Library Director’s Report- June 2011
The Local History Room is being successfully staffed by volunteers from the archives committee, and is open to the public on a regular basis. The transition has not been easy, but it is gratifying that our community can step up and assist the City with delivering some services in these difficult economic times.
As the fiscal year ends, we are compiling our end-of-year statistics. Even though we reduced hours at Schaberg and other services over the past few years, our total number of library visits system-wide increased to over 1,100,000 visits. Over the past three years we have seen a 67% increase in library use!
RFID checkout machines for Redwood Shores were installed on Friday June 24, taking advantage of the fact that the library is closed on Fridays. This allowed all groups to take their time to remove, install, and configure all RFID equipment and countertops. Staff worked closely with the project managers to review all aspects of the rollout for a smooth and successful launch the next day. The project has been well received by both staff and the public. Checkout transactions were a lot smoother and error-free (once our bleed-over issue is resolved) and users can pay fines at the machine itself, or check their account. Downtown installation is tentatively scheduled for September.
The Shores community, led by the Redwood Shores Community Association and the Library Foundation, have stepped up and raised in a few months, the cost of the piano at the library.
In collaboration with the county libraries and the County Office of Education, our new Portal Project will provide teachers and their classrooms access to library subscription databases and other online information and services to help students learn. The County Office will help market, develop and train teachers and school personnel. One new online service that will part of this project is BrainFuse, which not only offers homework tutoring for all grades, but allows for group collaborative studying via the internet, apps for mobile devices, and personalized log in which remembers what the student has done to date (much like a real tutor or teacher). BrainFuse also has an adult component with resume writing help in real time and training programs for most popular software.
Another new service is BookFlix, a fun, new reading program that parents, teachers and their children can access from home. It is an online literacy resource that pairs classic video storybooks from Weston Woods with related nonfiction eBooks from Scholastic to build a love of reading and learning. This engaging resource for children in grades PreK-3 will help early readers develop and practice essential reading skills and introduces students to a world of knowledge and exploration.
Storytime in the Park is a huge success. This all volunteer program drew hundreds of adults and children to Stafford Park and Stulstaff Park who enjoyed stories, puppets and songs. After the story time, many families stayed to enjoy our beautiful parks. Storytime in the Park continues for six more weeks in parks all over Redwood City.
Fair Oaks continues to amaze with the number of folks that attend programs and how many can fit into such a small space! Over 1,200 kids and parents attended one of the storytimes or special programs offered last month.
The Library partnered with Parks and Rec’s afterschool programs to bring about 120 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders to the library before the end of school. Everyone either got a library card or had a lost card replaced. They all listened to stories and had a tour of the building, often including behind-the-scenes hits Waldo the Library Turtle and The Secret Elevator. This is a terrific collaboration with the terrific Parks and Rec staff which has turned into an ongoing program.
Another collaboration with Parks and Rec came in the form of a musical performance at the Downtown Library. The audience consisted of about equal parts kids who thrilled to the Disney tunes, and adults — some kid-free — who couldn’t resist the chance to sing along to Broadway show tunes. By the end of the event, given by Bill O’Neill and his partner who are putting on a workshop with Parks and Rec this summer, everyone was singing and dancing along to “These Are A Few of My Favorite Things”!
At the invitation of the Police Athletic League, librarians joined the participants of the Junior Giants program at their kickoff event. Alas, no Giants were present, but kids got to meet Kitty, the huge stuffed tiger that is one of the Summer Reading Club raffle prizes, and parents got the scoop about the library, the importance of keeping kids reading over the summer, and the opportunities to do so at the library. You can see Kitty lounging with his fellow tiger, Stripey, in the hammock over the desk in the Family Place. Yes, those are very original names for a tiger.
Over 2,000 kids have joined our library’s summer reading club to date, a program that keeps families reading when school is out. Studies have shown that kids not reading for an extended period of time over the summer sets them back tremendously when they resume class. The weekly programs have started off with a bang — literally, thanks to the summer’s first performer, Karen Quest Cowgirl and her thunderous whip-cracking routine. Audiences were jumping out of their seats, and that can be taken literally, too. Eco-tainer Doug Nolan, aka Rock Steady Juggling, incorporated a messages about recycling and using resources responsibly into his wildly entertaining show. The Museum of Crafts and Fine Arts brought creative programs to all of our libraries. Informative and hands-on, these workshops presented aspects of Mayan, Olmec, and Aztec, West African, Native American, and Asian cultures. Kids loved digging in and making a clay bowl decorated with rice like the 11,000 year old pots found by archeologists, or printing their own story on cloth using authentic symbols from Ghanaian folklore.
Migrant Ed is the only elementary summer school left in the Redwood City School district, and our children’s librarians gave each student a grand welcome to the library. Staff started with a kick-off assembly, then each class visited the Fair Oaks Library to get signed up for the Summer Reading Club and to get new or replacement cards. Our new motto: “Prevent summer brain drain and read this summer!!”
The end of the school year brought a flurry of activity, with thirteen classes — just about 400 kids — from Hoover School making the trek to the library. Many lost library cards are replaced during visits, and many an overdue fine forgiven. We have found that long-standing overdue fines are a real barrier to a child’s ability to use the library. Buffing up cards during class visits are a great way to overcome these obstacles and get kids checking out books again. Each student was pumped full of enthusiasm to keep reading over the summer. How pumped? Here are some of the comments in the thank-you cards received:
“Thank you for letting us visit the library and for giving me a new library card! Right now I’m doing some reading with the books that I borrowed and I will do some summer reading. I think I will read more than that.”
“Thank you for letting us visit the library. I had lots of fun. The books I got were awesome. I got two scary books. I didn’t get scared from the books. They were only a little bit scary. I will try to read in the summer. At least, I hope I finish one chapter book. Thanks for the field trip.”