Hero Party

super hero training

Every Hero Has a Story

We kicked off the summer reading program at the library with an event called “Hero Day”.  We invited community heroes to come join us.  We had different stations around the library.  The police had a car seat check in the parking lot, and the fire department brought a truck for the kids to look at.  A teacher watched over the crafts and helped kids draw on the whiteboard with colored dry-erase markers.  Two nurses had a game of operation and a doctor’s kit and wore white lab coats.  The Army and Air Force had tables and gave away toys.  We had a local comic book artist do drawings with the kids.  Then we had a superhero training camp, run by teens in superhero costumes.  They challenged the kids laser mazeto go through an obstacle course, including a “laser maze”, a tunnel of chairs, hopping between hula hoops and knocking down cups with a ball.  We set up the course right in the adult fiction section (which irritated my staff trying to shelve- “I’m not dodging lasers to put away books!”) We served hot dogs, lemonade and cookies.

To decorate I put up a city backdrop and a photo stand-up.  We had summer reading posters and the comic-book-like words “bam!” “Pow!”  We also put up entries from our “Who’s your hero” contest, where kids from our local school made essays and posters about their personal heroes.  We got a lot of great drawings, essays and photos.  We gave out a gift certificate for three age brackets, with a randomly drawn winner so we didn’t have to judge.  All in all, it went pretty well.

super hero stand-up

Library Mascot (in progress)

Reading MonsterOne tried and true marketing technique for promotion is having a mascot.  Tony the Tiger, the Philly Phanatic, Ronald McDonald, and so on.  Libraries…. put their own spin on it.  (Buddy the Beaver, for example).  Some libraries dress up people in costumes related to book characters such as the Wimpy Kid or Clifford, but many libraries have a stuffed animal representing their library.  Our neighboring library has a giant Sulley (from Monsters Inc) who goes on tours of local businesses.  My enthusiastic library system youth services coordinator suggested our library should get on the bandwagon.  I suggested using our high school mascot (a sheep), but she said we should not ride on the school’s tail.  So, I decided to make my own- the reading monster.

This is a work in progress- I want to give him horns and permanent underwear.  I plan on dressing him up in a superhero suit this year, and then he can have costumes for different events and themes.


I cut it out of a large old t-shirt I had (I’m working on a t-shirt quilt, yes, I’ve been working on that quilt for many years now, don’t judge!) I made a freehand design on newspaper, then had to cut down the limbs a bit, as I was not going for an octopus look.  As well as stuffing it with poly-fill, I put a bag of beans in the base, to make it sit more steadily.

What will I do with it once I’m done, besides dress it up?  Hmm.  Send it on adventures, put it in “commercials”, stage tawdry scenes a` la the shelf elf, host a stuffed-animal party, and display it around the library.

My Book Expo America 2015 (not Bookcon)


A Librarian’s take on Book Expo 2015

This year I went to Book Expo America from Wednesday to Friday, staying in the city for the whole show.  The show for the public, Bookcon, runs Saturday and Sunday and is trying to become Comic-con for books.

Since I have finally, by trial and error, figured out how to navigate Manhattan, get around the Javitts Center, find food that doesn’t have movie theater prices, figured out how to handle hauling precious books and what to spend my time on, they moved the convention to Chicago next year.  I have not been able to determine if this is permanent or part of a plan to move around, but I don’t know if I can afford it.  Ok, so I really couldn’t afford this trip either, but my transportation for the whole trip cost eleven dollars (subway and Megabus).  My biggest expense was the hotel, since my ticket was comped (still don’t know how I was selected).

  • Getting a book signed by Rosemary Wells- love her work!
  • Also had books signed by Tad Hills (Rocket Reads) and Scott Westerfeld (Zeroes)
  • Crowd-sourcing a comic strip with the guys from Unshelved and seeing their process.
  • Successfully site-seeing by myself and navigating the subway system.
  • Lists of books to buy, books to read, and gaining insight of avid readers with different tastes.
  • Scavenger hunts!  All conventions should have scavenger hunts- I got to do two- one for the Librarian booth and the other for the V.I.P. lounge.  I don’t think I won anything, but having a purpose, finding booths and interacting with the people enough to get my validation, made me see all of the show floor.  The librarian’s hunt won, in my opinion- they had a passport, with a page per participating booth, the booths of course being in numerical order (the V.I.P. one was random).
  • Talking with strangers in lines (and I’m an introvert!)
  • Seeing people I know- fellow librarians, my favorite local bookstore owner, and speakers I’ve listened to in prior years and enjoyed.
Things I learned (the hard way):
  • Bring a rolling suitcase even if it seems awkward to carry.  The huge bag of books was much more awkward, and the bus refused to put it in their hold.
  • Don’t leave your bag of swag anywhere, even in a restricted area, because people have a way of justifying theft as “they must not have wanted that carefully placed bag with a name written on it.”
  • Don’t take everything people give you.
  • Have business cards (but know that your badge can be scanned for your info).
  • Go to events early, not on time (it was pretty awesome that being on time was an option, it’s not at NYC Comiccon or Dragoncon.)
  • F.A.O Shwartz is closing!  See it while you can.
  • Be polite to everyone (always). That lowly Librarian you just dissed is a person too.  That overly enthusiastic salesman probably sank all his money in buying a booth.
  • book stackARCs are only useful for doing reviews or giving as gifts- you can’t put them in a library collection or sell them at a book sale.  So consider saving your back and get digital copies from Edelweiss.
  • Be flexible- sometimes the planned thing doesn’t work out, but a chance encounter might be just as interesting or useful.
  • Locking yourself into a hotel room to write only works if you turn off your internet and don’t read missives from home or work.
  • At least once a year, surround yourself with people who worship books- it makes working at a library where most of the patrons are non-readers easier to bear.
  • Bring noise canceling headphones.  The woman who plopped next to me on the bus did not stop talking on the phone the entire trip.  Like that commercial “So. Many. Stories.”  We also had a traffic jam outside my hotel, where drivers thought they could move cars with the sound of their horns.
  • Keep a water bottle with you at all times.
  • If someone has been in movies or TV, people will be desperate to take their picture, and if they’ve written a book, they will be desperate to have something signed.  Actors who’ve written a book?  Be prepared for the huge lines.
  • Wait five minutes after opening time before going in- there’s no reason to wait in line to get in when the crowds are reasonable like they were at this professionals-only show.
  • Remember that it’s just a show and I should really just relax.IMG_1965

I was not able to promote my ebooks there, and did not learn anything to improve my writing business.  Those who wish to do that should go to UpublishU over the weekend.

Sew a Felt Kindle Toy

Felt Kindle

I made a felt Kindle for an associate who is retiring from being in charge of all digital content for our library system.  I think we’re going to be lost without her, but now she has a Kindle she can safely throw at people who aggravate her.  Which hopefully won’t be necessary as she’s retiring.

I’m embarrassed at how it came out, but she appreciated the gesture.  I need to figure out a way to create words on my felt projects, because my embroidery is awful.  This looks like spiderweb writing from Charlotte’s Web.  It would have been awesome to be able to iron on text for the “screen.”  I will have to experiment.

Star Wars Day

May the Fourth be With YouP1070248

Quick Star Wars Day round-up.



Sock Monkey Hat knitting pattern

Sock Monkey Hat

Last year while participating in GISHWHES (the greatest internet scavenger hunt the world has ever known) it was pointed out to me that I lacked a basic tool, a sock monkey hat. (Yes, the event is that weird, you should participate this August!)  My grandmother used to make sock monkeys from actual work socks, I still have one.

So here it is:


I started with a pattern off Ravelry, which was already a tweak from another pattern.  I took out the red top and pom-pom.  It came out on the small side, which is fine, since my son will probably take it over this winter.  This knitter went back over the face with duplicate knitting, whatever that is, because she was afraid of intarsia.  We’re even I guess.  I just counted the stitches in the chart in both directions, and when I had to carry over the color, I just brought the yarn around the color I wasn’t using so it went along for the ride.  The hardest part was keeping track of stitches while distracted, you can see that I didn’t exactly match the pattern.  I sewed on eyes and nostrils with yarn when the hat was completed.

Chart © of LLCoopersock_monkey_knitting_chart_medium

  • size U.S. 8 needles, worsted weight yarn
  • Cast on 72 stitches
  • P1, k1 ribbing for one inch.
  • next row- purl 22, put in marker, start pattern (27sts) purl to end
  • knit a row, purl a row until it is 6 inches (and pattern looks good)
  • Decrease:
  • change to white
  • row 1- knit 2 together, knit 5, repeat until end of row
  • row 2- purl
  • row 3- knit 2 together, knit 4, repeat until end of row
  • row 4- purl
  • row 5- knit 2 together, knit 3, repeat until end of row
  • row 6- purl
  • row 7- knit 2 together, knit 2, repeat until end of row
  • row 8- purl
  • row 9- knit 2 together, knit 1, repeat until end of row
  • row 10- purl
  • row 11- knit 2 together, repeat until end of row
  • Finish- cut a long piece, pull tail through remaining stitches and sew the seam of the hat.


Here is LLCooper’s pattern for each ear:

  • Cast on 9 stitches using a long tail cast on.
  • Make sure to leave more of a tail than usual to attach the ears later.
  • Row 1: purl 1, make 1 by purling but not pulling the stitch off and purling into the back of the same stitch, purl 5, make 1 (same way), purl 1 (11 stitches)
  • row 2: knit across
  • row 3: purl across
  • row 4: knit 1, k2tog, knit 5, k2tog, knit 1 (9 stitches)
  • row 5: purl 1, p2tog, knit 3, p2tog, purl 1 (7 stitches)
  • row 6: knit 1, k2tog, knit 1, k2tog, knit 1 (5 stitches)
  • row 7: p2tog, purl 1, p2tog (3 stitches)

Now I need to look for a new knitting or sewing project, as I find if I have something I’m working on while watching TV, I’m less likely to eat.  Any requests?



Spine Poems

spine poems

In honor of poetry month, create a “found” poem by stacking books.  This is a great and easy display for a library, and a mind-stretching exercise for writers and other creative types.  Try to use spines that are easy to read from a distance, and don’t have the author’s name hogging too much space. There are some great examples at 100 Scope Notes and Pinterest.

spine poetry 2

Knitted Braided Ball

Gevlocten Bal- Braided Ball

knit braided ball

The pattern is on Ravelry.

This is a great “on-the-road” pattern, or a way to get rid of leftover yarn.  I used the basic worsted weight acrylic yarn (Red Heart) that I’d had sitting around from other projects.  It’s best if all the yarn you use is the same thickness, otherwise, use whatever you have. All you have to do is make six strips in stockinette stitch.  They naturally curl into tubes.

knitted strips

On my first attempt, I made the loops too large.  This ball can be salvaged by stuffing the middle.  The pattern gives an equation using pi to determine the length of the strips, and I ignored it.  The second time, I made the strips seven inches long, and that was just right for my yarn (12 stitches on size U.S. 3 needles).  The hardest part of this project is placing the last two strips- make absolutely sure you’ve got it right before sewing them together.

braided ball mistakebraided ball good and bad

You could make this into a cat toy by putting a jingle-ball or catnip (or both) in the middle.  It’s also a nice baby or toddler toy.