"[History is] a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man." -Percy Bysshe Shelley

Thursday, September 23, 2010

the library: child friendly

Marie Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Le Brun, self-portrait with her daughter

Pauline reminds us that the library has been open to children from the start: "We have a children's room," she informs Dr. Singer.

"A whole room for them!" Dr. Singer exlaims.

"Yes," Pauline boasts, "and we have board books for little tiny babies. We've even issued prenatal cards."

"Oh, no!"

"Someone [asked] how old do you have to be to get a card? We had library books given along with shower gifts--"

"What a neat idea!"

"--so somebody asked if we issue prenatal cards."

"Was that your idea?"

Pauline answers modestly, "Somebody asked if they could do it, and I said I don't know any reason why they can't."

She goes on to say,

A lot of libraries don't allow children to take anything out ... until they can sign their own names. I think that it's important for toddlers to know that they have their own cards. They are very proud of the fact that they have a library card. I think they should be able to take a card whether or not they can write their own names. So our form is made out in such a way that the parents must sign the responsibility for teh books because those toddler's can't be responsible. The parents have to be responsible.

Dr. Singer asks what portion of library books are devoted to juveniles versus adults.

Oh, about three quarters would be adult. It's still pretty much that way. We have a children's room and we put stuff in there from toddler up through fifth and sixth grade. It's pretty hard to know exactly where the shift is. Then from there on we have a section in the main library called Young Adult. ... It depends on their reading level. Mostly fifth and sixth graders would still find material in the children's room or they might find it in the young adult section and go back and forth. The younger children are of course all in the children's room. We have mats on the floor, a little table and little chairs donated by Pete and Sue Rasey. We have art work in there which was done by Maren Moll and donated to the library.

 And the most important thing that the library has given back to the community over the years?

Unhesitating, Pauline says, "The availability of material for children, because the library habit is formed when children are small. If they don't ever go to the public library as little kids they're not going to go to the library as older people. We've had story hours ever since we started. We have had anywhere from fifteen to forty and forty-five kids at story hour."

She goes on to describe story hour--
We run it during the summer time when we have a lot of visitors [in the northern Wisconsin area]. They look for a place to come with their children. We usuall do a story and some kind of craft. .... When I was still the librarian, we had some of the teachers and one parent who took a class at Nicolet College on storytelling, who took over the storytelling. I simply did not have time setting up everything to take over storytelling. Storytelling is time consuming because it takes preparation. We were very fortunate in having one of the teachers and then later a parent. Now that we have a new librarian [Janelle Kohl], she does the story hour.

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