In September, I had the opportunity to attend both the annual Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) and the biennial Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) conferences. For me, the major take-away from both events is that libraries can help each other develop programs that address food insecurity.
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With funding through ALA's Libraries Ready to Code, we collaborated with a community makerspace and the local Boys & Girls Club to offer coding programs at three locations.
In addition to the Boys & Girls Club and the community makerspace, we also held programs at the library. Participating students ranged from third grade through high school.
In June 2017, the Mechanicville District Public Library kicked off a community farmers market on the library’s front lawn. Throughout the summer, on Mondays from 4 to 7 p.m., hundreds of people came to stock up on vegetables, pasta, eggs, honey and other goods from local farms.
For a community with a 16.3 percent poverty rate, a market delivering fresh, local goods at affordable prices was a game-changer, and it also gave local farms an opportunity to sell their products.
Trucks! Trucks! Trucks! is a food truck-meets-touch-a-truck festival. Local food truck vendors come to the library to sell a variety of sweet and savory foods while people explore the many trucks brought by local government, businesses and military departments.
In 2017, we held the event on a Saturday in mid-June from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in our library parking lot. Roughly 2,300 people attended.
Storytime in the Orchard is an all-ages storytime hosted by Boyertown Community Library and Frecon Farms. It is held outdoors on Thursdays at 9 a.m. from mid-June through October, weather permitting.
This program enhances awareness of local agriculture, provides a family experience of nature and boosts health literacy while having fun.
Inspired by the idea that loving and caring for oneself is essential to well-being, the Brooklyn Heights Library Youth Council presented a self-love event called I’m Perfect. The event was held at the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park in May 2017, and featured music, arts and crafts, food and guided meditation.
At the height of Summer Reading Club (SRC) or during an autumn back-to-school heat wave, sometimes the best thing to do is take the kids outside and hose them down — that will get the fidgets out! (Kidding!)
But seriously, throwing water balloons at people or targets is extremely therapeutic. I asked my SRC leader, Ebony Scott, to come up with a program called Water Games. My only stipulations were (1) that it not wet any of the books and (2) that it have a reasonable budget. (If only we could afford giant Nerf Super Soakers for everyone.)
Here at Skokie Public Library, we aim to offer a variety of learning experiences in every program cycle. That means we’ll have storytimes, performances, clubs and hands-on creation programs during every calendar period. When we want to allow kids to really dive into a topic, however, we try to think beyond our usual one-off programs. When we want kids to really explore, develop skills and make something, we offer multi-day boot camps.
This summer I decided to challenge myself before my teens even had the chance to say, "Mrs. Librarian Lady, I'm so bored!" I’ve already created a list with go-to crafts and activities to entertain teens all summer long. My challenge is for all you teen programming staff out there to grab your shades, slather on some sunblock and live it up this summer with your teens!