Response from Scholarship Recipient Dominique Burns

Hello! My name is Dominique and I am the Youth Services Librarian at the Lafayette Public Library here in Colorado. I had an incredible time at the CATS Winter Workshop and took away so many new ideas for my own library. Before I talk about how awesome the workshop was, I want to say thank you to everyone involved and for the scholarship to attend. The entire workshop was so much fun and it allowed me to connect with librarians from all over Colorado. Getting to attend the workshop with my coworker Lisa only added to the experience. We started our mini road trip with a coffee stop (of course!) and then talked library ideas all the way to Colorado Springs. The drive combined with the coffee added to our excitement!

Then we arrived at Library 21c and fell in love with it. We really liked how they organized their children’s area and we definitely took photos to share with our coworkers here in Lafayette.  We did attend the opening and closing sessions together, but decided to split up during the conference to cover more ground. I attended “Katniss for President! Creative Ways to Partner With Schools,” “STEAM Works,” and “Everything You Wanted to Know About Beginning Readers But Were Afraid to Ask.” Since this is just a short blog post, I’m only going to write about one of the sessions I attended. However, I will admit that I have pages and pages of notes from all the sessions, because they were all marvelous and so informative!

“Katniss for President! Creative Ways to Partner With Schools” was the first session I attended and I thought it was and is very applicable to my library. I loved that they took their programming to the schools and how creative they were with their outreach. Here are some of the takeaway points that really stood out to me from their session:

  • Librarians should visit schools all year long and not just for summer reading. This way you do not have to re-introduce yourself every year for summer reading.
  • If you have a large team, then define roles and have one point of contact for schools. This makes communicating easier for all involved.
  • Connect with staff at the schools in your community to create a long-term partnership between the school and the library.
  • Try connecting with the school’s English teacher and not just the librarian.
  • One event the speakers talked about that they do is during Tech Week.  They come in to the school and have a week long program with interactive and passive programming. They also bring in new technology for teens to explore.
  • Teen Read Week is another great way to have a presence at the schools in your community. You can set-up a table to give out free books or have enter to wins.
  • Try to visit schools in your area at least once a month.
  • Another program that the speakers did in their community was a take on “Silent Library” from MTV. They had teens perform challenges in the library without laughing or talking.
    • Sticky notes on Face Challenge (Put sticky notes on face)
    • Airplane Challenge (Make as many airplanes in 60 sec.)
    • Unicorn Marshmallow Challenge. (Pile marshmallows on forehead)
  • When you visit schools bring library cards, so that teens can sign-up for a card.
  • Bring a menu of items and services the library offers to give to teachers and students at the schools.
  • Another outreach method they use is recording videos or audio for morning announcements at schools. It is an easy way to share information with schools without having to physically be there.

I hope these takeaway points give you some new ideas for your own library if you weren’t at the conference. I definitely want to try the Silent Library Game at my next Teen Town Hall. I think the Unicorn Marshmallow Challenge will be a huge hit and get lots of laughs from the tweens and teens. I truly loved everything from the early morning mini road trip to learning about early readers and even getting to dance like Baby Groot!  The conference was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to attend next year.


Dominique Burns

Youth Services Librarian


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