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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. Opening the Eyes of Children to a World of Innovation – Where Anything Is Possible

How do we motivate today’s children to become tomorrow’s movers and shakers in the world of innovation? The answer might be simpler than it sounds. Children have a huge advantage over adults in the creativity department. Children are not predisposed to conclusions that something is impossible, or that there is only one way of doing it. To a child, superheroes are real, and so are their powers. And this is the time to open their minds to the world of new innovations through invention.

I have three young children of my own, and they are always coming up with new ideas. Some of those ideas might not be feasible – at least not today (“Dad, I want to invent a car that flies over this traffic”). But imagine if yesterday’s inventors had been told that “it can’t be done.”

When most of us were growing up, our parents would have laughed at the idea that someday nearly everyone would be carrying around a pocket-size device, not only for making phone calls, but capable of performing complex computer operations that even some desktop computers could not perform at the time. Never mind that this “futuristic device” would be giving us step-by-step directions to the nearest coffee shop, taking high-definition photographs, recording video on-the-go, and the list goes on. Today’s reality would have seemed like nothing more than a child’s fantasy.

Innovation is often born of a curious mind. And children have some of the most curious minds around.

So what can you do as a librarian or someone involved with your local children’s library to help spread the word? Let me introduce USPTO KIDS!

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently revamped their entire kid’s section to bring it into the 21st century. The new website features a section for kids, complete with coloring pages and even pamphlets that explain how to make and launch a model paper rocket, along with directions for making other inventions. The section for kids introduces elementary school age children to the world of inventions through characters such as Ms. Pat Pending and her robot cat Gears, and to the world of trademarks through characters such as Mark Trademan and his friend T.Markey.

The new website also features a section for teens, including biographies of teenagers who have recently received their very own patents. Teens can watch videos and play interactive games to “spot the invention.”

For librarians, the new website includes a variety of educational resources to help guide parents and teachers. Hands-on materials help link the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education curriculum to real-life innovations. These resources are categorized for elementary school, middle school, and high school age students.
Of course, if you are searching for more ideas, the USPTO KIDS site also includes links to other sites, including many free government resources that are geared toward introducing children to the exciting world of invention.

It is important to encourage children of all ages to explore new ideas. Today’s children are the inventors of tomorrow. Visit USPTO KIDS for ideas on how to bring the world of innovation to a library near you. And if you need another reason, remember that May is National Inventor’s Month!


Our guest blogger today Mark Trenner. Mark lives in Colorado with his wife and their three children, who regularly visit the local libraries to read about new things. He is an intellectual property (IP) law attorney, and works with leading edge inventors at his Denver-area patent law firm. For more information, view educational videos about patents and invention on his YouTube channel.

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 Opening the Eyes of Children to a World of Innovation – Where Anything Is Possible appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. But What If…?

It might seem a bit like cheating, but I want to tag on to this terrific post by Chelsea Couillard-Smith regarding intellectual freedom training for all library staff. She makes excellent points regarding the sensitivity with regard to children, and staff’s own response to certain materials with which they may not be comfortable.

It is important for all staff to understand the intellectual freedom basis upon which libraries operate, to have the opportunity to receive training and to be able to ask all of those, “But what if…”questions that they may have. It is important even if that person never has to deal with a member of the public on the issue because it is an integral part of library culture and values.

Many years ago, my library director at the time, decided that everyone in that library system would be required to receive such training. She charged the management group with developing a training session, and then teamed us up and scheduled us to do multiple presentations over the course of several weeks. All staff, including custodial, were required to attend one of the sessions. Each session included an introduction to the ALA Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read statement as core values with regard to all library users, including children and teens, and how those impacted library policies. It introduced some of those “What if…” scenarios, for staff to work through and provided an opportunity to respond to additional questions and concerns raised by those in attendance.

Am I going to claim that everyone was happy once they understood how our commitment to intellectual freedom impacted what people, especially young people, could access?   No. It was actually fascinating to see how many ways some people could try to re-frame one of those “What if…” situations to try for a different answer. However, no one could claim that they did not understand that this was a core value of service and I believe that this created a system-wide base for communication with staff and therefore the public.

Toni Bernardi
Member, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

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3. WOW Moments for Children – The Importance of Author Visits to Schools and Libraries

If you want to inspire children to write, to read, to create and to enjoy the amazing world of books, invite authors to your schools and libraries.

As a retired teacher and a children’s book author, I am lucky to share many WOW moments when I read to children. Here are a couple of “typical” thank you notes from a recent visit to a school in Oregon.

Dear Ellen,
You are so inspirational! I hope I become a story writer like you. Where do you get your ideas from? When I read your books, my mind explores because your books are so good. You are such a great story teller. Thank you.
XX (age 8)

Dear Ellen Fischer,
It was an amazing experience for us to have you teach us about the publishing process. You inspired me to write more, but more importantly to stick with my stories. I am amazed at how hard you have to work to get books published. We all took a lot of meaning out of your visit. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to make our day special.
Warm wishes,
XX(6th grader)

With over 20 years teaching experience, it’s natural for me to make school and library visits. I love doing readings/presentations with the students. Here are some personal tips I’ve learned along the way:

  • When a visit is scheduled, the school sends a flyer out to the parents. It informs them that an author will be visiting and offers the opportunity to purchase a book for their child, to be personalized and signed by me. For library visits, usually the librarian has purchased the book and I’ll sign it while I’m there.
  • My readings/presentations always involve student participation. I take hand puppets with me for each book. I do a book related activity either before or after the reading.
  • I want the schools/libraries to make the most of my visit, so I offer myself to all age groups. The books I write are geared toward younger children, but I can adapt my presentation to all ages:
    • Pre-K- Kindergarten: read my book & do a brief activity (15-20 min)
    • Grades 1-3, same as above but a Q&A added in. (20-30 min)
    • Grades 4-6, presentation about the publishing industry, the importance of editing followed by a lengthy Q&A. Often I explain to the older kids my goals for a particular book. Then I read the book, and have them listen to see if those goals were met.
    • As to group size, I prefer multiple readings to smaller groups, but have adjusted many readings for large groups, displaying my books on power point or even projected on an overhead projector.

Many schools/ libraries have budgets for author visits, which is wonderful. Some schools find “angels” to cover the author’s fees. For the schools/libraries with no budget for this, and there are many, there is a wonderful option. I have been participating in a program called SKYPE in the Classroom. Teachers can sign up for free and “invite” an author to their class/library. I have had the pleasure of visiting with students all across America. The visit can be anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on the request. I might read one of my books or talk about writing and just answer questions. It’s a great opportunity for schools/libraries when funds are limited.

And did I mention how thrilled children are with an “author signed” book? It’s a treasure to keep forever.

Have I convinced you on the importance of author visits? I hope so, but just in case, read this:

Dear Ellen,
You are an amazing author. I love your book, If An Armadillo Went to a Restaurant. I think writing kids books is a fabulous job. Writing is so awesome!
XX (age 9)



Our guest blogger today is Ellen Fischer. Ellen’s publications include:

  • Where are All the Fireflies?, Fun For Kidz, May/June 2012


    Courtesy photo from Guest Blogger

  • The Count’s Hanukkah Countdown, Kar-Ben/Shalom Sesame, July, 2012
  • Grover and Big Bird’s Passover Celebration, Kar-Ben/Shalom Sesame, 2012It’s a Mitzvah, Grover!, Kar-Ben/Shalom Sesame, 2012
  • I’m Sorry, Grover, Kar-Ben/Shalom Sesame, July, 2013
  • If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant, Scarletta Press, July 1, 2014
  • Latke, the Lucky Dog, Kar-Ben, August, 2014
  • If An Elephant Went to School, Mighty Media Press, July, 2015
  • Grover Goes to Israel, Kar-Ben/Shalom Sesame, spring 2016

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 WOW Moments for Children – The Importance of Author Visits to Schools and Libraries appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Don’t Forget those Old Favorites!

Doing storytime multiple times every week can be exhausting. I for one am always looking for ways to include repetition while also adding in new books, songs and props that will make storytime more interesting for me. Many librarians are incorporating technology into their storytimes as well, which is a fascinating development. However, with all of these exciting new tools, don’t forget about one of those old favorite props, PUPPETS!!

I had the best children’s librarian when I was a kid. I absolutely adored Miss Barbara. When I would return home from the library each week, I would pretend to be her, putting on storytimes for all of my stuffed animals. One of the things I loved the best about storytime was the fun puppets she included every week. She had different voices and personalities for each puppet, and she made them all come alive during that magical half-hour.

I had forgotten about the pure joy puppets can bring to children. A few months ago, my coworker and I decided to start building up our branch’s puppet collection. I now use them every week in my toddler storytime.

Slippery Fish Puppets
Photo taken by the author of this blog post. 

With the addition of puppets, the Slippery Fish song has become a Brisbane Library favorite. The kids walk up to me throughout the song, hoping to get their hands “bitten” by the shark or the whale. After storytime, I let everyone play with the puppets and enjoy watching the little ones try to figure out how the puppets work.

In the midst of all the wonderful books and interesting new technology emerging, I’m happy to have rediscovered one of my old favorite storytime tools!

Stephanie Conrad is the Senior Librarian at the Brisbane Library in California and is writing this post for the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee.

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5. Resources from Local, State and National Organizations to Make Your National Poetry Month Programs a Success

All across the country in classrooms and libraries National Poetry Month is celebrated during the month of April each year. We’re all familiar with highlighting poems in our storytimes and school aged programs and even hosting poetry slams in the library. But how many of us know about the countless organizations- local, state and national- who work to bring poetry alive for young people? These groups offer a wealth of information and resources to strengthen and invigorate our National Poetry Month offerings.

As librarians we are always looking ahead to our next innovative program, so as we wrap up National Poetry Month this year here are some organizations to consider partnering with in 2016 to bring poetry into your library.

Youth Speaks

Youth Speaks is a national spoken word and poetry organization headquartered in the Bay Area. Through arts education and youth development practices, civic engagement strategies, and high quality artistic presentation, the group seeks to create safe spaces that challenge young people to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices. Youth Speaks offer arts-in-education programs, year-long school residencies, Poetry Slam Clubs, writing workshops and other community events. For more information, visit http://youthspeaks.org/.

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. The project is a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and State arts agencies. To find out how to organize a competition in your school, or for additional resources to support poetry in the library, visit: www.poetryoutloud.org/state-contacts.

Teachers & Writers Collaborative

TWC provides writing and poetry programs led by professional writers in schools, libraries and community sites in the New York City area; however, they offer many resources for engaging children in poetry. Librarians can view their magazine website as well as the Digital Resource Center- a searchable archive of content from their five decades of print publications- on the website.

California Poets in the Schools (CPITS)

California Poets in the Schools is one of the largest literary artists-in-residence programs in the nation. CPITS serves 25,000 students annually in hundreds of public and private schools, libraries, juvenile halls, after-school programs, hospitals, and other community settings. CPITS encourages students throughout California to recognize and celebrate their creativity, intuition, and intellectual curiosity through the creative poetry writing process. CPITS offers professional development and trainings for teachers and librarians and coordinates their group of poets to visit classroom and libraries to teach poetry and writing to students. Their website is http://www.cpits.org/index.shtml.

Have you offered poetry programming at your library? Did you work with local organizations or groups such as your state’s poetry organization or a writers-in-residence program? Share your experiences and let’s continue the conversation in the comments below!


Diana Garcia is a Children’s Librarian at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library in California where she has the privilege of serving a fantastic community through storytimes, creative library programming and tutoring. Her afterschool literacy program for English Language Learners won the PLA Innovations in Literacy award in 2013. Diana is currently serving on the ALSC Liaison to National Organizations Committee, 2014 – 2016. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California and serves on their Awards Committee.

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6. Communication: the Spine of Supervision

If you are like most people in middle management, the word “supervisor” makes you break into a cold sweat. Your former lunch buddies are now your employees, and you are “the boss.” In fact, things might be feeling down right awkward as you transition into a supervisory role! But fear not – there are a few things that you can do to gain the respect of your colleagues and supervise with a smile (most of the time!) on your face:

1. Take a Personality Test

No really. See if you can find a Meyers-Briggs Personality Test training in your area, either in person or online. Knowing where you – and your staff – fall on the 16 personality type scale (are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you use your senses or intuition for decision making? Are you a thinker or a feeler?) -can help immensely when it comes to supervising and decision making.

2. Let Your Staff Evaluate You

This one sounds scary, but I find it to be very useful –it helps show staff that you are serious about not just changing their behaviors, for instance, but your own as well. Ask staff to list three things they consider a strength of yours, and one area that they think could use some more attention or focus. For example, maybe you think you are great at having meetings – until someone points out that the last time you held a department meeting was six months ago! Scheduling regular times to meet and talk with staff helps keep communication flowing, and it clears any mis-communication up before it turns into a game of “telephone” throughout the department

3. Go Through Job Descriptions and Duties

Often, people inherit job duties and routines based upon the holes or needs of a department, or from a previous supervisor. But it can make the department stronger in the long run if you ask your staff to write down the following for you:

  • What projects, programs, services are they currently working on or responsible for?
  • Are they responsible for any areas of collection development?
  • What are three things that they like about the department?
  • What are three things that they would change about the department?
  • Is there an area of their job that, if possible, they would like to change or not be responsible for? What would they like to work on or try that they aren’t currently doing?

Once you gather these statements from your staff , take the time to read and reflect on them. Are there changes that can be made? Perhaps someone has been in charge of pre-school story time for years, and is looking for a change. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the staff you have. As managers and supervisors, we can’t make everyone happy, but your staff can tell when you are truly listening and responding to their ideas and requests. Even if you can’t make a change directly or immediately, taking the time to meet one on one with staff members to discuss their ideas and visions for the department can help build a community of trust with a strong foundation of communication.

Finally, remember this: No matter how much communication and assessment you do as a supervisor, there will be days when being fair isn’t the same as being popular. But being fair will gain you the respect of your staff, which is a far greater benefit to have.


Lisa Gangemi Kropp is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, and the First Steps early learning columnist for School Library Journal

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7. Present with ALSC at an Upcoming Conference!

2016 ALSC National Institute

Apply to present at the 2016 ALSC National Institute (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC is now accepting proposals for innovative programs for the 2016 ALA Annual Conference and the 2016 ALSC National Institute. Be part of this exciting professional development opportunity by submitting your program today! Each event has its own site for submitting a proposal:

2016 Annual Conference
To submit a program proposal for the 2016 Annual Conference, please visit the ALSC website at http://www.ala.org/alsc/AC16cfp for the submission form and instructions. All proposals must be submitted by Sunday, June 7, 2015. The 2016 ALA Annual Conference is scheduled for June 23-28, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

2016 National Institute
To submit a program proposal for the 2016 National Institute, please visit the ALSC website at http://www.ala.org/alsc/institute for the submission form and instructions. All proposals must be submitted by Sunday, July 12, 2015. The 2016 ALSC National Institute is scheduled for September 15 -17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The ALSC Program Planning Committee is looking for a wide range of themes and topics such as advocacy, technology, multiculturalism, administration and management, early literacy, research, partnerships, best practices, programming, and outreach. ALSC committees, members, and other interested individuals are welcome to submit a proposal.

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, Patty Carleton, at PCarleton@slpl.org with questions.

The post Present with ALSC at an Upcoming Conference! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Spring into Summer Reading

With summer just a few weeks away, our focus is on our upcoming summer reading program for children.  How can we best ensure children are engaged and actively involved in our program?  This year we are trying a few new ideas to encourage participation for our younger readers.

A Little Recognition

This year we are returning to offering certificates for children who have reached a certain milestone of participation within our club.  Our Community Relations Department is creating these certificates for children to receive after they have read for twelve hours during the summer, in addition to receiving a free book for reaching this mark. Do you use certificates as a way to recognize participation in summer reading?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

Write it On the Wall

To tie in to our superhero theme this summer, our Community Relations Department is creating a super reader banner for each of our eight locations.  For those children who have reached the twelve hour mark for reading this summer, cut-out images of superheroes will be available.  Children will have the opportunity to write their names on one of these images and place it on the super reader banner.  We hope this will encourage children to find pride in their participation and that they will be encouraged to return to the library to find their name on the banner during repeat visits.  These super reader banners will be prominently displayed in our library locations and will help us promote our summer reading program to more participants as we market this program. Do you publicly acknowledge your youngest participants in any specific way?

Pick Your Prize

While we hope the opportunities for children to receive a certificate and recognition for their summer reading accomplishments will encourage future participation, we also have the goal that children will find more ownership over their reading by choosing their own incentive.  For their first and second prize this year, children will have the opportunity to select a prize from a range of options. We hope that giving children some ownership over their choice of incentive will appeal to our diverse and wide age range of summer reading participants, and that this opportunity will encourage their interest in participating in summer reading in the future.   How do you encourage your young participants’ involvement over their summer reading incentives or experiences?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

This year we are hoping that our ideas to encourage individual achievement, recognize their participation, and encourage ownership in choosing their incentives will inspire increased engagement and participation in our summer reading program for children.  Please share your ideas to engage your children and encourage participation in this year’s summer reading program in the comments below!

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9. Putting it all together

Other than a few favorite story times that I repeat yearly, I always like to try something new. Similarly, I’m always interested in learning something new.  In February, I put it all together – mixing things that interest me with several of the library’s most wonderful assests –  technology, diversity, creative space, and kids.

I offer you the ingreadients for “Read, Reflect, Relay: a 4-week club”


  • 1 part knowledge from ALSC’s online class, “Tech Savvy Booktalker”ALSC Online Education
  • 1 part inspiration from ALSC’s online class, “Series Programming for theElementary School Age”
  • 1 new friendship spawned by networking and a love of nonfiction books
  • a desire to participate in the #weneeddiversebooks campaign
  • computers
  • books
  • school-aged kids#WeNeedDiverseBooks
  • space and time to create

Each club participant read a Schneider Family Book Award winner of her choice.  If you’re unfamiliar with the Schneider Family Book Award, I’ve linked to its page. Winning books embody the “disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

I asked each of the participants to distill the message of her book into a sentence or two – something that would make a good commercial.  Then I gave them a choice of using Animoto, Stupeflix, or VoiceThread to create a book trailer or podcast.  All three platforms were kind enough to offer me an “educator account” for use at the library.  Other than strict guidelines on copyright law and a “no-spoilers” rule, each girl was free to interpret and relay the message of her book as she pleased.

Coincidentally, after I had planned the club, I was chatting online with Alyson BeecherWe were both Round 2 judges for the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction CYBILS Awards.  I had no idea that she is also the Chair of the Schneider Family Book Award Committee!  When I told her about my club, she immediately offered to Skype or Hangout with the club members.  We hastily worked out a schedule, and Alyson’s visit on the last day of the club was one of its highlights!

The girls ranged in age from 10 to teen.  I think you will be impressed with their creativity.

WordPress does not allow me to embed the actual videos and podcasts, but you can access them via the links below – or visit them on Alyson’s site where she was able to embed them.  Enjoy! :)

·        Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (2012 winner, Middle School)  https://animoto.com/play/kUdNM1sa4fWKfZOXId63AQ

·      After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick (2011 winner, Middle School)   https://voicethread.com/new/myvoice/#thread/6523783/33845486/35376059

·    Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (2010 winner, Teen)  https://animoto.com/play/qFPwi1vYP1ha2FF0vVUuFg

·      Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (2010 winner, Teen) (another one)    http://studio.stupeflix.com/v/9GKeiQfgsj9Q/?autoplay=1

·      A Dog Called Homeless by Sara Lean (2013 winner, Middle School)    http://studio.stupeflix.com/v/DQ4tJG8mnsYX/?autoplay=1

If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to see my video booktalk (or adapt) my video advertisement for the program, just leave a message in the comments.  I’ll be happy to respond.

 *All logos used with permission and linked back to their respective sites.

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10. April is Math Awareness Month

We are celebrating Math Awareness Month at our libraries this week (combining it with National Library Week), so I have math-related read alouds on my mind. Even if you don’t have a special program planned for Math Awareness Month, you can easily mark it with a counting-themed story time or display.


(image taken from Holiday House website)

Poor Iguana has stubbed her toe. As anyone who has stubbed his/her toe can understand, the pain in her toe distracts her from making her fabulous cactus butter desserts. Culebra (snake)’s idea to attach a number of kitchen utensils to her tail is an unorthodox but rather successful solution. Spanish words for the animals and numbers are included (as is a glossary in the backmatter for Count on Culebra).



(image taken from Scholastic website)

I use Feast for 10 not only in my counting story time, but also in my Thanksgiving-themed story time (which is centered on stories about families and food).  It’s a very simple story about a family that helps Mom gather the groceries, unload the car, and prepare the feast. Family members, food, and meal-related items (such as pots) are counted.


Mabela the Clever is one of my favorite Margaret Read MacDonald stories; this folktale from Sierra Leone not only incorporates subtraction (!), but imparts the importance of being aware of your surroundings (especially if you are a mouse in the vicinity of a cult-like cat society!).



(image taken from Barefoot Books website)

We All Went on Safari is a staple in my counting story time. As readers and listeners follow a group of Tanzanian women and children through grasslands, Swahili names and numbers are introduced in a very organic manner. A glossary of Swahili words, a map, and information about Tanzania are included.

What are your favorite counting (or any math-related) books? Let us know in the comments!

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11. Poetry Paige

Have fun this month by reading poems aloud, over and over!  Let’s yell out some words together to get ready for poetry month.  I’ll say the words first and then you repeat after me, ready? Me: POETRY! You: POETRY!  Me: 811! You: 811!

Let’s go up, up, up with “Oak Tree” by Georgia Heard from Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems Edited by Georgia Heard. Ready? Me: One!….

April is National Poetry Month! Whether you’re offering a poetry program at your library, visiting schools with interactive poems or creating a poetry display, April is the perfect month to share poems, read a poem at story time and introduce children’s poets including children’s poet laureate, Kenn Nesbitt to children of all ages.

This year, my interactive poetry school visits are focused on writing art inspired poems with 5th and 6th graders and writing a couplet, circle, animal and BIG poems with K-4th.   At the end of the month, the library will host a Poetry Fest at our local bookstore where students have an opportunity to share their art inspired poems.  I’m also looking forward to our Animal Poetry Party for families.  Puppets, poems and play!

Here are a few amazing poetry blogs (from three amazing children’s authors) with perfect “Poem-A-Day” projects that you can do in your library, classroom or share with children, parents, teachers and more!

photo by Laura Purdie Salas

photo by Laura Purdie Salas

Laura Purdie Salas: National Poetry Month and Poetry Tips for Teachers
A poem and new poetry tip each day!
Click on the “Educator’s” link for more great ideas. I love Laura’s “Things to Do if You Are a Bumblebee…” poem written with students on a school visit.  Write your own “Things to Do if…” poem.  Read, listen, write and connect with the poem!  (Read one of her new poems “Spaghetti”)

Irene Latham: Live Your Poem…ARTSPEAK

photo by Irene Latham

photo by Irene Latham

A Poem-A-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015 writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say.
My favorite art poem so far is from day #9.  Irene gave me permission to share her “Boat in Pond” poem.  Follow her blog, listen to her poems and write your own art inspired poem!

Amy Ludwig Vanderwater: The Poem Farm and National Poetry Month 2015-Sing That Poem!
Explore a game called “Sing That Poem” A new poem each day matched to a song. Guess which song and sing along!  Tuesday’s poem will be titled “Librarian’s Song.”
Also, from 2012, Dictionary Hike (I love this!)

Photo by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Photo by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Amy wrote a poem from each letter of the alphabet!

A few more favorite poetry blogs/websites:

Check out a few new children’s poetry books: 
Bigfoot is Missing! by J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt, Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Hypnotize a Tiger:  by Calef Brown, How to Draw a Dragon by Douglas Florian by Paul B. Janeczko and Jumping Off Library Shelves Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins (September 8, 2015)

Children’s Poetry Book Lists:

Past ALSC Poetry Blog posts

Enjoy Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s poem “Library Book.” 

I love hearing about poetry projects from other librarians.   Please share in the comments below.  Happy National Poetry Month!

Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.  

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12. Sensory Storytime Resources on the ALSC Pinterest Account

As ALSC blogger Renee Grassi reminded us earlier this month, April is National Autism Awareness Month. For libraries, months that observe, celebrate, or raise awareness for a group of people or an issue should serve as annual checks for our services: “It’s National Autism Awareness Month; I should make sure that our library services to children with special needs and their families are excellent all year long.”

screen grab provided by the author

screen grab provided by the author

If you find yourself currently evaluating your programs for children with special needs of any type–in particular for young children and their families–I’m pleased to share that members of the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers (LSSPCC) Committee have been amassing and curating resources on a Sensory Storytime board on ALSC’s Pinterest account. They’re creating an excellent resource for libraries just setting out to offer sensory storytimes as well as for those of you in a place to evaluate and tweak what you’ve already been offering.

Thus far, the board offers a few dozen pins that link to program plans and write-ups; research related to special needs library services; and book recommendations for use in Sensory Storytime. Check out this resource for yourself to learn about some of the awesomely intentional ways you and your library can offer programs inclusive to every young library customer.

If you have favorite sensory storytime resources, link to them in the comments so our curators can add them to the board!


Amy Koester is the Youth & Family Program Coordinator with the Skokie Public Library and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee.

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13. Distinguished and Diverse at #alaac15

2015 ALA Annual Conference

2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco (image courtesy of ALA)

ALSC and the ALSC Awards Preconference Pilot Program Task Force announced the theme and speakers for the 2015 ALSC preconference program. This program takes place 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Friday, June 26, 2015, at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

The program, entitled “Distinguished and Diverse: Celebrate the 2015 ALSC Honor Books,” will spotlight 2015 Honor Book recipients for the Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder, Pura Belpré, Sibert and Geisel awards. The keynote speaker for the program is K.T. Horning, and there will be a panel facilitated by Judy Freeman.

The event will feature authors, illustrators and editors such as Cece Bell, Jacqueline Woodson, Lauren Castillo, Mary GrandPré, Candace Fleming, Yuyi Morales, Jillian Tamaki, Katherine Roy, John Parra, Patricia Hruby Powell, Mark Siegel, Christian Robinson, Jon Klassen and Melissa Sweet. More speakers will be announced soon.

This is the first year that such a preconference will be held. The charge of the Awards Preconference Pilot Program Task Force is “to develop content and the program for a half-day preconference that will feature 2015 ALSC-only award honorees.” Based on the success of this year’s preconference, ALSC may or may not choose to hold similar events in connection with upcoming Annual Conferences. ALSC members receive a special discount (use code: ALSC2015) on registration.

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14. How are libraries celebrating Día?

What are libraries planning for Diversity in Action (Día) around the United States this year? ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee decided to find out.

Día Musical Bilingual Storytime (photo courtesy of Sujei Lugo).

Día Musical Bilingual Storytime (photo courtesy of Sujei Lugo).

Sujei Lugo at the Boston Public Library will have a Musical Bilingual Story Time (Spanish/English), two art workshop sessions with children’s books illustrator (Caldecott and Pura Belpré winner) David Díaz, and an afternoon of Afro Latin music with a youth percussion group. Impressive for someone who started working there three months ago!

The King County Library System celebrates Día throughout its 48 branches with performances and programs, world language story times, and book displays. This year, the celebration culminates in two grand events at local libraries the weekends before and after April 30. “In addition to the musical performances and book giveaways, we’re hoping to connect with community partners to help us celebrate. Yes, this is a library sponsored event, but really, our goal is to build community by connecting children and families through books, stories and our common experiences,” states José Garcia, Library Services Manager who works closely with Jo Anderson-Cavinta, Diversity Services Coordinator.

The Boone County Public Library in Northern Kentucky is taking their Día celebration on the road. On Saturday, April 25, the library’s Community Center on Wheels is rolling out their Día on the Lawn Program to Green Lawn Mobile Home Park, which is home to many Hispanic families in Boone County, Kentucky. The Boone County Community Center on Wheels is a custom-built, two-room bus equipped with a classroom to support on-board instruction, computers for access to educational software and the Internet, and resource materials for children and adults.

Coloring at a Día program

Coloring at a Día program (photo courtesy of the ALSC Office).

During the Día on the Lawn Program, participants will be able to check out library books and enjoy a visit from Tales, the BCPL mascot. There will be an emphasis on STEAM activities this year with different stations featuring science and art activities. Face-painting, a piñata, outdoor games, and music will also be available. A free book will be given to each family while supplies last.

This is the second year the Día on the Lawn Program is being held at the Green Lawn Mobile Home Park. Candace Clark, Youth Services Associate/Outreach with the Boone County Public Library, spoke about the success of last year’s program: “We were so pleased with how warmly we were received last year. It’s a family reunion kind of feeling. There were about 80 people in attendance last year, and we are expecting anywhere from 100-150 people this year. The goal for the Día on the Lawn program is to take the Día program into a variety of neighborhoods, allowing residents to have a library experience.”

Whitney Jones, Library Media Specialist at Old Settlers Elementary School in Flower Mound, Texas, is celebrating her first year doing Día; they are “closing the school for the day.” Teachers will oversee every child at 3 stations where the K-5th graders will participate in an obstacle course, bounce in a giant house, and learn to dance the cha-cha. K-1st will have a musical storytime, 2nd-3rd will have a drawing interactive storytime, and 4th-5th will have a Jefferson Knapp author visit. In addition, the 3rd graders have invited their sister school’s 3rd graders to have lunch and share their favorite picture book. The PTA generously donated hardcover blank books so that every student can write their own stories. They can also dress as a favorite book character. The students will also pair up for buddy reading for 30 minutes during the day. Parents have also been invited to lunch and have been invited to dress up in costume, read as mystery readers, and share a dish from their culture which includes Korean, Indian, Middle Eastern, and a small Mexican community.

A family reads together at a Día program

A family reads together at a Día program (photo courtesy of the ALSC Office).

Anne Miller from Eugene Public Library and Kristen Curé from Springfield Public Library start planning for Día in October with various community partners for their joint celebration on a Saturday and Sunday for 3 hours. Each celebration attracts 500 people, and Springfield Public Library is a past recipient of the Mora Award for its celebration. This year, they will host author Carmen Bernier-Grand, a local mariachi band, and a local artist, and the children will paint clay pots. Activities tables include face painting, science projects, and crafts. Each child receives a book. This year the organizers will dress up as a book character or person in history, and they expect Chavo and Frida Kahlo to be represented. Each of the cities’ mayors open the event and make a city proclamation. Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros is a state proclamation in Oregon. They build up to the day by sending projects to schools and daycares—this year they sent milagros kits—and by infusing different languages and cultures in the April storytimes.

Also on April 30, Meg Medina, Ellen Oh, Kwame Alexander, Tim Tingle, and Gigi Amateau are all on the same panel at the Library of Congress’ Young Readers Center, where Karen Jaffe is the Executive Director. Librarian Deb Taylor will moderate. This panel is for middle grade and older youths and will focus on strengthening the family. Medina states, “People on the panel decided to interpret Día and talk through each distinct lens. Make more mainstream all the multicultural literature and cycle back on the universal.”

As you can see, the ways to celebrate Día are as varied as the communities we serve. Check Pat Mora’s webpage and the official Día page for resources.

This post was written by the following members of ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee: Debbie Bond, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County; Robin Howe, King County Library System; and Ana-Elba Pavon, Oakland Public Library.

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15. Evolving the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video

A core value of children’s librarianship has always included finding, evaluating, selecting, and collecting the best products for young people, and making them accessible to those we serve. The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video was established in the late 1980s (and first awarded in 1991) “to honor outstanding video productions for children.” The Medal reflected librarians’ desire to help shape the marketplace, by encouraging production of high quality videos for children.

At the time, video was the “new media” format of the time, and was rapidly expanding into libraries and children’s homes. Yet public opinion about videos for children varied. While some acknowledged potential for video to be a “constructive educational resource” (Project, 1989, p. 3), others felt that video presented “dangerous commercial interests,” along the lines of broadcast television.

Fast-forward 26 years, and video is now perceived as an “old” media format, slowly going the way of the typewriter, the land-line telephone, and the floppy disk. New media formats, which may or may not have useful educational value, are eliciting the same types of worries that video once did, and more. And librarians still want to have a voice in encouraging and shaping quality new media products.

To address these changes, in summer 2014, ALSC President Ellen Riordan formed the Evolving Carnegie Task Force to investigate how the existing Carnegie Medal might be “evolved” to encompass some of today’s new media formats.

The Task Force started by interviewing a panel of new media experts, including Faith Rogow, Senior Fellow at the Fred Rogers Center; Betsy Bozdech, Executive Director of Common Sense Media; Tanya Baronti Smith, Program Coordinator at the Fred Rogers Center; Jason Yip, Research Fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center; ALSC Board Members Gretchen Caserotti, Ernie Cox, and Julie Roach; Kay Weisman, 1989 Carnegie Medal Chair (also on the ALSC Board); Martha Simpson, 2011 Carnegie Medal Chair; and ALSC’s Children & Technology Committee members Liz Fraser, Clara Hendricks, Tara Smith and Swalena Griffin.

The data from the experts provided a snapshot of the field, and helped us shape questions for the ALSC Membership survey. Yet after collecting responses, we ended up with even more questions. For example, it is relatively easy to compare books or videos, because the content is packaged in similar containers. In contrast, new media formats are not consistent. How do you find them, and how are they accessed? How can they be defined, compared, or evaluated? How should an award committee determine if a product is a “book app,” an “interactive e-book,” or an “enhanced book”? How would committee members be able to determine criteria for a “Best-of-List”? Is a new media product closer to a book or to a game, and how does that impact eligibility for inclusion?

And then there are the problems involved in evaluating new media products. Does the book app look and function the same on an iPad as it does on a different tablet? Does your library have tablets? Does your library provide access to its patrons? Does your library have a well-defined way to purchase content for tablets? Where do we begin . . . and where do we stop?

Despite the challenges in finding, defining, evaluating, and comparing new media, after the ALSC Membership survey results were in, we found general consensus among ALSC Membership that ALSC should have a leadership role in finding, evaluating, selecting and guiding the use of new media, just as librarians have always done with other media products for children, from books, to video, and beyond.

After presenting our report to the ALSC Board at Midwinter, it was agreed that this task force should have its charge extended to Annual. Stay tuned!

Evolving Carnegie Task Force Members include:

  • Mary Fellows (co-chair)
  • Marianne Martens (co-chair)
  • Gretchen Caserotti (ALSC Board Member, and liaison to the board)
  • Cen Campbell (former co-chair, now member)
  • Jessica Hoptay-Brown
  • Kim Patton
  • Laurie Reese
  • Soraya Silverman


Marianne Martens is Assistant Professor at Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science, co-chair of the Evolving Carnegie Task Force, and a member of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee. You can read more about her work at mariannemartens.org, and she can be reached at mmarten3@kent.edu.

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16. Summer Reading


Creative Common search.


It is time for school librarians to dust off their summer reading lists and refresh them.  I know that the public librarians are wondering how we can possibly just start thinking about summer reading now, but in the school things are a bit different.  We tend to release the students to you all to fulfill their summer reading duties!

Since the majority of librarians at my school came from the public systems, we are hyper sensitive to the look and feel of our summer lists.  We remember keenly the super long, out-of-print, completely off grade level lists that we had handed to us.  So we make sure not to contribute to that problem.

My own lists are updated every year with award winners, books that will give students a running start in terms of curriculum, books that provide both mirror and window opportunities as well as some personal favorites.  I don’t reinvent the wheel every year, but instead add about 30-40% new titles each year.

In the past I reformatted the lists to read “Lower Elementary” (grades 1 and 2) and “Upper Elementary” (grades 3 and 4). While I enjoyed the fluidity, the parents were much more comfortable with set grades.  So there is quite a bit of overlap in titles between the grades. And that is ok.

This year, I am thinking of embedding some book trailers into the lists as well to freshen them up even more.

What do you do to your reading lists to keep them fresh?

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17. Charge Up Your Service Delivery

Gathering a teacher collection on a specific topic is a task to relish. It exercises reference and readers’ advisory skills and provides a respectable cover for book mania. Many of us keep track of the titles we collect, but finding time to do so can be problematic. Luckily, the solution is just a click away.

Simply arrange a teacher collection in a pleasing pyramid, step back, and take a picture. Upload the photograph; label it according to theme and grade level; and save it to a flash drive or to a cloud storage service.

Courtesy photo from guest blogger

Courtesy photo from guest blogger

When you get a similar request, open that file, enlarge the photo so the titles and authors can be easily read, and use the visual information to build a collection. Pictures of newly discovered or newly published titles can be uploaded to the same theme folder.

The above photograph was taken with a smartphone. Many places of employment have stringent guidelines about the use of smartphones and tablets at work, for obvious reasons; however, an open dialogue about the ways these devices can be used as tools to provide library services might reveal that we are already using technology beyond those strictures.

Do you use smartphones or tablets and projection systems to deliver storytime content? Do you use these devices to provide point-of-need service? Do you use smartphones to contact Information Technology directly from public computers? How many of you provide library service without a reference desk or nearby desktop computer?

How are you using smartphones and tablets to deliver excellent library service to children?


Our guest blogger today is Jan Connell. Jan is a Children’s Librarian at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, in Toledo, Ohio.

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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18. Are you willing to answer ten questions?

Have you noticed the monthly ALSC Member of the Month Profile on the Blog? Have you enjoyed reading these profiles?

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.

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.

We’re looking for ALSC Members willing to be profiled in the coming months. C’mon, it’s fun! Wouldn’t you like to be highlighted? We’ll be waiting to hear from you!

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19. Purposeful Play Programming

Ever envy those fabulous, expensive play spaces some libraries have? You can create a temporary, educational play environment within your existing library space that promotes adult interaction, is highly inclusive, and creates opportunities for outreach to the underserved.

Introducing, SMART STARTS!

Smart Starts (2) Smart Starts (5)

Three years ago, we founded Smart Starts, a hands-on, interactive environment where adults help children develop early reading, writing, math and science skills through fun play activities. This drop-in program is offered several times over the course of a few days during weeks we are not holding storytimes. Patrons can come anytime during the posted hours and stay as long as they wish.

The goal of Smart Starts is to provide a richer, more meaningful library experience where adults can play side-by-side with their children, enhancing learning experiences. Dad John Witte observed, “The chance to interact with other kids in a learning environment is valuable both for the kids and the parents.”

Each Smart Starts program has a theme, developed around an educational focus. Six to eight stations are created for each theme. PowerPoint slideshows display scrolling instructional slides featuring the various stations.

Smart Starts has allowed us to embrace the community’s educational initiatives as well as reach out to the underserved. We encourage community groups to schedule special sessions just for their members.


Wanted: Head Coach. Find a staff member who will lead others in choosing activities and gathering supplies. You could then recruit one person to find science experiments, another to work on crafts and a third to handle parent tips and extension activities, etc. Once planned, various individuals can run the program while it is open. Their role is to help visitors get started and model conversation and play behavior.


Brainstorm themes. These can be derived from educational initiatives in your community or staff interest and expertise. Many of our themes have been STEAM-related. For instance, we have created programs featuring air, measurement, plant growth, patterning and weather. After you have selected themes, search preschool curriculum books and websites for ideas for the activity stations. These might include . . .

Science Experiments

Smart Starts (9)Kids love to experiment with hands-on science. We have explored how polar bears stay warm in the arctic, compared the speed of objects traveling down ramps and practiced using all five senses. Imagine a child’s face when they smell cotton balls soaked in vanilla, mint, lemon or garlic!


Offer crafts that can be used to explore the subject further. A kaleidoscope promotes discussions of light. A feeder allows children to observe backyard birds. A texture collage may prompt additional investigation of the five senses at grandma’s house. These crafts should be accessible to a wide range of developmental levels. The emphasis is process, not product. I always say, “If it looks too much like the sample, something is wrong!”

Mini Library

Gather a collection of your library’s books, puzzles, and other resources related to your theme ready for check-out. We set out a couple of beanbag chairs for those who want to curl up with a book. We also provide a sheet explaining the educational research and suggesting extension activities. These materials promote further learning and exploration of the topic at home.


“Go Fish!” Games are a fun way to encourage learning and repeatedly practice skills. Create and laminate your own matching games and sequencing cards. Ask for donations of educational games and puzzles or scout for them at garage sales and re-sale stores. Kids also love to play with real objects made into a game. Sort small, medium and large kitchen items. Match socks or mittens. Make sets of 2, 5 and 10 blocks.

Other Activities

Here’s where you can get creative and courageous! Here are some ideas we have tried – with success!

  • Build walls with stones and play-dough
  • “Mess-free” fingerpaint using instant pudding in a sealed plastic bag
  • Bubblewrap hopscotch
  • Climb in various moving boxes
  • Guess the object based on its shadow
  • “Paint” a chalkboard with water
  • String cereal, beads, dry pasta and straw pieces on chenille wires and bending them into letter shapes
  • Create iSpy games with stickers, beads and sequins
  • Pretend to be a gardener with a shovel, rake, watering can, spray nozzle, silk flowers, etc.
  • Make up narrative stories with puppets or dollhouse figures

Tips for Success

Patrons are delighted that such an enriching program is not only available at the library, but free. Many intentionally add Smart Starts to their weekly schedule and arrange to meet friends. Mom Melissa Drechsel remarked, “I am homeschooling my kindergarten-aged daughters this year and Smart Starts has been the perfect complement to reinforce some of the things we are learning about at home. We have enjoyed the many activities at Smart Starts and I have recommended the program to many other mothers with little ones at home.”

Smart Starts (8) Smart Starts (7) Smart Starts (4) Smart Starts (3)

This program has also allowed us to interact with our patrons and attract previous non-users in a whole new way. Adults feel more comfortable to ask questions, and children enjoy playing with the library staff in this informal setting. The variety of activities and levels of engagement allows all children to participate, including those with special needs and beginning English language learners. We even host special sessions of Smart Starts for at-risk preschool classes, the local Newcomers chapter and young moms groups from area churches.

Once set-up, we offer the space at various times over the course of a few days. Themes may be repeated every year. This type of program is also be easily modified to a smaller scale or for outreach at local community events.

Author Diane Ackerman wrote, “Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” Through activity programs such as Smart Starts, we can provide a fun, educational environment at our libraries to help equip our local children for a life of learning.

(All photos courtesy Glen Ellyn Public Library)


Photo by Stephanie Blackwell/GEPL

Photo by Stephanie Blackwell/GEPL

Our guest blogger today is Bari Ericson, Youth Programming Associate at the Glen Ellyn Public LibraryBari enjoys combining her experience as an art student, corporate paralegal, law firm librarian, preschool teacher and mom to serve local families at GEPL.

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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20. Targeting Autism: Serving Library Patrons on the Spectrum


Did you know that April is National Autism Awareness Month? According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 68 children have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) nationwide.  This dramatic increase is no doubt affecting how libraries provide programs and services that are inclusive and welcoming to those with ASD.  Because of that, the state of Illinois has kickstarted the conversation with Targeting Autism: A National Forum on Serving Library Patrons on the Spectrum.

In 2014, the Illinois State Library was awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Forum Grant to help libraries better serve patrons and family members impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This project explores how libraries can work with diverse community organizations and programs to address the topic of ASD, through training, education and support services. The primary goals of the Targeting Autism Forum include:

    • Build a shared appreciation of the challenges and opportunities associated with acquiring information on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
    • Identify leadership roles for community libraries in improving community supports and services for individuals with ASD
    • Begin fostering stakeholder alignment around a community library ASD initiative
    • Begin developing a shared vision of success for a state library initiative on ASD
    • Identify next steps

The majority of the participation and conversation will take place at two Autism Stakeholder Forums, which were scheduled for March and September of 2015.  This past March, nearly 80 individuals came together representing various stakeholder groups including libraries, schools, institutions of higher education, health services professionals, government agencies, ASD service organizations, and parent advocates.  The idea behind the Forums is to inform the creation of an implementation plan.  With this plan, the state of Illinois hopes to achieve the following:

  1. Increase ASD awareness, education, and support services
  2. Improve adn streamline online access to the wealth of information intended to provide support for families and indiviuals with ASD
  3. Ensure sustainable, inter-organizational partnerships committed to enhancing ASD support, state-wide

The March Forum offered a wealth of information and inspiration provided by variety of experts and advocates.  Among the presenters included self-advocate Adria Nassim from Adria’s Village, who discussed her experience as a reader, a library user, and a person with autism.  Participants also heard from former librarian Barbara Klipper about her book Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as Nancy Farmer, who highlighted content from her book Library Services for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Dan Weiss discussed his experience partnering with libraries across the state of New Jersey in collaboration on a project called Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected.  In addition, forum participants heard from a panel entitled “Training Librarians: What’s Being Done (or Not).”  This included a panel of professors from Syracuse University School of Information, Florida State University College of Communication and Information, Dominican University Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and UIUC Graduate School of Library and Information Science.  All of the presentations from the March Forum are available on Youtube, so you don’t have to be an Illinois librarian to learn from what the Forum has to offer.

What can you do to help contribute to this effort?  Targeting Autism has launched a nationwide effort to collect personal stories that describe an individual’s connection to autism and a statement as to why this initiative is important.  Positive, negative, constructive–all experiences are welcome to help inform this process. Simply click here and submit your personal story to Suzanne Schriar, Targeting Autism Project Director.  We would love to have your input!

In the meantime, follow the Targeting Autism blog, join the conversation, and think about what you and your library can do today and every day to be a more welcoming place to people with autism.


Renee Grassi is the Youth Department Director at the Glen Ellyn Public Library in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  She is also a “Targeting Autism” Board member.  In 2012, she was recognized by Library Journal as a Mover & Shaker for her work serving children with autism and other special needs.  She is also one of the co-founding members of SNAILS, a state-wide networking group in Illinois for librarians and library staff who discuss and learn about expanding library services to those with special needs.  As a proud ALSC member and a former ALSC Blogger, she has written on the blog about a variety of topics related to inclusive library services. 

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21. Shaking Up Summer Storytimes

My library is storytime central. We’re the largest branch in our system and we’re the headquarters branch, which means lots of traffic. We also end up being “the toddler branch” which means huge numbers for storytime. My staff always joke we could do storytime every hour of every day and have a huge crowd at each session. We even hosted a day one summer where we ended up with storytime at 10, 11, 1 and 4 by accident of overlapping programming days and they were all full!

This summer I’ve decided to shake up our storytimes just a bit. I’m trying something new and we’ll see how it goes. We discovered last year that the best use of our storytime and staff resources would be to repeat toddler storytimes on our busiest days. Our numbers for storytime climb even higher in the summer, we have an influx of people on vacation, teachers, and families who only can come to storytime in the summer. In order to accommodate everyone without having to require registration, we opted to add additional toddler storytimes and it worked out great.

Our preschool storytimes, while well attended, just don’t seem to have as much of an increase. We have a lot of preschoolers, but they also get busy with lessons, classes, and more. I thought about what our preschool families want in addition to storytime-more programming for the preschool crowd-and added that into the mix.

Our summer schedule will be:

Monday-Baby Storytime for infant-18 months

Tuesday & Wednesday-2 back to back storytimes 0-36 months, 1 storytime for 3-6

Every Other Saturday-all ages storytime


Fandom Jr! Fandom Jr. came out of a brainstorm with a staff member who wanted to do a Doc McStuffins program. We do a Fandoms program for the teens and we often to programs for the tweens based on Fandoms, so why not create a weekly drop in program with some storytime elements and make that another preschool option for summer? The idea will be to bring kids in with the subject (pirates & princesses, Elephant and Piggie, Paw Patrol) and then use that as a starting point to show them what the library has to offer. We chose our themes with the idea of creating a broader program in mind and we’re hoping we can get the kids and parents to not just walk away with some character themed books and activities, but with some connections too.

We’ll see how it goes. I think it will be lots of fun and it’s something new to add to our programming. And with it lasting two hours and being a drop in program, we can accommodate large attendance and have more in depth activities that we aren’t always able to do in the shorter time frame of storytime.

Fingers crossed our idea works and we have a blast this summer with our Fandoms Jr!


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22. Quick and Easy Storytime Adaptations

In storytime, we often serve groups of participants with widely varying physical abilities.  This may or may not be obvious; a wheelchair is visible, but many other variables, such as Juvenile Arthritis, aren’t.  Offering options and adaptations for physical movement accompanying songs and games is key to ensuring accessibility for all participants.

One of my favorite preschool storytime songs is Tick-Tock; many participants stand up, hold their arms out at their sides, and rock back and forth as we sing.  I introduce the song this way: “Some people like to stand during this song.  Others like to sit on the floor or in a chair!  You choose where you’d like your clock to be today.  Grown-ups, you might like to hold your child and rock him or her back and forth as we sing.”  By providing options, we’ve made it possible for everyone to participate in the activity.  We’ve also made it possible for babies, who may be attending with older siblings, to participate in the song, by having caregivers rock them.  I vary my demonstration of this song.  Sometimes I stand, and other times, I sit on the floor or on a chair, showing a variety of methods of moving to this song.  By doing this, I’m demonstrating that there isn’t just one correct method.

What are some of your favorite adaptations for storytime activities?

Amanda Moss Struckmeyer is a Youth Services Librarian at the Middleton Public Library in Middleton, Wisconsin.  She is a member of the ALSC Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee.

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23. Take the Membership Needs Survey, Win a Prize!

2015 ALSC Membership Needs Assessment Survey

Image courtesy of ALSC

The ALSC Membership Committee announced the launch of the 2015 ALSC Membership Needs Assessment Survey. This survey is performed biennially and will assess:

  1. who ALSC members are
  2. how the division can best serve its members

To encourage participation, the committee is offering participants the opportunity to be entered in a giveaway. Prizes include tickets to the 2015 Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet, an ALSC online course, a $50 ALA Store gift certificate, and award books. Winners will be notified by Friday, May 15, 2015.

Participants must be personal members of ALSC. The survey is 25 questions and should take around ten minutes to complete. The deadline to submit the survey is 11:59pm Central on Friday, May 1, 2015. Learn more at the Needs Survey tab above.

Take the 2015 ALSC Membership Needs Assessment Survey!

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24. History in the Making

Literature lovers are gathering in Washington DC , at the DC Public Library to hear Brian Selznick’s May Hill Arbuthnot lecture. It is the 45th lecture and he joins an august bunch of authors, illustrators, children’s literature experts and scholars that have shared the podium to provide “a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature. “ Looking through the past honorees, one has a sense of the vast and changing world of children’s literature.

Established at a point of high consciousness of changing times (1969), this lecture has remained rooted in the cannon of our work. In its implementation, the Arbuthnot honors both creator and space. Part of the process, as we know, is the application of host institutions that vie for a chance to showcase a renowned figure in children’s literature in their own world of work: city, town, university and in one notable case, a farm. 1

For all its academic trappings, a look at this lecture series brings to mind the most important connection of all: child and book. This synergy of reader and creator is celebrated in an integrated way, creating for all who attend a world of shared experience and history in the making, fueled by a mutual passion for and the ability of children to connect to books in meaningful and life changing ways.

If you can, come. It is a chance to be part of history, our history. No matter the speaker, the subject or the venue, it is always an event full of delightful surprises and discovery and joy. We are reminded again that really talented, committed, smart people write for and care about children. This is a wondrous thing worthy of the pomp and care it requires, the hard work of all involved: the committee, the staff at the venue, the speaker, and the publishers. Come, you deserve it.


1 The 2009 lecture by Walter Dean Myers was held in Clinton, TN hosted by the Children’s Defense Fund and the Alex Haley Library at Haley Farm.

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25. Neighbors Read

Mini-library in Rochester, MN.

Mini-library in Rochester, MN.

In 2013, Rochester Public Library, MN launched the Neighbors Read program in the Slatterly Park neighborhood with support from the United Way of Olmsted County. Through the Neighbors Read program the library connects with families of preschool children, bringing them to the library for early literacy activities and then planting a mini-library in their yards. With continued support from the United Way of Olmsted County, Neighbors Read is now in its third year and will continue into 2016. Each year, we make adjustments and improvements to the Neighbors Read program to better meet our goals and connect with the community.

The goals of Neighbors Read are to increase school readiness through early literacy information and programming and to increase access to books in economically diverse neighborhoods. Results have shown that preschoolers in the program have increased early literacy skills and families have increased engagement with the library. Families also reported an increased connection with their neighbors.

Rochesterites using the mini-libraries also have many positive things to say:

“We’re very glad to have a few of these mini-libraries in our neighborhood!”Postcard survey

“Whenever we visit our friends, my kids drop off and pick up a book. This is great!”

“This is awesome. I love having access to more books and it’s often such a brilliant variety. Thank you!”

In addition:

  • 76% of repeat mini-library users who responded to the postcard survey indicated that they read more in the previous month due to access to a mini-library.
  • 75% of mini-library users visit a mini-library once a week or more often.

Many other Rochester community members have purchased or built and installed their own mini-libraries. Through the generosity of the Friends of Rochester Public Library, RPL is able to provide a stock of free books to fill the boxes. Forty-two mini-library users are currently registered with the library and we have distributed over 6,600 books through their libraries. Registrants were surveyed in 2014 and the responses provide more evidence that the libraries not only provide books to community members, but build stronger neighborhoods.

“I’ve found many people love stopping to talk about the books when they see us outside. I’ve been told families will use visiting 3 to 5 libraries as a goal for their evening walks, thus encouraging them to get more exercise with the kids.”

“This is a conversation piece that helps us get to know the neighbors better.”

“Our neighborhood is economically diverse and the library provides books for kids who do not have books in their homes.”

Mini-library in Slatterly Park, Rochester, MN.

Mini-library in Slatterly Park,   Rochester, MN.

100% of the mini-library hosts who responded to the survey would choose to do it again based on their experience.

Neighbors Read is a powerful and time consuming program; some of the best programs can take the most work!  Every minute is worth it for the positive changes that it is bringing to our community.

Because of the success of Neighbors Read, a local leadership group has focused their efforts on a project to bring 40 more mini-libraries to Rochester. We are pleased to partner with them on this wonderful program. It is going to be a busy year once the ground thaws!


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