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Children’s Library Annual Report 2012-2013  

The child amidst his baubles is learning the action of light, motion, gravity, muscular force….
-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

Emerson recognized what researchers and educators are now quantifying with data and best-selling parenting books: play is important! Whether it is toddlers in storytime pretending to march like dinosaurs, young artists creating collages inspired by a recent book discussion, or a group of fifth graders collaborating on a film project, the Children’s Library is a place where kids of all ages can play, explore, and learn.

Special Initiatives
Each year the children’s librarians set goals for programming, services, and collection development. This year, three new initiatives grew out of those goals:

Free Play

The  new  magnetic  p lay  wall  in  the   Toddler  Room.  

Playtime is part of every baby and toddler storytime at Darien Library. The librarians offer instruments, blocks, or other sensory toys and model play techniques for the development of early literacy skills. This year Play Kits debuted in the Toddler Room. These themed kits contain age-appropriate toys that stimulate imaginative play. For example, the Kitchen Kit contains plastic pots and pans and felt food. Young children delight in turning the Toddler Room into a restaurant or kitchen.

Simple  wooden  blocks:  one  of  the  best   early  childhood  toys.  

S.T.E.M. Takes Root
While literacy and lifelong learning are still primary goals of the public library, the children’s librarians recognize that “left-brain” skills such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M.) are just as important. With this in mind, the Children’s Library amped up its S.T.E.M. offerings this year, going so far as to identify S.T.E.M. programs with a special new logo. From biology programs about the Long Island Sound to Stop-Motion Animation workshops, children at Darien Library were able to flex their S.T.E.M. skills throughout the year.

A Non-Fiction Collection for the 21st Century
Beginning with the picture book reorganization that took place in 2009, the Children’s Library has continued to rethink traditional collection development and build patron-centered collections. This year saw the reorganization of the Children’s Non-Fiction collection into 10 browse-able, more easily perused sections. The new system, called Dewey-Lite, makes discovering non-fiction books for children and parents much simpler and more enjoyable.

Programs and Series

New  &  Improved  Non-­‐Fiction!  


Children’s Library Annual Report 2012-2013  

The Children’s Library offers programs for children between the ages of zero to twelve, as well as special events for parents and caregivers. On average, the Children’s Library is host to anywhere between fifteen to twenty-five programs per week. Special programs this year included:

Author & Illustrator Visits
This year the Children’s Library hosted Bruce Coville, the legendary author of more than 100 children’s novels; Adam Gidwitz, the author of the wildly popular books A Tale Dark & Grimm and In a Glass Grimmly; picture book creators Bob Shea and Melissa Guion; and Nutmeg Nominee author Wendy Mass. After the visit by Adam Gidwitz, one mom wrote in an email to Louise Berry, “I just wanted to say another thank you for the visit from Adam. A week later and my children are still talking about it….citing word-for-word parts of his presentation. He was wonderful and they both got so much out of it! Thank you again.”
Bob  Shea  teaches  kids  how  to  draw.                                                                                          

One of the most popular celebrations this year was the very first Star Wars Reads Day, attended by over 100 excited kids and Photos from the event can be seen at For the second year in a row, the Stuffed Animal Sleepover was a huge hit. Photos were taken throughout the night and uploaded to Twitter and the Library website. Parents and kids delighted in joining in on the fun from home. An online photo album is available at The Annual Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Birthday Party honors the Stormtroopers,  Darth  Vader,  and   Princess  Leia!   beloved benefactor and dear friend of Darien Library, Harold W. McGraw, Jr. With the generous support of Harold’s daughter and Library Trustee, Sue McGraw, each child was given a special bookplate for a brand new picture book for the Library. The McGraw Family also donated a beautiful bronze sculpture that once sat in Mr. McGraw’s study.
Krishna  Grady  poses  with  the  sculpture  once   owned  and  treasured  by  Mr.  McGraw.  

Other exciting celebrations included the annual Nutmeg @ Night trivia event, the second annual Take Your Child to the Library Day, and the first Family Read-In at Darien Library.

The annual winter technology series, The Digital Family, offered hands-on workshops for parents, technology education classes for children, and many opportunities to explore gadgets and gizmos. The 21 Things for 21st Century Parents program was offered for the third year in a row. This year’s series also included some new offerings such as a TEDXDarien video series, a Start Your Own Website or Blog Workshop, a Tumblr for Parents class, and a Stop-Motion Animation workshop for kids. The Children’s Library also partnered with YWCA Parent Awareness to bring speakers from Children Online to talk with parents about online safety.

Children’s Library Annual Report 2012-2013  

Throughout April and May, the Children’s Library hosted a new series: One World, Many Cultures. This series offered children a chance to explore the language, dance, and stories of faraway places. Programs included a colorful Holi celebration, a visit by the Connecticut Ballet featuring dance from Spain, Peru, and Brazil, a Mexican Folk Art class, and a Foreign Film series for children.

The largest and most widely anticipated series of the year is Summer Reading. This year’s theme was “Double-O Darien,” a play on the famous code name for James Bond. The summertime events and weekly spy quests involved secret codes, master disguises, and mystery-solving. A new summer reading website was revealed, sponsored by the Connecticut State Library and The Institute for Museum and Library Services. The website allowed children to create spy aliases, log reading time, review books, and see what other kids were reading. Over 1,600 children participated in Summer Reading, a 27% increase over last year.
A  couple  of  kid  spies  pose  with  Agent  Wimpy.

Cultural  literacy,  an  increasingly  important   skill,  was  learned  through  art,  music,  and   dance  this  spring.  

For several years, the Children’s Library has enjoyed a strong relationship with YWCA Parent Awareness, bringing high-quality and well-attended programming to the parents of Darien. This year highlights included a screening of Head Games, a documentary focused on the concussion crisis in American sports. In partnership with YWCA Parent Awareness, Darien Athletic Foundation, and the Life Solution Center of Jamie  Nabozny  spoke  powerfully  about  bullying.   Darien, speaker Jamie Nabozny visited Darien Library in March. Mr. Nabozny is a member of the Speak Truth to Power organization founded by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. In partnership with the Darien Public Schools, the Children’s Library hosted a panel discussion entitled Common Core and Literacy: What Parents Need to Know. The panel included representatives from the school district as well as Kiera Parrott, who spoke directly to how Darien Library helps support the new educational standards. It was with a heavy heart that the children’s librarians learned of the school shooting in Newtown last December. The Library hosted open discussion sessions for parents facilitated by licensed therapists from Family Centers in Darien, the Life Solution Center of Darien, and Child Guidance.


Children’s Library Annual Report 2012-2013  

From preschool story sharing, to PTO talks, to district-wide booktalking, the librarians are always eager to spread the work of Darien Library into the wider community. This year saw the number of outreach visits double since the previous year. Special outreach events over the past year included an evening at the Tokeneke World Fair, a Booktalking Sneak Peak over cookies and tea for the local school librarians, and numerous scout visits and tours. The largest outreach effort is Booktalking, which takes place every May and June. The children’s staff visited every child in kindergarten through eighth grade, sharing the best books of the year. Librarian Marian McLeod also organized the first ever Homeschool Booktalking event. Just like their public and private school counterparts, the homeschooled children were delighted to hear about the librarianrecommended titles. In April, the children’s library staff collaborated with members from almost every department to create a Gangnam Style parody video. What may have seemed like just a bit of fun (and it certainly was) Claire  Moore  visits  a  kindergarten  class.   turned out to be a library-viral sensation. Viewed thousands of times by librarians all over the world, the video went on to win a Publicity Award from the Connecticut Library Association. The video, in all its glory, may be viewed at

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Fellowship
After an intensive, nation-wide search for the best recent library school graduate, Krishna Grady was named as the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Fellow on July 1, 2012. Krishna quickly immersed herself into the fast-paced culture of the Children’s Library. One of her most successful projects thus far has been the creation of an Early Literacy Video. Entitled “Darien Rhymes,” the video features members of the children’s library staff explaining key early literacy practices and modeling how to share books, songs, and play experiences with young children. The video may be viewed at
Krishna  Grady  gets  ready  for   Toddler  Tales.  

Professional Development and Contributions
Members of the Children’s Library are sought-after committee members, guest speakers and panelists for various regional and national library association conferences. This year, several staff members represented Darien Library with distinction. Krishna Grady was named an Emerging Leader by the American Library Association (ALA), Claire Moore served on the School-Age Programs and Services Committee, and Kiera Parrott was a member of the 2013 Caldecott Committee.

Kiera  Parrott  (bottom  right)  with  the  2013  Caldecott   Committee.  


Children’s Library Annual Report 2012-2013  

Claire Moore, Elisabeth Gattullo, and Kiera Parrott are all monthly contributors to the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Blog. Claire’s blog posts focus on programming for school-aged children, Elisabeth writes about film adaptations of children’s books, and Kiera’s blog posts concern collection development for both print and digital materials. As part of Autism Awareness Month in April, Kiera Parrott presented a webinar for library staff across the state of New Jersey. Also in April, Claire Moore presented at the Computers in Libraries annual conference in Washington, D.C., sharing the innovative work being done at Darien Library in our Digital Family series.

While is often hard to say goodbye to our fellow staff members- who are more like great friends or family members than coworkers- like any family, we take great pride in the accomplishments of our colleagues and support them as they spread the unique Darien Library vision to the wider world. At the end of the year, Marian McLeod left to take a position as the Lower and Middle School Librarian at Donning  rabbit  ears  and  making  funny  faces:  just  a   Covent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich. Marian was typical  nine-­‐to-­‐five  in  the  Children’s  Library.   instrumental in strengthening relationships with the local school librarians and expanding the overall outreach mission of the Children’s Library. Marian has remained as a part-time substitute on occasional evenings and weekends in the Children’s Library, much to the delight of both children and staff! It was with great excitement that Amy Laughlin stepped into Marian’s role. Amy, like Marian before her, began at Darien Library as an intern and moved on to become a part-time library assistant. Her strong customer service instincts, facility with emerging technology, and creative ideas made Amy a perfect fit as the newest full-time Children’s Library team member.
Amy  Laughlin,  the  newest  full-­‐time  children’s   librarian,  reads  to  the  Bookworms.

The 2012-2013 Children’s Library By the Numbers:
Circulation of Children’s Materials: 281,116 Program Attendance: 22,819 Reference Questions: 24,747 Reader’s Advisory Questions: 3,908 Participants in the Summer Reading Program: 1,606