A Journey through a Goldmine: PBS.org Resources for Programming Librarians
Unless you’ve been living in a mine shaft, you know PBS creates excellent early literacy television shows. Between the Lions and Word World make reading fun for emergent and beginning readers. Other shows such as Cyberchase and Sid the Science Kid help kids have fun with math and science. PBS Kids, created specifically for elementary school students, hosts fun online learning games and has oodles of printable coloring sheets. The coloring sheets are perfect handouts for story time or for students during school visits. Print the coloring sheet and on the reverse print your library’s information and a booklist using BookFinder or one of PBS’s ready-made parent quick tips. This creates an almost instant marketing tool. Encourage the kids to color the picture and hang it on their fridge at home.
Digging a little deeper into this vast site, our mining pick hits PBS Parents. Here, you can unearth lots of precious nuggets of good information for parent education and family programming ideas. Vickie Howell’s postings on her Craft Apparent blog spur lots of great ideas for children’s craft programs; or, if you’re up for it, ideas from the Birthday Parties section can help plan a birthday party for Curious George (or any other number of PBS characters). Pair George’s birthday party with a reading of Curious George Goes to an Ice Cream Parlor or a showing of Rick Sebak’s documentary An Ice Cream Show. End the program with a mini ice cream social, and you’re sure to have lots of smiling faces!
Mining for something a little more thought provoking for your older audiences? Host a National Parks event based on Ken Burn’s film The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Show the film and facilitate a discussion based on the teacher’s guide that is included with the educational version of the film. Compliment the National Parks program with a family game night where attendees can play the National Parks version of Scrabble or Monopoly, or they can work on one of three different National Parks jigsaw puzzles. (Available at ShopPBS.org.)
Continued prospecting of PBS.org results in the discovery of PBS Teachers, a cavernous source of curriculum tie-ins for PreK–12 educators. Keep in touch with local school librarians by sending them resource links relevant to upcoming curriculum subjects or current homework assignments. Hold a program for socially aware teens interested in the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile—download reading suggestions, discussion questions, and a slide presentation, all from the PBS Teachers site. Free registration at PBS Teachers gives educators access to multimedia resources and professional development tools, too.
The biggest golden nuggets for programming librarians through PBS.org are the PBS Library Resource Kits. Currently, PBS offers five different kits: Einstien’s Big Idea, Infinite Secrets: Archimedes and the Palimpsest, Newton’s Dark Secrets, Forgotten Genius: Percy Julian, and Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens. These kits include a range of ready-to-use resources for libraries both large and small and can be used to plan programs for a variety of audiences. For example, Newton’s Dark Secrets kit includes activities using library resources, ideas for library displays, program ideas and tips, and a list of web sources to help locate experts, partners, target audiences, and materials for events, programs, and activities. Remember, not all library programming has to be elaborate. Supplementing an already scheduled book discussion with PBS.org resources is a great way to save time in preparation; or, a simple library display with flyers highlighting an upcoming PBS series to be aired on a local television station provides much-appreciated information to your community.
This prospecting journey through the PBS.org goldmine has reached an end, but vast caverns of information have been left unexcavated. Whether you are prospecting for ideas for babies or boomers or somewhere in between, PBS.org is worth mining. This remarkable site boasts a pan full of programs and program ideas quite suitable for libraries with small (or nonexistent) program budgets.
PBS, a private, non-profit corporation, founded in 1969, continues to provide quality TV programming and related services to 365 public, noncommercial stations serving all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa. You can follow PBS.org via Facebook, Podcasts, Twitter, YouTube.