Last week was Star Wars day – May the Fourth be with you!
Getting more involved in fandom is a great way to connect to our school community, but it can be difficult when we don’t get to do a lot of outside-the-school- day programming. One of my fellow Mercersburg Academy librarians, Suzanne Taylor, put together a great range of activities related to Star Wars.
The best equation for programming seems to be: food + giveaway + books + decorations + contest
Suzanne found these great silicone ice molds that I used to make chocolate in the shape of Star Wars things. I used candy melts from JoAnn that we had leftover from our Harry Potter celebration. They are on sale frequently at JoAnns and there is always a coupon.
Suzanne found these great downloadable bookmarks (download here) that we printed out and cut to size.
A few short trivia questions were printed on small cards and then students were asked to answer the questions for a chance to win one of two prizes. The prizes were a coloring book and a notebook!
Suzanne made several posters, digital display slides and foldable characters. If you’d like a copy of the posters or displays, I’m happy to share via email!
We put all of our Star Wars books and some of the DVDs on our short stand display. Students were surprised to note that we had so many! These books are often lost in our graphic novel section so it was a great opportunity to trot them out.
Have you done a fandom themed day in your library?
A few years ago we started running “big bookish events” here at Mercersburg. They offer us the opportunity to step out of our research shoes and into our fandom shoes. Our events have been a huge hit with our community and after holding our third annual event, I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I’ve gathered along the way.
- Know your why. We love hosting big events on campus because it is an excellent marketing vehicle. Students who aren’t motivated to sign up for book club are much more likely to attend “An Evening at Hogwarts.” These same students see their friendly librarians having fun and are now less afraid to come ask us questions.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The first big bookish event was just a Harry Potter themed dinner with a few short student-run skits. The next year we upped the ante by adding a dance to the dinner and did a Gatsby themed “Flappers and Fitzgerald.” This year we built on our Harry Potter event, expanding it to include classes. Students came in, were sorted, ate dinner in the “Great Hall” and then attended Potions, History of Magic, and Divination. Had we tried to do classes the first year, without trying dinner and an all-in-one activity first, we wouldn’t have succeeded. Building on the event each time, rather than trying to do everything the first time, makes it much more manageable.
- Leverage your faculty. Putting on an event for 140+ students takes a lot of man-power. Find the faculty who love the book/fandom as much as you do and put them to work! We had the theater department hang the floating candles, members of the history and math departments teaching History of Magic (trivia) and Potions (slime making).
- Listen to your students. After every event, I survey the students about what worked, what didn’t, and what they’d like for next time. While it can be hard to hear that they didn’t enjoy the Photo Booth that took hours to set up or wanted even more interactive activities, it helps inform events going forward.
Have you hosted a big bookish event? If you haven’t, what theme would you choose?
We’ve just had fall term exams at Mercersburg Academy and I wanted to share a few things that we did to help kids relieve stress. As a boarding school, students are able to come in to the library during the evenings for study hall between 7:00pm and 10:00pm. This makes it even more important to have stress outlets!
Stop. Puzzle Time!
We put a 1000 piece puzzle behind the circulation desk and let the kids go crazy! We had students stopping by Sunday-Wednesday and a few who were determined to finish it before they left for break!
They really enjoyed being in a “restricted area” and it helped break down the boundary that is created by our monster of a desk.
Our library is located across campus from the student center, so students who wanted coffee during evening quiet hours had to sign out of the library and then sign back in after getting it. This year, we tried out having a large carafe of coffee in the Research Commons and the kids loved it! The coffee was available from 7-10pm on the three evenings before full days of exams.
I bought a big roll of bubble wrap and cut it into squares. We put it out by the research desk and let kids pop it to relieve stress. For two of the days it was out, the students were respectful and really enjoyed the bubble wrap.
However, one night during evening quiet hours the bubble wrap was distributed throughout the library and we could hear little “pop! pop! pop!” all night. Definitely not ideal. This one is definitely repeat at your own risk! If you try this at your library, I would suggest having an adult stationed by the bubble wrap at all times to remind the students to be respectful of those who are trying to study.
A perennial favorite for stress relief, coloring books are a great exam week option. We put them out around the library with some colored pencils. The kids seemed to enjoy them, though they didn’t get as much use as in previous years. Perhaps this trend has run its course?
Are there any things that you do to help students de-stress during exams?
Hello from Mercersburg Academy! My name is Alexandra Patterson and I am the Director of Library Services at Mercersburg Academy. I’m so excited to share about what we are doing in the Mercersburg Library with everyone.
It’s funny that Katie’s post earlier this week was about getting things done – I’m here to share a tool that I’ve found incredibly helpful for managing my every growing to do list!
After starting the position as Library Director over the summer, I began the daunting task of figuring out how to manage many projects and many moving pieces. At a boarding school, we serve as school library, public library and community center so we’ve got a lot going on! I tried a lot of online systems, but for my library Asana seems to work best.
Asana is a web-based to-do list manager that can be used by teams. You can create projects and individual tasks related to them. Each tasks can be assigned to a team member and can have a separate due date.
Though we are still figuring out the system here are 5 ways I use Asana in my library:
- For reminding us of recurring tasks – Sometimes things like updating a Libguide can slip through the cracks. I’ve created a recurring task “check all history guides for working database links” for each month to make sure we don’t forget.
- Planning for the future – Our display calendar now lives in Asana. It allows us to look at the year ahead and plan things, then link to books we’ll use, assign the task of pulling the books, and ordering the decorations! Tasks lists can also be downloaded by project or by team member to gCal and iCal.
- “Passively” moving projects along – As long as I spend a few minutes inputting tasks, I can schedule them for months in advance. This means that I can do one small step today and then forget about it until my next task for that project is due. Asana helpfully reminds me and I get to take it out of my mental filing cabinet!
- Fielding questions – I love that Asana has a feature for discussion. It’s nice to be able to answer questions about a particular task or project and have the answers stored in a place everyone can access. Goodbye email chain!
- Storing files related to a project – Asana lets you upload files and link to Google Docs. Having all of the files for a project accessible, along with any tasks that might need to be done, has been invaluable. No more hunting for the information — it’s all right there!
What are some other tools you use to get things done?
I had the privilege of putting on a Harry Potter Holiday Feast in December 2015 — It was so much fun to pull together and the students had a blast. Before I share a few tips and tricks I figured out along the way, I thought I would give you an overview of the event.
We transformed a space on campus into the Great Hall using House crests, gold chargers leftover from prom, and wizard hats with the House shields on them! For activities, we set up a Mirror of Erised photobooth, a Floo Flame fireplace photo-op, and a wand duel. Food was provided by the Dining Hall with some additional desserts from Flourish and Blotts.
Without further ado, here are some things to think about before putting on a bookish event: