Thursday, November 28, 2019

Annual Gratitude Article

“Thanksgiving just gets me all warm and tingly and all kinds of wonderful inside.” - Willard Scott

Every year at this time, we here at 5 Minute Librarian like to take a moment to express our gratitude for the wonderful things we have in our lives, both personal and professional. You can read our past years' gratitude here: 201520162017, and 2018

As always, we are extremely grateful to our readers, without whom we wouldn't have been able to keep writing for so long. It warms our hearts to see people commenting and sharing our articles, so please keep it up! 

Kat L., Children's Librarian:

  1. I am extremely grateful that I have a job that I love. My Director is fabulous and encourages me to think outside the box and push my creativity. My coworkers are awesome, I get to do something different every day, and it's generally a wonderful place to work. Having worked in some not-so-wonderful places, I am very aware of what I have here.
  2. At-A-Glance calendars, colored pens, and fun office supplies. I love being able to flip to a month in my calendar and quickly see what I am doing (green), what my assistant is doing (purple), what days our reading dogs are coming in (blue) and when I have meetings (orange). It probably sounds silly, but it makes things so easy when they're color-coded! I also have stickers all over my calendar, and fun office supplies abound. Sure, everyone has post-it flags, but how many of you have kitten mermaid ones?
  3. Do you know how many flavors of tea there are in the world? LOTS. I am on a mission to drink them all. Tea not only has health and stress-relieving benefits, but it's delicious and has zero calories. 

Allison C., Teen Librarian

  1. I'm super grateful for I was able to use our Friends' 501(c)(3) credentials, to get a free upgraded account for our Library. It's super easy to create beautiful social media posts, Facebook headers, graphics for our event calendar and even library signage. You can also have a team so that other library staff can collaborate on designs. And since it's all saved online, I can easily access it from any computer in the library.
  2. Another site I'm loving is It's great for scheduling social media posts in advance. The free version allows you to schedule 30 posts in advance (think 30 Facebook posts or 10 posts to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). Our library upgraded to the paid version so that I have unlimited scheduled posts. It really comes in handy for the summer when I can schedule out weeks or months worth of posts before I'm too busy to post daily.
  3. Work-wise, the biggest thing I'm grateful for this year is that my library has finally broken ground for our expansion and renovation project. Our library is going from a place with no program space to having a whole teen space and teen program room (among lots of other great additions). I can't wait until our teens can start enjoying it!


  1. I am so excited about e-passes! Our library offers one for the local science museum and I was able to request it online (on a Sunday night), it was emailed to me, and I immediately used it Monday morning, before my library even opened. It could not have been any easier! More of these, please!
  2.  I love public library and school collaborations. Our school is in the process of changing their curriculum from reading one book of anthologies to having a variety of books of different age levels. Not only are our teachers getting teacher cards to help add more books for kids to use, but the library director also offered all of the leftover books from the book sale for the teachers to use. It is a win-win for everyone.
  3. Lastly, I am super grateful for my colleagues, Kat and Allison. This has been a rough year for me and they have stepped up and kept 5minlib going. There is no 5minlib without you two. Thank you for all of your hard work, dedication, and passion. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Kid Kits for Big Topics

The act of browsing is a wonderful thing. You can take your time to pick the entirely right story that will work with your mood. This is particularly wonderful in the children's room - giving a child their choice of book will help ensure that they enjoy the reading of it, because it is their book. Of course, there are times when browsing just isn't possible, and there are times when you need a book on a specific topic. Enter the Kid Kit - these kits are curated collections of titles on various topics, from potty training to the death of a pet, which are ready when you need them.

At my library, we have a large selection of kits, which are shelved all together. The topics can be divided, for the most part, into three major categories. (Why the division? For collection development purposes, I find it easier to mentally separate them so that they aren't overwhelming.) I'm going to list our topics here, to show you the broad range of things you can make kits for, but please don't take this as a call to make every single one of these. It's just to give you ideas.

Major Life Events

If you're a parent and you're already dealing with a major life event, you want to be able to grab a few books to explain it to your children and hit the road. Of course, some of these events (death of a loved one, for example) are more major than others (going to the dentist), but they are all new experiences for children. We have book kits about:
  • Adoption
  • Aging (as in, dementia)
  • Dealing with Cancer
  • Death of a Loved One
  • Death of a Pet
  • Divorce
  • Going to the Hospital
  • Going on a Plane
  • Going to the Dentist
  • Going to the Doctor
  • Military Families
  • Moving
  • New Sibling
  • Potty Training (boys)
  • Potty Training (girls)
  • Starting Kindergarten
  • Starting School
  • Tooth Fairy

Help With Behavior

Behavioral problems aren't because a child is bad, of course. They may just need some help and reminders about things (spoiler: we don't bite our friends), or some help with confidence. Our topics include:
  • Afraid of Dogs
  • Bad Behavior
  • Being Patient
  • Feeling Afraid
  • Manners
  • Needing Attention
  • Self Esteem and Confidence

Learning New Things

It's always wonderful to learn a new skill! Whether it's tying your shoes or using the potty, or reading folktales from around the world, we have you covered. Our kits are: 
  • Adding and Subtracting
  • Colors and Shapes
  • Cinderella Stories
  • Fire Safety
  • Folktales from Around the World
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Four Seasons
  • Multiplying and Dividing
  • On the Farm
  • Potty Training (boys)
  • Potty Training (girls)
  • Safety
  • Tying Your Shoes
  • Weather


Of course, there are a few kits that don't strictly fall into these guidelines, but are important enough to have kits about. 
  • All Kinds of Families (LGBTQIA+, single parents, etc.)
  • Autism (both for children who have it, or who know someone that does)
  • Differing Abilities (includes books about Deafness, blindness, Down Syndrome, etc.)
  • Extended Families (cousins, grandparents, etc.)
  • Gender Roles and Equality (including transgender children)

What They Look Like

Of course, your kits may look absolutely different from mine, but at my library, we have them in blue canvas bags, which hang next to the green canvas bags (books with CDs). Each bag has a barcode and a clear label of the topic, as well as a label listing the contents of the kit (top right).

There are actually two stickers that have the call number - in this case, J KIT GOING TO THE DOCTOR. We have one in the top left corner, and another on the left edge, so when you are flipping through the hanging kits, it's easily visible.

We also have a label that clearly and cheerfully says "KID KITS," so you know exactly what you're getting. 

The sticker on the bottom right has the library's name and address. 

Each book in the kit also has a label on it, clearly marking this book as part of the kit, so if it is returned separate from the rest of it, we know right away.

This kit has 5 books in it, which is about average. Some kits have more, and some have less, depending on the topic. They were recently updated to include newer titles, and some have familiar characters (in this case, Pete the Kitty and Daniel Tiger). 

What Do You Think?

We know every library has their own way of doing things, and we hope you share your tips and tricks with us here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter

Friday, November 1, 2019

In Defense Of Decorating For Every Holiday

Perhaps it's just me, but between taking down the bats and pumpkins and putting up the turkeys and other pumpkins, I sometimes take a moment to consider: do I really have to decorate for EVERY holiday? But then I get back to work and tack up another cornucopia because: yes. You might not find it necessary, but I think it's worthwhile to decorate for everything. I've compiled a list of my thoughts on the subject, which I will share with you today. This does not only include wall art and decorations, but also displays and bulletin boards. (Please note that, while I believe this about the entire library, I am - to be fair - a children's librarian.)

We Want To Be Relevant

When many people think of libraries, they think of buildings full of dusty, old books. Of course, these people are incorrect, but what better way to prove that we are currently relevant than to be as current as this very week? Yes, we care about being up to date! Take away that Halloween candy, it's old news - it's Thanksgiving season now!

We Want To Be Friendly

It's hard to be angry when you're surrounded by happy things, and creating an environment full of cheer is helpful for those who tend to lean toward the grumpy side of life. Of course, some people will be stressed and unhappy no matter what you do, but for the majority of people, a cheerful, welcoming environment helps relieve some of life's tensions. According to scientists, "the nostalgia associated with festive decorations reminds people of when they were children with no responsibilities."

This same study mentions that people who decorate the outside of their homes for the holidays are seen as "more friendly and cohesive" than their neighbors who do not decorate. Our goal as librarians is to create an environment that people want to visit and use, and if sticking a pilgrim hat on the turtle tank will make that happen, I am all for it. As I tell patrons who are overly worried about a 25 cent fine, "this is a happy place."

We Want To Be Inclusive

Halloween is the most popular holiday in October in my part of the world, but it's not the only one. I had up a small display of books about Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and every single book was checked out! Several parents were surprised we had any books about Diwali at all, and more than one family expressed gratitude that their holiday was represented.

Of course, it's impossible to celebrate every single holiday, but we can do our best to make sure that all of the most important celebrations are noted. The choice is yours: would you rather celebrate absolutely everything, or nothing at all?

We Want To Be The Third Place 

American sociologist Ray Oldenberg wrote in his book The Great Good Place that people in productive societies need to have a third place - not work, not home - "where you relax in public, where you encounter familiar faces and make new acquaintances." Whether this is the neighborhood coffee shop, the barber shop, the local park -- or, perhaps, the library! -- this place can be integral for people's mental well-being. The idea is that people have no obligation to be here, but they want to be. What better way than to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere?

What Do You Think?

Do you agree with Kat? Let us know here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.