Mika Perlmutt, Oakland Public Library:
I was thrilled to receive a mini-grant from ACL in 2020 to help me fund the purchase of new board games and ongoing snacks for our weekly drop-in game night. We had a small but friendly group of regulars (and non-regulars) who came to meet other patrons and play games together.
When the COVID-19 pandemic closed all our branches in March 2020, we put all our programs on hold. We restarted programming online within a few months, but regular in-person programming has taken much longer to resume (we only recently started storytimes again in April 2022). I’m looking ahead to restarting game night in September 2022, but wanted to thank ACL for the mini-grant and give a quick snapshot of what I bought, how I organized the games, and how I’m hoping to encourage community participation and enjoyment of these games in the future!
I ordered around twenty games from Games of Berkeley; I wanted a range of different formats, different objectives, and different ages, although I primarily wanted to focus on games for preschoolers and younger elementary-school-aged kids, since that’s historically been our primary demographic during the afterschool hours at my branch. I had been accumulating a small list of games that I was interested in, as I discovered them in other contexts (I saw Tiny Polka Dot at an afterschool program); I reached out to a math teacher to ask for some advice on math games (she led me to Prime Climb, Robot Turtles, and Azul); some of them I discovered through my colleague at the library who leads gaming events (we tested out BFF: Best Friends Forever together at work); and some of them I found by browsing at Games of Berkeley.
I organized the games into Memory & Matching Games; Math & Design & Strategy Games; Storytelling Games; Word & Reading Games; Card Games; and Board Games. This binder is available again as of July 2022 and sits out in the children’s room so that patrons can request games to play at the library; it will also be available during Game Night when it starts up again.
I’m feeling grateful that we were able to refresh our collection with some new and exciting games that are relevant to the interests and ages of our patrons, and can’t wait to restart this programming soon. Thank you, ACL!
Deborah Bonet, Richmond Public Library:
Richmond Public Library’s Children’s Services Department received an ACL mini-grant which allowed us to bring the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s (BADM) Try It Truck to the Richmond Public Library. BADM is a Bay Area institution, a National Parks Service partner, located within Fort Baker National Park on 7.5 acres. It specializes in research based playful learning experiences for children 6 months through 8 years. The Try It Truck is BADM’s mobile engineering lab and offers hands-on problem-solving activities to children at libraries, schools, and public events throughout the Bay Area.
The Bay Area Discovery Museum provides low-cost access through the Discover and Go library program which admits one adult and one child for one free visit per year. The museum offers several discount programs for families including a $1 entrance fee for families in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program. But because the museum is located at Fort Baker in Sausalito, families that rely on public transportation encounter the expense of using public transportation and the challenges of an hour plus bus ride with multiple transfers and an extended walk from the bus drop off to the museum. Because BADM provides unique early learning enrichment opportunities, because travel to it can be difficult for our patrons and because community events like the Try It Truck strengthen community bonds and enhance community mental health, we wanted to begin our library summer programs with this kind of positive experience.
Waiting to deconstruct electronics
We began our conversation with BADM during the COVID shutdown. We applied for a scholarship as the event’s cost was beyond what we can afford to budget for a single event. We even tentatively reserved a date for the visit two years in advance. The combined amounts received from ACL and the BADM scholarship left us only $100 short. The Friends of the Richmond Public Library made up the difference. We were so excited to invite the Try It Truck to be one of the first in-person library programs since March of 2020. Before we could finalize our plans, we made certain that the Try It Truck had access to electricity so children could experience the wind tunnel and that there was enough space for participants to spread out and enjoy themselves as safely as possible.
Hexbug Obstacle Course
The visit was scheduled for 2 hours but the Try It Truck arrived and set up an hour early due to extremely light traffic. They brought a lightweight building set with giant blocks, arcs, and rods. The children enjoyed building and when they tired of construction, they used the long rods to play at swashbuckling. Hot wheel sized cars, 1:64 scale vehicles, and a racing ramp were used to predict speed. Children designed structures and tested what kind of obstacles Hexbug nanos mini robots could navigate around. They deconstructed electronic equipment while learning about the use of tools. They also explored the drag and flow of wind using a wind tunnel and different materials to test movement. The total number of participants for the event was a whopping 108. The facilitators remarked on how much time families spent enjoying the activities. Many families left only when staff began dismantling the exhibits. Everything went smoothly from set-up to take down. The response was beyond what we hoped for. We look forward to hosting this event again.
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