Evaluating Storytime

It has been a couple weeks since I wrote Goodbye Friends, a post all about goodbyeing with style and Lindsey and I have settled into new locations and programs. As it is want to do, time has smoothed the transition and I am able to look back now with a clear eye and a less fiery heart. The result of this new found maturity? A quick look at evaluating storytime and incorporating this feedback. Because while goodbyeing sucks, getting solid feedback on your programs and knowing they’re improving is the silver lining.

os meme

With Lindsey’s help I created a small feedback form and distributed it to families after the three regular programs I was running. I’m not going to lie, the results were definitely underwhelming, with check marks in mostly the right places and little comments about wanting more storytimes. Here are my Sample Evaluation Forms. Feel free to use and adapt as you find useful! At one program I talked about the feedback form and at the end everyone fled and I chickened out on chasing them down. There you have it, full disclosure!  But, things I learned from this process:

  • Because of varying levels of English in my community it would have been helpful to go over the feedback form before asking families to fill it out. It might also work to do “verbal version” if you have a relationship with the family and fill out a form based on the conversation that takes place. One of my personal goals is definitely to get better at gathering evidence (especially anecdotal) of library success.
  • When I waited until the last session to ask for feedback I got a mix of new families, families that needed to go or Grandpas who were filling in. Next time I will ask for feedback across a couple sessions to catch as many people as possible.

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2013 Favourite Storytime Picture Books

Last week I was on an internet mission to find a list of picture books published in 2013 that work well in storytime.   To my great joy, I stumbled upon this wonderful series of blog posts by Erin at Falling Flannelboards called “Perfect for Storytime.”  Since January 2014, Erin has been sharing her picks for new picture books that have storytime potential.  You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be placing holds on every single book she recommends.

So I took my cue from Erin and decided to compile a list of my favourite storytime books published in 2013 (okay, a few of them are from 2014 so please no death glares!)  I know this kind of list usually comes out at the beginning of the year, but I figured it couldn’t hurt coming a few months late.

Did I miss a book you love? Please let me know in the comments!

My 2013 Favourite Storytime Picture Books

1. Ping and Pong are Best Friends (mostly) by Tim Hopgood

16000776This book made me laugh out loud. A funny friendship story that will especially ring true for parents dealing with sibling rivalry.

2. The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman

fish and snailAnother story of about troubled friendship, but this one focuses on Snail’s ability to overcome his fears. I love the idea of traveling between books and the illustrations are dramatic and gorgeous.

3. Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier, illustrated by Suzy Lee

openOpen this book to find another and another and another!  A cute story about colours that celebrates books and the early literacy skill reading.

4. Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein

dinoNew dinosaur books are always appreciated! I have the kids CHOMP and STOMP along with Dinah, making this a delightfully interactive choice.

5. Brief Thief by Michaël Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

brief theifLeon the Lizard gets more than he planned for when he uses a pair of underwear as a toilet paper substitute. This works great with the K-2 crowd who have a better understanding of a conscience.

Guerrilla Storytime: British Columbia Library Conference 2014

At the British Columbia Library Conference this week Lindsey and I hosted Canada’s second ever (Go Nova Scotia!) Guerrilla Storytime. We had an awesome and dare I say brilliant group of 40 Youth Services library folk all ready to take on the Challenge Cup.


Here is what went down…

1. Share your favourite welcome or hello song.

Hello Friends with sign language
Hello, friends. (x3)
It’s time to say hello.

Goodbye, friends (x3)
It’s time to say goodbye.

The More We Get Together with sign language
The more we get together, together, together
The more we get together the happier we’ll be.
Cause your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends
The more we get together the happier we’ll be.

The More We Read Together
The more we read together, together, together
The more we read together the happier we’ll be.
Cause your books are my books and my books are your books.
The more we read together the happier we’ll be.

The more we read together, together, together
The more we read together the happier we’ll be.
Read big books and small books, read short books and tall books
The more we read together the happier we’ll be.

Come Along and Sing With Me
Come along and sing with, sing with me, sing with me
Come along and sing with me
On this storytime morning
(clap with me, roll with me, stomp, shake…)

Hello Everybody and How Are You?
Hello everybody and how are you, how are you, how are you?
Hello everybody and how are you, how are you today?
Hello everybody and clap your hands, clap your hands, clap your hands
Hello everybody and clap your hands, clap your hands today.
(stomp your feet, roll your arms…)

Gilly Gilly Gilly Good Morning
Gilly gilly gilly good morning, good morning, good morning
Gilly gilly gilly good morning, good morning to you.
Mini mack mini mack mini mini mini mack
Mini mack mini mack mini morning
Mini mack mini mack mini mini mini mack
Mini mack mini mack mini morning.
Gilly gilly gilly good morning, good morning, good morning
Gilly gilly gilly good morning, good morning to you.

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Happy 1-Year Birthday to Jbrary!

It’s our 1-year birthday today!

Blake 3

We are so grateful to every single person who has supported us and watched our little YouTube channel grow. To celebrate, we’d like to share some Jbrary highlights interspersed with children’s librarian themed “Hey Girl” memes featuring my nephew Blake because THAT’S HOW WE ROLL.

Blake 1Blake 10

Let’s start with a look at some statistics:

But those are just numbers.  What’s really made this year special is the people we’ve connected with.  Our community of practice.  The youth services librarians all across the world who we learn from every day and who inspire us to keep doing what we’re doing.

Blake 11Blake 5

So what did we get up to this past year? In addition to filming over 200 videos, we were also involved in some neat projects.  We participated in the CLEL Bell Awards blog tour by highlighting our favourite books to sing.  Thank you so much to Mel from Mel’s Desk for allowing us to promote this awesome resource that highlights picture books that provide excellent early literacy development support.  We also wrote a guest post for Pragmatic Mom featuring our Top 10 Multicultural Books to Sing.  If you couldn’t tell, we kind of like to share our love of music!

Blake 4Blake 6

In an effort to share all of the wonderful resources we find on our blogroll each season, we also started writing a quarterly column for the newsletter published by the Young Adult & Children’s Services section of the British Columbia Library Association. Our column in YAACING, “We’ll Link To That,” features all sorts of professional development goodies for youth services librarians. So far, we’ve written a column for Fall 2013, Winter 2013, and Spring 2014. We are super excited to keep giving shout outs to those who share their work online for us all to benefit.

Blake 8Blake 9

Lastly, we’ve made an effort to provide new, weekly content on our blog.  From storytime plans to evaluating our babytimes to reflecting on what it means to be an On Call Librarian, we spent the last year talking about things that advocate for our field.  Our most popular post is our Superheroes Preschool Storytime, followed closely by Song to Get the Wiggles Out.  We’re also very proud to have participated twice in Flannel Friday, first with our Jamberry felt song and then with the catchy Pyjama Party song our co-worker Miranda taught us.

Blake 7

 So where are we off to next?  For starters, we plan to begin our second year as Team Jbrary  by presenting a Guerrilla Storytime at the 2014 BCLA Conference on April 1st.  Then in June we’ll be heading to Las Vegas for our first ever ALA Annual Conference! We are so excited to meet all of our online friends in real life and hope to meet many new faces as well.

What a year, what a year, what a year, what a mighty good year!

Goodbye, Friends: The Life and Times of an On-Call Librarian

Lindsey and I work as on-call librarians in a large urban library system.  The nature of being an on-call librarian here is impermanence and change. Constant change. We started by filling scheduling holes across 22 branches either on the fly or landing a set of shifts. We have both been fortunate to take on larger stints at various branches, allowing us to catch our breath and even get to know some of our storytimers. While we cherish and appreciate these opportunities, we have both done a fair amount of goodbying lately, enough to get me thinking about all this moving on and how to do it with grace.

While I’ve sung Goodbye Friends a bazillion times, it’s never felt quite the same way as it did last week when I said goodbye to my preschool storytime crowd. Come April, I will be swapping Friday programs with another librarian in my neighbourhood and will be doing back to back Babytimes instead. But gosh darn it, I’m going to miss all those little Preschool sized faces, and the way they make me feel funny, brilliant and important all at the same time. As I prepared to say goodbye to this group I wrestled with some pretty prickly feelings which are difficult to own up to, but for the sake of this post here goes: I wanted the children to create small signs and protest until I returned; I wanted parents to whisper about how they hadn’t known what a storytime could be until I’d come along. In short, my ego made a horrible self-celebratory flannel story while my rational self slept. How embarrassing to wake up to this mess and not have the elves to blame.

I think we can all relate to the fact that while we might not be making the big bucks, we deal in the currency of giggles and singing-as-they-leave-tots, aka Golden Moments. Golden Moments would not exist if we did not open ourselves up to real relationships with our patrons young and old; these are often what keep us going. But, as an on-call librarian I have clearly struggled to balance my hunger for Golden Moments with what would realistically best serve my community. So I have arrived at this post full of angst and questions, lots of questions! How do you juggle wanting to deliver shiny short lived programs while ensuring families are connecting to your library’s services and programs in a long term way, a way  that means they will be coming through the doors long after you’re gone? Continue reading