For Parents

Library elephant is unforgettable

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It’s the elephant in the room, and no one can ignore it.  Tusks in the air, a wooden pachyderm greets patrons near the main entrance of Akron-Summit County Public Library on South High Street in downtown Akron (OH).  The hand-carved elephant lumbered more than 8,500 miles before finding a refuge at the Main Library. This month marks the 40th anniversary of its public unveiling.

According to Mary Plazo, manager of Special Collections at the library, the elephant was a 1979 gift from Louis and Mary Myers of Myers Industries in Akron. It was carved from a single piece of teakwood in Thailand and shipped to the United States.  “The figure is 40 inches long, 56 inches high and 20 inches wide,” Plazo noted. “It weighs over 500 pounds.”

Trish Saylor, manager of the Children’s Library, said former librarian Ione Cowen once told her that the Myerses donated the elephant because “it was so heavy that it was making their foundation sink.”

It took five men to roll the elephant into the library — perhaps the city’s first pachyderm parade since the days when circuses marched into the Akron Armory.  With its curved trunk, flared ears, pointed tusks, gaping mouth and raised front foot, the whimsical carving made a good first impression.

Loveland Library's RoboKids lets kids explore the fun side of robotics

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Spherical robots that careen around a room, controlled by a child's finger on an iPad — we've arrived at the future. And, it's very fun.

The controlled chaos of the RoboKids event put on monthly by the Children's Department at the Loveland Public Library provides kids ages 4 and up with an opportunity to learn from and play with small robotic toys. 

While it's fun for kids to crash the rolling 'bots into walls or draw loopy roads with markers for a small reading robot to follow across the table, the children are also learning the basics of toys that can later be used for programming practice, said facilitator of the event Cindi Pfeiffer.

Pfeiffer said the library has put on the event for about three years, during which their robot collection has grown to more than 10 robots. The library first started their robot collection four years ago after working with Loveland High Robotics Club to build a Lego Mindstorm EV3, a programmable motorized robot built with Lego bricks.

Pfeiffer said the library is money-conscious when it buys robots, and tries to buy when they are on sale.

'Face of the library'

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Some people may say Dewey the Bearded Dragon has a face only a mother could love.

But in Lead Hill (AR) it’s a face the entire school district loves.  “He’s the face of the library. He’s our mascot,” said Dewey’s owner, Amy Curtis, who is the Library Media Specialist for the Lead Hill School District.

Since last summer he’s actually been more than just the mascot.

In July, Dewey was certified as an emotional behavioral therapy animal after Curtis realized he had a certain calming effect on students, especially those who struggled with attention, anxiety and stress-related issues.

“We started realizing kids who had a very difficult time paying attention in class or were struggling emotionally for various reasons, or were stressed, that once they sat with Dewey they would calm very quickly,” said Curtis. “He helps them relax. That’s when we got the idea of going ahead and registering him for emotional support and behavior therapy.”

Libraries involve young adults in readings that address the effects of racism

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Libraries will engage more than 5,000 underserved young adults in readings and discussion that aim to dig deep into and ultimate discard the deeply held, and often unconscious, beliefs created by racism.

The American Library Association has received a $1.1 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF). The result of that will be the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Great Stories Club (TRHT GSC).  The club will connect ALA’s successful Great Stories Club literary programming model to the Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation efforts.

The Great Stories Club is a library-led book club model that gives underserved youth facing significant challenges the opportunity to read, reflect, and share ideas on topics that resonate with them.

Created in 2006 by ALA, the Great Stories Club has reached more than 700 libraries in 49 states and more than 30,000 young adults (ages 13 to 21). Great Stories Club programs are conducted by libraries working in partnership with juvenile justice facilities, alternative schools, residential treatment facilities, group homes, and other community service organizations.

Birds of Prey Descend on Children's Library

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“Awws” echoed through the Lackawanna County (PA) Children’s Library when Bill Streeter lifted Mortimer, a pocket-sized saw-whet owl, from his crate.

The 3-ounce bird seemed to squint with trepidation as he slowly turned his head to size up the room. Mr. Streeter, director of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center in Milford, had met the Furby-like bird of prey 17 years ago after a truck struck the owl in the middle of winter.

A kindhearted passer-by saw the bird flapping in the snow and rescued him, he said.

Although most of the predatory birds, called raptors, rehabilitated at Mr. Streeter’s facility re-enter the wild, Morty is among those that never fully recover. They spend the rest of their days in captivity as part of educational programs like the one held Sunday afternoon at the library.

The Schneider Family Book Award: A Legacy of Inspiration

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Seeking books about children who were blind or had other disabilities, a 9-year-old girl began borrowing books in braille from the National Library Service for the Blind.

The girl, Katherine Schneider, went on to become the first blind student to graduate from the public school system in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

A valedictorian and a National Merit Scholar, Schneider went on to obtain her doctorate from Purdue University and become a clinical psychologist and a university professor, teaching psychology courses at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, as well as counseling, supervising and administering counseling services there.

Books Your Kids Will LOVE this Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day!  When I was a classroom teacher, I did whatever I could not to make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.  I bought heart-covered pencils for my students, created a special morning message about Valentine’s Day, and I believe that was it.  How boring of me!

Truth be told, I didn’t want to lose a day of class time to special activities.  However, there is a way to make Valentine’s Day fun and educational.  For instance, one can take a day off from writing workshop (If you’re on-track with the unit you’re in and principal doesn’t mind!) to do some Valentine’s Day writing.  You can do a read aloud or two to inspire your students to write poems, comic books, short stories, and artwork. Then your students can give share their pieces with their family or friends after school.

Toy Libraries: A Place to Play

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Lois Eannel gets teary-eyed when she remembers that afternoon. She saw a mom bring her son into the early childhood section of the Palm Harbor (Fla.) Library and lay him down on the brightly colored rug. He must have been about 8 years  old, she thought, but a physical disability left him unable to sit up.

Eannel, then director of the children’s library, tapped the mom on the shoulder and told her she had something for her son. A short while later she brought out a Side-Lyer toy—a device made for children with special needs, with beads and lights that make sounds and vibrate when lightly touched.

And now, an important message about imaginative play

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What does a commercial-free space mean to you? With corporations doing their best to surround children with advertising from birth, providing commercial-free spaces is essential to our continued democracy, which depends on creativity and critical thinking, skills that pervasive marketing can repress. Libraries, with our continual campaign for intellectual freedom, are the perfect places to provide a commercial-free space for children.