The November 2021 newsletter of Let’s Move in Libraries includes:

  • A final reminder to participate in our StoryWalk® Week Celebration
  • Our next Active Early Literacy Community of Practice Meeting
  • An inspiring StoryWalk® story from Alabama
  • A new funding opportunity for rural libraries
  • How to use our logo for your programming

This month’s featured image comes from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where on Saturday, October 2, the Tuscaloosa Public Library and its partners officially opened their first permanent StoryWalk® installation at Jaycee Park. Read on to learn how they did this, and how you can too!

How to participate in the inaugural StoryWalk(R) Week Celebration

From November 15-19, 2021, we will be celebrating the inaugural StoryWalk® Week in collaboration with the Association of Bookmobile & Outreach Services (ABOS). During this week our social media will feature images and stories of library StoryWalk® programs from around the world! All are invited to participate, whether you call your program a StoryWalk® or not. Tale Trails, Book Walks, Poetry Walks, Story Strolls – all are welcome!

To get started and for more information, go to this form prepared by ABOS, or get started with StoryWalk® programming and partnerships on our StoryWalk® resource page.

As of October 29, 2021, we have received 292 submissions!!! We’re thrilled to report that librarians from 41 states have submitted entires. We are STILL WAITING for submissions from the following states. If you live in one of these states — Hawai’i, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, or West Virginia –and have recently done StoryWalk® programming, please contribute!

Submissions close November 8, 2021, so don’t delay!

Librarians from outside the United States also invited to share! We have nine contributors from outside the U.S. so far!

Active Early Literacy Community of Practice

This year we want to create more opportunities for librarians to come together to exchange resources. To that end, we are thrilled to announce the second convening of our Active Early Literacy Communities of Practice (CoP).

The Active Early Learning CoP is led by Barbara Scott, Children’s Librarian at the Bucyrus Public Library, Ohio. This Community of Practice is your space to share resources, ideas, and support with your peers around how to support active early learning. The next event will be Thursday, November 11, at 2 pm Eastern.

Barbara Scott has successfully written United Way grants for and co-taught a wildly successful Music, Movement, and More program at her library. Total attendance has reached over 13,000 folks! During the COVID-19 Pandemic, she was asked and able to take the program out into 3 area preschools, reaching over 500 more children. She has spoken on her Music, Movement, and More program at Ohio Library Council chapter conferences and at an ALSC National Institute.

These are not webinars. Come ready to turn on your mic, camera, and participate. Come to share, come to commiserate, come to exchange ideas.

We are hoping to make these regular events, but that depends on you!

So join in, and let’s make it happen. Sign up here.

An inspiring StoryWalk® story from Alabama

Something amazing is happening in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Public librarians worked with an expanding number of community partners to bring StoryWalk® installations to areas of the city that otherwise do not have easy access to library services.

It all started when youth services librarian Sadie Zabawa happened to be hiking in Maine and stumbled upon a StoryWalk®. In Fall 2018, Sadie pitched the idea of a StoryWalk® to her manager, and when Haley Bryant became the library’s Youth Services Manager in Fall 2019 the librarians started reaching out to more people to get the ball rolling.

It took a while for the library to find the right partner. But eventually they succeeded. In Fall 2020, they met Casie Jones, who at the time worked for Tuscaloosa County Parks & Recreation Authority (PARA) and was also pursuing a Master’s of Public Health at the University of Alabama.

Casie connected the library to the resources of PARA and to the resources of of the university, and they then all worked together to open their first pop-up StoryWalk® in April 2021. Casie also started a Facebook Page for the collaborative endeavor. According to the organizers, having a Facebook page dedicated to the StoryWalk® collaboration enabled them to quickly get out information in case of weather-related cancellations.

The project also included staff from multiple branches through the library system, with Kaitlyn Lynch and Marti Ball helping to bring everything together.

Even before the first pop-up StoryWalk® opened up, the team was meeting with the local Arts Council to talk about creating a permanent StoryWalk® for Tuscaloosa.

Having Parks & Rec on the team made a huge difference. In addition to being able to locate the installations at PARA facilities, parks staff also shared the marketing and organizational load, and made sure the site was cleaned up and in good shape for kick-off events.

Meanwhile, having students and faculty from the University of Alabama involved enabled the library to offer even more activities for participants in the pop-up installations.

Community members told librarians that they appreciated the fact that the StoryWalks rotated around different parks, which allowed them to explore different parks they hadn’t been too previously.

Marti Bell shared that she has seen the StoryWalks engage sectors of the community she hasn’t seen before, including those who are more outdoor recreation oriented. She said during Summer reading, they were able to sign up families in the parks they had never worked with before.

Furthermore, since the installations were available in neighborhood parks, they made the library much more accessible. Librarians saw kids walk and bike to the StoryWalk® who would never be able to walk or bike to a library branch.

Even though the library now has a permanent StoryWalk®, they’re hoping to continue their mobile, pop-up StoryWalk® programming, using their network of partners to make library resources available throughout the community.

In addition to taking the mobile StoryWalks to parks, they’re hoping to share them with schools, daycares, and any other spaces where kids and families may be present.

The librarians also shared with us a few lessons learned. They discovered that you really need to have your StoryWalk® trail be a loop, ideally around a half-mile to 3/4 of a mile. Some of their installations were out-and-backs, and the community really did not like that format.

They also learned it can be really helpful to have a spreadsheet of all the book titles they are using, and are thinking about using. That makes it easy to always have new titles to feature, and to keep the installations fresh. Having a spreadsheet that multiple library staff can contribute to makes it easier to manage, as well.

The librarians also add a variety of different prompts around the story pages, including everything from questions based on the page content, to activity prompts, to relating to the story in a social emotional context, to learning more about the environment or how to talk with your family.

It all started with a librarian with an idea who over time built up momentum first within her library and then within her community.

Marti said that she would encourage any librarian interested in getting started with a StoryWalk® to “not give up. There were many points along the way where Sadie could have given up. She put the bug in people’s ears over and over again. To do them right really required the partnerships we have. It took time, but it turned out great!”

Teamwork makes the dream work!

We would like to thank the following individuals for taking the time to talk with Let’s Move in Libraries about this story: Sadie Zabawa, Haley Bryant, Kaitlyn Lynch, Marti Ball, Casie Jones, and Becky Larson. Photos courtesy Tuscaloosa Public Library.

A new funding opportunity for rural libraries

Through the generosity of Penguin Random House, The Association for Rural and Small Libraries is pleased to announce the establishment of a new grant opportunity for small and rural libraries nationwide! Apply now!

This is a rolling grant application, with batches of applications going under review every eight weeks beginning Dec. 17, 2021. Applications will be submitted until all available grant funds are distributed. Grants may be used for everything from library programming and books, to resources like hotspots that help community members access important information!

Have questions? Please contact the ARSL Office at (206) 453-3579 or

How to use our logo for your programming

In Georgia, Fayette County Library is teaming up with Main Street Fayetteville to invite community members to “take in a fun story while taking a stroll through new City Center Park!” Thanks to library director and Let’s Move in Libraries Advisory Board member Michelle Bennett-Copeland for sharing this story with us and for using the Let’s Move in Libraries logo to pump up the event! #FCPLMainStreetParkStory

Did you know our logo is free for all to use! Download it here and incorporate it into your program’s promotional materials. It’s completely free! Tag us on social media to amplify your message.

Teamwork makes the dream work!

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 Subscribe to the Let’s Move in Libraries newsletter for monthly editions of success stories, educational opportunities, and food for thought that will deepen the impact of movement-based programs and services in public libraries. Also follow the project on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date. The Let’s Move in Libraries project focuses on how public libraries create opportunities for individuals of all ages and abilities to engage in healthy physical activity.