 2011

**In case you missed yesterday's announcement about Flannel Friday's plans for a holiday extravaganza and a holiday break, please make sure you read that post, as well. 

Also, I don't think anyone has ever mentioned this before, but we tend to use blogger's first names when compiling the roundup, so it is super helpful if you have your first name (or a pseudonym like Loons and Quines) that we can refer to you by. Otherwise, by default, if you make cute flannelboards, I'm probably going to think that your name is Katie. I am just speaking for myself here, but if your name isn't Katie (lovely name that it is), maybe you don't want to get credit as a Katie. I would also suggest having an About page with contact info (Twitter account and/or email address, etc.), in case the host has any questions or needs to get in touch.  **

On to the roundup!

Alison shares How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun, originally a story necklace (such a neat presentation idea). 

Angela dives into "We Dove Into the Ocean"  and shares the rest of her plan for an ocean-themed storytime.

Awesome Storytime has 5 Enormous Dinosaurs, and I am thrilled to learn that someone else's favorite dino is the under-appreciated stegosaurus. Everyone seemed to be a velociraptor or T. Rex fan at my elementary school.

Andrea and I were both thinking of Thanksgiving: Turkey Feathers! Our songs are slightly different. Here's hers and mine.

Carissa has a fun bilingual version of Let's Play in the Forest. She also shared her super cute pattern. I plan to make a milk filter version myself, so thank you, Carissa!

Cate made an adorable frog life cycle felt board and now needs your help working it into storytime. As this is partially my fault for pinning the inspiration (my bad), I feel responsible. Absolve me of my guilt! 

Erin has lost her baby kangaroo! Oh no! Kids can you ask "Baby Kangaroo, Where Are You?" 

Katie at Storytime Secrets has a flannel version of Raffi's "Thanks a Lot," which is great because I have found that a lot of parents aren't familiar with Raffi but really enjoy his music after being introduced to it in storytime.

Katie at Recipe for Reading flannelized one of my favorite picture books: A Hat for Minerva Louise. You'll want to make this for any upcoming winter storytimes! Also, how adorable is her felt Minerva? Awwwww.

Storytime Katie has adorable blackbird finger puppets. More awwww. (Also, see what I mean about all the Katies?)

Library Lady shares the Witch's Hat and also her theory of what makes something flannel-worthy (or not).

More dinosaurs over at Liz's blog today! 5 Little Dinosaurs, to be precise.

Loons and Quines made the most adorable felt version of Pirate Pete. Kids love pirates, which you already knew. Probably everyone loves pirates, except cruise ship operators.

By request, Mary has posted a puffy paint master class, so you can study up on your technique. Honestly, puffy paint has been kind of a disaster for me, personally, so I can appreciate her skills.

Meghan has two feltboards from her jungle storytime.

Melissa shares a pattern for a felt version of The Tortoise and the Hare.

Mollie has 5 Little Fishies Swimming in the Sea but (SPOILER ALERT) they do not pay the ultimate price.

Moxie is playing Tooth Fairy, a guessing game similar to Little Mouse, Little Mouse.

Sarah at Read Rabbit Read flannelized Spot and Friends Dress Up. Does anyone else have a soft spot for Spot? I was a big fan back in my own childhood.

Sarah from Read it Again flannelized what I have found to be a perpetual crowd pleaser: Dear Zoo. 

Sharon explores the galaxy with 5 Little Aliens. 

Also this week, Cate over at Storytime posted a roundup of different Flannel Friday participants' process for deciding if a story or idea would be a good flannelboard. I intend to talk about this at some point too.

That's it for now! Or at least I hope so! I will keep adding posts as I get them, through tonight. If you are unable to get your post to me by the end of the day today, please hold onto it for next week's Flannel Friday, which will be hosted by Sharon.

If I missed your post, please leave a (polite) comment and accept my apologies in advance. If I accidentally changed your name to Katie, let me know that too. Unless you want to be a Katie. That you'll have to take up with the DMV and Social Security. And possibly your parents.

Are you one of our 368 (at press time) Flannel Friday followers on Pinterest? Or in the Official Flannel Friday Facebook group

Flannel Friday: Turkey Feathers!

It's almost Thanksgiving time here in the U.S. and it has always been one of my favorite holidays. Mostly because it is all about delicious food and family. I love any holiday that has mashed potatoes AND stuffing. Yummy carbs!

For today's Flannel Friday, I'm sharing a fun group activity called "Turkey Feathers." Each child gets a feather and then as you sing about the different colors of feathers, the kids who have that color will come up and put their feather on the board.

Turkey Feathers
(Sing to the tune of "Frere Jacques"/"Are You Sleeping") 
Turkey feathers, turkey feathers.
Brightly colored, brightly colored.
If you have a blue feather,
Add it now! 

I originally found a turkey with a bunch of feathers in the files here when I started and there was no activity to go with them, so I was happy when I stumbled upon this one. That said, I have no idea where this turkey's pattern came from. I would use a coloring page as a template if I wanted to make one myself.

Don't feel limited to only using colors that turkey feathers might actually be. Kids love when you up the silliness factor! Try polka dot feathers, feathers with little hearts or stars, striped feathers, pink and purple feathers--go nuts! This is a magnet board story, but you could substitute felt.

I'm hosting Flannel Friday this week, so check back later for the roundup! If you're participating, tweet a link to your post to me (@sotomorrow) or leave a comment here and I will add you to the roundup!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Flannel Friday: I Have a Little...

Today's Flannel Friday is based on a rhyme that I found searching the PUBYAC archives. If you are a youth librarian (or aspire to be), you need to subscribe to this listserv. The rhyme is called "I Have a Little" and to make it you will need to cut out 4 pockets and glue them on to a foam core board. I used a pair of shorts I found at Goodwill and an old pair of my jeans. 
"I Have a Little..." Storytelling Board
You hide a key, crayon, flashlight, and clock each behind one pocket. They can be real pieces or you can use clipart. Here's the rhyme:

I Have a Little
I have a little pocket where something can hide.
It opens doors and starts the car. 
Do you know what's inside? (key)

I have a little pocket where something can hide. 
It's used to draw in a coloring book. 
Do you know what's inside? (crayon)

I have a little pocket where something can hide.
It shows you when it's time for bed. 
Do you know what's inside? (clock)

I have a little pocket where something can hide. 
It lights up a dark room. 
Do you know what's inside? (flashlight). 

We looked in all the pockets.
There's nothing left inside. 

Let's do this another time and see what else we can find!  

The great thing about this rhyme is that it is endlessly adaptable. You only have to change the middle line!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flannel Friday: Jack-O-Happy

For today's Flannel Friday, I'm sharing a flannelboard version of the fingerplay "Jack -O-Happy," a fun one for silly faces.  Here are the words:
This is Jack-O-Happy.
This is Jack-O-Sad. 

This is Jack-O-Sleepy. 
This is Jack-O-Mad.
This is Jack-O-Broken
Into pieces small

Baked in a pumpkin pie
That's the best of all.

Source: Felt Board Fingerplays by Liz and Dick Wilmes
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Friday, October 14, 2011

Flannel Friday: Inside a House that Is Haunted

No actual flannel was harmed in the making of today's Flannel Friday, a "clothes line" story version of Inside a House That is Haunted, one of my favorite Halloween books. It's a little long to read at preschool storytime, but I had great success with reading it to school age kids. You could literally string up a clothesline and pin the pictures on, but what I do is have volunteers hold up the pictures. I drew these myself based on Tedd Arnold's illustrations.

If you're not familiar with this story, it is a cumulative tale about a haunted house. It goes like this:

Here is the hand that knocked on the door

that startled the spider who dropped to the floor

that shook up the bat who swooped through the air
and jolted the owl who said "Who-Who's There?"
that spooked the mummy who ran with a shriek

rattling the bones who moved with a creak
who woke up the monster
who stomped on huge feet, 
threw open the door and heard
inside a house that is haunted. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Woodland Creatures Storytime

This week at storytime, we're talking about woodland creatures, wolves, and bears, and skunks, oh my!
I start all my storytimes with the following rhymes and activities (see storytime plans page for words):

  • Open, Shut Them
  • "Little Mouse, Little Mouse" Flannelboard Game
  • Let's Hear Your Roar Like a Lion

The Wolf's Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza (Met Ms. Kasza at a conference this year. Super sweet and so talented!)
Wolves by Emily Gravett (and while searching Amazon for the link, I discovered she has another book coming out in March. YAY! I love me some Emily Gravett)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin, Jr.

On the Flannelboard
Moose in Love story (fun fact: this is the 2nd most visited post on my blog of all time) 
In the Woods guessing game (like this one from Falling Flannelboards)

Wolf paper bag puppet

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Texting Bulletin Board

Time for another bulletin board! This one was again inspired by something I found trolling the Internet. The board that inspired me had a black background, but we only had one 1 piece of black poster board left and this size requires 6. The only color that we had 6 left of was magenta. But I think it was a lucky coincidence, because I really like the way the magenta looks with our lime green wall.

Books R lk rly long txts
If there happen to be any bulletin board manufacturers out there, it would be genius if you would install hooks on all 4 sides for the absent-minded people like myself who occasionally put a whole board together the wrong way. And it would super awesome to be able to hang some vertically and some horizontally.

By the way, if you're looking for way more bulletin board ideas for your library than I could possibly ever make for mine, I keep a Pinterest board for just such daydreaming.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Flannel Friday with Milk Filters

My favorite tip from all these months of Flannel Friday has been Andrea's suggestion to try using milk filters. For about $15, I was able to buy a pizza box size of 15 inch milk filters. I can't believe I'd never heard of this technique before, and I live across the street from a dairy farm!

First I traced patterns out of books onto them, but I was also able to trim the filters down to 8.5 by 11 and run them through our printer at the library. Ladies and gentlemen, my mind has been blown by the amazing potential here. Rather than post these individually, I thought I'd share the ones I have made so far all at once. I still need to finish trimming them up, so ignore that, please.  Here we go!

Milo's Hats (Storytime Magic

Little Bunny Foo Foo (Preschool Favorites)

Muscular Family from one of Jean Warren's pattern books

Wolf's Chicken Stew (Preschool Favorites)

Pete the Cat (Making Learning Fun)

5 Little Monkeys (2's Experience: Felt Board Fun)

My fellow Midwestern girl Anna will be rounding up the Flannel Friday posts this week, so be sure to check her blog later for all the goodness!

Also join us on Facebook or Pinterest. We have archives too.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Down on the Farm Storytime

I have decided to pop in every now and again and share some storytime plans, since it has been a long time since I did so regularly. You can see an alphabetical list by clicking on Storytime Plans. I tend to only read 2-3 books at each storytime and spend the rest of the time doing repeating activities.

I start all my storytimes with the following rhymes and activities (see storytime plans page for words) :
Open, Shut Them
"Little Mouse, Little Mouse" Flannelboard Game
Let's Hear Your Roar Like a Lion

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox (OK, not strictly a farm book, but who doesn't love Mem Fox?)
Old MacDonald had a Farm by Jane Cabrera

Baa Baa Black Sheep
"B-I-N-G-O" Flannelboard song
Farmer in the Dell
5 Clean and Dirty Pigs (Flannel Friday contribution!)

I know this isn't exactly an earthshakingly amazing plan, but a coworker covered this for me and I needed to keep it simple. It was also the first storytime of a new session and I find it is best to stick to what you know is going to work well, which means a few great books and some traditional songs.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Rat's Daughter

Today's Flannel Friday is the Japanese story "The Rat's Daughter" (patterns from the Flannel Board Storytelling Book by Judy Sierra)  about a proud man who wants his daughter to only marry "the strongest in the world" and not the rat next door. So Mr. Rat asks the sun who the strongest is and the sun replies the cloud is stronger than he. Then the cloud says the same of the wind, the wind says the same of a wall, and the wall says the same of... the very same rat who had asked Papa Rat for permission to marry his daughter in the first place and who is chipping away at the wall right this second.

When I originally made this, my board's background was black so now you can't see the cloud as well. :(

Finally Daddio Rat agrees to let Neighbor Rat marry Princess Rat. And they all lived happily ever after.

A Happy Ending! 

Don't miss any of this week's submissions-- Sharon's in charge of the roundup this week. Previous roundups are here. Don't forget to check out Flannel Friday on pinterest!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Practically Free Picture Book Collection Marketing

I know a lot of libraries do this already, but a wonderful way to ensure picture book series circulate is to call special attention to them by placing a sign over them. I have made coordinating signs to go over our top row of picture books.

I have found this to be popular with parents, kids, and staff members. It also alleviated some shelving space issues to use the top, although unfortunately the tops of our shelves are rather high off the ground due to space issues on the floor.

Our picture book section
If you are interested in printing them off for your use, you can download my file here. I'd love comments and photos from anyone who uses these.

For a slightly more expensive option, you could also check out what I did with the series books at my library.

Incidentally, if you are wondering what is up with the cracks in the wall behind the shelves, the top half of that wall is actually sheets of corkboard, not drywall. The signs are laminated (hence the shininess) and then stapled to the cork.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Collection Development 101: Weeding (part 2 of series)

Last week I talked about how I add books to our collection. I'd like to thank the people who left comments because I really enjoyed the conversation that developed there. I'd also like to thank Elizabeth Bird for linking to that post on Fuse #8 and Melissa for pointing it out to me! And you should definitely read Erin's follow-up to my post, which is full of great details and absolutely no spreadsheets! :)

After all this, I hope I don't get a big bigger head! Although I discovered when shopping for a horseback riding helmet one summer before camp that I had what the sales clerk termed a "deceptively large head." Cue middle school self-esteem crisis!

Today I want to talk about what happens when a book has overstayed its welcome in your collection. Maybe it was once a great book, but has been ignored recently. Or the topic has changed so much that it is now out of date.  Another common scenario is that you once had to have 200 books on robins, because the elementary schools assigned a report on the state bird, but now the curriculum has changed and you need the space for books on the state turtle.

For some reason, weeding is discussed much more frequently than acquisitions on blogs and in professional development workshops, so I am not going to go into nearly as much detail as I did with my previous post. 

It is important to look carefully at your collection on a regular basis. I also ask staff members who are responsible for shelving to keep an eye out for items in poor condition. I walk through our stacks nearly every day and look for items that stick out as old or ugly and bring them to my desk for evaluation.

For the sake of space, I am mainly discussing books but please do not neglect your video, music, and audiobook collections either! A lot of the same ideas apply to non-print collections as well as print.

If weeding is not your strong suit, there are some great Internet resources for you to check out: 
-CREW Manual
-Arizona State Library's Collection Development Training

And for a lighthearted look at weeding, check out Awful Library Books, another Michigan library world blog!

My Weeding Process
When I notice that space is getting tight in a particular area, the first thing I do is create a list of books that haven't circulated in the past few years. At my library, we use 3-4 years. I would argue that for certain collections you could go with less, two that I might suggest if space is particularly lacking is young adult and picture books.

Here is a screenshot with the factors I typically use to have the computer create my list:
Options and appearance will vary by ILS, but basically this is a pretty good representation

After the list is created, it will look like this:

First page of weeding list
Then I will go pull the books on the list. Sometimes I delegate this if I am working on other projects or someone needs a project of their own. I usually only pull a few pages at a time, as there is limited space for books at my desk.If I were to tackle this entire list at one time, I would have to make decisions about 1,500 copies. While some require little thought, many will need detailed consideration. So to avoid overwhelming my brain and my space, I try to stick to about 50 or fewer a day.

Of the 1500 books, many books will go right back on the shelf. We tend to keep a lot of Michigan materials regardless of circulation as it is important in our collection development policy. Also likely to state are some of the Newbery and Caldecott winners scattered throughout the nonfiction. I am contemplating some cataloging changes to bring them all into one collection though.

After a few years of weeding, I have gotten our nonfiction collection in respectable shape. A good goal to aim for is to have the average age of your collection within 10 years of the current date. As you can see from our statistics below, we are very close. Certain areas of the collection (200s, 300s, 800s) are a few years older, but their broad topics (mostly folktales in the 300s, mostly poetry in the 800s) do not change as frequently as, for example, the 500s (math and science).

Nonfiction Collection Statistics (Call number ranges truncated) 
Specific factors I consider when weeding:
  • Age and condition of the material. I am huge on having an attractive and up to date collection. I am not pleased when I find picture books that have mold damage or damaged spines. When you have books in poor condition on your shelves, you are sending a message that you don't care about your collection. And that teaches patrons that it is OK not to take proper care of library materials. 
  • If I've ever heard of the person the book is about. If an adult librarian hasn't heard of the biography subject, probably the kids haven't either. And they won't exactly be clamoring to write their reports about him or her either. If you're not a sports fan, then there's that, but if the person isn't Michael Jordan/Babe Ruth famous and is retired from a sport and not from your immediate geographical area, well... do you need it? 
  • Speaking of your immediate geographical area, proximity is huge. If you have a famous writer from your town, you are probably going to hang onto his or her books whether they're still circulating constantly or not. This can be more than a little aggravating when you'd love new editions with lovely updated cover art but the books are long out of print. But I'm not bitter or anything. This is purely hypothetical, of course. :/
  • Any important awards the book has won. 
  • Whether a change in cataloging might help the book circulate. For example, I've had good luck moving some picture book fairy tales out of the 398s and into the picture books. I've mainly left collections and picture books too long for small children to sit through in the 398s, while the shorter ones have been circulating much better in the more highly trafficked picture book section. 
  • Whether a particular area would be a good candidate for a display based on the subject to see if that would help the titles get noticed. See my display posts for ideas and printable signs for displays. 
Advice for new librarians or librarians new to weeding
I strongly recommend that you start with certain areas and wait until you have a really firm background in children's literature to weed others. I'd suggest starting with computer science, health, and other topics that should be kept as current as possible (within 5-10 years, depending on the exact subject and detail). Other topics that can be evaluated quickly are careers, animal books, math and science. If you are looking for detailed guidance, a really excellent book that will work you through each Dewey classification is Less is More: A Practical Guide to Weeding School Library Collections by Donna Baumbach. Despite the name, the advice is highly relevant for public libraries as well.

I would avoid folk and fairy tales, poetry, and any other subjects that require a pretty detailed knowledge of the topic. These are also topics where older titles may still circulate well. Wait until you know your community and your collection well for these.

One of the greatest things about weeding is how quickly it makes a visible impact on the attractiveness of your collection. Having an ugly book on the shelf makes its neighbors look ugly! Remove an outdated book and the rest of the shelf can breathe again.

I've said everything I think I wanted to say. What say you, dear readers? Do you have a favorite source for weeding advice? Or a tidbit of your own? Please chime in with a comment (or two!)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Collection Development 101: Selection (part 1 of series)

Today I'm starting a new series on collection development! I hope that this will be of use to library students as well as new professionals. I'd love if veteran selectors would chime in with their collection development process. For this post, I am going to talk about my selection process. I think it is always worthwhile to examine these processes closely and inspect for inefficiencies and redundancies.

But first, a little about my particular library. My youth department serves babies through high schoolers. We break our collection down into the following categories: picture books, easy readers, board books, J kits (circulating book and CD sets--these come out of my audiobook budget), chapter books, nonfiction, and young adult books. We have further cataloging distinctions when books get to that stage, mainly for the Caldecott and parent/teacher collections.

Also, since the population of this branch's service area is only about 20,000 people, it is pretty rare for my department to buy more than one copy of anything. We do buy doubles (and sometimes 3-6 copies) of the hugely popular stuff---Harry Potter, Twilight, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc. It is unusual for us to have the demand to justify more than one copy of most items, although we are happy when a book catches on and requires it!

How do I locate books to be potentially added to my library? 
Blogs! I am a huge fan of bloggers who write about publisher's preview sessions. One who does this is a lot is fellow Michigan native Elizabeth Bird who blogs at Fuse #8. 

Review Journals! I read School Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, The Horn Book. We also get Library Journal, which I mainly read for the articles and not the reviews. There are many more journals than these worth taking a look at, but these are the ones I have access to at work and home.

Patron Requests! I am pretty liberal about buying what patron requests unless it is outside the scope of our department (textbooks, for example) or of extremely questionable quality. Price and availability are also factors.

Bestsellers lists! I mainly find in Publisher's Weekly and try to keep an eye on what is selling the most on as well.

How do I decide how much to allocate to a budget? 
Honestly, budgeting is one of the areas I need to work on the most. This year I decided to try something new, which I actually wish had dawned on me earlier to do this. Warning: spreadsheets ahead! First I looked at the youth department's circulation statistics for the past 10 years:

Total Circulation for the Youth Department

The first group of data is straight circulation numbers from our annual reports. The chunk below that and on the left is percent growth and decline of individual areas. You can see that certain areas of our collection are exploding in popularity and others are declining. These are calculated off the past few years' worth of data to be as current as possible. Growing in interest are the young adult, fiction, and graphic novels, while paperbacks and kits are declining. Actually the reason for the decline of paperbacks is that I stopped circulating them generically and have them cataloged and now they are included in the fiction category.

Then I determined what percent of circulation comes from which category. Basically, it can be broken down like this: Nonfiction and fiction combine for about 40-45% of our circulation, picture books are almost exactly 50%, and the rest is primarily young adult with a smattering of graphic novels and readalong kits in there to round it out. I would not be at all surprised to see our young adult circulation contribute much more heavily in the 2011 statistics at year's end. Our collection has been greatly expanded over the past 2-3 years and is going gangbusters.

Circulation breakdown by category as a percentage of circulation overall
Next I took the approximate amount of circulation per category and determined approximately how much we should be spending (in U.S. dollars) per year in that area. So, for example, approximately $6,000 on picture books and just under $3,000 on nonfiction and fiction. These are just broad goals. As you develop your collection, you will want to consider the strong and weak categories and reallocate funds appropriately. For example, this year I focused on strengthening our weak nonfiction selection (weeding and acquiring) while taking some funds away from our well-stocked picture books. You will want to rotate which collections you put the financial emphasis on from year to year.

What does the ordering process look like? 
There are two main ways we order books at my library. We occasionally meet with direct sales reps and we also order directly through a book distribution vendor. With sales reps, I tend to purchase many nonfiction sets, as well as some picture books and easy readers (almost exclusively media tie-ins like SpongeBob, etc.). The media tie-ins are not usually reviewed in the major journals, so this is how I keep our collection up to date with new titles.

The vast majority of my books are ordered through our book distribution vendor. There are several different companies. Major ones include Baker & Taylor and BWI. I used B&T at a previous library, but my current library uses a Michigan-based company, Emery Pratt. Basically, you search for titles, ISBNs, or authors you are interested in and create a cart (or many carts!). When your order is ready, you can submit it. If you've never acquired library books, the process is very similar to online shopping with the advantage that you are not spending your own money. And you're most likely spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on one order.

They are so many great books out there! How do I stick to a budget? 
All ordered books go into spreadsheet containing the book's author, title, price per copy, and a guess at where it will most likely wind up being cataloged. Sometimes it is hard to tell from the review, particularly with 'tween books that might wind up in YA or chapter books once they get here.

You will also want to keep in mind the average price of a book varies by category. School Library Journal tracks these numbers on a year to year basis.
The beginning of our book order for the next fiscal year

The formulas at the bottom calculate like so:

Total: sum of all prices (displayed in Cell C21)

Total remaining: my annual budget - the total from Cell C21 = total in Cell C22.

Total w/ est. discount. This is where things get tricky. Our library generally gets a percentage discount off the list price. How much it is totally at the mercy of our distributor. I usually assume we will pay anywhere from 80-90% of a list price. The spreadsheet is currently calculating at 80%, so the formula is C21 *.8 ad displays in C23 (the highlighted cell).

Total Remaining with discount: Subtracts the estimated discount from my annual budget and displays in C24.

So now let's look at what the budget looks like after I pick out all the books that sound like possibilities:
Here's what the monthly budget breakdown looks like at first pass

I am happy with the first pass but a little worried about some of my budgeting. We have way overspent in YA so now I am going to go back through and whittle out some titles. Currently I have 23 YA titles picked out and I should have about half that, so I go back to the reviews a little more carefully, which brings us to the next question.

If you're on the fence about a particular book or need to cut lots of books, what factors are considered? 
  • How well other books by that author have circulated, if we have any. Also the author's general reputation
  • How much shelving space is in any given section (and if weeding has been done recently to free up some) 
  • The popularity of the genre in our community and/or whether it is well-represented in our collection already or not. 
  • If it is the 2nd or subsequent book in the series (be careful! You don't want to buy a later book, if you don't have the first one. And if you haven't had a demand for the first one, will there be a demand for the second one) 
  • Likelihood of availability through inter-library loan. Michigan has a statewide ILL program called MeL Cat. Many regional cooperatives also have a ILL option, although our cooperative does not. 
  • Price. I am more inclined to take a risk with paperbacks in the $5-9 price range than with a more than $20 
  • If the author is local or not. Local can be state-wide or within a few counties, depending on your library's definition and selection policy. Some libraries emphasize this more than others. 
  • How positive the review is. If it is just a generally positive review, we may or may not buy it. If it is a rave review from a trusted journal, that weighs heavily. Some journals have a reputation for being more critical than others. Starred reviews are not purchased automatically. 
  • How much of that category's monthly budget is being spent already. If I buy this book, will I have to remove another from my list? Which one is more important to our collection development? 
So, let's apply those factors to this list of our 23 potential YA titles: 
Our list before making any cuts
List with rationale for potential cuts
After rereading the reviews, I cut 3 YA books entirely and assigned 3 to the J budget. I also eliminated 2 nonfiction books after checking the Dewey sections and realizing that they are already well stocked. I'd like to stress that our not buying a book now doesn't make it a bad book. Another librarian might have cut the books I kept. We may even still end up buying some of these books later in the year if patrons request them! 

 Overall, my verdict is: not great, but not bad. There are a lot of great books coming out this fall, but unfortunately there is only so much money to go around. 

Now that we've cut some books, let's see how our budget looks now. 

Well, kind of a mixed bag success-wise. I stuck to my monthly budget overall, but some categories were much closer (J fiction and graphic novels) to the target than others (YA is still $110 over budget and JNF is $71 over as well, but that is balanced with the picture book budget being almost $200 under budget). Don't forget that we still have the unknown factor of discounts, which will most likely bring the total amount down into the $1200 range.

In the end, I am happy that the total amount spent was close to what I anticipated and am not as worried about the individual categories. The thing about collection development is that some months certain categories of kids' books really outshine others. Maybe this is just the time of year for quality YA books, kind of like later in the year is Oscar bait season at the movies? Perhaps I will do another budget breakdown  later in the fiscal year and compare how I am doing. Let me know if you'd be interested.

Now we're ready to actually order books! For books not purchased directly from sales reps, either I will place the order online or our secretary will call them. I prefer to place it online so I can see right away if we have already ordered the same item accidentally or not. The customer service reps will tell us over the phone if we have already ordered something as well though and ask if we want a 2nd copy or not.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Dump Truck Fred

"My Dump Truck Fred" is from the awesome storytime planning resource book Storytime Magic. If you don't own this one at your library, go buy it now. I will wait.

OK, now that you've ordered this book (it is my very favorite, so you better have ordered it). "My Dump Truck Fred" is a first person story about what I would do if I had a dump truck named Fred. That is a big "IF" if you ask me. But anyway, here are some things to do: 
Teach Fred good manners and to eat his gravel cereal every day. 

Go tanning at the beach with Fred. Don't forget your sunglasses! 

Patterns for this story are on the ALA Website (My Dump Truck Fred is #397)
Words are from the Storytime Magic book, but if you haven't bought it yet (you really should), really all you have to do is say "I'd give Fred a hat! I'd make sure he wore his scarf!" etc.

Get Fred ready for the winter and hang his Christmas stocking. 
I highly recommend making this book as a magnetboard story as I did. I printed out the pictures, colored them with markers, and then laminated them and cut them out. If you use thin magnet coins (I used these and paid $3.99 for 100), then you can layer the pieces flannel-style without having to painstakingly cut them out of felt. Now, I love felt as much as the next girl and think this would be a darling story in felt, but the text is so short that I didn't feel it was worth my time to do myself.

I actually don't use the stocking part and I am curious as to whether or not other people agree with this decision. How do you treat religious holidays at your library? I am not sure that there is a right decision as it really comes down to the presenter's comfort level and the community as well, but I am curious to hear people's thoughts on this one. 

This week's Flannel Friday is being hosted by Mary