What's Up in YFE - Best of 2016

Editing the newsletter is often a challenge. So many great things happen every week, it can be incredibly difficult to decide what to share. Unfortunately, it can’t all be included– space and time dictate that choices must be made.
But not this time!
This issue includes everyone’s favorite moments from 2016. When asked what they enjoyed the most, were most proud, or what was most memorable, YFE staff delivered! And I wanted to deliver it ALL to everyone out there reading this issue.
So take a few moments to relax, grab a snack, and enjoy our picks for YFE’s best memories of 2016. I'm excited to start sharing all our new successes in 2017! ~Kim

From Crystal Faris: 

Here are some of the highlights for me:
  • The City School Fair with Show Me KC Schools. Something I've wanted to do for some time. I overheard a little boy say, "I think I should go to school at the Library."
  • Completing much of the work for new Job Descriptions - particularly the part where I was able to really listen as staff shared what was important to them about their jobs.
  • Buying rather inappropriate socks as holiday gifts for YFE.
So many cool things led by other YFE staff: 
  • WASY Training
  • The Teen Leaders of Today! all night lock-in
  • Lift Off! at Bluford Library with teen volunteers
  • Subbing for Clare for storytime
  • KC Kids Creates
  • Tabletop Gaming
  • LRNGKC event at Southeast
  • And so much more!
And personally - officially being able to call myself cancer-free.

From Ian Hrabe - Waldo:

My highlight of the year was the Mayor’s Night lock in. Teen Gaming had been running for a while, and though I had decent turnout, I didn’t know if anyone would show up for the lock in. “Did I buy too many pizzas?” I thought. Alas, I needn’t have worried as turnout was robust (by Waldo’s standards at least) and it was an absolute blast. After the lock in, Teen Gaming attendance got a big boost and it’s been gaining steam ever since. I started the year with an average of 4-6 teens for Teen Gaming and ended drawing around 10-12 on average. Watching this diverse group of teens build their own little community on Friday afternoon has been awesome (even if I do have to constantly remind them that yes, they are still in the library and that they need to stop yelling at the top of their lungs every time they win a game).

From Amy Morris - Ruiz: 

At Ruiz, probably my two biggest highlights this year were the Back To School Pep Rally/Learning Resource Fair which we held in August, and the Westside Holiday party we just had a couple of weeks ago over at the Tony Aguirre Community Center. These annual events are created and hosted by the Ruiz Library, the Westside Community Action Network, and the Tony Aguirre Community Center.   I choose these two events because they truly help so many kids on the Westside and make such an impact in their lives.  Additionally, these events brought many members of the Westside Community together to work side by side for a great cause.  
Back To School Pep Rally and Learning Resource Fair:
On August 11, the annual Back To School Pep Rally and Learning Resource Fair was held at the Ruiz Branch.  Approximately 500 people attended the event which was sponsored by the Ruiz Branch, Tony Aguirre Community Center, and Westside Community Action Network.  Additionally, more than twenty organizations volunteered their time to host tables and share their resources with attendees. 
One hundred seventy-eight Westside children received free backpacks full of school supplies at the event.  Each family also received a free bag of healthy groceries, which was donated by the Truman Mobile Health Market and dispersed by community police officers. 
After the event, the Ruiz Branch worked with the Westside neighborhood and Garcia Elementary to identify and deliver 74 more backpacks of school supplies to children in need.  In total, 252 backpacks were handed out this year. 
“It was a wonderful event and I could tell that it was very much appreciated by your patrons.  Thank you for inviting the EOC to participate.  We are so very happy to partner with your library!” – Janet Weaver, EOC Counselor and Resource Fair Participant.

As far as our Westside Holiday Party on December 10, it is a great event because we are able to distribute Toys For Tots to kids in the Westside Community.  Below are some stats and info about the party – as reported by Jorge Coromac, Director of the Westside Community Action Network:

“It was incredible to see the energy and passion of volunteers coming to help in every single capacity  to make this event  a happy event... thank  you so much to each one who came to the event and to everyone who made a tremendous contribution directly or indirectly... muchas muchas gracias!”
Total of people that attend was 723. This include: Children, youth, parents, volunteers, and staff.
Total of kids that came for toys: 303.  This includes 26 families that registered on Saturday before the event.
Total of families registered: 111. Total of volunteers: 57.

This event was reported in Fox 4 local news at 10 p.m. news on 12/10 and 12/11 at 7 a.m. It is also on the Westside CAN Center Facebook page and in the e-newsletter. 

From Anna Francesca Garcia - Central:

Here are two aspects of my work in 2016 of which I am proud:
Just as assisting educators impacts student, visiting classes of educators and those studying education has exponential impact. That is why I have loved sharing the library’s resources for educators (including educator library cards, catalog usage, databases, and material requests) with education students in the Webster English Language Learner’s program (Pamela Harris, contact), the Rockhurst University Education program (Sandra Gonsher contact), and UMKC Early Childhood Educators certification program (Gwen  Marberry Van Asselt and Hilary McNeil, contacts).
In addition to being a new member-at-large on the Missouri Library Association board, I have been active with MLA as one of the selectors on the Building Block Committee and as a breakout session presenter with Jodie Borgerding (Webster University) and Jennifer Peters (Rockhurst University) discussing work/life balance for librarians at the MLA Annual Conference.
Just as an extra point of pride:  I also provided monthly outreach to at-risk youth both at East Hills Village’s Phoenix Family afterschool program for elementary students and at the Kansas City Public Schools’ alternative secondary school, Success Academy at Anderson.

From Donna Newell - Waldo:

My fall session of Stories for Ones averaged 16-20 people (children and adults). There were many people that started coming to storytime early in the fall and continued coming through December, which was exciting. After I do my program, the children get a chance to color and play. It has been fun watching the children and adults develop friendships. The adults enjoy the programs as well as the children.
I am very pleased to continue offering the READ to a Dog program at Waldo. There were 8 sessions this year (February-April, June and July, and September-November), and many children have come several times. Mothers have told me they love the program because it helps their children with reading aloud. I was thrilled that Kim asked me to write an article about the program for the YFE newsletter. The article and two pictures appeared in the 9/12 newsletter. I sent a copy of my article to Shirley May, the READ coordinator, who appreciated seeing how well the program is doing at Waldo. She has told me several times the last three years how much the READ teams enjoy coming to Waldo.

I appreciated the “Shout Out to Donna” in the 10/31 YFE newsletter from Julie Fende for my participation in St. Elizabeth’s Trunk or Treat. I also liked my profile interview in the 10/24 YFE newsletter. I am proud of how many years I have worked at KCPL and don’t mind sharing this fact.

From Ryan LaFerney - Central:

I think International Games Day was a huge success! It was fun to learn new games with co-workers as well as patrons. I also really enjoyed teaching others how to play Carcassonne. The table top gaming market is continuing to expand (there are so many amazing games out there right now).  With this being said, it will be interesting to see how the library can continue to promote avenues for experiential learning, recreation, and the promotion of 21st century skill sets through offering more game-based programming in 2017.  
In the realm of professional development, traveling to Serbia to survey librarianship in the Balkans was a delightful treat and a dream come true.  I particularly enjoyed visiting the Novi Sad International Library. The library included books in the following languages: Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Swedish, English, Serbian, and French (to name a few). It was very neat to visit a library abroad that had a similar mission to KCPL when it comes to celebrating diversity and cultural awareness. We also donated books to the library because they have limited funding for collection development. Despite this fact, the library collection itself and the programming the librarians are accomplishing was impressive.

From Ellen Pajor - Plaza: 

My favorite thing about working in the library is connecting with kids over books, whether that is getting them books they love or hearing them tell me about books they love. 
We have one little boy who comes in who really loves dragons. Seeing his face when I showed him the section of the 398s with the dragon books was so great! He got so many books he couldn't carrying them all. We also got a card from him thanking us. It featured drawings of dragons.
I also have a little girl that comes in almost every Sunday and has a list of books she needs. We always have a little conversation about what books she liked best from last week, and I write them down. Partially, I do this because I know how special I felt when librarians paid attention to my opinions as a child. However, I also do it because she has really different taste than me, so I hope I can use some of her suggestions to help others!

From Erica Voell - Central: 

The highlight of 2016 for me was being interviewed by the students from Bates College in Maine regarding their "Picture Book Project: A Bates College Collection Portraying People of Color," and learning that KCPL's picture book collection was identified as one of the most diverse in the country. 
I want to give a big shout out to the Plaza Deselection Team – Julia, Ron, Kristan, Anna and Jamie – for their great efforts in deselection at Plaza. Their hard work allowed us to finish two and a half days earlier than planned. 

From Ron Freeman - Plaza: 

The highlight of the year was hanging out with Debbie Ohi at the Missouri Library Association conference in Springfield. She was the illustrator of the book Naked!, which won the Building Block Award for 2015. The Building Block winners are always invited to speak at the Thusnelda Schmidt luncheon at the MLA conference. As last year's Building Block Award's Chair, I got to introduce Debbie. She is a real joy -- as positive, open, and enthusiastic as I am cynical. After the lunch, we played House on Haunted Hill (she's a board game geek) and then went to Lambert's to stuff ourselves with fried baloney, fried chicken, and (probably) fried throwed rolls.
I have thoroughly enjoyed promoting the Missouri Building Blocks award this year. We had a really solid list of books, so I wasn't uncomfortable reading any of them. The Building Block Award allowed me to get into 19 classes in six schools. Between the schools and the branch, we've managed to collect over 575 votes from the Plaza this fall.

From Kristan Whipple - Trails West: 

Pokemon Go program - We had teen volunteers run the stations which included Pokeball Toss, a Pokestop, Make your own mask, origami Pokemon, and a device free Pokemon Scavenger Hunt. It was fun to see the teen volunteers interacting with the families.  The teen volunteers also created the pokemon cutouts and Pokeballs for the Pokeball Toss.

Rockin’ Ramblin’ Readers Storytime - It’s been an exciting year for storytime. Our numbers have increased and it’s fun to see the growth in these super cute kids. Storytime is my all-time favorite activity.

From Megan Garrett - Westport:  

Okay so this just happened this week, but it gave me so much joy to watch the kids dance.  We had a representative from the Kansas City Ballet present a special story time on Tuesday, Dec. 20, and she did a great job introducing our regular story time kids to the Nutcracker and the ballet.
Earlier in the year (late May 2016), I spent a whole week at the K-3 Campus of Academie Lafayette (charter school).  The school librarian gave me the opportunity to meet and visit with every single class in the school and talk to them about library services.  I did a short fun story time, then shared info about Hoopla and Tumblebooks, and then we all enjoyed an electronic story together (see photo)!  Not only did I meet so many new kids, but several recognized me from story time at Westport in previous years. After five days with 4-5 classes of 20-25 students per class, I was exhausted.  Worth it though!!!  Also, because Academie Lafayette is a French immersion school, many of the kids were ecstatic to have a story time in English.  A few kids would ask if I spoke French.  When one kid asked if I spoke French and I said no, he said “It’s okay.  I don’t really speak French either.  I just pretend.”

From Rachel Helm - CYS: 

The character themed mini-golf course at Central was a favorite of mine this year.  It was fun to make and a real treat to see the kids interact with a Minion or a Pete the Cat that was often bigger than them.  Initially meant as a one-off weekend summer program, it was such a hit that we left it up for a week and have brought it out 2 or 3 times since.

September's Play Our Piano event made for a very pleasant Sunday afternoon.  Kirk Hall's acoustics are ideal and the sound was even great upstairs in the Children's Department.  A lot of gifted players stopped in to show off their chops...and "Chopsticks", but only once.  I would love to hear live music performed everyday in Kirk Hall or at least every weekend!

From Darr Jenkins - CYS:

The best experience I had was at the end of 2016 when I was able to pay a patron's fines using the money donated by our Secret Santa. The patron had a $30 fine for a book she had lost sometime ago when she let a friend in the shelter she was staying at borrow the book. It was never returned to her. With this fine she was no longer allowed to use the library's services and was originally trying to checkout material using the account number of a male friend. When I told her we could pay her fine using the Secret Santa money, again allowing her access to the library, she was ecstatic "What a blessing, praise the Lord!" were her words. The three days following  she was in the library everyday checking out new material. What an awesome experience the Secret Santa created for both her and I!   

From Gabi Otto- Southeast: 

I really enjoyed the free bike workshop we had in partnership with BikeWalkKC. Nine teens learned bike safety and general bike maintenance and were rewarded for finishing the program with a free bike and helmet. The kids that participated all left very happy! 

From Travis Bird - Plaza: 

So far my favorite thing this year has been the successful start of my book first club for young graphic novel readers! I hope to keep it going and keep growing. Being able to combine art and reading has been a huge success and tons of fun!

Secondly I have gotten a chance to meet and help out with the Teen Leaders of the Plaza as we transition into the new year! Being able to branch out and make new connections that benefit our patrons is one of my favorite parts of working here!

From Sandra Jones - Southeast: 

A 2016 highlight for me was the Fall-themed storytime program I presented at Bright Horizon Child Care.  The children pointed out and discussed fall images they loved such as leaves changing colors, fat pumpkins, and different colored apples.
I also happily received good feedback in 2016 from several of the outreach locations I visited, including Ms. Elaine Stevenson at Bright Horizons Child Care, who called me saying they appreciated me sharing stories with the children on special occasions, and how much the children loved me and look forward to me coming. 
LINC Coordinator Mr. David Carey, from the Holliday Montessori after school program, emailed me saying he enjoyed how my sharing stories with the children gets them motivated and interacting.
Ms. Julia Foster, from Thomas A. Roque YMCA Head Start program, in a letter to me let me know they enjoyed my visiting and reading stories about Fall. Ms. Regina Craddolph, from Genesis School, emailed me saying staff and students look forward to me coming and sharing stories with the children.
The positive feedback lets me know I'm on the right track in the way I engage children with books and reading.

From Bobby Gordon - Plaza:

My Best of the Year Bobby's books for boys has started. I am in my 6th year and we are still getting new guys to keep it going. The craft we have most enjoyed is bubble painting.

From Zoe Mays - Ruiz:

This spring I ran a Basketball Book Club at Garcia Elementary. We turned the book discussion into physical activity through trivia relay races and critical thinking scrimmages. The kids got super excited and competitive and always came with their reading done.
This summer, KC artists Phil Shafer and JT Daniels, along with our summer campers, completed a beautiful mural on a library fence. The kids watched as Phil and JT painted and explained their process. Then the campers painted their own mural on a big piece of butcher paper. We’ve gotten so many compliments on the mural and the kids were amazed watching art come to life. 

From Kim Angotti - Central: 

Creating the YFE newsletter and producing it each week has been a major undertaking, but something I’m very proud to be doing. I’m happy to be sharing all the wonderful things YFE does for the library and the community. The newsletter has been very well-received, and all the positive and encouraging feedback I’ve gotten has been incredibly gratifying.
I am so appreciative of the YFE team for sending me great stories and pictures each week so that I can continue to make What’s Up in YFE meaningful and highlight your hard work. You are incredible at what you do!

I also really enjoyed getting to spend the day with two delightful storytellers in November. Watching the kids at Boys and Girls Club come alive when their group leader joined in the fun was my favorite part of the day. They jumped in and were all singing and dancing along. They were the oldest group of kids, but still very energetic and engaged. 

From Nancy Stegeman - CYS:

What has been fun and refreshing about 2016 at Central Library is the steady stream of new family faces that have been stepping off the brand new Streetcar and landing on the Library doorstep.   Customers seem as excited to discover the Library as they are to take their free hop on the streetcar and so it connects whole families with a new library experience.   

On a personal basis, I have been honored and challenged by working with a high school student from KCPS seeking to complete 40 hours of volunteer service hours in order to graduate in Spring 2017.  Usually coming in for one to two hours at a time over many months, but this young man has given me an intimate look at life for a young person with some barriers, yes, but with complete heart and devotion, even coming to fulfill his scheduled hour on his 18th birthday.   I am pleased that he found the Library to be a place where he felt useful and welcomed, and in equal measure, I have been blessed by his steadfast good cheer.  I'll miss him. 
I have also appreciated the opportunities to do some programming off site during 2016, as it grounds me in my work.  

From Amanda Barnhart - Trails West:

I could tell a million wonderful stories about the youth in the community that visit the library on a regular basis, but there are far fewer positive interactions that I could describe from those youth I may see for a summer. However, I know the library hugely impacts them too. Julian participated in the Dungeons and Dragons program series over the summer and he is one such story because his imagination and storytelling skills allowed him to spin the most believable stories within a fictional world. His tales involving chili cook-offs and the kindly Mrs. Buttersworth reminded teen participants of the dangers involved in biting off more than you can chew, yet reminded me of the greater reach we have on youth that we may not always see in our communities. Without knowing it Julian left me with a fond memory, but also a kindly note.

From Wanda Cardona - Sugar Creek:

I especially enjoyed this little girl’s interest in her new book. The games and candy were secondary to her that day.

These young men had a blast playing the games. Love this action shot!

From Ronda Cornelius - Central:

As far as best of for 2016, I really enjoyed revising the Library History info, giving library tours to school groups, and creating a handy handout checklist of the library's top features. Also I would like to give a shoutout to Rachel Helm's minigolf, Anna's Pokemon Go search, Nancy's Elves and the Shoemaker storytelling at Christmastime and Clare's Tuesday storytime every chance I get to hear it. Sizzle sizzle sizzle sizzle POP! :-)

From Andrea Ellis - KCDML:

My best library experiences of 2016 were working with Team Digital and YMCA youth. I can’t begin to explain how rewarding it is to work with a consistent group of youth over a period of time.  Witnessing the personal and professional growth that takes place in a week, or two weeks, or a summer, and knowing that I had some part in it, is immensely humbling.  Not only do we have the privilege of getting to know them, but their family as well.  For me the work is worth it when we are building community and when we are contributing to a broader sense of what community can mean for our youth and for our city.  These type of experiences are one way in which I, through KCDML, can do just that, and I am grateful for it.

From Julia Oglesby - Plaza:

I think my favorite program of the whole year had to have been the Kansas City Symphony Instrument Petting Zoo.  Just the looks on the kids’ faces, and not a few of the parents, like “you mean I get to TOUCH it?” and letting them handle real musical instruments.  Plus, it’s nice to see a program accomplishing exactly what I’d hoped for … kids walking out asking their parents for music lessons. 

This is a little goofy (and quite recent), but I am so tickled to see how the storytime kids respond to my use of sign language.  I find it really encouraging.  A few months ago I got to lead preschool storytime – truly a once in a blue moon kind of thing because I usually work Friday evenings – and sure enough, there were a couple of Baby Bounce graduates reading to sign “The More We Get Together” with me!

From Clare Hollander - CYS:

Leading the planning committee for the We All Serve Youth training was a lot of work, but proved to be worth it. The team of youth librarians working with me, and especially Kim Angotti’s organizational expertise, ensured that we would have a stellar program. All YFE staff were gratified to hear Joel Jones comment that he wished there had been such a training when he worked the desk. He sent a follow up email which read:
"What a great opportunity I had yesterday to sit it on the WASY youth services training front line staff. You all did a great job presenting. The workshop was well planned informative and fun.  You have created a great model for internal staff training.  
Great Job to all involved."

During one of the sessions, Kaite Stover, one of my personal heros, tweeted the following: "Attending WASY (We All Serve Youth) training with some of the best & brightest at Kansas City Public Library. — at Kansas City Public Library - Plaza Branch".

Another accomplishment for me this year was building and sustaining a solid Home school base. While I have been plugging away at it for a couple of years, having discovered that the 4th Friday afternoon was a good time to offer them programming, it wasn’t until the KC Kids Create grant that I was able to make it consistently well attended. The LEGOS have been a huge hit, and surprisingly have attracted many girls. It has grown to capacity if I’m to continue using just the Activity Room. I’ve had complaints from people that I don’t advertise, but it has grown steadily this year all through word of mouth. I’m afraid I couldn’t handle the response if I advertised!
In June CYS staff partnered with the public affairs department on two different projects in one month, the first First Friday event, which brought over 70 people to our stories and crafts on the second floor, and Family Fun on Sunday in conjunction with the First Folio Shakespeare exhibit. For that we used the entire building, and drew on the strengths of many staffers from other departments. While Leslie Cases’ Stage Combat lessons were the biggest hit, build your own catapult and the balloon man were close seconds. We had “Spin-a-Sonnet” on the mezzanine with Anna and Piper, our summer volunteer, and John Horner in the Helzberg auditorium dressed as the bard himself performing short soliloquys. We were stunned to see over 200 people come through on a Sunday afternoon. So we learned above all that people will definitely respond to Friday night and Sunday afternoon program opportunities for families at Central. What we choose to do with this knowledge…. Well…. :)

From Laura Kirk - North-East:

I had a hard time choosing just one or two subjects, so here are a variety for you to choose from.  I think the Dia del Nino/ Dia del Libro celebration, the Make Your Own Board Game with students from Immigrant and Refugee Academy KC (as a part of Summer Reading Program activities), and the Halloween Party are a few good ones, though.
At our Dia del Nino/ Die del Libro (Day of the child/ Day of the book) Celebration in conjunction with Una Lucha KC and One Struggle KC, children enjoyed celebrating diversity by listening to stories about different cultures, making musical instruments, and making tissue paper flowers.
On Sunday, Oct. 30, the North-East branch hosted a Halloween Party that was very successful, with 150 people attending.  The party was sponsored by Cosentino's Price Chopper.  Many teen volunteers helped at the party and helped prepare the games and crafts.  At the party, the kids played games, including "Wrap the Mummy," where they raced to wrap each other up with toilet paper, "Bowl for Mummies," where they knocked down bowling pins decorated as mummies, Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin, Feed the Robot (a bean bag toss game), and giant Halloween memory with different memory cards.  They also decorated Halloween treat bags, made silly halloween hats, did leaf rubbings, and made Spider Webs.  Anna Francesca Garcia also was there and did face painting for the kids, and Eric Petersen also helped and promoted the "Money Matters" program to parents.  We also had a "Haunted Library" reading nook with Halloween and scary stories, and we gave out free books.  Most of the kids came dressed up in their Halloween costumes and went "trick or treating," getting candy at each station.  We also played Halloween party music, and the kids had fun dancing to Halloween songs.  To advertise the program, I dropped off small fliers (with English on one side and Spanish on the other) that were handed out to all of the students at Academia de Ninos, James Elementary, and Gladstone Elementary.  I also promoted the event at the Harvest Festival at Gladstone Elementary and the Fall Festival at St. Marks and on the North-East Facebook page and different North-East Facebook groups.  Everyone had a lot of fun!  The kids especially loved the "Wrap the Mummy" game, and at one point, we had five different mummies being wrapped in a five way race.  

From Jamie Mayo - Central:

The Storytelling Celebration, as stressful as it can be to get everyone where they need to be, is something I enjoy every year. The lead partner for the event, Maple Woods Community College, always brings amazing tellers to Kansas City. This year Charlotte Blake Alston was among the tellers. I first heard her at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, telling ghost stories and I was smitten. Her rich voice and beautiful stories have also graced the stage of the Kennedy Center. As much as I enjoyed her stories, my favorite moment of the day was when two boys came up to her after and started asking her questions. They were so taken with the stories she had told and excited about telling their own. And Charlotte was so generous in talking with them—long after all the other students had exited the gym.

One of my favorite days in 2016 was a result of my messing up scheduling a storyteller to go to Faxon during the KC Storytelling Celebration. The Librarian had arranged for a class of her high achieving students to get to experience a show as a treat for their hard work. To make up for it, I offered to come and tell the kids some stories myself. I had a wonderful time watching them get totally engaged by the first two stories I told. I ended the program by telling them The Ghost with One Black Eye. I love this story because it appeals to people of all ages and is an easy one for kids to learn to tell themselves. By the time I got to the end of it, (and this always happens) the kids were chiming in with me on the repetition parts and doing the motions with me. As I was walking out, the students were being sent a few at a time to find books to take home with them. I passed by a table of students waiting their turn to go find a book and they were all telling each other the story and laughing. Doesn’t get better than that.