Monday, March 11, 2019

Firefly Book Award Kits

This year, I took on a project that I have wanted to do for a long time: Firefly Book Award Kits.

The Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award is a kids-choice state book award started in 2015 and aimed at ages 0-5 and featuring books that develop early literacy skills in our youngest readers. Each year, a committee of professionals selects 5 nominees and children 5 and under may vote for their favorite.

We've done some programming around the Firefly Award in the past and set up a voting station in our Children's Room, but this year I really wanted to push it with our local early childhood educators and see if we could get them involved.

I created five Firefly Award kits that each include a copy of each of the five nominees, the 2019 program guide (super useful - it contains ideas on how to share the books, craft ideas, ideas for voting, etc.), and 20 ballot sheets. Each kit checks out for one week and any teacher who checks out a kit and returns children's votes will be entered into a drawing to win a set of all five books.

I set the kits to check out for one week because we're starting a little bit late and I'm trying to get the maximum usage out of them before votes are due on May 15. We'll see how it works - if we repeat the program next year hopefully I will be able to start earlier in the semester so we have more time and we may adjust the checkout period.

For our pilot program, I'm first reaching out to local early childhood teachers because we'll get huge bang for our buck that way. I started last week and all five kits are checked out to teachers. If we start having kits sitting on my shelves, I intend to put them out for any families to check out.

Creating the kits:

I purchased DALIX zippered cotton canvas bags through Amazon for about $13 apiece. I have my eye on heavier-duty canvas totes via Lands End or LL Bean, but for this pilot project I decided to go with cheaper bags. If we like the program and continue it, we'll probably invest in higher quality bags. We will also look at vinyl bags or other options that are not cloth - critters aren't a huge concern to me with bags circulating to schools, but we can never be too careful.

I purchased a set of plastic tag holders that came with zip ties to affix the kit labels with barcodes to the bags. On the back of the label, I printed the contents of the kit. I realized that I needed to attach a second tag with the delivery and pickup information, so if we continue the program in future years I will look for better solutions.

My hope is that we will have success and continue the program and then the bags can be an investment that we reuse each year with the new nominees.

The best deal I could find on the hardcover picture books was through Ingram. I ordered them non-processed and put labels in the front of each book with the kit's barcode. That way if they get separated we know where they go. When we give away the books, we'll put a new label with no barcode over the top of it so teachers can be reminded of their awesome library.

Giving away the books once the program is done was my cataloger's idea. That way we don't take up extra shelf space with multiple copies that we probably no longer need, and it's an extra incentive for teachers to participate in the program.

Program Goals:

My hope is to collect 100 votes via this program this year. Last year we were in the throes of our huge staffing restructure and we submitted 0 votes for our county, so if I can get 100 votes to submit I will be happy and that will give us something to build on. I'll be sure to update and let you know how it goes!

Read on for information about my budget and staff time for this project, as well as files you can use if you want to replicate it at your library!

Program Budget:

5 canvas bags at $13/each = $65*

Set of 50 tag holders with zip ties = $14*

25 hardcover picture books (5 each of the five nominees) at an average discounted price of $13/each = $325

Printing 5 program guides + extra in case any of the teachers keep theirs (which would be fine with me) at 25 cents a page = $100**

Printing ballots to include at each guide (500 ballots printed) at 25 cents each = $125**

Total: $629 for five kits
(Or about $400 without including printing costs)

*These items will hopefully be used in future years
**Printing costs may vary and may be something your library can absorb in its normal operating budget. We printed ours in-house, so I did not really need to budget for this, but you might!

Staff Time (approximate):

Purchasing supplies and processing kits (creating labels, making catalog record) = 4 hours*

Drafting invitation letter, collecting contact information, and sending out info to teachers = 2 hours

Checking out and delivering kits, creating teacher library cards, communicating with participating teachers, keeping track of kits = approximately 2 hours/week (mostly in small chunks, may vary week by week) for 11 weeks = 22 hours**

Total staff time: 30 hours
Over a period of about 12 weeks, so averaging about 2.5 staff hours/week

* Much of this can be reused in future years. We will still have to process new kits, but I won't have to design new labels, etc.
** You may or may not need to do all these tasks yourself at your library. Next year I will probably let other staff members handle a lot of this since it fits in with our School Collection program that we already run. I just didn't want to load up their plates with my project before I knew if it would be successful.

Files for your use:
You have my permission to edit these and use them however you like. The Firefly Award makes its logo available for use in promoting this program.