Ambassador of Love and Joy

I don’t know another way to start this post except to introduce everyone to the newest member of the Jbrary family. Meet Dana’s new little bean, Islay. I’m calling her our Ambassador of Love and Joy. She’s already a fan of rainy B.C. summers and when her mom and auntie coincidentally form a Black Hat/Blue Jacket club.

During these past five months there are things I treasure more dearly. Friendships for one. Seeing babies for two. Living in British Columbia for three. It has been a summer spent outside for the both of us.

I’ve taken the spring and summer off blogging for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one is I needed a break from screens. When you spend eight hours a day working from home it’s hard to crack open the laptop on weekends and evenings. So I’ve set the blog aside and given myself the time not to write. Not to research. Not to extrapolate.

I’ve been thinking about the journey of Jbrary. We started it as a social media project for a grad school course over 7 years ago. We were on every social media platform available because we were building content, making connections, and spreading awareness. We were hyped to share our passion for youth services, and perhaps Jbrary was my way of spreading love and joy into this corner of the internet.

Then two years ago I deactivated our Twitter and Facebook accounts to decrease my workload and stress. Our Pinterest and Instagram accounts are still there for people to tag and share, but they aren’t monitored. We haven’t uploaded a YouTube video in months and don’t have any plans to add new content. The thing is, I’ve embraced these changes wholeheartedly. Both Dana and I have entered new phases of our personal and professional lives. It’s only fair that Jbrary would change with us too.

Ultimately I want to keep writing here on the ol’ blog because writing is a love of mine. Maybe a few longer pieces 3 -4 times a year? Maybe a check-in here and there? Maybe when my job changes back to some semblance of normal and my eyes get a screen break? I don’t have a solid plan right now.

What I want you to know is this: if you miss seeing chunky babies learn to clap after every storytime song, I feel you. If you miss welcoming kids into your library and helping them look through the stacks, I feel you. If you miss the sense of community and belonging our outreach work accomplished, I feel you. If you’re blazing ahead into new territory and not sure how it will land, I feel you.

We’ll get through this. And we might find some Ambassadors of Love and Joy along the way.

74 thoughts on “Ambassador of Love and Joy

  1. Thank you for the life update! I love that you are allowing Jbrary to grow along with you- can’t wait to see what’s in store πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, friend <3 I'm so glad The Cardigan is around to keep me thinking and learning while I step back from the blog for a moment.

  2. I discovered Jbrary about 5-6 years ago, early in my library position as a Youth Services assistant who does Preschool and Toddler story times. Such an invaluable resource when I was first starting out! Your pinterest page was especially helpful to me because of the way it was organized. Now I always look forward to your yearly book recommendations. At our library, we almost ALWAYS purchase them if we can find them! Happy to see where your journey is taking you both. Thanks for all you do.

    1. Thank you so much, Debbie! I would really love to continue the tradition of posting my storytime favourites each year. Not sure how that will work this year since I haven’t been doing storytimes and haven’t gotten my hands on new titles, but I’ll think of something! Maybe a crowd-sourced list? It’s really great to hear the lists have been used by libraries.

  3. Jbrary has been my favorite stop for fresh ideas for my children’s programs. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and resources that you have provided to me/us. I completely understand your direction but I’ll miss you! Be well and happy!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Teresa! Hopefully I won’t be gone for too long. I wish you happiness and well being too πŸ™‚

  4. I’ve enriched both my preschool classroom and my Ready Readers program, which serves children at risk due to poverty by providing a reader to come in to their classroom and also provides 6 new books for them to keep per year. You provide great book ideas, but I especially love your song and finger play ideas. Glad you’re reevaluating your journey. Please know that you’ve had a far reaching, positive and loving influence

  5. Your last paragraph hit home so much! Our library reopened about 6 weeks ago and while I’m so very thankful to be back–heck, to HAVE a job!–it surely isn’t the same with no programming and no baby storytimes! Jbrary has been my go-to source for ideas, music, and rhymes. You don’t need to keep adding content–it’s loaded! But the occasional check-in of your thoughts, and of course photos of babies (any babies!), will always be welcomed!

  6. Your last paragraph hit home so much, causing my eyes to tear up! Our library reopened about 6 weeks ago and while I’m so very thankful to be back–heck, to HAVE a job!–it surely isn’t the same with no programming and no baby storytimes! Jbrary has been my go-to source for ideas, music, and rhymes. You don’t need to keep adding content–it’s loaded–and I completely understand the aversion to additional screen time, after teleworking for four months. But the occasional check-in of your thoughts, and of course photos of babies (any babies!), will always be welcomed!

    1. It caused me to tear up too! Thank you so much for your kind words, Amy. It sounds like you and I have been in a similar situation and it’s really nice to hear we’re not alone. I’ve got a lot of nieces and nephews so baby photos can be incorporated into every forthcoming blog post, as per my audience’s request πŸ™‚

  7. Thanks for everything, Jbrary! I totally understand your too-much-screen time issues and think you’re doing the right thing, and considering good options. We will always have those wonderful archives of joyful singing and rhyming and play to refer to.

    I hope everybody can keep taking care of themselves and keep their balance of work life and home life in perspective. It’s not always easy πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Kelly, for this comment and for all the other comments you’ve left on posts in the past. I truly appreciate your feedback and kind words. That work life balance is sure challenging right now, especially since my work space and home space are one in the same. I’m wishing you all the best right now!

  8. So so perfect. Thank you for this. I’m an early childhood music teacher – most recently teaching a music and movement class for babies at the Smithsonian National Zoo. I miss those chunky baby legs and those big smiles more than anything. No online experience can compare. You two are so absolutely wonderful. All the best to you!

    1. CHUNKY BABY LEGS!! I never knew how much I would miss them. Thanks so much for your compliment and all the best to you as well! That sounds like a pretty cool job you got there πŸ™‚

  9. I’m a new programmer for our library and am new to Jbrary as well, it has been a great source for ideas and training I needed starting out and even when we switched to doing storytimes online during the quarantine. I’m glad you are letting yourselves and Jbrary grow. We all need time away from the screens sometimes. Congratulations, Dana on the adorable new “Ambassador of Love and Joy”! Thank you both for the update and I wish you both the best on your new personal journeys!

    1. Hi Sabrena, welcome to the Land of Jbrary πŸ™‚ I’m glad the content I’ve added to the website and YouTube channel is still being used by programming folks. Thank you for understanding and hopefully I’ll be back to blogging in the not-so-distant future.

  10. Thank you for the update. It’s a wonderful read and beautiful photos. You still inspire me and youth library services. I hope you are feeling the love and support from the library community as much as you have given it to us. I look forward to any updates you want to add at any time. And, congratulations Dana! I don’t think I’m alone in wishing I could hold a beautiful baby right now. πŸ™‚ Take care of yourselves.

    1. Aww, Marian, this was so lovely to read!*insert crying face emoji* I am definitely feeling the love and support. I feel so lucky that people even comment on these blog posts after so much time. Your words truly made my day and I 100% agree with the baby holding sentiment. I will make sure Dana sees your congratulations.

  11. Thank you so much for all the love and joy you have provided to so many librarians! Your work, and your generous sharing of it, has been an invaluable resource to me and I’m sure to so many others. I’m delighted to see that you are both making positive changes for your own well being; you continue to be good role models in that regard as well as in librarianship. And congrats to Dana on that beautiful baby! Enjoy every moment.
    Best wishes to you both and thanks for everything!

    1. Hi Marian, thank you so much! I’m so glad Jbrary has been a valuable resource over the years. Sometimes it is hard to give things up that you once clung to so dearly, but I know I’m moving in the right direction. I’m honoured to be considered a role model in any regard πŸ™‚

  12. Jbrary Rock Stars – thank you so much for all that you have provided your followers. I am a preschool teacher in Delaware and have loved learning from your energizers and greeting/goodbye songs! My students have loved them, as well.

    Enjoy your new life, both literally and figuratively.
    Theresa

    1. That might be the first time I’ve been called a rock star, haha! I’m so glad our videos have been helpful to you and your students. Keep rocking on πŸ™‚

  13. Congratulations! Your archive of content is a treasure and your YouTube videos are a lifeline to our playgroup, especially since we went virtual. We’ve been screen sharing and gesturing and singing along! Thanks so much for your time and energy on the Jbrary project. Wishing you the best!

    1. Oh wow, how cool! I love hearing how people use our videos in different ways. I’ve definitely noticed an increase in views since the pandemic started. Wishing you all the best too, Katie! Sounds like you’ve got a great playgroup going.

  14. Hi, You guys really set the bar for online storytime — doing your videos from the couch – and showing us how it is done. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    1. Thanks! We always wanted our videos to feel homey and easy to replicate. I never knew they’d be a model for storytime during a pandemic though, haha. People have been doing so many cool things for online storytime nowadays that I feel like our videos might seem a bit basic. But they still work πŸ™‚

  15. Thanks for this – your content has always been a bright spot!!! I am mourning the loss of everything you mentioned. Our jobs have become a shadow of what they were. We all need to give ourselves time and patience to get to the other side. That scenery – that baby!!!! Your smiling faces – take care – we will be here when you are ready.

    1. Those were exactly the words I needed to hear, Nora <3 <3 I have also been in a place of grieving. Being part of this community and seeing your comment really helps - thank you so much!

  16. Jbrary has been such a huge help for me in developing my storytimes, making me aware of cool picture books, and providing fantastic rhymes and songs that really make storytime so much fun. Thank you both for this wonderful resource you’ve created; know that your work is so valuable and appreciated! Congrats on the new baby and best wishes as we all navigate this crazy sea called 2020!

    1. Thank you, Catherine! I appreciate you taking the time to say these things. I’m trying to think of us as one big ship rather than lots of tiny little row boats πŸ™‚

  17. Your vast repertoire and wonderful videos continue to help so many educators and librarians! I’m really happy for you both, and have enjoyed watching you grow over the years. I totally get the need to take a step back, and fully support it. Glad you are healthy, have access to the outdoors and are still out there creating wonderful programming for kids and families. Best wishes to you both!

    1. Hi Alina, thank you so much for your kind words. It’s so great to know that there are awesome creators like yourself out there still putting out content. I love sharing your channel when people ask for new resources. All the best to you too!

  18. You and Dana inspired me to start my own music program for infants and toddlers at my NY library. I am a retired music teacher and was looking for something to do with children. I was looking up scarf routines and your site popped up. I never looked at any other site again. Yours was perfect! Enjoy your baby! If P. Trump becomes president again, you might get to meet me. My Facebook site is under Tina Stella Conway.

    1. I told my parents in California that I might have to sponsor them to move here if that happens. That would pretty much put the nail in the coffin of the year 2020! Anyway, it warms my heart to know we’ve been an inspiration and that our videos have helped people along the way. Thanks so much!

  19. I’ m so excited for you and your many changes! Life is an adventure! I don’t know what I would have done with out Jbrary. I don’t sing very well and sometimes I wanted to do fingerplays in my storytimes at my CA library and I wouldn’t know how the tune went. Now after 10 years, I have a preschool and a babies storytime. I still go back to you girls all the time. I’m happy all is well with the Jbrary family. Enjoy every moment because life goes fast.
    You inspire me to be better!
    Sherry Jones

    1. Thank you so much, Sherry, for such thoughtful and kind words! I get the same inspiration from seeing people try new things and continue to learn throughout their whole life. We plan to soak in all the time we have with a new little one. Wishing you all the best!

  20. Beautiful! I love this . My sister is pregnant (due in January 2021). This is the first baby in our family of six kids, so we are all very excited.

    Jbrary is my go to for anything story-time. Thank you for doing all that you do. Wishing you all love, health and happiness.

  21. First, congratulations. How wonderful to welcome a new little one. Yes, it has been very hard without my kids visiting me several times a week and spending time singing and dancing and reading stories. I love your website, but completely understand.

    Take care, stay well and enjoy life.

    Veronica

  22. Just discovered your YouTube channel today as I prepare for Virtual Preschool. I will be reading all your old Blog posts getting lots of new ideas. You can certainly teach this old teacher lots of new tricks. Thank you so much and enjoy the baby time.

    1. Oh wow, hopefully you find some nuggets that work well for virtual storytime! I hope I’m still learning new things when I’m more experienced too πŸ™‚

  23. Thank you Dana and Lindsey for EVERYTHING Jbrary has given the Children’s Library community over the years. I have shared your links with countless families and caregivers at my public library branch whenever they say, “where do you get your song and finger rhyme ideas from”? You provided a resource that simply did not exist previously – one stop for excellent quality of content. Such trail blazers! I am so happy for you both, as you chart new adventures and wish you both all the best in both your personal and professional lives.
    All the best.

    1. Oh wow, Amanda, those are super nice things to say! Thank you so much for sharing Jbrary with others and for your support. I wish you the very best as well and hope everything is all good over there in Ottawa πŸ™‚

  24. Thank you for this post! You and Dana are rock stars to all us in children’s library land. We rely on your content heavily and thank you for making such a lasting contribution to our profession. Your post made me tearful because you get it. I am glad you are both taking a break from online, even if it means your fans hear from you less. Your work is mostly done here, but I look forward to hearing from you from time to time. Enjoy that real life baby and keep singing!

    1. Thanks so much, Jeannine! Hopefully I’ll be able to return to blogging better than ever after taking time to look after myself and my family πŸ™‚

  25. Congratulations! Thank you for all the wonderful content. It wasn’t until quarantine that I discovered Jbrary and it has been such an invaluable tool to our virtual learning programs at Penn Area Library.

    Also, that is one adorable Ambassadors of Love and Joy!

  26. Hi all, I am just popping in to say a quick but HUGE thank you for all the congratulations. It’s been incredibly moving to have Islay May welcomed into the community with such warmth and joy.

    I’d also like to thank my pal Lindsey for being not only a huge support to me (and Islay!) but continuing to inspire, challenge and support all those working in children’s and youth services. She’ll always be my hero <3

  27. First of all, congratulations Dana. How wonderful to welcome little Islay into the world.

    I’ve followed Jbrary from the start and you have shaped so much in my professional journey.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart, all the way from Down Under

    Lizzie

  28. Thank you for the update, the pictures and this blog. You have been inspiring and fun to follow and your legacy of information will be for future generations of programmers! Well done, I hope you enjoyed your break. Be well!

  29. Thank-you both and congratulations to you and your new little reader, Dana!
    I have appreciated so many of your creative ideas through the years and can absolutely relate to missing our young audiences in person. I am now doing Facebook Live story times and that has helped a bit with connecting to all those parents & kiddos I’ve been missing. Please keep sharing your creative talents–you have touched so many and truly inspired so many new and exciting ways to reach our young learners! We are all so fortunate to be children’s librarians–best job ever!
    You are both FANTASTIC!!!!
    All the Best,
    Margaret Whalen Stec

    1. Thank you so much, Margaret! It really is the best job, isn’t it? I’m so glad you’ve been able to stay connected to your community through Facebook Live storytimes. We take what we can get! All the best to you and I promise to return to blogging in the future.

  30. Thank you for the update! I just want to let you know that I love the resources you have provided on this website and youtube. I teach a caregiver + baby class that focuses on teaching Baby Sign Language called Sing, Sign & Play. Whenever I am creating a new curriculum I come here first for inspiration for songs to teach. Congratulations Dana on your little bundle! Babies bring so much hope and joy ❀️

    1. Thanks so much, Jennifer! So glad our resources reach all sorts of people who connect with caregivers and little ones πŸ™‚

  31. What great news! I agree with everything in your post. Self care is a must. I love all of your content and you are a go to resource for me and so many people. But you know what, you’ve put in so much for so many and it is okay to step back. Our jobs have changes so much since March. I love the in person connection with my storytime participants and this new way of doing things is tough. However, while Zoom is not a substitute for in person I still get pleasure out of seeing my families and interacting with them. I smiled the entire 30 minutes of my first Zoom story time last week. These past 6 months have honed my acceptance skills We have to accept that we are not doing the same job, accept that we will work differently, accept that we are on a wire without a net sometimes. It’s super uncomfortable and occasionally exciting. Via virtual story time I now reach my local families but can also reach families across the county or across the state. There’s something really optimistic about that. Take good care of yourselves
    We miss you but we understand.

    1. Thank you, Maureen! You said it so well – once the grief passes we move into acceptance. I’m not doing many virtual programs for kids right now as I’m acting in a trainer position, but I totally know what you mean by the joy a 30-minute Zoom program can create. Thank you for your kind words and for understanding πŸ™‚

  32. Thank you Lindsey and Dana for all that you have done for Children’s Librarians…your legacy lives on and we will all continue to use Jbrary as the wonderful resource it is. Your pictures of British Columbia take me back to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest…enjoy the outdoors and your break from screens.
    Sending love and joy back to you both!
    xo,
    Carol

    1. I can’t get over how beautiful it is here in B.C. We’re trying to squeeze in as much outdoor time as possible before the rain and snow arrive. Thank you for your kind words, Carol, they mean a lot!

  33. Congrats, Dana! Islay is adorable. I’ve been working in YS for a year and a half, and I love it! Jbrary is the “go-to” place for all things storytime. Everything you & Dana share is helpful, fun, and inspiring. Thank you for putting so much time, energy, and heart into Jbrary. Enjoy the new phase of your lives/friendship. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much, Brooke! Entering a new phase is just what we need right now and we’re so glad everyone has been understanding.

  34. Cannot thank you enough for all you have given to us. Beautiful baby, congrats! Best wishes for your new phase of life!

  35. I’m a little late to this gorgeous post, but I had to leave a comment. Jbrary has been an invaluable resource for me when I first started presenting story time (and had no clue what I was doing) almost 5 years ago. This post is everything. Everything. It captures all of my feels and speaks directly to my heart and I thank you for that. We started singing the β€œHello Friends” (and Goodbye) song to our littles a few years ago. I can’t tell you what it means to us to watch our toddlers and their parents join in and sing and sign when they show up for Story Time. And that is because of the two of you. The impact you have made is real and I am forever grateful. Thank you for creating a beautiful and meaningful way for library employees to connect with our precious communities. And thank you for reminding us that being ambassadors of love and joy is ultimately why many of us signed up to work in pubic service. I am forever a fan of you both ❀️

    1. Never too late to receive a wonderful comment like yours! Thank you so much, Jennie, for your kind words. I am trying not to cry they are so lovely. You are right – being a children’s librarians IS being an ambassador of love and joy. It’s what we do πŸ™‚ Thank you following along with us for so long and I hope to be back to the blog in the future.

  36. Just a note to say thank you! The Jbrary site, blog, youtube channel kept me sane at home when I was looking at a screen 7 hrs/day 5 days a week. I don’t have time to look at all your resources during the normal work days — too busy with programs, storytime/babytime and desk shifts. I sure made use of my time when I was working from home! Thanks for your enthusiasm and love of storytime. From an ol’ staffer/fan in Ontario!

    1. Hello, Dale! Thanks so much for your kind words. Glad you were able to check out our resources while at home. Waving hello from B.C.!

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