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Ok let's get totally awesome here!
Today, I’m participating in the blog series, “Show Me the Awesome!” that was started by Kelly
, and Sophie
. It's a chance to step up and talk about something special that you've done or want to promote, for instance. For more AWESOME, please check over at their sites for the official link-up. Also, don’t forget the tag #30awesome on Twitter, Tumblr, Vine and/or Instagram if you’re liking what you’re reading and want to talk about it!
One of the things I'm proudest of in my career is my success building partnerships and working with public schools in my communities. I didn't think too much about it until I started to tune into the fact that colleagues seemed to have far fewer happy collaboration stories than I did.
Not only far fewer happy stories but also far more horror stories. Did I just always luck out and get jobs in great communities with uber-responsive schools? Hmmm. I don't think so.
My secret has been confidence, dogged persistence and patience. Each time I move into a community, I make appointments to meet individually with all the principals for a chat. I also meet with school media colleagues. If I have a question about the reading curriculum, I meet with the reading teachers. If I am wondering about a policy or subject being taught with third graders I reach out to those teachers. I drive wherever in the school district I need to go to be there rather than asking the staff to come find me.
What is the subject of most of these meetings? I introduce myself. I ask, "What can I do for you?" and we chat about the library and their dreams, concerns, pressures and how we might work together. I don't bring ideas as much as let my colleagues know I am there to support them and make magic happen when they are ready.
Everybody is my potential partner and colleague - not just LMC colleagues - but everybody.
I work with and will put together or join in meetings with reading coordinators, LMC folks, curriculum folks, principals, grade level teachers to talk about mutual concerns and mull ideas. If I can't get my foot in the door, I enlist my director or a board member with strong school ties to help me open the door.
One director set up a meeting with the principals, curriculum director, LMC folks, superintendent that resulted in decades of positive collaborative work (mutual programs, schools presenting programs at the library, school vans delivering library materials to the schools, shared collections and more). The tenor was so positive that staffers took it for granted that we would be there for them and the partnerships were dynamic - kids won far more than we did in this situation.
I also chat with classroom teachers who come into the public library - listen to what they need and ask for suggestions for what we might do to help them in their work. I make sure that I have at least one school staff advocate for the public library in every school and we build from there. I make sure that I am there for them as much as they are there for me. Ideas have to be created equally and honored equally. Listening and creating together is key.
If the relationship works, I also meet with our school superintendent as a colleague - not as a lesser asking to speak with someone far above me - but as an equal. I make the case for our mutual work in literacy and how the public library is the school's best friend. And on we go from there.
Is it easy? No, it takes time, the ability to listen and understand needs far different than our public library needs. It takes commitment and the ability to keep knocking on doors until the first one opens. Once that starts, more doors open and then more. Partnership ideas sprout up and success builds on success.
Another key ingredient: I don't make demands or work on a proposal before I meet with school folks. First we just chat and look for mutual areas of benefit. From that point we start to explore ideas for action . It's a delicate dance to honor both of our needs and perspectives but once started, it just keeps rolling. I often hear people say "Well, I created this and brought it to the schools, and nobody liked it or wanted it." Creating on your own in a partnership isn't a collaboration- it's looking in the mirror. It may please you, but will it really answer a need that schools have?
When I moved to my present job almost five years ago, I had alot of trepidation. I left a hugely strong collaborative partnership of decades at my last job. There was a little collaboration happening at this new job with the schools. Could I start all over to strengthen the ties and encourage my team? The answer is a resounding yes. First with one principal who opened the door to others. Then with a couple of the LMC people who met and planned with us. Now with classroom teachers. Once more the partnerships and collaboration are growing and strengthening. My team is stepping up and out as partners and developing even stronger ties and initiatives.
I think my mantra on this is from the Galaxy Quest movie: "Never give up; never surrender". It's what has made the collaboration with schools an ever-present awesome in my work. To see more tips, stop by my recent series
on real-world, real-life suggestions for collaborative work. It can be done and we all can be awesome at it!
For me, one of the most challenging aspects of being a manager is working to reach beyond what is in front of us and visioning out towards the future. It is so deuced easy to start slipping into the quicksand of desk work, deadlines, tough patron interactions, cranky colleagues, and the day-to-day grind. As we slip further in, energy is expended in just trying to get through the hour, the day, the week, the month.
Vision? I got no time for that!
Yet, it is this big picture thinking that really informs and advances our services. Staff at all levels at libraries of all sizes that practice big picture thinking and visioning create innovative, reflective, responsive and deep library services.
I have been thinking alot about this over the past month since attending the School Library Journal Think Tank. The speakers, the library leaders I chatted with and worked with that day and the think tank itself were all helping us focus on that larger picture. Inspirational? Oh yes. Transformative? Uh-huh? Usable? Absolutely.
Our keynote speech was by Pan Sandian Smith of Colorado's Anythink Libraries. Her words
lit a fire for me. Joanna wrote a blog post at So-Cal Library Connections
on the day summarizing speakers and including reports from the Think Tank unconference as well. Other reports came from Amy at Show Me Librarian (here
) and Michelle at Lit Chat for Kids
. Those big picture thoughts surrounded us and enlivened us. They gave me more than food for thought. Linda Braun's recent post at YALSA
also underscored the importance of thinking big and deep and far beyond the day-to-day and into the future.
All these resources helped me focus and re-commit to the big picture at our library. We have now formed three "mini-teams" in our department. Each two person team focuses on an age group - preschool; school-age; teen/tween. We meet weekly and are discussing all aspects of service to each age group from programs, collections, outreach, reader's advisory, and stealth programs to PR, special initiatives, focus and dreams. We share the notes from the mini-meetings among us and have already begun the delightful work of visioning and big picture thinking. We'll plunge into summer with a much clearer picture of where we want to go and how we might do it.
In fall, we'll bring all the team together off-site for a half-day to reflect, brainstorm and bring these big picture views together and see where we want to go as a department. I am excited to help bring this focus further out.
While I am fond of my nose, it seldom brings me to a larger view of the youth librarianship world. Thank goodness my colleagues help inspire me so that I can help all of us look farther, longer, deeper and fresher!
From everywhere and from different backgrounds and knowledge, we all came together to create this site and I thank you so much! Click on the image to get there and enjoy....
This is the fourth post in a series I did in 2009 on school and public library cooperation. Any effort we make to partner with schools is a great effort and the simplest thing can reap rich rewards for all the kids in our community!
"But Marge", you say, "we just are so overwhelmed. We want to do great partnerships but time, money, staff and energy are hard to come by. What can we do?" Lots! There are plenty of laid-back partnerships and efforts that even a part-time, one person library staffer can do.Email Newsletters to School
Periodically mail out a brief, colorful newsletter to school staff (through each school's office - with permission of the principal of course) with children's lit or book news; services you offer; invites to take field trips to the library; suggestions of great new book read-alouds and maybe an announcement or two of perfect programs for school-agers. This kind of communication breaks down barriers and let's your colleagues know about the library and your services and collections.Invite Classes to Visit
Field trips are fun and you can make them more inviting by using a stuffed book character as tour host for younger kids (Clifford; Very Hungry Caterpillar; Maisy) or jazzing up field trips for older kids by exploring non-fiction and making origami or cataloging and shelving the kids
or playing Book Character Bingo in the fiction. Make the library fun and they will come!Outreach Visits to the Schools
These are absolute bread-and-butter! Outreach gets you out of the library and into the schools where kids are. Offer to come to Literacy Nights and Parent Nights, do storytelling at schools, present book talks - and leave the books in the classroom for a month for kids to devour - and never forget - summer reading promotional visits are some of the best times to reach out to kids and entice them into good reading fun in the summer. Art Displays
Offer to transform the library into an art gallery for student art and host a reception for the young artists and their families. Art teachers are often looking for end-of-the-year venues to display their students' creativity and the library makes a great gallery!Book Lists
We often develop these to help staff and patrons find goodies in the collection. But consider developing graded booklists before summer and distributing to the schools. By recommending books that are age appropriate and in the collection, you make kids successful searchers during the summer for reads. Many teachers support these efforts and would love a list like this.
No matter where you are in partnerships with your schools, these ideas can really sparkle and help you create closer relationships with your school colleagues. A big tip of the hat to all my peeps on PUBYAC
for sharing ideas and making me think about the vitality of school and library partnerships!Part 1Part 2Part 3
And now back to the present...
The posts in this series came to mind first after a School Library Journal article
last year reported that overall school/public library collaboration was very poor. I wrote a post
about tag-team librarianship to share thoughts when that came out. The recent article in SLJ referenced in Part 1 of this series focused on some fairly large libraries and systems with big staff infrastructures - a sure recipe for the vast majority of libraries that serve far smaller populations to feel, "Well, jeez, we can't do that - we so lack those resources/staff/time."
I.do.not.believe.that. No matter size, staff, budget or time, we all can be great partners.
Here and there, over the years, I've heard a few librarians say they "couldn't get in at the schools". Then a story is shared about how that librarian purchased "useful" teacher books - without consulting school colleagues - and these materials were never checked out. Or I hear that a colleague refuses to collaborate or look for ways to do outreach in the schools because if the public library starts, it will be an excuse to remove school librarians.Or a homework center isn't well-used but in further conversation, I find out that the library has not mentioned a word of it's existence except through in-house PR. The link in all these "fails" is that the public librarian has not talked and listened to, explored or partnered with their school colleagues. Building a service in a vacuum is never a good idea.
If we want to create those links, we truly have to forge a partnership of mutual respect and listening. School colleagues are under alot of pressure. We need to think in ways that address those pressures and make the case that partnerships will benefit kids and staff and make a positive difference. It's good to be low-maintenance in terms of what we propose or ask of school colleagues. It's worth it to be a good listener and investigator - what is needed; what would help them or what suggestions do they have for us. And I find that flexibility on our part always makes the partnership better.
A first small step can open doors. Jen the Youth Services Librarian
, who started a new job in August, was out in the schools promoting Teen Read Week programs in October. Colleagues I know invite their school partners to breakfast, for cocktails; initiate youth book discussion groups; invite them along to conferences and workshops or to visit the Cooperative Children's Book Center in Madison; give short, snappy presentations at in-services.They set up an occasional meeting with school media colleagues and see what ideas and conversations result.
With Common Core state standards coming into play, there are even more opportunities to chat, talk, plan and collaborate with school colleagues. Many public libraries have strong collections of narrative non-fiction that can be explored and celebrated.
The possibilities are exciting and endless.We can keep the fires burning and do amazing outreach with our school colleagues. Partnerships work - no matter what size library you work at. Image: 'Tiki torch' http://www.flickr.com/photos/83261600@N00/8189871269 Found on flickrcc.net
Ok, ok, so I feel a little guilty even bringing this up. As a blogger, I know I have a slightly bigger audience than I would without. But no guts, no glory. I join my colleagues in the blogosophere to invite you to read through the suggested Conversation Starters at ALA
and vote for ones you'd love to be involved in.
I hope you consider two I am lucky enough to be involved in with my fabulous colleagues: Amy over at Show Me Librarian
; Amy over at Catch the Possibilities
and Mel over at Mel's Desk
. After some chatting on twitter that moved over to a google doc (more than 144 characters...wow!), we decided to try the conversations even further out with more people jumping in and proposed two programs for ALA this summer. We are excited about the possibilities!Thinking Outside the Storytime Box: Building Your Preschool Programming
STEM for preschoolers! Dance parties for toddlers! When we stretch beyond storytime, our youngest patrons benefit from richer learning experiences, their parents and caregivers engage with the library in fresh ways, and staff become motivated by new, creative challenges. Jump out of the storytime box and explore active and passive early-childhood programs that are easy to plan and repeat, maximize your staff resources, and enable you to reach more young families. Our panel will share program ideas, planning resources, and early literacy connections to help you leave prepared to build on the core storytime experience. Presenters
: Amy Commers, Amy Koester, Melissa Depper, Marge Loch-WoutersUnprogramming: Recipes for School-Age Programming Success
Do you find yourself spending tons of time planning school-age programs that are over in the blink of an eye? Are you ready to challenge yourself to be more efficient with your staff time and department's resources? Discover how to streamline planning and preparation while offering worthwhile literacy-centered programs--where kids help shape the direction of the program! Panelists will share tips for "unprogramming" at your library as well as ideas for helping staff adapt to this new style. Prepare to leave with a myriad of program ideas and resources for unprogramming on your own.Presenters
: Marge Loch-Wouters, Amy Koester
If these topics are ones you would love to chat on and you are an ALA member, please do vote for these...and a host of other good ones proposed by ALA members. Read them and leap!
I ran across an extraordinary post....
How many times lately have I been tweeting or doing blog posts about some amazing thing I've read from Youth Services bloggers I follow? So much of what I read takes me to places of discovery that I have never been before. And it clearly inspires my blogging and TTFLF's content.
This post is completely happening because I was blown away by Amy Koester's Peer Sourcing post at Show Me Librarian
. In the post she acknowledges the power of collaboration and learning from others to build the scaffolding to new programming and thinking paradigms in her work. As I've said before, everything comes from somewhere - whether hatched in our brain or sparked by something we read or hear or collaborate on.
When I started blogging five years ago, there were mostly kidlit blogs - lots of reviews of and thoughts about children and teen books. Only a handful of bloggers shared programs, initiatives and opinions on youth services. And that was what I was really after.
As the years have gone on, more youth people have joined the conversation. From robust posts at ALSC, YALSA, and the Hub to individual bloggers inspired by Flannel Fridays or a desire to share their professional journeys in working with youth, I now have over 100 blogs that I follow. They are ripe with opinions, storytime ideas; teen program mojo; cool initiatives and more. Who knew?
I agree with Amy that we learn from others in a way that informs and improves our work. This is really a shout-out to all the youth services bloggers for putting it out there and sharing. I learn every day and in every way from you all. You all make me a better librarian. And you inform what I write about here.
Really, I am so lucky!
I've had a book birthday this week - Bear's Best Friend
is born and out in the world now, and garnering some nice reviews and media attention, (which is a thing that always makes authors happy). The ever-wonderful Armadillo Magazine
have done an interview with me, which you can read HERE
- there's a signed copy of the book to win there too, so it's well worth having a look!
Of course, a book birthday also means that the Publicity Event Train sets out on its journey round the country. Normally, I talk to schools and festivals about Greek myths. I've been giving my Journey Into Greek Myth
talk for many years. I know my stuff, and it's a well-honed, well-oiled machine by now. But Bear's Best Friend
is a picture book. I've been out of the picture book loop for a long time, so as well as giving birth to a book, I've also had to give birth to a brand new event to go with it. Luckily this time, I don't have to do it alone. For the first time ever I'm part of a double act, since my wonderful illustrator, Sarah Dyer
is an integral part of this new creation.
As a writer, working with an illustrator is, for me, a bit like magic. There are my words, spilled out of my head and onto paper in black and white rows, and then there they are, magically translated into pictures through the amazing lens of an artist’s imagination. It's a process that never ceases to amaze me. But doing a joint gig? How was that going to work? Who would go first? How would we structure the event? It was a step into the unknown for both of us.
We talked a lot on the phone. We emailed each other ideas. What emerged was an interactive event based around our Bear's (slightly strange) hobby of topiary, with parts for both of us to play, including props of bear ears/hats, leaves, a foolproof way to draw a teddy, and, of course, many many bears. But would it work in practice?
On Saturday, we set off to find out, and I'm glad to report that the answer is - it did, brilliantly! Sarah and I have just finished our first ever joint session at the fabulous Seven Stories
in Newcastle (which I wrote about here a couple of months ago
). Public events can be tricky to handle, but not only did we manage to get through storytelling, animal noises and chatting about best friends (my bit), but also an incredible amount of top-notch creative stuff (Sarah's bit). By the end, the whole place was a sea of Beary pictures, some of which were pretty impressive, given that the average age of the artists was 3 1/2
. (I'm sorry I can't show them to you here due to a slight technical hitch on the photography front).
Now that we've cracked the whole joint event thing, I'm looking forward to doing a lot more with Sarah. We'll be at the Tales on Moon Lane Bookshop
on Tuesday 28th May and at the Discover Story Centre
on 1st June, so do come and see us in action if you're nearby and have small kids. I can't speak for Sarah, but personally I can't wait to put on my fluffy bear ears again!
Lucy and Sarah's new picture book, Bear's Best Friend, is published by Bloomsbury "A charming story about the magic of friendship which may bring a tear to your eye" Parents in Touch "The language is a joy…thoughtful and enjoyable" Armadillo Magazine. Her latest series for 7-9s, Greek Beasts and Heroes is out now from Orion Children's Books.
I attended the SLJ Think Tank in NYC
last week. It was a transformative day for me - not just because of the outstanding and thought-provoking speakers but also for the chance to be with colleagues I have met in a whole new way.
In the past, if I wanted to bounce ideas off people or get my collegial-jolt, attendance at state and national conferences was the main way I interacted to get my youth librarian-idea fix. The networks of colleagues who mentored me, friended me and supported me (and back at all of them with the same from me) especially at ALA was grounded in real time and in real places. The gabbing, blue-skying, laughing, eating and drinking that brought us together helped me become the children's librarian I am.
But something changed in the last year that broadened and opened my horizons so far I feel that I can almost see to the end of the universe. Although I've been communicating in new ways through this blog and Facebook, my time on Twitter and in Facebook groups brought a new immediacy and connectivity to my work. For those who find this journey of discovery ho-hum, bear with me.
I was a late Twitter adapter, partly because, as a yakker of legendary repute, how could I harness that into 140 characters? But once I jumped in, I realized that the immediacy of the conversations and links led me to deep connections with and respect for people I had never met IRL. Ideas hatched, work flowed, tempers flared, sympathy was extended and support and wicked humor was always there.
Professional Facebook and Google groups (ALA Think Tank, Code Named Awesome, Flannel Friday), all discovered through Twitter, added to the fun and gestalt. The overlap among them all in terms of interacting with colleagues across many social media platforms only increased the connectivity.
So when I came to New York (you knew
I'd get back here, right?), I got a chance to meet, IRL, so many people who are friends in social media: @amyeileenk, @mmlibrarian; @libraryvoice, @MissReneeDomain @melissaZD, @sophiebiblio. I realized that despite the fact we were meeting for the first time, I felt we had been friends forever.
And I felt free - and connected - in a way that is deeper than my professional association connections - perhaps because there are no expectations of work for me when I am involved with social media friends and colleagues (well, unless we hatch something!). These connections and chats sustain me and spark my imagination. It is really connecting with people's minds directly and I learn at the feet of these colleagues (take note Twitter and FB, lurkers, engage and show your stuff!!).
So a big shout-out to all my creative partners on social media whether I've met you IRL or not. Our connection is what fuels me!
By: Mark Miller,
Blog: From the land of Empyrean
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Trestle Press is doing it again and this time you, the readers, win!
Trestle is celebrating an anniversary, of sorts. Much like a budding young romance, every milestone is a good one. This celebration comes for the 6 Month Anniversary of The Author's Lab Collaboration series.
About six months ago, during an airing of The G-Zone, Giovanni Gelati took a call from Katherine LaHart. He never expected what she wanted to ask. Ms. LaHart suggested that Giovanni write a collaboration. From there, a new eBook series was born that has since spawned 22 installments. The stories cover almost all genres and most are ONLY 99 Cents. You can click HERE to see the list of authors from around the world.
So for this special occasion, Trestle Press wants to give you a present. That's right, you get something for FREE. Completely free. Trestle is giving away one Author's Lab story for each month of the series. (click on the title for a description, click on the author to see their other works)
By: Linda Strachan
Blog: An Awfully Big Blog Adventure
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Writing is normally a solitary occupation and I rather like that about it.
|Tuscany- my shed|
There is that feeling of living with and in your characters' heads, so beautifully expressed in Ellen Renner's ABBA post a couple of days ago Visitors From the World Called Imagination
I like to slope off to Tuscany (my shed), to disappear into another place or time, and live in my head for a while.
I am not sure I know where the ideas and characters come from but I find that nothing will kill off my enthusiasm for a story idea more than plotting it all out before I begin to write.
I prefer to discover the plot alongside my characters and feel all their uncertainty and excitement.
Without this I lose that tingle in my spine and the sense of wonder and endless possibilities that make writing such a delight and pleasure. I have to admit that sometimes it can also become incredibly hard if I lose my way, and I imagine that those who plot carefully before they begin at least have signposts to keep them on track. Unfortunately each time I try to plot a story out chapter by chapter beforehand, it all too soon begins to feel a bit flat.
Some writers have written successful collaborations but I've always wondered how they did it. What was the mechanism? Were they working together bouncing ideas off each other, throwing around phrases or dialogue while one wrote it all down or working separately, each adding different segments of the story?
I once wrote part of a novel with another writer in the form of letters between two characters who knew nothing of each other to start with. Each of us took one character and replied to the previous letter as suited the character and their temperament. It was a lot of fun being really stroppy and fascinating to see how the characters developed and changed as the story progressed and they drew nearer to meeting each other. It was never finished as other writing commitments got in the way, but it might be interesting to come back to it one day.
|from Hamish McHaggis |
Working closely with an illustrator - as I have for some years with Sally J. Collins
on the Hamish McHaggis books - is again a different way of working.
I just came back from presenting my fifth - and last - Summer Library Program workshop in Wisconsin focusing on the Dream Big/Own the Night
theme. I probably shouldn't really say I focused on the actual SLP theme. I really only alluded to it.
At the workshops, I spend most of the time exploring and asking participants to explore how and why we do summer reading incentive programs and how easy it is to grow and evolve a program to meet constantly changing community needs. I never claim to know the best way to do SLP. I am just fascinated with the process of why we do the things we do and how we move forward to truly meet the needs of our families and children.
One of the things that I think we all tend to get bogged down in is the huge inevitablity and implacability of SLPs. Many of us over-prep for a short two month period, spending so much creative energy on that part of the year that the remaining ten months get a shorter creative shrift. I'm there to encourage workshop attendees to focus on fun and consider giving SLP an importance commensurate with its short duration. And I'm there to hear how librarians have saved time and effort (less stats; no prizes; one prize; book bucks).
I also love to hear about what successful events or initiatives that people have been using in their communities. For those of you following the blog, I have been periodically posting little tidbits of the ideas shared (here
). I have picked up a ton of great ideas from librarians from libraries large and small.
It always makes me happy. Most of us don't create independently of each other. We find ideas from blogs, conferences, workshops, Pinterest, from hallway chats, books, Twitter and Facebook. The more we rely on each other for ideas and share the ideas and successes we have, the more we and all our colleagues benefit. I am looking forward to heading out to Kansas at the end of the month and hearing more ideas from my colleagues when I present my SLP workshops there. And I'm glad I'm in a sharing profession!Image: '3D Full Spectrum Unity Holding Hands Concept' http://www.flickr.com/photos/22177648@N06/2137735924
By: Claudette Young
Blog: Claudsy's Blog
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My friends wonder if I’ve lost my mind. I have so many projects on the boards at the moment that it will take six months of dedicated work to get the pile whittled down to a convenient size. No matter; I’ll never get bored.
During our workout yesterday, I threw out a suggestion for Sister and our workout partner. All three of us ladies rank in the senior set and workout three times a week together. We’d all began a nutrition journey a couple of months ago to improve our health, lose weight, and get fit. And we enjoy doing it together.
My suggestion created another book project, one that Sis and I have thought about for a long time. Enter our friend, who creates her masterpieces in the kitchen. Yep! You guessed it; a cook book.
Call me insane, but this is something that can be fun and done with others. Joint efforts usually make for great experiences.
I’ve never done a cook book before. I seldom do recipes for friends and family. Even so, after our discussion, we had the table of contents, the introduction, the recipe categories, and three creative cooks who’ve just been put on a new nutrition plan for life. Sis is our photographer for the project, too.
What better way to expand our horizons on this food journey than to write a cookbook of our favorite creations that draw from those foods we’re allowed to have?
Keys to the Recipes
Our mutual nutrition plan allows only Stevia FOS as our sweetener. On very rare occasions honey can be substituted in small amounts, or dark molasses. Anything using white flour, sugar/sugar substitutes—other than the above, or regular potatoes is verboten. The plan, which is used for pre-diabetics or diabetics in crisis, uses a low glycemic index approach to food.
Taking the restrictions in mind, as well as those foods required by the plan on a daily basis, we began cooking differently and thinking about food in a more mindful way.
Case in point: of fast foods, the only one we’ve found that actually doesn’t trip the alarm meter on this plan is Taco Bells’ hard-shell taco, supreme or not.
Whole grains, which include brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet and a few others, can be used without fear. Whole grain flour from this list is usable, too. And don’t forget the legumes. They constitute a major part of the plan, along with Greek yogurt, nuts, and seeds.
Everything we eat now–with rare exemptions–are unprocessed foods; organic where we can get them. We’ve pulled away from the artificial, chemically supported pre-processed foods.
Why a Cook Book?
As I said, Sis and I have been thinking about writing one for a few years; ever since we began making our own tasty egg rolls and stuffed wantons. At that t
Collaboration. Everyone probably wants to do it in order to provide excellent services to teens. You might have the chance to collaborate regularly with teachers, parents, teens, colleagues, bookstore owners, authors, police and fire personnel, and others who work in community agencies and departments. These are people it’s probably fairly easy to connect with and whom you may have fairly easy access to. But, are they the right people to work with in order to be innovative in services?
I’d like to suggest that they may not be. In order to be innovative the collaborations we pursue and get involved in have go be as innovative as the programs and services we want to sponsor. It becomes comfortable to collaborate with people you know and have a history with. But that means it also becomes easy to miss opportunities for doing something new, reaching teens you might not regularly interact with, and gaining new insights and ideas.
What stops someone from pursuing collaboration opportunities with someone new? A few things.
- A fear of making a “cold call” and talking to someone new. If you have a project in the works and realize there is someone in the community that would be a perfect collaborator, but have never worked with that person, it could be difficult to get in touch and say “let’s work together.” If that’s the case then do a little research. Is there someone you know who has a relationship already with that person? If so, have him or her make the first connection for you. Make sure that this intermediary knows a bit about the project you are working on and how you think this new potential collaborator can be involved. That means you need to be very clear yourself about the role of this new collaborator. Know how his or her expertise can fit in to what you are planning and highlight that to your “connector” and to your potential collaborator when you have your own conversation with him or her. If you don’t have someone who can connect you, don’t let that stop you. Still get in touch with the person and sell your idea and their value to it.
A lack of history which can mean a lack of trust. One of the key things that makes a collaboration work is trust amongst those involved. Without that trust you can’t be sure everyone is working towards the same goal and that the work will be done in the way that’s required. If you are thinking about collaborating with someone new give yourself time to get to know that person. Work on a smallish project to start so you can get to know each other. Don’t make rash judgements. Give the process of getting to know one other and gaining trust a little time. That way you can build a history which can lead to bigger and better collaborations.
A limited knowledge of the community. Maybe you are new to your library community. Or maybe you haven’t had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from outside the library and education world where you work. Well then, make sure you do just that. Go to meetings and events sponsored by other agencies, organizations, and businesses. Get to know others and let them get to know you. Talk up what you do for and with teens and why you do what you do. Scope people out, get business cards, and keep notes about the work others do so you can make the right collaborative connections at the right time.
Expanding your collaborative world can take time and energy. It might require that you think outside your comfort zone and outside your traditional collaborative box. However, If you are innovative in your collaboration you will open up opportunities that you might never have known were possible and those opportunities will lead to innovations t
“Oh, how sweet,” said the person I had just met. “You have a background in children’s services. It must be nice to play around with puppets all day.” This off-hand comment really struck a chord with me. Yes, programming is fun (at least it should be.) It’s also an essential role of the job of a youth services librarian, working with purpose behind the practice.
The high-energy antics (as well as those incredible voices) of a puppet show may be viewed by colleagues from other departments and those customers outside of our profession as simple play. In youth services, however, the reasons behind why we do what we do (how interactive library programs for children develop essential literacy skills and promote a positive association with books and libraries, to name a few) is, as we know, a life-changer. How can we best get our message across to those who think our work is merely “child’s play?” We can start by simply sharing our ABCs.
A stands for Advocacy. As librarians working with children, we can promote the benefits of our work with passion, but we have to learn the language of those around us. If a customer expresses concern about preparing her daughter for school, we can discuss how our programs develop school-readiness skills. If our supervisors value statistics, we can frame the conversation around our high picture book circulation or our programming figures from the last quarter. Advocating for children’s services doesn’t only have a role in formal presentations; the opportunity presents itself at the most unusual times, often during a brief exchange with a customer or a quiet moment before a meeting begins.
B stands for Books. Books are at the heart of our profession. Parents, and library staffers in other departments, may be so inundated with the influence of standardized testing that they fail to realize the role readers’ advisory can play in assessing children’s reading interests and abilities. When we promote books, we promote our departments. We can connect books to every aspect of our programming and puppet shows. Working in customer service, whether staffing a desk or engaging in proactive reference, allows us to answer questions and connect the right book to each reader. As youth services librarians, we can also offer training to our colleagues from other departments on readers’ advisory for children and teens. Providing these trainings and workshops to staff outside of youth services ensures all our staffers have some understanding of the theory and hands-on training required when working with youth.
C stands for Collaboration. When we partner with other library departments, we offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the work required in youth services. This collaboration can take many forms; invite other departmental staffers to shadow a youth services staffer for a day and speak up at library meetings to ensure children’s initiatives have a voice. In our Hope Mills Branch of the Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center, we include departmental staff from all areas to assist with aspects of programming, under youth services staffers’ direction. We also cross-train employees to staff both service desks at our community facility, providing information services staff an opportunity to work the Children’s Desk, and youth services staff frequen
BAVARSKY-OLIVO CURIOUS MAN
Niv Bavarsky can do no wrong.
Today I have here with me two very special people; Roger Rheinheimer and Crystal Linn who are Amazon top-ten selling Kindle authors, including their joint Amish romance series, AmishForever (http://goo.gl/JLWTY). Welcome Roger and Crystal and thank you for joining us today. Tell me, how does it feel to be a successful author? Roger: I’m still blinking! All I can say is thank you to our dedicated readers and the tireless promotional efforts of our amazing publisher, Trestle Press. Crystal: Thank you for having us, and thanks to our wonderful readers. To be honest, the reality of it all has not sunk in yet because my life has not changed. I still do normal things like cook dinner and walk my dog. I must stop and remind myself that I am indeed a successful author. What made you decide to become a writer? I understand it is hard work with little pay, unless you get lucky. Roger: Lucky is right! I feel we were just at the right place at the right time. Trestle Press has been a tireless advocate of the authors they represent. I’ve been writing all my life, and this is the most fun so far. Crystal: There are important writers on both sides of my family. I grew up writing but thought nothing of it. Then, in the year 2000 we decided I would try to get my deceased mother’s stories published. In the process I became published and was stunned by the raving reviews. Roger: Apparently Giovanni Gelati of Trestle Press had read my first novel, AmishSnow. He contacted me and asked if I would write an Amish romance novel. Interesting, tell me Crystal how did you become involved? Crystal: Roger felt to do a good job he needed a female co-author and he placed an ad looking for a co-author for an Amish romance series. I replied to that ad and, as they say, “The rest is history.” What is it like to co-author a book? Roger: First of all, I had never co-authored before and one of the reasons I chose Crystal is because she was an experienced co-author. It’s great. We complement each other well and even with the pressure of deadlines and outside demands on our respective time commitments, have not had any significant disagreements. It’s really been awesome. Crystal: While AmishForever is my first novel, it is my fourth book to date. All four were either co-authored or collaborative efforts. It is like joint venturing where the key people sit down and discuss goals and game plans. Then they go to work, do what needs done, and communicate clearly. Speaking of doing what needs done, who writes what and how do you get your writing voices to blend together so well? Roger: LOL, good question! We actually sat down recently and had what we irreverently called a “board meeting,” and wrote out a pretty detailed outline of who takes the lead on what. I’ve always heard that there two things cause a partnership to fall apart: failure OR success. Thankfully we have completely avoided that and I think are more in tune than ever. I love the roaring engine, smoking tire scenes and Crystal conveys beautifully the teardrops falling on the vanity panel scenes. Crystal: Before we start writing the next chapter, or volume, we email each other notes and ideas. I write the first draft and email it to Roger. He adds to what I wrote and writes more scenes then emails it back to me for editing. I edit and email it back to him. He then edits more and either sends it back to me for editing, if needed, or sends it to early readers. After that we give it a final edit and format it. When we are satisfied Roger emails it to Giovanni, our publisher. Obviously you two are very organized? Tell me what it is you want your readers to take away from the story? Roger: Ok, so here is where the guy chromosomes kick in. I want readers to feel like they got their money’s worth, that the characters came alive for them and, as the saying goes, the story carried them away to another time and place. I want readers to recognize the effort we have put into our craft and say to themselves, “That was a good story.” Crystal: All of my books are about overcoming, in one way or another. The perfect example is my book: God’sCounterpoint, published in the ONE anthology by Mark Miller and published by Trestle Press. I want the readers of AmishForever to come away feeling good about the story and feeling encouraged that they, like Ava, can overcome the obstacles in their own lives. What in your opinion, is the fascination that American readers have with these Amish books? Roger: The Amish, I believe, appeal to that fundamental human desire for simplicity and goodness. I think a lot of us envy their unswerving belief in a higher good. Crystal: I agree with Roger. I also believe that the reader can live the Amish life vicariously, to borrow one of Roger’s words, through the lives of the characters. The two of you are obviously committed to your writing. What are your future plans? Will there be more books? Will we learn more about Ava and Zeke? Roger: Early on when we realized how popular this series was going to be I commented to Crystal that if we don’t write more together we need to admit we’re not really serious about writing fiction. We already have several story spinoffs. I especially like the ones involving Abe and Bliss. Crystal: I look forward to writing more with Roger and, in addition, I have my own writing career. Recently I sent two books to publishers. One is a short story that Giovanni, of Trestle Press, will publish as soon as I make it longer. The other is a non-fiction grandparent’s guide I sent to a publisher I know personally in the Seattle area. Our time is up, unfortunately but again, thank you Roger Rheinheimer and Crystal Linn for joining us today – and again, congratulations on your success with the best-selling AmishForever. I look forward to reading more of your books. Roger: Thank you for having us. Crystal: Thank you for inviting us, and for the good wishes.
Blog: YALSA - Young Adult Library Services Association
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Even if you don’t work in a school media center, I’m guessing your life still tends to run on an academic schedule when you work with teens. So welcome to the new school year! Here’s what I think might be interesting, useful, or intriguing to you and your patrons this month.
- If your teens are interested in what’s new in the going green movement, have them look more globally to see what’s going on. In coastal Ecuador, young people from farming families are heading up efforts to save, cultivate, and redistribute heirloom seeds to revitalize the environment and help farmers prosper. Part of an organization called FOCCAHL, 20-year-old Cesar Guale Vasquez travels throughout nearby areas collecting seeds from farmers and also hosts swapping events so that farmers can trade seeds with each other in order to have more vibrant and diverse crops. Now take that for inspiration and add to it your own library’s resources on climate change, farming, and nutrition and plan an interesting program that combines science with activism and see what your advisory board wants to do with it. Many libraries now are creating their own seed libraries, and whether they’re for wildflowers or corn, they can be a great way to bring communities together, get young people to work with older people, and freshen up your local environment while doing your small part to keep the world cleaner and greener.
Matthews, J. (2012). Ecuador’s seed savior. World Ark, May 2012: 10-15.
- At the beginning of the school year, many teens are interested in refining or experimenting with their personal style. There is generally no shortage of mainstream fashion and beauty advice in the magazines and books you have in your collection already, but there might be a population you’re missing, and they’re getting bigger and more vocal. While the natural hair trend has been growing for years, the recent O Magazine cover presenting Oprah Winfrey with her hair relaxer-free has sparked a lot of talk. The social news web is blowing up with discussions of hegemony (the prevalence of hair relaxers in the African American community has been linked to unrealistic standards of white beauty), harassment (nearly everyone with natural curls, regardless of race, has experienced strangers touching their hair without asking first), and self image (who decides what’s beautiful, and is it more important to do what you think is pretty on you or to make a political statement with your hair?). Take a look at the reports of the Oprah cover at Sociological Images and Jezebel (it’s worth taking a look at the comments, too, but they’re probably NSFW and can get heated), and then consider hosting a discussion club or making a display of books on beauty. If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest Naturally Curly, one of the premiere websites (with social components, news, and shopping) for natural hair of all textures.
- STEM, STEM, STEM. Everybody wants students to engage with science, technology, engineering and math. Federal money is pumped into it. Grants support it. But do teens and tweens care for it? In a study of middle school students, researchers analyzed both boys’ and girls’ wishful identification with scientists on television shows to see what factors influenced positive feelings (possibly indicating an interest in pursuing a science career or hobby). They found that boys were more likely to identify with male scientists and girls with female scientists, which is unsurprising. What was more interesting is that the genre of the television show affected the positive feelings. Scientist characters on dramas were more likely to elicit wishful identification than those on cartoons or educational programs. What can you do with this information? Plenty. For your next film screening, try a drama or documentary that presents scientists in a good light, like Cool It, And the Band Played On, or Einstein and Eddington. If you want to take a crack at those who think that being good at science or math makes you a loser, connect STEM with the things teens already love, like working out, YouTube, and the Web by taking a look at the 35 fittest people in tech, videos by Vi Hart, who turns mathematical concepts and history into snarky audiovisual narratives, or how-tos at Lifehacker.
Steinke, J., et al. (2011). Gender Differences in Adolescents’ Wishful Identification With Scientist Characters on Television. Science Communication, 34(2): 163-199.
- Whether you’re in library school or you’ve been working for years, you might find Hack Library School’s new starter kit series interesting, especially their post on services to children. Anyone want to volunteer to write the starter kit for youth services? On a related note, Teen Librarian Toolbox has a post on what to do about all that stuff they don’t teach you in library school (I’m taking notes).
- If you’ve been trying to find a way to collaborate with nearby schools, see if you can get an advisory group to have a meeting with local teachers (it might be a good idea to make sure that the teachers are not teachers of the teens in your group so as to encourage openness and honesty) and start a dialogue. The topic? Standardized tests. Students may feel like teachers are against them, while teachers probably feel as if it’s administrators who are forcing them to be uncreative. So how do you get all sides to understand each other when schools are still tied to federal standards? For background information, try the journal Rethinking Schools‘ spring 2012 issue, which featured a special section on standardized tests. After a good discussion, maybe everyone can take fun “standardized tests” on personality types, books, or any other fun topics. Then see if students, teachers, and you can work together and form some sort of coalition that bridges the gaps between inside- and outside-of-school education, engagement, and issues. Start a collaborative blog. Take turns hosting book clubs at different places that feel like home to the different stakeholders in your group. What might be an interesting year-long project is to get everyone in the group to develop their ultimate standardized test to replace the ones they’re taking or proctoring in school. What skills do teachers and students think are most important to have before leaving the K-12 system? What topics do people in the real world need to know? Is it better to test knowledge orally? With essays? With student-led, student-designed creative projects? With their perspectives and your skills with information seeking, along with your vast collections, you should be able to create a really interesting partnership. And if you need more inspiration, check out these roundups of education blogs by both students and teachers, both here and here.
What are your plans for this upcoming academic year? As always, your questions, comments and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged!
Last week I spent a day at Southbury Elementary School in Illinois. (Hello Southbury!) They had students for half a day and the afternoon was a time for us to come together for… Read More
By: Mark Miller,
Blog: From the land of Empyrean
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I have known Giovanni Gelati for quite some time. He's interviewed me more than once on The G-Zone BlogTalkRadio Show. We've written together (A Prince in Trenton, Seriously?). Our latest collaboration is The Defective Amish Detective - Volume 1 - The Whoopie Pie Affair. It is a humorous story, that one might call a cozy mystery. Both of us had the goal of telling a fun story, while holding the Amish with utmost respect. With the "defects" of our main character, it ended up being a story with a lot of heart.
Now for the first time, it is my turn to interview Giovanni. Some of the questions pertain to the story, so if you haven't read it, you can get it here: http://goo.gl/UuI5v
If you haven't, don't worry, there's no spoilers.
How many Hawaiian shirts do you own?
GG: I have yet to buy one, I get them as gifts. As a for instance, we were cleaning up prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, I found 6 bags of unopened socks. In layman terms that is 60 pairs of unused socks. One may take pause now and consider that. Basically I reach in the closet, grab one and put it on. I am not sure if I have 60 of them, but I have more than I think.
MM: You have an affinity for the Amish, do you think you may join them sometime in the future?
GG: I will reference Hurricane Sandy again. We didn’t get the devastating flooding, but we got the wind and rain, our town lost power. We were dark from Monday night to Saturday. I am not going out on a limb here when I say that I enjoy electricity. Ice cream does not taste good without it. I marveled at drinking a cold beverage again, and having the use of light when I went to use the bathroom. It is hard to read in the dark. So for now, me being Amish is not in the cards. Besides that when ones Hawaiian shirt is the brightest thing in the room, it kind of stinks.
MM: What is your favorite flavor of whoopie pie?
GG: They have me hooked on the chocolate chip outer cookie with the chocolate cream filling. Throw in a sausage log and some deep fried or rotisserie chicken and I am set.
MM: What is your best experience with a farm animal?
GG: None really, they smell and leave large deposits behind. I am not into the smell, feel or look of muck. I would much prefer a muckless Farm, but I doubt that is in the cards. I much more enjoy them from a distance in the SUV going the speed limit pointing them out to the kids. It is much safer that way all around.
MM: What is in store for the Defective Amish Detective in the upcoming volumes?
GG: Volume two will be out the week of November 14th , the title is “The Intercourse Boondogle”, and it will involve grifters. Intercourse is a quaint little town in Lancaster with plenty of neat shops. The other 8 stories in the series will involve a series of mysteries that G and Eli try to solve together in various locations in and around Lancaster.
This is the third in a series of blog posts I wrote in 2009 sharing ideas that worked for us when I worked in a library in a smallish (15k) community. I believe no matter what size the library, staff or budget, amazing collaborations can make a win-win situation happen for kids. Into the wayback machine, my friends!
Now you are cooking - teachers use your services, you have some great partner mojo working....what else can you do to make your school partnerships smoke?School-Created Programs
Talk to school staffers who have cool hobbies, skills, passions and see if they would like to be part of a program or present a program for kids - or be open to them suggesting programs. It is amazing what colleagues who are knowledgable in how to talk to and reach kids can do. I have had teachers present Japanese and German culture programs for kids, a National Adoption Day program, as well as spearheading a monthly bi-lingual Spanish program series. Shared Book Collections
If you and your school library media colleagues identify a mutual area of both of your collections that need beefing up, consider sharing a collection. We wrote a small grant for easy readers (90 at each school) housed at the schools Sept-May and then at the public library during the summer rush. It was a wonderful project and when we no longer needed to share the collection, simply divided it up between the public library and schools. It took a little oversight but really worked well to make more materials available to kids.Kids as Book Buyers
What's better than getting a kids-eye-view of what books your collection should have. Book buying with kids for the library is a treat. We worked with our schools to identify at-risk third grade readers to join a public library club and visit a bookstore to select a non-fiction book for the public library. The kids picked carefully, we let them keep the books in their classroom for the first month and then had a party at the public library where the books were housed in a special display. It made a huge difference to the kids and us!Early Literacy Projects
Gaining school support for library efforts to prepare kids for success in school is golden. If we can make the sale and help staffers see how we are helping them by working with preschoolers to increase literacy, school staffers can become our strongest advocates. It's worth the effort to bring them on board in initial efforts - or ask for a place at the table as they are planning literacy activities so you can let them know how many preschoolers and their families that you see!!
We'll tamp our fire down to embers for our final post and look at some simple ways to be a great partner even if you have no time, money or staff.Part 1Part 2
I have three professional lives:
1. As an author
2. As a creative practitioner, engaged in a whole range of free-lance projects, from one day author visits, to term long residencies, to drama/literacy workshops in museums and other locations.
3. As the director of a youth theatre.
Today, I write from life 3, with about 20 minutes left before the arts centre foyer starts filling up with 75 young people, aged 5 – 16, about to perform their second and final night of the Mill Youth Theatre Showcase. Last night went very well, with only one glitch when I suddenly got a message from the technician – one of my most senior members had managed to get himself hand-cuffed in the Green Room! My mind instantly flew to that ghastly scene with the cuffs, the axe, the water and a desperate Leonardo ‘Titanic’ but as I was stage managing as well as directing there was nothing I could do. ‘But there are no handcuffs in this show!’ I protested ‘There are now,’ said the teccie, sardonically. It was left to the house manager, the bar staff and the jewellery teacher (rudely plucked with file from her class) to attempt to get the demented boy out of the things and to stop insisting that if they didn’t Meg would kill him! Fortunately, he’d locked himself in by only one wrist so in the end they gave up, strapped it out of the way with elastic bands and told him to put on his sweatshirt to cover it. Let’s hope he really has learned not to play with the props now! We’ll move the footlights too – that way we might avoid the heart-stopping moment when one character kicked over a chair and nearly smashed one! Oof. My hair is greyer today.
So what’s all this go to do with life number 1? Collaboration, that’s what. Long ago, when I took this job on with just 3 members of an ailing youth theatre, I decided that the only way forward was to become a devising company. We would make up our own plays. That way we’d avoid the painful problem of children learning scripts and then ‘delivering’ them, rather than speaking in a normal, (if loud!) manner. We’d also be able to avoid ‘main parts’ and kids hanging around getting bored. My aim would be to keep everyone on task for as much time as was humanly possible and for every child to be involved as much as they possibly could be. In any case – how many plays suitable for children to perform, do you find with casts of between 8 and 16 characters, with all the parts reasonably equally weighted?
That was the thinking – the result has surpassed my wildest dreams. Ten years later, we have 6 mini companies within The Mill Youth Theatre, all producing their own devised performances twice a year. At first I hunted desperately for stories suitable for adaptation – but even that was difficult. Now, however, we start with a stimulus – music, a picture, some impro, a story – and we take it from there. It can be very scary. At about week 3, I am always panicking that this story isn’t going to come together and we won’t have a play. I certainly thought that this term, especially with the story about the ghostly lighthouse that appears and disappears at random and traps people inside it! It sounds perfectly reasonable now but it didn’t at the time!
But my point is that the stories the children devise with my help are far more imaginative and unusual than anything I could come up with on my own. They amaze me. And so I have begun to revise my view of such companies as Working Partners and their method of creation. We know that they are very successful – and I can see why. A group will come up with far more ideas than an individual will – and with far more creative solutions to plot problems. On occasions we vote for the next step in the story – we did for the end of our creepy play about ‘The Blue Hands’, inspired by a photograph 'Hand of Betty', by local artist Steve Gold, www.stevegold.co.uk and ended with the ‘good’ Blue Hand turning out to be a trickster with her own agenda for overthrowing the Blue Handed regime –
I am getting ready to start the query process on my novel. The story has been written by me with collaboration and historical input by another.
On the book, I have put the title, then -- a novel by L H with EH
I have the query written as if it is seeking representation for both of us. Is this how it is done when there is collaboration on the story? We consider it a joint venture. Does this cause a problem for the agent?
I guess my real question is, should I be querying for just me, the prime writer of the story, mentioning the collaboration, or leave it as the two of us?
If the agent liked the manuscript, would he/she offer representation to the both of us or just the main writer of the story?
Should I query like this or just query for myself for now?
You should be doing exactly as you’re doing. With some collaborations authors choose to have separate agents (often they already have agents for other projects). Most of the time, however, one agent will represent the author team on the book. Since you see this as a collaborative effort it only makes sense that the agent would want to represent the author, which in this case happens to be two people.
By: Mark Miller,
Blog: From the land of Empyrean
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, Giovanni Gelati
, Mark Miller
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By: Mark Miller,
Blog: From the land of Empyrean
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, Giovanni Gelati
, young adult
, Mark Miller
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