May 2020

May 2020

It takes a Neighborhood to Nourish a Children’s Librarian

Dear Neighborhood,  

Katherine and I continue to read articles about libraries and librarians struggling in this scary time. Whether this is being laid off, required to use paid leave, or the library being opened without taking care to secure the safety of staff, we grieve with you the many changes and difficulties that have come your way. We also see so many positive and creative ways librarians have been able to connect with patrons and help bring together communities when the people in those communities feel so alone. As a neighborhood we are here to not just connect with you with information, but to remind each other we are not alone. As we tackle this unfamiliar territory, I hope we can rely on each other to not only spur on great ideas, but also encourage and comfort one another in both celebrations and losses. 

While some of us are preparing to go back to our physical buildings, the reality of when in-person programming can resume remains a large question. Many librarians have had to become tech gurus in utilizing Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and the most famous video-conferencing communication technology, Zoom. We have included sections about using Zoom (while also highlighting some of its drawbacks), to-go kits, as well as reflecting on the changes that COVID-19 has had on the re-opening of libraries to the public. 

Enjoy this newsletter and please take heart, our dear neighbors! 



Using Zoom for Digital Programming 

Deepen your knowledge on a topic related to Children’s Services.  


Our library system was able to not only purchase a Zoom account, but we also have an amazing team of people (shout-out to our Engagement Program Services staff!) that have taken the time to learn about Zoom’s many features and how to use it safely for programming and meetings. Below are some of the ways we have utilized Zoom’s many features. While most frontline staff do not have a choice in what their administration chooses for digital programming, we have also included information about Zoom’s flaws and some alternatives to Zoom. 

Zoom Breakout Rooms 

One of my favorite features of Zoom is the “Breakout Rooms” that has allowed us to continue our Children Reading to Dogs program. Zoom breakout rooms enable groups to move smoothly from a single large gathering into several smaller groups, then return to a single group session. Because of the nature of inviting staff and volunteers into a patron’s home and the threat of Zoombombing (where strangers dial in your channel with something rude and disruptive), we wanted to take as many precautions as possible. 

  • First, we created guidelines for volunteers and patrons that we included in our registration. 
  • We also had a staff member in the breakout room with the dog volunteer team and reader so that if there were any suspicious “Zoom-bombing” or other tech-support problems, the staff member would be able to help handle the situation. 
  • Those registered were sent the secure link to the Zoom meeting. We used the “waiting room” feature so we had more control of who we let enter the main room. 
  • Every staff member was made a “co-host” so they had admin privileges. 
  • Once everyone was present, we shared a PowerPoint using the Share my Screen feature, to share guidelines and the basics of using Zoom. 
  • Afterwards, we separated our readers, staff, and dog volunteer teams into a breakout room for 30 minutes. Children were able to practice their reading and connect with our dog volunteer teams. If they finished before 30 minutes they were able to log off if desired and were given a link for a survey. At 30 minutes everyone returned to the “main room” where the link to the survey was shared and the session ended. 

This program has been very successful. This is of course dependent on the number of dog volunteer teams and staff availability, but would not be possible without the Zoom breakout rooms feature. To learn more about the breakout room feature, check out Zoom’s website! 

Streaming Zoom to Facebook Live 

While Facebook Live does have a feature of sharing your screen, that screen you share will be the one you will use for the entire broadcast. You can’t switch between your screen you are sharing and the screen of yourself. This is where streaming Zoom to Facebook Live can be really helpful if you are needing to share your screen with your Facebook page audience. 

We have streamed Zoom to Facebook Live for our big library read discussion, as well as showcasing how to use some of our databases. I like this feature as we have a large audience on our Facebook page and this allows us to showcase our programs and services on a larger scale, not just with the people who have registered for the Zoom link. 

Check out Zoom’s step by step instructions on how to stream to Facebook Live for more information! 

Zoom Programs Ideas 

You all have already been utilizing Zoom to reach out to your patrons! Below are some of those great ideas! 

  • Dungeons and Dragons 
  • Storytimes
  • Book Clubs
  • Yoga Class
  • Dance Class
  • Program with local Park Ranger
  • Librarian-in-Training Program 
  • Children Reading to Dogs 

Zoom’s Flaws and Alternatives 

Using any third party technology has some risks, and it’s important that we note some of Zoom’s flaws and alternatives that can be used. Many of the flaws and problems with Zoom can be outlined in a Guardian article published on April 2, 2020. Some of the flaws include: 

  • Data collection and data sharing (example: sharing data collection with Facebook without consent) 
  • Data mining (example: a data-mining feature on Zoom allowed some participants to have access to LinkedIn profile data about other users) 
  • Security issues that result in Zoombombing and Zoomraids (where strangers dial in your channel with something rude and disruptive)
  • Security of videos being recorded and shared without consent (For more information, please read Washington Post’s article, Thousands of Zoom video calls left exposed on open Web)
  • Advertised that they used end-to-end encryption, but failed to do so. 

I highly recommend Cnet’s website as it gives more details and a timeline of Zoom’s security and privacy issues and they update the site regularly. 

While these flaws are concerning, Zoom has made efforts to remedy some of the security problems. They have published a 90-day Security Plan and have been updating their progress on the Zoom blog. Zoom has also dedicated a portion of their website for privacy and security issues and some of their solutions. While this doesn’t solve all of the problems with Zoom, it is important to note there have been some improvements made. 

Below are some alternatives to Zoom: 

  • Google Classroom 
  • Google Hangouts Meet
  • Microsoft Office Teams
  • Skype
  • GoToMeeting (does have a cost)
  • Cisco Webex (does have a cost) 

We’d love to hear how you are using Zoom or other 3rd party technology to connect with patrons! You can email us at or message us on our Instagram @thecardigannewsletter


Play On the Go

Play is a right! Learn quick tips to optimize play experiences in libraries. 


As libraries pause in person programs and amp up online offerings, my colleagues and I have been brainstorming to-go play kits as a form of engagement with our younger patrons. I recognize the ability to do something like this is contingent upon the building being open and staffed which is not everyone’s reality at this point. However, with programs cancelled indefinitely and staff going back to work, this is an option I’m really excited about. 

Here are some of the questions I’ve been thinking through:

  • How can we maintain patron and staff safety while distributing them? Having bags in a box for customers to grab isn’t safe if everyone isn’t wearing gloves. Handing them out seems like a better option: maybe at service point, or during holds pick up delivery. It’s also important to identify the age for which the kit is intended, so young children aren’t taking home items that could be a swallowing hazard. 
  • How can we keep the items in the bag clean? Wearing gloves and a mask while assembling kits is a good starting point, but I think we need an additional safety measure to make sure the materials themselves are clean. Since IMLS is recommending quarantining returned materials for 72 hours (source for this in the Reflect section), this also seems like an appropriate amount of time to quarantine the bags. Maybe make the bags 3 days before distributing them? 
  • How can we promote the items and maintain a supply? Perhaps I’m overly confident in this idea, but I imagine that if we had kits available they would go fairly quickly, especially if the projects are open-ended and appealing to kids of all ages. Promotions would have to clearly state supplies are limited, and are limited to one per child. You could also consider having age restrictions (“supplies are intended for anyone 18 and under”)
  • Can we connect the project with the collection or a learning opportunity? I’m all for fun for the sake of fun, but I think there’s any opportunity for the kits to help us promote our other services. I envision each kit coming with a little note that lists related book titles, or maybe an interesting quote from one of our non-fiction books. 
  • How can we keep the projects equitable? Most projects require some kind of additional materials at home, like special glue. I want to be sure to not assume kids have these things, so I’m trying to identify projects that only use common school supplies. 

Here are some of the crafts and projects I think would be low cost, easy to replicate and easy to stick in a zip lock bag!

Project by @lineandformartcenter

Include in bag: contact paper. Instruct kids to find items outside to stick in between the paper, and then cut it out into a shape. 

Project by @1der.and.cre8

Include in bag: sheets of black, orange, green, and brown paper. 

Project by @1der.and.cre8

Include in bag: short stick, squares of origami paper

Ellen Sulzycki and Kelsey Socha at the Springfield City Library have been distributing to-go crafts every week for school-aged children and preschoolers. They graciously shared their list of activities with us!

Wendy in Keller, TX also put together a “mystery art scraps” to-go project: envelopes filled with loose odds and ends for kids to get creative with. She encouraged participants to tag the library in the photos of their final creations. This is a great idea to clear out your storage closet! 


Online Book Clubs

Learn about an interesting program you can easily replicate at your library 


While I know many teen and adult book clubs have continued to thrive via online, I was curious to know how a children’s online book club would work. Our library system tried using Facebook groups and Facebook Live to curate interest and discussion. 

The How

  • How do I choose the book? It has to be a book that has unlimited ebook checkouts and can be checked out simultaneously. We used Hoopla to find our book, but I know some of our subscribers have mentioned Tumblebooks is another great resource to find books with these parameters. We chose the award-winning graphic novel, New Kid by Jerry Craft. Choosing a book that can appeal to a wider age demographic (New Kid can appeal to 4th-8th graders) was helpful too so more people can participate. 
  • Where should the book club meet? We chose a closed Facebook group so families could feel comfortable letting their child use Facebook. Many of the kids were using their parent’s login for the group. I liked the Facebook option as it allowed families flexibility of when they would like to engage in the discussion questions and activities. I utilized the Facebook Live option so we could have live conversations about the book, but after the live video I would post the discussion questions and activities in the Facebook group for those who could not make it for the Facebook live discussion. If a Facebook group isn’t the right medium for your book club, that’s okay! Some of our subscribers mentioned that they used a closed Zoom meeting for their book club.
  • How often should the book club “meet?” We had a schedule of reading posted in the Facebook group so kids just had to have read a couple of chapters before each meeting. I started a Facebook live video every Monday and Thursday at 1:00 pm and then posted the discussion and activities in the Facebook group after the live video. We had a good 3-5 kids participate in the Facebook live and then others would often participate in the discussion questions and activities after the live video. You can check out my outline here! 

The Big Library Read

Not only did we try a Kids Online Book Club, but we also tried a Big Library Read during the month of April. Since Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone was available April 1st-April 30th on Overdrive/Libby with unlimited and simultaneous access, we decided to make it our “Big Library Read!” Instead of a Facebook group, we just utilized our main Facebook page to go Facebook Live. We also allowed 15 people to register as “panelists” to be on our Zoom meeting where we broadcasted our Zoom meeting to Facebook Live. We had two staff members monitoring the Facebook Live Chat, while I monitored the Zoom conversations. Leading up to the Big Library Read day, we posted fun polls on Facebook and Instagram. We also did a “how to make your own wand” video for a special activity and to promote the event. 

The Celebrations and Struggles 

Overall, I think the book club was successful. I’m not sure if Facebook Live or a Facebook group is the best medium as I know some parents did not allow their children to participate because they were trying to limit use of social media. It also frustrated me as I knew some kids that came to my in-person book club were just not able to participate because they lacked the technology. I know social media storytimes have been such a success during this time that it is likely that those might continue even after storytimes resume in-person. I’m not sure if “Online Kids Book Clubs” will have the same outcome. I do think it is very worthwhile and important to offer virtual book clubs while in-person programs are at a halt, but I really can’t wait to have Kids Book Club in-person again! 


  1. Novelist Special Edition: How to go from in-person to online 
  2. The Cardigan Subscribers’ suggestions and tips! (Thanks to @kaslopubliclibrary, @_karla_kristine, @bigskybrarian, and @msmitala!) 


Using Causal Storytime Books 

Libraries are for everyone! 


Katherine found a very timely article on CNN’s website titled, “Children prefer storybooks that teach them how and why the world works, study says.” The article is referring to a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology, where researchers presented two expository books. One book explained in detail how a body part or behavior helped an animal survive. The other book contained factual information about animals, but non-explanatory descriptions. While the evidence showed that children enjoyed both books, an overwhelming amount chose the causally rich book as their favorite. One of the reasons children crave books with a clear cause and effect stories or explanations is because of their natural curiosity and the intrinsic reward of learning more about how the world works. 

This study gives us some knowledge to consider when selecting storytime books or recommending titles to families. As the article mentions, “If children do prefer storybooks with causal explanations, adults might seek out more causally rich books to read with children — which might in turn increase the child’s motivation to read together, making it easier to foster early literacy.”

The article gives some great examples of these types of books: 

  • “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff
  • “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
  • “Press Here” by Herve Tuillet
  • “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats
  • “Tap the Magic Tree” by Christie Mathieson
  • “A Good Day” by Kevin Henkes
  • “Please Baby Please” by Spike and Tonya Lee
  • “Runaway Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown

Brightly also has a great list of cause and effect books for children.


Jessica Kim

Discover new authors!


1. Tell us about your book, Stand Up, Yumi Chung, and the inspiration for the book.  

It’s about a shy eleven- year- old girl who loves comedy. Unfortunately, her parents would prefer that she spend her time studying for the big scholarship test she has coming up. One day, she happens to stumble into a new comedy camp run by her idol, Jasmine Jasper. In a series of random events, she accidentally steals the identity of another camper and takes on a new persona to pursue the one thing she’s passionate about: comedy. It’s a fun story filled with lots of humorous high jinx and a lot of heart. Readers root for Yumi as she figures her way out of her web of lies and tries to help save her family’s failing Korean barbecue restaurant. At its heart, it’s a tender and real family story that has a lot to do with identity and self-acceptance.

I wrote this book because there weren’t a whole lot of stories out there about kids like me. Born and raised in America, but whose parents immigrated from another country. As people who have to constantly toggle between the culture we’re surrounded by and the traditional values our parents brought over, we have a hard time knowing where we fit in. I thought it’d be interesting to delve into that tension that happens when the values of the cultures collide. What would it look like if a shy dutiful girl had an deep interest in something that her parents disapproved of? How would she reconcile wanting to live out her dreams, while also making her parents proud? Once I settled on comedy, I knew I had a story.

2. What are some books that have had an impact on your life and/or writing?

I am always taking in stories that give me ideas, whether they be books or movies or podcasts. For this project, I looked at Mulan (for her double-life element), Bend It Like Beckham (for the parents not understanding dynamic) and Lisa Yee’s Millicent Min, Girl Genius (for the social outcast backstory). I analyzed the plot structures of these stories and made them come together for Yumi’s story.

3. How can our readers connect with you?

You can find me at and @jesskimwrites on Twitter and Instagram.



Some of our favorite books. 



Reopening to the Public

Where we reflect on the deeper questions.


By the time this reaches your inbox, there’s a good chance some of you will be gearing up to return to work after a long closure.  Reopening to the public is going to bring its fair share of surprises and stressors, so I wanted to compile some of the resources that I’ve found that address the logistical and emotional ramifications. 

More than any other, I’ve heard the question: “what will reopening look like?” Library administrator John Hill from Idaho put together an incredibly comprehensive guide to phased reopening addressing various scenarios. IMLS also hosted a webinar in conjunction with the CDC called “Mitigating COVID-19 When Managing Paper-Based, Circulating, and Other Types of Collections” that you can view here. Library Journal wrote up a nice summary if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing. 

Librarian Bryce Kozla recently led a webinar called “Being Trauma-Informed During a Pandemic: An Introduction for Library Staff” where she shared information on managing the emotional aspect of reopening. She highlighted practices that individuals can take to help reduce stress levels as well as group practices. I loved that she acknowledged that group dynamics can either increase or decrease stress. This is something I want to be particularly sensitive to as I return to working with coworkers. Things that increase stress might include: sharing unsolicited shocking or upsetting news related to COVID-19, invalidating feelings of worry or stress, or assuming that no one needs or benefits from mental health resources.  Be sure to check out her blog post “WTF Is Happening to Your Brain and What You Can Do About It.”

If you have any anecdotes, concerns, or perspectives related to reopening the library you’d like to share please feel free to do so. You can email us at We realize we are all operating with different levels of flexibility, budgets, and communities and our experiences vary greatly. 


Storytime Plans

Theresa Rodriguez

Do you use a storytime outline when planning for storytimes? A storytime outline is a planned structure of how your storytime will go. 

This outline below is created with preschool storytime in mind. The great thing about an outline is that it can be changed and tweaked for any age group. Infants? Add more songs and less stories. Toddlers? Add a flannel story/song, more movement songs and take out a book.

Preschool Storytime 

🗹 Opening Song: An opening song that you use at each of your storytimes will let your attendees know that it’s time to begin. 

🗹 Storytime Guidelines: Introduce yourself, welcome everyone and share your guidelines.

🗹 Story #1: Story #1 is the best place for the longest story. Children have not been sitting for a long period of time and can listen to a longer story. 

🗹 Action rhyme, fingerplay, flannel board story/song, action song, or shaker eggs and songs: Providing some sort of movement rhyme, song or fingerplay allows children to participate and get some wiggles out before the next story. 

🗹 Story #2: This story was usually shorter than the first story with the same considerations as noted above. 

🗹 Action rhyme, fingerplay, flannel board story/song, action song, or shaker eggs and songs: Including another movement rhyme, song or fingerplay gives children another opportunity to prepare themselves for the next story. 

🗹 Story #3: Story #3 is the shortest story with the same considerations as noted above. 

🗹 Action rhyme, fingerplay, action song, or shaker eggs and songs

🗹 Closing song: A regular closing song lets the audience know that the story part of storytime has ended. Thank the audience for coming, explain the craft or activity that will follow. 

🗹 Craft or activity

Modifications for Infant Storytimes: Infant storytimes include a variety of songs, fingerplays, action songs, and baby sign language. Bubbles with a closing song can be a fun way to end infant storytime. A playtime afterwards allows caregivers to mingle.

Modifications for Toddler Storytimes: Take out story #2 and #3 and include a flannel story/song instead. Add extra songs to keep the audience moving.  

Questions to consider for Book Selections: 

  • Are there words in the title that you want to give a definition for?
  • Are there words in the story that you would like to share a definition for when you come across that word? 
  • Does the story repeat words or phrases that you want the audience to say along with you?
  • Does the story have a song that you want to ask the attendees to help you sing? If so, plan on sharing what you want your audience to help you with. 
  • Do you clap at the end of a story? Clapping is a wonderful addition to the end of a story. I would clap and thank the children for listening so well. If they helped me read or sing some part of the story, then I would thank them for singing or for reading with me. 

Audience Considerations

Your audience is going to determine how many stories you read. You may have to try a few different outlines until you find what works best. When I moved from working in one library to another, I wanted to read three books during preschool storytime. After a few weeks, I realized that the audience was struggling to make it through the third book. I reduced the number of books down to two, replaced the last book with a flannel story/song and saw a big difference. As the children got used to the structure of storytime, I was able to add in another book later. 

How will your audience sing along if they don’t know the words? This can be handled in different ways. You can use a projector and a PowerPoint presentation. You can hand out photocopies with the words that the participants return at the end of storytime. You can create posters with the words and flip through the posters as you sing each song. Find what’s most comfortable for you. 

Be flexible

It’s important to remember that what we plan and what actually happens during storytime can be very different. Plan and be flexible. Learn to enjoy the mishaps just as much as the things that went exactly as planned.  

A Special Message

We have one last special message we wanted to share with you. When we first started the Cardigan, we had no idea it would grow to have such a following. We are so thankful for your support of our little newsletter, and how you’ve promoted it to your friends and colleagues. Since November 2018, we have spent about $1,000 of our own money towards giveaway books and Mailchimp fees. While we love the Mailchimp newsletter format, we feel that it isn’t financially sustainable especially since fees increase with the number of subscribers. For this reason, we’ve decided to move our newsletter to a website. The newsletter format and frequency will be the same. You will be able to subscribe to the website and be notified whenever a newsletter is uploaded. We are still committed to an enjoyable reading experience and have decided to not have any ads on the website. We are working on building the website now and look forward to sharing more information next month. Thank you for your support and being a faithful neighbor!

Were you forwarded this newsletter by a friend? You can subscribe to get all future newsletters here:

You can access a PDF of this newsletter in our Google Drive. This is where we will be storing all future newsletters. 

Logo by Thomas Freeman

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