Over the summer the library partnered with the Harwich Conservation Trust to create a StoryWalk. First created by Anne Ferguson in Maine, a StoryWalk combines physical exercise and literacy – and in this case some science as well! Basically, we bought multiple copies of a picture book, then deconstructed the book, carefully cutting the pages out with a razor. We then laminated each page and stapled them to stakes we had pounded into the ground along a short trail at the Bank Street Bog. Since each page was intended to only be seen on one side, this is why we needed more than one copy of the book. The intent was for walkers to be able to start at the beginning of the trail, then come across a new page of the book every few yards, allowing them to read the story as they walked along the trail. We set it up to change the book every two weeks, trying to find books that fit a general science theme of bogs, meadows, and bees, since those were all aspects of the environment the StoryWalk was located in. The books chosen were Over in the Meadow, Frog in a Bog, and The Honeymakers. We had a lot of positive feedback from the people who used the StoryWalk, but it was also a learning experience.

Some changes we will make next year:

  • Pound in the stakes more firmly. The HCT volunteers underestimated the depth to which the stakes needed to be pounded, resulting in a handful of the stakes falling over during the course of the summer.
  • Put a backing on the pages. Whether it’s a piece of dark construction paper laminated on the back of the page or a piece of wood permanently attached to the stake, having a dark backing would have made some of the lighter colored pages easier to read. When the sun was shining at the right angle, the pictures and words from the “wrong” side were sometimes visible, making it difficult to read.
  • Find another method other than staples. The staples created tiny holes that allowed water to seep in. It was only a minor problem on a handful of pages out of almost a hundred, but if we can avoid it in the future, so much the better.
  • Include a waterproofed notebook system for feedback from walkers. While we heard back from many people who used the StoryWalk, it tended to be people who had gone to the Bank Street Bog specifically for that purpose reporting back to us. It would help us to know how many people enjoyed the books that were not expecting to find them there.

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