Friday, February 17, 2012

Spa Day!

One of my favorite pastimes is shopping. I’m good at it, plus it means I’m not at home about to half-strangle my teenage nephew for wearing that same gross sweatshirt I want to burn for three weeks straight to cover up that tattoo he got. If you don’t have teens at home, here’s the scoop: when children are toddlers you count to 10. When they are preschool age you count to 3. And when they’re teenagers, you just keep counting and hope that by the time they are 25 you’ll have stopped counting and your hair will still be its original color without the help of dye.

So while I’m out mumbling numbers to myself throughout the aisles while wishing my sister had a job that didn’t require travel, I buy gifts (already started on Christmas!), clothes that look familiar because I already own similar items, and items for future programs. After Christmas is a good shopping time. Others see red, green and stars and think of Christmas. I see red and think of Valentine’s Day; I see green and think of St. Patrick’s; and the stars have me thinking of pretty much every federal holiday between May and November. Thus when I was out after Easter one year, I didn’t simply see colorful baskets with a 90% of tag and think of delicious boiled eggs smeared in Miracle Whip; I thought of Mother’s Day…and how my brother made me look bad by buying Mom a Movado watch when I simply took her out to dinner and gave her a scarf.

Since he paid for that trip to Aruba I guess I’ll forgive him.

This basket is fairly easy to make, so a good pairing for it would be the Felted Soap box program. It’s also fairly cheap. That said, if you want a lot of baskets at a decent price, please call the store manager to make arrangements beforehand.

Spa Day Program Supplies:
Felted Soap box program
Easter baskets (or on sale gift bags if you can’t find them)
Mini body scrubbers (5/$1.00 at the Dollar Tree)
Bath salts (scroll for instructions and supplies)

Optional basket items:
Face towels (I found some bulk at Big Lots)
Mini bubbles (found in the wedding section in Target and other stores)
Tissue paper
1. Make bath salts and felted soaps.
2. Arrange in the basket. Tissue paper at the bottom will make this look nicer. So will tying on a bow and inserting a card.

Bath Salt Supplies:
Epsom salts (bulk, or at the Dollar Tree)
Food coloring
Essential oils (Can buy at GNC for $5-$6 dollars)
Small containers for scooping (I use the containers from individual applesauce packages)
Ziploc bags (if this is for kids I let them just keep them in this)
Plastic baggies (NOT Ziploc) and ribbon (for teen and adult programs)

Optional salt containers:
Glass baby food jars or yogurt jars (from Trader Joe's---put out your feelers)
Rubber bands
Fabric squares (purchase at Joann’s)

The instructions are really straight forward. I print them out on 3 sheets of paper using 85 point Times New Roman font, set them out in a row on a table, and let people go down the line:

1. Place 1 scoop of salt inside a zip-top bag.
2. Place 2-3 drops of food coloring inside the bag. Seal and shake.
3. Add 1-2 drops of essential oil (see volunteer). Seal and shake.

Afterwards teens and adults can transfer their salts into plastic bags and tie it with ribbon. It you have glass jars place fabric squares overtop of the lids, secure with a rubber band, then tie on a ribbon.

Your finished product will look failry impressive for a "mere" library program, so if possible make up a basket beforehand and put it on display.

I'm still trying to let the death of Whitney Houston sink in. I got the text between discovering my nephew's tattoo and going to a party. At first I thought it was a joke, since I turned on the radio and, thanks to a lack of live DJs, the folks were talking about Chris Brown (at whom my nephew screams, "Woman beater! Woman beater!" whenever he sees him) and I figured my friend got it all wrong. Apparently she didn't. This is completely horrible, and I guess I'll spend some time watching the copy of The Bodyguard I bought last month, and continue singing "I Will Always Love You" in the shower (which I was I doing even before her passing).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

We Like To Move It, Move It!

Tomorrow or Monday (or before the Mayan Apocalypse) I’ll post my personal feelings on The Help. But for now, you’ll have to be satisfied with tips on advertising.

Ever pass by those poor, unfortunate souls whose job it is to hold signs while dressed like inanimate objects? Simultaneously you think, “I wonder how many calories that burns…” and, “Wow, cell service for only $9.99 a month!” It’s catchy, but you won’t find any librarian dressed as a hot dog while doing the Running Man on the corner to advertise a cooking program.

At least not outside the Elk Grove Library.

Yet sometimes you feel as if you need to wear a sandwich board to get people into your programs, which is almost as unflattering as dressing as a questionable meat product. Programs are listed on Evanced, in calendar, but when you see stacks of flyers collecting dust you wonder if only you and the crickets for your event. However, you can get these flyers out the door in a method that doesn’t involve you tossing them in the recycle bin, cutting them into note paper, or standing at the door like a bouncer at a night club.

The reason many flyers are sitting about is the white and mint green bookmark that list tax prep info blends with the white and mint green bookmarks you set out last week that lists storytimes, which blends with the ones on some writing contest sponsored by professional wrestlers, which means none of them get moved out the door. But if you draw attention to them, about every 3rd person who asks about them will pick them up, and maybe, just maybe, take them home.

Moving the Bookmarks

Library Bookmarks
Ribbon and/or twine
Hole puncher

1. The Eye Catcher
I brought this glittery red tree to the library several years ago after I bought it for myself but my family looked at me as if I needed an intervention. Yet it goes great with these flyers for our Dr. Seuss program featuring Chicago Bear Lance Briggs that happens on Friday, March 2nd from 1-5 pm.
2. The Post-Story Craft
I know, kids’ crafts are supposed to be interactive, but have you ever tried interactive with 80 people? Doesn’t work too well. So I give them bookmarks of upcoming events, chat up the event, then have them decorate the back with crayons, (washable!) pens and stickers. Kids love stickers. Even if you run out you’ll come over and see they’ve adhered the sticker outline to their forehead and are having fun running around, ‘cause that’s what you do when you’re 2 years old.
3. The Official Bookmark
This is the best one because it gives teen volunteers something to do (quietly, at a table far, far away from you), and it makes the bookmarks so attractive that people will spot it, pick it up, then come to the front desk to ask, “Can I have this?” Which is when you say, “That bookmarks for our Friday Stitch and Chat program, and we would love for you to keep one of those bookmarks.” Simply punch a hole in the top of the bookmark and tie on a ribbon or twine. (I colored the twine with a pen because I was desperate to use up stuff we already own.) Tapering the side with scissors is optional.

Hopefully these ideas will get the flyers flying out the library!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Let Me Help You---Part 1

I could seriously talk for hours about my opinion on The Help---and I will...well I won't talk for hours, just write something you can read in 5 minutes before moving on with life. And I'll do that. Next week...I think. Right now I’m getting ready for Chicago Bear Lance Briggs to read at Elk Grove Library for Dr. Seuss Day on Friday, March 2nd at 3:30 pm, and that prep takes precedence over my opinion. For now you’ll have to be satisfied with info on how to prep book-t0-movie programs.

The Help

The book
A copy of the book discussion questions
A copy of movie discussion questions (see below)
Popcorn (food is always good)

1. Advertise. Since we’re not allowed to actually say the title online, this can be tricky. In the past I’ve called for clarification, and their guidelines DO change from time to time, but in general you can mention the movie’s year, the main actors, and a general summary of what the movie is about---plus put in the Telis phone number for those who can’t figure out that the latest animated feature with the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen is Toy Story 3. (If you have kids around you probably can’t even remember where you set your keys.) Put flyers up around the branch, and push programs at other programs. Example: I’ve set out flyers for programs in the meeting room while they’re doing tax help. I also pressed more flesh than a politician in hopes I wouldn't be talking to an empty room.

2. Read the book. Seriously. It helps when it comes to discussing things. Otherwise you sound like an ill-prepared high school student. (“I love The Chocolate War because I love chocolate. Chocolate is the best thing in the world. Don’t you love chocolate, too? I ate some this morning.”) With 15-20 programs to deal with per storytime month, I set aside storytime-free December to read it before I was once again bombarded by toddlers.

3. Go over the book discussion questions. There are others online, but I started with these.

4. After watching the movie be prepared to discuss the book and the movie for a loooooong time. The meat of our discussion lasted for over 40 minutes. It was nearly 4 pm when the last people straggled out of the room---the movie had started at 12 noon! But, the plus side of viewing The Help is that everyone feels guilty about leaving you to clean up by yourself, so you suddenly have all these people putting away chairs and asking if they could sweep.

Before doing this program I was concerned patrons might come in upset about the movie. Then I realized that most people hate trying to park in our parking lot and wouldn't come here unless it was for something good. The people who showed up in general had read the book and they were ready to articulate their feelings without beating one another with sticks. I started out with the book questions, and we continued on from there.

My made up questions:

What was your favorite scene in the movie?

What book scenes would you have liked to have seen included in the movie but were omitted?

What parts of the movie/book bothered/disturbed you?

How do you feel the movie could have been better?

Describe your reaction to hearing Skeeter’s mother, who did not work, cook, clean, run errands, raise her own children, or even provide her own food items for fundraisers denigrate African American domestic workers as “only being in it for the money.”

Upon finding Jim Crow literature in Skeeter’s bag, Hilly confronts her and states, “There are some real racists in this town.” Did you see this as Hilly being a hypocrite, or did you take this as a veiled threat? Please explain your reasons why.

What type of stereotypes did you see in the movie?

Minny mentioned that the maids were afraid to ask for minimum wage and their employers were not doing Social Security set asides. What are the implications of such practices today?

What do you feel would best describe your interactions with “The Help” of today?

Do you feel, in regards to today’s domestic labor, that our interactions with them are fine or are they tinged more with racism, sexism, classism, or something else? Explain your answer.

Motherhood is described as the “toughest job in the world.” People say if mothers were paid they would receive anywhere from $40,000 to over $100,000. Yet the median wage of a child care worker in 2008 was $9.12, or less than $19,000. Why do you feel there is such a large discrepancy between the two numbers?

Are you the help? How do you feel you are treated?

What are some things we can do to better our interaction of those serving us today? (Hint, if you come into the library and don’t get your way, don’t scream, “My taxes pay for your job!”)

General topics discussed:

Hypocrisy. The white employers were raising money to feed African children yet were demeaning their African American employees. Was it that they just didn’t get it, or that fundraising was all part of the show?

Race. That actually took up a lot of our time.

Mothers as being universal figures. (Skeeter’s mom sounded like half of our mother’s---“You’re eggs are dying!”)

Other movies that had unsettling relationships between employers and domestics. (Crash stood out.)

Redlining and segregation. I learned in one college class that upper class blacks actually live in neighborhoods with greater poverty than lower class whites due to segregation. One a neighborhood reaches about 12% black, white flight takes place. My hometown (Chicago) was recently declared the most segregated city in America. When you look around your neighborhood, what color faces do you see? Have they changed dramatically?

Female roles and sexism. Skeeter wanted a career. Elizabeth Leefolt was clearly not cut out for motherhood. Yet during this time period women were not only expected to get married and have children, women were commonly fired once their pregnancies started to show. One patron discussed how not only did potential employers ask her if she was pregnant when applying for an interview, they asked her for the date of her last period!

For my opinion on The Help, stay tuned…

Happy Super Bowl!