Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Collaborative Story Times: Fun for All and All for Fun!

Story times are a staple of library programming. 

I know I'm preaching to the crowd in terms of the importance of story times, so rather than spout out facts, figures, and heartwarming tales, I instead offer up a suggestion for another type of story time to consider adding to your rotation: collaborative story times.

Last summer, the fabulous Emily Sanders of Barrett Memorial Library in Williams Bay and I decided we wanted to hold a collaborative story time at a local park, a venture we lovingly dubbed Sunshine & Stories.  We had so much fun with this program, we decided to offer it again this summer!

First things first, we needed to find a location that was equidistant to both our libraries, allowing for easy access for both sets of patrons.  After finding a location--Community Park in the Town of Delavan--we made sure to reach out to the Parks & Recreation Department.  While pop-up story times are wonderful, we wanted to make this a regularly occurring event and thought it common courtesy to make the Parks Department aware of our intentions and get their approval for our event.  (Not only did they approve, but they also included our events on their electronic signage!  Woo!)

As it should be with any collaborative effort, all the promotional materials--whether it be social media, newsletter, website, or physical poster--contained the names of all the entities involved in the program.  Additionally, the images and designs utilized by both libraries were identical, as it was important that the patrons see this as a truly collaborative effort.

One of the many fantastic benefits of a collaborative story time is the opportunity to play off each other's energy and utilize materials that embrace dialogue!  The Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems, the Ballet Cat series by Bob Shea, Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein, Big Bunny by Rowboat Watkins, Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins are just a few examples of stellar multi-reader story time options.

Another benefit?  Partnering with other agencies!  You gain the opportunity to reach an audience you may not have had access to before, not to mention the sense of community and camaraderie created when working as a team.  While nearby libraries are an option, you could also consider reaching out to schools, government agencies such as your community's police and/or fire departments, or local businesses about forming a story time partnership program.

Collaborations can be intimidating, but don't let that stop you!  They offer you the opportunity to provide services to a wider base of patrons, create a sense of community, and make connections.  Hello there, win-win-win!

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