July 23, 2017

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Librarians in Training: A Smart MLS Program for Kids

Julie Crabb is a woman with a mission. Having just completed her own MLS, this children’s library associate at the Olathe Indian Creek Library in Olathe, KS, wanted to give kids a peek at the inner workings of what professionals like herself do all day. To this end, she created a two-hour Mini Masters of Library Science workshop and accompanying booklet. “I thought the event would be a nice way to combine my real world experience with a children’s library program,” she explains.

Crabb, who focuses on early literacy and shares kids’ programming information and activities on her blog Tales for the Tiny, had the initial goal of building a family program for all ages. She created the drop-in event around six stations that would inform participants about each skill that librarians use on the job. More than two dozen kids, ages two through 13, arrived and then were assembled to hear an introduction about what library science actually is.

A proud graduate of Crabb’s Mini MLS program

The next step was the distribution of the booklet showing the requirements that would be needed to earn a mini MLS certificate—and then the kids were set loose. They traveled around the six stations to complete the tasks and obtain stickers for their booklets. The activities included Sorting (putting books back on the shelf by last name and/or the Dewey Decimal System); Advisory work (suggesting a book with a specific theme, such as a scary tale or one about dinosaurs); Programming (story time or concerts); Circulation (checking returned books into the system); Locating (helping people find the book or research material they need); and Recommendations (offering a personal favorite, whether it’s an audio book, magazine, or other library resource).

The whirlwind day was a huge success. “I was actually surprised by how many families came specifically for the program,” relates Crabb. As each kid received his or her certificate, she asked questions about the experience—and learned that the favorite station, by far, was the one involving circulation. “My coworkers did a great job building this activity,” she notes. Staffers put items in tubs to act as recently returned books and kids were shown how to check each one for damage. Next, they got to check the books in and print out hold slips.

Danielle Broadbooks, who attended with her six-year-old, had high praise for Crabb and her efforts. “I couldn’t help but appreciate the fact that so many of the adults there with kids were seeing a side of librarianship that they might not have known about before,” she relates. “And everyone really loved the diploma the kids received at the end, as well as the booklet with descriptions of each station.” Choosing a sticker for each box after they completed the tasks was also a highlight, she adds.

The kids were thrilled to participate, in part because it meant they could go to areas of the building they hadn’t been to before. They got to explore different sections of the library, go behind the scenes, and use books to complete specific tasks, reports Crabb. “The kids learned to feel more comfortable asking for book suggestions and some adults were truly relieved to see how many other grown-ups return damaged materials,” she adds.

This year, Crabb held the program on National Library Worker’s Day, which was an appropriate fit—and she hopes a repeat of her Mini MLS program may be on the horizon. The setup and materials are easy to duplicate for those who might like to run a similar event, she adds. “If you’re going to have families behind your desks, make sure you are prepared,” she warns. Be certain to take down anything that participants shouldn’t view and think about privacy issues, too (for example, use a “fake” card to place holds and access accounts). “And then just sit back and enjoy the opportunities you’ll have to talk to kids about what you do.”


Jennifer Kelly Geddes is a Manhattan-based reporter who writes for Parents.com and Modern Farmer.

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Comments

  1. How is the computer affecting libraries I wonder. I am a poet myself and have written over 4,000 poems.
    The onslaught of Trumpitis is something else on TV news. How is this affecting the minds of our children with all of his tweets? Jim Horn

  2. Eliminate my other message if you think it is not appropriate. Can you imagine seeing
    Trump in a library. I would enjoy seeing my local politicians and congress people there.
    A library would also be nice in all of the Senior Centers to have. Laura Bush was the only
    first lady who was also a librarian. Jim Horn

  3. What a fantastic idea for Sept library introductions & review. A program just for the kindergarten children would be an excellent cumulative & review process w even a graduation ceremony! The celebration would offer me an opportunity to meet parents. Our grade 2-5 Ss could then have more challenging stations & I’m sure would eat it up! Please share resources if possible to get me going here in Salmon Arm, BC, Canada.

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