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Play, Diversity and Inclusion

by Joel Bangilan, Librarian, Holocaust Museum Houston, Lester and Sue Smith Campus

Children learn through playing. In many ways, playing is the “job” of children. Libraries can make programs and events more accessible with Playwork principles. Using lessons and experiences from sessions like Playwork, Loose Parts and other play oriented activities, such sessions take advantage of the opportunities to prepare children for a lifetime of learning.

Libraries are great environments to foster this type of self-directed learning. The combination of reading and playing makes a more lasting impression on the developing child and can further open opportunities for children of all abilities to be included.

During a library program involving play, the child constructs his or her learning experience limited by one’s own imagination despite cognitive, physical, or learning disabilities. The librarian facilitates exploration and imagination while monitoring for safety and to foster an individual’s self-directed learning. Play sessions in Libraries of this nature allows the child to develop skills in STEM concepts, art and design, care for the natural the environment, fine and gross motor skills, social skills like cooperation and negotiation, and so much more! The use of nonprecious materials makes this kind of programming sustainable and affordable. It requires minimal investments for supplies since the materials needed are recycled boxes, plastics, paper, cloth, or other house hold items.

Recording of the November webinar, handouts, slides, and additional resources can be found here:
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.

Wellness Around the World – East Brunswick Public Library, NJ

by Sharon Rawlins, Youth Services Specialist for Lifelong Learning, NJ State Library     

Sometimes partnerships can come from unexpected places. The East Brunswick Public Library in New Jersey launched a nutrition video series for children and their families or caregivers called Wellness Around the World in the spring of 2021 through a partnership with four female medical students from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Medical School in New Brunswick.

Atlas, the series’ mascot, invites kids to join him as they learn about the delicious and healthy foods other kids eat in countries all around the world. So far, Atlas and the kids have traveled to Egypt, India and China. These countries were chosen based on statistics from the East Brunswick’s public schools that showed that languages from these countries were spoken most frequently in students’ homes. Not only are these short videos fun and entertaining, but the medical students quiz the kids on key nutritional facts that they’ve learned from the videos - and provide the answers.  The description box below each video on the East Brunswick Public Library’s YouTube channel also has links to recipes, such as chana masala, buddha’s delight, ma-po tufu or jian bing.

The library promoted this video series on its website, newsletters, and social media, and invited other member libraries in their library consortium to do so as well.  They distributed flyers at outreach events, included them with their book bundles, and made them available at various desks and displays in the library.

Suzanne M. Klein, the library’s Youth Services/Consumer Health Librarian, reports that, “Anecdotally, I can say the kids really like the videos.” The medical students are asking that the kids and families complete an anonymous survey after watching each video to help them determine which countries they will visit next – and to see what the kids learned. The medical students are planning to cover many other countries in their future sessions, which they hope can be offered in person, not just virtually, once they feel safe doing so as the pandemic lessens.

How to Track Program Stats

By: Elizabeth Boggs, Assistant Branch Manager, Katherine Tyra Branch Library, Houston, TX
We’ve talked about analyzing and using statistics before, but, how do you get those statistics in the first place? One way is to track them using an online spreadsheet.
Tracking statistics is everyone’s job at my library. Among our twelve staff members, everyone tracks something, whether number of patrons attending programs or number of passport applications processed. To track all these different stats, we use a communal online spreadsheet through Microsoft Online Excel. Anyone who has permission can access this Excel sheet from any computer, if they are signed into their Microsoft account.
Each Excel spreadsheet is labeled by month. For example, we have “November 2021 Stats.” At the bottom of each Excel sheet, there are different tabs for us to separate the types of statistics we are collecting, based on what our library system asks for in reports.  


Within each tab, there are different columns listing the information typically requested in our system reports.

Staff are trained to input statistical information as soon as a program ends or, for month long statistics, like total number of craft kits distributed, at the end of the month. Then, whoever is assigned to assemble that month’s report for the library system can go to this one stop shop of information! The best part is, when you need to trace historical data, all the old spreadsheets are online (and can’t be destroyed by a hurricane, which has happened to our library).  
While this system may not work for your library, it is valuable to establish a consistent method of collecting statistics. By making your statistics easy to find and assemble, you make it easier to create reports and show your value to the community!

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/TBD
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