this week at the FPL

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I can usually gauge the potential turnout for the library by the number of kids I see before opening, and how many knocks I have on the door asking if it is time for library. I thought today would be light–I’d seen no kids. And then I opened the door and they came and came.

With the first four through the door (they come in waves) we discussed fathers but one had a father who had passed away and the other three had dads in jail.The twins roared in and we moved on.

Last summer we had a 15 minute silent reading period and I re-instituted it today. The silence was a thing of beauty. Harper was reading about mosquitoes, Joe about dinosaurs. Jackie found a spot in a back room and stretched out on a bed to read (not exactly part of the plan, but to get kids reading we loosen up considerably). My husband, Ray’s, old darkroom timer counted off the minutes and buzzed when the time was up.

After that Joe built a very large, non-rectilinear structure he claimed was an apartment building surrounding a pool (residents jumped out of their windows to get in the pool). Harper sewed buttons on fabric, Danny did melty beads, Hope and CJ 1 researched the name of the Egyptian god of the dead. Hoops were shot, a little residual reading went on.

We had cupcakes left from the party (frozen) but the icing was looking sad. It was fortuitous that Mr. John got some squirt icing at Walmart for cheap. CJ 1 and I reupholstered them with gobs of icing.

We had a confrontation with one of the boys who refused to pick up the mess he’d made. Hopefully he was having a bad day. It was tough though, and everyone got in on the act of trying to reason with him. I just have to say that there are no future diplomats among us. Still, it was a fine day at the FPL.

Happy 6th Birthday to The Front Porch Library

Here are a few pics.  Click on any one picture and you can view them all like a slide show. Enjoy!

this week at the FPL

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Today we celebrated the 6th birthday of the Front Porch Library. As my partner in crime, Kary says, “It seems like longer than that, doesn’t it?” Indeed it does–so many kids have come through the FPL, so much glue, craft paper, sidewalk chalk, reading aloud, shooting hoops, learning Greek mythology–and while cleaning for the party I came across the flash cards I’d made to teach Latin root words. We’ve covered a lot of territory and eaten a heck of a lot of cake in those six years.

This year we served dinner for 35, including two teachers who drove all the way from Jacksonville to be part of the festivities. I can’t thank the volunteers enough–and the spontaneous acts of generosity, like Craig performing his famous Ydon the pirate magic trick and organizing a group poem. Meg, who had just catered a wedding brought all the leftover flowers and put flowers anywhere that would hold a stem, like the door frame and the driveway umbrellas. Kary did a photo booth. Mr. John supervised the kitchen. Tina and Maya helped get the library ready yesterday. Donna, Meg, Penny, Heather and others did a heroic clean-up.

Between the arrival of the twins, screeching into the driveway and the last kid trailing off down the street we ate, did Play-Doh, shot hoops, tossed water balloons, built cities in the living room. It was a class-A celebration and if I was not so tired I’d elaborate. It was a fine, fine celebration.

this week at the FPL

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Goodness! That was one whirlwind of a gathering at the Front Porch Library. We are getting ready for our 6th birthday party next Sunday and thought, wouldn’t place mats be nice? I strung a line across the driveway and as we finished these wildly assorted place mats we clothes-pinned them to the line.

They include everything from a portrait of our beloved volunteer Jorge, to some impressive dragons, and a very convincing cross-section of an ant colony. We hope that everyone who comes to share our birthday dinner will eat carefully (no spaghetti sauce on the dragons please) and take one home.

In the kitchen the aforementioned spaghetti sauce was adjusted and giant chocolate chip cookies were baked for the traditional homemade ice cream sandwiches.

Miss Heather, CJ #1 and Tyler worked on cataloging and shelving our latest book donations so we will look good for the gathering. It sure will be fun!

this week at the FPL

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I don’t let the kids go in the house when I am not there but the front porch of the Front Porch Library is always open for them–so we have come up with a new routine. “Miss Adrian, can you unlock the house so we can get the Legos?” So we get the Legos. “And, oh yeah, how about some board games. And that magnetic block set.” We had just done that, and they’d barely begun to build on the porch when the storm hit. I drove Jackie, CJ#1, and Zion to CJ#1’s house.

The storm died by library time and everyone was back. Everyone. While we made “save the date” invitations (thanks to Cole and Meg) for the library birthday party Mr. John slaved over the evolving spaghetti sauces in the kitchen with chopping help from Jorge and Makayla.

Miss Heather, Hanna and CJ#1 sorted donated books.

CJ#1 had asked if a basketball tournament was possible, and if so would I put it up on the sandwich board to announce the contest to the world. I said, okay, as long as any kid, no matter how little could play. The storm washed the glad tidings off the board, and CJ #1 got too busy with the book sorting to compete. The tournament went on, looking like almost any afternoon at the library hoop–man we have got to get a new pump, our basketballs barely bounce.

Vivienne spent her library time torturing Jorge with a lethal plastic spider, then arranging plastic animals with Miss Meg. Cut-throat checkers occupied the living room folding table. The cake was triple chocolate. Another fine afternoon at the FPL.

this week at the FPL

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photo credit: Zion

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photo credit: Zion

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photo credit: Zion

It was pickle day at the Front Porch Library. Kary found a recipe for refrigerator pickles and the Community Garden is over flowing with cucumbers. For those of you who don’t know, June 13th will be the seventh birthday of the library and we always celebrate with a dinner for the neighborhood prepared by kids wielding knives. Today we broke out the knives and hacked up cucumbers in all kinds of ways Martha Stewart might find appalling, but we filled thirteen jars with the wounded vegetables and doused them in brine prepared by Mark (a scientist who can really heat and cool brine).

My favorite library experience today came before we opened when I went down to the garden to pick dill for the pickles. The basketball guys were shooting hoops. “We’ll walk you, Miss Adrian.” I had a posse of five very cool guys trooping along with me to pick dill. We sampled the natal plums growing by the retention pond and tried out the tomatoes, then we trooped back with a bouquet of dill. I felt like the popular girl in high school (had I been them I would have been embarrassed to hang with me, but it is to their credit that they weren’t).

Meanwhile, during library time for-real, John began the ceremonial peeling and cooking up of last year’s frozen tomatoes, the start of the traditional pasta sauce (since we don’t know how to do the loaves and fishes trick we have to stick to cheap starch for the bulk of the meal).

Some very fine pickle drawings were done after the pickles sat in their jars pickling. One was of a pickle saying, “Dill with it!”

A note on those healthy snacks we decided to add because sometimes the kids seem to come hungry. Our neighbor Meg has been bringing healthy snacks for the last several weeks. Today she brought cheese and crackers, blueberries and sliced bananas. She went home with a very clean plate. Boy oh boy is this ever a community effort.

We had (by my count without the sign in sheet) ten boys and two girls and loads of volunteers, every one of them needed. It was an uproariously busy day at the FPL. Huge fun.

this week at the FPL

Today at the library we had the first-ever house concert. Three of our wonderful Leon High volunteers, Tiffany, Cole and Michael played guitar solos, duos and trios. Meanwhile, the library contributed a little William Tell as Zion and Kwili shot arrows across the street. At the same time Vivienne was drawing a lovely picture complete with about a thousand butterfly stickers.

We had an unusual gathering with family members of the musicians sitting on chairs usually occupied by kids. It was a nice way to meet more neighbors. And the decor was unusually top-drawer. I lugged over a couple of plaster columns and topped them with flower arrangements from a friend’s wedding yesterday. It would have been perfect but someone invited the mosquitoes and turned the heat up. Luckily I had a stash of cardboard fans from a county commission race and we could all fan ourselves while we listened.

The street guys (all basketball all the time) appreciated Miss Meg’s empanadas more than anyone and, sitting at the picnic table jokingly claimed them–they needed no help cleaning the plate. That was our healthy snack.

In the unhealthy snack department it was “frozen cake day” at the library. We did in all the leftover bits of the cakes of yesteryear, disguised slightly with whipped cream Hope whipped up in the kitchen using an old-style hand crank egg beater. It seemed at first as if it would never hold a peak, but she made it!

A fine and unusually musical day at the FPL!

this week at the FPL

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Mother’s Day occupied most of the library kids. We were down to Harper and Danny and Zion. Some would say that we had kids sufficient. Those three are lively, funny, and always engaged. We did a big build with leggos, then constructed The Castle. Since it was acquired at Goodwill The Castle is missing parts. It can be viewed as a disappointment or a challenge. It was taken both ways by the kids and volunteers, depending on who you asked.

In the yard we did a follow-up on the map, writing directions that led people around, ultimately reaching the Shiny Glass Glob (which was a bit disappointing).

Miss Meg brought more healthy snacks. She is a caterer so our healthy snacks are pretty darned classy. We sorted books and planned for next week’s guitar recital–some of our volunteers need an audience. If they can keep the kids in their chairs they will pass the test as far as I’m concerned.

In addition to the kids we had the guys who shoot hoops in the street. We always invite them in for cake, which helps us to become a more cohesive neighborhood. You’ve got to like an enterprise that says, “Hey, you want some cake?” on a weekly basis. We also set out a huge jug of ice water. Today they would have landed on their faces without it. We are a full-service library.

this week at the FPL

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DSC04706 DSC04709 DSC04714 DSC04715 Today at the FPL we mapped the neighborhood–well, a good piece of it. The kids went out in teams with volunteers, counting houses, marking down important features of the neighborhood like the tulip tree on Cates and the Airstream trailer in front of Juniper’s house. We covered a big table with paper and translated our notes into a very colorful map with every house drawn. The biggest house was Harper and Danny’s. I forget which of the twins was the artist, but they live in a mansion.

We went out into the street and located the sun, then made our compass rose. And then, inexplicably, Santa Claus appeared in one corner of the map.

While mapping we also we went on collecting insects. When they were brought inside Joe drew each specimen for our neighborhood field guide. CJ, for the first time, came in off the street where he usually shoots hoops through library and took part in the insect collecting. He was really good at it!

Allie and her mother Lisa came to bring books and stayed to take part. Allie trapped a mosquito in one of our tubes. It was interesting to see the mosquito flying around in the collecting tube–we have the only catch and release mosquito program on the planet.

It was such a good day at the library.

this week at the FPL

The Front Porch Library is tidal–and today we were at high tide. So many, many kids. Camden and Brayden came very early in the morning, read on the porch for a while, then came back half an hour before opening time, so I just unlocked. I set up while they built with Leggos and Lincoln Logs.

Our neighbor Meg brought little sandwiches as a healthy snack and over the course of library time kids kept revisiting the kitchen to get another one (this is part of our plan to act less like Marie Antoinette).

Meg also brought clay and the kids made lots of bakeable creatures. Meanwhile, in the yard I led a nature expedition. Each of us had a tray for collecting leaves and tubes for gathering insects. The leaves were more cooperative and we were able to look at the many strategies used by leaves in an effort to look like themselves. Virginia Creeper for instance is Palmately Compound, and contrary to the collective kid wisdom NOT POISON IVY.

We did pretty well in the spider/insect department when we began rolling over rotting logs. The millipede got away, but we caught two pill bugs that paraded up and down the tube, passing each other in the middle like sentries.

Vivian, who lives two doors down from the library,stayed without her mom for the first time. Redheaded Vivian Is always some kind of princess–today a very active one, swooping around the yard in her dress-up clothes. I don’t think she missed her mother at all, she was too busy having a great time.

Jump rope competition in the street was tense. JR hit 29 times narrowly beating out Zion. We had a great gathering with lots of volunteer help. I know, I know,I’d better go back in the morning and check for any unattended-to havoc, but it was a truly fine afternoon at the FPL.

PRESS RELEASE | April 24, 2015

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The last time the Front Porch Library reached out to the wider community, it was to ask for help finding an insurer to keep their doors open.

Tallahassee came through with suggestions, offers of help, and ultimately an insurance policy.

Now there is good news to share.  The Front Porch Library is a finalist for a 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.  The award – given by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and its partner agencies — recognizes top arts and humanities-based programs which operate afterschool and out-of-school.

The Front Porch Library is one of 50 programs to achieve Certificate of Excellence status from hundreds of nominations from across the country. If chosen in the top ten, the library will receive $10,000 and an invitation to Washington, DC for the award conference in August.

Today the Front Porch Library continues to thrive as a book-and-project gathering spot for the children of Seminole Manor Neighborhood. Co-founded by neighbors Adrian Fogelin and Dr. Kary Kublin, the initial vision was to give ready access to books and educational materials to youth in this low income neighborhood.

“The library began with my father’s house, and kids who needed books,” says Adrian Fogelin. Not wanting to give up his house when her father died, she decided to establish a library on the porch—a library which quickly took over the whole house.

The collection now numbers over 3,000 cataloged books, all donated. But the library is more than just books. Every Sunday, a volunteer staff gathers to run programs that bring the wider world to kids who arrive on foot and by bicycle. Library volunteers come from the neighborhood and the community. Many are students from SAIL High School and Leon High’s Key Club. These high-achieving teen volunteers act as mentors and role models.

As the library gets ready to celebrate its sixth birthday, there are many past programs and shared memories to draw on: building a Rube Goldberg machine, jousting on the lawn with the Society for Creative Anachronism, quilting, cooking, studying Greek mythology, learning about modern China, conducting explosive science experiments and funding summer camp experiences from one generous donation.

“We’ve seen a lot of kids come to the library, growing up right before our eyes Sunday to Sunday,” says Co-Director Kary Kublin.  “If we want kids to read, we’ve got to read with them.  If we want them to ask questions and solve problems, we have to make sure the opportunities are there and that they are accessible.”

The Front Porch Library is proof that it takes a village. With this national recognition, the village continues to grow.

More information about The Front Porch Library as well as weekly updates and photographs can be found at http://thefrontporchlibrary.com.

this week at the FPL

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We sure were busy today at the Front Porch Library–which was a surprise because the weather has been so colossally rainy. Corine an Chloe came first. Chloe, at four, loves to kneel on a chair at the sink and wash…well…anything that needs washing. Today it was carrots from the garden. Her sister mixed up the very chocolate cake (on rainy indoor days we bake the cake together).

Joe came with a dog named Misty–not his, but he had to watch her for a friend. We put her on the porch which made the ins-and-outs a little trickier than usual. The Danny half of the twins came. The reports on the Harper half were mixed. He either had a stomach bug or couldn’t find his shoes.

Klark and Olivia continued the “future” theme from last week. Randomly grabbing folded slips of paper they had to portray things like, the school of the future…the pet of the future. The pet of the future will be quite well-dressed.

Kiwili made a floor puzzle, this one a birds of North America scene that included birds that would never meet in real life, all graciously displaying their field markings.

Jackie roared up on his bike sporting a new modified Mohawk haircut. Meanwhile in the street CJ and Johnny prepared for their careers in the NBA.

The chocolate cake was served warm and you can’t beat that.

the week at the FPL

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I’m not sure why, but today was future day at the FPL. It might have been the blinking-light Dr. Demento glasses Ray found at Goodwill. We began by deciding what these great future glasses would show us. Excellent vision of course–see that mosquito on the wall of the house across the street? But we came around to future glasses being able do divulge the future. We took turns putting them on and seeing each other’s futures. It seemed we had, among us, one entomologist, and a whole bunch of psychologists–I know, I don’t get it either.

Then we began building future structures with all tinker-toys. The future Statue of Liberty will be a rickety affair. The future human will have arms growing out of his or her head–above the ears in case you are wondering.

Then Kwili asked if it would be possible to play some future football in the street. So he and our volunteer, Michael, played some future football in the street. It seemed remarkably like the current football played in the street in front of the library from time to time.

The twins drew future pictures in which humanity had to resort to eating poop. This is not an unusual prediction for the twins who just like drawing brown peanut shapes and writing the word poop.

Chloe and I made a floor puzzle in the kitchen, ignoring the future entirely–what is there to look forward to if we will all be eating poop?

Joe showed up about two minutes after the library closed, scouting for a small suitcase, hoping to be included in a college tour this summer. Luckily, we are a full-service library. Luckilier, someone just gave us a book donation in a decent small suitcase. Joe walked down the road trailing his college-bound suitcase.

And the library goes on, in the present, which I think is for the best.

this week at the FPL

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Craig and I played for Echo’s Empty Bowl fundraiser, but the library was in super good hands with Ms. Heather in charge and all the great volunteers who come for no more pay than a piece of cake, or, this week, a little mud pie with a gummy worm in it. Thanks everybody–you even took pictures–I owe you all big-time.

Next week, Easter, the library will be closed for some family time all around. We’ll be back!

Adrian, we missed you this week at Front Porch Library. Hope you had fun singing – here’s a rundown of the afternoon:

It was a busy day at FPL today! Our wonderful Key club volunteers and Hunter showed up to help out as we dyed Easter eggs, used giant cardboard boxes as space ships, and of course, checked out books. Someone donated a tub of Legos which Harper and Danny dived into immediately (see photo). One and a half year old Lexxie showed up with her mom and dad and together they built a megabuck tower. After they left, Klark and Kweli joined Hope in adding a few more feet to bring it up to eye level.

Instead of cake, we tried something new today and made “dirt pies” (chocolate pudding with crumbled oreos on top). Our newest library-goer Kweli helped make the pudding and Harper smashed the oreos. After the kids painted flower pots to put their “dirt pies” into, they added gummy worms and a flower to complete their welcome to spring. Check out the final product!

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