Friday, March 7, 2014

Mix-up to Mash-up

In thinking about how to balance the programs we offer, the class was asked to share an example of how they changed a program, grew it or adapted it to create a better balance. This is one in a series of posts in which class participants responded to the prompt: Share an example of a way you evolved a program that led to a more successful outcome

Teresa from Illinois had a magical mixed-up moment that turned into an opportunity that grew.

When I started working at the library, Children’s Book Week was a big deal. Children’s books were only purchased in spring and fall. (Don’t know why.) Anyway, the fall books were always saved back for Book Week. Teachers brought their elementary classes (usually walking, but sometimes by bus) to the library to listen to book talks or a story, look at the new books, and get applications for library cards.

A scheduling mistake started the evolution. One day a kindergarten and a fourth grade showed up at almost the same time. So we had the 4th graders each find a kindergartener to read to. It worked. There were pairs spread out all over the children’s room. The younger ones loved being read to; the older kids felt like superstars.

The next year we took it a step farther and invited adult volunteers to come read to classes during Book Week – not to large groups, but to 2, 3, or 4 children. And the fourth grade class purposely overlapped with the kindergarten.

A few years later, the schools cut the number of bus trips. The next evolution took our show on the road. Two librarians, several canvas bags full of books, and a day in each elementary school, plus one afternoon at the library for homeschoolers. By the end of the week, we had seen over 1,000 kids - nearly every elementary student in town.

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