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1. Youth Management School - For Real!


Before I begin, let me just say, any of us who work in youth services, whether official "managers" or line staff, are managing (or perhaps I should say juggling) alot all the time.

We each make decisions on collections, services, partnerships, intra-library collaborations, advocacy decisions, media matters, best use of our time/energy and a whole lot more. Sometimes we stay safely in the lane, following tradition, received wisdom or direction from above. Other times, after going to a workshop, webinar or social media peeps on the computer, we hop out of the lane and zoom to a better place.

So we all manage.

I have blogged about how excited I have been to find so many people sharing program and service ideas over the past few years. I can't say how important these ideas are for my practice and to my community. It led me to develop my first CE course this spring on Programming Mojo.  More recently I've been exploring great youth management ideas from bloggers like Erin , Cheryl and Abby and blogs like Library Lost and Found. It got me thinking more on how we manage our youth work and thinking again about how we all learn to approach our practice. Seems like there's lots to discover and and ideas to chat about.

If you want to join a conversation on youth management this fall, come to school with me!

I will be teaching a four week UW-Madison SLIS online course How Did You Manage THAT?!?! that looks at many of the issues we face each day in the youth services area. We'll learn and share together and have a great textbook to guide us (Managing Children's Services in Libraries by Adele Fasick and Leslie Holt - a book whose many editions throughout my career have served me well as a guide and a goad). Since this is an asynchronous course, you dip in each week at a time convenient for you.

I somehow think a class crowd-sourced blog will be involved again too. Hope you can join me and explore!

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2. Going Weekly-Prizeless (and Robot) Update


We are within ten days of the end of our SLP. We'll figure out final numbers and the upshot in August.

For now, we can say that we have stayed busy and lots of return-adventurers have come back to help us build our robot with their stickers. The excitement of the gamecard design and stickers seems great for the kids and we have YET to hear kids or parents bemoan no weekly doo-dads. While we also included a charity component (our Friends will donate money to the Human Society, Eco Park and Children's Museum based on the kids reading), this has not seemed as motivational as the very visual robot slowly building.

We dreamed the robot like this in this first mini-model. Staff had a little trepidation on how it would all work.  We used quarter sheets of paper that kids could sticker as they went along.  This is how our robot has been growing:


Early June

Early July

Late July
Kids have loved watching the robot get bigger and bigger. Staff has loved NOT dealing with weekly doo-dads. Has the fact that we aren't offering weekly prizes but only the book at the end affected overall return visits to the library? We may be surprised (unpleasantly or pleasantly). Stay tuned for final results next month when we shake out the numbers from our database!

To read about our journey, please stop here, here and here!















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3. Reflections on the Return from ALA


My Vegas anxieties were well-founded. Ick, I do not like the strip. But....

THE HOTEL
I stayed at a small conference hotel with a favorite old friend and colleague about a five minute walk from the convention center that was a normal, slot machine free space.  Cool iced water with slices of strawberries, lemons, limes and oranges made the walk worth it. A free breakfast with omelets made to order, healthy fruit and cereal choices and some fine evil bacon and sausages greeted me in the morning; at night the "manager's special" meant bottomless free drinks and fresh tasty veggies as well as the usual munchy chips. Two blocks away was a delightful tapas restaurant with extraordinary and inexpensive food. I felt renewed every day.

TRANSPORTATION
The shuttles done good. I never waited long, got to meetings on the strip on time and was kindly deposited in front of my far-from-the-strip hotel after receptions and evening events (despite printed info that indicated I would only be dropped off at a hotel four long blocks away). Each trip also = great conversations

Blogging tweeps selfie thanks to @berasche. How many can you name?
THE MEETINGS/THE PEOPLE
For the first time since I got on ALA Council three years ago, the council meetings got out early so I could actually participate in a few ALSC meetings and events. Niiiiice. My favorite meeting was the one talking about experiential SLPs and no prizes - right up my alley. And my next favorite was the ALSC membership meeting where I chatted - if even for a minute - with colleagues new and old.  I think the ALSC board, office and leadership are doing an outstanding job. It was good to be able to see that again after three years away from my  board service. The Newbery Caldecott banquet (SLJ editors invited me to sit with them and reviewing collegues) had great speeches, great food and great fun. And I was energized and renewed with the chance to meet, talk with and re-connect with many old and new friends. That ALWAYS is the best part of IRL conferences.

THE ELVIS WEDDING
A friend and her hubby renewed their vows at an Elvis wedding chapel in some of the most fun moments of my conference. Late arrival but still making it for the vows, Elvis singing "Viva Las Vegas" while we all danced, a rainbow, funkadelic bridal party, being hustled out the side door after to make room for the next happy couples, a long wait to return in windy dry downtown Vegas with good dear friends made this as memorable a conference experience as I will ever have. I mean, Vegas.

ALA COUNCIL
I have always prided myself on being a process junkie but Council truly challenged that perception over the past three years. It was not an easy assignment for an action person like me but I was proud of my service. Here I am with my "diploma" certificate proving I sat through many meetings.

I can't say I was a change agent but I welcomed the opportunity to serve WI as a chapter councilor. I got to know some wonderful colleagues from many different kinds of libraries and was graciously welcomed over to the twitter crowd by microphone 7 to wrestle with angels that danced on the head of the Council pins. Mixed metaphor VERY intended.

FINALLY
Council and the ALSC board always meet on Tuesday (or the last day of conference). For the last six years I have had the rare opportunity to wander the convention center halls after the glitz and conference glamour has been packed and people have left the conference site a ghost town. It makes me ever eager to leave and find my way home. So let me leave you with those last few images that we "left-behind-to-finish-ALA-business" get to see:
Hallway to meeting rooms

Darkened food court

ALA Store

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4. Reflections on the Journey to ALA


I am not a fan of Vegas.

There I said it.

I usually look forward to ALA conferences despite any particular location. But this time....

This time the location had me dreading what I usually look forward to. I hate heat. I hate venues where I can't walk easily between meetings and events. I hate hype.

So I sucked it up to get ready for #alaac14. Did an awesome job prepping my materials (flights, parking, hotel, shuttle, ALA schedule, like that). Maybe did best best packing ever - EVER - and had the luxury of being able to leave at 10:30 am to make my direct flight between Minneapolis and Vegas.

On the drive I was teary-eyed. Was this my last ALA? Why was I so sad? I look forward to seeing my good friends and colleagues both new and old - those whom I have shared trenches with and those whom I stand back and watch fight the good fight as young turks ready to take on the world and teach us ALL. THE.THINGS. But I know I am stepping back and away as my time as an active librarian winds down.

Amidst this melancholy on my two hour drive up to Minneapolis I suddenly jolted. WTF?!?! In my perfect packing, had I put in my powercord for the laptop the library provides for conferences? I pulled off the highway in Rochester MN and no, I had not. A quick call to a colleague to see if she was still in town (nope on her way to ALA), a thought to ask my partner to overnight the forgotten cord, and a request of my iphone's Siri to find a computer store were my action plan. Siri got me to Office Max to a mobile Best Buy and then to a big box Best Buy where I found a cord to buy.

I was re-energized. No more tears, no more narcissistic self-reflection. I like action and solving problems and here was another one conquered. Time to get back on the road and to the airport after that unexpected delay. I was focused, driven and needing to hit the boarding deadline. And I did.

Once in Vegas, I was delighted to see familiar friends at the airport - greetings, hugs and the joy of unexpected and always welcome reconnections. My roommate got in touch with  Vegas relatives and we shared a sweet and lovely evening of what Las Vegas offers beyond the glitz, gambling and glamour.

And I am reminded again of how every place is really home. We are never really far from the familiar. It brings me contentment and a great deal of joy no matter how far I am from my own hidey-hole home.  I come to Vegas today ready to conference thanks to the connections I find that make ALA so vital. It's all good.


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5. Books as Prizes - Where's the Money Coming From?


In the Afterschool Program Facebook group, we were chatting recently about books as prizes for SLP and the question came up, "How do you afford books as prizes?" We shared some ideas on inexpensive sources: Half Price books; Scholastic Literacy Partnership, Scholastic Book Fair Warehouse sales; ARCs from conferences.

But that begs the question - where does the money come from? After all,  books are our priciest prize.

One thing we did to find the money was change how we program.

We booked performers for years - singers, magicians, storytellers, performers of one kind and another.  A very few could generate a crowd of 100-150 kids in our auditorium. Most would result in crowds of 25-45 kids and adults - and this in a city of 51,000 population!

The costs involved with performers were substantial - $200 if we were lucky; $300-$500 and up more likely. Add mileage, hotel and expenses and ouch! When we had 25 people in the audience, it meant we were paying anywhere from $10-30 per person in attendance for the program. That didn't seem like a sustainable use of money.

We were also developing some amazing in-house programs led by staff.  It occurred to us that if we continued this strong staff programming and cut back on performers, we would have enough money to fund the hundreds of books that we want to give to kids as prizes.

So we made it so. We still book a performer or two for special events. The money we saved went directly to buying books as prizes for babies through teens. Parents and kids both love these books. Kids get to choose freely from a variety that we put out. We fill our program room for two weeks in August with books for kids to choose from who have completed their SLP in previous weeks.

Of course, we could also have written grants, looked for donors or sought money in other ways. But we chose to enfold books into existing programming money. By changing our priorities we made sure we could make a book in the hand of a child happen. Seems worth it!

(For more thoughts on sustainability and funding in Youth Services, see this series starting here that I wrote last fall).

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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6. Going Prizeless in SLP - Update


Our robot is coming together -yellow is body,
red is arms; blue-legs; orange-neck, feet, hands.
We are just completing our third week (of nine) in the SLP. As I mentioned in our original post on going prizeless for the school age kids,  we've been thinking about this for awhile. This year we took the leap.

So how is it going? We have had over 300 return visits to check in and get new game cards. Rather than weekly doo-dads, each time they return, kids get a sticker or two to help us build our robot - and money is donated to kid-friendly community organizations for the stickers as well.

We haven't heard a peep about "Where are the prizes?" or "Don't we get something besides a sticker?"

We had a hunch that this would be the case. We use stickers for 1000 Books and Baby Book Bees at each level. We also have stickers during each year's Smart Cookie Club that we offer to kids. And our Lego Check-out Club let's kids add lego bricks to a collaborative lego sculpture. So a significant number of kids expect and enjoy the concept of "building" or "making" something bigger with their contributions.

Kids are very excited about completing four game cards to receive a book. That is a goal that really motivates. And Sara's adaptions for the game cards (based on our transliteracy design from previous years) have made the program for school age kids fun and worthwhile. Reading and literacy activities have morphed from extrinsic to intrinsic rewards.

Sometimes our fear of what "might" happen keeps us from embracing change that moves us ahead.  We'll keep you posted at the blog on how we do as we go further into the summer.

So far, so good!

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7. It's a Library Camp Out!


This is the third year we have kicked off summer with a library read in-camp out. As luck would have it both Friday the 13th and a full moon made it imperative that the evening feature spooky stories.

 We do this after hours - the doors lock at 6:00 pm on Friday, we have a brief break and re-open for our campers. Everyone is invited to bring blankets or sheets, flashlights and wear PJs. We have a few teen volunteers who take chairs out from tables to create camping sites (whether under the table or using chairs) or help put blankets between shelves anchored by piles of books to create a cozy reading nook.

The room is darkened with just a little light coming in through the windows. The first half hour is spent building tents, signing up for SLP and reading. We gave everyone a few minutes heads-up to undo their tents near the end of the 30 minutes. Then we invited families into the program room, where spooky stories and walking s'mores were ready (2 boxes of honey graham bears + 2 packages of chocolate chips + one bag of mini-marshmallows = one cup of sweet fun) - and our our fake campfire. A display of fine spooky books were ready for kids to check-out.

We had some younger kids than usual so I started by reading Reynolds/Brown's Creepy Carrots. I let kids know that each story would get creepier so they could leave if it got to be too much. I told the "Coffin Story" and "Tailybone" with the lights low - but kept a bit more on the lighter side. Everyone made it (so brave!).

While the stories were happening our volunteers quickly put the room back together. Families had time to check out a few books (thanks to our director who staffed the check-out and did final lock-up).

This is one of the easiest, most pleasant and laid back unprogram one can do for summer - or any time of the year. Kids and families love the magic of an empty library and those that come love the reading and the program.  For more samples of how to do it, drop by earlier posts here and here and Amy did her own fun take on it last year.


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8. This Magic Moment

Eros Sleeping from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

It's Summer Library Program!!! We are two weeks in!!!! And I am at a magical place that happens maybe once or twice a year.

I am caught up.

Yep, I am standing on the mountaintop. All things summer library program have been prepped, planned, put in play and are rolling out like threads from the hands of the Fates.

Of course that is why I have long maintained that SLPs are prime examples of passive programs or stealth programming characterized by:
  • Programs that take some initial planning and set-up but, once in place, are able to be administered easily with little ongoing time devoted to them. 
  •  Encourage return visits to the library without an active program
  •  Families & youth provide the “power” and activity on their own time at home
  •  Encourages check-out through reading incentives and drawing kids into the library
While they feel ACTIVE, the reading encouragement program part is extremely passive. Our scheduled events take up the more active programming component and certainly our areas FULL of families and kids mean our reader's advisory and motion is active and amped up by mega-degrees.

Once I get into work today, my plate will slowly fill back up and deadlines will once again start nipping at my heels (August events PR; ALA final preps; Library of the Year nomination wrap-up; final preps for this week's program; management "stuff").

But for this one moment, it's beautiful to savor the quiet of "caught up" - and to recognize that it bores me just a little!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has now made over 396,000 images available online for use by the public: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/254502?rpp=30&pg=2&ft=relaxation&pos=41

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9. Chocolate Fountain of Creativity


As we come to the final posts on the School Age Programming survey Lisa Shaia and I developed, the spotlight turns to YOU. Our respondents generously shared the many ways that they find programming ideas.

The breakdown:

We are wired, baby!

The internet, web, google searches, listservs like pubyac and alsc were mentioned 92 times. Pinterest and library blogs were mentioned 57 and 59 times respectively. It is clear that respondents used the rich content available online to spark ideas and find new content.

But lest you think we are tied to our phones, tablets and PCs, I must disabuse you of this notion based on survey responses!

Another huge source of inspiration was talking, brainstorming, collaborating and chatting with colleagues. 62 respondents found this method of inspiration to be a great idea source. Another 34 found in-person conferences, workshops and meetings to be invaluable in their idea generation for programs. And 34 respondents found their ideas in print sources - journals and magazines, professional resource books and newsletters. SLP manuals were the go-to inspiration for an additional 11 respondents.

Plus a huge source of inspiration (28 mentions) is the media, popular culture and what books and series are hot with kids.

And finally, on a more personal level, many, many people said their inspiration came from talking to kids, teachers, parents and families. They celebrated their own imagination and ideas ("warped mind," "in dreams," "idea fairy," "the recycling bin") as well as dipping into their own experience or files to come up with great content. And many simply stated that ideas for programs are everywhere.

They are indeed.  To see additional survey results, please stop here, here, here, here and here.

Image: 'Chocolate fountain #nomz'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/12700556@N07/6876057805
Found on flickrcc.net

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10. Program Plethora - the Survey Sez

Lisa Shaia at Thrive Thursday and I put together a survey recently to take a snapshot of school age programming. We had 171 responses (yay, yous!). We've looked at how many librarians create how many programs; the role of budget in number of programshow often programs are offered and the scoop on outreach.

Today let's take a peek at what kinds of programs for school-agers people reported out on and where they find their best go-to inspirations.

Almost 70% of respondents offered ongoing program series for kids - multiple week or continuous programs like a Lego Club , Book Club or Pokemon Club. But an almost equal number also offered one shot programs that capitalized on celebrating the publication of a new book, a book character or a special season or holiday. Seasonal reading programs similar to a down-sized SLP were also offered by over half of the respondents.


It is clear that school age programs show a rich variety of approaches by librarians. We didn't ask about individual program names but a dip into any youth services blog, Thrive Thursday monthly round-up blog hop or PUBYAC perusal would reveal a perfect sampling of what is being done with school-agers.

Our next post will look at where our ideas come from!

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11. I v. We


So Amy wrote this. I agree with it wholeheartedly.

Then I wrote this.

Then Amy extended the conversation with this. Again, I agree with her wholeheartedly.

My post was chewing around the edges of something else that isn't quite as linear but is a huge piece of crediting people who create and citing them.

When I wrote about management perspective I was not referring to "management privilege". I detest anyone who poaches and claims credit or by omission leaves out the people who do the true heavy lifting. It's not how I try to run my shop or thankfully been managed by others - or most importantly  -been treated by all my many colleagues around the state and country.

And I think that there is a great deal of professional pain that youth librarians feel from work they have not been credited for, celebrated for and appreciated for. I am definitely not arguing the great teamwork-kumbaya (we're all in this together, la-la).

I am coming at the discussion from one place as a long-time manager, a long-time active association member and a long-time consultant/presenter. And from the other place, I am coming as a newly energized researcher and teacher who demands citations and digging down to the original roots of work - most especially from myself! It is this perspective that I want to pursue.

As I have been studying the history of children's programming in public libraries, it is increasingly clear that youth librarians have been pushing the envelope of service since the beginning of the profession. Over the last century, children's librarians were at the forefront of developing SLPs, outreach, use of technology (radio, TV, films, filmstrips, record players), programming to parents (my mom was in the parent group while I was in storytime!), and many many of the practices that some in the profession are currently "inventing." Everything old IS new again.

There is a huge scaffold of practice upon which each and every one of us builds our own scaffold of service and innovative ideas. My concern is for some in the profession that don't want to recognize that foundation. Our foremothers and current colleagues have done work that we all build on - whether its oppositional building or complementary. When we don't acknowledge that debt - and appreciate where our own work is coming from, we do a huge disservice.

My point in my original post about how collaborative we are comes from that place. It is the "we" I am trying to get at.

So how do we acknowledge the "I" while being true to the "we" - and visa versa?

As Amy writes: cite!
Seek permission from those whose work your work is based on to share.
Communicate and don't steal.
Never false claim.
Know that your support of someone else's work enhances your own.
Acknowledge that the brainstorming power of coworkers, tweeps, Facebookers, a conference hallway conversation informed that idea that you brought to full fruition.

You cannot be harmed by acknowledging and citing. Rather you can be the power that raises up those around you. And that is a powerful "I" and a powerful "we".


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12. Avoiding Additional Asshat-tery


Slide from a solo Unprogramming presentation
that acknowledges my co-conspirator
I laughed aloud when I saw AmyKoester's title on the  Storytime Underground post with guidelines on avoiding assholery when giving credit where credit is due.  I also was happy to see such a strong statement about the importance of knowing and stating where stuff comes from.

I've blogged about this before - especially in relation to the our penchant to be good sharing  - and taking - people.  You can't ever forget where something comes from and it is a beautiful thing when you can do that acknowledgement - most especially in a professional atmosphere (blogging, presentations, workshops, Twitter and Tumblr and etc). We all stand on the shoulders of those before us. We may tweak and we may tinker but somebody got that ball rolling.

I want to add another thought to the conversation - or throwdown from a management perspective: thinking about taking the "I" to "we."

I have always worked in a strong team environment. From the smallest library to larger libraries, many people - not just youth services staff - from director to Circ clerks to custodial staff have had a hand in contributing to conversation and idea-building. They have put in an oar, a thought, a suggestion, a brilliant solution that has made each and every project and program far better than it began.

I can count on one hand, ONE HAND, the actual stuff that I, me, myself, *I*, created, invented or totally birthed ON MY OWN in my 38 year career.

Uh-uh. Didn't happen. Dozens of things I am known for were the result of collaboration - free, wild, plunge-into-"what-if, what-if, what-if", brainstorming, tornadic, mosh pit, scrum-filled collaboration. When I've changed something, I am still building on something that went before that provided the ignition spark to push my own practice. Same goes for all of you, my friends and colleagues, out on the internet - you have shared and changed so many ideas that have helped me grow an idea and make it better. It's ours!

When you look at my blog posts as I am sharing a program, idea or innovation, you seldom see it written in the first person. Far more often, it is written as "we" and "our" because the progress or change or light bulb moment was built by many hands in the department and the library and out in my ULN/PLN land..

While it is vital to credit your colleagues when you are sharing ideas that are clearly theirs and give them "mad props", it is also important to move away from the "I" and acknowledge the true "we-ness" of what is created through every-day and every-way collaboration.

I believe we are stronger together in everything we create. What do you think?

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13. Whispering an SLP Start


This robot needs a body! The more kids read, the more stickers
 they add to the blocks that will become arms, legs, body.
We hope kids build her big!
We have often plunged into summer reading immediately on the last day of school. The result: screaming mania!!!!!!!!  Half the the kids of our eventual total come in the first five days and the staff feel like they've been hammered (they have!). We start those summers drained.

This year we made sure to "soft" launch our program while most of kids are still in school.  Parochial and homeschool kids come in first and then, afterschool and in the evenings, some of the public school kids make their way to the library. It will be a full nine days before the big public school crowds are on vacation and come pouring into register.

What does this mean?

  • We have a "practice" week with a steady stream of SLP registrants - never overwhelming, but enough to hone our spiel and figure out the best, most economical and fun way to explain the mechanics of SLP.
  • We sign up about a quarter of our total number of kids so subsequent weeks have far less registration stress.
  • Staff is excited and energetic going into the following weeks when the pressure of wall-to-wall kids, programming mightiness and kids-in-care visits need all our attention.
It always feel a little like we're whispering into the start of SLP when we do this. Starting softly means more energy later. 

We wish all our colleagues a happy summer library program and hope you have a calm but busy adventure!





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14. Building Trust


YA author Jessica Khoury writing over at NPR gave me food for thought on my approach to working with tweens and teens. She describes how, despite living in a very conservative area and in a very conservative family where reading Harry Potter was NOT allowed, she convinced her parents to let her read the series. Their trust in her and her honesty with them was a powerful influence on her life.

Her post resonated personally for me.

As a tween, kids that I hung around with were often grounded - a way to keep wayward, mostly harmless but definitely annoying tween behaviors in check. When I asked my parents why I never got hit with this punishment, their reply changed my life in a way that was similar to Khoury's experience.

Mom and Dad said they trusted me and trusted my decisions. As long as I made good decisions and demonstrated that I could be trusted, they would not ground me. If I made poor decisions, they would treat me like other kids  - grounded! Their trust was a huge gift and just blew me away.

I made sure that I made good decisions from then on, knowing that I was entrusted with their trust. Combined with their willingness to share the knowledge of it with me, this trust kept me from doing some incredibly stupid things. And it opened up a channel of dialogue and communication with my parents that created a deeper relationship because we knew we could all talk together.

I have tried to include that element of sharing and trust in all my work with tweens and teens and have received positive results back far more than I  have received negatives. Kids want trust and want to share. As a caring adult in their lives, all librarians can take this step. And all we have to do is support them....and give them our trust - and our honesty.

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

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15. Does Big Budget = Lotsa Programs? The Survey Says...


Lisa over at Thrive After Three and I did an informal survey recently to look at the state of school-age programming. We had 171 responses to help us get a snapshot of services.

Today we want to look at number of programs that people reported as well as if there is a a correlation between that number and how much budget is devoted to programming.

From the survey results, it is clear that we librarians love to program for school-age kids. On average, respondents presented 42 programs annually.  The high was 200 - at a shop with five librarians. The lower end included 2 programs at another shop with 5 librarians. So you never know!

A pleasant surprise was how many passive programs libraries were reported. Out of that average of 42 yearly programs, almost 10 were passive programs. Over 3/4 of respondents run active and passive programs.

Annual program budgets varied from 0 to $12,000; the average was $1,169. Looking at 42 programs annually, that breaks down to about $27 per program. We know that contracted performances (singers, jugglers, magicians, storytellers, etc) that need $300-$500 to fund can really eat up a program budget fast. So we might speculate that that $27 per program may be on the high side.

We were especially curious to see if a large program budget meant more programs. This is clearly not the case. The programming budgets  of respondents varied widely as did the number of programs. Most interesting, over half the respondents had an annual budget for programs of $500 or less and on average had the same number of programs as libraries with large budgets.  Some spend on average $1-2 per program. This may indicate these libraries are not spending money on contracted performers but more likely running program series with materials on hand, book clubs, etc.

Libraries that have large program budgets and staff are lucky - but programming numbers don't seem to correlate with that large budget. Youth librarians have long used creativity and ingenuity to create programming magic and the survey seems to bear this implication out.

To see more published results of the survey, please stop over at Lisa's blog Thrive After Three here and here!

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay







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16. Nurturing Ideas - and Each Other

Stellar Nursery in Orion

This is one of my favorite photos at the always amazing Astronomy Picture of the Day. It shows the Great Nebula in Orion - a huge cloud of gas and energy where suns are forming in a stellar nursery. While the science intrigues me, I see it as a metaphor for what we can do best in youth services - help support and lift up our colleagues anywhere on their career path.

I've been thinking alot about this lately - partly because I've been teaching. There is this aspect of giving information in the act of teaching but a far deeper piece where the students give just as much -  sharing, problem solving, teaching and supporting each other. I always learn when I teach.

I've also been thinking about this - partly because I have been looking at management and hiring not just in our own library but also as I develop workshops, presentations and courses on  youth services management. Part of what you do every day as a manager is look for ways to open a path for the team members to work more smoothly - whether its removing a rock from the path, helping re-find the way, putting the breaks on a cart careening off the path or providing a little muscle to help ease the passage up a tough hill.

Partly because I have been in so many conversations with colleagues all over the country about how to encourage the sharing so we can preserve knowledge but also build on it. We should each want to plug into librarians at all points in their career to network, to share and to encourage their work and passion. Whether new or a vet, we can lift each other up by asking for our colleague's opinions, program ideas, and youth librarianship thoughts.

Amy Koester wrote recently about this is Storytime Underground and I couldn't agree more. We all have something to share, to learn and to gain. It isn't just the bloggers and presenters who have a platform though. It is every youth librarian every day in their work pushing that envelope further out. The stellar nursery isn't just for the beginners in librarianship - it is for everyone along their career's path. We all need that nurturing and support - and we all can give it.

Maybe, in addition to our PLN (personal learning networks), we need to commit to a ULN (universal learning network). Open ourselves up not just to our familiar network but build further and more openly outside of our tribe and our group and our lanes of connectivity. If we each think ourselves as a mentor - even if we are just six months into our first position - and our job is to lift each other up, how powerful could that be?!?!

We can then consciously support a youth librarian idea nursery that spreads and supports the work of us all by connecting to the unconnected, the un-cohorted, the un-MLISed. We can build the network by including never-before-presenters to panels we are creating to present at CE/conferences/webinars at all levels. We can make sure our blogs are open for guest posts. We can nurture those who don't have a path to leadership or an audience and are hesitant to step forward.

Flannel Friday, Storytime Underground, Thrive Thursdays and lots of bloggers are leading the way to this kind of universal support. Our challenge is to continue and reach more deeply out to those unconnected who can use the support just as much. I know we do it. But can we do it more? Oh yeah, we're youth librarians and we all are that nursery for each other.

Image Credit: R. Villaverde, Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA

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17. On the Road withStealth Programming

I'm on the road presenting even more stealth Programming ideas at our annual Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries in beautiful Sheboygan. We love experimenting with these types of programs and finding even more being done out in libraries around the country.

Below are links to some of the resources that are described in today's presentation. Enjoy!

1000 Books Before Kindergarten - many resources gathered here along with a webinar

Free-quent Reader Club - a quick way to involve kids in frequent library use and check-out

Cookie Club - great for the slow days of December and January

Gnome Hunter's Club - brand new from our newest colleague Brooke Rasche and hot off the presses from a hot August!

Selfies for Spring Break - our newest effort leavened with a good dose of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Story Action Pods at my colleague Sara Bryce's blog - in-house literacy stealth and story extensions!

YALSA Teen Passive Program article by Kelly Jensen (of Stacked blog) and Jackie Parker, two great teen resource folks. Kelly also shared below their Passive Library Pinterest board with more great passive ideas!

Pinterest board on Stealth Programs for all you pinners out there.

And here is the slideshare of today's presentation!

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18. It's Not a Box! No, Really!!

 

We offer monthly meetings for day care providers during the school year to boost their early literacy might, introduce them to great books and methods to share books and to highlight our collections and services. We have been certified as registered CE instructors to help our daycare teachers keep up their learning and credentials in our state-level Registry.

In April, our training was all based on Antoinette Portis' multi-dimensional book Not a Box. We asked attendees to each bring a box of whatever size. Just in case anyone forgot, I gathered empty book boxes for a week or so prior to the training. Why did I worry?  Everyone brought one!!!

I put out a selection of our finest stuff: scrapbook paper, tissue paper, stampers, markers, foamies, felt pieces, feathers, glue sticks, eyeballs, yarn and any other doo-dad I could lay my hands on.  Tables to stand and work at were put out.

When everyone arrived, I read the Portis' book and talked about the importance of imagination, play and creativity. I gave a few examples of stories that you could extend with a cardboard box to accompany them (a car box for Sutherland's Dad's Car Wash; a train car box for Crews Freight Train). 

Then the challenge. Create something out of their box using materials at hand and then work with me to find a picture book in the collection to match their box design. Read the book quickly. At the conclusion of the workshop, each provider then shares the box and booktalks the book with rest of the attendees. If someone had a particular book in mind that was checked out, they could, in addition to talking about a book on their box's theme, tell about the other book they use that works great.

The results were amazing. People took special care with their boxes, with their reading, with their booktalking and with their additional recommendations. As a children's literature expert, I also added title ideas as well depending on what each person made.

It was a perect blend of creativity and matching books to object! Below please see their wonderful creations!

Rabbit, horse, robot


Space, VH Caterpillar, penguin, birthday cake
Garden, car wash, ladybug, monster, suitcase
Surprise box, box to leave your shouts in, garden


fun box, garden, playhouse, ?, ocean

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19. Evolving an Early Literacy Area - Part 1


It is great fun to launch an initiative - the planning, the grant-writing/funding piece, the gathering of material, the publicity, the roll-out and then the public's happy (we hope) reactions.  This was definitely the feeling when, three years ago, we debuted our Early Literacy Area - Play Learn Read (PLR).

Careful thought and preparation went into it. Despite that, we immediately began tinkering to make it better, solve problems and navigate unexpected challenges. Things we thought would work, didn't and things we were sure would fail, succeeded. Here's a glimpse into our process of change!

Challenge 1 - Tables
We had plenty of small tables in the area. Since this was the first area people saw when they walked into the library, the tables immediately became coat racks (you might glimpse a coat pile on the right of this photo). They also became homework tables - despite their small size. People would put the literacy activity on the floor and spread out their stuff.
Solution: we moved all the large tables out and purchased tot-sized tables that let kids sit on the floor. No more coats. Fewer non-tots using the area.

Challenge 2 - Chairs
We had a few comfy chairs that began to be heavily used by sleepy men. Again, since this was the first thing people saw when they came into the room, older caregivers sat and snoozed while the children they were with used the rest of the Children's area. It was not an inviting sight and discouraged use.
Solution: we kept just one comfy chair and moved it into the corner farthest from the door facing into the PLR area. We added stools for kids and parents to sit on. No more sleepers; fewer non-tot/parent pairs using the area.

Challenge 3 - Magnetism!
Planners were delighted by the thought of using baking pans as magnetic boards for children to interact with and to contain the pieces of the story. Sadly, the pans purchased were far from magnetic and so the point of having them was...pointless.
Solution: In an "aha" moment, planners finally just purchased a magnetic white board, mounted it on the wall and voila, magnetism for all the story pieces.

Challenge 4 - Many Ages
Even though we changed out chairs and tables to preschool-friendly size, we still would get bigger kids taking over the area - and by their presence, discouraging preschool/parent use.  Much like in the Teen area that adults would camp-out in (and that we finally designated middle and high school kids only to stop that), we felt it was important to establish a space for the toddlers
Solution: For a year or so, until the area became clearly marked in people's minds as a toddler early literacy area, we added a sign that simple said "Parent Tot Spot". It did the trick.

Challenge 5 - Frequency of Activities Changing
While we started out with a bang, changing out activities became a real challenge. Some pieces stayed the same for months; some changed out monthly; some were fragile and needed replacing bi-weekly.
Solution: We made a commitment to change out activities monthly, varying the weeks. So new puppets went into the puppet theater in week 1; new magnetic board story in week 2; new pillar activity in week 3; new bathroom activity in week 4.

Challenge 5 - Fragility of Material
The story pieces - even when done of card stock and laminated - turned out to be too fragile for the use they were getting. The delicate cutting to get the cow's legs cut out was all for nothing when kids bit them off.
Solution: We began cutting the shapes with a big circle of white space - without arms, limbs, and slender shapes sticking out the pieces lasted far longer.

Being open to evolving and changing an area or service keeps it responsive to reactions from the public and staff. It's fun to solve those problems! Stay tuned to Part 2 over on Brooke's blog Reading with Red where she tackles more solutions!


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20. On the Road with Preschool Mojo Part 2

Three foot snow drift in Ashland WI in front of Lake Superior 4/24/14

Brooke and I are excited to be up in Ashland WI, on the shores of beautiful Lake Superior, to share some preschool know-how (and learn some too!) with our colleagues from the Northern Waters Library System. We are doing a workshop on starting a 1000 Books program, creating an inexpensive early literacy area and tips on doing effective early lliteracy storytimes.

We have a Pinterest board, All Things Preschool, full of links for you. If you don't use Pinterest, here are the highlights:

Growing Wisconsin Readers - a great blog to get insight into everything early literacy - including some great posts on early literacy centers developed in WI!

Hennepin County's slideshare with a ton of easy ideas to create inexpensive early literacy activities

1000 Books Before Kindergarten slideshare

1000 Books Before Kindergarten posts here (including a webinar), here, here, and here.

Both Brooke and I are blogging links for the workshop today, so please head over to Reading with Red for more insight into preschool power!

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21. Thrive Thursday Placeholder


May Day! May Day!

Whatcha been doing with school-agers lately?

It's time, yes, time my friends, to share your blog posts of the wonder and magic you work with kids at your library - services, programs, thoughts, initiatives at our Thrive Thursday round-up.

I'll be publishing our monthly round-up in one short week on Thursday May 1 so now is the time to scroll through your blog goodness and send the goodies to me, your May host (yes, I DO have a basket of flowers, a woven flower crown and a Maypole at the ready).

Please share your links to school age program magic in the comments below!

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22. Less Screen Week


My Wisconsin colleague and wonder woman, Sue Abrahamson, from the Waupaca Public Library is my guest today. Rather than go screen-free, the staff decided to make gentle suggestions on ways to introduce activities that have families working their hands and moving away from screens. Best of all, look at the programs the library scheduled to support the families that week!

In Waupaca, we believe it is practically impossible to go "screen-free" so we are calling it "Less Screen Week" and are challenging families to spend one week setting aside more time for activities that do not involve a screen (TV, gaming, computers, and yes.... smartphones!).  Below is our log sheet for families to mark 15 things from the list to be eligible for a prize for their children at the library..... and, of course, it's a BOOK!  They can choose from our prize book selection.




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23. Summer Prizes - Good-Bye!!

Robot sample

Oh.my.gosh. We're doing it!!!! We are not giving weekly prizes during summer reading program this year! Woooo-hooooo!
For those of you following the blog, you may remember that I stood on the precipice two years ago considering prizes or no prizes for our school age SLP component. My colleague Sara (who, while she blogs over at Bryce Don't Play, is also just a room away from me IRL) was encouraging last year,  but I didn't have the time or the will to get the team together to solve the problems/design a weekly-prizeless summer.

But this year we were ready when planning time came around. We decided to do a three-pronged change-over.

First we morphed our bookmarks into game cards. As always, our summer program is not just about reading but about kids writing, using the library and engaging with the world around them. The new card is below at the end of the post

Each time the kids finish a card - any five squares, they get a sticker to put on our robot. All squares filled in = 2 stickers.

And those stickers help us keep track! Kids will be participating to raise money for a local charity/child-friendly organization. We have three locations so the Humane Society, Children's Museum and local Eco-Park will receive the money raised. We think kids will love the thought of their reading helping out a worthy cause.

Next, each time kids return  with their game card filled in, they will get a sticker that they will add to build our giant robot. We are using the CSLP Fizz Boom Read theme and clearly, we MUST build a robot.

The robot's head will be high out of reach and kids will fill in blocks with their stickers to gradually build the robot. This picture above is a pathetic attempt to illustrate the concept of how the robot will grow through the use of my mini-robot. There will be a foot piece, an arm piece and a torso piece at the beginning.  As each piece fills with stickers, we will add more pieces to build the robot. We hope to motivate the kids to rock out their reading and activities to build the robot BIG!

Like every year, kids who return to the library with at least four completed game cards receive a free a book to keep. We are always thrilled to offer kids a book.

And we staffers will be reading hard too! Plans are afoot to track our reading so kids can see how their librarians are doing.

We are truly excited to take this no-prize step and look forward to navigating the reactions from the kids and parents....stay tuned!

Slick new card designed by the team!
 

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24. Thrive Thursday May Round-Up


I am happy to host the May Day edition of the Thrive Thursday blog hop. It's a chance for us to read about programs, thoughts and initiatives happening for our school-age audience. Enjoy!

ACTIVE PROGRAMS
Who doesn't love Geronimo Stilton - and all his friends! Lisa over at Thrive After Three blog breaks down a great four week series for us.

Carol at Program Palooza did two Earth Day-related programs here and here that combine fiction, non-fiction and a re-cycled craft.

More Earth Day friendly crafts are on tap at Ms. Kelly at the Library's blog.

And Lisa suggests a Lorax Book Vs. Movie program that has a nice Earth Day connection too!

Why not re-purpose a fun craft-it program for Money Smart Week by having the kids "buy" their supplies to bring math into the STEAM picture? Amy of Show Me Librarian shares in a guest post at Library as Incubator blog

Disability awareness becomes part of this program from Carol at Program Palooza.

American Girl Addy is the focus at Ms. Kelly at the Library's program.

Unprogramming might with Elephant and Piggie shows up at my blog Tiny Tips.

Movies...er, I mean book trailers!! Dawn over at Story Time with and Signs and Rhymes shares how 5th graders made book trailers of her book.

Create a Picture Book workshop series...seriously! Story Time with and Signs and Rhymes Dawn takes readers on a step by step process on creating a workshop where kids learn the ins and outs of authorship!

With summer coming up, this ALSC webinar inspired wiki space on STEM programs will inspire you.


STEALTH/PASSIVE PROGRAMS
Need some passive programs for spring break? Sara at Bryce Don't Play to the rescue!

Angie at Fat Girl Reading has two more spring break stealth programs that are a cinch to set up.

Need a poetry passive program/display? Mel at Mel's Desk shares her colleague Julie's great work!

Less Screen Time Week is how Wisconsin librarian Sue Abrahamson is rethinking Screen Free Week, May 5-9, as guest poster on Tiny Tips for Library Fun.


PROGRAM THOUGHTS
Over at Kids Library Program Mojo, a blog for librarians taking a youth services programming CE course:  Michelle shared thoughts about the pressures on parents and program attendance; and Erin reflects on how we can meet parents where they are in our programming.

Re-imagining library tours into a truly phenomenal experience takes time and effort that I reflect on here at Tiny Tips.

And to bring us home, Sara at Bryce Don't Play starts solving for the equation of school family literacy outreach awesomeness using some Brewfest math.


Stay tuned for the June blog hop hosted at Storytime ABCs. And if you'd like to host a month, contact Lisa Shaia, our intrepid founder and scheduler to throw your hat in the hosting ring: lisamshaia (at) gmail (dot com). We also have a Pinterest board and a Facebook Group, so join in on the fun!




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25. School Age Programming - Whatcha Doing?


Lisa Shaia (of Thrive After Three and the founder of Thrive Thursday, a monthly round-up of  programs, services and thoughts on serving school-agers) has created a survey with me to see what is happening in the world of school age programming.

We want to know how you serve this age group, your triumphs , challenges and the nitty gritty. We will be blogging about results soon so don't delay in filling it in!

Please take a few minutes and fill in this easy survey and we will share results at our blogs!
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1XHPupB8RqMhWh6w0ufuOF-FHyatA4V9W2InN7khTNQU/viewform

Thanks!!

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