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The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is a network of more than 4,200 children’s and youth librarians, children’s literature experts, publishers, education and library school faculty members, and other adults committed to improving and ensuring the future of the nation through exemplary library service to children, their families, and others who work with children.
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26. Announcing the ALSC Blog Photo Contest!

ALSC Blog Photo Contest

Photos courtesy of ALSC

The ALSC Blog is excited to announce a photo contest! We’re looking for photos that relate to children’s librarianship. Give us your best photo of your library space, program, display, book, craft or something else that you think relates to children’s librarianship. May the best photo win!

Participants must be ALSC members to enter. Anyone, members and non-members, can vote in the final round. Be sure to visit the ALSC Blog to vote for your favorite library photo beginning April 25, 2014.

Prizes include tickets to the Newbery-Caldecott Banquet and $50 gift certificates to Barnes & Noble. Entries must be submitted by 8 am Central Time, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. For rules and entry form, see the ALSC Blog Photo Contest site.

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27. Sensory-Friendly Films: Family Programming for Autism Awareness Month

The Gruffalo, released by N Circle Entertainment (2011)

Our Children’s Department is trying something new this April for Autism Awareness Month.  As a way to continue our outreach efforts to children with special needs into the library, we will be hosting our first ever inclusive family film program entitled Sensory-Friendly Family Film.

Our idea of a family film program designed especially for children with special needs is modeled after AMC Theatre’s own series of  Sensory-Friendly Films.  In partnership with the Autism Society, AMC’s Sensory-Friendly Films were first developed in 2007 as recreational opportunities for individuals with autism.  These special movie showings welcome people of all abilities to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment.  The theaters themselves offer a different kind of moviegoing experience, with lights that are turned on and sound that is turned down.  Audience members are even invited to move about the room as they please.  As explained by the Autism Society, “Being able to relax and enjoy quality family time without worrying if someone will complain or be disturbed by noise of movement is a wonderful experience. It’s a great opportunity for families to meet, siblings of children with autism to get to know other kids, and anyone to enjoy a movie in a climate of acceptance and understanding.”  Children with autism spectrum disorder often need a different adaption or a slightly altered environment to feel comfortable.  Sensory-Friendly Films offer that supportive environment.

There were many reasons why we decided to host a Sensory-Friendly Film program at the library.  Our Children’s Department has an ongoing series of Sensory Storytime programs for children with special needs, so we already have a core group of families who visit the library to attend these programs.  So, we wanted to build on our first program’s success.  We wanted to provide more opportunities for those families to feel comfortable visiting the library in a program that is still as welcoming and inclusive as Sensory Storytime.  Another goal of ours was to develop more programs that are family-oriented and welcoming for parents, caregivers, and siblings.  That way, families are able to make visits to the library together, with everyone able to enjoy the movie experience regardless of their age or ability.  We also wanted to bring attention to our selection of movies that are based on picture books.  There are many production companies, such as Weston Woods, Dreamscape, and Scholastic Storybook Treasures, that create quality audiovisual adaptations of picture book texts.  By showing one of these movies, we hope to bring more awareness to this mini collection of DVDs, while introducing kids with new characters and connecting them with new stories.

Here is a run down of our program details:

  • Title: Sensory Friendly Family Film–The Gruffalo
  • Date and Time: Saturday, April 5 at 11 am
  • Target Audience: Children of all ages and abilities with parent or caregiver
  • Program Description: Join us for our first sensory-friendly movie showing of “The Gruffalo.” The room will be lighter, the volume will be lower, and audience members will be welcome to move around, talk, and sing.  The intended audience is children with special needs accompanied by siblings and caregivers, although everyone is welcome.  Noise cancelling headphones and fidgets will be available to use.  No registration required–just drop in!
  • Room setup: TV monitor at the front of the room with chairs arranged in auditorium style seating; large aisles and walkways in between rows of chairs and along the edge of the room for accessibility; table arranged at the back of the room displaying copies of The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and collection of fidgets and other manipulatives for children to use during the program
  • Fidgets and manipulatives made available: 4 pairs of noise cancelling headphones; 6 tangle toys4 giant sensory tubes; sensory balls; stress balls; puzzles

Here’s another quick tip.  If your library wants to host a family movie program, be sure to first acquire the rights to show the movie in your library.  Check out Movie Licensing USA or the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation for more information.

To find out more about the history of Sensory Friendly Films and to learn about the one family who made it all happen, click here.  For a list of participating theaters in your area, check out AMC Theatre’s website.  And to learn about more autism-friendly library programming strategies that work, check out the Libraries and Autism website.  Does your library offer Sensory-Friendly Film programming? If so, share your tips and ideas below!

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28. The Rainbow (Loom) Connection: a Small Scale Maker Program

Rainbow Loom is the latest fad sweeping across American classrooms. With the help of a plastic loom and a crochet hook, kids can weave, twist, and loop tiny rubber bands into anything from bracelets and lanyards to hats and charms. It’s popular, it appeals to boys and girls, it’s good for fine motor development…and it’s perfect for a maker program.

Pre-program setup Some samples for the program Some of our loomers brought their own supplies Looming away!

Interested in trying this out at your library? Here are a few tips and tricks:

Step 1: Learn to Loom
Even if you are neither artsy nor craftsy, you can learn how to use the Rainbow Loom successfully. There are a number of wonderful beginner tutorials on the official website. YouTube also has entire channels devoted to the Rainbow Loom—JustinsToys, Made by Mommy, PG’s Loomacy, and TutorialsbyA are a few that I used to prepare for our program.

Step 2: …But Do It Off Desk
Rainbow Loom has a learning curve that can lead you to some frustrating places. A single missed step can result in your creation merrily disintegrating into a pile of rubber bands, leading you to suddenly understand what Sisyphus felt like watching that boulder roll all the way back down the hill. Find a quiet place where you can really concentrate and aim for proficiency rather than total mastery.

Step 3: Know Your Experts
I wanted this program to be an opportunity for kids to create and collaborate with each other—less like a class and more like a quilting circle. To facilitate that, we asked kids at registration if they were advanced or beginning loomers. During the program, color-coded nametags helped us group some of our expert loomers with our beginners.

 Step 4: Know Your Supplies
The amount of bands you will need depends on the pattern—more complex patterns generally require more rubber bands. If you’re planning on buying some looms, the starter kits come with approximately 600 bands and 20 C-clips. I’d estimated that in a 90-minute program, each kid could make three 50-band bracelets. This turned out to be a little high, so we had enough left over for another session.

Step 5: Use Your Resources
We started off the program with a YouTube tutorial, which was a nice segue into the less structured section. Our brand new rubber band jewelry book was a big help for the loomers who weren’t sure what to make next.

Step 6: Keep Calm and Loom On!
I’ve learned that at any given moment during a craft program, the number of children shouting, “Miss Martha! I NEED HELP!” will always be at least four times greater than the number of Miss Marthas in the room. Make sure that you have another staff member on hand, or possibly a teen or middle school age volunteer. This is also a great opportunity for your experts to shine. We were lucky to have one guru who knew just about everything there was to know about Rainbow Loom, and had all kinds of great tips and tricks.

Step 7: Have Fun!
Being a beginning loomer myself, I was a little nervous about leading this program. The neat thing about maker programs is that they can turn barriers into opportunities for learning—even if you are leading the program. That’s exactly what ended up happening with our program—we had fun learning from each other. Keep that in mind as your prepare for your program.


Martha Cordeniz O’Hara is a Children’s Services Associate at the Glencoe Public Library in Glencoe, Illinois. When she is not at the Glencoe Public Library, you can sometimes find her working at the Lake Bluff Public Library or attending class through the LEEP Program at the University of Illinois. She lives in Highland Park with her husband and their two opinionated cats. You can follow her on Twitter at @marthacohara, especially if you are interested in pictures of the aforementioned cats.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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29. Buzzing Bees and Beautiful Butterflies

Although it is currently snowing in our neck of the woods (Virginia) while I write this post, spring is officially on notice.  Time to break out our favorite rabbit, gardening, and spring-themed stories!  One of my favorite springtime display/story time themes is ”birds and butterflies.” (Insert your corny but cute display name here: Books to Buzz About/Fly Away With Books!/etc).  Here are the ones to which I routinely return:


butterfly butterfly

(image from Candlewick Press website)

Petr Horacek’s tale of a young girl searching for a butterfly may be economical in text, but the illustrations have vibrancy and depth.  Names of colors are emphasized, making this a first-rate choice for a colors-themed story time or display. We’ve had to replace this several times because it is a very popular choice with our patrons and staff; the pop up butterfly at the end is definitely more than worth the price.



(image from author’s website)

Janet S. Wong’s look at a family’s very busy morning has a great rhythm and usage of sound, so you may need to practice this one before reading it aloud.  As a family prepares for the day’s activities, a young boy observes a buzzing bee, as well as other similar sounds (such as the buzz of his father’s razor).


flower garden

(image from Harcourt website)

Eve Bunting’s Flower Garden is a standard in several of my favorite story times and displays; not only can you use it for a butterfly/bees theme, but also use it for flowers/gardening themes.  Urban gardens are not a common theme in picture books about flowers/gardens, so this stunningly illustrated story of a father and daughter who surprise Mom with a windowsill garden is quite special.

waiting for wings

(image from Scholastic website)

It’s not often that I get to feature a nonfiction read aloud in my story times, so Lois Ehlert’s Waiting for Wings is a standard in my butterfly story times and displays.  Through simple text and authentically illustrated (and labeled) depictions of butterflies’ life cycles, tips on creating a butterfly garden, and tips on how to identify butterflies,  young listeners and readers are treated to a cornucopia of butterfly facts and images.


(I always include The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but I don’t need to tell you about that book!)

What are your favorite books about butterflies and bees? Tell us in the comments!




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30. Program in a Post: Torn Paper Landscapes

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author.

With this blog post and less than $15 (or $0 if you have the supplies on hand) you can present a fun, easy & creative art program for families and children of all ages.


  • glue sticks ($)
  • cardboard/cardstock cut into a variety of sizes. We used old magazine covers, pieces of cardboard boxes and old file folders.
  • construction paper ($)
  • photos from magazines or calendars (optional)
Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Format: One hour long open house.

Room setup:

  • Tables & chairs for attendees.
  • Projector to run a PowerPoint presentation of landscape photographs or print outs of landscape photographs taped up near the supply table.
  • Supply table at the front of the room with cardboard/cardstock, construction paper & magazine/calendar pictures (optional). Label the supplies (collage bases, colored paper, pictures)
  • Glue sticks on each table.
  • Display sign with simple instructions and a definition of landscape and collage.
  • Music.
  • On display: Non-fiction books about collage, picture books with collage illustrations and CDs (by the band/artist you are playing during the program).

When I ran this program a few weeks ago I greeted customers at the door and provided them with a simple explanation of what was happening. “We’re making torn paper landscapes today. Stop & pick up supplies. You’ll need a collage base and some colored paper and/or pictures to tear up. Glue is on the tables and there is a slideshow of landscapes running.” If I was occupied elsewhere, the sign near the supply table provided them with enough information to get started.

The youngest child in attendance was 6 months old and the eldest was 12. Some families stayed for 10 minutes, others for 40.

If you are interested, I would be happy to share the landscape PowerPoint/photos, just comment here.

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31. Every Child Ready to Read® for Spanish-Speaking Communities

Every Child Ready to Read® @ your Library® Toolkit for Spanish-Speaking Communities is now available from the ALA Store (image courtesy of ALA)

Every Child Ready to Read® @ your Library® Toolkit for Spanish-Speaking Communities is now available from the ALA Store (image courtesy of ALA)

ALSC and PLA announced the release of a new Every Child Ready to Read® product. The Every Child Ready to Read® your Library® Toolkit for Spanish-Speaking Communities is now available as a digital download from the ALA Store.

Every Child Ready to Read® is a parent education initiative that stresses that early literacy begins with the primary adults in a child’s life. It empowers public libraries to assume an essential role in supporting early literacy within their community.

The Every Child Ready to Read @ your library Toolkit for Spanish-Speaking Communities contains everything you need to offer Every Child Read to Read programming for your Spanish-Speaking patrons. This digital download is a turnkey product that includes Spanish-language activities and booklists.

Join the ECRR Ning Community

Want to learn what other libraries are doing for Every Child Ready to Read? Join in the Every Child Ready to Read Ning community. The Ning community is a place for individuals to post resources like photos, videos, and booklists. It’s free to join!

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32. Jack Prelutsky’s new poetry app!


app photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

app photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

April is National Poetry Month!

One of my favorite children’s poets, Jack Prelutsky has a new poetry app, The New Kid on the Block – interactive storybook of poems!  It’s based on his book, The New Kid on the Block and includes a collection of eighteen poems that will make you laugh out loud!  The app was created by Wanderful Interactive Storybooks and Living Books. 

To begin your poetry adventure, Click on either “Read to Me” or “Let Me Play.”   Scroll through the

Forty Performing Bananas! photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Forty Performing Bananas! photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

selection of poems, then pick a poem!  Jack Pretlusky will be your guide.  To select a poem, click on the arrows.  To play inside a poem, click “Let me play.” While you’re deciding, Jack Pretlusky will sing you a poem about an alligator.  This will make you smile.

One of the key components in a good book app is the ability to clearly see and hear the words.  The New Kid on the Block app does this and more!  In this poetry book app, you can tap on any word to hear it speak.  When you’re listening to the poem, each word is highlighted so you can follow along with the reader.   For example in Forty Performing Bananas, you can click FORTY and the word forty is read out loud with dancing bananas!  

Explore Jack Prelutsky’s website

Two more poetry apps:

For more poetry ideas check out a few poetry websites and past ALSC poetry blog posts:

This month’s blog post is by “Poetry Paige,” ALSC Digital Content Task Force.  We would love to hear from you.  Please email us at digitalcontenttaskforce@gmail.com or add a comment below.  

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33. Middle Grade Maker Book Club

Timing is everything – right?

It isn’t often that the exact book you need is published exactly when you need it! Many of us are engaged in providing all types of maker spaces and maker programs from low-tech legos to minecraft, coding, and 3-D printers. Even storytime crafts are maker activities for the very young.

These new books by Bob Pflugfelder make a terrific school age book club/maker program in one for grades 3-6 and appropriate for school or public libraries. They are unlikely to win awards for literary merit, but they could win an award for kid appeal on many levels.

Siblings Nick and Tesla use their wits and their uncle’s workshop to invent cool gadgets using readily available stuff to overcome problems and obstacles and to ultimately solve a mystery. My reluctant readers are fighting my avid readers for these books!

Nick and Tesla’s high-voltage danger lab : a mystery with electromagnets, burglar alarms, and other gadgets you can build yourself

Nick and Tesla’s robot army rampage : a mystery with hoverbots, bristlebots, and other robots you can build yourself

Build an adventure.

Sarah Abercrombie
School Age Programs and Services

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34. The Librarian’s Juggling Act: Balancing multiple commitments

“So Katie,” a fellow grad student inquires during a class break. “You’re working three different jobs. You’re going to library school. Are you crazy? What’s your schedule like? How does that work?”

I stare into space for a moment. “Well,” I say, giggling to myself. “I don’t have a boyfriend.”

Ahh, yes, we all know it. The act of juggling a million things at once. Whenever I’m asked “how I do it,” I look around and see that practically everyone is doing the same thing. With the recession and budget cuts, many librarians are turning to working part-time in multiple places (often times without benefits) and having to balance time working, commuting, socializing, parenting, and the basics like eating, exercising and sleeping.

I’m not going to lie: it’s really hard. Talk to anyone I know and they’ll say that I’ve had my rough spots. Yet, I look over the past two years at Dominican and my upcoming graduation in July, and I’m so grateful for the rich experience doing multiple things at once has given me. I’ve learned storytime techniques, collection development, and reader’s advisory in one job. I’ve learned about professional development and the business side of libraries at another. I’ve blogged and window designed and helped run book sales and learned about early literacy, Makerspaces, and advocacy.

But so many people have asked: practically, how do you do this? How do you maintain sanity in a busy life, juggling multiple commitments? I don’t guarantee that these tips will work for everyone, but here’s what has worked for me:

1.) Plan.

Rather than take in my entire syllabus or calendar at the beginning of the semester, stare at it, and immediately have a panic attack and think, “HOW AM I GOING TO GET ALL THIS DONE?!”, I take it in pieces. One day, I write in due dates for one class. The next day, I write in my work schedule for one week. I look at long-term planning and short-term planning. I’ve found that I’m actually doing real, honest work on a project when I simply sit on the train and just think about the project. Then when I get to it, I have a direction. A fellow coworker schedules out his entire work day by the hour, and when I followed this format, I felt so accomplished having different tasks checked off a list and then moving on!

2.) Don’t procrastinate.

This is a big one, and it’s one that I hear the most about from fellow students. They want to be motivated to study, but when they sit down to it, they go grab lunch with a friend or watch Netflix instead. I get it—we all need downtime (see #5). But if you schedule time for work, then work—no excuses. Silence your cell phone so it doesn’t buzz with texts right next to you on the couch. Eat a good meal so you have energy to study. For me, the scariest thing in the world is a blank word document. AHH! I’m feeling a rush in stomach and my palms are getting shaky thinking about it! The deep abyss of a white screen is just a reminder that you haven’t started. So just start the project, even if it’s just your name in MLA format with a title, or a brainstorming list. Then you feel like you can go forward.

3.) Take breaks.

Google your favorite cupcake store. Order a theater ticket. Whatever it is you need to get a good break in (I like jumping jacks or running around my apartment singing), do it. But then go back to your work. Don’t watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother, because it will be too easy to watch another one. Wait until your scheduled breaks—eating or finishing work—to really calm down. I’m always surprised that when I don’t feel like getting in the “work mode” but I do it anyway, I usually get a ton done! Then, if I’ve started something early, I can revise while everyone else is panicking with a first draft.

4.) Communicate with professors and employers.

Asking for help is hard for me. But the thing is, if you are a good worker—if you show up to class, rarely miss deadlines, and do your daily and weekly work as well as your big projects—employers and professors will see that. They will associate you with being steady, reliable, and dedicated. Then, when you are sick or an unexpected event happens, your leaders will understand. If your norm is missing class and asking for extension after extension, you need to reevaluate your commitments and see how you can change things so you can give your best self to the world. I truly believe that your managers and professors want you to succeed, and they will be on your side. Talk to them.

5.) Schedule time for yourself.

I don’t have a family right now, which is how I can do what I do. But regardless of life situations, everyone needs to recharge their batteries. For me, that’s yoga, dance, writing, tea, piano, Pinterest, baking, reading an adult book (WHAT?! WE CAN DO THAT?!). Evaluate how much screen time you have, and try to spend time away from gadgets. Our bodies are meant to move throughout the day, truly.

6.) Know that it’s impossible to be perfect.

I get behind. I panic. I make mistakes. My tweens know more about current events and pop culture than me because I don’t always have time to catch up on news that’s not children’s lit related. Remember, your life doesn’t depend on being perfect. You just gotta be you, and I promise: doing the best you can is all you can do.

How do you balance your juggling act?


hawaii photo

Guest blogger “reading” in front of the Hawaii State Library

Our guest blogger today is Katie Clausen. Katie is currently in her second year of library school at Dominican University in River Forest, IL, where her focus is Youth Services. At Dominican, she works in the Butler Children’s Literature Center. She also works as a children’s services assistant at Oak Park Public Library and started an internship at ALSC last September. You can read her blog at www.houseatkatiecorner.com.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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35. On being a new manager

I am new to supervising and it has been a challenge learning the ropes. Based on my new experiences as children’s services manager and advice that I have received from those who are more practiced, here are some valuable lessons I have learned so far.

  • As a fellow youth services manager advised me, keep doing what you love. The reality is that, as manager, you have less time to work directly with the public and present storytimes. Instead, more time is devoted to scheduling, meetings and budget. While I have come to appreciate the challenges of the latter, I became a librarian so I could do the former. I still miss my weekly preschool storytime six months after being promoted. So as my colleague stated, keep doing what you love, at least a little. I regularly schedule myself and make it a priority to present children’s programs a few times each month.
  • Deal with staff issues head on and in a timely manner. Whether staff are testing you, things were done differently prior or something was unclear, it is important to calmly and directly address cause for concerns as soon as they happen. This has been a challenge for me since I tend to avoid confrontation, am a people pleaser and am younger than most of my staff. However, I realize how vital this is to do. Otherwise, it creates more problems later on and is unfair to other staff that might be affected.
  • Take the time to train new staff or to introduce new procedures to your team. It is so tempting sometimes to simply throw new staff or methods into the mix and hope they learn as they go. Training is time consuming and the needs of the public and the rest of the job demands do not let up. While on the job training is important, reviewing policies or procedures with a new hire one on one, or setting up a separate staff meeting to introduce new services, conveys to your team that you find their service worthwhile and can save time long term.
  • Delegate. Trust your staff to take the lead on projects from start to finish. Be open to different styles and ideas. This has been a challenge for me since, due to budget reductions, I was previously doing the bulk of the children’s programming and collection development. Now that we have new staff on board and I have other responsibilities, I have realized my reluctance to delegate, which results in me being over-committed and my staff unsure about their duties.
  • Take time to talk to your staff, listen to their ideas and assist them on the front line. Fostering good will within your team helps create a positive and productive environment.  This can be done by asking staff about their interests, encouraging them to share how their recent program went or you offering to lend hand if they are busy at the service desk or need support with a big event.

I still am learning as I go, and while I miss aspects of my previous position, I am greatly enjoying the challenges and rewards that managing children’s services provides.


Our guest blogger today is Marie Town, who wrote this piece as a member of the Managing Children’s Services Committee. Marie is also the Principal Librarian of the Oceanside Public Library in Oceanside, California.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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36. Morris Seminar 2014: keep questioning

I was lucky enough to the attended the ALSC sponsored William Morris Seminar nearly two months ago at ALA Midwinter 2014. The William Morris Seminar is a day long  book evaluation bootcamp for newish youth librarians. While Amy and Abby have both already thoughtfully rounded up their Morris experiences, I wanted to focus on the questions I find myself returning with each new read.

  • What type of reader am I today? Am I bringing my best self to this book right now?

As Kirkus editor and writer, Vicky Smith noted in her opening talk, it is essential to know ourselves as readers: what makes us tick or turns us off. This isn’t navel gazing, but rather by keeping in mind how best we read and process helps articulate our reactions to a work with more awareness. For me this can often mean checking in with my “food mood.” I can’t be “hangry” and give a book a fair review. Vicky’s School Library Journal interview is a good outline of her Morris talk.

  • How did this book make me feel?

During the Morris Seminar small group discussions, I was reminded that my gut could be one valid measure of a work’s strengths and weakness. For example, I often listen to audiobooks while folding laundry. If I find myself wanting to iron my socks, than I am hooked on that book. I had very nice socks last year while listening to Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park.

  • Did I really hear what that person said about that book? Or was I too busy thinking of my own retort?

When you feel strongly about a book, it can be hard to contain your emotions.

Merri V. Lindgren , librarian at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (CCBC), pointed out that listening is key to a fruitful book discussion. Listening is more than just the content of what another person says, of course. Listening means absorbing how another person describes their thoughts and feelings with their facial expressions and mannerisms. I learned once at a camp safety training that in an emergency situations you should try to rephrase what the person you are talking just said so you are both clear on what is being communicating.  I think it could be a helpful tactic to try in a heated book debate. The CCBC Book Discussion Guidelines, which Merri outlined, offer a host of helpful points on rewarding discussions.

  • How I am best going to remember my thoughts on a book?

I regularly attend Capitol Choices, a kids and teens book discussion group in the DC metro area. These meetings have pushed me to up my note taking game. Right after lunch (see, I’m very food orientated) we were treated to quite the illustrious panel of former and current ALSC Awards committee members. Nina Lindsay’s meticulous Post-It tab note system inspired me to finally bust open my own colorful tabs. Kathy Isaacs’ custom Filemaker Pro database got me thinking of a more high tech way of saving my thoughts.

As you can see, the Morris Seminar gave me heaps to contemplate. Take a moment to read a bit more about ALSC’s continuing education opportunities, like the ALSC National Institute in September, and mark your calendars post haste for the next Morris seminar.


Photo by Graham Bowen-Davies

Photo by Graham Bowen-Davies

Our guest blogger today is Lizzie Nolan. Lizzie  is a Children’s Librarian at the DC Public Libraries. You can follow Lizzie on Twitter at @mslizzyslibrary

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.


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37. Storytime Lab

Because I keep seeing so many amazing storytime ideas from blogs I read, I am feeling the itch to do Storytime. My position as Head of Youth Services means that I do a lot coordinating, consulting, book ordering, book recommending, grant writing, program development, and training. Which means I am in an office based in a Headquarters location that is not a public library. Which means: I don’t have a regular storytime. For many storytime labyears, this has been ok with me. I was actually kind of tired of doing storytime, and was happy to compile booklists and make storykits and show staff, child care providers, and parents how to interact with kids around books. But how I can recommend all this new fun stuff if I don’t test-drive it first? Enter Storytime Lab. Once a month, I will be heading over to my local library to test out new songs, fingerplays, flannel stories, activities,  and books on the willing “Guinea Pigs” that come through the doors. Not only do I get to test out new ideas, but I have also invited our staff that do storytimes, plus local agencies that do storytime activities, to come and observe as a training session. They get to see a storytime modeled, and see how the kids react. The children and families that attend get to experience the newest books, songs, puppet stories, and flannelboards that I can find. Plus, it is only once a month. That fits in just right with my schedule. Now, I just need a lab coat….

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38. ALSC Member of the Month — Julie Dietzel-Glair

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten (plus one) questions with ALSC member, Julie Dietzel-Glair.

1.      What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?


Courtesy photo from Julie Dietzel-Glair

The better question may be – What haven’t I been doing for the past two-and-a-half years? After 11 years as a children’s librarian and then an assistant children’s services coordinator in public libraries, I left to pursue my own career as a Freelance Writer and Library Consultant. I wrote a book, Books in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Books through Art, Games, Movement, Music, Playacting, and Props, and it was published in 2013 by Neal Schuman (ALA Editions). I’m currently writing the Early Literacy Manual for the 2015 CSLP summer program and I have ideas for a couple more professional books. I do training sessions for library staff (thank you Texas, Wisconsin, and local librarians). I present Books in Motion programs for children. I keep up with new titles by reading and discussing books with Capitol Choices. I even did a three-month stint as a middle/high school librarian when I filled in during a colleague’s maternity leave. In my spare time, I write fiction for children and dream of seeing my name on a book in an independent bookstore.

2.      Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I joined ALSC in order to get involved and give back. I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Budget, Education, Newbery Medal, Nominating, Organization and Bylaws, and Scholarships Committees (alphabetical order so that I don’t show favoritism even though I am that dork that loves the process committees). Little did I know how much I would learn and confidence I would gain. Plus, I’ve made some of the best friends of my life; I think I could drive across the country and never pay for a hotel room.

3.      What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

My floating home. Seriously, my husband and I sold our house last year and bought a boat to live on. It’s completely nuts but also the best move I ever made. We have a great community and the best views in Baltimore.

4.      How much time to do you spend on a computer each day?

8-10 hours each day – way too many. But, in my defense, it can be hard to get work done when a cat sits on my arms or the keyboard.

5.      What motivates you?

My husband. We’ve been married for 12 ½ years and he is the most driven and giving soul. I’m motivated by the desire to give him at least half of what he has given me. Being successful means we can travel, explore, and live life to the fullest.

6.      Are you looking forward to Spring?

I’m ready to take up a collection to help Mother Nature pay her heating bill.

7.      E-books or Print?

Print, print, print! However, I’m slowly coming over to the dark side because of NetGalley and a lack of physical space on my boat.

8.      Legos or Lincoln Logs?

My brother and I were given Lincoln Logs for Christmas one year and we played with them every day for an entire month (my mother actually kept track). I’m a big fan of Legos and wish I had some to play with as the perfect procrastination device.

9.      If you could be on a game show, which show would it be?

Remember Press Your Luck? I wish they would bring that back. “No Whammys!”

10.  What is your dream vacation?

Island hopping in the British Virgin Islands or traversing America’s Great Loop. Basically pulling up anchor and finding somewhere new.

11.  Favorite part of being a Children’s Librarian?

Storytime! I have a passion for discovering and sharing picture books. I love getting “paid” in hugs and cookies. It is amazing to see a baby walk for the first time because they are mimicking another baby in storytime. I love being one of the first people a mother calls so I can share the news of her newest baby with the rest of the group. I’m devoted to instilling a love of books in the youngest generation.


Thanks, Julie! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature! You can follow Julie on Twitter @JulieDGWrites or email her at julie.dietzelglair (at) gmail.com.

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to  alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.

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39. Making Connections, Expanding Our Worlds and Creating Community at ALSC14

In addition to education programs, authors talks and Fairyland, the ALSC Institute offers 2014 Institute Logoyou an opportunity to connect with others in your field.  ALSC Connection is a group of events that bring attendees together for fun and  networking. These are free, team-building events give you a chance to unwind and enjoy the company of your fellow Institute-goers.


Hi, my name is Pat, and I’ll be your hostess!

pat toney

Photo by Ana Elba Pavon

I wonder how many of you are old enough to remember the Love Boat. For those of you who do, just think of me as “Julie, your cruise director”. I will be your Institute hospitality, entertainment and social events specialist. I heart Oakland and hope you will too.

ALSC Connect events begin Wednesday night, September 17, at the hotel bar.
(NO HOST) Happy Hour - 6:00-8:00 pm
Twelve Bar Lounge
Level Two, Oakland Marriott City Center
This will be an opportunity to meet fellow Institute attendees and/or Oakland locals before conference session begins and receive a personal welcome to Oakland. Who knows, if we’re game, maybe we can get some Guerrilla Storytime action going.

During Thursday’s lunch break conference attendees can partake in a refresher or introduction to ALSC as an organization, its activities and board members.  Come ask questions, discuss important initiatives and learn how to get involved. There will be prizes!
ALSC 101 - 12:15-12:45pm, September 18
Oakland Marriott City Center , Conference Room TBA

That evening just across the street from the hotel, you are invited to a pub quiz.
ALSC Trivia - 8:00-9:00pm, September 18
Pacific Coast Brewing Company
906 Washington Street

I’m a big fan of Jeopardy, pub quizzes and Trivial Pursuit so you can imagine how excited I am for this. Heads up, questions will be related to Pura Belpré Awards,Coretta Scott King Book Awards, Schneider Family Book Award, Stonewall Book Awards List, and of course the San Francisco Bay Area. It is highly recommended you have a least one local player on your team.

I’ll be around throughout the Institute to help you carpool, buspool, taxi pool or walk pool over to Fairyland on Friday, September 19 as well as suggest fun places to see or yummy places to eat… like the Eat Real Festival.  This three day (September 19th-21st) festival of food, drink and fun is a social venture created to inspire eaters to choose tasty, healthy, good food.

Got questions? Send me message via twitter @patoney
Follow the action on Twitter @alscblog #alsc14
RSVP for Institute on Facebook  - This is where I’ll be posting tips as we head into the Institute.

In closing, I’ll end with an additional reference to the Love Boat. This is how we do it in Oakland – The Library, an OPL theme song. I look forward to meeting you!

Pat Toney, ALSC Institute Task Force Member and Children’s Librarian at San Francisco Public Library

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40. Creative Displays

My office is actually a shared workspace with my staff. We have lots of storage for supplies and counter space to spread out and work on upcoming projects. And at the very front of the room is a large window-great for looking out and keeping an eye on the department, but not so great when you’re trying to work of desk and patrons can easily look in.

My staff and I are always trying to come up with creative ways to utilize the windows and they’ve become a prime display space. During the voting for our state picture book award, we hang up a large poster of all the nominees and set up a voting box in front of the windows. One of the activities for the Summer Reading Program is to send a postcard to the library, so our windows display the postcards we receive.

When we took a storytime break and created a Cookie Club (inspired by Marge Loch-Wouters’ brilliant Cookie Club!) our windows became a display space for the decorated paper cookies. When the kids visited the library, they got to decorate a cookie and place it in the window. The kids loved it and it also worked as extra promotion for the Cookie Club. People would walk in, see the windows, and ask about the Cookie Club.

cookie club Credit: Sarah Bean Thompson

 In February, we asked our patrons why they loved the library. They filled out the answer on paper hearts and covered our windows in library love. Our teen department created a similar display on a bookshelf. It was so much fun to read all the answers and I was thrilled when one heart read “the helpful librarians.”

valentines Credit: Sarah Bean Thompson

 Even though there are times I wish our office area was arranged differently, we’ve made the best of it by creating a fun display space that offers library promotion-and lots of library love.

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens. 


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41. Andrew Medlar: 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President Elect Candidate

In an effort to help ALSC members make an informed decision before they vote, the blog posts today consist of interviews with the candidates for 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect: Tim Wadham and Andrew Medlar. Each candidate was given ten questions and submitted written answers.

This afternoon’s interview is with Andrew Medlar:

1.      What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President?

Medlar Photo 2(1)

Photo supplied by Andrew Medlar

The ALSC President must enthusiastically and wisely lead our organization along the track of our strategic plan toward the Big Hairy Audacious Goal of ensuring that libraries are recognized as vital to all children and the communities that support them. A key element of that is the responsibility to facilitate and support the brilliant work that our members are doing every day and to represent us to the rest of ALA and the wider world.

2.      What skills & strengths would you bring to the office?

I like to put ideas into action, and one thing that will enable me to do this effectively as President is my knowledge of, and experience with, how the structure of ALSC and ALA functions. I know what it’s like to serve on and chair ALSC committees and task forces, I’ve represented ALSC not only on Council (where I co-convene the Youth Council Caucus) but also other ALA bodies such as the Planning & Budget Assembly, and I served as ALSC Budget Committee chair twice during the beginning of the Great Recession. My current position on the ALSC Board’s Executive Committee gives me insight and participation on current issues, and my day job as Assistant Commissioner at Chicago Public Library continually sharpens my skills in advocating and building consensus in order to improve library service. However above all, I believe that my greatest strength is passion for our work as an association and as individual members.

3.      What area of library service to children is your favorite?

It’s impossible for me to pick just one because they really are all so connected. Since a single shift in the children’s room can involve programming, reference, collection development, advocacy, and picking up and putting away all of the Duplos, we have to be sure to recognize and actively appreciate how all of the many different aspects of the work our members do comes together to create a better future for kids. And, actually, I think THAT is my favorite part of library service to children: the variety, because no day is ever dull!

4.      Why should someone choose to join ALSC? What services do you feel ALSC provides that are valuable to new members? To long-term members?

If someone should buy real estate because of location, location, location, someone should join ALSC because of people, people, people. It’s so valuable the way we as members collaborate on advocacy, education, and access, and these aren’t just words in our strategic plan. As specific ALSC goal areas these are commitments that our organization has made to ourselves and from which all of us benefit. ALSC’s Mentoring Program is a great example of how ALSC can serve both new and long-term members in different ways even at the same time, and in all of our efforts we recognize and share different perspectives and common challenges, which is advantageous for everyone.

5.      What are your ideas for reaching and involving members? What are your ideas to recruit new members?

At Midwinter in Philadelphia I met a local group of fabulous new and soon-to-be ALSC members who had come to observe the Youth Council Caucus meeting, and their energy, ideas, initiative, and questions were so exciting! And while that kind of personal connection is wonderful, to reach more folks who don’t have such convenient or economical access to a national library event in their backyard, the continuing development of the ALSC Roadshow is a fantastic way to find and encourage new members where they’re at.

And we also need to do more of that electronically, as I’m a firm believer in continuing to strengthen the virtual work we’ve already begun. During my service on several virtual task forces and in many online ALSC community forums I’ve experienced first-hand how well they can work, and am also very aware of the ways in which they need continual development. And moving forward, the need for ALSC to liaise with even more non-library associations and groups concerned with youth issues will continue to grow in importance in our inter-related world and will bring even more members, and often less traditional ones, into our community.

6.      How has ALSC membership impacted your life?  How has your membership in ALSC impacted library service to children?

ALSC has given me education, fun, opportunity, and friends, which I consider a fantastic bargain! And I’m always conscious of the importance of sharing those benefits with my colleagues and kids. This can run the gamut from sharing the latest research on the role of play in learning from an ALSC white paper to sharing my real-life experience with others during a Mock Caldecott discussion to sharing a new fingerplay I read about on ALSC-L.

7.     Changes in the economy and advances in technology are dramatically impacting libraries. What are your thoughts on how ALSC can best continue to be a positive force for librarians, for libraries, and for children?

Looking for ways to be increasingly nimble is important for this premier membership organization in such a rapidly evolving profession as ours, and I believe that is doable, especially in the content of the work now going on ALA-wide to “re-imagine” ALA itself. Being able to respond to change (and to do it economically) is vital and the “Hot Topic” programs coming up at Annual in Las Vegas will go far in providing the very latest developments affecting our work. And ALSC’s impressive Everyday Advocacy efforts are a superb way for everyone providing and caring about library service to children to be a positive force as issues pop up and evolve. We can also do this by supporting, encouraging, and spreading the word about distinguished content for children, including for underrepresented communities, with our world famous and financially impactful media awards.

8.      What strengths would you bring to help ALSC attain the goals of the ALSC Strategic Plan?

Knowing how to work with both large and small groups and how to accomplish objectives within the context of ALA is a practical strength of mine, particularly as we strive to attain our strategic goals. I also bring a close familiarity with the Plan as I’ve been a member of the ALSC Board’s Executive Committee since the Plan’s first year and so have been involved in its implementation and ongoing evaluation. And I also look forward to sharing my belief in the importance of consensus building, knowledge-based decision making, and spirit of collaboration, not to mention the aforementioned passion for our work!

9.      What is your motivation in running for this position?

My motivation is all about moving forward, reaching out, and giving back. Keeping any organization relevant through changing times is a constant challenge and I’m determined (and convinced!) that ALSC will be around for a long, long time, so am very motivated to help move us all forward with such things as increased expertise and presence around apps and digital storytelling. I feel it’s important for us to reach out further, both inside and outside libraries, for greater inclusiveness with current and potential members and also for collaborations with a wider range of other youth-focused organizations to increase the recognition of, and access to, library services for all kids. And I continue to receive so much from my experiences here that I want to give back to ALSC, especially in this special role, to ensure that others get that same chance.

10.    What else would you like the voting ALSC membership to know about you before they vote?

I have literally been involved with library service to children since before I was born (as a librarian herself, my mom didn’t wait for her July due date to sign me up on the first day of that year’s summer reading program in June) and have done every job there is to do in a library, from shelving picture books to advocating with the First Lady, and as a true believer in ALSC’s work and our Desired Future, I ask for the honor of your vote to represent all of us as Vice President/President-Elect. And please follow me on Twitter @ammlib so we can continue the conversation! #AndrewIsForALSC

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42. Tim Wadham: 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President Elect Candidate

In an effort to help ALSC members make an informed decision before they vote, the blog posts today consist of interviews with the candidates for 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect: Tim Wadham and Andrew Medlar. Each candidate was given ten questions and submitted written answers.

This morning’s interview is with Tim Wadham:

1.      What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President?


Photo supplied by Tim Wadham

One of the most important aspects of the ALSC’s President’s role is to be the face of the organization to the general public.  Certainly, the ALSC President shapes the makeup of committees through their appointments, but more important than that is being able to be articulate as they act in the role of spokesperson.

2.      What skills & strengths would you bring to the office?

As a library director, one of my primary responsibilities is to be the face of the library in the community and to build community support in order to advocate for the library with elected officials.  This is a strength I would bring as I filled a similar role for ALSC.   The office also requires someone who is an advocate.  I would bring to the office the fact that, for me, children’s librarianship has not been just a profession but rather a life long passion.  I think I first knew I wanted to be a children’s librarian when I was still a kid participating in summer reading club in my local public library.  I would call the ALA press office at Midwinter to find out which books had won the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, then I would bike the dozen or so blocks to the library so I could be the first to tell my librarians of the winners (this was in the days before internet and the webcast).

Professionally, I started out as a children’s librarian and have always sought positions that would allow me to keep my hand and heart active in children’s services.  I would bring the political skills that I have developed as a library administrator, working with library boards and challenging city councils.  One of my strengths is leading effective meetings (know when to stop and make sure that meetings result in actionable assignments and that real decision-making occurs).  Through my experience as a deputy director and library director I have learned the skills necessary to get consensus within diverse, challenging groups.

Beyond these skills and strengths, I would bring to the office a passion and enthusiasm for the work of ALSC.  I was once asked if I could describe myself in two words, and I asked if one of the words could be hyphenated.  Receiving a positive response, I replied: “Enthusiastic book-missionary.”

3.      What area of library service to children is your favorite?

I suppose that my favorite area of library service to children has to be the programming aspect.  One of the appeals of being a children’s librarian is the opportunity it affords to indulge all your artistic impulses.  You can be an actor, a producer, a musician, a puppeteer, a storyteller and an artist.  I love doing storytimes.  Creating voices for the characters in picture books reminds me of the fun I had in high school doing humorous interpretations of selections from plays.  I enjoy producing and presenting puppet shows—including finding the right book, writing an adaptation, finding the background music, along with all of the other challenges such as building a puppet stage and finding the funding for custom puppets.  And I love doing author programs and introducing kids to their favorite authors.

4.      Why should someone choose to join ALSC? What services do you feel ALSC provides that are valuable to new members? To long-term members?

Membership in ALSC is incredibly rewarding.  ALSC provides the opportunity for like-minded children’s services librarians to share ideas, and most importantly become friends.  I was able to attend my first ALA annual conference due to ALSC and the Penguin Young Readers Group Award which helped cover my expenses to travel to New Orleans.  It didn’t hurt that Penguin was the winning publisher of the Caldecott winner that year (Owl Moon), and that my first conference was also my first opportunity to attend the Newbery/Caldecott banquet.  Over my 27 years as an ALSC member, I have made wonderful friends who I look forward to seeing twice a year at conference.  In that regard, ALSC is better than both Facebook and LinkedIn.  It provides a network of both colleagues and friends who you can know face to face and on whom you can call for assistance or advice.  It has also provided me, as a long-term member, an opportunity to give back by mentoring new librarians coming into the profession.

5.      What are your ideas for reaching and involving members? What are your ideas to recruit new members?

Long years of doing outreach have convinced me that the best way of reaching and involving anyone in an organization or institution is to go where the people are rather than waiting for them to come to you.  That may not be practical on a national scale, but I would certainly consider ways of reaching and involving members by finding them where they hang out virtually, rather than expecting them to come to the ALSC listserv or other official methods of communication.  Reaching out to them first may bring them to tools such as ALA Connect.  This outreach can also be a focus for recruitment efforts.  Perhaps there needs to be a way for ALSC to have ambassadors at state library conferences who can do recruiting—passionate members who know the value of being involved professionally.

The emergence of virtual committees has gone better than I ever anticipated when I was on the ALSC board working on the idea.  With the right chair, a virtual committee can be the perfect way to involve more members and to make them feel more a part of the association.  Recruitment of new members has to emphasize that there are more opportunities than ever to be a fully participating member of ALSC.  Our ALSC ambassadors can promote how important professional involvement is for career advancement.

6.      How has ALSC membership impacted your life?  How has your membership in ALSC impacted library service to children?

ALSC membership allowed me to fulfill a dream I have had since I was a child, which was to be on the Newbery committee.  That alone was a huge accomplishment for a kid who was first challenged to read all the Newbery Medal winners by his middle-school librarian.  The level of discussion on the Newbery committee forever changed the way I think about and evaluate books and share books with kids.  ALSC membership gave me the motivation to apply for and host two May Hill Arbuthnot lectures: Lois Lowry at the St. Louis County Library, and Ursula K. LeGuin at the Maricopa County Library in partnership with the Arizona State Library.

My many committee assignments have impacted my library service to children in ways as simple as providing me with information on titles, such as my service on the Notable Videos and Carnegie Medal committees, which gave me invaluable help with video collection development and exposed me to wonderful films I might not have known about otherwise.  Many librarians value the “stamp of approval” that comes with the notable lists and other award lists and rely heavily on titles recommended by ALSC committees in their collection development.   Beyond that, my experiences as a participating member of ALSC have given me tools to be a better librarian.

7.     Changes in the economy and advances in technology are dramatically impacting libraries. What are your thoughts on how ALSC can best continue to be a positive force for librarians, for libraries, and for children?

My experience as an adjunct professor for the University of Arizona teaching children’s literature and youth services in public libraries taught me that what new professionals most want is practical education about what they can expect in the field.  They don’t want abstract theory.  ALSC can be most effective by providing practical information to children’s librarians on the front lines.  When I began my first job in the Dallas Public Library system, I was never given a mentor to demonstrate best practices for storytimes, and I had to learn what worked on my own.  The best way ALSC can continue to be a positive force is to find ways to disseminate practical information to practicing professionals.  We can be creative in the ways and locations we put out this information, and equally inventive in prioritizing the kinds of information that can come from ALSC.  As an example, the association can disseminate information on best practices for using technology in the day to day work of children’s librarians.  My staff are experimenting with creative new ways of using tablets for storytimes and finding that this technology allows us to think of storytimes in a way we never had previously.  We are able to project books that formerly we couldn’t share with a large group because of their size.  We can show films, or even use book apps in storytime.  These are the kinds of things that should be shared as widely as possible.  Focusing on this will result in librarians with more tools in their tool belt, able to advocate articulately for their libraries, and ultimately enriching the lives of children who come in to their libraries.

8.      What strengths would you bring to help ALSC attain the goals of the ALSC Strategic Plan?

I was part of the 2010 meeting that resulted in the strategic plan and I strongly support the three strategic goals that resulted from the process.  1) Advocacy.  Being an advocate is one of my strengths.  I love libraries and I believe in children’s books.  I am happy to tell anyone at any time why they should read out loud to their child and why libraries are important and not passé.  Advocacy begins with the education, training, and mentoring of new librarians coming into the profession.  2) Education.  ALSC plays an important role in the ongoing education of professionals who serve children in libraries.  ALSC can expand that role and find new ways to accomplish it.  As someone who has taught children’s services to prospective professionals, I have a clear vision of what effective teaching can accomplish.  3) Access to Library Services.  I have always believed that libraries are the great equalizer.  I can bring my experience expanding library and book access for children speaking languages other than English.  Parents from cultures where there is not a strong tradition of public library service need to feel that they’ve been given permission to come into the public library along with their children.

9.      What is your motivation in running for this position?

I have been inspired watching many past presidents serve with class and with grace and I’ve seen the impacts that they were able to make in their presidential years.  My three years of service on the ALSC board gave me insight into how the board works, and taught me how I can be an effective president.  Being asked to run for ALSC President has given me the opportunity for some introspection as to the issues that I truly and deeply care about.  I am motivated by the opportunity that being ALSC President would give to focus on these priorities: 1) Building a better relationship between ALSC and our sister youth divisions.  2) Advocating for the rich legacy of books that should be part of every child’s life, to keep them from being slowly weeded from our collective memory, and encouraging children to appreciate the value of fiction in their lives.  3) Library service to Spanish-speaking children has been a strong professional interest of mine, and I want to advocate for the provision of multi-cultural literature (and library service) to all children and families that equitably bridges the barriers of culture and language.  4) I am concerned that we may be neglecting our middle graders and I believe that we can build on the success of our early literacy efforts to provide literature-based programs for 8-11 year-olds.  Finally, I am motivated by the opportunity of a national platform to speak out about the power that books and stories have in the lives of young people to whoever will listen.

10.    What else would you like the voting ALSC membership to know about you before they vote?

My ultimate goal when providing any library service is always to make a difference and to change the lives of those served in some small way.  Following are two of the many experiences that I feel have achieved this goal:

In partnership with Childsplay Children’s Theater, I commissioned and participated in the writing and development of a play based on the children’s book Tomás and the Library Lady, which was performed for over 70,000 children within the Maricopa County Library District.  Since that time, the play has been performed before countless other children on national tour and in productions by children’s theater companies across the country—including a performance in Hampton, Iowa, where the original story actually took place.  To this day I feel that this has been one of the most important things I have done in my career in terms of the number of children impacted by it and the way it impacted them.  This was encapsulated by the simple response of one child after seeing the show: “I speak Spanish, just like Tomás!”

I commissioned Bill Harley, James Deem and Wendelin Van Draanen to write original novels for which I developed interactive websites, creating the concept of the “online novel.”  New chapters were put up on the web on a regular basis, and the websites included curriculum connections for teachers using the novel in their classrooms.  This project won the John Cotton Dana Public Relations Award, the NAACO (National Association of County Organizations) Best of Category Award, and Highsmith Award for Library Innovation.  Two of the novels were later published for the trade market, after appearing first exclusively on our library website.

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43. Focus on the Positive: Book Challenges

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the airport with library colleagues and we started talking about all of the positives that can come out of a materials challenge. Challenges can be stressful, but they do bring good for libraries, books and reading. Here are four of the ideas we talked about:

  • A book challenge starts a valuable community conversation.
  • It gets people to read books that might stretch their minds.
  • It puts media attention on authors, books, reading and intellectual freedom.
  • It highlights the role of the public library and how we work to represent the entire community in our collections, programs and services.

What do you have to add to this list?

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44. Creating Competencies for Staff #pla2014

If a small stand-alone library with a very modest budget can create competencies and find/create training opportunities so their staff can all succeed, then we can too, right? Not convinced? OK, how about if the director of the library freely offers every single piece of work they did? Now we’re talking. You need a few things in place, according to Penny Albert from the Ephrata Public Library in Pennsylvania. You need buy-in from all of your stakeholders, clear policies and procedures, and a realistic timeline, but mostly what you need is the will to do it.

And as to that, Penny says, “We are educational institutions but we don’t educate our employees.” That seems like a crazy way to do business. So, we can all go to Guerrilla Librarian and get to work.

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45. Tinkering with technology #pla2014

This was a fun session put on by a group of librarians from the Chicago area who work with children and teens.  Their aim is to use technology to help patrons develop their creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking skills.  I attended this program with the hope of learning some cheap, easy, and fun tools to start some more tech-focused youth programming.  Success!

They discussed stop motion animation, pencil animation and a 90 second Newbery program.  Robotics  were discussed through the use of an artbot – a very cool drawing robot using a Solo cup and the motor from an electric toothbrush; WeDo, which is the most open-ended Lego robotic set; and of course Lego Mindstorms.  They finished out with an “Art meets Tech” program using light painting which seems so simple even I can do it!  So help your kids and teens build their digital literacy and STEAM skills with some of these fun ideas.  The presenters were kind enough to make their materials available online via the PLA website.

Erin Silva | Youth Services Librarian | Kalona Public Library

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46. Morning Jam Session, Story Time Style

One of the sessions that I most looked forward to at #pla2014 was Wee Be Jammin: Using Music to Promote Early Literacy in the Library.  I am a big music person when it comes to story time.  My undergrad degree is in music and I have used it to develop music-based programs at the library.  This group of Chicago-area presenters had stuff that I have not heard of before and I really learned a lot.  From adding hand motions to “Hickory Dickory Dock” to singing a clean up song for getting your scarves back in the bag, I was furiously scribbling notes and singing along.  What was even more fantastic was that the music and developmental theory was given for each story time age group.

In case you missed this session as it was full, the handouts are on the PLA conference web site.  In addition, the presenters have even more sample programs and handouts online at http://bit.ly/1dR0f8x.  I highly encourage you to check them out or even bring them to your local library conferences.

Lisa Mulvenna
Head of Youth Services
Clinton-Macomb Public Library

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47. Spark Talks #pla2014

What is something that you are currently passionate about in library services? Can you tell me about it in 5 minutes? Welcome to spark talks.

Spark talks were born out of a necessity for new ideas to come out in a timely fashion. Conference proposals are often sent in over a year in advance, and we all know that so much can happen in a year! While there are similar programs such as IGNITE or PechaKucha, the only rule for Spark talks is that it must be 5 minutes. Any longer and an air horn will literally go off. You must learn to be succinct in your lecture, argument, or information you are telling.

I was fortunate enough to attend both sessions. I learned about things such as serving military families, library drama from this past year, and why you should be doing your own in-house trainings (Guerrilla Training). In total, there were 16 sessions. The sessions were funny, heart wrenching, loud, and amazing! Hopefully this is a program that we see occurring more at conferences nationwide. Or, as one fabulous librarian suggested, maybe we should make a conference where every presentation is 5 minutes.

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48. Guerrilla Storytime Converstation #pla2014

The guerrilla storytime converstation by Storytime Underground was absolutely filled with practical tips, ideas, and solutions that you can take home and implement right now. The feeling of camaraderie and identification was also wonderful as participants told their tales of storytime successes and disasters. I’m going home with new ideas about how to more gracefully and successfully enforce storytime rules, some fabulous new content, and great ideas for adding more narrative skill building to my storytmes. This session has definitely left me inspired and ready to try some new things.

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49. The Playful Library #pla2014

This conversation about practical ways to incorporate meaningful play was full of great information. The facilitators talked about play with every age level from preschool to teen. Then, they gave realistic ways to play on a budget and with low staff involvement.

Next, we were released into our small groups to discuss how we play in our library and how we could incorporate even more play into our programming. My group was full of ideas such as a lock-in based on different books and after-hours program for middle schoolers. The best statement that I heard at my table was, “Think outside of the Monopoly box.” How are you playing at your library? Are you including all ages?

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50. Everyday Advocacy for Everyone!

Hey ALSCers! Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the whole library to provide excellent library services to patrons of all ages and it takes the whole library’s efforts to effectively advocate!

You and your colleagues work hard every day to improve the lives of your community members through the library services you provide. How much of that story is known to your community stakeholders, however? (Especially when it comes to budget renewal time?)

Some easy ways to toot your library’s horn and take action are available from the Everyday Advocacy site.

More ways to advocate are by following ALSC (@alscblog) and EveryDay Advocacy Member Content Editor (@ALAJenna) if you’re on Twitter. Be sure to use #EverydayAdvocacy and #TakeActionALSC when tweeting or retweeting.

There are also many useful advocacy resources available from the American Library Association’s general advocacy site, including a section titled Advocacy University, which breaks down advocacy resources by topic and by audience.

Topics include “Getting started as a library advocate,” “Budgets, funding & fundraising,” “Coalition building,” “Working with elected officials,” and more.

The Young Adult Library Services Association also provides tips and an advocacy toolkit, via their advocacy website. Advocacy tips on that website are broken down by the amount of time available to the advocate to spend on the advocacy activity.

Don’t wait for the crisis moment to share your stories of how your library changes lives every day. Celebrate your library’s awesomeness every day (or at least every week) with ALSC’s Everyday Advocacy and Take Action Tuesday tips!


Today’s blog post was written by Candice Mack. Candice is a Senior Librarian in Adult Literacy & Volunteer Services at the Los Angeles Public Library and a member of the ALSC Advocacy & Legislative Committee. Candice is also a member of the ALA Recruitment Assembly, the YALSA Board of Directors, and is a candidate for YALSA President-Elect, 2014-2015.

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