Dinosaurs in the Library: An Interactive Experience
Dinosaurs in the Library: An Interactive Experience
I'm a librarian who loves dinosaurs. Can we bring a realistic dinosaur to libraries in CT? With your help, you bet Jurassic can.
I'm a librarian who loves dinosaurs. Can we bring a realistic dinosaur to libraries in CT? With your help, you bet Jurassic can. Read more
— If lovin’ dinosaurs is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right, or The Issue at Hand (Claw?)
I love dinosaurs. I find them fascinating. Being a children’s librarian in a public library, I am surrounded by dinosaur books. I am asked dinosaur questions and told dinosaur facts. I read dinosaur books, both real and imaginary. I’m not alone.
Most public libraries, especially children’s departments, have huge dinosaur book collections; it’s a topic that children (and adults) seem to be perpetually interested in. But, I’ve encountered a problem—while there is a ton of interest, there are no programs to go along with it! That is why I am starting this fund: to ignite the spark of creativity, wonder, and excitement in children and adults.
The applications for a realistic, animatronic dinosaur body puppet are many: in schools, at museums, in libraries, or as a reward. Of the research that I’ve been doing, I cannot find anyone who is doing a program like this on the East Coast of the US.
There has been some programming done in libraries and schools and museums on the West Coast, where the Walking with Dinosaurs show is located, to thunderous success, I might add.
— So What Do We DO?
Well, grab the Triceratops by the horn and create our own!
There are realistic dinosaur body puppets for sale. With your help, I will purchase one such puppet and use it to create a fun, immersive, and engaging dinosaur experiences for all locations that see benefit in such programs.
I want to be able to demonstrate that such programming can be exciting, funny, extraordinary, and most-of all—affordable. This cause is near and dear to my heart, especially in light of shrinking library and school funding. Encouraging the next generation’s creativity, sense of wonder, and excitement should not be something that we skimp on.
I want to offer high-quality, unique dinosaur encounter experiences that are modestly priced with an educational, recreational, and fantastical slant, designed for the dinosaur-loving kid in each of us. By coming face to face with a creature as realistic as these suits, my hope is to encourage a new generation to explore the world around them.
The aim of this programming is to present fun and interesting dinosaur facts in an unexpected way. While the trainer/handler will present instructions to the dinosaur in a straight forward manner, I plan to have the dinosaur puppet subvert those instructions to make the kids laugh, keep them guessing, and have them test their own knowledge. I want those attending the program to interact with the dinosaur. I want their imaginations to be sparked and their sense of wonder brought to life.
With the success of Jurassic World and how it brought about a new generation of animal behaviorists/trainers, I thought, what better way to do something beneficial with my ideas, passion and spirit than by bringing a dinosaur program to life?
— But why dinosaurs?
A program such as the one I’m presenting to you may help excavate a passion for children of all ages to find a love of the unknown and have transfer it into their personal and professional lives. Dinosaurs evoke a sense of speculation. We will never truly know what they sound like, what their coloring was, what their behavior was like, and that speculation is what makes them so fascinating.
Information changes all the time. For example, look at how we now know that some dinosaurs were covered in feathers, and that their coloring wasn’t as drab as we have previously supposed.
What else will future generations discover?
— But…How you will do it? Are you secretly breeding dinosaurs?
I wish. But, with the help of a life-sized, 6ft tall, 11ft long baby dinosaur body puppet that will be worn by me, this program can come to life. The script itself is in the process of being written and adapted for varying age groups—so as not to go over anyone’s head, or be considered too young.
— And…how much will this cost?
This is the breakdown of how much the suit will cost, with shipping. It does not include taxes and other fees, which is why the total cost of this project has a higher goal.
— My Qualifications
I am a children’s librarian in Connecticut, and have been working in the library field for over 9 years—that’s one third of my life so far! I have seen firsthand the types of programming in a library—both hired performers and in-house programming.
As a children’s librarian, I see library spaces as places for people, regardless of background and interest. A library’s mission is to level the playing field, to give equality and access to all. I love that libraries still believe in things like puppet shows and storytelling, science and math, computer coding and hands-on art programs.
There is something special going on in libraries these days - libraries are a community place that people feel good about, that encourage both fun and learning. I know the topics that kids are interested in, asking about, and excited to see. I have seen the type of programming that gets children excited, keeps them engaged, and gets them (and their parents) motivated.
Top of that list? Dinosaurs. Hands down.
The second biggest draw? Superheroes.
I am also a part of a cosplaying troupe, called The Hero Army, based in CT. The Hero Army attends local comic conventions, charity walks, children’s hospital visits, and other charitable pursuits to raise money for various charities, all while dressed in famous comic book characters. Why do I mention this?
I see how characters help children—both healthy and those who are recovering. I interact with children on a regular basis in various capacities: volunteer, professional, and purely for fun. I see the power that meeting a character in real life has on each child’s mood. I see how excited they get about meeting a fictional superhero; I can only imagine how excited they will be at meeting a creature they’ve only read about, but this time it isn’t fiction—it’s fact.
— So, what do you actually HAVE—The road so far
This project needs the physical dinosaur, of course, and that’s the biggest hold up.
Once the suit is in hand (on body), I will sharpen my dinosaur skills, get the movements down, and find the dinosaur’s persona. This is key for writing an effective script. One cannot get into the mindset of being a dinosaur if one is not, you know, in a dinosaur.
So far, the members of my team are me, myself and I. I will be adding at least one other member to the team, as a “Trainer/Handler” to wrangle the dinosaur and talk about the information in a funny way from the ‘script’ that I will be writing. He, or maybe she, will be the Grady to my Blue. This trainer will also help to not only wrangle the dinosaur, but also the crowd to keep both them and the puppeteer safe.
I have been doing extensive online and hard copy research about dinosaurs: their history, their habitats, life cycles, etc. All of this background information is essential for creating the most realistic and accurate program possible. This research is what has been helping me to write the first draft of the script; but that script can’t progress much further until the dinosaur is a part of the team.
I am attempting to bring to life a creature that has been extinct for millions of years. How would a dinosaur behave? Would we keep these creatures as house pets? Guard dogs? There's a certain fun speculation that I want to play with.
I also hope to include a hands-on portion of the program, such as ‘digging’ for realistic fossils and other such experiences like that, through the aid o f technology like the 3D printer and iPad apps. These props aid in realism, and hands-on learning. They expand the world for children who can’t always go out and experience this type of activity because museums are too expensive, or for any other number of reasons. And that’s what libraries and library programming is all about, bringing equality and access for all.
-How you can help
As with anything worthwhile, a project of this type costs a significant amount of money to get off the ground. And, as much as I wish I could fully fund it on my own...I do need some help.
Donations of any size will really get this project off the ground. And I have offered some fabulous incentives, if I do say so myself.
With the holidays just around the corner, we are all thinking of those who we can help. Most libraries don’t have the budgets to afford a suit like this, and really, they couldn’t use it all the time. That ’s why I would bring the programming to them at an affordable rate. This is a way to help quite a lot of people with minimal effort.
Risks and challenges
Of course, every project has risks. But, being a librarian, a cosplayer, and an adventure seeker has taught me how to overcome almost anything that comes my way.
As a librarian who creates her own programs, I know that sometimes an idea just does not work with a certain group of kids. I have developed the ability to think of the fly, and realize when it is time to adapt and change the plan. It is more a set of guidelines, rather something set in stone.
As a cosplayer who makes, and assists in the making, of costumes, I know that sometimes, a costume will try its hardest to fall apart. It is a fact of cosplay life. I have learned to carry a variable arsenal of tools to combat any snags (real, mental, or metaphorical) that come my way.
Being an avid traveler, I know that the best adventures happen when you least expect them. I also know that you have to climb the mountain before you reach the peak. This has taught me about perseverance, collaboration, and that anything worth having is worth working toward.
That being said, these are some of the challenges that I have identified with this project, and how I plan to combat them.
Actual Interest vs Perceived interest:
While I have gauged interest in the project from surrounding libraries and schools, there is no guarantee that those institutions will host the program.
To alleviate this issue, I have at least one library (my own) willing to host the program, once the suit arrives.
In addition, as you can see in the rewards tiers, certain donation levels will also receive a free program. This not only gets the program into the public eye, but also helps me hone my dinosaur skills.
There is also the transportation of the suit from the factory to the project headquarters in Connecticut. It will be traveling a significant distance, by boat and truck, and making its way through customs. There is always the possibility of damage.
To minimize this risk, I have been in contact with the manufacturer about extending the warranty, sending replacement parts, paint, and repair essentials. While I cannot control how long shipping takes, I have taken steps to alleviate the potential for damage.
To prevent damage any further damage to the suit during programs, that is why I would always make sure that there is at least one handler for the show.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (25 days)