Saturday, November 6, 2010

Let's Go a-Visitin'

I'm thinking of doing a few posts that take a walk down memory lane of waaaay back when I was a librarian IN an actual library.  And one of the many elements I miss is school visits!  It always felt like getting ready for the prom!  All the planning, coordinating, dressing up, bringing props and supplies and usually some candy.  Here are a few of my greatest hits when I was a-school-visitin':
  • With smaller class-size groups of older kids (later elementary and teens) I loved playing 'Name That Tune.'  I brought in my ipod/iphone/shuffle/whatever with a set of VERY cheap (can you say $20!) speakers and I had downloaded a few of the most popular tunes (and some oldies!) and we set to playing.  I usually had 3-4 kids up front playing and had a few cheap-but-fun prizes.  I think I earned some great street-cred too since it appeared I was up on all the cool music!
  • I did a library Jeopardy game (you can find how-to's all over the web) on stuff maybe that kids didn't know the library offered.  Great fun playing Alex Trebec.  You could even download the theme song and play that on those little speakers!
  • I found that, especially with older kids, the cheesier I got, the better!  I had so much fun laughing at myself and watching them laugh at me - that I think I raised our 'FUN' quotient at the library by several hundred points.
  • I always brought along some fun, hip and well-designed fliers jam-packed with information.  Not your run-of-the-mill 'here are the hours we're open' or 'you can check DVDs out for 1-week' but things that could go under the heading, D'oh!  Did you Know?  
  • I felt it was essential, at those visits to Get.  Their.  Attention.  And to do that, I was thrown into competition with online games, TV, chatting with their friends and their suddenly-fascinating-shoelaces.  So it's gotta be good!
  • Bringing in any gadgets, whether they're yours or the library's is always good too.  It shows them that you're with-it and get that a big portion of their lives involves technology.  Get your hands on a kindle, an iphone, a droid, a wii controller, a digital camera, a laptop, an ipad!  Show off your inner geek!
  • I had to step-up my performer-self.  This ain't no school lecture.  I had to accept that I was there to entertain first, inform, second (though according to the teachers, it was the reverse!)  So I brought to the surface my most clown-like, magician-like, comedian-like self.  
  • Props and sound-effects always help!  Play the Rocky Theme Song. Wear a huge 10-gallon hat.  Bring a nerf ball and throw it to the kid who answers or asks a question.  Offer them something special (a little tchotchke!) if they come into the library after your visit.  I had a number of kids visit me after my appearance at their school and it was great!
(wistful sigh) I do miss school visits - large and small.  But I don't miss how incredibly exhausted I'd be at the end of a day of them!