Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thinking about library programs

As I get ready to begin my semester-long internship in the children's department of the library in town, I've been thinking quite a bit about library programs. I didn't really go to programs at my hometown library as a kid; what with organized activities, neighborhood friends, and an active reading life at home, going to the library for story hour and other programs never really was in my schedule. That means I'm going into this internship as something of a library program novice. I helped with a few over the summer as a volunteer, but that's about it.

To help myself prepare, I've been reading a bit about some library programs, in public library children's departments in particular, that seem to be successful and worthwhile. I find two of them really intriguing:

1) Children reading to therapy dogs -- You've heard of seeing eye dogs, canines specially trained to aid the visually impaired. Therapy dogs are somewhat similar in that they've been carefully trained to perform specific tasks. Therapy dogs are used in all sorts of situations, from inpatient rehabilitation centers to public libraries. When therapy dogs are added to a library's program schedule, it seems that it's almost always in the children's department. It would seem that children who are struggling or shy readers see marked improvement in their reading when they "practice" by reading to a therapy dog. These pooches pay attention, see, and they don't judge if a child stumbles over words, reads slowly, etc. My library offers a program like this one; I'm looking forward to sitting in on it this semester.

2) Raising a Reader -- It's been suggested time and time again that exposure to books in a huge indicator of children's future success. It makes a lot of sense, then, for libraries to adopt some sort of program wherein young children take home a bag full of books every week or two. With the help of such programs, books become a part of the homelife of every child who participates. The child also gets to know the library as a safe space in which he or she can always find more books. I really like the idea of having programs in place that set up children to be readers and library users. I saw a similar program in the UK this summer, and am happy to see that similar programs are in place in the US.

What about you? What are some library programs that you particularly like/remember liking as a child?


  1. My library also has a program where children read to therapy dogs. Apparently, it's a big deal, although I haven't had a chance to see it yet. I think it's an amazing program.

  2. Our library system is also starting a new program in the fall where women can get coupons for childcare products when they bring their children to "lapsitter" readings (for toddlers). The hope is to get mothers - particularly young mothers with lower incomes - to see how important literacy is when their kids are very small, thereby creating an environment of reading that will hopefully carry over as they get older. In a place like South Bend (which has the highest per-capita welfare rate in the state), it's particularly important.

  3. I like the idea of the coupon-reward programs. Really, anything that establishes a routine of literacy and presence of books in a child's life is going to be beneficial. I'm so glad your library is taking on the issue.