My New Library Space

Aside from the fact that I would get to work with children for longer timespans, this new position was attractive to me because the library is, GORGEOUS. Tasteful and rich are words I would use to describe my new surroundings.  I must say that my previous library was also fantastic. It had a computer lab with 28 computers and a Smart Board, a huge motorized projector screen with a ceiling mounted projector, a dividable conference room space, and cathedral ceilings. My new library's high ceilings are skirted with luxurious moldings, huge picture windows flood the space with natural light. Three circular windows add a unique nautical vibe to the room. And let me tell you, librarians: the circulation desk - is to die for. Yup. It is a for real circulation desk, set high with slots and bins and places to repair books. The circulation desk at my old school, it was literally: a desk with a box beside it.  In the floor plan this library is referred to as the "reading room."  To top it all off, there is this stepped reading area by the windows. I just love it. Immediately I said to my sisters, "THIS is where I will have story time."

I swiftly gave away the alphabet rug that was on the floor near the projector screen, since I decided that we would not be using that for story time. Ever. Not with those lovely beanbags on the steps. By the way, story time, that was another reason I liked the sound of this job. I wanted some of that good old story time. I pictured myself reading fantastic picture books to groups of enthralled children who sat gazing at me in wide-eyed excitement, hanging, on my every word. I pictured myself doing the voices. Yes, I would read in the voices of the characters in the books. I would read to them exactly as Barry Lane had implored us to do many years ago when I heard him speak at the Spartanburg Writing Project Conference, with the voices. He said, "You have to do the voices! Don't read like a robot! You will never get these kids to love reading if you read to them like that!"

School began and classes started coming to the library. I excitedly sat the children down in the bean bag chairs to read to them. This was something I was looking forward to. I can't even remember what book it was that I chose.  But, I can tell you this: that story time, it was awful. The children would not, could not, sit still and be quiet while I read. I even spotted a pair of students playing rock paper scissors, while I was reading. The horror! And I was doing the voices! Prior to this, my only elementary-aged story time experience involved my nieces and nephews on my lap or snuggled in cozy. One on one. Very low-ratio story time. Now, I was frustrated and confused and a bit disheartened. "That did not go well!" I said to my partner Cheryl. I selected another book for the next group, thinking that would do the trick. It did not do the trick. Wiggle wiggle, whisper whisper. Shift, giggle. Poke. This was not how I thought story time would be. Was it the bean bags? Was it the story? Was it me? Did I have unrealistic expectations?

Story time had to change, and I had to figure out how to make it work . .  fast!   I consulted with my coworkers and fellow librarians for suggestions.  Did they have this same problem? Why did I give away that rug? Since then, I have made a few changes. So far, things are going more smoothly for everyone.  And that, my friends, will be exactly what my next post will be about! In my next post, I will share the suggestions and advice that have helped me improve story time and share some of the fun experiences I have had.