This month, we’d like you to meet Laura Arnhold, a children’s librarian at the Upper Merion Township Library in King of Prussia, PA (outside of Philadelphia). Laura has been in that position for five and a half years, and she spends a lot of her time answering reference questions, leading story times, and planning programs for children in Kindergarten – 8th grade. Laura got on our radar for Storytime Guerrilla of the Month after she shared some great details and ideas for Yoga Storytime at the Guerrilla Storytime at ALA Midwinter this past January. She’s recently written a great summary post about her experiences doing Yoga Storytime and resources so you can, too; find the post at her blog, Literacious. Laura wanted to be a librarian since she was little, and she’s pretty sure she has the best job in the world. In her spare time, she loves to cook, spend time outdoors, and of course try to read as much kid’s lit as possible.
Q: What one storytime skill are you really, really great at? Okay, you can share two things.
Laura: I’m not afraid to stop in the middle of storytime and go “off script;” sometimes things are just not going the way you planned and you need to mix it up a little bit. I’m also a big fan of encouraging what I like to call “managed chaos.” A parachute, some “popcorn” balls, and 20 toddlers can get pretty crazy at times, but it’s worth it when the kids are giggling up a storm and the caregivers are having a good time too!
Q: What’s been inspiring your library work lately?
Laura: I was lucky enough to attend ALA Midwinter and I loved the ideas coming out of the Guerrilla Storytime. I also follow a ton of great blogs and other librarians on Twitter who are doing amazing things across the country, and I think it’s a really exciting time to be in the field.
Q: If you had free reign to try anything in storytime, what would it be?
Laura: I’m lucky to work in a library that allows me to try new ideas all the time! We’ve begun a parachute storytime program as well as a yoga storytime, a STEM storytime, and a sensory storytime. I think I’d like to try adding more exploratory play after storytime to encourage families to interact together and as a way to teach early literacy skills in a more personal setting where I can talk to a few families at a time.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to librarians just starting out in youth services?
Laura: Don’t be threatened by previous librarians in your position; you’ll often hear something like, “It has always been done like this…” Storytime always works better when you’re comfortable with the songs, stories and activities. And don’t forget to read as much as you can. It’s a major help when planning storytimes and offering suggestions too!
Q: When you have a storytime problem, who/what do you turn to for advice or support? It can be a person, a blog, a website, a resource…
Laura: Blogs have been a great resource for me lately, and some of my favorites include Abby the Librarian, The Show Me Librarian, and Storytime Katie. These are just a few of the story time blogs I follow. If I’m looking for early literacy information to enhance my storytime, I always head over to Saroj Ghoting’s website for great resources about the importance of early literacy.
Do you want to be a Storytime Guerrilla of the Month, or know someone who should be? Send us an e-mail and tell us a bit about those crazy storytime skills!