March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Darien (CT) Library Offers 2013 Children’s Holiday Gift Giving Guide

For more than five years, patrons of Connecticut’s Darien Library have enjoyed a delightful holiday tradition: guides to recommended books and other gift selections, compiled by both the adult and children’s librarians. PDFs of the lists are posted on the library’s website and Facebook page through the month of December, while paper copies are displayed and distributed onsite.

2013-Holiday-Gift-Guide-pg1While the adult lists usually focus on books with a few technology ideas, the children’s list includes books but also toys that pair well with books or have educational components. [We have included both pages in an easily downloadable and printable format; simple click on the small images at right to open PDFs.]

The children’s guide is spearheaded each year by Amy Laughlin, Darien’s outreach coordinator, and Elisabeth Marrocolla, collection development coordinator, although all of the full-time staff of the Children’s Library contributed, especially  Krishna Grady,  program coordinator, and Claire Moore, the head of children’s services, Marrocolla tells School Library Journal.

“We’re excited to share the guide with a wider audience than it usually sees,” Marrocolla says.

In addition to the online and in-person distribution, the list was presented to the community this year by Marrocolla and Grady at Darien’s Holiday Helper’s Panel, a library-wide gift recommendation program run by Erin Shea, the head of adult programming.

“Patrons love [it],” Marrocolla says. “A mom at the panel this year told me she waits to buy gifts until she sees what we recommend, which was really gratifying.”

2013-Holiday-Gift-Guide-pg2When compiling recommendations for the children’s guide, Darien’s librarians look for certain criteria, Marrocolla explains.

“People like to give books that are beautiful, which is why we add books with gorgeous illustrations like Please Bring Balloons or great foil details like Forever by Emma Dodd. The books don’t necessarily have to be in our collection, allowing us to add things like the blank comic book and Robert Sabuda’s gorgeous pop-up book, which would get destroyed if they circulated!”

Other items that Darien’s children’s librarians watch for are “fun and interesting things which may not be on the average patron’s radar, like The Game in the Dark or Ballad” along with “acclaimed and buzz-worthy fiction,” Marrocolla tells SLJ. “And finally, we like to make sure there are interesting and beautiful nonfiction choices as well. It’s a lot of work, but it’s totally worth it.”

Darien’s children’s librarians have also produced a short video, an abbreviated version of their guide, that plays on the library’s site and Facebook page.

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson ( is a former News Editor ofSLJ.