Children's Literature · storytelling · Youth Materials · Youth Services

One World, Many Stories: My Internship in Rural Indiana

My passion to be a youth services librarian has been permanently solidified after my internship at the Morgan County Public Library in Martinsville, Indiana. Although it was last summer (2011), I’m still reveling in the activities I undertook and the experiences that fueled my fire.

Last summer, I was given the power to run the programming at the surrounding 5 branches. The theme of the 2011 Collaborative Summer Library Program was “One World, Many Stories,” which emphasized international stories and programs. I developed, publicized, and ran 3 programs: Go Dutch, In to India, and Let’s Eat in Japan. Preparation in itself was an experience. The age recommendation for the programs was 5-12 so I had to consider accommodating a wide age range. For crafts and activities, I used several resources including online blogs, craft books, and suggestions from the Collaborative Summer Library Program. I was particularly proud of incorporating Staphorster Stipwerk (dotwork from Staphorster, see left) for the Dutch program and an exciting, interactive chopstick relay race where the kids grabbed cotton balls with chopsticks in one cup and raced to another cup. While the latter activity could have crumbled into disarray, I made the instructions simple, precise, and poignant. I even made them repeat the the rules after me. It was rewarding to see that a big group of children will listen to you if you talk to them in the right way–and if you have patience.

In addition to the crafts and activities, I also told a story for every program.  I utilized my storytelling instructor’s structure for preparation, allowing me to help remember, envision, and tell the stories.  I was also able to evaluate which stories are rich with tradition and interesting elements instead of full of fluff and forced morals. On top of the storytelling, I also read-aloud picture books which I practiced beforehand to avoid vocal stumbles.

Read-aloud storytime at the Waverly branch

So the programs were a success. Around 110 kids attended, each branch varying from 4 to 30 children. I also assisted and observed several other programs including a heavily attended lego program, a program on Mexico, baby time, and a wrap-up program. At the main branch I worked the reference desk and provided suggestions for reading catered to individual interests. Several questions centered around the early reader section. I decided to promote the Lexile Reading Levels for the collection as a guide for parents and library employees. About half of the books already had the levels–not consistent enough to rely upon. In addition to completing these labels, I created a nifty box to house the beginning reader books, the most commonly sought after early readers at MCPL.

Furthermore, I helped assist with the teen summer reading program kick-off. Interacting with the teens was so much fun.  Honestly, I can tolerate their angst, rowdiness, and confusion; rather, I admire their desire to be an individual, their passion to learn about the world, and their emergence into adulthood.

For the past few weeks, I have been helping the children’s librarian, Alyssa, weed the collection.  From my collection development class, we learned the value of weeding once per year so that MUSTIE books can be replaced (misleading, ugly, superseded, trivial, irrelevant, elsewhere).  However, this was not the case in the children’s department.

There were some pretty sad and ridiculous books I found including the entire technology section from the 1990s.  While some child may have accidentally picked seen Scottie Pippen in The NBA’s Top Ten Forwards in Basketball Today, it was probably time to ditch that book and several other sport’s statistics books from 1993.  While some craft books are hard to dispose of because the crafts are still relevant, I chose to weed craft books that weren’t as engaging as more recent craft books (superseded), or were in disrepair.  While I kept older books that filled specific niches, general craft books that fit my above deselection choices were taken out.  The weeding choices I made went to the librarian to determine if new books needed to be purchased to fill the ones that were leaving.  Fortunately, most of the craft books were already superseded by current books in the collection.

Before I finished my internship, I fulfilled my love of fun decorations and created a nature book display. It’s amazing how much time it takes to make a carefully selected around a theme and with literary valuable books.  For my selection, I used the reference book A to Zoo: Subject Access to Children’s Picture Books under the theme “nature” which provided an extensive selection.  However, the reference book was from 2007 so some of the books were older and not quite as attractive as the newer published material.  I also used several professional organizations including the Cooperative Children’s Book Center.  For newer material, I used booklists found on blogs of professionals in the field.

Overall, my internship was incredibly beneficial towards me becoming a librarian. I finally saw my programming come to fruition! I used my knowledge of the literature I’ve been reading for the past few years. I don’t usually get to drip over the newest Mo Willems book to my friends and family (I don’t see why not. Pigeons driving buses is incredibly relevant in our world today).

One thought on “One World, Many Stories: My Internship in Rural Indiana

  1. An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think
    that you need to publish more about this topic, it might not be
    a taboo subject but typically folks don’t talk about these topics. To the next! Many thanks!!

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