Programming for Children: Passive Programming Ideas

Library programming for children can entertain, educate and engage young people and their families in your community! There are various types of library programming for children. From jugglers and magicians to book groups and Makerspaces, many libraries embrace programming as a way to foster learning, reading, and creativity. When library resources are in short supply, however, it can take creative approaches to offer programming that does not require a lot of money or staff time. One type of programming that can be viable is passive programming.

Infopeople instructor Penny Peck describes passive programming in this way:penny_peck

Passive programming is a term you sometimes hear used to refer to activities which do not require staff direction, such as a simple craft, coloring pages, games or puzzles left on a table in the children’s room. For practical purposes, this might be an activity to keep kids busy while their parents are on the computer or finding books. It can encourage positive activity after a child has finished his homework and is waiting to be picked up.It might also mean having something for a parent and child to do together at the library. Passive programming is very low cost, as it involves just a few games or toys and some simple craft supplies. On busy days, you could even assign a teen volunteer to monitor the passive program area –  refilling craft supplies, assisting younger children with scissors, and cleaning up regularly to make sure game pieces don’t get lost.

There are plenty of simple things you can do as a passive program. Here are a few ideas from Penny:passive programming

  1. Contests: Have a contest related to a display. For example, if you are displaying photos of famous Hispanic-Americans for Cinco de Mayo, allow children to enter guesses as they try to identify the famous person for a prize. This could inspire them to do some research to identify the person in a photo!
  2. Character of the Week: Create a simple book display highlighting a favorite children’s book character. Make some arts and crafts (bookmarks, masks, paper bag puppets, mazes, etc.) related to that character available, too. You can often find activities on an author or publisher’s website. The books will circulate and children will enjoy the crafts.
  3. Origami: Display some of the popular Origami Yoda books by Tom Angleberger and include some related origami instructions and paper.
  4. Scavenger Hunt: Make handouts with scavenger hunt clues that focus on different areas of the library. For example, “Name a magazine from the children’s area,” or “Name the Dewey Decimal number for folktales.” Once a child has filled in all the answers, he or she can bring it to the librarian’s desk for a prize (like a bookmark or stickers). Plus, they have completed a self-directed library tour!

Interested in more great ideas for Children’s Programming on a Budget? Registration for a new course taught by Penny Peck is now open at:

Learners have come a long way with tech developments

For the past decade, Infopeople has offered a course for all library types and staff classifications on Weeding for Your Library’s Health. More accurately, we’ve offered an ever evolving course addressing this topic and, for me as its decade-long instructor, the evolution is apparent in the participants as well as the format and coverage.

Weeding in libraries calls up all manner of political and emotional red flags, as Boston Public Library most recently demonstrates in national news. Second guessing Any Library’s weeding makes Monday (or Tuesday) morning quarterbacking look useful. Instead of going into all that, what I want to do is share  what the decade shows in terms of Infopeople learner participation.

The first dozen iterations of this workshop were day-long on-ground offerings. Workshop attendees did represent a variety of library types (including private as well as public, school, and academic) and each group shared a general geographic location–which is to say that the collective wisdom in the room tended to be, well, local. And since these were on-ground workshops in which we were all together for one day only and parked in a meeting room, the “hands on” exercises necessarily involved whatever I had toted into that room, or the host library had on offer from recently already-weeded stores. (TSA used to leave very interesting notes in my weeding workshop luggage). Then, at the end of the day, everyone went home, and the next day went back to his or her library and either weeded…or didn’t.

The course moved online even before Infopeople online course moved to Moodle. Online courses were a new experience for lots of library staff. They struggled with posting assignments on top of struggling with weeding. But it was immediately apparent that an online course, unfolding over weeks, was a lot more effective in terms of learning and doing weeding! Participants were in their own locations. The assignments had them working with their own weeding issues on location.

As the years passed, the location diversity among online course participants ramped way up. Now a course complement included diverse library types, diverse classifications, and geographic diversity. Participants began to find support and weeding allies a thousand miles away, while still being able to practice what they were learning right where they needed it to be happening–in their home libraries.

And participants have become increasingly comfortable with online learning, a capacity development which makes everyone’s course experience richer. Forum posts are increasingly substantive, a higher and higher percentage of those who register are active on a frequent basis throughout the course, and questions and suggestions fly between 50+ points of contact instead of within a table group of two or three.

Weeding is never going to be the library world’s favorite task. But every time I spend a month with a new group of participants willing to learn more about weeding well, I come away impressed by how far online learning capacity grows among library staff, well, everywhere.

Coming this fall: Short Format Courses

Coming SoonWe know you like our one hour webinars and our four week online courses.  We also know from feedback from our learners that the majority of you are very busy with full time job responsibilities.  So, starting this fall, Infopeople will expand your professional development opportunities by adding a number of short format courses to our usual calendar of 4 week online offerings.

The new format will go through the same rigorous development process and have the same quality of online learning you have come to expect from Infopeople.  Each short course will…

  • Be customized in length to the topic, designed to be started and completed in 1-3 weeks.
  • Be led by Infopeople instructors selected for their subject matter and online learning expertise.
  • Offer practical knowledge and information that can be put to use immediately.
  • Include an online kick-off meeting, relevant content, customized assignments, tasks that reinforce the topic, and a final wrap-up online meeting.
  • Cost $55 ($110 for those outside of California)

Here are just some of the short format courses already planned for this year:

1. Free and Unknown Online Tools, taught by Laura Solomon (September)
2. The Affordable Care Act and Latinos in California, taught by Susana Baumann (October)
3. Learning Interactively, taught by Stephanie Gerding (May, 2015)

More details and information about enrollment will be coming soon to the Infopeople home page.  Or, you can be notified automatically of further developments if you sign up for the Infopeople training announcement list.

You spoke – we listened!  We look forward to launching this exciting addition to the Infopeople online learning repertoire.

Springing the Numbers

At the onset of April, we posted Infopeople’s busy and rich offerings for the month. And, wow, library staff got busy, too, and signed up, signed in, and signified a grand scale of engagement! Here’s a scan of how all that busy busy busy quantified:

  • Online courses that opened in April have 137 participants engaged.
  • Free webinars broadcast in April met with a combined audience of 707 viewers of the live events, and their archives were tapped 966 additional times!
  • Online independent learning series continued to draw new registrants, and currently have a combined total of 49 independent learners working through these service focus areas.

And here are the numbers we see in our social media presence:

  • As April drew to an end, @infotweets has 714 followers on Twitter, and received three to five notices a day of retweeting or favoriting by library leaders, staff and library staff development fans of posts we tweeted.
  • Infopeople’s Facebook page collected four new friends, bringing the total there to 414. We share our own events as well as compelling library world stories there, with our posts in April earning 134 Likes and/ Shares.
  • With the news that Google+ is likely on its way out, Infopeople is refocusing energy from that venue to Tumblr. An update on that will appear here soon.

Moving the Infoblog back to WordPress has made it much more discoverable. April’s podcasts and written posts on the blog saw 700 visitors beside all of you who subscribe directly or catch blog posting alerts on Twitter or Facebook.

With all that for April, there is no laurel resting now that May has bloomed. Upcoming this month are four new online courses, for which you can still register; at least five new free webinars; and ongoing opportunities to dive into our three currently open online independent learning series (Teaser: we’ve got another couple of those, on very different topics, in the works, planning for debut before the end of summer). In addition to all that, two of three limited enrollment sessions of an onground course opportunity, Mentoring: Challenge and Support in Equal Measures, are slated for May (with the third iteration in June).

So count yourself in and spring into some accessible professional development!

Why We Rebooted–and Why You Need to Reboot, Too

Yesterday, Infopeople announced the grand reopening–okay, the notice–of the free (free!) independent online learning series, Affordable Care Act @ Your California Public Library. And no, it wasn’t an April Fools’ Day joke. What the heck?  Did we somehow miss the word that the initial enrollment period for the health insurance marketplace closed March 31?

Nope. And that’s exactly why we rebooted, revised, and re-announced. The health insurance marketplace is just one of the Affordable Care Act’s features. So, with that initial enrollment period now history, and with the California state public health policy makers, practitioners and health awareness foundations turning to the other major elements of the Act, it’s time for us, library folk, to turn attention to them, too. Or, more to the point, to turn our attention to how we can best assist our communities in connecting to health and wellness access, information and education that is up to date with the Act.

Among the big issues:

  • Financial and health literacy needs in many communities
  • Clarity about how to find, select and engage with clinicians to receive preventive care
  • Learning American English vocabulary for reading prescription info
  • Learning that there is linguistic and culturally competent healthcare available

The Affordable Care Act, made law in 2010, has a decade-long roll out period. The initial insurance enrollment came at the beginning of year four, so there’s a lot to discover that has been in place and which is now coming into play legally, and there’s even more to consider when it comes to planning how you can help your community connect to what is rightfully theirs under the law.

Looking forward to seeing you there!