Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Field Trippin'

Have you written scripts for your tours field trip adventures yet? I sure hope so. And if not, here's an anecdote that happened to me today, which, to me, proves the usefulness of scripted tours.

So, it's summer, which means I get calls from day cares and day camps about library field trips.

I got a call last week from a local school ESL camp that had "at most 30 kids, but probably closer to ten" who are going into 4th grade in the fall. The teacher admitted that she wasn't sure what degree of English language learning each of them were at, but they were learning about space, and needed a very short introduction to the library. I said, "sure, yeah!"

And promptly forgot about it, because I could afford to. Because I knew I was giving this field trip.

Yesterday, I saw on my calendar I was working a split shift  (since the group was coming at 9am but I'm working until 8pm) and started thinking about the books I'd pull. In case you were wondering, the 2 and a half hours between shifts today were spent getting me hopelessly, embarassingly addicted to The Glee Project. I don't even like the show Glee (Ryan Murphy can't write past a first season, which is why reality television is perfect for him). So, there's that.

How many words?
None. None words.
(Okay maybe some,
but I was gunning for the
Spinal Tap reference)
30 minutes before field trip arrives: collect about 15 books to book talk. My favorite to book talk for these groups is Robot Dreams, because it's 150 pages and has zero words. This is the book I reference, as well, when people say that "graphic novels aren't reading", because if you don't feel touched after using your comprehension skills to decode the story in these pictures, your heart has been replaced with a rusty tin can. It's a scientific fact.

15 minutes before field trip arrives: My coworker approaches the Reading Boat with egg shakers, which can only mean one thing-- preparing for story time. "I have a group coming at 9, is that cool?" I ask, assuming she's setting up early.
She says: "Um, I have a story time at 9:30."

Oops. Foiled again by the long list of events on the daily Outlook calendar, I had accidentally scheduled potentially overlapping programs.

Never fear! It is decided amongst the department, without skipping a beat, that the field trip will take place at the back corner of the department, outside the Reading Boat.

10 minutes before field trip arrives: coworkers help me rearrange the tables under the clock. I make a sign so that it looks official.
Oversized Post-its: TOTAL Lifesaver.

9AM: The field trip begins!

And what was the feedback? Well, I got a note:
"This was so perfect!! [The other teacher] and I were talking about how we can piggy-back off the things you said and the books you shared. I am so thankful you accepted our request to visit."

Not bad for zero planning, 30 minutes of set-up, and a minor snag that could've been major if I had completely thought of a brand-new field trip.


  1. I had a daycare ask if they could bring 7 older elementary kids to visit the library and check out books - 15 tops. They showed up Monday morning with 30+ kids ranging from age 5 to 11...or there's the time the county special education school showed up with 20 teens for a tour. However, they hadn't called ahead and I wasn't there...

  2. Awgh, Jennifer! That's the worst. Maybe you could make an "in case of emergency break this case" field trip/group visit kit, complete with Excedrin ;)

    We had a group come in this afternoon whose leader had called ahead for a program, but wasn't there, so they all looked at us like, "why are you talking?" haha. You win some, you lose some, I guess. All we can do is try our best to swim through the summer craziness!!!

  3. Meh, wasn't that bad. The daycare didn't actually want a tour or anything - just to let the kids browse and check out books and they're very organized so it was no big deal. Just not what I was expecting to encounter first thing Monday. My director pinch hit for the teen group. I kinda like things like this to happen occasionally - then the other staff appreciate me more (-:)

  4. Sounds awesome! Always great to be appreciated:)

    We'll get some larger groups in weekly checking out books, like from the Y. Gets pretty wild--especially on the Boat!-- but the increase in checkout is definitely worth it. We're thinking that next year we might contact all these groups so they can start their summers with a field trip and learn the expectations at the library to make it a bit easier on the staff.

  5. A little late to the discussion...but I once had a director (new) who cheerfully informed me that she had scheduled a story time for me. I bit back my ("Um...YOU do not schedule events for ME"), and asked for details. Oh, about 20 preschoolers from Head Start, fortunately not at a time when I already HAD a program. So, I prepared craft materials for 30, just in case. You guessed it: 75. I had other staff members and parent chaperones frantically cutting pieces out while I stretched out the stories. From then on, she just referred people to me.