The First Week

This week was a complete whirlwind of wonderful learning experiences.  Thinking about trying to distill into into a few hundred words is a little overwhelming!  But here goes ….

A big chunk of my time was spent in story times.  I experienced most of the spectrum: toddler, preschool, and baby.  There will be a few others in the upcoming weeks, like pajama story time and family story time.

The older kids were the most familiar to me, since I do preschool and kindergarten story times myself with Page Ahead.  It was nice to see that my style isn’t all that different from Erica’s – that felt validating.  One thing she does that I hadn’t thought of is repeating lines at the end of the page.  I don’t think I’ll need to do that in my small classroom, but it’s a great idea for a huge group of kids who can’t all see the book at one time.  She also uses a felt board at times, which I have no experience with.  We didn’t have time this week, but I’m looking forward to it next time!

Also, the expectation was very different from what I’m used to.  In the classroom, the teacher expects children to pay attention and behave.  However, Erica’s story times are much looser.  Kids can explore, take a break and come back, and play while she’s telling the story – she just reads louder.  It’s more fun for the kids, and probably a lot more relaxing for the adults, too.

I also liked Erica’s setup around the story time – she sets out books related to her theme that participants can check out.  She also emphasizes one of the 6 early literacy skills with each themed unit, so parents know how the stories can help their babies develop, in Erica’s story time and at home.  There are handouts as a reminder.

Baby story time was a totally different perspective from what I’ve been exposed to.  I wasn’t sure how to think about choosing books and activities for babies, until Erica explained that baby story time is more for the parents than the infants.  It’s an important forum for them to learn about and participate in their baby’s development, as well as to get out of the house and talk with other parents.  I wrote a more detailed reflection on baby story time you can download.

Being on a reference desk in a branch has also been a great experience.  As a student librarian at Central, I was specifically at a readers’ advisory desk.  That gave me wonderful in-depth exposure to RA, but it also meant I didn’t do as much general reference and dealt almost exclusively with adults.  Something I really admire about Erica’s reference technique is how quickly she gets away from the computer.  She’ll get a quick idea of where to go and how much may be checked in, and then takes the child straight to the shelves.  This is a chance for them to talk without the desk in between them, and also for the child to see and handle the books.  Love it!  More on my reference observations here.

It’s been great just getting to know Erica and see how she works.  The branch environment is great, and I’ve been lucky not only to shadow Erica as she works, but also to attend meetings and just absorb her brilliance as we chat on breaks or lunch.  More excitement to come in week 2!

Running hours total: 18

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Spring 2010 DFW Learning Objectives

I’m excited to be starting my DFW in children’s services at SPL’s Northeast branch!  I’ve only worked with Erica for one day, but I can already tell what a fabulous librarian and great mentor she is.  This blog is going to cover my reflections on my experiences throughout the quarter, specifically on projects that relate to my learning objectives.  These are:

1.  Learn to provide high-quality reference in a branch setting.  I’ll be shadowing on the reference desk, and recording my observations and experiences here.

2. Develop and exercise skills related to children’s programming.  I’ll be discussing my observations and thoughts about story times and other programs.

3.  Gain experience with school visits and booktalking.  This will kick in late in the quarter, as Erica takes me with her to schools to promote summer reading.  I’ll be evaluating my own booktalks as well as recording my observations and reflections of Erica’s.

4.  Expand understanding of collection development of children’s materials in a branch library.  This will manifest in a few ways: helping with a book order, working on a weeding project, and perhaps further developing a database of historical fiction. More observations and self-evaluations here.

Let the adventure begin!

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