Friday, June 06, 2014

School Carnival: A Library Outreach Report

Windblown, torn, and taped, we soldier on.
I wanted to report out to you all the changes I made to our elementary family night-style outreach as a result of my massively weird observations at a recent brewfest. I haven't yet figured out the first observation, but I did fairly well with the rest: Infiltrate the crowd; be ready to play; and keep your offerings small but important.

Before I tell you what DID work, here's the ugly part: it had just rained, but it was still outside (because Bouncy Houses, etc). Since it's Wisconsin, and rains works the way it's supposed to here, it was WINDY. AS HELL. I had intended to sign up kids for SLP, but after a few minutes it was so ridiculous, and I had chased down everything from my table so many times, I just gave up. As a result, I had absolutely no 8.5x11 anything to give out (this was an enormous step and I feel like I need validation/praise for simply sitting there without any full-page-fliers at the ready).

It went so awesome, everybody.

The library was the only community table there, and it was still rockin, holding its own against the aforementioned Bouncy Houses, etc. I'm hoping this momentum keeps up and we can be a Go-To Spot when the only other stations are other community tables, who provide outreach activities with varying success.

Be Ready to Play: I created an I Spy board just like Abby the Librarian*, creating it solely from popular book characters and pop culture characters. I got the response I was looking for, from kids walking up and screeching "o-m-g IT'S FROZEN I LOVE IT" to saying "literally everything on this board is my favorite thing. What is this? I want to do it." If you don't know what's trendy with elementary kids in your area, check out this post for some ideas to start finding out. I've created some good, well-attended programming, but if there's any day I was thankful for all the cartoon and kid movie watching my husband and I do, it was at this carnival (did I tell you about how when we were going to bed the night of our wedding, we flipped on the TV and Rodrick Rules was on? And how we watched it? Yep. It Happened to Me: I Watched a Diary of a Wimpy Kid Sequel on My Wedding Night). At any rate, even though I had to tape down the game with packing tape, I came armed with plenty to play with, because I not only know what's up with our kids but I also enjoy a lot of the same stuff. And play we did.

Infiltrate the Crowd: OH GOD HAVE YOU ALL SEEN THE AWESOME LIBRARY-LOGO-AS-SUPERHERO FREE PRINTABLES FROM HAFUBOTI?! She's all about letting people use her stuff so after I asked her permission she encouraged me to make stickers out of them and I totally did and I'll link them at the bottom so you can make them too. They were so insanely popular, everybody. Heads up though you want to make enough Wonder Woman because she was in the LEGO movie so everyone knows who she is again.

I had kids find four things on the I Spy board to get a sticker.

Keep Your Offerings Small, But Important: I didn't bring much to give away; just the stickers and SLP sign up, the latter of which ended up not happening after the first few minutes. Even so, the stickers and the board both had our library's logo on them and I feel like most kids made the connection. I even had quite a few kids approach me saying "I know you from somewhere!" and I gave them clues until they figured it out. Maybe at a family night, when there's more parents around, I'll have something literacy-oriented to take home, but for this chaotic evening, what we offered worked well.

If you want to try what I've described here, download this.
Its contents will help you on your way:
School Carnival Outreach folder
(The stickers are printable on Avery 5160 labels)
Have you stepped up your outreach game recently? What worked?

*Usually I might lazily credit this idea to Amy, where I discovered it. But then she wrote this (caution: understandably NSFW title) that got me making sure the attribution was correct. I will continue to step my game up where this is concerned, and I welcome pointers in the right direction on future posts.

I just want to say that I appreciate you, Dear Reader. A vast majority of you are just starting out in Youth Services, or would like to, and are learning with me as I continue to think about my job and approach it in new ways. As such I want to say: Please use my stuff in your library. Please continue to remix my programming notes and thoughts in ways that make sense to you, and please continue to share like I do. If you need a space to do that, consider guest posting for me.

What I've just explained are the benefits of this blog's written content being Creative Commons rather than All Rights Reserved.  Please read about that what that is! I'd be so excited if for more people got into the habit of understanding what Creative Commons is about.

I love sharing my stuff with you all, and I love to hear about your iterations-- successes or lessons learned! Email me at brycedontplay at gmail and let me know how it's going!

TBH, I'll probably bug you to do a guest post.


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! Need I say more? Okay: LOVE!!!!!

  2. Perfect, as usual! Thanks for sharing!