Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Library Profile - George W. Hawkes Central Library, Arlington Public Library

I learned a little while ago that one of my hometown libraries is closing its doors tonight as the city prepares to demolish the building. The lot is then going to be used for mixed-use commercial development. Another Central Library has not yet been built. Library users will have to wait until at least 2017 for a new branch. Until then,  according to a library staff member I spoke with, the library's East branch is going to be open longer hours and an 'outpost' of sorts for limited library services will be opened nearby.

The three story Central Library in Arlington, Texas has been a part of the community since 1973. My husband remembers going to this library for story times, I used to visit it a lot in college, and it was the location of my first ever library job. I owe so much to this building and the people who worked here in times gone by. I walked into the library yesterday for the first time in two years to say goodbye. It wasn't like I had hoped; most of the people working the desks were strangers and there were no throngs of people paying last respects. All the same, I found myself remembering the good times.

This is the entrance that most people used to enter the library, although I feel it is technically the back entrance.

This is the lobby where patrons can get library cards and pick up holds. 

They had a banner above the check out stations reads "Turning a Page: A New Chapter of Arlington's Central Library." Although, a new page that will take three years to turn. 

The Youth Room with a banner that says "Take Me There!"

The Story Time space and Children's book collection. 

I'm gonna miss this guy!

The Young Adult section down in the basement, where I spent most of my time. A lot of the book display signs I made are still in place.

The Teen Studio! I will miss you most of all. Even on the 2nd to last day, it is still being used by several teens. 

The outdoor reading patio that they had just built when I left. All of those benches with memorial plaques. I sure hope they make it somewhere else in the city!

A view of the first floor, which holds Adult Fiction, Foreign Language, Music, DVDs, and New Books. 

The epic staircase that takes you to the second floor.

The second floor is home to public access computers and Non Fiction. 

Lastly, here are a few pictures of the street facing 'font' entrance. 

Goodbye, Central Library! I hope the 2017 library that is slated to be built will be home to many more memories and serve the community as valiantly as you. You will be missed. I'm going to go cry now.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Incorporating Technology in Early Leanring

CC Credit: Jody Roberts

The public library has become a destination for many families to engage their children in early learning. Whether they come for story time, library material, or access to early literacy computers/tablets, these families are trusting the expertise of youth librarians at public libraries with their children's development. One of the things library professionals need to do is educate parents on technology use for children.

The biggest concern about incorporating technology into the life of a preschooler is that the child is not developmentally prepared to digest digital media and/or that too much screen time can be harmful to their early learning. In her article "Too Soon for Technology?" from the July 2014 School Library Journal, Annie Murphy Paul suggests that librarians and caregivers be more discerning when selecting technology for young children. She cites the American Society of Pediatrics as suggesting that children under age 2 should have no screen time and older children should be limited to 2 hours. The page that recommends this is talking specifically about television, but I think we can extrapolate most kinds of computing and gaming from the term 'screen time.' Children under 2 should have little to no screen time because it distracts from developing basic motor skills and impairs their understanding of physical objects/space. Children older than 2 can develop poor fitness/health habits in addition to impairing their ability to process physical surroundings if they are exposed to too much screen time.

Thinking about this, I have a few suggestions for libraries and parents. Firstly, I would recommend putting time limits on early learning stations for both computers and tablets. You may already have time limits due to popularity, but it would also help to put up signage to educate parents about reducing screen time to improve mental and physical health. Make sure there are play areas with physical toys nearby to encourage active play. Things like puppet theaters and felt boards are good examples. When you do pick apps or games for the child to play, make sure they are engaging and require decision making like matching, reading, drawing, and writing.

While screen time needs to be limited, there are many ways to incorporate technology into early learning that is not related to the sedentary activity that most parents fear. Librarians and parents should embrace technology to help do other activities. Story time programs, for instance, often have music. Why not get high tech and embed the digital music file in a PowerPoint that displays the lyrics for the parents? This way parents will see the lyrics and get more involved, making the child enjoy the activity at a higher level. Why not give your kid a pedometer and challenge them to take so many steps? They can practice counting and get exercise. Or, you could use an app to help identify different kinds of plants on a nature walk. There are tons of ways you could use technology to aide early learning.

Need ideas? Here are some examples for using technology for each of the 5 reading readiness practices. Librarians, feel free to steal and tell this to your parents.

1. Talking

Talking to your child does not normally require much in the way of technology. It's just something you do every day. You ask your child questions and listen to their answers. You talk about the objects in the world around you and about how you feel. A fun way to incorporate technology in talking would be to record your conversation with your child and play it back. Show them how to use your phone or the recorder and let them set up the recording (if possible). Once you play it back, talk about the talking. Do they sound weird on the recording? We always think our own voices sound weird on recordings. Why do think that is? This would encourage critical thinking.

2. Singing

I think a fun thing to do here is to set up a karaoke station. YouTube has many karaoke versions of Disney songs and so forth. You can practice reading the lyrics together on the screen or if you aren't there yet, you will at least have some nice background music as you belt out "Let it Go!" Repeat as necessary.

3. Reading

I know we discussed avoiding screen time, but the occasional eBook or TumbleBook (interactive eBook, often with sound and a read-along feature) is a perfect example of the good, engaging kind of screen time. Make sure to use the same principles of dialogic reading for eBooks as you do for print. Discuss the illustrations and ask questions as you go.

4. Writing 

Writing is super important in early learning. Children get the idea of how letters and numbers are formed by physically writing them out on paper. It's also important that children learn how to type, because, moving forward, the QWERTY keyboard still seems to be the dominate method for communication. Have your child right out their name and then have them find the letters on a keyboard (or a drawing of a keyboard). It might even been a fun activity to have them write in all the letters on an empty keyboard worksheet.

5. Playing

Playing is when a child puts into action what they've learned. It's their job, as kids, to take what they discover about the world and test out theories through play. It means movement; it means creativity. A fun idea could be to ask your child to come up with a puppet show while you record it on video. You can watch the show afterward and talk about the characters and the plot. Ask them where they got the idea and correct any misconceptions.

Incorporating technology in early learning is important because our children are growing up in a technology rich world that is constantly updating and expanding. It's good to know the limits of screen time and to make sure children are engaged in other activities, but that doesn't mean that we should throw out our modern devices. I feel some librarians and parents go a little too far here, taking pride in their willful ignorance today's technology. Not me. I'm always trying to better my understanding of these tools, because that's what they are- tools. They help us on our journey to understand the world and better ourselves. Let's just make sure we are using them wisely, especially as we foster the early learning of the next generation.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Best Finals Week Tweets about the Library

I recently started working part time at both a college bookstore and a college library, so I have witnessed the damage done to students during their finals. Just for fun, I searched Twitter to see what students had to say about the library during these trying times. The results were both funny and very, very disheartening.

Right away I noticed that most people were talking about the lack of space/overwhelming crowds of students.

Some people were possessive. This is MY library. Who are all these people invading MY space!?

Other people were just overwhelmed and THIS close to loosing it.

This girl had a valid point. Don't hit on someone who is studying for finals.

My favorite tweet goes to this person who compared finals week to the Hunger Games.

The awesome thing I discovered, however, was the response many libraries have come up with to combat this. 

I don't know if the mystery girl from the last tweet was with the library, but it's not a bad idea!

One library took it a little too far and maybe missed the mark.

So, singing = bad. Got it. I love that so many libraries are doing things to combat finals week stress. The service dogs are a great idea. A lot of college students in dorms probably miss family pets back home and taking a break to cuddle with a dog... is pretty awesome. 

At the end of the day, though, it seems like space is a serious issue. Students clearly seem to think that the library at their college is important. Academic librarians and library deans have the challenge of representing this need to their university board and president. Build more/bigger libraries for the students! Easy, right? *clear sarcasm, made more clear by text between asterisks* The battle for library funding when you have to compete against college football and all the academic departments is much like a year-round finals week. God speed.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gift Ideas for Library Lovers

Donate a book in their name

Do you have someone in your life that sees their local library as the destination? Here are some ideas for gifts as the holidays roll around. 

CC Credit: Bob AuBuchon

This is a good gift for the person who has it all or otherwise claims that they "don't need anything." Every library is different about taking donated books, so ask before you go out and buy something. Even if your local library does not accept book donations for the collection (which is common for large library systems), you may be able to pay for a new, popular book through the Friends of the Library.

Make/buy them a Little Free Library

CC Credit: Flickr user, Thank you for visiting my page

Another gift that gives to others! These little libraries are great for the community. You can paint it or leave it for them to decorate, and put it somewhere in their neighborhood. Check out the Little Free Library website for more information.

Library themed clothing

You can click on the above images to find out where to purchase them. There is a lot more where this came from, too. A great place to look is etsy.com.

Book scented candle

Don't you love the smell of old books!? Did you know there is a reason for that? I found this video that explains the science behind the smell.

Pay for a card of a neighboring library

Portland Public Library, Maine, CC Credit: Brian Herzog

This is great for avid readers and people in books clubs. You might not be able to get the book you want when you want it at your library, but you may be able to find it at a neighboring library. Out of residency fees for cards can run anywhere from $25-$200 a year.

New eReader/Tablet

I love downloading library eBooks. Maybe your library lover will too! The best devices at this moment, in my opinion, are the Amazon Kindles. If you also want to watch videos (some libraries offer services like Hoopla or IndieFlix that stream videos too), I suggest the Kindle Fire. Me, I prefer the E ink Kindles. They are easy to read and easy to load with titles. If you are an Apple family, the iPads work really well with library eBooks as well.

Hopefully that helped you cross someone off your list!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Library Profile: Seattle Central Library

Today I am continuing the series of posts that profile different libraries. Since I live in Seattle, I figured I should do a profile of the famous downtown library. I was lucky enough to get a tour from one of their assistant managing librarians and I learned a lot about the space.

I'm not going to go into detail about the construction or history of the building, mostly because I think they say it best on the SPL website here. Instead, I'm going to share the pictures from my tour and give my own impressions of the spaces in the library. Here we go!

We started with the world languages section on the first floor, where I learned that they have all kinds of unique languages. They even had a few books in Esperanto, a constructed language. Perfeckta!

The floor of this section is embossed with phrases out of books in their collection in all kinds of languages.

While they have a huge variety, I learned that they only currently develop collections for about a handful of languages. This means that they are not getting new items in for the other languages due to lack of circulation and other criteria they have developed. So, they likely don't have Gone Girl in Esperanto. This is probably okay.

Next we visited the third floor that has the FriendShop, Teen Area, and popular collection items. The beautiful architecture changes on each floor, giving you a different view through the angular glass windows.

The fifth floor is the main floor for public computers, ready reference, and job searching tools. This is the floor that also hosts programs like Tax Help or information sessions on the Affordable Care Act. Behind the scenes, this is the floor for the library staff that answer the library's main phone line. Any general library information or ready reference is answered by staff at cubicles. More specialized questions are sent out to other departments.

Next we traversed the spiral. This is where the nonfiction and reference materials are housed. Friendly, super knowledgeable staff at these desks will talk to you about anything from LBJ biographies to upcoming library programs.

On our journey up the spiral, we stopped outside a music practice room and listened to a library patron play an accordion.

Up on the tenth floor you can walk out onto this balcony and see the amazing view all the way down to the third floor. It really makes me want to throw a paper airplane to see it navigate all the way down, but I am told this is not advised :).

Back on the first floor, I explored the children's section. Fun, bright colors and a huge selection of books makes this the most magical part of the library as far as I'm concerned. Although, I just realized that I took a picture of the bathroom... >< I was just trying to get the fabricated bull and the tree in the same picture, I swear!

I will leave you with one last picture of the view out the amazing glass windows.

So, there you have it! If you are in town, you should pay this glorious building a visit. You can find public tour information here on their website.