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Library Larry's Big Day

Denton Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Kerol Harrod, Library Assistant II, Kerol.harrod@cityofdenton.com

Problem Statement

Denton Public Library recognized that we had an adult literacy program in place, but lacked a comparable program for early childhood literacy. While we had a program in place to administer to the needs of low-income daycares around Denton, we had no way to reach the rest of the city and county populations. We knew we needed a broad outreach program that would accomplish several goals at once: provide a fun, positive view of reading, encourage a lifelong love of books, and reach a larger population than our traditional children’s programming (such as the weekly story times) would provide.

Innovation

Denton Public Library decided to bring library programming for pre-school and elementary-aged children to every home in Denton County that had cable television or Internet access. Instead of simply filming a library story time, we wanted to relate the library and books to the community at large while providing quality, entertainment that would capture children’s imagination and sense of adventure. Over the next few months, we formed relationships with the school district and the City’s television station, Denton Television (DTV), and began scripting a unique children’s television show, Library Larry’s Big Day. The show features three puppets that live in the library: Library Larry, a good old Texas longhorn, Emmy Lou Dickenson, a word-loving pig, and Mr. Chompers, a lovable, madcap hippo. In each episode, the puppets read a book and then go to a place in the community that relates to that book. We produce one episode a month, and each episode runs on the county-wide cable station, is simulcast on the DTV website and is also available on-demand at the libraries website. Some places we have visited so far are the fire station, the airport, the police department and the landfill. Our next episode will take us outside the City departments to the University of North Texas’ Rafes Urban Astronomy Center.

Progress

On March 9, 2010 the City webmaster put episode #2 online for on-demand viewing. From March 9 to March 26 (just over two weeks) we had 486 viewings of the show online from 340 unique computers. This doesn’t count the numbers of television viewers, or those who watched the simulcast of the show on the DTV website. The library has hosted viewings of the show after story times, and the reactions of the children, and the parents, has been overwhelmingly positive. The children are engaged throughout, and my own children ask to watch it again and again. And while the statistics of viewership and the reactions of our target audience convinced us we were on the right track, another great benefit of the project was the positive, working relationship that we established with the school district, the City television station and the various City departments to help promote and produce the show. Not only are we solving our problem of having a broad-based literacy program in an innovative way, but the endeavor has raised the positive profile of the library in the community.