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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: summer programming, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 4 of 4
1. A Special Needs Summer?

Families that include those with special needs can sometimes struggle with finding inclusive programming. Librarians often feel pressure to provide programming exclusively for special populations. But that’s not necessarily the case. Just having an open and welcoming atmosphere can be all that it takes to make your current programs accessible for everyone.  Are you doing what you can to offer programs for all children? Don’t know where to start?

As a programmer, ask yourself the following questions:

The location of the program-

Are the rooms bright and cheerful without being overwhelming with too many sights and sounds? A calm environment is important for children with sensory issues.

Is light distributed evenly? This is important for children with low vision.

Is the room accessible and clutter free, with clear pathways? Most mobility equipment requires a four to five foot turning radius.

Are there a variety of seating options? Large bolsters and pillows may be arranged to give children more stability and motor control and to ensure their comfort and security.

Staff to participant ratio-

Are all children receiving individual attention? Speaking with children at eye level is an important engagement tool.

Do adults call children by name? Identifying each child makes for a more inclusive environment. You can praise positive behavior when you can call each child by name.

Are there sufficient personnel to respond in the event of emergencies? Having another staff person in the room can help mitigate any immediate problem with minimal disruption to the program.

Are you using parents as partners? Parents can be your best tool! They know their children best. And after all, they are here to make positive memories as a family. Allow them to be a part of your program.

The program activities-

Do you have a variety of developmental activities taking place? Every child works and participates at a different pace. Make sure there are tools and activities for different ages and developmental abilities. This can be as simple as crayons of various sizes, precut craft items, and larger pieces of paper.

Is the information presented in multiple formats? Pictures can provide context about the program and its goals. A soft bell can be an audio clue that something is about to happen in your program.

Just being mindful of the needs of your families can start the conversation about inclusion. Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of “special needs programming” these small steps will get you on the road to providing a welcoming atmosphere for all your families.

For more tips check out these resources:



Lesley Mason is the Youth Services Manager at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the DC Public Library’s central branch. She is currently the chair of the ALCS’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at [email protected]

The post A Special Needs Summer? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Food in the Library? An interview with Amanda Courie about Summer Food Programs

Over the past few years, there has been a growing awareness in public libraries that children within their service areas may not be getting enough to eat during the summer months when school breakfasts and lunches are unavailable. Many libraries have partnered with state and local organizations to address this “food insecurity” by offering summer food programs, but this may seem like a daunting enterprise for small, rural, and/or understaffed libraries.

Caroline County Public Library, one of eight rural Maryland libraries that my organization serves, began offering a summer food program last year. I decided to interview Amanda Courie, Youth Services Manager, to find out how this kind of program can work on a smaller scale.

Amanda, I understand that Caroline County Public Library is a small system. How many full time staff members are there? How many of them work in youth services?

“We are a small system!  We serve a county of about 33,000 people on Maryland’s rural Eastern Shore.  We operate a Central Library and two small branches.  There are 15 FT employees and 8 PT.  I am the only one who works full time in Youth Services.  I have one FT employee who is our Early Childhood Unit Manager; about 50% of her time is in Youth Services, and 50% is spent staffing the branches and the Information Desk.  Then there are three PT employees who contribute to Youth Services along with staffing our public service points.”

How does your summer food program work, and what made you decide to launch it?

“Our decision to launch the summer food program grew from a growing awareness nationwide and in our county of the number of families facing food insecurity. According to the MD Food System Map, produced by Johns Hopkins University, 40.2% of children in our county qualify for free lunch, and 11.1% of the total population is considered food insecure

We know that children rely on school meals throughout the school year, and that summertime is a big challenge for families who are food insecure.  Our local Parks and Recreation Department runs summer camps throughout the county for five weeks out of the summer, and these sites double as Summer Meals Sites.  Our concept was to help fill in the gaps not covered by this program, both for the other five weeks of summer vacation, and for the children who weren’t enrolled in the summer camps and couldn’t make it to those sites.

Looking at our resources, especially as far as having a small staff, we decided to serve an afternoon snack at our Central Library, Monday-Friday at 2PM, for 10 weeks in the summer.” 

Which organization(s) do you partner with to make this program possible? Has this program led to any new partnerships?

“We partner with our local school system, Caroline County Public Schools.  They make all of the registration and reimbursement arrangements with MSDE (Maryland State Department of Education), who in turn participates in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program We received training from our school system’s food service program to ensure that we were following USDA guidelines.  They also prepared the menus for us, making sure that we were meeting the federal nutrition guidelines.  Once a week I picked up food and drinks from the food service workers at an elementary school about a mile from the library.  The school system handled all financial aspects of the program; there was no cost to the library and very little paperwork. 

We have partnered with our school system on many projects before, and we even share an ILS with them, so I can’t say that this program led to new partnerships.  But it certainly enriched the partnership we do have with them, and they were happy to assist us in our efforts to serve nutritious snacks to children over the summer.”

What have been the benefits and drawbacks of the program? Have there been any surprises?

“When we went into the program, we assumed that the biggest benefit would be that kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to a healthy snack over the summer would be able to come to the library and get it.  That certainly has proven to be true.  However, the biggest surprise, and another big benefit, has been the enhanced connections that we have formed with the kids who eat snack daily.  In most cases, these are library “regulars” who spend a large part of their summer at the library.  In past years, inevitably they grow restless by early afternoon are were often asked to leave for the day due to behavior issues—being too loud; running; fighting with each other.  However, when we started serving snack every day, we noticed a drop in behavior issues.  Early on, we made a practice of sitting with the kids while they ate, chatting and getting to know them.  These connections proved to be invaluable in providing a positive library experience for them over the summer.  Now, whenever I’ve seen these kids in the library during the school year—even last fall—they ask if we are serving snack again this summer.

I will be honest about the drawbacks of the program.  Since we do partner with the USDA Summer Meals program, we must follow their very stringent guidelines on both what to serve and how to serve it.  There is no flexibility to offer kids a variety of choices, or to give hungrier kids “seconds”.  All participating children must receive one of each item offered to make a nutritionally complete snack.  If they don’t eat it, it can go on the “share table”, but after that if no one takes it by the end of snack time, it must be discarded.  While we understand these guidelines, it was still difficult to get used to this procedure.  However, we decided that partnering with this program was the only sensible way for us to serve safe, approved, subsidized snacks to children.”

Do you have any advice for libraries who are interested in starting summer food programs (especially other small and rural libraries)?

“I would encourage libraries, particularly small, rural libraries, to look into partnering with an agency who is familiar with USDA guidelines and enthusiastic about extending Summer Meals services to more sites.  I would also recommend planning to offer a summer food program that is realistic with the staffing levels available.  Summer is already an extremely busy time of year for library staff, so offer a program on scale with your resources.  Having said that, we have found that our summer meal program is extremely rewarding and helps fill the summertime gap for children in our community facing food insecurity.”

To find out more about offering a summer food program in your library, contact your local school system, or reach out to your statewide USDA School Meals liaison.

Rachael Stein is the Information Services Manager at Eastern Shore Regional Library in Salisbury, MD.

The post Food in the Library? An interview with Amanda Courie about Summer Food Programs appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. From Dinosaur Robotics to Digital Storytelling: Incorporating Technology Into Summer Programming

The ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee is interested in hearing about your experiences with incorporating digital resources, social media, and technology into your summer programming.  We looked around and found some great ideas from our colleagues around the country.

Tech Labs

ALSC Stock Photo

ALSC Stock Photo

The Frederick County Public Libraries has STEM Lab, where children can drop in to learn about or use 3D printers, apps, robotic dinosaurs, or drones.  This is similar to Darien Library’s TEA Room, (TEA stands for Technology, Engineering, and the Arts).  There, students can reserve space to use media production equipment or take classes on Raspberry Pi, 3D Printing, etc.  These programs offer a nice balance of a space/time that is both free and unstructured or structured group projects and classes.

Tech Partnerships

ALSC Stock Photo

ALSC Stock Photo

King County Library System in Washington State has partnered with the Museum of Flight during the summer to offer tech program s such as Everyday Robot Heroes Science Workshop, Yes, It’s Rocket Science Workshop  or Rockets to the Moon Science Workshop.  These programs teach children about robotics or rockets and then allow them to build their own.  King County was able to tie these programs into their main promotional theme of the summer: superheroes!

Digital Storytelling

Outside of using e-books and apps during storytimes, digital storytelling can also describe various programming opportunities to get our patrons using simple media production tools to create, record, and share their own stories.  The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has the award winning My Storymaker site that helps children build their own stories online.  Skokie Public Library has Digital Craft Time programs, with one group of classes for grades 1-3 and another group for grades 4-6. Topics include Photoshop elements, green screen photography, and Stop Motion Animation.  Speaking of stop motion animation, last month, our committee’s blog post was on creating short stop motion animation films using a free and super easy iPad app called Stop Motion Studio.  It might be a great fall back on a rainy summer day.  Kathy Schrock offers some insightful tips and suggestions for getting started or keeping up with digital storytelling.

Take It Home Technology

ALSC Stock Photo

ALSC Stock Photo

What about technology that children and their families could check out, take home and do together?  Meridian Library District in Idaho has Make It Take It Kits that help families to build robots, learn about circuitry, and find projects for 3D printing.

Make Magazine as many people know is a treasure trove of programs and projects that can be adapted and modified to work in a library setting.  From high to low, ideas range from 3D printing to traditional lessons on woodworking.  The projects and video sections are a must.

So please, get the conversation started in the comments section. We want your suggestions on the following:

  • What programs have you done or are you preparing using technology?
  • What doesn’t work that well?
  • Do you work with digital resources or social media during more traditional programming?
  • Is anyone filming your puppet shows, creating podcasts of original works of readers’ theater, etc.?

Michael Santangelo is the Electronic Resources Coordinator at BookOps, the shared technical services department for the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library, and chair of the Children and Technology Committee.

The post From Dinosaur Robotics to Digital Storytelling: Incorporating Technology Into Summer Programming appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Shaking Up Summer Storytimes

My library is storytime central. We’re the largest branch in our system and we’re the headquarters branch, which means lots of traffic. We also end up being “the toddler branch” which means huge numbers for storytime. My staff always joke we could do storytime every hour of every day and have a huge crowd at each session. We even hosted a day one summer where we ended up with storytime at 10, 11, 1 and 4 by accident of overlapping programming days and they were all full!

This summer I’ve decided to shake up our storytimes just a bit. I’m trying something new and we’ll see how it goes. We discovered last year that the best use of our storytime and staff resources would be to repeat toddler storytimes on our busiest days. Our numbers for storytime climb even higher in the summer, we have an influx of people on vacation, teachers, and families who only can come to storytime in the summer. In order to accommodate everyone without having to require registration, we opted to add additional toddler storytimes and it worked out great.

Our preschool storytimes, while well attended, just don’t seem to have as much of an increase. We have a lot of preschoolers, but they also get busy with lessons, classes, and more. I thought about what our preschool families want in addition to storytime-more programming for the preschool crowd-and added that into the mix.

Our summer schedule will be:

Monday-Baby Storytime for infant-18 months

Tuesday & Wednesday-2 back to back storytimes 0-36 months, 1 storytime for 3-6

Every Other Saturday-all ages storytime


Fandom Jr! Fandom Jr. came out of a brainstorm with a staff member who wanted to do a Doc McStuffins program. We do a Fandoms program for the teens and we often to programs for the tweens based on Fandoms, so why not create a weekly drop in program with some storytime elements and make that another preschool option for summer? The idea will be to bring kids in with the subject (pirates & princesses, Elephant and Piggie, Paw Patrol) and then use that as a starting point to show them what the library has to offer. We chose our themes with the idea of creating a broader program in mind and we’re hoping we can get the kids and parents to not just walk away with some character themed books and activities, but with some connections too.

We’ll see how it goes. I think it will be lots of fun and it’s something new to add to our programming. And with it lasting two hours and being a drop in program, we can accommodate large attendance and have more in depth activities that we aren’t always able to do in the shorter time frame of storytime.

Fingers crossed our idea works and we have a blast this summer with our Fandoms Jr!


The post Shaking Up Summer Storytimes appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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