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I am brand new to working in libraries, and I started as the lone children’s specialist at my branch about a month and a half ago. I am considering introducing a storytime mascot, and I was wondering if the Storytime Ninjas have any advice on how to go about introducing the mascot, incorporating it into storytimes, and generating excitement. I have been reading about libraries with established and beloved mascots, but I haven’t seen too much about introducing a new mascot.
It really depends on you and your mascot: how much fanfare do you want to have? I have introduced a storytime mascot with not much (he had a regular part in storytime—helped make Alphabet Soup and then danced with everyone at the end, but that was about it. I just introduced him every week for the new people, and on we went), but I am hopefully soon going to be introducing a Children’s Department mascot in my current library, so here’s what I’m planning:
He will of course appear at storytime, and introduce himself and help with whatever the programmer wants him to help with. I’m hoping he’ll become a regular at least at the age two+ storytimes, maybe not the babies and toddlers, since he is a monster puppet (from Folkmanis; Pi Monster).
We’ll have a naming contest, with a small prize (but mostly the glory of having named the mascot).
He will have a photo and invented bio posted to social media and our website on his official intro day. I’m hoping he can also make an appearance every day for the first week of his appointment, recommending books and things! He will also make regular appearances in photos on social media and the website, in various locations around the library, and kids will be invited to guess where each one is (and get a sticker if they come into the library and tell us the correct answer).
He’ll come to schools in June when we do outreach for summer reading, and exhort everyone to register (or he’ll eat them). Finishers of the SRP will get to pose with him and have their picture posted to our social media sites if their parents are okay with it.
Hopefully he’ll have a nice juicy role to play in our winter Family Literacy program, but details are unavailable as yet.
Really, I think however you want to play it is fine. It depends a lot on you and your program style and your library! My previous library had drop-in storytimes with endless people, here we have mostly registered programs with no more than 15 kids. Here we’re always trying to find good social media stuff for our one library ‘system’, so I’m going to use it a lot for our departmental mascot, but I wouldn’t have in my last job—it just wasn’t big news in a 20+ branch system!
I suspect the reason you don’t see a lot about introducing mascots is that they mostly don’t need much introduction: if it’s a cuddly fun thing that starts coming to storytime regularly, does it need much introduction? I think you’ll find storytime kids accept it pretty easily. The fanfare I’m planning for Pi Monster is mostly for the sake of the adults and the older kids, who don’t take so easily to such things. However, if you want resources, the Magpie Librarian has a fine blog post introducing a storytime mascot: https://magpielibrarian.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/introducing-no-name-the-new-storytime-puppet/
Like Polly, I think it depends on your own style, your comfort zone, and what is your goal/s for having a storytime mascot. I have tried several times but haven’t found my rhythm with my puppet~ sometimes I am not sure if it was the correct puppet or my age groups. In the other hand, one of my coworkers has consistent success with her mascot. She used to have a little puppy that would greet the kids, go over storytime rules, and say goodbye to the kids. Currently she is using “Mr. MacDonald” a funny looking Irish or maybe Scottish puppet with her welcoming song, following her storytime rules, etc. My suggestion is that you find a puppet you are comfortable with, create a nice little home for it to live, this will help the kids connect with it. And introduce it at the beginning of a new season of storytime, and consistently use him each and every storytime. Maybe held a contest to name it since he/she/it will be a new member of your “staff”.
Now, if you are thinking of a real mascot for your area, we have an African frog named Henry. Kids love to come over and say “hi” to Henry. Another library has a guinea pig near their desk area and even held a birthday party for her.
Hope this helps.