Saturday, November 10, 2018

Library Services for Veterans

Veteran's Day is this weekend, and we would like to take this opportunity to note that, while we will all be making a point to thank our veterans for a day, there are services that libraries can provide that will be helping veterans and military families all year long.

Veterans Connect @ the Library

The State of California has created a very helpful website for librarians as part of their Veterans Connect @ the Library initiative, which has links to resources, programming ideas, training for staff and volunteers, and statistics about veterans services. They have compiled a "digital duffel bag" of programming ideas, arranged by degree of difficulty for library staff. This ranges from writing letters to veterans and servicemen and making paracord bracelets, to having a full-on spa day for female veterans.

They also have links to many other associations that may inspire or possibly host a program, including War Comes Home, a California-specific initiative to help veterans reconnect with their communities after military service, and WarInk, an organization that tells veterans' stories through their tattoos.

Following the Examples of Others

The American Library association published an article in 2016 about how "Libraries Help and Honor our Veterans" across the country, which includes some wonderful programming ideas that have been hosted at libraries across the country. The Portland [Maine] Public Library has hosted monthly legal advice clinics for veterans, while the library at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa has two classes per semester about making the transition from being in the military to returning to education.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has a guide for librarians, archivists, and museum employees about providing services to veterans, as well, which can be found on their website.

What Else Can We Do?

In addition to any of the above programs, libraries can always be sure to have information on hand, or be able to easily find it. We can provide:

  • Help with forms - The Veteran's Administration provides help with housing, insurance, and many other things, and they all need complicated forms to be filled out.
  • Information about support groups - Many veterans suffer from PTSD and other mental health problems, alcoholism, and depression. The suicide rate among veterans is tragic; having a support system may make all the difference in the world.
  • Information from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ( - this government organization offers a crisis line, health services, benefits for veterans, employment services, education and training, and pensions for many veterans
  • Information about memorial services and how to have a loved one interred at a military cemetery, if that is their wish
We can also help by collecting American flags for disposal. Because they are symbols of the country, one is not supposed to just throw away an old flag. Instead, organizations such as the American Legion, the Boy and Girl Scouts of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars will properly retire and dispose of flags (which is usually by burning, burying, shredding, or recycling). Libraries can have collection bins for people to donate flags which are no longer able to be used, which can then be picked up by or sent to one of the above organizations for proper disposal.

In some libraries, fines for military families are automatically waived when the materials are returned. 

Many veterans have written books. Even if they are self-published, hosting local veterans to do an author talk can help them share their stories.

Many towns have Veterans of Foreign Wars halls, or some kind of Veterans Services office. You can do some outreach and see if they are interested in hosting a library program, or having a staff member come to the library to present a program on veterans' services.

If you have any other ideas for services for current and former military members, please let us know here in the comments, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page. We'd love to hear from you!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Holiday Programming Ideas

The holidays are fast approaching, and while this time of year can be stressful for many people, what with presents and guests, planning feasts and exercising them off afterwards, your programming doesn't have to be one of those stressful things.

We have compiled some of our favorite holiday programming ideas for all ages for you to peruse, with the hopes that something on our list may fit an opening you have. (We decided to post this very early this year, so you can sneak some into your December calendar.)

DIY Gifts

December is when the bulk of the world does its gift giving, and while everyone loves the idea of handmade presents, not everyone has the time to plan and execute the perfect item for each person on their list. By having a gift-making program, you're not only helping your own statistics, but also helping spread good cheer and decreasing holiday stress. 

The age of your patrons may dictate what you're making, but easy doesn't have to mean tin can pencil cups (unless you're into that sort of thing). Some ideas for children include:
Photo from Organized Christmas
  • Hand warmers, made with dried rice inside a flannel or felt pouch (when I did this craft, I had felt pouches pre-sewn on 3 edges, with a friendly librarian on hand to sew the fourth side after they were decorated and filled). Be sure to include instructions! All you have to do is put the hand-warmers in the microwave for 30 seconds, and they will stay warm for 15-20 minutes.
  • Coffee/cocoa stirrers, made with chocolate and crushed candy, like our friends at
  • Bracelets or necklaces
  • Decorate trinket boxes (paint, stickers, and washi tape all make great decorating media, and you can get blank boxes at most craft supply stores)

Photo from Adventures In All Things Food
In addition to the above, teens can also create:
  • Homemade bath bombs, sugar scrubs, or other spa items
  • Homemade lip gloss from Kool-Aid (like the ones at Adventures In All Things Food)
  • Decorated picture frames 
  • Recipe-in-a-jar kits (cookies, soup, or cocoa!)
  • Decorated mugs (permanent markers work very well to dress up dollar store mugs!)
  • Personalized decorated notebooks

Related imageIn addition to the above ideas (some of which are amazing for all ages), your adult patrons may also enjoy making:
  • Homemade candles or soaps
  • Etched glasses for drinking or glass jars for holding cookies, dog treats, tea bags, etc.
  • Stovetop potpourri (we love these ideas from!) 
  • Cloth bookmarks (have you seen the amazing elastic ones with the buttons?! We love the ones on ).

Holiday Crafts

Of course, any of the above gift ideas can also be wonderful craft programs, but if your goal is pure fun and decoration, there are probably ten million ideas out there, including several on last year's Holiday Crafts post. You can always make...
  • Ornaments - the sky is the limit here
  • Wreaths - out of ribbon, cloth, paper, foam, pine cones, or anything at all!
  • Cards - hand-making cards can be as easy as crayons and paper, or as detailed as embossing powder, lace, and sequins. 
  • Folded paper trees - Paper crafts are a hobby of Kat's, and she wrote a whole blog article about how to make these awesome folded paper trees, which you can read here.
  • Gingerbread houses or cookie decorating

Gift Wrap Party

Just because the decorations are up and the gifts have been purchased doesn't mean the work is over. Now you have to wrap them! What better way than to have a Wrap Party? This can be so easy, and yet so much fun. In the past, I have set aside the meeting room for a whole day, set up tables and chairs, and put holiday movies on to play while people got into a holly jolly mood while wrapping their gifts.  All wrapping paper was donated - we kindly asked patrons for spare rolls, and were inundated with more paper, ribbons, bows, and tags than we could use in one year. 

You can set things up so that a children's wrapping station (or gift bag decorating) and an age-appropriate holiday movie plays in the morning, while teens and adults enjoy movies and wrapping later in the day, or just play classics that everyone enjoys. Maybe have a cocoa and cookies station, to keep the patrons fortified.

This can also go hand-in-hand with...

De-Stress Night

Holiday stress is no joke, particularly for your patrons who put it upon themselves to make everything perfect and magical for their whole families. Why not give them a treat with a stress relieving evening? (This would also work well if you're open on Black Friday!) You could provide:
  • A Hot Cocoa and Cookie Station, to enjoy the flavors of the season
  • Therapy dogs, which are proven to reduce blood pressure
  • Perhaps you could put a crackling fire or yule log video on a tv screen
  • If it's in the budget, you could have a masseuse come in to give quick back or hand massages
  • Coloring pages or other easy crafts

In Conclusion

Whatever you celebrate, remember that it's supposed to be fun - for you and for your patrons. We hope these ideas have put you into a holly jolly holiday spirit. If you have other ideas, please post them here or on our Facebook page, or mention us on Twitter.

Friday, October 26, 2018

What to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

When Halloween has come and gone, many of us are left with buckets of candy. Whether we've had trick-or-treaters at the library or some other festive celebration, the holiday always seems to end with a trail of empty wrappers in its wake. What to do? Well!

Donate It

Operation Gratitude collects Halloween candy and donates it to military members, usually a handful at a time in care packages. Many businesses, families, and dentists' offices (ha!) collect candy and send it in. Your library can sign up and be a collection site, too! Similarly, Soldiers Angels has a "Treats for Troops" program that is annually sponsored.

Some locations of Ronald McDonald House Charities will take candy for children who are too sick to go out on Halloween.

Experiment With It

I absolutely love science experiments with candy. For one, it's fun. For two, it's inexpensive. And there are so many things you can do with it! Melt it, drop it in water and see if it dissolves, perform tests to see if it reacts to different substances (sour candy fizzes in baking soda water). And the best part - it's not rotting your teeth and giving you stomach aches!

We really love the book Candy Experiments by Loralee Leavitt, which has some amazing ideas!

Craft With It

Of course, since this is a Kat article, you're going to get some crafts. You can make...

Candy mosaics
Image result for candy mosaics kids
Photo from
Resin necklaces, coasters, and paperweights
Photo from

Decorate a festive wreath
Candy Wreath for Birthdays
Photo from
Save it for the holidays and make adorable candy trains and sleighs
Image result for sleigh made from candy bars
Photo from
Decorate gingerbread houses or edible trees out of ice cream cones and frosting
Image result for edible sugar cone tree
Photo from
Make friendship bracelets out of Airheads (paint with Mod Podge to make them last!)
Airheads Candy Jewlery
Photo from
Hard candy can be melted into shapes to make bowls, platters, or Christmas ornaments
Photo from
Make candy bouquets
Photo from

Let Us Know

What else do you do with your leftover candy? Let us know here in the comments, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Ready to Go Book Display: #metoo

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. This month we are featuring titles relating to the #metoo movement.

Recommendations for Adults:

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali (Nov 2018)

Drawing on her own experience, her research, her work with hundreds of survivors as the head of a rape crisis center in Boston, and three decades of grappling with the issue as a feminist intellectual and writer, Abdulali examines the contemporary discourse about rape and rape culture, questioning our assumptions and asking how we want to raise the next generation.

Not That Bad: Dispatched from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay (May 2018)

Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are "routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied" for speaking out.

Setting out to uncover the story of her attacker, Connors embarked on a journey to find out who he was, where he came from, who his friends were and what his life was like. What she discovers stretches beyond one violent man's story and back into her own, interweaving a narrative about strength and survival with one about rape culture and violence in America.

Becoming Unbecoming by Una (Oct 2016)

Through image and text Una asks what it means to grow up in a society in which male violence goes unpunished and unquestioned. With the benefit of hindsight Una explores her experiences, wonders if anything has really changed and challenges a global culture that demands that the victims of violence pay its cost.

In Missoula, Krakauer chronicles the searing experiences of several women in Missoula - the nights when they were raped; their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the way they were treated by the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys; the public vilification and private anguish; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them.

#MeToo: Women Speak Out Against Sexual Assault edited by the New York Times Company Editorial Staff (Aug 2018)

It started with an article and grew into a movement. #MeToo was born in the wake of a Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times investigative report on producer Harvey Weinstein's habitual sexual harassment of young women. The hashtag empowered women around the world to share their stories of sexual assault and abuse.

Kate Harding combines research with an in-your-face voice to make the case that twenty-first century America supports rapists more effectively than victims. Harding offers suggestions for how we, as a society, can take sexual violence much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.

Each year in the United States nearly three hundred thousand people are sexually assaulted. New practices by police, prosecutors, nurses, and rape crisis professionals are resulting in more humane and compassionate treatment of victims, and more aggressive pursuit and prosecution of persecutors. Based on seven years of in-depth interviews in Cleveland, Detriot, Memphis, and other cities, Johnston presents the people behind these new approaches and provides a template for organizations and communities to follow.

Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard (Jan 2018)

Although they have different backgrounds, Midwesterner Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey, the daughter of a Senator, are close college friends, but the relationship becomes complicated when Megan is the victim of sexual assault at Lauren's summer vacation home.

Recommendations for Teens:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Oct 1999)

A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda's freshman year in high school.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston (Mar 2016)

At cheerleading camp, Hermione is drugged and raped, but she is not sure whether it was one of her teammates or a boy on another team - and in the aftermath she has to deal with the rumors in her small Ontario town, the often awkward reaction of her classmates, the rejection of her boyfriend, the discovery that her best friend, Polly, is gay, and above all the need to remember what happened so that the guilty boy can be brought to justice.

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill (Apr 2016)

Asking For It is a powerful story about the devastating effects of rape and public shaming, told through the awful experience of a young woman whose life is changed forever by an act of violence.

This book is a collection of poems, essays, letters, vignettes and interviews written by a diverse group of impressive adults who survived sexual violence as children. Structured to incorporate creative writing to engage the reader and informative interviews to dig for context, this anthology is a valuable resource of hope, grit and honest conversation that will help teens tackle the topic of sexual violence, upend stigma and maintain hope for a better future.

The numbers are staggering: nearly one in five girls ages fourteen to seventeen have been the victim of a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. This is the true story of one of those girls.

This book offers healing, real-life stories from survivors and powerful, evidence-based tools to help you reclaim your life after sexual abuse or trauma.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers (Apr 2015)

After being assaulted by the sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, Romy Grey was branded a liar and bullied by former friends, finding refuge only in the diner where she works outside of town, but when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing and news of him assaulting another girl gets out, Romy must decide whether to speak out again or risk having more girls hurt.

Deep Dark Blue: A Memoir of Survival by Polo Tate (May 2018)

A YA memoir of sexual abuse in the Air Force academy, and the author's survival and healing.

What Does Consent Really Mean? by Pete Wallis and Thalia Wallis (Nov 2017)

Following the sexual assault of a classmate, a group of teenage girls find themselves discussing the term consent, what it actually means for them in their current relationships, and how they act and make decisions with peer influence. Joined by their male friends who offer another perspective, this rich graphic novel uncovers the need for more informed conversations with young people around consent and healthy relationships.

Recommendations for Kids:

My Body! What I Say Goes! by Jayneen Sanders (Jun 2017)

Through age-appropriate illustrations and engaging text this book will teach children crucial and empowering skills in personal body safety.

C  is for Consent by Eleanor Morrison (May 2018)

Finn navigates a gathering of relatives and friends. His parents encourage him to make his own choices about whether to receive and offer physical affection.

That Uh-Oh Feeling: A Story about Touch by Kathryn Cole (Apr 2016)

Claire is feeling uncomfortable about the attention her soccer coach is giving her. Too much flattery and too much contact give her that uh-oh feeling. By seeking help from others and talking about her feelings, the situation is resolved happily.

A children's picture book about an empowered little girl who has a very strong and clear voice in all issues, especially those relating to her body and personal boundaries.

We All Have Value: A Story of Respect by Mari Schuh (Jan 2018)

A young girl tries to help her friend learn that everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Spookiest Fictional Libraries

The spookiest kinds of ghost stories are the ones that hit close to home. With this in mind, Kat has curated a list of some of the spookiest fictional libraries in pop culture. Did your favorite one make the cut?

The New York City Public Library, Ghostbusters

library ghostThe Ghostbusters get their first official call to capture The Grey Lady, the ghost of a librarian named Eleanor Twitty. At first, she's fairly harmless, stacking books in odd places (which doesn't make for a very good organizational system, if you ask me), but she gets much scarier. The moral of the story is: don't interrupt a librarian when they are trying to read.

Bonus: The amazing recreation of the Ghostbusters catching ghosts at the library by Improv is Everywhere, which you can see here.

The Hogwarts Library, Harry Potter

Related imageI mean, of course the library at Hogwarts is haunted - the school itself has several ghosts in addition to Peeves the Poltergeist - but it's more than that. In addition to the absolute terror that is Madame Pince (seriously, J.K. Rowling actually apologized for making her a mean and positively crummy librarian), the Hogwarts Library is home to the Restricted Section, home of books that will literally howl at you when you open them. If The Monster Book of Monsters is considered safe enough to be required reading, we can only imagine what hides on those dusty shelves!

Sunnydale High School Library, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Related imageAs if vampire hunting wasn't enough work, poor Buffy had to also go to high school. The library there held some useful titles for monster hunting, but it also happened to be located directly over the Hellmouth, where various beasties could appear right through the floor at any time. No peaceful studying in this library! Luckily, it also has a ton of weapons, just in case.

Clayr's Library, Lirael

In Lirael by Garth Nix, the title character finds herself working in an exceptionally dangerous library. The library houses not only books, but also prophecies, artifacts, weapons, and armor. It also acts as a prison to at least one elemental demon, and every employee gets a magic-infused dagger as part of their uniform, to be carried around like I carry the keys to the craft cabinets.

The Library, Doctor Who

Sure, the planet-sized library that appeared in Doctor Who for "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" seemed lovely - SO many books! - but it was also taken over by shadow-like creatures called the Vashta Nerada that could strip a person down to their bones. Oh, and there's a catalog of human souls.

Unseen University Library, Discworld

The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett is home to Unseen University, which itself is home to the Unseen University Library, in which the librarian just so happens to have turned into an orangutan. The shelves are quite literally endless, and even those who have been there many times would find it a good idea to leave some string to help them get back out again. Some expeditions into the stacks have gotten so lost that they had to eat their own shoes to survive.

Night Vale Public Library, Welcome to Night Vale

Image result for night vale libraryIn the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, the library is an extremely unsafe place to be. All the librarians are malevolent men named Randall, and there are no entrances to the library - one simply finds oneself wandering the shelves until the awaken in a sweaty panic, back in their own beds.
Back in 1993, "an unchecked librarian population resulted in the loss of many innocent and screaming book lovers," and patrons are warned to stay away, making themselves as big as possible if they happen to catch a librarian's eye. 

The Castle Library, Beauty and the Beast

Related imageIt's beautiful and full of books and has a grand, sweeping staircase! It also is in the castle where people have been turned into candlesticks and tea pots. Who knows what you might encounter, that might be looking right back at you?!

Central High School Library, Evil Librarian series

In the Evil Librarian series by Michelle Knudsen, the new librarian at Central High School is young, and cute, and actually also a demon, who just may be sucking the life force out of the entire student body.

Monsters University Library, Monsters University

Monsters U Librarian2
Does a library staffed by scary monsters count as spooky, when the entire world in which the story takes place is also populated by scary monsters? I have decided that, when the other monsters are intimidated by the librarian, she is, in fact, spooky. (Also, she throws rowdy patrons out the window.)

Did your favorite make the list?

Let us know here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Library Halloween: Costumes for the Last-Minute Librarian

Hello everyone,

My baby is sick, I'm sick, my daughter has the day off from school... Today's article just isn't coming together. So, I hope you don't mind, but I decided to repost a popular and timely article from a few years ago -- Halloween Costumes for the Last Minute Librarian.

If you have a favorite costume that you'd like to share, please message us with a picture (either in the comments below or email us at Jess(at)! We'd be happy to highlight you in next year's post! -Jess

Halloween, how do we love thee? Of course, when you're programming, weeding, ordering, organizing, doing statistics, and everything else in our daily lives, holidays can sneak up on you. In the interest of making this holiday fun without adding any extra stress, we present a variety of inexpensive, book-themed costume choices for the Last Minute Librarian, some of which cost no money at all!

Zombie Librarian

It's our very own Kat!
Zombie Librarian (or, a zombie version of whatever random costume you have) - you need some face paint, fake blood, and talcum powder. Wear your already-ripped-and-stained librarian clothes, add some dirt and/or fake blood, and put talcum powder in your hair. There's a quick makeup tutorial here, which Kat wrote while working at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell, MA. (Note: Be careful wearing this one in the kids' room! It can be a little scary for little guys.)

Cat in the Hat

via thedomesticdiva
Cat in the Hat - you need a black sweatsuit, a floppy hat, and a long piece of felt that you can tie into a bow tie. Add white or blue gloves and a little facepaint for a black nose and whiskers, and you're all set! 

Where's Waldo?

via Buzzfeed
Where's Waldo - Waldo is easy as pie! You'll need a red and white striped shirt and hat, blue jeans, and glasses. Adding his accessories (binoculars, a cane, a camera, etc.) can be fun, and you might already have them! Waldo's girlfriend Wenda is similar - instead of jeans, you'll want a jean skirt and red and white striped stockings.

Junie B. Jones

This one is from a school's Read Across America day!
Junie B. Jones - Much like Fancy Nancy, all you have to do here is wear a lot of loud patterns and colors at once, and tie a big, floppy bow on your head. Glasses are helpful but not mandatory. Sassy attitude is mandatory.

Fancy Nancy

It's Kat, again.
Fancy Nancy - This one is super easy. Put all your fancy clothes on at once! Bonus points for feather boas, fancy sunglasses, and any thing with lace, sparkles, or rhinestones.

Ms. Frizzle

via Twigsofthebranches
Ms. Frizzle - Everyone's favorite teacher. This one is especially fun because you can pick any topic there is, and Ms. Frizzle has probably taught about it. Cut out some felt shapes and stick them to an existing dress (and shoes), and put some in your hair. Special kudos for adding Liz the lizard.

If You Give A Mouse a Cookie

via ECYD
If You Give a Mouse A Cookie - overalls, a gray shirt, and a big, paper cookie! Mouse ears (which appear homemade here, and look fabulous) and a pink mouse nose with black whiskers complete the look.

I Spy

via tpcraft
I Spy - What a fun idea! Stick some stuff to the front of your shirt, and a list of what's there to the back! I love that the boy in the photos also has a book and a magnifying glass.


via eastcoastmommy
Olaf - Because everyone has been Elsa by now.

The Paper Bag Princess

via scissorsandthread
The Paper Bag Princess - You could make the dress out of a large paper lawn bag, or a roll of brown butcher paper. The crown would be the same, but painted gold. (Pro tip: If wearing this to work, you'll want to wear something underneath it.)

Lady MacBeth

Lady MacBeth - for the adult librarians out there! Put on a long nightgown, mess up your hair, carry a candle, and have (fake) blood on your hands, face, and nightgown. (If you're feeling adventurous, you could have a dagger, too.) If anyone bothers you, you're allowed to tell them, "Out! Out!"

Superman/Clark Kent

via - this was a ComicCon cosplay
Superman/Clark Kent - for the gentlemen out there. Wear your usual button-down white shirt, but have a Superman t-shirt underneath. You can either show it to people when they ask where your costume is, or keep it partially unbuttoned with your tie thrown over your shoulder to show that you're transitioning between the two. (Glasses a must for Clark Kent.)

Of course, we'd love to see what other ideas you come up with! Please let us know (and show us pictures!) in the comments here, on our Facebook page or on Twitter.