Thursday, February 14, 2008


Hello. Adaena Tray here from Green Tree Public Library. I've been invited to be this month's guest blogger! So, without further ado...

I confess. Every three months or so, I make a habit out of visiting every Allegheny County library's Eventkeeper. For several hours, I scroll through children's programs, beginning at Andrew Bayne and ending at Wilkinsburg. I jot down some of the best and then, like any librarian who subscribes to the no-need-to-reinvent-the-wheel philosophy, I copy their brilliant ideas. I like to call this practice program-jacking.

For instance, the successful Stuffed Animal Sleepover we had at the library last spring wasn't my brainchild. I "borrowed" the concept from Avalon Library, knowing that it would go over well in our own community. Because of their genius, we were able to offer an overnight program for the kiddos that didn't involve night terrors, homesickness, pillow fights or other sleepover horrors that librarians fear. When the youngsters arrived the next morning for a brunch, they saw that their favorite plushes had passed out after a hard night of partying.

Most recently, we held a storytime with Frownie from King's restaurant. Seeing that scowling brownie doing movements to "If You're Happy and You Know It" made for lots of ironic giggles. Now, would I have thought to myself, "Hmm...I think what our library needs is a emotionally disturbed chocolate mascot?" Of course not. My inspiration came from South Fayette Library. When I learned that they host Frownie every month, I decided that we had to get in on the action too. A few weeks later, this guy came knocking at our door.

So, next time you're picking your brain for programming ideas, consider program-jacking. It works every time!


Julianna said...

I am guilty of "program jacking" as well and thank all of the librarians out there for their great ideas. There are tons of websites out there with ideas for librarians as well! The stuffed animal sleepover is hilarious! The picture is priceless. Thanks Adaena!
Julie Helt

Ing said...

It is so true-- there are SO many wonderful programming ideas out there, right here in our county!
Is there a way we could do a page on the wiki or blog were we could continuously share our ideas around? Just a thought!

Ing Kalchthaler
Bethel Park

suzi w. said...

ooh, I'm so glad to hear every time someone has a Stuffed Animal Sleepover--it was an idea I brought back from PLA (not PALA) two years ago.

Program-jacking is a great idea.

suzi w. said...

I suppose I should have signed it

Suzi Wackerbarth
Northland PL

Lynn said...

I love the idea of using King's Restaurant "Frownine". Katie, one of our awesome volunteers, would truly love helping with the program. Thanks for the great idea!

Lynn Hahn
Bethel Park Public Library

Ellen Sikov said...

You are so right! Between all the wonderfully talented librarians ideas, super suggestions from great books and the internet creating a fun program is a breeze.
Thanks for all of the great ideas!
Ellen Sikov
CLP- Hazelwood

Sharon Helfrich said...

Why limit programming jacking to libraries? I'm always checking Borders, Barnes and Noble and various large communities websites with children's programming departments for ideas. In fact, I think Bayne should host their first stuffed animal sleepover ASAP.

Sharon H.

Ing said...

I knew I heard of the sleepover from somewhere! Yes, Suzi, I remember you or Mary telling us what a wonderful time you had with it during Paws, Claws, Tails and Scales!

Ing said...

Sharon, I know Dolores at Brentwood did a stuff animal sleepover, too. It was great fun. During the night we took the animals and set them up all around, doing different activities like playing games, surfing the net, reading boooks, etc. (this was Mary Morgan Smith suggestion--what a great one!) and then gave the pics to the kids in the morning. Anyway, one of the girls had hidden her stuffed animal so well during the night that we never found her for her picture! We told her that her animal had been so crazy busy, she never settled down for a photo op!
I am not sure if she believe it though!

Ing Kalchthaler
Bethel Park Library

emilyspaint said...

I think we all "program jack" once and awhile and then tweak the program to fit our library. After all, are we all about sharing? :)
Here is a great place to "program jack"

Emily Salsberry
Carnegie Library of Homestead

dolores said...

I agree with Ing in that we could do a page on the wiki or blog where, if we wanted, we could post a great idea or program for others to share at their library. The stuffed animal sleepover was a blast, but I got the idea from a conference I attended...tons of good ideas as workshops and conferences! Some of the ideas I get are "accidental" (looking up something online and seeing something else) and thinking how it could be applied at our library. One thing I found out is not all successful programs at one library are successful at another!

Kelley @ ACLA said...

I like the idea of a blog - only because conversations are easier to follow and we can tag programs etc. So I'm happy to create one and let everyone know about it. In fact, I'll get the new interns on that this week! LOVE the discussion!

Shannon Stevenson said...

Great post, Adaena! Ilove your term "program jacking." I've found it a great learning experience to look at ideas from our creative colleagues and tweak them a bit to come up with something slightly different. It's a mix of new and tried-and-true, I guess. The challenge of keeping programming fresh and appealing is what keeps me on my toes! I'm grateful that we have all the wonderful resources you and others pointed out (and the Frownie storytime idea made me laugh out loud--I chuckle everytime I see Frownie on billboards. How fun!)

Shannon Stevenson
Mt. Lebanon Public Library

Erin said...

It's so nice to know I am not the only one guilty of program jacking. I also can't wait to throw a stuffed animal sleepover now!