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Welcome to Think Outside the Stacks. I just got back from vacation and I'm ready to go! I was able to take in a lot of Outside the Stacks inspiration from the hospitality industry, entertainment venues, and museums. Yes, I'm that big of a nerd that I think about this stuff on vacation. As always I love to hear feedback and suggestions for content at or @BethReads on Twitter. 

Museum Hacking

No, I'm not talking about a new Ally Carter book, though I'm always up for that. Museum Hack is a new way to experience museums. I just got back from New York City where I jumped at the chance to take a Museum Hack tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I wanted to see how it really worked and what we could use to make our library experiences better. It was a lot of fun and interesting both in the learning about art way and the learning about doing tours way. Here are my takeaways:

Stories, Stories, Stories. The biggest difference was that a Museum Hack tour picks pieces that have interesting stories behind them and shares those stories. Now, at my last job, we actually did have a lot of art and historical pieces on the tour, but newer libraries might not. Still, you must have something interesting or unusual. Look around for a piece of art, a special collection, or something from the local history collection and share its story. Maybe you had an amazing author or other big name speaker visit? Share that story. Stories help your listeners connect to what you are showing them.

Make it interactive. During our tour, we played several low-key games. In one we were given yearbook superlatives and had to search the gallery for a painting it could apply to and explain why.  We chose a sculpture to pose with and our guide took our picture and used a Polaroid photo printer to give us a souvenir picture. Finally, we were given a theme at the beginning of the tour and encouraged to use our cell phone camera to take a picture of anything we saw fitting the theme. At the end, we chose one picture each and explained why we chose that picture. The guide chose her favorite to win a small prize. 

I think there are several easy ways you could incorporate interactive elements into a tour. Use the photo printer to take pictures of high schoolers with their favorite book from childhood or ask them to point out displayed book covers that have a certain theme (a fancy dress, a dog, green covers, or whatever). Change up the scavenger hunt by having them pick a non-fiction book and make up a crazy story about why someone needed it. A whole class could share them in small groups and then a few could volunteer to share with everyone. 

Finally, our guide pointed out that museums rarely tell us why a piece is the way it is, but a little research often answers that question and many times the story is quite interesting.  What "whys" about library things can you provide on your tours to make what students are seeing more relevant to them? 

You can read more about Museum Hack here:

This Start-Up is Revolutionizing Museums (via Inc)
How Museum Hack Transforms Museum Tours (via Museum 2.0)

I'll be sharing things from them among our other resources in the future as well. 
Penguin Winter Clothes Color Matching (via Totschooling)
This free printable is really cute and would be clear even to a larger group. You can make it into a flannel board with some t-shirt transfers using this process. 
Getting Curious (not Furious) With Students (via Edutopia)
If you read one link from this issue I recommend this one. The whole concept of responding to youth acting out with concern rather than reacting with annoyance/frustration/anger is something that should really inform our interactions. 

The Breathing Sphere (via Art of Social Work)
I love, love, love this idea to use a Hoberman Sphere to teach the idea of taking a deep breath and explain to young children why that helps their bodies calm down. 

Living in America 101: When Refugees Arrive What Do They Need to Learn (via NPR)
An interesting piece on the very basic things that people who land in Western countries need to learn to get by. I'm wondering what resources are in our youth collections that explain some of these things and how we can get them to the people who need them without making them feel like children. 

New Year's Reading Advice

Sometimes we need to read something that reminds us why we fell in love with reading in the first place. As professional readers, we can get a little caught up in what we should read and/or reading all the literary award contenders that we lose a little of the joy. This is why many of us experience a reading slump after serving on committees.

So, in the beginning of this new year consider this the same "permission" you'd give your patrons: Read whatever you want! All reading is reading! Grab a comic book, a romance novel, an adult thriller, or the next book in that series you keep putting off for dutiful reading and bring back the joy. 

101 Best Puzzle Ideas for Escape Rooms (via Now Escape)

I wrote about almost a year ago so if you're  you're new to escape rooms you'll want to check that out. However, if you are moving on to designing your own escape rooms you'll really love this list of puzzles. Some are beyond the reach of most libraries but many are fairly simple to pull off, I love #13. 

Paper Plate Heart Sewing (via Red Ted Art)
This is a pretty simple lacing card-like craft with a really pretty result.Hearts are nice for February but don't let that stop you, the same general idea would work nicely for a spring flower or fall leaf.You could use it for kids too small to punch and cut themselves if you have some teens who need something to do. 

The Best Kids' Music of 2016 (via Cool Mom Picks)
Check out these top picks for kids music to liven up your collection and programs. 

Coding a Lego Maze (via Research Parent)
Coding is just step-by-step instructions, and you can teach kids the basics without any technology. This fantastic activity introduces kids to coding concepts and comes with free printables and even better, instructions for four levels of difficulty. 
Disney Love Song Matching Game (via Designs by Miss Mandee)
This bridal shower game would work great as an activity for February. 

Have You Heard of Sneaky Cards? (via Upworthy)
Are sneaky cards turning up in your library? This "play it forward" game encourages interaction, kindness, and art and you can track the journeys of your cards online. You can even download and print your own copy of the cards at their website to share with your teens. 

30 Jokes Kids Will Love (via Relevant Children's Ministry)
Why can't you give Elsa a balloon? Because she'll Let It Go. Many of these made me smile and it's never bad to have a few things to cheer up a grumpy second grader. 

Just for Fun

Free Printable Harry Potter Calendar (via The Cottage Market)
This beautiful monthly calendar with illustrations of Harry Potter characters is free! Just look at how cute January is:

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