Guest Post: Outreach at the earliest opportunity

Guest blogger Anita Vance

Guest blogger Anita Vance

Many thanks to Anita Vance, Outreach Librarian at the Altoona Area Public Library, for this week’s guest post on reaching our younger users. Anita shares her practical tips and lessons learned on working effectively with the preschool set.

Currently, I am visiting preschool centers with new stories, picture books, songs and activities.  This time provides some of the most rewarding moments of my career.   I enjoy the challenge of finding materials that interest young thinkers and connect them to something they are learning.

All of my past experience did little to prepare me for the ‘by the seat of your pants’ presentations that I do each week.  The lesson plans (A, B, C and sometimes D) always look fine on paper.  The children, however, are still learning to sit on their own spot, lIMG0037_2ook at this page in the book, use a tissue, take turns, etc. They don’t know there is a plan. But each week, we try a little harder and learn a little more.  By the end of the year they have learned about the magic of books and I have learned  that I need to keep more tricks to keep up my sleeve.

 For example, we recently participated in Read for the Record,, a national project of Jumpstart, to encourage the awareness and support of early literacy.  Coincidentally, the same week focused on the letter ‘t’ and Otis, this year’s Jumpstart title, is the story of a friendly tractor.  The children were entranced with the story, empathetic with the calf and so happy when the rescue occurred.  Some of them even clapped during the climax of the story.

This was a little longer then our usual story for the visits, and our audience definitely needed an activity to get the wiggles out. I must admit, I was unprepared for the obvious need to move before our next story, and could not recall a tractor-related song or fingerplay.  So, we fell on an old standby, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”  We challenged the youngsters to keep pace as we sped up and slowed down.  This helped to eliminate the boredom factor for an old standby. I will definitely work to have a movement activity on standby for each week from now on.   

I’m always learning to keep on my toes as I visit 23 classes weekly. Every week offers another adventure!  By the way, Adventure is an upcoming theme for the letter ‘A’……fingerplay, anyone?

About Anita Vance: Semi-retired with 33 years working in libraries, 8 in public libraries and 25 in public schools.  Graduated from Clarion University with a Masters in Library Science and from St. Francis University with a BS in Education.  The present position as Outreach Librarian at Altoona Area Public Library …is the semi-retired part.  My experiences, listed in more detail on, will show that I have worked in Elementary and High Schools, been elected President of the State Librarians’ Association and have written a few articles and edited a book on assessment.

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