Ven bajo mi paraguas: Spanish storytime parachute song

A colleague observed me perform this song in storytime. She asked for the lyrics – and I thought I would share them with you all too.

Come under my umbrella is a storytime song to the tune of “The more we get together.” The idea is that the parachute is a big umbrella protecting everyone from a rain storm! It’s extra fun to shake the parachute when the storm and wind start.

I use it in Spanish storytime as Ven bajo mi paraguas. In the recorded a video from the Tigard Public Library, I’m holding a normal umbrella, but you can hear how I sing it!

Here are the lyrics in Spanish:

Ven bajo mi paraguas, paraguas, paraguas,

Ven bajo mi paraguas empieza a llover,

Con trueno y relámpago y viento y lluvia,

Ven bajo mi paraguas empieza a llover.

Continue reading “Ven bajo mi paraguas: Spanish storytime parachute song”

Library of Things in the news: March-June 2022

This month, I’m introducing a new quarterly series: Library of Things in the news. Week-to-week, I’ll review articles featuring library of things collections around the country (and the world) for interesting ideas. Then, I’ll round up what I find. Take a look, there might be something that would work for your library!

Inspiration for… logistics

Do you have to call your collection of stuff a Library of Things? Not necessarily. Draw inspiration from these names: call it a Community Toolbox (Australia), Lend and Mend (Scotland), or Share Shop (Australia)! Or for a local vibe, call it Borrow Your Town Name or Lend Your Town Name, inspired by Benthyg Monmouth (Wales).

What do you do with very expensive items? Or items that might be a bit dangerous? The Mansfield-Richland County Public Library (Ohio) uses borrowing agreements to include power tools and telescopes in library of things.

Ask your local history librarian! Library of things… aren’t new? Aviva Kane, director of the Franklin Square Public Library (New York) said that tools, everyday objects, and new technologies were all part of library rentals during the 1960s and 1970s. See if your community has a history of lending stuff.

As you’re thinking about the goals of your tool library, consider the mission of PVD Things (Providence, Rhode Island): eliminating the barrier to entry. I don’t think this works for every activity ever, but if the only barrier to trying out a new activity is one durable object, I think it’s a great candidate for the library of things. (See: musical instruments.)

Lending libraries can be independent entities. The Durango Tool Library (Colorado) is a public benefit corporation. Sharetribe (Finland) uses a steward ownership business model. When I studied makerspaces, I saw a lot of advantages for independent ones – the ability to assume more risky activities, allow member access longer hours, and support business-level production. I suspect that independent tool libraries might benefit in similar ways, with the same shared drawback – a fee to participate.

Inspiration for… promotion

Choose a niche and market your library of things with related events! Richland Library (South Carolina) has leaned into a gardening focus. They circulate gardening implements, host a seed library, and offer public plant swaps. Each of these services is an opportunity to promote the other, in what seems to be a really virtuous cycle. I could see similar tie-ins working with crafting tools/supply swaps/craft programs and board games/swaps/meet-ups.

Inspiration for… stuff to buy

Movies, music, and more. The library of things doesn’t have to be about media, but it doesn’t have to not be about media.

Memorial Hall Library (Massachusetts) circulates Rokus that come pre-loaded with subscriptions to five major streaming services. I would’ve loved to have this as an option for community members seeking shows that don’t exist on DVD.

The outdoor movie-night kit from the Wood County District Public Library (Ohio) caught my attention. It contains a projector, foldable screen, and bluetooth speaker. This is a pandemic-robust resource that supports community-building. And a movie night is the type of spontaneous fun that can happen whenever people are able to borrow it. As you plan your movie kit, keep in mind that you can also get an inflatable screen, like the Medfield Public Library (Massachusetts).

For some nostalgic media, Rock Island Public Library (Illinois) helps foster intergenerational interaction with their “remembering the 50s” memory kit, which also includes realia and toys.

Hyperlocal choices. These libraries looked to their communities for what to circulate next:

Crook County Library (Oregon) now offers “new Curriculum Crates featuring the cultural heritage of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.” Is there a local tribal nation that your library can partner with to do something similar?

Summers County Public Library (West Virginia) started circulating collapsible utility wagons to help improve pedestrian access to the grocery store, as covered by American Libraries.

Back to the Medfield Public Library (Massachusetts) to check out a ghost meter! Would this pass your collection policy? How would you balance demand, entertainment, and accuracy?

Let’s do a quick review of some more stuff:

Wichita Public Library (Kansas) circulates radon detectors.

Berks County Public Library System (Pennsylvania) offers resin jewelry molds and a car dent puller.

The Tiverton Public Library (Rhode Island) encourage participation in citizen science with project kits. The instructions for creating citizen science kits are posted online at Scistarter.

Ipswich Public Library (Massachusetts) lends out induction cooktop sets. The goal is to promote a shift to induction ranges, which are more efficient than other conventional stoves.

Anything on this list that you’d consider for your library? My hope is that by highlighting trends in library of things I can do my part to make up for the lack of professional review publications. Because, while library of things might not be new, I think their newfound popularity is here to stay.

Circulating STUFF: tactics and strategies of a children’s library of things

Photo of a small bank of library shelves featuring a few bags and containers of items for kids with a bulletin board reading Library of Things
The library of things only has a couple shelves because almost everything is checked out!

I recently provided an interview for Dr. Abigail Phillips on my experience as a children’s selector. We talked a lot about creating a library of things for kids! I hope her collection development students find my enthusiasm contagious. I think this is one of the most exciting collections to work on because it expands on a strength of public libraries – supporting recreation and providing shared resources. Here, I’m going to jump into more detail about my approach and experience with library of things.

I got my start with untraditional collections at the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL). There, I cataloged art prints and built knowledge about the operations of their library of things collection, known there as the tools collection, through helping patrons and talking to selectors.

Three years later at the Tigard Public Library, I was invited to join an innovation team and select kids materials for our new library of things. We had circulated puppets for years, but now all other sorts of materials were possibilities! Other libraries in the county had helped paved the way too. The cooperative’s claim to fame: it has the world’s largest board game collection held by a public library.

Continue reading “Circulating STUFF: tactics and strategies of a children’s library of things”

(re)launching an inclusive and interactive Spanish storytime

A woman wearing a mask standing next to a whiteboard with storytime instructions and a storytime visual schedule
Standing with the visual schedule for Spanish storytime

The books linked in this post are affiliate links with This means if you click through and make a purchase I’ll earn a commission to fund my book habit too 📚

In February, I took the leap into full-time parenting. Most of the time, I’m hanging out with my almost one-year-old, but I’m also freelancing for libraries. It’s the perfect amount of librarian-ing for me right now.

This month, I’ve been leading a Spanish storytime at the Beaverton City Library. Before 2020, this library had a thriving weekly Spanish storytime for ages 2-6. Now the library has restarted in-person storytimes and I’m presenting the Spring series while the library hires a regular staff member.

It was a long two years since I had performed in-person storytime. I’ve been absolutely thrilled to put some new ideas into practice and start building a regular group. It feels really good to see families singing, dancing, and interacting during storytime, especially after seasons of livestream and recorded storytimes without audience feedback.

Now that I have a new appreciation for the value of interaction in storytime, I’ve been intentionally designing these storytimes to be engaging and inclusive. Here are some elements I’ve found to work particularly well in my first four sessions:

Continue reading “(re)launching an inclusive and interactive Spanish storytime”

PLA Conference 2022: Exhibit Floor Finds

With the Public Library Association conference in my city, I took the opportunity to go through the exhibit hall. I found ideas for play, reader’s advisory, ebook access, and book displays:

The imaginative play station from Burgeon Group ticks all the boxes on my children’s library wishlist: durable, multilingual, and accessible. The kid-relevant themes use interchangeable panels that allow for swapping from cafe, to theater, to post-office, and more. A system could trade panels between branches – they fit in pizza boxes – to keep things fresh.

Continue reading “PLA Conference 2022: Exhibit Floor Finds”

Crafts to welcome baby: a program three ways

Publication note: I started writing this post in August 2021. The global events of this week are a reminder of yet another way that ‘normal life’ is precarious. If you need a break from the news, read on for a hopeful imagining of a library program.

As a new parent, I’ve been enjoying a baby box subscription. The items in each are timeless and developmentally appropriate. However, sometimes I open a box with chagrin: so many of the items are something I could’ve made myself if I’d had the time…

That realization spurred my interested in developing a crafting series for expecting parents. During my pregnancy, I was very isolated to reduce my risk of contracting COVID-19. I would’ve loved the opportunity to make something for baby and connect with other parents.

It wasn’t the right moment for in person programs when I returned from my leave. But I’ve started wondering if there’s a way to plan programs to be robust to multiple formats. Can a program plan include all that’s needed for in-person, live virtual, and take home? Would the additional work be worth the potential reduction in stress? Could I use this crafting idea to test that out?

My instinct is yes. So long as the core activities and goals are decided, everything else could be adjusted last minute. And by everything else I mean the complexity, instructions, and delivery format. Let’s talk through how I would adapt a ‘Crafts to welcome baby’ program featuring a DIY contrast cards craft.

Photo of laminated card featuring black and white illustration of a toy giraffe and a cut paper letter G.
I made a card featuring my baby’s favorite toy we affectionately call crinkle giraffe.
Continue reading “Crafts to welcome baby: a program three ways”

Supporting play for library families, pandemic style

I miss seeing families stay and play in the children’s section. Supporting playtime at home with these resources makes me feel a tiny bit better; it’s my way of saying to families – hey, we see you, we know playtime is important, and we can’t wait to play with you again at the library.

The Vroom app provides easy inspiration

I’ve promoted it in storytime before, but now I’m using it myself. It’s so simple! Lots of developmentally appropriate baby activities sorted by setting. And the daily tip really takes off the mental load of trying to choose something new to do. I also love the text message account sign up – way easier than fussing with my email while holding my baby.

Vroom is available in English & Spanish, by text or as an app. Some of the materials are also available in other languages.

Grab and go ideas with a book display

In January, I created a display at the library called “Inside Play.” Of course, this meant our weather ended up being sunny and fairly warm, but the display still did great! It featured lots of books of things to do from the juvenile non-fiction and the parenting collections: crafts, experiments, cooking, and drawing.

A sample display sign. Trusty Canva!

New toys & playful materials in the Library of things

Kids play with all sorts of things in the library of things, but here are some of my recent playful favorites:

I’m also waiting on some new board games in Spanish to arrive too! Very excited.

Well, it’s back to playtime with baby for me! Lots of playing peekaboo, crinkling plastic bottles, and exploring ahead!

Some Library of Things items for kids bringing me joy

An absolute joy of being back at work has been watching families explore the kids’ library of things. It feels like a children’s museum + a science museum + a toy library all in one.

Here are some of my favorite things I’ve found for the library of things collection and circulated, with the help of a creative, collaborative, and determined technical services team:

Eric Carle Magna-tile storytelling kits.

Classic Eric Carle art on Magna-tiles; I’ll tell you this has the making of a surefire hit. But then, I packaged them with the English and Spanish editions of his books + now we have a durable literacy activity that supports both English and Spanish speaking families in the community. I’ll swoon now.

Dinosaur fossil replicas.

I took this idea from Ann Arbor District Library tools collection. I found some really cool claw replicas and this woolly mammoth tooth. They’re just so cool. And so big.

Human anatomy model.

I have a remarkably terrible knowledge of human anatomy (I couldn’t figure out how to put this set back together) but this model is circulating as well as the human body books in the juvenile non-fiction collection. Which is to say, I haven’t seen it back on the shelf yet.

Everything in my next order.

Kid synthesizer, travel train set, guided meditation audio, x-rays, board games, baby toys, and so. many. other. cool. things. Expect me to report back on how these do in the collection! And if I don’t, ask me!

My #LOTWL (Library of Things Wishlist)

A Black human anatomy model and Black tooth-brushing demonstration kit for kids. The anatomy items I have all assume a white default. It would be great to find diverse skin tones from early childhood education vendors.

Durable storytelling kits reflecting diverse array of stories and authors. Eric Carle is a great start, but what about magnetic or wooden storytelling pieces for even more authors and stories. Like this Snowy Day set, but durable?

Even more board games for families by BIPOC designers. Elizabeth Hargrave’s list helped me find what’s out there, but I want even more games for kids and families from BIPOC creators.

If you know where to find anything on my wish list, please comment or use my contact page to let me know! And please share your favorite library of things items too. These collections are just so fun.

Bilingual children’s services ideas from the REFORMA conference

I attended the virtual REFORMA national conference this month. With my headphones on and baby nearby, I tuned into two days of sessions on library services to the Latinx and Spanish-speaking. I felt ready to learn and incorporate new practices, and the library workers sharing their knowledge at REFORMA provided me with plenty to consider! I came away with new ideas for storytime and programming, and I’ll highlight two here:

Luisa Leija and Sheridan Cazarez shared their work developing a bilingual storytime through a LatCrit lens. They answered the “why” of storytime and how they designed it to incorporate practices like translanguaging. I also learned that Luisa and Sheridan recorded many of their storytimes for the Long Beach Public Library YouTube channel. I’m excited to try some of their bilingual rhymes in storytime:

I also attended part of the session “Celebrating Pura Belpré, Puerto Rican Stories & the Cultural Ambassadors Program” by Elizabeth Taveras Rivera, Raquel Ortiz, Anibal Arocho, Tess Tobin, and Roxana Benavides. They showcased an animated short inspired by Pura Belpré’s first picture book. The film Cucarachita Martina’s Musical Adventure is available for streaming by librarians and educators on Centro’s website. I’m excited about sharing it as part of a children’s program. I’m thinking of combining the video with a pizza box felt-board kit to extend the storytelling fun.

Thanks to the State Library of Oregon, who provided funding for me and other library workers to attend!

Considering a career in libraries?

Hi! You might be reading this because you follow me. Or maybe you talked with me about a career in libraries! These are my go-to recommendations for learning more.

Get a sense of the profession.

Join your state’s library list-serve
This will get you on the email list for library staff. It might be hosted by your state’s library association or by the state library. Oregon has a few list-servs. I receive Libs-Or and Kids-lib. Make sure to set up a filter to folder to not overwhelm your inbox. It’s a great way to see what issues are current in the field.

Learn about the day to day work in a variety of positions and libraries.
The Life of Librarians instagram is a takeover account. Each week features a different library worker.

Read through library job descriptions.
In Oregon, it’s easy to follow the State Library’s job board. INALJ has coverage more broadly.

BIPOC? Check out We Here.
We Here is a space for BIPOC library workers.

Scrutinize masters programs.

Check out the employment numbers. Library Journal’s annual employment survey sums up what new grads make and which grad schools lead to employment. Here’s 2020’s for example. It might be paywalled, so try your institutional affiliation if you have one or ask a nearby public library (they might have access even if they don’t circulate a print copy.)

Read through grad program reviews on Hacklibschool.
Get a current student’s opinion and advice from Hacklibschool’s Hack Your Program series.

I’ve enjoyed talking to prospective library workers in person and virtually over the past few years. These are a few of the resources I often recommend as a follow up.