Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fun with Crafts - Sidewalk Chalk

A week or so ago, I tried my first Pinterest craft at the library.  Our craft day activity was called "Fun with Sidewalk Chalk" and the plan was to make our own sidewalk chalk and then go outside and make sidewalk art.

 I found the tutorial for the homemade sidewalk chalk on Pinterest, as pinned from Oh My Handmade.

The project was fairly simple and the ingredients were cheap and easy to acquire.  In fact, the hardest material for me to find was the palster of paris.  I looked at all the local craft stores, to no avail.  I ended up buying mine online at S & S Worldwide, but since then my fiancee has informed me that hardware stores such as Lowes should have it in stock.

I will note that the recipe says that it will make 3 tubes of chalk, but I found that it made closer to 1 1/2 tubes.  In order to gather the toilet paper tubes we needed, we just requested donations from our patrons a few weeks in advance of the activity.

Overall, I was very pleased in the success of our program.  The project is MESSY!  But so fun!  I also loved how many different colors we could make rather than the standard 4 or 5 colors in the store bought variety.

Due to the fact that the homemade chalk takes 3 days to dry, we had store bought chalk on hand for the art portion of our program.

 I will include the directions for creating the chalk at the end of this post for ease of access.

Sidewalk Chalk Art:

Making our own sidewalk chalk:

Here is how the Finished product turned out:

*The wax paper was hard to remove, and I couldn't get it all off, but the chalk still worked fine.

Directions for making your own sidewalk chalk:

What you will need:
•    Toilet paper or paper towel tubes
•    Scissors
•    Duct tape
•    Wax paper
•    Small bucket or disposable container to make the recipe
•    ¾ cup of warm water
•    1 ½ cups Plaster of Paris
•    2-3 tablespoons of tempera paint
•    Paper bag or a “mess mat”

Step 1: If you are using paper towel tubes, cut each tube in half, so it is roughly the length of a toilet paper roll tube.

Step 2: Cover one end of each tube with duct table to hold the contents within.

Step 3: Cut as many pieces of wax paper as you have tubes. Roughly 6 inches X 6 inches. Roll the wax paper loosely and insert into the tubes so as to effectively line the tubes. The top of the wax paper will be higher than the tubes. The wax paper liner will keep the chalk mixture from sticking to the cardboard tubes and will eventually be peeled off.  Fold the excess wax paper over the sides of the tube to keep it from falling down into the tube while you are filling it.

Step 4: Pour the warm water into your bucket. Sprinkle the Plaster of Paris over the water and stir the mixture with a plastic spoon. The Plaster of Paris roughly starts hardening within 20-30 minutes, so you need to work fast so that it does not harden too quickly.

Step 5: Next you will want to pour the tempera paint into the Plaster of Paris mixture and stir so that it is mixed thoroughly. If you would like brighter colors  add more tempera paint into the mixture. We wanted to make a variety of colors of chalk, so we spooned about 1/2-3/4 cup of Plaster of Paris in each separate container and mixed in the different tempera paint colors into each bowl. We ended up making six different colors and next time might mix more.

Step 6: Stand each tube with the tape side down on a cookie sheet/flat baking dish/box lid to make the project easier to transport to a drying location.  Pour or spoon the colored Plaster of Paris mixture into the wax paper lined tubes. Lightly tap the sides of the tubes to release the air bubbles (so you do not have holes in your chalk). After you have poured the mixture into the tubes start another color. When done trim the excess wax paper so that it is closer to the cardboard tube.

Step 7: It took 3 days for our chalk to dry. On the last day, we peeled off the duct tape so that the underside could dry. When the chalk dries, peel off the paper tubes and wax paper. Your chalk is ready!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I love my job, or I wouldnt be here.

I started my career almost 5 years ago, in September of 2007.  My first professional position, was that of a Library Director in rural Arkansas, serving a county of 30,000 people.  I am still in that position today.

When I started library school, I originally wanted to work in a high school library, but fate sought a different path for me.  I never thought my first professional library position would be that of a Library Director.  That being said, I love

The great thing about being a small town library director is the variety in my day.  I don't do the same things every day.  I am lucky that my Board supports community activism and outreach, because I get to be involved in numerous local organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Boys and Girls Club, etc., which provides both professional and personal benefits.

From day to day my schedule may include: programming, creating book orders, attending community meetings, troubleshooting computer problems, moving furniture, updating our website, promoting our library via facebook, soliciting donations, writing grants, responding to emails, writing reports, working at the circulation desk, shelving, moping the floor, or hosting a story hour.

In the past I have had the pleasure of patrons screaming at me, climbing a ladder to hang a banner, moping a flooded room in new shoes, cleaning feces off the bathroom walls while wearing a suit, wearing a silly hat from craft time while out running library errands,and dancing silly dances with kids at a music program.

The life of a rural librarian is never dull!

I love my job and overall I think I am appreciated by my community, but on occasion I interact with people who dont see my dedication or do not appreciate the fact that I dont sit and read books all day.  Im mean, would I ruin new shoes or scrub mold off the building if I didnt love my job?!

The joy is when the kids I visit in their classrooms remember me when they come by the library and want to give me a hug or when an email is sent to my Board complimenting me for a job well done (and getting surprised because I didnt know it was going to be sent).

Sometimes you have to remind yourself that regardless of the trials you face as a public figure and public servant, you are making a difference.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Library Volunteer Mystery

Where do you find volunteers and how do you get them to keep coming back?

I have been with my library for five years and we have struggled with the volunteer issue.  We primarily advertise for volunteers within our building although I do make requests and announcements at local community events and civic meetings as well.  In the past we have also offered a Teen Advisory Board with a volunteering component.  None of these methods have been overly successful.

I have found that high school students seeking volunteer hours are often only seeking to complete a handful of hours.  While one might say, anything is better than nothing, I disagree.  It takes time and effort from an already short staff to train volunteers, so when those volunteers do not stay very long they have cost us more time than they have provided by their attempt to help.

Once or twice we have had adults volunteer on a semi-regular basis as a requirement for some type of unemployment benefit, but these normally quit after they have found a job.

I will say that this year I can claim some relative success in regards to our Summer Carnival.  This year is our 3rd  of our annual carnival and this year we had 9 volunteers!  This is more than we have had in the previous years, combined!  In the first year we had 5 volunteers sign up and only one show up for the carnival.  Last year, I think we had 3 volunteers.  This year we had 9!!  This year we actually were able to open all of our games and I was able to act as a runner to bring water to everyone and relieve people for potty breaks.

What really makes me sad is that I see other organizations doing so much better.  At the last Chamber of Commerce event, they had over 50 volunteers and every year at the Literacy Council's Haunted House they have enough volunteers to build, decorate, and "haunt" an entire building for several weeks!

I send emails, I call local businesses, I ask patrons, I promote volunteering at the schools, but the volunteers are just not there.  Is my community unique or is there ambivalence towards library support and volunteering in most communities?