Friday, December 29, 2017

5minlib's Best Posts of 2017

As we say goodbye to 2017, we thought we'd highlight our top posts for the year!

Literary Holidays to Celebrate All Year Long
A year ago, Kat created a list of literary holidays for 2017. This was by far our best post and Kat will be making a new one for 2018! Stay tuned.

3 Quick Banned Books Week Ideas
Kat shares easy ideas and free printables for the busy librarian to participate in Banned Books Week.

5 Myths of Facebook that Libraries Should Know
Jess highlights five misunderstandings libraries have about Facebook and how to use these truths to your advantage. Links are provided to outside sources for more information.

18 Excellent Podcasts for Librarians
What better way to stay on top of library news and build up your RA toolbox than listening to podcasts while you work?

Summer Reading Scratchies - Some New Ideas
A new twist on the scratch tickets, Kat shares her take with scratchies.

5 Ways to Stay Passionate Working in Libraries
It is easy to get burned out while working in libraries, so Jess covers five different ways to keep the passion alive.

9 Vital Ways Facebook is the Best Partner for Libraries
Jess argues that Facebook is the best place on social media for libraries to be and she has nine reasons why.

Holiday Craft Ideas for All Ages
Kat shares lots of different ideas for holiday crafts. Get a head start on 2018 craft planning!

8 Lessons Learned from the 2017 Eclipse
No one knew what to expect from the 2017 Eclipse. Jess compiles multiple experiences in a guide for the next eclipse.

The Ultimate List of Nontraditional Items You Can Check Out From Libraries
What are libraries circulating besides books, music, and movies? Jess created the ultimate list, linking to at least one library for each item.

7 Useful RA Websites
Where do you go for RA help? Jess shares a list of seven websites to get you started.

Why I Play My Ukulele At Storytime
Kat talks about her love for the Ukelele, how to get started, and why it is awesome for storytime.

Ready to Go Display: Read Dessert First
Every month, Allie publishes a "Ready to Go Display" for all age groups. The best one from this year was on desserts!

5 Easy Tips to Organize Your Library Life with Trello
Feeling disorganized? Think that you can structure your day better and save some time? Jess shares how she uses Trello to stay on top of it all.

Presidential Budget Cuts, and How They Could Impact Libraries
Kat investigated how the proposed Presidential Budget Cuts could impact libraries. Thankfully, that did not happen!

My Life on a YALSA Committee
Ever wondered what it is like to be part of a library association committee? Or how they decide on which books win awards? Allie shares all in this article!

Ready to Go Book Display: Twins
Need a new topic for your display? Our second popular list created by Allie was on twins!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Like this article? Check out our best posts from 2016 and 2015!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Library Stories that Give us the Warm Fuzzies

As the year comes to a close, we thought it might be a nice way to wrap things up by thinking of some library- or book-themed stories that gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling over the last year or so.

Of course, this is far from a definitive list! Please let us know what stories gave you the warm fuzzies this year by posting here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Denzel Washington Visits His Librarian
In December 2016, famous movie star and all-around good guy Denzel Washington took the time to go visit his childhood librarian for her 99th birthday. That blue scarf he's wearing? She knitted it for him!

When they spoke on the phone before the visit, Washington told her, “you don’t know how much you helped me. You helped me so much.”

Kat's note: I hope that when I am old and gray, I'll get visits from the kids I knew at the library. I don't care if they're famous, but I'd like to know they remember library visits fondly, and hopefully are still big readers and good people.

The link here is to the CBS News article; this photo is from the same article.

The Laundromat Library

Kids at a Wash & Learn eventSummer 2017 saw a new kind of library in Detroit, Michigan. Libraries Without Borders, along with many community partners, set up pop-up libraries in three laundromats across the city, complete with books, Wi-Fi access, laptops, and more. Their goal is to have libraries in every laundromat in the city.

The link here is to the Model D Media article; the photo is from the same article.

Free Haircuts for Book Readers

Barber Courtney Holmes has been promoting literacy by giving free haircuts to children who read to him while he works at his shop in Dubuque, Iowa.

Mr. Holmes told USA Today, “To be honest, I was amazed. The line started with four kids, and next thing I knew it was like 20 kids, all waiting for a haircut and eager to read.”

The link here is to an article from People Magazine in 2015; the photo is from the same article.

The Tiny Librarian

When four-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana read 1,000 books (as part of the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program), her mother contacted the Library of Congress - which is Daliyah's "most favorite, favorite library in the whole wide world" - and asked if she could visit. Not one to let an opportunity pass by, new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden had Miss Arana come be a Guest Librarian for a day.

The link here is to the article from Smithsonian Magazine; photos are from Ms. Hayden's Twitter.

Max the Cat
Image result for max library cat

Max the cat is not allowed into the university library in St. Paul, Minnesota, but he desperately wants to be inside! There's even a sign on the door. After a library user posted a photo of the sign to Twitter in November 2017, the Internet exploded with support for Max - everyone wanted to let him in! Many Twitter users even wrote poetry about Max, including limericks, epic sagas, and (Kat's favorite) a take on "This Is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams.

The link and photos are from an article from the Washington Post.

Browser the Library Cat

PHOTO: Browser the cat sits among a group of children being read to in the citys public library, June 30, 2016, in White Settlement, Texas.Browser, a long-time resident of the library in White Settlement, Texas, had been "fired" and evicted from his library home in 2016, despite having been adopted (or, hired) to take care of a rodent problem in 2010. Due to public backlash and international news attention, as well as a petition with over 1,000 signatures, and 1,500 emails from around the world, the city council unanimously decided that Browser could keep his job, after all.

The link and photos are from an ABC News article.

Drag Queen Story Hour

Drag Queen Story Hour started in San Francisco in 2015, and has spread across the country, with events also happening regularly in New York, Los Angeles, as well as several one-time programs in many different libraries across the country. Stories tend to be focused on the theme that "It's Okay To Be Different," and the feedback libraries have gotten has been overwhelmingly positive, with children especially loving their special guests. Not only has this brought the idea of inclusion to the library's youngest audience, but it also has reminded many of the happiness that story hour brings to families of all ages.

The link and photo are from an article in the New York Times; featured in the photo is Harmonica Sunbeam.

Human Libraries
In most libraries, you can check out books and movies; in some, you can also check out humans and have a little chat! According to their website, "The Human Library™ is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue." This program started in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2000, and has spread across the globe since then. Have some difficult questions? Ask away! As the organizers say, "When you meet our books, no matter who you are and where you are from or which book you will be reading, in the end, inside every person, the result will say: we are different from each other, we see things differently and we live life differently. But there are more things that we have in common than are keeping us apart."

The link here is to an Upworthy article; the photo is from the same article.

Marley Dias, Tween Founder of #1000blackgirlbooks

Even if you don't know her name, you have probably heard of Marley Dias's #1000BlackGirlBooks movement. In November of 2015, Dias started on her goal of collecting 1,000 books with Black girls as main characters to donate them to schools in need, at only 10 years old. Though young, Ms. Dias is very eloquent, explaining that the lack of diverse characters is what drove her to begin her campaign. "This gap hurts all of us...I’m working to create a space where it feels easy to include and imagine black girls and make black girls like me the main characters of our lives."

Marley has been named one of Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 - at only 12 years old! - and has an upcoming book about activism being published with Scholastic. She has also been interviewed by NPR, and met Ellen, Oprah, and Michelle Obama. The linked article and photo above are from Forbes Magazine.

4 Year Old Caleb Green Read 100 Books In One Day

Four year old Caleb Green, who wants to be a  basketball player/astronaut/Ninja Turtle when he grows up, declared to his father one night that he was going to read 100 books. His father, Sylus Green, was not one to turn his son away from setting goals, and set up a live-stream so that Caleb could read aloud to friends and family.

Over 4,000 people tuned in to watch Caleb meet his goal. Go, Caleb!

According to the article, "the family stocked up on books from their own collection as well as from friends’ bookshelves" to find their 100; perhaps next time they will choose titles from their public library.

The link above and the photo are from the Huffington Post article.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ready to Go Book Display: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. In honor of today's Star Wars: The Last Jedi release here are new Star Wars books.

Recommendations for Adults:

Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn (Apr 2017)
Traces the origins of Thrawn, one of the most ruthless warriors in the Galactic Empire, and the events behind his rise in the Imperial ranks.

Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor by Ryder Windham & Adam Bray (Oct 2017)
The authors trace the evolution of stormtroopers from their creation and design in the original Star Wars trilogy to their many iterations in later films, cartoons, comics, novels, and merchandising.

Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson (Sep 2017)
Captain Phasma, one of the most merciless officers of the First Order, is in danger of having her mysterious origins exposed by an adversary who is determined to reveal Phasma's zealously guarded secrets.

The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak (Dec 2017)
In a book featuring concept art and costume sketches, storyboards, and blueprints, fans will take a deep dive into the development of the fantastic worlds, characters, and creatures of The Last Jedi.

The Star Wars Cookbook: BB-Ate: Awaken to the Force of Breakfast and Brunch by Lara Starr (Jan 2018)

 Fuel up with Hans Soloatmeal, battle hunger with Admiral Ackbars, and so much more! These easy-to-make recipes feature characters and scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Recommendations for Teens:

Star Wars: Han Solo by Marjorie Liu (Jan 2017)

In this graphic novel, Han is given a top-secret undercover mission for the Rebellion: rescuing several informants and spies.

Star Wars Super Graphic by Tim Leong (Jul 2017)
Graphic design guru Tim Leong presents Star Wars trivia in an all-new way -- through playful pie charts, bar graphs, and other data-driven infographics.

99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire by Greg Stones (Jul 2017)
Ninety-nine Stormtroopers join the Empire, and then their troubles begin. One takes a lunch break in the carbon freezing chamber. Two underestimate a princess. One picks the wrong time to ask for a promotion.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Cobalt Squadron by Elizabeth Wein (Dec 2017)

Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire) journeys to a galaxy far, far away to bring readers the harrowing story of the courageous bomber pilots and technicians of Cobalt Squadron. 

Recommendations for Kids:

Star Wars: Lightsaber Battles by Lauren Nesworthy (Jan 2018)

Find out everything you need to know about the coolest weapon in the galaxy.

Star Wars Made Easy by Christian Blauvelt (Sept 2017)
A guide to the Star Wars universe shares character profiles, plot breakdowns, and trivia.

Star Wars Coding Projects by Jon Woodcock (Oct 2017)
A step-by-step visual guide to coding fun projects in Scratch and shows you everything you need to know to create cool computer projects, animations, and games.

Star Wars Obi-123 by Calliope Glass & Caitlin Kennedy (Feb 2017)

Count Dooku, droids, and other favorite Star Wars characters invite the littlest Padawans to practice early counting and number recognition skills. Also check out Star Wars ABC-3PO.

Chewie and the Porgs by Kevin Shinick (Dec 2017)

A lovable tale of Chewbacca the Wookiee and the pesky porgs or Ahch-To island.

BB-8 On the Run by Drew Daywalt (Sep 2017)

After BB-8 is separated from Poe, his master, he travels through the desert planet of Jakku to find the secret map to the Resistance and encounters several strangers who need his help.

When the parents of Milo and Lina Graf are abducted by agents of the evil Empire while the family is out on a mission mapping the unknown systems of Wild Space, the children must undertake a perilous journey to rescue them.

The definitive guide to The Last Jedi, revealing the characters, creatures, droids, locations, and technology from the new film.

Look inside the inner workings of 13 key vehicles from The Last Jedi.

Friday, December 8, 2017

6 Tricks Parents Can Use to Keep Reading with Older Children

Today's post is inspired from one of my favorite parenting podcasts, Slate's Mom and Dad Are Fighting. One of the hosts mentioned that his six year old daughter is starting to outgrow reading with him. Part of their bedtime routine was to read a book together, but his daughter is starting to read on her own and she gets too interested in the book to wait for the next night. She started bringing the book to school and finishing it on her own. The host thought that maybe it was time to end their bedtime reading tradition.

I wonder how many parents feel this way? I read a great article that talked about parents ending reading with their kids too soon. It is something all librarians should be aware of and mentor parents through. I jumped onto the podcast's Facebook page to give some words of encouragement and found lots of parents had great tips.

So, today's post is sharing those great tips that parents have learned worked for them:

  1. Start a book that's above your child's reading level.
  2. Try reading funny books, laughing is more fun together.
  3. Have your child pick out a special bedtime book and other books for during the day from the library. If your child can't choose, have them read the first page of each and then make their decision.
  4. Try reading short stories or fairy tales at night so there's no compulsion to read the book the next day.
  5. Listen to audio books together in the car.
  6. If all else fails, you can each grab your own book and read next to each other. Then, if you or your child come across something fun or interesting, you can share it with each other.
  • Bonus tip: Start a journal to keep track of everything you've read together. Seeing your progress might help your child become proud of the work you both put in. You can also keep track of your favorite authors, find readalikes, and it's neat to look back on later to either discuss or reminisce.

Reading with my children is one of my favorite traditions. I once read an article about a father and daughter who read together every night until she started college. Not only was it a great relationship builder for them, but it also allowed them to develop a special language, relating to the life around them with things they've read in their books. What parent wouldn't want that?

Do you have any additional tips to help parents keep reading with their older children? Please share below in the comments.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Holiday Craft Ideas for All Ages

It's arts and crafts time, my friends!

No matter what you celebrate, the holidays are a time for family and friends, enjoying each other's company, eating cookies, and decorating our living and working spaces to the nines. Because you're never too old to enjoy some glitter and glue, Kat has compiled some fun, crafty ideas for library patrons of all ages.

There are so many (SO many!) great ideas out there, but I chose a few that are a little bit different than you may have seen before. Of course, Pinterest is your best friend here!


Book Page Wreaths are the most library of all holiday decorations (except perhaps the "book tree," where you stack up a bunch of books and wrap lights all around, but you can't really have that as a DIY Night). There are instructions all over the Internet, but we particularly like the one on the Shabby Creek Cottage blog. How festive is this?! Now, she says that her wreath took several hours, but it's also 3 feet across. Smaller wreaths are easy enough for lessons, and patrons can make their own giant ones at home.

Making a Pinecone Christmas Tree is super cute, and super easy! All you have to do is buy (or find!) pinecones, and decorate them with sequins, glitter, buttons, and the like.
Directions for these can be found at

A classier (less spangly) version can be found on the Amy's Delights Blog, where the green pinecones are dabbed with white "snow," and placed into a small terra cotta pot. Either way, these pinecone trees are delightful!

For a slightly more involved craft, you can turn a sock into a snowman or penguin, by following a few simple steps. No sewing is involved! You just need clean socks, rubber bands, rice (or other filler), and some basic decorations.

Find step-by-step directions for both crafts on the Easy, Peasy, and Fun website!


Marshmallow decorating can be great fun! Did you know that they make food-safe markers, so you can draw right on your food before you eat it? SO COOL! December is the perfect time to make marshmallow dreidels, with Hershey kiss points and pretzel stick stems, as they demonstrate on went a step farther and also made chocolate-dipped marshmallow dreidels with sprinkles. Delicious! Please note, most marshmallows are not kosher - check your package before serving. (One of my amazing coworkers made a marshmallow menorah one year, and it just can't be topped. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of this, but I will have to make one and update this post!)

Marshmallows can celebrate any holiday, and make lovely cocoa stirrers if you pop a marshmallow onto a peppermint stick, and perhaps decorate it with snowflakes. Or, be extra adorable and make the marshmallow into a tiny cup of "cocoa" like they did at (Have you seen this? I LOVE this! It's like my new favorite thing.)

Cookies and Cocoa Of course, cookie decorating is always a classic holiday pastime, and is even better with hot chocolate. Enjoy a "hot cocoa bar" by providing options to decorate one's own cocoa, including sprinkles, coffee syrup flavors, whipped cream, marshmallows, and candy. Delicious! (And very Instagrammable. Can you say #delicious?) This photo is from the JorgensenBetterTogether blog.

Not the garland, sorry! Just one book.
Tiny Book Garlands Could this tiny book be any cuter? Tiny books are very easy to make, and I've done them as necklaces in the past. One of the teens at my craft class became an instant pro at making them, and after making one for each friend and family member, she made a whole garland of them for me! I have them hanging in my window, but they could easily be strung around a tree. Instructions can be found here.


Edible Christmas Trees are so easy! This photo is from, but I originally got this idea from, of all places, a Sesame Street Christmas book that I had when I was a kid. All you need to do is take regular sugar-cone ice cream cones, cover them in green frosting, and decorate. So delicious!

(P.S. The book is this one, if you're curious, but since it's from 1982, it may be hard to find. I still have my copy. It also recommends making gingerbread houses out of graham crackers.)

Kat's actual computer monitor right now
Paper Christmas Lights are fun and easy to make! All you need is paper and either ribbon (for a large garland), or embroidery floss (for smaller ones, which work perfectly decorating computer monitors and lockers). Simply cut out the shapes and glue them together to make decorative and festive- but not electric! - holiday cheer.

Macaroni snowflakes are easy, fun, and can be absolutely beautiful. has many ideas for snowflake designs. You can paint the macaroni white (or silver, or light blue) before allowing the kids to assemble them, and then they can add their own glitter (if you dare). Wagon wheels work well, as do flowers, shells, bowties, and any number of other pasta shapes. Check the link for a bunch of different shape ideas, or let the kids create their own.

All Ages

Gingerbread houses (or even just cookies) are fun to decorate, and the candy supplies provide snacks during the program with no extra effort on your part. Plus, they smell nice! There are a few different options for using gingerbread or sugar cookies in your programs. You could provide blank cookies or un-decorated houses (kits would work nicely here) and let patrons decorate their own during the program with icing and candy; graham cracker houses would be an easy, cost-effective choice as well. The image here is from, and is one of their assembled kit houses.

You could also have a contest, where patrons bring in their gingerbread creations from home and have them on display at the library. Winners could be decided by in-person ballot or on social media, thus increasing your online reach, with different prizes for different age groups. 

Ugly Sweaters And speaking of contests, you can also do a great contest with ugly sweaters - who can make the best/worst? This would be a super fun program to pull out all your odds and ends of craft materials, and see who has what it takes to win the Ugly Trophy (preferably something homemade and glittery).

As a side note: Kat somewhat objects to calling these sweaters "ugly," because she finds them to be fabulously festive and fun, but a commonly used term is a commonly used term, and so be it.

Ornaments can be fun for all ages, as well, with the difficulty varying based on age group. Clear glass ornaments can be filled with white foam beads and a snowman face drawn with paint markers; tinsel and feathers can be stuffed inside for an easier, more abstract design. There are a million ornament ideas out there; I won't bore you with mine.

Wrap Party
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that gift wrapping is an art-form, and therefore, this counts. If you have a meeting room available, set aside a day where people can come and wrap gifts, enjoy cookies and cocoa, and perhaps festive movies or music. (I did this one year and asked for donations of gift wrap and ribbons - we got TONS, and the program hardly cost us anything at all!) This was originally an adult program, but we varied it to let kids wrap gifts for friends and relatives, and had some unique wrapping options in addition to the traditional ones - paper lunch sacks that you could color or decorate with stickers, and large coloring sheets to fill in and then wrap boxes in. Of course, there were lots of ribbons and bows. 

We would love to see ideas of your holiday crafts! Please let us know here in the comments, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page.

Friday, November 24, 2017

10 Things We're Thankful For This Year

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It is time for our annual post of three things everyone on staff is thankful for this year. (You can check out our list for 2015 and 2016).

Number 1: We're so thankful for our readers! 

It is not easy keeping up with a weekly blog, but it helps us stay dedicated knowing that you are all out there and reading our posts. It makes our day to get feedback in the comments (both here and on social media) and to see you sharing our content. Thank you for making this a worthwhile venture!

Jess B., 5minlib Founder and Chief Editor

Jess blogs about social media, marketing, technology, helpful librarian tips and tricks, and Teen Librarianship. She started this blog four years ago and will forever be grateful that Allie and Kat decided to join the blogging team.

1. Podcasts

I am a huge fan of podcasts. Every week, I instantly receive new content that downloads on my phone, so no thinking required. There are really great library podcasts (which we listed here) that helps me stay current in the library/book world while I walk the dogs, clean house, go on long drives, etc.

2. Facebook Events

If your library isn't utilizing Facebook Events, you might want to try it out. It is the number one way I find fun things to do with my family. Not only do I follow my library but my mom friends also find great events that (because they are going or interested) show up in my news feed. All I have to do is mark interested and I'll get an automatic reminder a few days beforehand. It is so easy to keep up with what's going on without over-scheduling myself.

3. Canva

We've done a few posts in the past about Canva, but I cannot imagine trying to create images with any other program right now. Not only do they offer a free Canva for Work for nonprofits, but they make it so easy to make templates. It was fun coming up with new designs to announce each post, but it was too time consuming. Now, we've settled on a template that works for both Facebook and Twitter (taking into account how they crop images), we can easily get one finished in a few minutes. Which is great since my free time is limited and I'd prefer to spend more time writing the articles than the image.

Kat E., Assistant Director/Youth Services Librarian

Kat blogs about marketing, databases, programming, hot library topics, and Children's and Teen Librarianship.

1. Hoopla Digital

I love Hoopla, from both a personal and professional standpoint. For those who haven't had the pleasure of using it, Hoopla is an ebook platform, that also has graphic novels, television shows, movies, music, and audiobooks. You can download a title or stream it online, and the best part is: there's no waiting! If 30 people want to read the same book at once, that's totally fine. It's the easiest database to sell to teens - I know they're using it and loving it. The company also sends me seasonal posters, and I often see little ones crowding around the Nickelodeon themed ones, or the holiday ones, telling me the names of each character they know, which makes their parents take notice, which makes them use it. WIN! It also had a bunch of books that teens needed for Summer Reading, and I was able to steer them to use Hoopla if our copies were checked out. I use it all the time for my personal use, too.

2. Good Coworkers and Colleagues

Having good coworkers makes a huge difference in life. When you've done something awesome and need to share the joy, or when life is overwhelming and patrons are difficult, or you're just out of ideas of what to do, you have people to turn to and share ideas, vent frustrations, and get excited about your job once again. This extends beyond people in your building and encompasses people you used to work with, people you wish you worked with, and members of your roundtables (and, in my case, book clubs). I also would include people I know from Twitter, some of whom I've run into at conferences and some of whom I know only via social media, who make me feel like I have friends across the country and people who cheer on my successes, and help me laugh at my failures. I am thankful for all of you.

3. Googly Eyes

Is your craft lack-luster? Does your book display lack pizzazz? Is nobody reading your event posters? Add googly eyes, and people will take notice! And talk about cheerful! Seriously, it's amazing how a few cents of plastic can turn your day around. Googly eyes for everyone!

Allie C., Head of Teen Services

Allie posts the monthly "Ready to Go" Book Lists, finding books for the three different age groups that librarians can display or order for their collection. 

1. Google Drive and Google Forms

I love Google Drive. I can access our Staff Schedule, work documents, and more from work, home or on the go. The shared feature is great so multiple co-workers can access the documents and update them as well. I particularly like Google Forms. I can create quick and fun looking surveys for patrons and staff. When results are in, I can read them individually or see the group results. They work great for a poll on our staff holiday party and to get feedback on our summer program.

2. Constant Contact

Our library has been using Constant Contact for over a year now and it's been great. We can set up different groups of people (General, Teen, Friends, etc.) and send emails to one or more groups. The templates are great. Each month I send out a newsletter to teen patrons about new items, programs and more. Using Constant Contact has made it easier to look more professional and is pretty easy to use.

3. My Boss and Coworkers

I'm extra thankful this year for my boss and coworkers. I'm pregnant with my first child and morning sickness has been overactive. They've been so helpful and understanding as I run to the bathroom or do some work from home. Having a great boss and group of coworkers really makes working so much easier.