Week Twelve Activity: Children and Teens – *Program Review*

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    • #2584
      Will Wood

      Time was of the essence this week as my schedule has been very full so I aimed to attend either the ‘Babies, Books and Rhymes’ morning session on Thursday 15th or the ‘Comic Book Meet-up’ on Friday evening at the Brisbane Square Library as I really enjoy its modern design and bustling atmosphere.  Unfortunately due to some unforeseen circumstances I was unable to attend either session.

      I was very disappointed as I am a sucker for both cute babies and comic books so really felt like I had missed out.
      An image of babies outside a cottage in the middle of the woods from a book titled The Land of Lost Babies
      CC Elusive Muse via Flickr – Public Domain

      Fortunately however, during my postgraduate diploma in Library services I participated in a practical work experience element with a Brisbane City Council library branch where due to my obvious enthusiasm for tiny babbies they had me run the ‘Babies, Books and Rhymes’ sessions for two of the weeks that I was there. This post will therefore be a bit of a belated rather than a current reflection and analysis of the programs and services available for children in public libraries.

      The Brisbane City Council Library website outlines that ‘Babies, Books and Rhymes’ is a free opportunity for new families to:

      Meet other parents and babies for a fun session of singing, clapping and dancing. Learn songs and action rhymes to nurture your baby’s pre-literacy, communication, language and social skills. Ideal for toddlers under 12 months.

      The suburb where I briefly ran this service had a population that was made up predominantly of elderly people and young families so this program was incredibly popular. It was used to promote and encourage an interest in reading not just for the participating babies but for their parents, grandparents and carers. While reflecting on what exactly this service provides for users I found that one of the points that Kate Davis made in her weekly video resonated very strongly with the ulterior aims of this program:

      Programming for kids and teens isn’t just about getting kids in to do craft in the library or keeping them occupied on their school holidays. There is a whole other agenda at play. It is about empowering people.

      The empowered people here are the parents who as new mothers and fathers are able to utilise this service to not only entertain their small children for half an hour and give them access to craft supplies and books they may not be able to afford themselves but also to meet other young couples, to socialise and share experience and to meet the staff of the library who are able to provide them with a host of other services that they may not be aware the library even offers. I remember that a number of the parents I met during these sessions mentioned they had not been inside a library in years which highlights that this program can really be considered a gateway service that welcomes a new generation of library users and reintroduces an older generation to what is on offer in local libraries. This is increasingly important as evidenced in the text Crash Course in Children’s Services where Peck states that:

      Libraries of all sizes are seeing challenges in service to children based on the changing dynamics of families, communities, and funding for children’s services.

      Services such as ‘Babies, Books and Rhymes’ successfully cater to both the target demographic and their parents who are able to attend but must also remain aware of barriers to access that are more common in the current day. Working families where both parents must hold full time jobs to support their children are unable to participate in programs or utilise services that are held during working hours. Staff must be mindful of issues such as these and with budgets permitting attempt to make these services available at other times such as weekends.

      This idea touches on another sentiment expressed by Kate Davis during her weekly update video where she discussed the social responsibility that public librarians have with regards to moving beyond programs and services that are only available during school holidays and consider the ongoing needs of users. In the context of this chosen program, a story time for babies and toddlers, the aforementioned text unites both this idea of social responsibility and the importance of the core offering of the chosen program with the following statement:

      Reading ability isn’t based on income or class, but on the fact that someone read to that child on a daily basis. When parents start coming to story time, they quickly learn that the public library is a major parenting resource centre.

      This clearly reveals the true nature of the library as an organisation that goes beyond the services and programs it offers in order to provide a sense of community and a tangible network of support.

      • This topic was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Will Wood.
      • This topic was modified 8 years, 8 months ago by Will Wood.
      • This topic was modified 8 years, 8 months ago by Will Wood.
      • This topic was modified 8 years, 8 months ago by Will Wood.
      • This topic was modified 8 years, 8 months ago by Will Wood.
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    • #2760
      Kate McKelliget

      Hi Will. Thanks for the interesting post. Like you, I have a natural ability to work well with children and I think being a children’s librarian would be a really, really fulfilling career. I’m sorry I didn’t know this about you earlier. There was recently a casual position advertised at SLQ for a such a position over the summer holidays. I hope you saw it! (I applied and sadly missed out!).

      I wanted to bring to light how much I appreciated your perspective on this program. When I think of such programs I will exclusively consider the benefits brought to the children, especially in terms of literacy. It was interesting to me that you discussed in detail the benefits brought to the parents of these children. This is not something I considered in much detail, except, also, in regards to literacy. For example, it has been seen that the literacy of adults can be improved by them attending the children’s reading programs and by them consequently reading to their children more at home. Thank you for bringing this perspective to light for me.

    • #2891
      Will Wood

      Hi Kate,

      Glad you enjoyed my post! I hadn’t been considering the parents either until I really thought about the points Kate Davis was making with regards to programs empowering people. When I ran the ‘babies, books and rhymes’ I probably interacted more with the parents than with their kids, only because a lot of them were new to the program and had so many questions. I had no idea that adult literacy levels could be improved when parents attend these programs with their kids but it makes perfect sense – thanks for mentioning that!

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