The First Guerrilla Storytime Since The First Guerrilla Storytime!!!!

We are all PRETTY EXCITED over here that Darien Library hosted a Guerrilla Storytime as part of their KidLitCamp. Watching the video, I was getting nostalgic (for two months ago), and thinking about how extraordinary it is that Guerrilla Storytime happened in the first place.

If Melissa hadn’t been willing to take time on Twitter to talk to a noob who had no idea how to do a flannel story (ME) about training opportunities, I would never have thought about trying to get together a training time in the UnCommons, and the idea for Guerrilla Storytime would have stayed dormant. If Mel hadn’t gotten excited about it and amplified the message out to her much larger audience, we wouldn’t have gotten so many people on board. If Anna HK hadn’t made a Google group, we would never have organized ourselves and come up with so much cool shit. If Amy hadn’t made the inaugural challenge cup, if Katie hadn’t brought all her props, if Rick hadn’t sung a rooster song and Angie hadn’t shaken her hips (I owe you all big, btw). . . Guerrilla Storytime is SO MUCH a communal project.

Which got me thinking about librarianship as a whole, and why we in youth services are better. I mean, different. Not that I mean to imply that librarianship as a whole isn’t a collaborative profession, it obviously is. But.

There’s a sense I get in interacting with the rest of LibraryLand (I do that! I’m on YALSA and LLAMA committees!) that we’re all trying to become A Name. It’s really important to our careers (no sarcasm, it’s really important) whether we get named to That Big Award, or get linked in AL Direct or get elected to That Committee. Now, some of us in YS do get That Big Award, but we’re not super likely to get linked to in AL Direct, and we certainly care if we serve on certain committees but mostly our own, and we have our own separate LJ all to ourselves and we’re basically kind of unsupervised, because, let’s face it, even when we have iPads no one else really cares what new thing we’re doing in storytime.

Clearly, I think youth services needs more attention from the profession. That’s the point of this website. However, being unsupervised means we make up our own rules, and instead of each trying to Make Our Name, we call each other out. We make each other’s names. We get together in mad magical brainstorming sessions with no room for ego and shape projects out of magic brain playdough (that is a GROSS IMAGE). And then! Once we present them and deem them awesome, we give them for free to other people to adapt and change and make EVEN MORE AWESOME. We’re like the Linux of librarianship.* All our code is open source. Which brings me, at last, to Darien.

Darien Library had their annual KidLibCamp, and they had a Guerrilla Storytime, and they filmed it, and it is all AWESOME. My internet is sort of slow, so the video keeps stopping in weird places and making some bits hard for me to follow, so I’m sure I missed some amazing suggestions, but everything I heard is gold. They brought up some new challenge questions, like what to do if a parent won’t stop filming a child with their phone (this hasn’t happened to me YET but now I’m on the lookout) and favorite story to tell without a book (Hermie the Worm came up, and let me tell you, he is a beloved favorite of mine), and whether you prefer a theme or no theme.

In terms of questions we’ve heard before, I love hearing people answer how they deal with the kid who is like “I have a cat at home! His name is Fred! He’s black!” and then every kids wants to tell you about their pet. I also love hearing creative solutions to the non-engaged parents.

This GS was super interesting because it was all theory and book recs, with no singing/dancing/ukulele/parachute/shakers. THAT IS AWESOME. We’re open source!!! If you want an all-behavior management Guerrilla Storytime because that’s what everyone coming needs to work on, PRAISE BE! There’s like, a couple of days worth of just that topic, without getting into learning new songs about fruit salad (although if you don’t know that song, seriously, your life is lacking meaning). I’m personally a little disappointed to not get to hear someone else’s Hermie, so, if you do Hermie, please video yourself and submit it to us.

If you are planning a GS and you want it to be ALL songs and stories and flannels because you have a group that maybe doesn’t often get to observe each other and you want to work on resource sharing THAT IS ALSO AWESOME. Your group will inform each other about what they’re interested in learning that day. Each person at Guerrilla Storytime is an expert in something and each person feels like they need to work on something. When the group comes together, more magic brain playdough (oobleck?) will happen and you will have the perfect Guerrilla Storytime for that group of people on that day.

There is no end to what we can learn from each other, and I am so energized by seeing Darien pick up our idea and run with it and make it their own. Who’s next?!?! I know people going to PLA are planning GS, as are those of us going to Midwinter. I’ve heard Alaska. Kendra’s putting one together in Oregon. Are you going to your state conference? Do you know educators going to conferences? Are you doing staff training? Pass the word on: We have brilliance to share with each other and sillies to shake out. Let’s, to quote Tim Gunn, Make It Work.


*Someone who is not a YS librarian is going to read this and tell me about how their corner of libship is like this also, and I will be glad to hear it. I speak only from my limited perspective and experience in regards to the wider librarian world out there.


Posted on August 16, 2013, in Guerrilla Storytime. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. To clarify (after you’ve watched the Darien video): Cory Eckert is and always has been the ringleader of this guerrilla storytime movement–she should get credit for the idea when you host your own guerrilla storytime, not me.

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