Monday, February 24, 2014

Beg, Borrow or Steal?

A comment on one of our discussion threads got me thinking: Thank you.  I have just now committed a crime.  I have officially "stolen" your program name.  My "Drop in Craft" is now "Art a la Carte." Thank you very much!!!

Ah, stealing. What a scary word! I had to look it up just to calm myself down.

Steal: verb (used with object), stole, sto·len, steal·ing.
1. to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by forceA pickpocket stole his watch.
2. to appropriate (ideas, credit, words, etc.) without right or acknowledgment.

(This definition was stolen from

When I started my current job as Early Literacy Lady, I had no prior programming experience with young kids. I worked with teens at my last library and did lots of perler bead/duct tape/Wii Sports programs, which equals choking hazard/sticky hair/booger encrusted controllers for the younger set. I was worried. Even though I consider myself a very creative person, I was terrified that I wouldn’t have any new ideas to give to my little patrons. I didn’t want to be stuck in a hell that was Open Shut Them on loop, so…

…I started researching, because LIBRARIAN. There are loads of books, websites, blogs, magazines, wikis, library resources, etc., dedicated to early literacy and early childhood development. I thought to myself, “Isn’t this stealing though? Taking someone else’s idea? Will people think less of me? What will my Director say? Will (insert blogger’s name) hunt me down and take my ripped-off flannel board away?!” Cue hyperventilation.

I asked my then-supervisor what she thought. I can clearly remember her saying, “Oh Michelle! In libraries we don’t steal we borrow! Every librarian does it. Teachers are totally different; they keep their good stuff for their own classrooms. Librarians try something and tell EVERYONE how great it is!”

Oh. Okay. AWESOME.

(P.S. Sorry teachers. I don’t know if all of that is true, but Teachers Pay Teachers? Hm…)

Since that fateful day in September of 2012, I have borrowed so many ideas I don’t even know what’s mine anymore. I still think of great ideas in the shower, at 2 AM when I can’t sleep, and while driving. For the most part however, I find a read-aloud book that I really like and Google the daylights out of “activities for (this awesome book)” or “fingerplays (theme).”

So borrow and give freely! I started a blog so people can borrow my ideas as well. I told the aforementioned commenter that stole my program name to take it! As long as kids are reaping the benefits of all our ideas, then I say share, share, share! No need to hide them under a bushel…let them shine!

This post was written by librarian/student Michelle Peltier who blogs at  Michelle is the Early Learning Specialist at Mooresville Public Library in Mooresville, IN. She's a mom, artist, wife, librarian, and generally awesome, not necessarily in that order!

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay


  1. I also wrote a blog post (started before Michelle wrote hers) that talks about positive ways to share and credit too!

  2. I appreciate this post and how it encourages people to share ideas. As a Children's Librarian I do plenty of borrowing myself. But I am sorely disappointed and a little upset by the portrayal of teachers in this post. The supervisor's comment is just not true. I am a former teacher and I did so much collaborating and sharing with my colleagues. Perhaps even more so then than as a librarian because I worked in a small team who met every single day. I know the author of this post calls into question the supervisor's comment, but it is followed up by another statement that implies teachers are just out there for the money (which I'm not sure how many times teachers have to say this, but no one does it just for the money). I am saddened that in a culture that already undervalues their educational leaders this post further contributes to the negative stereotypes of teachers. Why was it necessary to put down another profession in order to celebrate ours? I just wish bringing down teachers didn't have to be part of it.

  3. I'm a teacher and a librarian and I agree, librarians and teachers borrow, and share. All the time. Thanks for sharing!

  4. oops, I forgot to mention my blog and my library's blog:

  5. I love that librarians are so willing to share ideas. I have "stolen" lots of ideas. I've even been bold enough to call and email people in order to pick their brains about programs they have done. Everyone has offered ideas and suggestions. For me I work better collaboratively. I would be pleased if someone took one of my ideas and made it their own.