Programming Basics – Sell Yourself, Then Your Program


So now that I’m getting into the swing of things on The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library I’m able to start programming.

This. Is. My. Passion.

Which makes it at times almost uncontrollably hard to rein in.  I always want to go way overboard when it comes to programming and it can be hard to just pick one thing to start with.  I tend to focus on what a program could turn into (An entire gaggle of crafty teens meeting weekly to yarn bomb the city together!  A fleet of girls who Skype with Amy Poehler about the frustrations of being ballsy, creative young women as we create a zine!  A group who study the acoustics of ukuleles, design crazy versions we 3D print, then have an impromptu “Learn Your First Chord w/ Amanda Palmer in 5 Minutes” program that turns into weekly Uke sessions. Seriously, it’s like this in my brain ALL DAY…) instead of how to build the fan base to make those big programs work.  Luckily, with a few locations and years under my belt I’m finally getting better at the start up of such programs.

So here’s what I’m gonna do:  I’m gonna’ delve into my own childhood and give a few of my choice memories away to a new generation.  First Up? I’m gonna teach 8-18 year olds how to make and then use a Knitting Nancy.  Anyone remember those?  I spent HOURS when I was about 9 creating endless chains of yarn and dreaming about what I’d turn them into.

I picked this for four reasons:

  1. Because DIY is hot right now.
  2. Because Retro is hot right now.
  3. Because Kids can smell a fake a mile away and unless I’m totally into what we’re doing they’ll hate it/me.
  4. Because the kids who freakin’ love it will come back for more.

This program will be fabulous and these kids will want to come back.  Next time I’ll hook them again and this is how I’ll build my crafty fan base.  Eventually, we’ll get to those big ideas but first, I’ve gotta sell myself to them.

Oh, in case you’re interested in teaching kids Spool Knitting (also known as French Knitting) I HIGHLY recommend this video which I’ll be showing them on Saturday. Seriously, this 6 Year Old Boy might be my new hero…

Create Your Own Divergent Release Party

Okay.  So I’m super excited to be working with teens again for a ton of reasons the least of which is because I get to create a totally kick-ass party for the upcoming release of Divergent by Veronica Roth.

I’m gonna let you all (I’m not really ready to say y’all quite yet…) inside my brain as I plan this party for the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library.  You can copy me, adapt my ideas to suit your libraries or tell me I’m a damn fool as you see fit but by all means, get creative!

So far my dream list would include a tunnel of cardboard to create giant fear simulations, a foam pit to jump into that would take photos of folks jumping, a temporary tattoo station, a crazy dystopian hair station, and hair chalking.  There are other, far more realistic ideas but I like to start by dreaming big.  To see some of the great ideas that I’m saving which others have created check out my board on Pinterest here

My First Week in Chattanooga

If there’s anything I’ve learned from realistic tween fiction it’s that being the new girl can be hard.  Really hard. Roving bullies, countless social faux pas, missing friends and family, it’s really just a wasteland strewn with mortification and terror.  Growing up I never exactly “fit in”.  My clothes were different, my hairstyles were different, my sense of humor was different and the things I liked to do for fun were really different. (If you’ve just moved to a new town I do NOT recommend jumping straight into imaginary downhill skiing on your roller-skates in front of the cool kids.)  When we moved to Maine I was nine and I had all of the aforementioned things going for me.  It was like walking straight into one of those novels except there was no turning the page when things got too hard to read.  I couldn’t finish the book and be glad I wasn’t in some other girl’s shoes.  I embraced the strange though.  I liked standing out as a societal rebel, I took pleasure in scaring the other kids with my sense of humor and while my lack of friends bothered me I didn’t want to compromise who I was.  After about a year of this I found Rachel, another outsider, and we took solace in one another’s company. All of a sudden the world with bullies didn’t exist anymore, all that was real was the world we created for ourselves.

Some folks have been asking what my first week has been like since joining the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library. There’s interest about having gaming equipment for teens available all day (even if teens are skipping school), there are questions about letting kids have access to expensive equipment like our 3D printer, there is wonder about the fact that we have 14,000 sq feet for JUST ages 8-18, and there are questions about what we’ve got up our sleeves, what big, crazy things we want to do next.

The fancy equipment is wonderful to have right off the bat, but it’s not the best part.  I’ve always pushed to get games in my previous libraries and the responsibilities libraries have to reflecting our communities and bridging gaps makes it easy to justify the need for 3D printers or maker spaces in grant funding if you can’t find room for it in your budgets.  

We have lots of space to grow, be noisy and even run around if we want to which is incredible but it’s also not the best part.  This week we had the room to create music and a gigantic 20 foot jellyfish at the same time.  When the kids excitement led them to get rambunctious they were encouraged to run, no, stampede to the other end of our floor to get drinks of water and burn it off.  I know space is hard to come by for many libraries but even at my first library when we didn’t have enough space to run around we could go outside to burn off energy.  At my last library when we needed to burn energy we occasionally just let the kids be kids and run if needed.  There can be creative ways to deal with small spaces and locations that don’t have the great outdoors at your disposal.

The best part about working in the Chattanooga Public Library and specifically on the 2nd Floor is being in a building filled with people like me.  People who have also had their programming ideas received with raised eyebrows, people who might not look like other librarians and certainly don’t talk like them.  It’s like I’ve found a hive of Rachels and we’re just getting started in creating those big, crazy programs everyone is waiting to hear about.  I am supported, I am inspired, I am encouraged and I am flourishing.  That’s what it’s like to work here.