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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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1. Two ALSC Professional Award Applications Now Open

Apply for an ALSC Professional Award!

Every year, more than $100,000 is given away through ALSC’s professional awards, grants, and scholarships.

Deserving libraries and members across the country receive support to attend conferences, host programs, and get recognized for their achievements.

ALSC announces that two professional award applications have already opened. More information on these awards can be found below:

Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship

This fellowship provides a $4,000 stipend to allow a qualified children’s librarian to spend a month or more reading at the University of Florida’s Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, which contains a special collection of 85,000 volumes of children’s literature published mostly before 1950.

Applications due November 1, 2016.

Apply now!

ALSC Distinguished Service Award

This award honors an individual member who has made significant contributions to and an impact on, library services to children and ALSC. The recipient receives $2,000 and an engraved pin at the ALSC Membership Meeting during the ALA Annual Conference.

Applications due December 1, 2016.

The post Two ALSC Professional Award Applications Now Open appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. A Special Needs Summer?

Families that include those with special needs can sometimes struggle with finding inclusive programming. Librarians often feel pressure to provide programming exclusively for special populations. But that’s not necessarily the case. Just having an open and welcoming atmosphere can be all that it takes to make your current programs accessible for everyone.  Are you doing what you can to offer programs for all children? Don’t know where to start?

As a programmer, ask yourself the following questions:

The location of the program-

Are the rooms bright and cheerful without being overwhelming with too many sights and sounds? A calm environment is important for children with sensory issues.

Is light distributed evenly? This is important for children with low vision.

Is the room accessible and clutter free, with clear pathways? Most mobility equipment requires a four to five foot turning radius.

Are there a variety of seating options? Large bolsters and pillows may be arranged to give children more stability and motor control and to ensure their comfort and security.

Staff to participant ratio-

Are all children receiving individual attention? Speaking with children at eye level is an important engagement tool.

Do adults call children by name? Identifying each child makes for a more inclusive environment. You can praise positive behavior when you can call each child by name.

Are there sufficient personnel to respond in the event of emergencies? Having another staff person in the room can help mitigate any immediate problem with minimal disruption to the program.

Are you using parents as partners? Parents can be your best tool! They know their children best. And after all, they are here to make positive memories as a family. Allow them to be a part of your program.

The program activities-

Do you have a variety of developmental activities taking place? Every child works and participates at a different pace. Make sure there are tools and activities for different ages and developmental abilities. This can be as simple as crayons of various sizes, precut craft items, and larger pieces of paper.

Is the information presented in multiple formats? Pictures can provide context about the program and its goals. A soft bell can be an audio clue that something is about to happen in your program.

Just being mindful of the needs of your families can start the conversation about inclusion. Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of “special needs programming” these small steps will get you on the road to providing a welcoming atmosphere for all your families.

For more tips check out these resources:

http://www.ucsfchildcarehealth.org/pdfs/healthandsafety/inclen081803_adr.pdf

http://articles.extension.org/pages/61358/adapting-the-child-care-environment-for-children-with-special-needs

Lesley Mason is the Youth Services Manager at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the DC Public Library’s central branch. She is currently the chair of the ALCS’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at lesley.mason@dc.gov.

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3. ALSC Awards Overseas: A View from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

This spring I had the opportunity to attend the Bologna Children’s Book Fair along with 12 graduate students and their instructor, ALSC Past President and former Butler Children’s Literature Center Curator Thom Barthelmess. As the current Curator, I was eager to not only travel with such fun, smart, and like-minded colleagues, but to learn what children’s literature looks like around the world, and how the world sees us these days. The upshot? They like our books. Our politics, not so much.

Welcome to the Bologna Children's Book Fair!

Welcome to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair!

While I was traveling on Dominican’s dime with support from the Butler Family Foundation, this trip also posed an opportunity for me, as ALSC Fiscal Officer, to learn firsthand about the impact, if any, of ALSC’s book and media awards internationally.

Buying and selling rights to publish children's books in other countries and other languages is the primary business of the Fair.

Buying and selling rights to publish children’s books in other countries and other languages is the primary business of the Fair.

The first thing I learned should have been obvious: In addition to the vast market at Bologna for buying and selling rights to translate books to and from various languages and to publish them in other countries, there is a vibrant market and interest in original illustration. I saw three exhibits: the annual juried Bologna Illustrators Exhibition (featuring only one American illustrator this time, YooHee Joon); “Artists and Masterpieces of Illustration: 50 Illustrators Exhibit 1967-2016,” a special exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the annual one; and one featuring art from wordless picture books (the accepted term overseas is “silent books”). Beyond these exhibits, illustrators also promote their work directly to publishers here: the market for text is a translation one, so it’s not a place for authors to pitch manuscripts, it’s a more open opportunity for art.

High energy in the international bookstore booth itself

High energy in the international bookstore booth itself

A fascinating debate broke out on a panel discussion about the 50th anniversary exhibit. Panelist Leonard Marcus noted the positive development of an “international visual vocabulary” that has made it increasingly difficult to pigeonhole a book’s country of origin; Etienne Delessert countered that it’s still quite easy to identify an American picture book, at least (not necessarily a compliment). This reminded me of the ALSC Board’s decision a few years ago to maintain ALSC award eligibility for books originally published in the United States and by a U.S. citizen or resident, that “reaffirmed the importance of identifying and rewarding authentic and unique American children’s literature, in keeping with award founder Frederic Melcher’s original intent for these awards.” (Foote, The Newbery and Caldecott Awards: A Guide to the Medal and Honor Books, 2010 edition).

Leonard Marcus speaking on a panel discussion about the "50 Illustrators Exhibit 1967-2016

Leonard Marcus speaking on a panel discussion about the “50 Illustrators Exhibit 1967-2016”

Note the array of awards listed on the sign outside the international bookstore booth: Only one ALA/ALSC award seems to have any play here.

Note the array of awards listed on the sign outside the international bookstore booth: Only one ALA/ALSC award seems to have any play here.

These storied ALSC awards that have been around for decades are sacred in our association and well-known in the United States, but what do people overseas know, or think, about them?

While our awards don’t have nearly the impact on the business of publishing outside the United States as they do stateside, high international interest in illustration seems paralleled by interest in the Caldecott Medal, if not the others. This observation is supported by the ALSC office, which reports infrequent queries about seal use from international publishers, almost all about the Caldecott. U.S. publishers with whom I spoke indicated they’re never asked about awards or seals. However, I noticed many books that were published in other countries and languages were in fact ALSC award winners, even though they did not bear the award seal. This could mean overseas publishers recognize our awards as arbiters of quality and are therefore more likely to buy books that win, seal or no seal; or that they might want seals for book promotion purposes but don’t know how to procure them.

Click to view slideshow.

There is certainly an upside to promoting seal use internationally to raise the international profile of ALA, ALSC, and our media awards. Challenges include the need for publishers in other countries to respect U.S. trademark law (our seal images are ALA’s intellectual property); the need for an acknowledgement printed on the book that the non-U.S. edition is not the exact one evaluated by the committee; and the desire of some overseas publishers to work wording in their own language into the seal image itself. ALSC works hard to protect the integrity and reputation of these awards that have stood us in such good stead over the past 80 or so years, so we’ll continue to carefully shepherd appropriate seal use while encouraging its worldwide adoption to the extent we can.

(All pictures courtesy of Guest Blogger)

*****************************************************************

Our guest blogger is Diane Foote. Diane is assistant dean and curator of the Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University GSLIS in River Forest, Illinois, and the ALSC Fiscal Officer. She can be reached at dfoote@dom.edu.

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.

The post ALSC Awards Overseas: A View from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Tween Spaces – Wants or Needs?

A library’s space, and how it relates to children of all ages, is the theme of this year’s ALSC Charlemae Rollins President’s Program: Libraries: The Space to Be . If you are attending ALA Annual in Orlando, join President Andrew Medlar to learn more about space design during a panel discussion that will focus on best practices for small, medium and large libraries, and how libraries are creating spaces that are vital to children and the communities that support them. Speaking of space design – does your library have a space created specifically for the tween user?

Yes, tweens. Previously best known as “school age patrons”, the 9-12 year old set has graduated into their own sub-community of library users, with many libraries paying attention to this demographic by creating specialized spaces within their children’s departments that cater directly to the pre-teenage.  Today, libraries are defined as much by their spaces as they are by their communities.

So what makes tweens so unique?  For one thing, it is the age where many children are becoming aware of their own likes and dislikes, reading preferences, and identity. Tweens have opinions, and they voice them – through book selections, social media posts, and yes, their library usage or non-usage.  By creating a space that is unique to this narrow range of patrons, children’s librarians are sending an important message: Welcome. We want you here. Get comfortable. Stay for awhile and hang out.

Hard tables and straight backed chairs are being replaced with free-form tables on wheels, ones that can fit together like puzzle pieces, or be pulled apart to create separate spaces on those days when pre-teen patrons want their own personal space.  Wooden chairs are making way for softer counterparts, ones that beckon a child to sit and charge their phone while dangling their legs over the side. Tall bookshelves are being swapped out for lower, browsing units that mimic those seen in retail – with face out book covers and shelf talkers.

Gone too are the bulletin boards created solely by the library staff. Tweens today want interactive spaces that they can personalize and change as they please, often as rapidly as their tastes and trends fluctuate. Think art galleries, creative writing boards, and other collaborations.

Did I mention making? Tweens are at that fantastical, mystical age where you can plop play dough on the table in front of them, and they will squeal with delight as they roll out snakes and coils, reminiscing about their long ago childhood years. The very next day, those same tweens will be wielding tweezers and 3-D printed model hand parts as they build a working hand prosthetic, in the library. So many tween spaces now include mobile carts and other creative “creating stations” that focus on incorporating STEM and STEAM activities into drop in activities in the library that inspire curiosity on a whim – no signing up for a program weeks in advance here. In tween spaces, programs are often the spontaneous, drop in variety.

So take a look around – does your library have a space dedicated to tween users, one that they can call their own? Are you on the fence, trying to determine if this type of space is a want or a need in your community? If you are headed to ALA Annual in Orlando, please come by at 8:30 am on Saturday, June 26, as I discuss this very topic in the program: InBeTween – Programs and Services for Tweens in Public Libraries. You will also see a wide variety of tween spaces from around the country, in libraries small and large. If you have a tween space that you want to share, please reach out to me at lisa@suffolknet.org. I’d love some more examples of tweens using – and loving- their library spaces!

Lisa G. Kropp is the Assistant Director at the Lindenhurst Memorial Library in NY. She is the co-chair of ALSC’s Liaisons to National Organizations committee and the outgoing chair of the Managing Children’s Services Committee. Tweet hello to her @lisagkropp!

 

 

 

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5. Are you heading to ALA’s Annual Conference?

AC16_General_0#alaac16 is less than a month away!

The ALSC Blog is looking for people interested in live blogging during the upcoming Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Have you looked at the ALSC daily schedule?  SO MANY opportunities to share information with those #leftbehind.

If you are interested in lending your thoughts to this blog about what you are experiencing & learning, contact ALSC Blog manager, Mary Voors, at alscblog@gmail.com. We’d love to have your contributions! (And your pieces can be very concise… like this post!)

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6. Searching for Community

Preparing for my first ALSC guest blog post, I entered the search term “community” on the main page of the ALSC blog.  I wanted to make sure that I was not bringing up something already that had already been discussed.  As librarians, we pride ourselves on our detailed, often photographic memories, and enjoy setting the record straight. It’s in our DNA.

I searched for the word community because after 21 years as a children’s librarian, everything has boiled down to community for me.   I remember some great story times, fun summer reading programs, the excitement of Harry Potter, and selecting materials for a new library branch that was being built. I’ve worked with and for some innovative librarians and in some beautiful buildings.

I’ve decided that community matters the most to me.  The changes in publishing have been quite interesting. Technology and its accompanying acronyms have been overwhelming, but still exhilarating.

The daily interactions with my community-with the children, the parents and other customers I are what make this profession so important to me. Here’s why:  Many librarians are introverts.  Often, we go to library school because we love information, books and systems, and we may just love them more than people.

I spent perhaps the first 15 years of being a children’s librarian figuring out what it meant to be a librarian in my community.  I knew that I liked working with children. And then it hit me:  I realized that my presence in the community meant children and parents would see someone different than themselves, and that others would see someone that did resemble themselves.  In both cases I began to see that library programs, and more specifically story time, brought together people that might not ordinarily spend time with each other outside of the library.

I’m African American, and although I think of myself first as a person, I’m aware that my customers might see me first as a person of color. In fact, for the small children that I see weekly, I might be one of the first persons of color that they see regularly.

Yes, it is extremely important that children see themselves in books. I am thrilled that the topic of diversity in books is being widely discussed and that there is an increase in the number of titles that show what the true makeup of our communities is.

I’d like to add to the discussion by saying this:  When you step into a place and see someone that looks like you, it normalizes your experience. Our world is no longer monochromatic, and the places where we gather information or gather with others must not be either. It is good to remember the power of the relationships in our communities and the power of the desire that parents have to do good things for their kids.

Libraries have always been good at creating programs to bring our communities in. After all, story time is a program. What I believe is that a program is just the icing on the cake. The cake is the foundation of what we, the librarians create by welcoming our customers, all of our customers. We welcome our customers by becoming a part of the fabric of our communities and making our presence known, and our presence must be that which represents the world we live in.

********************************************************************

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger is Ericka Chilcoat. Ericka is a Librarian at the Merced County Library and gets her best ideas about Children’s Services when she is eating Thai food.

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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7. ALSC Member of the Month – Alyssa Morgan

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 questions with ALSC member, Alyssa Morgan.

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

Courtesy photo from Alyssa Morgan

Courtesy photo from Alyssa Morgan

I’m the Children’s Librarian/Head of Youth Services at the Morgan County Public Library in Martinsville, IN.  I’ve been in this position almost 5 years, and actually began my career here as an intern.

And yes, the library and I do have the same name.

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

I see ALSC as a way to keep in touch with other librarians across the nation.  Through ALSC, I’ve gained not only great programming ideas, useful management tips, and the knowledge that I’m not the only librarian who faces triumph and struggle on a daily basis.

3. If a movie was presented of your life, who would you want to play you?

Kate Winslet or Emma Thompson.  Even though I bear no resemblance whatsoever to either of them.

4. Do you have a favorite word?  What is it?

Serendipitous!

5. What forms of social media do you use regularly?

I’m a Facebook fiend!  I try to tweet (@LibraryLyssa) and blog (www.librarylyssa.com) on a regular basis but it usually falls on the back burner.

6. Do you have any cats or dogs or other pets?

One cat, Olivia.  When I was at the shelter looking for a cat, I was holding her in my lap and another cat hopped in my lap and hissed at her.  She very calmly turned around, smacked the snot out of the other cat, and went back to cleaning her paws.  I knew this was the cat for me!

7. What do you like to drink? Coffee, tea, juice, water, or something else?

COFFEE!  COFFEE!  COFFEE!

8. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  The teen librarian and I recommend it to EVERYONE!

9. Do you normally celebrate holidays? What’s your favorite?

December 4 has become a holiday at my library because there are four of us who share that date as our birthday!  Cards and all sorts of sweet treats are brought in to help celebrate.

10. What would you be doing if you weren’t a librarian?

I honestly have no idea and hope I never have to find out!

*********************************************************************************

Thanks, Alyssa! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

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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8. Coming Soon!

Summer Reading is imminent, librarians. We all have a ton on our plates and very little time to think about anything but programming, performers, reading logs, and summer fun.

Here are just a few books coming out in the next couple of months. Something to put on your radar when you get a minute, in between programs, when you’re trying to put together book orders.  Your kids will like these, and you will, too.

Source: Goodreads

Maria lives in the Bronx with her mom, who works two jobs to keep them afloat. Then her mom gets a job on a seaside estate on Martha’s Vineyard, and Maria’s life for the summer is radically different. Maria spends her summer juggling new friends, her Lebanese family, and an old map that she’s sure will lead to pirate treasure.

Source: Goodreads

Mafi’s long-awaited first middle grade novel has been called “rich and lush” by Kirkus. Alice lives in a land of magic and color, and she has neither. But she’s determined to find her beloved Father in magical Furthermore anyway. She has only one companion: someone she’s not sure she can trust. Can she use her wits to find her dad?

Source: Goodreads

The second in Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel series about the mysteries and magic of coding, this one will basically fly off your shelves completely by itself. There’s something lurking in an underground classroom of Stately Academy: Hooper, Eni, and Josh are determined to find out what!

Source: Goodreads

Jenni Holm’s latest novel is about Beans, a kid growing up during the Great Depression on Key West. Beans knows that grown-ups lie to him. But he doesn’t really let it bother him. He’s got plans of his own. Beans is the cousin of the titular Turtle in Holm’s Newbery Honor-Winning Turtle in Paradise and returning to her beautiful novels is always worth it.

Good luck with summer reading! These books will be waiting for you on the other side.

*
Ally Watkins (@aswatki1) is a library consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

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9. Submit a #alaac17 Program Proposal

Submit a Program Proposal for the 2017 ALA Annual Conference

ALSC is now accepting proposals for innovative programs for the 2017 ALA Annual Conference. Be part of this exciting professional development opportunity by submitting your program today!

To submit a program proposal for the 2017 Annual Conference, please visit the ALSC website. for the submission form and instructions. The 2017 ALA Annual Conference is scheduled for June 22-27, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. All proposals must be submitted by Thursday, June 2, 2016.

Submit a proposal

Need help getting started? In January, the Program Coordinating Committee put out a call for ideas and asked for your feedback. We offered thirteen topic areas and asked members to rank their favorites. Here are all thirteen topic areas we suggested ranked in order of ALSC members’ choices:

  1. Diversity in children’s lit
  2. Partnerships and outreach
  3. Age specific programming
  4. STEM/STEAM
  5. Summer learning
  6. Difficult conversations
  7. Media mentorship
  8. Recent immigrant communities
  9. Collection development
  10. Diversity in the profession
  11. Advocacy
  12. Gender diversity
  13. Networking

Need more inspiration? Below you’ll find additional ideas suggested by ALSC members in response to the survey. These are not ranked and appear in the order in which they were received. Additional Program Ideas:

  • Continuing Education after the MLIS
  • Working with difficult coworkers/directors/city agencies– best practices, stress relief, etc.
  • Programming for Children with Special Needs
  • Localized networking- how to bring back info from ALA, etc, and share with people who can’t afford time/money for conference
  • Poetry, poetry programs, apps, National Poetry Month
  • Social services: ie. Food programs at the library to serve hungry families, homelessness, libraries as a safe environment etc
  • Child development and how it relates to library services, the mechanics of reading ( to help with readers advisory for emerging readers)
  • The impact on tech on families
  • Recent youth space upgrades/renovations. Slide shows etc
  • Early Literacy/Babies Need Words
  • Preschool Programming outside of storytime
  • Becoming a youth services manager
  • Statistics, budgeting
  • I would love to see a diversity track that covers diversity in the profession, networking with others that are from a more diverse culture, diversity in children’s lit, gender diversity, also how to encourage diversity in publishing and other areas related to libraries.
  • Creating a culture of reading in our community
  • Time/workload management; librarian lifehacks
  • Leadership and management chops
  • Homeschooling
  • Serving low-income kids and families
  • Parent involvement
  • Advancing early literacy best practices based on research- screens and reality

Please note that participants attending ALSC programs are seeking valuable educational experiences; the Program Coordinating Committee will not select a program session that suggests commercial sales or self-promotion. Presentations should provide a valuable learning experience and avoid being too limited in scope.

Please contact the chair of the ALSC Program Coordinating Committee, Amy Martin with questions.

Submit a proposal

Image courtesy of ALSC.

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10. Thoughts from a Library School Student

This week marks the end of my first semester of graduate school; the end felt unreal until I received my grades today. They’re my roller-coaster-photo-finish proof the last five blurry months actually happened, complete with wild hair and shocked expression. If you’re just starting this adventure, fasten your seatbelt and prepare yourself for a wild ride with a few suggestions from a recent first-timer in mind.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING:

Most students I’ve met are also juggling several roles, and online programs allow flexibility for those with a lot of things up in the air. However, the ability to attend class in pajamas can lend a false sense of security; it’s easy to lose track of deadlines and projects when classwork is squeezed in whenever you find a spare moment. I carved out mornings for classwork, and after the kids came home from school, we did homework together. During my lunch breaks at work, homework; after I came home from work, homework. Basically, the semester was homework with real life “squeezed in whenever”. But those hours I’d specifically carved out for school work were sacrosanct (in theory – I’m a parent). Which brings me to my next point…

MOVE IT OR LOSE IT:

When I had pneumonia shortly before the semester began, I asked my doctor how long it would take to recover. She replied it would be a few weeks and joked, “Why, do you have a marathon planned?” I explained I’d soon have a full load in graduate school, plus my part-time job and three kids, so yes, I had a marathon planned. She advised me, as she survived medical school and residency with kids, to make time for exercise. When I asked hopefully if “exercise” included the movement of Dr Pepper or chocolate in hand to mouth, she laughed and said it could at times, but actual exercise would keep me sane. It didn’t matter what I did, as long as I got up and moved for at least 30 minutes a day. Remember the wise words of Elle Woods? “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”

REMEMBER YOUR PASSION:

It’s a safe bet if you’re in graduate school for library science, you want to be there. If you’re exploring the ALSC site and found this post, you’re probably interested in library services for children. Nevertheless, at one time or another during library school, you’ll find yourself wondering why you traded Netflix binges after work for writing research papers until dawn. But then you’ll find that one class or idea that sets your world aflame with possibilities and everything’s touched by the burning to know more. That’s the hope, at least. If your studies haven’t uncovered something yet, then recall what inspired you to be a librarian. Was it a librarian who touched your life? Quirky picture books? Your love of cardigans, cats, or library-cake memes? Suggested pick-me-ups: Neil Gaiman’s “libraries are the future” lecture or Library Journal’s inspiration board on Pinterest.

One last tip:

There might be a learning curve on your ride, but don’t worry. Just lean into it. Embrace the opportunity to grow and stretch your skills, maybe even throw your hands up in the air and scream. It will eventually come to an end and you’ll roll to a stop, amazed you’ve come so far despite how quickly it went.

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Today’s Guest Blogger is Stephanie Milberger. Stephanie is a youth librarianship student in the College of Information at the University of North Texas and children’s assistant at the Highland Park Library in Dallas. You can contact her online at Twitter (@milbergers) or email milbergers@gmail.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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11. Knitting Club for Tweens – a step-by-step how-to guide

Hand knitting has been around for arguably thousands of years, though in modern times its popularity has waxed and waned.  Waldorf schools around the world have long recognized that teaching young children handicrafts helps develop their fine motor and analytical skills. The great thing is, libraries can promote knitting, too! Currently, knitting is very popular and many libraries have started their own knitting circles. Here are several reasons to start a knitting circle for tweens at your library and a step-by-step list on how to get started:

Step 1

Start a knitting club for adults. My adult knitting group meets in the evenings right near the children’s area, so we’ve garnered a lot of interest from the kids by simply existing. They want to know all about knitting, how we started, what clothes we’ve made, etc. Most kids ultimately ask if I can teach them how to knit. We have a diverse group of men and women in our adult group, and in turn I’ve had both boys and girls show interest in learning. Having a multifaceted group is a great way to highlight that knitting is not just for women.

Step 2

Find someone who wants to teach kids how to knit. If you are a knitter, it could be you. If not, contact your local knitting guild or meet up group to see if one of their members has an interest in teaching kids how to knit.

Step 3

Gather your materials! You’ll need yarn, needles, scissors, tapestry needles, and knitting books from your collection to get the kids started once they’ve masted the basics of knit and purl. Ask your adult patrons if they can donate materials or reach out to your library friends group for the funds needed to purchase some knitting paraphernalia.

Step 4

Pick a date. I find that knitting clubs for adults tend to be the most successful if they occur at the same time and place weekly, so pick a date and time when your tweens will usually be able to attend. We have our summer knitting club on craft day, the same time every week!

Step 5

Publicize! Spread the word about your knitting club at school visits and outreach, and on library social media and websites. It also helps to reach out to your local knitting guild so they can publicize for you!

Kate Eckert is an artist, knitter, and mother of one. She is also a member of the School Age Programs & Services Committee and is a Children’s Librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She tweets @8bitstate and may also be contacted at eckertk AT freelibrary.org.

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12. A Comic Ode to Booktalking

We’re in the throes of booktalking here at Darien Library, and I thought this time-honored tradition deserved a comic.

anodetobooktalking-sm

All illustrations copyright Lisa Nowlain, 2016.

Lisa Nowlain is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow and Children’s Librarian at Darien Library in Darien, CT. She is also an artist-type (see more at lisanowlain.com).

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13. Painting with Primaries

Our local school is building a Natural Playground, and they are holding several fundraisers. I was recently asked to be part of a Really Good Idea for a fundraiser, which I think would make a fun library program! The idea, which was hatched and hosted by the owner of our local craft shop, was this: local artists would each lead a classroom in painting a large 2-foot square painting which would then be auctioned off.
IMG_1399
I was happy to find out that I was chosen to work with the Grade Primary class (here in Nova Scotia that translates to Kindergarten). I went with a big flower for them to paint. I had them in groups of 3 — the painting had seven areas to be painted, and I had each group work on a section. I might be biased, but I love our painting the most. I love the colours and the freedom of expression that 4 & 5 year olds are unafraid to exhibit. I really didn’t paint much at all— I gave them tips, and once had to quickly grab a paintbrush from an over-exuberant artist who was about to turn the whole thing into a big smear.

I started in the classroom with a stack of books and talked to them about art in picture books.  I read Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales to them and we talked about the art in that book. Their teacher had been part of some workshops I did earlier in the school year, and she had them looking closely at the art in picture books, so this group of 4-5 year olds were pretty savvy about examining the pictures. We had a lively discussion about the art and how everyone can do art. I was impressed that they were able to determine the medium, and talk a little about shape and colour.

I love to combine literacy with art lessons, and this project – and a Caldecott honour book – allowed me to do that. We also did a really great painting which will help raise money for a playground that will further their learning in the great outdoors. IMG_1401

So— to turn this into a library program, you could buy several large canvases (you can get them for a pretty decent price at dollar stores these days). Draw the outlines on the canvases, and have your program participants paint them in, using acrylic paint (again, a fairly inexpensive investment at dollar stores). These could hang in the children’s area, could be donated for charity fundraisers, or you could auction them as library fundraisers. Add a few books on art and a few art picture books, and you’ve got yourself a fairly simple, low-cost program that kids will remember each time they see those paintings. Host an art show in your library and you’ve got another program that will draw in the families of the kids who did the paintings. Art and literacy. They make good companions.

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14. Preparing for the 2016 ALSC President’s Program

Environments are imbued with ideals and beliefs about the core values of their institutions.  As public libraries move to a more patron-centered approach, library settings become less formal and more available for collaborative and creative practices.  This year, ALSC President Andrew Medlar will share his vision for active and child-centered learning spaces throughout American Libraries at his Charlemae Rollins President’s Program:  Libraries: The Space to Be. 

Chicago Public Library is the home of Charlemae Rollins, and here at CPL, we see it as our role to enliven the spaces in our children’s rooms in order to encourage and promote what Fred Rogers called “the work of childhood” play-based learning. By creating meaningful and child-friendly spaces, we serve children and their families more deeply.  It is our goal to create active learning spaces that are a meaningful educator for our children and our communities.  Our libraries are considered pioneers in incorporating STEAM opportunities for child and parent engagement, and we are designing space across our system to meet the needs of 21st Century children and families.  This means age designated ‘neighborhoods’ areas for creativity, collaboration and lots of ways to encourage moments of sharing.  We believe sharing is learning and we want to encourage that in both formal and informal settings.  As our new flagship main children’s library opens later this year, we will roll out even more ways upon which STEAM, early learning and school-aged families can read, discover and create.

In San Francisco, our libraries are family destinations for discovery and community engagement. As part of the library’s early literacy initiative, we partner with the Burgeon Group to design and embed Play to Learn areas in each location.  These site-specific transformations are beacons of play incorporating colorful interactive panels, multilingual features, developmentally appropriate experiences, fine gross activities, texture and tracing elements all to spark spontaneous conversations and build key literacy skills.  (Stoltz, Conner, & Bradbury, 2014) From nook to cubes and the flagship installation at the Main Library, parents, caregivers and most importantly children know play is welcome at the library.

Successful play spaces are those that engage children’s interest; inspire creativity; allow physical movement; and encourage interaction with both materials in the space and with other children.  Many early childhood spaces are modeled on the Reggio Emilia approach, starting with a welcoming space that is arranged to provide opportunities for children to make choices and discover on their own.  Once children have explored, adults facilitate play around subjects or objects in which the child shows interest. This child-driven model is a natural fit for an active learning setting in a library, where children have free access to a variety of resources from books to toys to art materials.  Research shows that having quality books placed at children’s eye level supports literacy-related activities like those that occur when children play in library spaces. (Neuman, 1999)

The Reggio Emilia approach has also been shown to be equally effective for young children who do not speak English, a situation common in Chicago and San Francisco (Zhang, Fallon & Kim, 2009).  Leslie William and Yvonne DeGaetano note the importance of creating culturally relevant spaces based on children’s own communities in Alerta:  A MultiCultural, Bilingual Approach to Teaching Young Children.

Play is a necessary building block for children’s brain development, along with culture and the creative mindset. (Gauntlett & Thomsen, 2013) It is so essential for life that the United Nations recognizes play as a human right for every child.  Play allows children to explore and experiment with their environments, building synaptic connections in the brain and helping children establish problem solving skills as early as 6 months of age.  The American Library Association-Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) recommends that play be incorporated into library programming, recognizing the direct correlation between play and early literacy.

There are five general types of play that children engage in.  These can all be supported in our libraries, and each type of play supports both children’s general development and literacy in a variety of ways.  These include:

  • sensory play
  • constructive play with objects
  •  symbolic play
  • pretend play
  • rule-based play such as games.

Some of the elements that are shared by both Chicago Public Library and San Francisco Public Library include:

  • Creation of connections and sense of belonging
  • Flexible and open-ended materials
  • Materials that support the ECRR2 practices ( TALK, SING, READ, WRITE, PLAY)
  • Stimulation of wonder, curiosity and intellectual engagement for children and their caregivers
  • Symbolic representations, literacy and visual arts
  • Flexible furniture and arrangements
  • Different levels and heights of displays or tools
  • Nooks to read and/or work
  • Open-ended activities and tools that can be transformed by the child’s interest
  • Places for individuals as well as groups
  • Creation Station and maker areas for encouraging design, exploration and creation
  • Parent and caregiver incubator space
  • Areas and resources for constructive, dramatic and creative play
  • Appealing signage and parent tips to support family learning

As co-chairs, we are eager to have you join us at President Medlar’s Charlemae Rollins President’s Program to learn more about successful elements of library design for 21st Century Kids and hope to see you there!

— Liz McChesney, Director of Children’s Services, Chicago Public Library
— Christy Estrovitz, Manager of Youth Services, San Francisco Public Library

References

  • Stoltz, Dorthy, Marisa Conner, James Bradbury. (2014). The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces. ALA Editions.
  • Gauntlett, David & Thomsen, Bo Stjerne. (2013). Cultures of Creativity: Nurturing Creative Minds Across Cultures. The LEGO Foundation.
  • Nespeca, Sue McCleaf. (2012) The Importance of Play, Particularly Constructive Play, in Public Library Programming.
  • Zhang, Jie, Fallon, Moira & Kim, Eun-Joo. The Reggio Emilia Curricular Approach for Enhancing Play Development of Young Children.

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15. Summer Is Nearly Upon Us: Part 5 of the Attack on Summer Reading

The summer season at our library is just about upon us.  The reading portion will begin June 1st and the heavy-programming begins June 13th.  Though we are busy getting the last pieces of our program’s structure into place for the launch next week, I’m not too busy to take a minute to rant (it comes quite naturally to me!)  You can consider this post, Part 5 of my Attack on Summer Reading series.   If you haven’t been following along with baited breath, the other posts are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

In April, I talked a bit about the information we gather through registration and reading tracking and what we do with it and don’t do with it.  Turns out, there are some helpful info-bits in there (shocker!)  My library director, who is totally supportive of our switch-up, really wanted us to find a way to track who’s participating all summer-long.  Fair enough.  That is helpful information to have.  But, as you know, I am hesitant (to say the least) to employ any type of registration, so how to do it?  I have been known to have moments of flexibility and we were able to come up with a compromise: kids/teens who get a LEGO to add to our sculpture when they tell us how much they’ve read, will also get a LEGO sticker (on which to write their name) and add to a silhouette/poster that will change each week.  Then, teen volunteers we can tally up who’s been coming all summer. Don’t worry, I see the potential for chaos, but I’m a risk-taker, so bring it on!  I understand that this whole approach may throw our staff into chaos, but I am lucky enough to work with a stellar staff who’s willing to try new things!

Here are some of my big fears questions about how this new approach is going to go:

  • will parents rebel against our no-prize approach and take their kids to the numerous other libraries in our county?
  • will fewer kids spend time reading and will that be a super bad thing?
  • will our ‘tantalize them with in-depth programming’ approach really pique their curiosity enough to cause them to pick up a book?
  • will our weekly camps be too much causing the staff to be totally depleted at the end of the summer?
  • will there be long waiting lists for our camps resulting in disgruntled parents?  (We are capping our camps at fairly small numbers for 2 reasons: we want to offer programs that got deep into a subject; and we want to provide substantial and meaningful exposure experiences which require a small librarian-to-child ratio).

So if I’m not hiding under my desk, you can rest assured I’ll keep the ALSC community posted the answers to the aforementioned questions and on how this whole thing goes, however, I’ll be at ALA next month (woohoo!) and will be blogging on how that whole thing goes!

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16. Gimme a C (For Collaboration): Strengthening Outreach Connections

In recent SPLC posts on this blog, we’ve talked building relationship with schools, starting points and more. So let’s say you have a school contact and would now like to leverage that SPLC-Committee-Wordle-300x240-300x240relationship to reach even more teachers, kids, and parents. What are some events that a public librarian could participate in that would be a valuable investment? Here are some ideas:

Pre-service and Staff Development Days: Most school districts schedule several pre-service or staff development days that occur right before school starts. The students are not be at school, so this is a great time to talk with just teachers. The public library could be a great resource-sharing presenter during a lunch break, or even during a regular session. Because pre-service days happen before school begins, try to schedule this before the end of the school year.

Back-to-School Nights and Kindergarten Round-Ups: Your public library could set up a table outside the school office and share important information for parents and kids. Having a fun activity like an I-Spy Board can be an engaging activity to keep students busy at your table while you share information about the library with parents.

PTO/Parent Club Meetings: Some school programs, like Head Start, require parent meetings to feature a presentation by a community partner. Why not the public library? You can share tips for using the library successfully (to calm the anxiety around accruing fines), and special resources that parents may not know about (I share our Cultural Passes to Adventure). You could even offer to host the meeting at the library!

Pre-Assessment Party: About a week before standardized assessment time begins, many schools (particularly Title I Schools) hold special family nights to gear up for testing. Public librarians can be on-hand to share how recreational reading can help a student do well in school.

Familiarize yourself with the school district’s calendar and look for other unique outreach opportunities. Participating in these events shows your community’s families that you are on the same page, and you care about what is important to them.

School librarians: what special events does your school district have?

Public librarians: what unique school events have you attended as a library representative?


S. Bryce Kozla is the Youth Services Librarian for Washington County Cooperative Library Services in Oregon.  Bryce blogs at brycedontplay.blogspot.com and tweets at @plsanders. She is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.

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17. How Tech Focused is Your Summer Reading Program?

The summer months are almost upon us and with graduations, orchestra concerts, and field day happenings the end of the school year is at hand. The ALSC Summer Reading Lists have also just been released and children’s librarians across the country are making final preparations before June.

The start of our Summer Reading this year coincides with the launch of our library’s new website. Since so much focus is being placed on content for the website, last fall the children’s department decided to go old school and keep all the reading logs in the library. We are borrowing from Pop Sugar’s Reading Challenge and asking kids to read a total of 20 thematic books.

This decision has led us to think about other ways of incorporating technology into Summer Reading, after years of having patrons log books, minutes, and reviews online. Many libraries use services like Evanced Solutions (this year it’s the Wandoo Reader) and newer products like Beanstack. Beyond tracking and prize distribution online, what can we do to engage young audiences using technology this summer?

  • Michael Santangelo wrote a compelling piece on downloadable audio. Kids and teens are on the go all summer long and for some travel increases. Are we pushing our digital collections and encouraging this format in our communities?
  • For years we have incorporated Learning Quests into Summer Reading as one method of participating. Each week kids submit answers to trivia questions, email images of themselves in costume, and upload videos of their take on our creative challenges. Perhaps there are additional challenges that can be encouraged in a virtual space, while hosting a more traditional Summer Reading model.
  • It’s hard to avoid video clips from Tasty and Buzzfeed DIY on your newsfeed. Why not use this medium to share library program activities or invite kids to make their own DIY videos in a similar style?

Share some of the methods you are using to incorporate technology into your Summer Reading activities!

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children and Teen Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at cmoore@darienlibrary.org.

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.

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18. Big Lift Little Libraries in San Mateo County

I have worked for the San Mateo County Libraries in various positions for the last twelve years and have had a chance to be a part of some really wonderful and inspiring projects. My favorite project I’ve ever been a part of is working with the Big Lift Little Libraries.

You may have seen Little Free Libraries out in your neighborhood or around town near community gathering places. Big Lift Little Libraries operate on the same principle of taking a book and leaving a book, but they are filled specifically with books for children and families.

Over the last two years, we have placed 104 Big Lift Little Libraries around San Mateo County. The libraries reside in medical clinics, elementary schools, churches, parks, beaches, and in front of residential homes. One young girl contacted us about hosting a Big Lift Little Library in her local post office!

I have had a chance to spot a few of the libraries out in the community, which is always a fun treat for me. I also love when people share photos of their new Big Lift Little Libraries once they have it up and running. More information about this project and photos of the Big Lift Little Libraries out in the wild can be found here!

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Stephanie Saba is a Senior Librarian at the San Mateo County Libraries in California and is writing this post for the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. She is also a member of the California Library Association and is currently serving on the California Young Reader Medal Committee.

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19. Interview with Author Bridgette R. Alexander

Author Bridgette R. Alexander reflects on the mystery genre, her first book in a new series, Southern Gothic, and the influential impact of librarians and libraries. I received a complimentary copy of Southern Gothic: A Celine Caldwell Mystery in preparation for this interview.

How would you describe your novel Southern Gothic: A Celine Caldwell Mystery?

It’s intriguing. It’s passionate. It’s a contemporary urban Nancy Drew meets The Da Vinci Code. Southern Gothic introduces the reader to Celine Caldwell and the world of fine arts. Celine attends a private school on the Upper East Side, but more importantly has an internship in the Archives Department of the mighty Metropolitan Museum of Art, where her life suddenly changes with an explosive uncovering of an art theft; and in which her mother, the powerful curator of modern art at the Met, is accused of stealing paintings from her upcoming exhibition.

(Photo provided by Susan Raab, Raab Associates, Inc.)

(Photo provided by Susan Raab, Raab Associates, Inc.)

How did the idea of the character Celine Caldwell develop? What inspired you during your writing process for Southern Gothic?

I wanted to bring children and young adults into the high-end world of fine art. I had studied art history as well as worked as a professor of art history. I’ve been in the art world for over fifteen years in various capacities. Throughout my years in the visual arts, I’ve always dreamed of sharing a lot of what I’d experienced with younger people. The art world has been very, very good to me; and I’ve always wanted other people to experience the same as I, or actually even better than I have, experience. So I created a character, a girl born in the world of art whose life would be deeper and richer for the reader to explore the inner workings of an encyclopedic art museum, a world-class auction house, and give them the experience of spending time in the homes of private art collectors; all the while seeing these worlds through the eyes of Celine, a young, fresh, impressionable person.

Some reviewers have compared Celine Caldwell to a modern Nancy Drew. How would you describe her to the librarians interested in sharing your book with young readers?

She’s curious. She’s intrepid. She’s a never-back-down type of girl, yet at the same time, she is very vulnerable. She has a high emotional I.Q., and at the same time, she’s very much like the modern day teen.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art plays a central role in Southern Gothic. What is your background with this famous institution?

While still an undergraduate in college, I took about a year off to get a job and save money to return to school. I didn’t want to incur a lot of debt. I moved to New York City and took a job working for a non-profit organization called Emmaus House of Harlem. I worked for the founder and director, the late David Kirk. At Emmaus House I taught a G.E.D prep course and a lifestyle class for residents. These were formerly addicted individuals who through Emmaus House would be returning to their homes and families with employment training, education and life skills. I’d been working there for about a month and the first Saturday the residents were allowed to have their children visit them for the weekend. The children would spend the afternoon into early evening reconnecting with the parent(s).

I was struck after that first Saturday with wanting to provide resources for those children, so they would have a different future than their present lives. I came up with an idea to create what I would later call an arts-integrated curriculum for those children. I connected the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s education department told them I was interested in connecting them with the Met program by getting a lot of materials and access to the Museum for me and for the children. That was my first public art education course.

What has been the most surprising feedback you have received from a reader about your book?

People in general love Celine Caldwell, but what I’ve been the most surprised by is the reaction about how much they have been excited to learn about art and its history. I say surprised, even though I am an art historian, because I never want to be heavy-handed or didactic as a scholar. I want people to be enthralled and engaged by the world Celine lives in and a major part of that is fine arts – the paintings on the walls and the experiences she has. I want people to be excited and inspired…that seems to be happening!

Has your book been marketed to a target audience? Would you consider this book to be a young adult novel that appeals to older children as well?

Certainly. Southern Gothic and the Celine Caldwell Mystery Series are targeted to people between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. Although, we’re finding a good number of readers that are much older than teens, from 21 on up. Southern Gothic has a great deal of elements in it that can be highly appealing to young adults – they can absolutely connect to the protagonist, Celine Caldwell a girl trying the best that she can to navigate herself in the world that her parents placed her in once they got divorced. She also has such a loyal and strong group of friends, and I think that is an element of the story resonates with a lot of readers. Additionally, there are several other aspects to Celine’s life that I believe readers connect with; such as her forging her independence and gaining her own voice in her work as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That job offers Celine the opportunity to move about the world within the museum as well as meeting the people that she will encounter in her quest to discover the truth to solve the mystery in the story.

Why is the mystery genre relevant to children and teens? What connected you to this genre as a writer and what does its future look like to you?

I think children and teens connect to the mystery genre because there are a lot of unanswered questions that by the time you reach 10, 11, 12 or 13, you begin to seek out answers to. For me, it seems like a perfect fit. For me, mysteries represented the very nature of life itself. There is the beginning where you are met with some ease and then suddenly, a bit of an upheaval comes along and sort of unhinge everything. With that comes a discovery, a renewal…it’s utterly remarkable. I’ve always loved the thrill of mysteries and knowing that with everything in life, you have to go beyond the surface.

For children and teens, mysteries are a great genre. In your early years of life, you accept what’s been presented to you; as you get older, you start to question – or, at the very least, you realize that there is a much larger world outside your home and neighborhood and you’re beginning to be exposed to bits and pieces of that larger world. Mysteries are at once exciting and scary, just as life is for young people discovering the bigger world for the first time.

What should the role of children’s librarians be in encouraging children and youth to explore various genres and subjects?

That’s a great question. The librarians I was fortunate to have growing up as an early and teenage reader, engaged me by drawing on various interests I had in subjects and showing me how to explore those subjects through the books they’d find for me. I think it’s vitally important for a librarian to be the guide, to introduce new, exciting, scary, different subjects; and many types of books to children and young adults. The role of librarians can be a lot more fluid than an actual teacher. The librarian has the space and hopefully, the inclination to be the conduit between a child and the world.

How has your experience in libraries influenced your life as a reader and author? 

(Photo of Bridgette R. Alexander Photo by Sophy Naiditch)

Photo of Bridgette R. Alexander
(Photo by Sophy Naiditch)

Where the classroom introduced me to the world, the library became a guide helping me to navigate the world. The main Chicago Public Library back in the late seventies and early eighties was on Michigan Avenue occupying the same building as the Encyclopedia Britannica. I spent a great deal of time reading almost every book I could read. I attended, Whitney Young Magnet High School (during the same years as our first lady Michelle Obama). I had an amazing Economic and Society teacher, Mr. Minkoff.

In this class, he taught us about the development of and the histories of the stock market and US industries, such as the railroads and banking; and we learned about early wealthy American families such as the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, etc. He talked about these subjects in such an exciting way that it captured me wholeheartedly.  I would ask him a thousand and one questions about these people and, at one point, he suggested I go to the library — not the school’s library, but the main public library in Chicago. So I did. Sharing with the librarian there what I was looking for, she asked me why was I interested in those people and in that time period. I told her. And she led me to the library stacks and particularly to the areas where books on these subjects were and pointed to about five or six different titles and said, “here the world is yours.”

From that day on and for about another three to four years, I read everything about American industrial might. Later, I added in almost every biography of the Kennedys and all the individuals of the American political movements. I read so much and received so much guidance from the Chicago Public librarians at the main branch, that by the time I arrived at college, what I had read served as a strong foundation for my studying art history, philosophy and also some political science. In Chicago, we also have the cultural center that’s a part of the Chicago Public Library system. The Cultural Center houses everything in the arts: music (both popular and classical), visual arts, dance, opera; you name it – and biographies of artists and historiographies of genres. I devoured it all.

A librarian there gave me access to listening to old recordings of Leo Bernstein, Barbra Streisand, even Annie Lennox long before she became a member of the Eurhythmics. Another time in Mr. Minkoff’s class, we had to watch a CBS broadcast mini-series starring Henry Fonda, called “Gideon’s Trumpet” by the author Anthony Lewis. We had to write a paper about the television movie, which was based on the US Supreme Court case that ruled criminal defendants had a right to an attorney even if they could not afford it. Well, back to the library I returned to find out everything I could about this landmark case, and this time in the law section of the library.

The library has been and still is an integral part of my intellectual life!

What inspired you to write a series? What additional projects are you working on at this time?

My desire is to explore with readers the full spectrum that is the arts – visual art and culture, opera, the ballet and symphonies. Currently, I am preparing to release the second book in the series, Sons of Liberty; the third book in the series, Pasha will follow. Then I have a lot of ideas for the next nine books to follow that. Also, starting next month in June, I will be on a multi-city book tour that begins in Beverly Hills, California and then moves up the coast to Northern California. And in August I will be launching the Celine Caldwell Arts Council, which is a national initiative that I’m very excited about.

Thank you for sharing details of your new book and the role libraries and librarians have played in your life!

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20. Robot Reads

With the popularity of robotics programs in schools and community groups, interest in robots and robotics is high! If you’d like to add a technological flair to your displays or booklists, consider these fun titles with high appeal for a wide range of readers:

boy bot

(image taken from Penguin Random House)

Boy + Bot is a sweet and funny story that highlights friendship, kindness, and misunderstandings. When Bot’s power is accidentally switched off, he attempts to re-spark Bot with applesauce and books. When Boy falls asleep, Bot tries to rouse him with oil and by reading aloud from his instruction manual. Luckily, an inventor steps in to smooth things over.

hilo

(image taken from Penguin Random House)

Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth was one of my top favorite graphic novel reads in 2015; I am anxiously waiting for the sequel to arrive soon! Two friends befriend a friendly, entertaining, but somewhat odd boy who has literally crashed onto Earth. The characterizations of the three friends are realistic, charming, and heartwarming.

 

littlerobot

(image taken from Macmillan)

Little Robot is another fantastic robot-themed graphic novel from 2015; this nearly wordless story features an African-American girl (who lives in a trailer park) and her newly formed friendship with a robot that has crashed into her industrial town. The two pals explore and go on many adventures until the robot factory searches for its missing robot.  The little girl (who is not named) is strong, courageous, and inventive, adding much needed diversity and characterization in robot-themed books!

 

robots

(image taken from National Geographic)

Finally, if you want a nonfiction read for young independent readers, Robots (National Geographic Kids) should definitely be in your collection. National Geographic Kids’s nonfiction readers are highly recommended (and highly popular) for their graphic design, clear writing, and high-appeal to both reluctant and ravenous readers alike.

Do you have any favorite robot-themed books? Discuss them in the comments!

 

 

 

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21. Food in the Library? An interview with Amanda Courie about Summer Food Programs

Over the past few years, there has been a growing awareness in public libraries that children within their service areas may not be getting enough to eat during the summer months when school breakfasts and lunches are unavailable. Many libraries have partnered with state and local organizations to address this “food insecurity” by offering summer food programs, but this may seem like a daunting enterprise for small, rural, and/or understaffed libraries.

Caroline County Public Library, one of eight rural Maryland libraries that my organization serves, began offering a summer food program last year. I decided to interview Amanda Courie, Youth Services Manager, to find out how this kind of program can work on a smaller scale.

Amanda, I understand that Caroline County Public Library is a small system. How many full time staff members are there? How many of them work in youth services?

“We are a small system!  We serve a county of about 33,000 people on Maryland’s rural Eastern Shore.  We operate a Central Library and two small branches.  There are 15 FT employees and 8 PT.  I am the only one who works full time in Youth Services.  I have one FT employee who is our Early Childhood Unit Manager; about 50% of her time is in Youth Services, and 50% is spent staffing the branches and the Information Desk.  Then there are three PT employees who contribute to Youth Services along with staffing our public service points.”

How does your summer food program work, and what made you decide to launch it?

“Our decision to launch the summer food program grew from a growing awareness nationwide and in our county of the number of families facing food insecurity. According to the MD Food System Map, produced by Johns Hopkins University, 40.2% of children in our county qualify for free lunch, and 11.1% of the total population is considered food insecure

We know that children rely on school meals throughout the school year, and that summertime is a big challenge for families who are food insecure.  Our local Parks and Recreation Department runs summer camps throughout the county for five weeks out of the summer, and these sites double as Summer Meals Sites.  Our concept was to help fill in the gaps not covered by this program, both for the other five weeks of summer vacation, and for the children who weren’t enrolled in the summer camps and couldn’t make it to those sites.

Looking at our resources, especially as far as having a small staff, we decided to serve an afternoon snack at our Central Library, Monday-Friday at 2PM, for 10 weeks in the summer.” 

Which organization(s) do you partner with to make this program possible? Has this program led to any new partnerships?

“We partner with our local school system, Caroline County Public Schools.  They make all of the registration and reimbursement arrangements with MSDE (Maryland State Department of Education), who in turn participates in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program We received training from our school system’s food service program to ensure that we were following USDA guidelines.  They also prepared the menus for us, making sure that we were meeting the federal nutrition guidelines.  Once a week I picked up food and drinks from the food service workers at an elementary school about a mile from the library.  The school system handled all financial aspects of the program; there was no cost to the library and very little paperwork. 

We have partnered with our school system on many projects before, and we even share an ILS with them, so I can’t say that this program led to new partnerships.  But it certainly enriched the partnership we do have with them, and they were happy to assist us in our efforts to serve nutritious snacks to children over the summer.”

What have been the benefits and drawbacks of the program? Have there been any surprises?

“When we went into the program, we assumed that the biggest benefit would be that kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to a healthy snack over the summer would be able to come to the library and get it.  That certainly has proven to be true.  However, the biggest surprise, and another big benefit, has been the enhanced connections that we have formed with the kids who eat snack daily.  In most cases, these are library “regulars” who spend a large part of their summer at the library.  In past years, inevitably they grow restless by early afternoon are were often asked to leave for the day due to behavior issues—being too loud; running; fighting with each other.  However, when we started serving snack every day, we noticed a drop in behavior issues.  Early on, we made a practice of sitting with the kids while they ate, chatting and getting to know them.  These connections proved to be invaluable in providing a positive library experience for them over the summer.  Now, whenever I’ve seen these kids in the library during the school year—even last fall—they ask if we are serving snack again this summer.

I will be honest about the drawbacks of the program.  Since we do partner with the USDA Summer Meals program, we must follow their very stringent guidelines on both what to serve and how to serve it.  There is no flexibility to offer kids a variety of choices, or to give hungrier kids “seconds”.  All participating children must receive one of each item offered to make a nutritionally complete snack.  If they don’t eat it, it can go on the “share table”, but after that if no one takes it by the end of snack time, it must be discarded.  While we understand these guidelines, it was still difficult to get used to this procedure.  However, we decided that partnering with this program was the only sensible way for us to serve safe, approved, subsidized snacks to children.”

Do you have any advice for libraries who are interested in starting summer food programs (especially other small and rural libraries)?

“I would encourage libraries, particularly small, rural libraries, to look into partnering with an agency who is familiar with USDA guidelines and enthusiastic about extending Summer Meals services to more sites.  I would also recommend planning to offer a summer food program that is realistic with the staffing levels available.  Summer is already an extremely busy time of year for library staff, so offer a program on scale with your resources.  Having said that, we have found that our summer meal program is extremely rewarding and helps fill the summertime gap for children in our community facing food insecurity.”

To find out more about offering a summer food program in your library, contact your local school system, or reach out to your statewide USDA School Meals liaison.

Rachael Stein is the Information Services Manager at Eastern Shore Regional Library in Salisbury, MD.

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22. Did You Know This is Advocacy? Early Literacy Programs

If you are anything like me, the first time someone asked you to be an advocate for the library you pictured attending some kind of librarian rally event, writing letters to congressmen, and making super scary presentations to library administration and other stakeholders. While all of these things are certainly advocacy, they were intimidating and sounded like they might take more time than I had. However, after becoming acquainted with Everyday Advocacy and doing a lot of thinking, I realized a lot of what I did every day was actually advocacy. Today, I’ll share an example of an early literacy program that I think of as developmentally appropriate advocacy.

baby face

In 2014, as a result of a random article from the internet and encouragement from many librarian friends, I gave Baby Storytime caregivers washable markers and oil pastels to use to decorate their babies’ faces (read more about the activity here). Every Child Ready to Read tells that practicing reading, singing, talking, writing, and playing with children every day helps them get ready to read. This activity encourages caregivers to talk to their babies and use vocabulary they might not typically use (how often do you talk about diabolical eyebrows with a baby?), caregivers are modeling writing, and are being extremely playful. This activity also encourages caregivers to photograph their babies and post these images on their Facebook pages or send them to family showing off what they did at the library today. This activity entered the regular rotation for an after storytime activity.

How is this advocacy? Caregivers learned, or had reinforced, the notion that the library is not a boring place just for reading and books. They learned that early literacy can be more than sharing books and that they have the tools already to help their child develop early literacy skills. They told all their friends that the library is a cool place because of this activity and others like it. Caregivers hated missing storytime because they were afraid to miss out on their favorite activities. Whenever we needed storytime participants to fill out surveys or comment cards they were more than happy to help. They would do anything to make sure storytimes continued and that storytime presenters were appreciated.

Do you have dedicated storytime families? Are your storytimes growing as a result? Do your storytime families help spread the word about the awesomeness of the library? If yes, congratulations, you are an advocate!

We would love to hear your stories! Matt McLain detailed in a previous Advocacy and Legislation blog, “Did You Know This Is Advocacy”, just how important these stories are personally, locally, and even nationally. Please take a moment to submit your advocacy story to the Everyday Advocacy website.

 

Kendra Jones is the Youth & Family Services Coordinator for the Timberland Regional Library in Washington State and a member of the ALSC Advocacy & Legislation committee. She is also a member of the Managing Children’s Services committee and Co-Chair of the Diversity within ALSC Task Force.

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23. Self-Censorship: A Reflection

Coffee resting on tableAs the children’s librarian at my branch I interact with hundreds of kids.  I’ve had parents tell me they appreciate the impact I have on their kids, both as people and as readers. I feel that in some way, it is my job to show them all the ideas and viewpoints out there, so they can be better citizens of the world.

A few weeks ago, a colleague and I were getting ready to head to a school visit.  We had been prepping for this for a while now. Each of us picked books that we thought would resonate with the tweens in our Boston neighborhood.  A few days before, my colleague approached me and told me she wasn’t going to be utilizing one of the graphic novels she originally picked because throughout the book, there were numerous images of the main character smoking.   She didn’t want the tweens receiving the message that smoking at their age was okay.

Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about censorship.  Not the censorship we hear about in the news, but the everyday censorship that may happen at our libraries.  For the longest time, there has been a pile of anime DVDs on my desk.  A majority of my system’s anime is classified as Teen, but for whatever reason, a few are not.  The DVDs on my desk have been placed there by kids, parents, and even myself, because some of the cover images are suggestive in nature.  More times than I can count, I have been told “these are not okay for the Children’s Room.”  But why?  I mean yes, I understand the suggestive nature of the images, but does that mean it needs to be removed from the shelf?  If I remove it from the shelf, then what happens when a parent comes to me and complains about Sex is a Funny Word?  Or even something like Harry Potter?  Doesn’t my removal of these DVDs from the shelf create a slippery slope?  Where do we draw the line?  Who determines what is okay and appropriate?

I’m still thinking about these questions. One thing I know is that I get to decide what stays on my shelf and what doesn’t, and so in the mean time, the DVDs stay.  Not because I think the images are appropriate, but because it’s not my job to tell someone else what is and isn’t appropriate.  All I can do, is provide them with the tools and ideas to help them be the best people than can be.

Alyson Feldman-Piltch is a children’s librarian for the Boston Public Library.  She likes dogs, ice cream, and baseball.  She can be contacted at afeldmanpiltch@bpl.org

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24. Develop Management Skills without Supervising

I always knew I wanted to manage, but the traditional road to management can be difficult for youth services librarians. Storytime management does not count in the minds of many administrators so how else is one to gain the experience and skills needed to get that management position? I feel fortunate to have had varied opportunities in the youth services field and supervisors and co-workers who were more than happy to help me in my journey to rule the world. Er, um, enter management. Now, as a Coordinator, where I only supervise one person, I realize there is so much more to management than being a boss. Here are some ways to develop non-supervisory skills (though, let’s be honest, they totally apply to supervising) which just may help you explore the world of management, which often excludes supervising actual people (but possibly robots). .

 

Collection Development

We all have collections and they all need to be managed. Scheduled weeding and selecting are important which utilizes organization and time management skills. An understanding of your community is extremely important in collection development and in leadership roles. If you are looking to gain some management skills, start in the stacks.

 

Idea Nurturing

Support co-workers when they have great ideas. If you are already a supervisor be sure to read more about your role in this here. For those who are not supervisors, you can demonstrate your leadership abilities by encouraging others to bring forth great ideas and supporting them in bringing those ideas to fruition. You are not solely responsible for idea creation as a manager. In fact, you will likely be a better manager if your skills lie less in idea generating and more in idea supporting.

 

Project Management

Next time your supervisor asks for volunteers to lead a project, speak up. Even if the project is not your first choice, or something you would normally enjoy. Effective managers are not afraid to do the less desirable tasks and projects. The library cannot run on robots, glitter and unicorns all the time. We have to have safety training and attend meetings and join committees about things we may consider as boring as dust. But these trainings and committees are important to keep the library running smoothly and if you show your willingness to contribute, and put forth your best effort, people will take note of your leadership qualities.

 

Committee Service

Whether you serve on an ALSC committee or a local committee, you can gain valuable project management experience through your service. If you work hard and demonstrate your leadership skills while serving on committees you may have an opportunity to be Chair of a committee. Then, you might want to read up on facilitating meetings and hone your organization and communication skills.

 

Mentoring

Mentorship is an excellent way to sharpen management skills without direct supervision. With your mentee you will develop goals and work towards those goals together over the course of a year. This same process occurs between supervisor and employee. Plus, the ALSC Mentor program always needs more mentors. Read more about the program here.

 

What did I miss? What are other non-traditional management roles?

 

Kendra Jones is the Youth & Family Services Coordinator for the Timberland Regional Library in Washington State and a member of the ALSC Advocacy & Legislation committee. She is also a member of the Managing Children’s Services committee and Co-Chair of the Diversity within ALSC Task Force.

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25. Register for Summer 2016 Online Courses

Register for a Summer 2016 ALSC Online Course!

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) encourages participants to sign up for Summer 2016 ALSC online courses. Registration is open for all courses. Classes begin Monday, July 11, 2016.

One of the three courses being offered this semester are eligible for continuing education units (CEUs). The American Library Association (ALA) has been certified to provide CEUs by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options.

NEW! Engaging Readers and Writers with Interactive Fiction
4 weeks, July 11 – August 5, 2016
Instructor: Christian Sheehy, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Xavier University

The Newbery Medal: Past, Present and Future
6 weeks, July 11 – August 13, 2016
Instructor: KT Horning, Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin- Madison

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
4 weeks, July 11 – August 5, 2016
CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs
Instructor: Angela Young, Head of Children’s Department, Reed Memorial Library

Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC website. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Figliulo or 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

Images are courtesy of ALSC.

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