Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Where in the World (Non-Fiction section) is Carmen San Diego (Melvil Dewey)

Okay, now that we've got that out of our systems...

I've been wanting to do a scavenger hunt in the non-fiction section for a long time. I just wasn't sure how it was going to work. Then I saw Miss Ingrid's post on how her library does a Melvil Dewey scavenger hunt and I loved it so much that I stole it wholesale, right down to the smokin' hot picture of Dewey (seriously, what a fox) and the glitter accents.

Ingrid (I read her blog enough that I feel like we're friends and totally on a first name basis) doesn't have prizes for her kids who play the Dewey game. Just the satisfaction of a job well done. Which I think is fantastic. BUT. We have so much crap  leftover summer reading prizes in our back room, including some Chipotle coupons that will expire at the end of the month, that I basically look for excuses to give kids stuff.

I've also really been wanting to have a non-fiction party. Now that the Common Core is really a thing, I think there are so many cool applications for Ripley's Believe It or Not, hands on science experiments and crafts drawn from our non-fiction section.

So with those two things in mind, I've tweaked Miss Ingrid's Melvil Hunt to fit our needs.

"Today I'm in the 400s, books about languages"

This is Melvil Dewey. He invented the Dewey Decimal system. Melvil hangs out on the easel on the back of the flannel board, near the children's desks on Saturdays. Each Saturday he hides in a different part of the non-fiction section, as indicated in his speech bubble. Anyone can come, check him out, grab one of the entry forms and a golf pencil, and head off to find good ol' Melvil. 

"Now see if you can find... How do you say hello in 3 languages?"

When they find the smaller Melvil, he's asking more specific, yet still open ended question about the section that he's hiding in, encouraging the kids to look through some of the books. And since I "laminated" this picture with packing tape, we can use it like a dry erase board to write and re-write the weekly question. The piece of paper that they answer the question on serves as a raffle entry- so they can answer the question as many times and in as many different ways as they like- and at the end of the day we draw for a bunch of prizes.

At the end of the semester we'll have a non-fiction party instead of a big to-do for the holidays. There will be trivia drawn from the cool facts that the kids supply us with through their answers, hands-on stations from featured Dewey sections (like an animal print identifying table! I just got really excited about that possibility, please excuse excessive use of exclamation marks) and the usual snacks and goodies that accompany a party. 

In October our library system is going to extended hours, and in conjunction with that, we're being asked to plan programming for both Saturday and Sunday (as well as story time every day, but that's a different story for a different time). As most librarians know, programming on Saturday is a tricky beast in that no one comes. Ever. And I imagine Sundays are even worse, with all the pressure to do neglected homework before Monday. A low-key, drop-in program like this seems to be just the ticket to complying with administrative edicts while still maintaining our sanity.  


  1. The non fiction party sounds cool. Maybe I should visit for that. I also think the dewey scavenger hunt could be very sucessful in a school library, I just need to think about how to adapt it.

    1. Did you adapt it for a school library, MsJess? I would like to use it in my elementary school library!