2019 Program Rewind

By Olivia Buck

One of my favorite things about working at a public library is that we do so much more than just books; we also offer so many amazing programs to our patrons! I love hearing about the creative ways that libraries are engaging with our communities. Reading about the cool programs that my other library friends are working on at their own libraries always brings a smile to my face. As 2019 draws to an end, I thought it might be a good chance to list some of the exciting programs that Bloomington Public Library has offered this year.

● Tales for Tails

Trained and certified therapy dogs are paired with children grades K-5 who want to practice reading aloud. The dogs are accompanied by their handlers at all times while enjoying the attention and listening to kids read to them.

Tales for Tails

● Booo-kmobile and Halloween Parade

Kids of all ages braved the cold and snow this Halloween during our annual Halloween Parade and Story Time. The parade took kids around the library and ended with a special Halloween Story Time in our Community Room. Crafts were available for kids to make in the Children’s Department. Kids journeyed outside and onto our Bookmobile which was decorated for Halloween including spooky music, spiders, bats, and cobwebs. On the Booo-kmobile kids met library staff (myself included) dressed up as the Three Little Pigs and played games like pin the tail on the Big Bad Wolf and a Halloween-themed I Spy.

● Beginner Spanish Language Classes

Patrons age 7 and up that were interested in learning Spanish joined us for free introductory Spanish classes taught by the Modern Language Culture Institute. Each class covered two topics and included hands-on activities. Topics included: Greetings, the alphabet/months/days, family members, and body parts.

● Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code is a nationwide, nonprofit organization which aims to increase the number of women in computer science related fields. The organization promotes safe, fun environments to build computer programming skills and confidence. In a series of nine sessions, teens learned fundamental concepts of loops, variables, conditionals, and functions that form the basics of all computer programming languages. Participants grades 6 – 12 learned to work as a team.

Girls Who Code

● Spy vs. Spy

Bloomington Public Library and Normal Public Library teamed up to bring a fun program to teens in our area. Teens learned the basics of cryptography and code breaking while working with team members and competing against other teams to find clues, defeat a laser maze, and win prizes.

● Sparkling Grape Juice and a Masterpiece (for Teens)

In this highly popular program, teens attended a two-hour paint class in which an instructor creates a painting while the participants follow along to create similar paintings. As they painted, teens enjoyed light refreshments. All participants walked away with their own unique masterpiece.

Sparkling Grape Juice and a Masterpiece

● Dance the Nights Away

In this series of four events, dance instructors from a local studio offered free dance lessons in four different styles. Patrons have enjoyed dancing the waltz and salsa as well as learning the fox trot and how to swing dance.

Dance the Nights Away

● Bloomington Reads

In an annual programming series starting in March and ending during National Library Week, Bloomington Public Library held a community reading event for the spotlight title Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires. Events included a short story writing workshop, a self portrait collage program led by a mixed-media artist, and an introduction to graphic novel design. As a part of this series, we partnered with Next to Normal Story Slam on a program where local storytellers shared their personal stories around the theme “The Real You: Who Does the World See and Who is the Real You?” The programming series ended with an author visit. Thompson-Spires, a professor at the University of Illinois, visited Bloomington Public Library to share about her short story collection, including a Q & A session and book signing.

Bloomington Reads

● How-To Festival

At this event, patrons had the opportunity to learn a variety of skills and crafts by stopping at stations set up throughout the library. A mixture of volunteers and library staff provided a range of topics for all ages. A firefighter taught hands-only CPR, the Music Shoppe taught how to play classical guitar and the ukulele, a volunteer taught kitchen knife skills, the Ecology Action Center taught how to recycle and compost, and I personally taught attendees how to create black out poetry and how to write short stories.

● Murder Mystery Party

In celebration of Halloween, registered participants gathered together in our Community Room in order to figure out who committed murder! When registering, patrons answered a questionnaire that asked questions like which gender (if any) character they would be interested in playing, as well as questions to help match them up with a role they would be interested in. An email with each participant’s role was sent out about two weeks ahead of time to give people time to think about their role and get excited about the program. Participants were encouraged to wear costumes to inspire them for their role throughout the party.

Murder Mystery Party

● Local Author Fair

Over twenty authors from McLean County were stationed throughout the library in celebration of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Patrons could stop by to speak with them about their books and the craft of writing. Authors presented various genres of books at the fair and were able to provide tips about the publishing process.

¿Hablas español?: Serving Spanish-Speaking Patrons at Bloomington Public Library

By Olivia Buck

It can be difficult for libraries to reach out to the members of our communities who speak a language other than English. Not all staff members can communicate with patrons who speak other languages, the patrons may not understand the speakers at our programs, documents can’t be translated into every language we may need, etc. As someone who minored in Spanish in school (and someone who is passionate about languages in general), I have spent time trying to think of new ways to reach out to those who primarily speak Spanish (or other languages). I am always excited to hear about the ways that we can serve these members of our community.

I talked to several staff members at my library to create a list of all the various ways we reach out to non-English speaking members of our community. Below you will find a list of the various methods our library has used in order to try to engage with the non-English speakers in our area.

  • Self-Checkouts have a Spanish language option available.

Patrons can tap a button that allows them to use the self-checkout in Spanish. This way they can easily checkout, view their accounts, and renew their items.

  • Spanish Checkout Guides and Marketing

At BPL, we have had a Spanish Checkout Guide for many years. The guide introduces new patrons to our services and library card policies. When signing up new cardholders, I have used this to help me explain the card in a way that will make the most sense to Spanish-speaking patrons. We have also translated some of our Summer Reading Program documents into Spanish.

  • World Language Collections

Our World Language Collections include a variety of languages including Spanish, French, German, Hindi, Tagalog, and several others. We have materials for patrons of all ages which include books, movies, music, and audiobooks. We also have e-books and e-audiobooks available in Spanish for our patrons to check out online.

  • Language Learning Resources

Our library has a variety of language learning resources available to our patrons. In addition to books, movies, and audio CDs, we have online resources available as well. These include: Duolingo, Mango Languages, Sign Language 101, and Transparent Language Online.

  • Programming

Our library has hosted various programs that may appeal to those of other cultures and backgrounds. Examples include the following: Celebration of India, Día de los niños, and the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

Our library’s Outreach Library Associate also attends various community events that reach out to groups of people the library may not have contact with otherwise. She has attended meetings with a group called Conexiones Latinas de McLean County and signed up library cards for ESL students at the nearby community college.

  • Spanish Book Club

In February 2019, Bloomington Public Library started a Spanish Book Club (club de lectura en español). As the name suggests, the selected book is written in Spanish and the book discussion is largely in Spanish as well. Discussed titles have included Mi negro pasado, Más allá del invierno, and others. The club is facilitated by a Spanish Literature professor from a nearby university. The Spanish Book Clubs have been well attended, by both native speakers as well as a few attendees who were learning Spanish. The participants come from all different backgrounds including patrons originally from Columbia, Guatemala, Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries. Attendees have expressed excitement about the book club. In fact, they have organized their own meetings outside of the library and have put together a Facebook group to keep up with members of the book club. At the first meeting of the book club, approximately 50% of attendees had never had a library card before, and signed up for a card that day.

  • Foreign Language Contacts

On our staff webpage, we have compiled a list of staff members who speak other languages. The staff members volunteered to be a point of contact for patrons who speak various languages. Currently these languages include Spanish, Italian, and German. It has been a helpful resource. As a Spanish language contact, I have been called upon to help Spanish speakers sign up for library cards, inquire about lost or damaged items on their accounts, assist with computers and printing, and a variety of other topics.

Recent Teen Programming Successes

By Allison Riggs

How do I define a successful program?

This could be a whole post on its own, so I am just going to give a very short summary of how I define a successful program. Although still helpful and important, it’s not all about the numbers. I believe that what the patrons get out of the program is the most important thing, even if only three patrons show up. Did they have fun? Did they learn something new? Did they make a new friend? Did they learn an important life skill? If you can answer positively to any of these questions, you had a successful program. On the other hand, if you do similar programs over and over again with really low attendance, it may be time to try something new or try new ways to reach patrons. It is okay to admit when something isn’t working. We’ve all been there.

In today’s post, I want to share two successful teen programs I held over the summer. One of the things I truly value in our community is how wonderful librarians are at sharing their ideas, and I hope you can now add these to your own programming idea list. If you have any further questions about either of these programs please don’t hesitate to contact me and ask!

Nailed It – Summer Edition

Inspiration: Nailed It / Failed It: Holiday Snacks Edition By Kris Cram, Young Adult Specialist, Omaha (Neb.) Public Library

Quick Overview: Teens were tasked with recreating popular marshmallow pops I found on Pinterest just like the contestants on the popular Netflix show Nailed It. The new season aired in May 2019 and I held the program in June. The teens were given very minimal instructions and therefore had to get creative and problem solve on their own to try and recreate the summer themed marshmallow pops. I chose the Goldfish, Shark, and S’more marshmallow pops. They had one hour to create two of each pop. We had two microwaves so they could melt their chocolates; this step took the most amount of time. Not many teens finished all six pops, so one of each kind would have been enough. I had 15 teens attend this program. Some saved their creations to show their family and some ate them right away.

Sand Art Terrariums

Inspiration: Average But Inspired Blog

Quick Overview: Using Dollar Tree vases, colorful sand, plastic dinosaurs, paper straws, rocks, washi tape, and faux succulent plants, one can make a fun and affordable teen program. I gave the teens a few tips on how to keep their sand from mixing into a sad color along with different ways to make the sand designs. From there on out they needed very little help from me. I also always throw on some fun instrumental music of popular songs for background noise and some of the teens like to try and guess which song is playing. I had 17 teens attend this program, and they all said they had lots of fun! Here are a few terrariums the teens made. Each one was unique and used a variety of the supplies I gave  them.

Sand Art Terrarium – Allison Riggs