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Rocky 'Possum's Op'Awesome Adventure

by Angelique Carico, Britton Newland, Eva Gryder & Mason McLain

It began with a request from Taylorsville Town Councilwoman, Kim Brown, who wished for a holiday story stroll. In spring of 2021, the State Library held an outdoor programming webinar with UNC-G Assistant
Professor of Library & Information Science, Dr. Noah Lenstra. Youth services staff across North
Carolina shared activities which spurred an idea for ACL’s children’s librarian, Melissa Hager: Encourage summer learners to share stories, artwork, and facts about the much-maligned opossum on painted rocks. All in an effort to combat mis- and dis-information about North America’s lone marsupial.

With COVID, most library event programming in the summer of 2021 halted, including the annual hike at Rocky Face Mountain, a former rock quarry. The hike had been featured in Dr. Lenstra’s book, Healthy Living at the Library.

The rock painting activity allowed for the mountain to come to the county libraries. As rocks. Lots and lots of rocks!

Procuring a Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small & Rural Libraries grant from the American Library Association, Alexander County Library was able to plan activities for almost a year.

The summer learning program Tails and Tales kicked off on June 18, 2021.The Neighbors bluegrass band entertained, then Bethlehem artist, Richard Sinclair, unveiled the metal opossum sculpture found on the book’s cover. Wildlife experts Melody Heath and Cathy Herbert shared facts (as well as a live, juvenile opossum) with gathered patrons. Everyone had an opportunity to participate in the conversation by asking questions and sharing stories. 

Through the summer, teens volunteered at the library to prepare rocks upon which summer learners could paint and write. The volunteers also designed works from written questions and answers.163 stones were
fashioned through August 2021 and were displayed as the opossum sculpture’s tail in the main library’s lawn.

Teen writers Angelique Carico, Britton Newland, Eva Gryder, and Mason McLain met in person and online to craft the story, their words inspired by the creative rocks. The main character’s name was determined by a library contest—with Rocky coming out on top.
Many businesses and organizations in the town of Taylorsville agreed to allow story pages to be displayed in their front windows through the holiday season of 2021. This allowed families and interested parties to walk the festive streets to learn about opossums and be amazed by the creativity of the youth. Families who completed the Tail Tale Trail received a copy of the book at the main library in Taylorsville.
Eagle Scout candidate, Mason James, is making steel frames to house the story pages. These will be
installed by a local Boy Scout troop on a trail at Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area. The project will be unveiled in May 2022. Not only will Rocky’s story be featured, but the library hopes other tales can be shared at the park through the years.  
Alexander County Library wishes to thank everyone for their part in this endeavor, especially the teen writers, the American Library Association, and The Taylorsville Times for publishing the book and pages. The activity promotes literacy and learning, libraries, health, physical activity, the arts, storytelling, and community building.
What "Tales" did your library have to tell for 2021? What "Possibilities" do you see for your library in 2022? Please send your photos, ideas, and any informative details to Luke Kralik at: I would love to share them in our newsletter.

Looking for some ideas for 2022 to use or share?
Public libraries feed hungry bodies as well as hungry minds during the summer – and throughout the year. The CSLP’s Child and Community Well-Being committee encourages library involvement in activities that support wellness, from summer and afterschool meals, to well-being programming, to support for basic needs, all to help children, teens, and communities stay nourished, active, and healthy when school is out. Resources include the Libraries and Summer Food page on the CSLP website; a Facebook group for news, support, and resource-sharing; and an ongoing series of stories showcasing the experiences of libraries around the country.

A StoryWalk® for Any Budget

by Ally Doliboa, Youth Programming Coordinator MidPointe Library System, Middletown OH

In this time of social distancing, one of the most popular items for libraries is having a StoryWalk® available for the community. As someone who loves literature and nature, I couldn’t jump fast enough at bringing two passions together, but I quickly became overwhelmed as I researched the options for bringing this dream to fruition.

My library already had one permanent StoryWalk® in place when I received a grant to put more in a different part of our service area. The first StoryWalk® we installed was at a local park that included special posts, contractors, and a significant, grant-funded budget. While the community loves having this StoryWalk® it just isn’t always doable. The community I focused my grant on is an underserved community with a poverty rate of 24.1% (more than double the national rate in 2020). I wanted to put more than one StoryWalk® in that community due to the size of the city and knowing that statistic and so I started researching temporary options. A practical possibility kept coming up in my research involved using metal sign frames and corrugated plastic signs. Given the fact that I was planning on installing these strictly during our Summer Reading Program and that I found 8 places to display them, this idea seemed to be perfect. The frames and signs held up nicely during humid Ohio summer months (word to the wise: don’t plan on installing the sign frames when it hasn’t rained lately!) and were a low budget option.

We ended up tweaking the designs a bit for the StoryWalk® that we placed at one of our branches. There’s not much of a grassy area at that location so we took the StoryWalk® inside the building, to keep children and families safe from the busy roads that surround that branch. I realize the irony of putting a StoryWalk® inside, but patron safety came first – and it gave them an opportunity to explore all corners of the building. We also utilized a fence that surrounded a playground at one of our local parks to hold the StoryWalk® signs instead of putting the frames and signs out at the playground. That option requires even less of a budget and works just as well. A StoryWalk® is a great addition to a community, and there are endless ways to display the books. Don’t let a budget limit stop you from working with your community partners to get a StoryWalk® in your community, and most importantly, don’t overthink it. It can be simple and just as valuable to your patrons as an expensive, permanent option.

Summer Reading - Not Just for the Summer!

By: Elizabeth Boggs, Assistant Branch Manager, Katherine Tyra Branch Library, Houston, TX

Want to drum up interest for your summer reading program? Try hosting a reading program in the winter! In December/January, my library hosts a winter break reading challenge. By hosting a reading challenge in the winter, we draw attention to the library’s reading programs year-round. It can be a great way to engage regular summer reading participants and remind patrons that another reading challenge will start in the summer!

Just like with our summer reading challenge, anyone can participate in our winter break reading challenge. Last year, we had 23 participants, including 8 adults, 2 teens, and 13 kids - not bad for the building being closed due to COVID! Unlike our summer reading challenge, the winter break reading challenge is a pared down passive program. Patrons must read in three categories to form a tic-tac-toe. They can then fill out an online form to enter to win a Target gift card.

If you want, you can theme your reading challenge around winter (snowflakes are a favorite decor choice of ours!). It would also be a great opportunity to use summer reading theme graphics and advertise your summer reading program. Whatever you choose, I hope you try out this new reading challenge to keep your patrons engaged and boost your reading program numbers year round.

What is on the horizon for CSLP?

2022: Theme/Oceanography; Slogan/"Oceans of Possibilities" Artist/Sophie Blackall

2023: Theme/Kindness and Friendship; Slogan/"All Together Now"; Artist/Frank Morrison

2024: Theme/Adventure; Slogan/"Adventure Begins at Your Library"; Artist/Juana Martinez-Neal

2025: Theme/Art; Slogan/TBD; Artist/Brian Floca
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