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Margaret Whalen Stec

Program Observation
LIS 723
July 30, 2014
The three different programs I observed included a Baby
Storytime for ages 3-23 months, a Toddler/Preschool Collaborative
Storytime for ages 2-6, and a Craft Program for grades 3-6.
The Baby Storytime was in the morning with a flexible schedule
for either 10:15 or 11:00 catering to babys naptime. Before the
program began, families were greeted warmly and enthusiastically,
then led to the Activity Room and offered a detailed flyer with songs,
book titles and fingerplays to follow along. The presenter began the
program with a delightful repetitive name fingerplay and a familiar
song including a soft fabric ball rolled to each baby. The Activity Room
was bright and friendly with a comfortable colorful rug for seating in a
circle. There was an even balance of storybooks (short board books
with bright illustrations) songs and fingerplays to keep the young
audience of 12 engaged through the 20-minute period. At the end of
the second story, plastic instruments were distributed with singing and
dancing encouraged. The final portion of the program was a free time
for caregivers to chat with one another or quietly read to the children.
The presenter shared boxes of board books for browsing, soft fabric
balls for playing and bubbles for blowing. After the closing rhyme,
caregivers were invited, in an unhurried and friendly manner, to stay

and visit with one another. I also noticed the presenter knew several of
the caregivers and children by name. This was a fine example of
connecting the community to the resources of the library and sharing
the joy of reading in a comfortable and inviting literary atmosphere.
The next storytime program included ages 2-6. I found this a
curious age range to include together, realizing the vast behavioral
and developmental differences between a beginning toddler and older
preschooler. The presenters greeted the patrons at the entrance
seeming a bit rushed but enthusiastic. The attendance for this
particular program was approximately 90 patrons with children. It took
place in a large meeting room, which was not conducive to the
storytelling and fingerplay components required in this program. The
room was very loud, and the presenters had a difficult time with
volume and attention spans. There were also several distracting items
in different areas of the room: a podium, a large American flag stand
and bay windows with inviting platforms for jumping and playing. The
energy and enthusiasm of the presenters were excellent; but
unfortunately, the size and setting for the group were obvious
hindrances. There were interactive elements such as scarves and
beach mats for sitting; but with the large numbers in attendance, not
every child was able to participate directly. The program as a whole
included a nice balance of stories, sensory fingerplays and interactive
exercises. I also enjoyed the thematic books on display and hands-on

craft activities placed near the entrance. The problems seemed to be

the age ranges, large attendance numbers and the meeting room size
setting which invited distractions and overstimulation.
The final program observation was a craft activity designed for
grades 3-6 and began in the afternoon at 4:00. The childrens
department was moderately busy before the program, but I noticed the
presenter walking around the area seemingly searching for recruits.
The attendance was very low for this program, including only five
children with one adult. The presenter seemed well prepared and
welcomed the small group with a friendly greeting. A variety of
supplies for the craft was displayed on a large table in the Activity
Room with easy access, and the presenter went through the steps
carefully with the children to ensure understanding. Although there
were few participating, the children present seemed engaged in the
craft and pleased with their final creations. I spoke briefly with the
presenter after the program about the challenges with poor attendance
for this particular age level due to timing and busy summer schedules.
Each of the programs I experienced was geared towards the
younger library population. With that said, there were similar behaviors
I noticed in each presenter including enthusiasm, friendliness,
creativity and a strong effort to engage young minds. Each program
utilized creative resources, but the 2-6 year old program was
unfortunately not able to accommodate for each individual patron

because of the large attendance numbers. I noticed the Baby

Storytime presenter seemed to have a relationship with many of the
parents in the storytime. Parents and children were greeted
beforehand and some stayed after the program to chat with the
presenter and other parents. There seemed to be a more intimate
connection with patrons at this program. The Baby Storytime and Craft
Project Program for ages 3-6 were in smaller libraries with activity
rooms more intimate and conducive to childrens attention needs.
There was definitely a different ambience in these programs, catering
to a smaller group with more personal connections to the children. The
Toddler/Preschool program was at a disadvantage because of the
enormity of the space and the various items of distraction
inconveniently placed throughout. I found the ideas for the program
very creative and the energy of the presenters authentic, but the size
of the group and the shortage of supplies were definitely
This observation experience was extremely helpful in comparing
presentations and collecting new ideas for my own programs. I was
especially interested in observing the larger group dynamic and
reflecting on the balance required with timing, materials and space. I
would be curious to see how other libraries handle the larger group
storytimes and what accommodations are used with limited amounts
of interactive resources such as cushions, scarves or instruments.

There is also the issue of interpersonal connections and individual

attention, which would be a challenge in these larger library