Creativity for Sale?

A co-worker and I were preparing for the new session of storytimes coming up. She mentioned that she had been looking on the Internet for a while for a flannelboard pattern where kids add feathers to a turkey’s tail. Turns out, we already had just such a flannelboard made from a pattern from a book. My co-worker commented that it was “exactly what she was looking for” and was frustrated by trying to find similar materials on the Internet.

I, too, find that it can be difficult to find planning materials for storytime on the Internet. Of course, there are no end to storytime websites, including Bayviews, The Best Kids Book Site, and the newest offering from Hennepin County: ELSIE.

But storytimes are about more than books. They may also include rhymes, songs, fingerplays, flannelboards, crafts, games and music. These elements can be harder to find online. Finding flannelboards and crafts that are of high quality can be even harder. Because the truth remains that it can be hard to make money from your ideas when you make them freely available on the web, but people are generally reluctant to pay for web content. The best way to get credit (and benefit financially) from your ideas is to put them in a book. However, I never think to look for rhymes or flannelboards in books anymore.

I do use DLTK for crafts and the occasional flannelboard, and I have found some rhymes on The Best Kids Book Site, but I wonder if other have any good ideas for flannelboards, rhymes or crafts.

This also brings up a bit of the arguement about creative commons and copyright. If a person has a talent, they deserve to be recognized for that talent and, in many cases, compensated.  My talent as a singer is a commodity. I choose to donate my talent or use it in return for compensation. It seems however that there is a stigma in the library world against those who expect to be compensated for their abilities.

I am, of course, a fan of the creative commons and of the open source movement. But sometimes I pause before I put my ideas up on a listserv, thinking “what if I put these ideas into a book and made some money off of them instead of just giving them away?” Is there still a market for books containing storytime ideas? Should these ideas be freely available on the internet, even if it affects the quality of ideas available? What do people think?


Post #3 – Shift to Gaming

I’m not sure how I missed it before, but since I attended the Gaming in Libraries program at Dominican, I have been enjoying Jenny Levine’s Shifted Librarian blog. She collects all the best ideas about using gaming and technology in libraries into one, easy to digest blog.

Here are a few of my favorite recent posts:

Dance your fines away

I love this idea. Not only is fine forgiveness a great way to encourage people to come back the library, this idea is a guaranteed publicity magnet. Any time we can draw positive attention to what we do, we are making our communities more aware of what the library provides the community. Not only that, but the library is publicizing its acceptance of gaming and gaming culture in the library. This is very important for changing the public’s impression of the library as a quiet, boring place.

What do games have to do with literacy?

I had a couple of run-ins with this question in my own library as we were questioned on our policy restricting gaming on public computers (which has since been lifted) and our purchase of a PS2, DDR and Guitar Hero. A new staff member was questioning why the games had been purchased and what they were being used for.

Besides the fact that video games fit perfectly with the iREAD Summer Reading Program theme, games are a fun way to teach. Take the article by Brian Mayer linking the New York State Curriculum standards to board games. Or Paul Waelchli’s article on teaching information literacy by playing fantasy football.

Barack Obama may be telling parents to turn off the video games in order to encourage learning for their children, but maybe they need to keep those games on in order to prepare kids for a Web 2.0 world.


Just Dewey It – Silly Science

On Monday, I conducted a successful program for 3rd-6th graders

It’s the fifth in a series I’m doing called Just Dewey It, where we explore each of the Dewey Ranges and do fun stuff that corresponds.

This month was the 500’s and we did “kitchen science” experiments. You’re probably familiar with most of them, like baking soda and vinegar to make a “volcano” and cornstarch and water to make “quicksand.” We used water from boiling a red cabbage as an indicator to see what is an acid and what is a base. We used a candle to suck water into a jar and used a balloon to light a fluorescent bulb.

14 kids registered and 10 kids came, which is a pretty good number for this sort of program. There were only 2 minor problems: One of the experiments I did almost set off the smoke alarms (oops) and when we were making slime, some of the kids added too much food coloring and their hands turned purple and green. I’m sure it will wash off in four or five days…

I wanted to post pictures, but I don’t have permission forms for all these kids, so I’ll have to work on that for next time.

I’d love to hear about programs other libraries are doing, so we can steal share ideas.