Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Finding a Rhythm for "Baby Bounce"

Babies love books (Pixabay)
Before I begin describing our program, I’d like to give you an idea of where we began….When I first started in my position in November 2013, our facility had been short staffed for over a year.  As you know, this meant cuts in programming.   I had been doing preschool story time on a weekly basis, getting to know my way around a new facility, and dealing with the oddities of being a government employee.   
One program that I wanted to bring back was our story time for infants aged 0-18 months.  This is a wonderful opportunity to build strong relationships with our patrons.  Baby Bounce returned in early January with me wondering how many would come, or if any would attend at all…


I like to plan things.  I like to write them down.  I like to type them up.  I like to have a plan, and I like to follow the plan.  That being said, you can only plan so much; especially when babies are involved.   I had a general idea of how I
Targeted demographic (Pixabay)
wanted to structure the program, but I did some online research first.  I ordered multiple copies of several non-circulating books so I could pass them out to families to read. I made sure I had a stuffed animal as a prop to model things as I went along.   Our library had many toys suitable for this age group that were only used for programming that I could use for social time.  I also created a bookmark with the bounce of the day and a list of the books and songs we used so parents could refer to them at home.  

I spent quite a bit of time taking posters around town to advertise to my target demographic.  I took information to schools, stores, churches, pediatrician offices, OB/GYN offices, and restaurants.  We contacted newspapers and other community groups like the WIC office, and I spoke with many of the families that came to the library.  I was hoping that, as there were no other baby story times in our area, we would eventually have a crowd.

Show Time

The first session was small.  O.K., there were only two babies, and the local news photographer.  But, this was actually a good thing as it gave me a chance to feel things out and get a better idea of what I would like to do during the program. We meandered through the winter months, sometimes with only one baby, but usually with about four.  The group wasn't always the same four, but we were happy to see them anyway.  Numbers still fluctuate.  Babies nap when they nap and schedules change.  


Over the months, I have made changes:  I added an art project, rearranged the order, and eliminated some things.  I also switched from a read along with the group books, to having parents read to their child.   This fall we are trying a different day for our Baby Bounce.  We’ll have to see how that works out.  We have a new website and a new Facebook page that we hope will help spread the word.  I hope you have a chance to share your love of books with our youngest patrons.    You’ll see them grow before your very eyes!    

Lara Lakari, Children’s Services Librarian
Stephenson Public Library, Marinette, WI