My favorite project in 2021 was a workshop I organized at the invitation of the South Central Library System. This organization provides training and support to public libraries in seven southern Wisconsin counties. My colleagues in the workshop were youth services librarians gearing up for the 2022 national summer reading program, which has a theme of “Oceans of Possibilities.”
I modified the theme to “Oceans of Possibilities in Our Backyard” because the watersheds that surround us provide a wealth of opportunities to explore literacy and have fun. There is no need to go any farther.
At the workshop, I was honored to be joined by Hannah Arbuckle, outreach coordinator with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. We began with an overview of the Great Lakes and waters of Wisconsin, integrating traditional ecological knowledge into the presentation. We engaged attendees with hands-on learning to explore the terrific properties of water. We finished the morning traveling in a time machine to learn about Great Lakes shipwrecks. We spun the tragic tale of the Silver Lake, a scow schooner that went down in Lake Michigan in the late 1800s.
At the end of the morning, a skilled youth services librarian approached and told me she was thankful for the workshop. The summer reading program recycles themes every 10 or 15 years, and she had already dusted off old storytimes and activities in her files. She now planned to turn to the creek behind the library and use that as her watershed for the summer.
I can’t think of a better outcome!