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About a month ago, Steve Peterson (@insidethedog) invited me and Jan Burkins (@janmillburk) to try writing a renga with him. Renga is an ancient collaborative poetic form, and is actually where haiku was born!
Steve gave us these directions and resources:
3 line haiku-like poem
2 longer lines (sort of like a tanka form when you put them together). Another person writes this.
2 lines are inspired by the haiku immediately above.
then, 3-line haiku poem inspired by the 2 previous lines,
and so on like a game of telephone until we reach 35 lines total.
The order of play went Steve, me, Jan (repeat). Here's our first renga:
in the prairie dawn a spider's web snares the sun --
meadowlark joins the chorus
breeze bends ripening wheat heads
whose lanky bodies
bow, sun’s church--peace be with wheat
and also with corn
they gather on folding chairs,
jello melts while the preacher prays
shoulders shaking with giggles
two clouds hide the sun
even the adolescent stalks are sober today
word of fire in the neighboring field
this dark sky --
thunderheads poke fingers
at a thirsty land
near the abandoned homestead
ditch lilies toss flaming heads
who called this place home
does the ground remember
stories brought to earth
a faded calendar tacked
to the wall above the stove
try to imagine
the layers of memories
beneath the dust
how much memory is imagination
how much dust is history
sun slants through wavy glass
in the stale air
motes rise to dance down the road, far down the road
reverberations can be felt
After we came to the 35th line, we gathered via conference call from Mountain, Central, and Eastern time zones to discuss the process and the product.
Steve found that although he instigated this poem writing adventure because of a desire to try collaborative writing, and to practice the haiku and tanka forms, he found himself meditating on Jan and me as he chose the words he thought would best fit with what we were trying to say.
For me, it was like trying to catch a tune and sing along.
Jan was continually looking for the meaning in each set of 5 lines alongside the meaning of the poem as a whole.
Our memories of church and our ideas of "prairie" were very different, but we realized that Rosenblatt's reader response theory was alive and well as we wrote together -- each of us as reader/writer could bring ourselves to the text and make our own meaning, independent of the two others.
For me, the prairie in the poem is the flat, dry landscape of Eastern Colorado, where I've spent this month with my mom. Wheat harvest has been in full swing, but no one is complaining about the rains that might have delayed some of the harvest -- they were good for the corn. Those white-robed acolytes are my childhood friend Barbie and me, trying to be solemn in our candle lighting duties, but invariably giggling all the way down to the altar and back. The end of the poem is woven with images of change, home, memory, and loss -- all of which have been bitter and sweet in this month of helping my mom transition from her home of 60 years to a new home in assisted living.
Jan and Steve found echoes of current events that I can see now, but that didn't occur to me as we wrote.
We have plans to play with revising this poem, and we are fifteen lines into another. It has been fabulous to take risks together, to watch the poem unfold, and to hear each other's actual voices over the phone after listening so closely to each other's writerly voices on the page. Thank you, Steve and Jan!
Margaret has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Reflections on the Teche.
INT. NETWORKING UNCOMMONS – MOSCONE CONVENTION CENTER – MORNING
JENNA and a group of seven school and public librarians are gathered around a flip chart in the corner of a crowded co-working space at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference. JENNA steps forward to start an informal, high-energy information exchange between library professionals.
We’ll be starting from a very basic but very important premise: We all want to work together. School librarians want to collaborate with public librarians, and vice-versa. But even though our spirits are willing, we know there can be barriers to the effective collaborations we want to create and maintain.
So what can we do? Build bridges to understanding between school and public librarians. Learn what our counterparts’ typical days are like and the unique successes and challenges we encounter in our respective settings. From this understanding, we can start building relationships that foster effective collaboration and deliver the maximum benefit to youth and families.
Today we’ll be using the guerilla-style format made awesome by Storytime Underground. I’ve placed 20 prompts into this cup for us to use as starting points for our discussion. Let’s get started!
AWESOME PARTICIPANT #1
(draws prompt from cup and reads it aloud)
How much involvement do school librarians have in creating assignments that require library use? For example, “Read a biography about Abraham Lincoln that’s at least 100 pages.”
(several hands raise at once)
The short answer? It depends! School-public library collaboration depends largely on the collaboration happening within the school building. Classroom teachers often bypass us when planning for assignments, so often we find out about them at the same time you do.
Public librarians should know we have very little planning time, and things can change very quickly in schools. Your positive tone and approach mean everything when trying to work with us. Relationships are definitely key!
AWESOME PARTICIPANT #2
(draws prompt from cup and reads it aloud)
What aspects or outcomes of your school or public library job do you consider most essential?
SCHOOL AND PUBLIC LIBRARIANS
Even though we work in different settings, we’re all working toward the same goals: To facilitate positive relationships that benefit youth; to inspire kids to read and learn; to successfully integrate technology into kids’ lives; to improve outcomes for youth and families; and to prepare kids and teens for success both in school and in life.
AWESOME PARTICIPANT #3
(draws prompt from cup and reads it aloud)
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your work as a school or public librarian?
SCHOOL AND PUBLIC LIBRARIANS
(1) Advocating for my program and additional resources, which are very limited; (2) Administrators, parents, and teachers don’t know what we do; (3) Staff shortages; (4) Communicating and marketing services; (5) Not enough time to focus on the big picture/more meaningful work because of day-to-day responsibilities; and (6) Unpredictability!
What I’m hearing from our conversation is that we’ve got a lot of common ground. We’re facing similar challenges in our day-to-day work, but we remain steadfast in our belief that what we do makes a difference for kids.
(heads nodding in agreement)
Two complementary questions as we start wrapping up our time together: How can public librarians best support their local school librarians? And how can school librarians support their local public librarians?
Spend time just getting to know one another. There may be growing pains the first few times you meet, but definitely take the time to meet regularly. Plan events together. Make things happen for the community. Most of all, learn how to be better advocates for one another’s roles and one another’s programs!
One final question: What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to ask/tell school or public librarians?
We’re so impressed with what public librarians do! Keep trying to work with us. And let schools know what’s new at your library, from collections and services to programs and special events!
How can public librarians best support their school library counterparts without stepping on their toes?
Thank you so much for this rich exchange today! As the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation moves into its next year of work, we’ll definitely capitalize on everything we’ve gathered from this session. Stay tuned for next steps in building our momentum and keeping the conversation going!
As participants begin to disperse, there’s another flurry of brainstorming about possible next steps: collections of best practices, Twitter chats, Google hangouts, asynchronous online working groups, and additional in-person meet-ups. JENNA can’t wait.
Today’s guest contributor is Jenna Nemec-Loise, ALSC Division Councilor, Member Content Editor of the ALSC Everyday Advocacy website, and Chairperson of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Collaboration. Jenna writes the Everyday Advocacy column for Children and Libraries and blogs at Miss Jack & Mister Jill.
Sometimes, school life and library life overlap. Sometimes they don’t. Often I read the posts of my public library friends and find myself nodding my head and then I read the posts of many school librarians and my experience doesn’t mesh with theirs. There are two hot topics that are happening right now in both the arenas of education and libraries and we should definitely be expanding our thinking and reading outside of the library and the school publications proper.
Makerspaces. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 3-5 years, you’ve been reading about, learning about, or implementing some aspect of making whether you are in a school, a school library or a public library. I know that as children’s librarians we have been participating in maker culture for years, but the new focus really is more than a rebranding. The blending of digital and analog, the open ended and problem solving nature of presenting students and patrons with possibilities instead of directions are both different from some of the making that we were doing early in my career as a youth services librarian.
Design Thinking. I recently participated in my own school’s Innovation Institute which brought together members of the faculty to use design thinking to solve a problem or create something new to share with our faculty and students. The Gates Foundation and IDEO have created a Design Thinking Toolkit for Libraries. While this way of thinking and problem solving is definitely taxing on the brain, it does tend to lead to innovation. We are always telling our students to take risks in their learning, and as librarians we should be willing to take some risks in ours as well.
The following are some links from the education world that easily lend themselves to library environments.
The spirit of cooperation is a natural force in humanity. Libraries can be a key community collaborator. How can you harness the power of collaborative work? The practice of neighbors helping neighbors is the genesis of a healthy and thriving community. The fire department, the post office, and the public library are a few examples of early voluntary associations that strengthened society.
What is the essence of collaboration? What are the benefits of pooling resources with community organizations, businesses, and individuals? How can you determine whether a common mission exists between the library and others? These are some questions an upcoming 2016 ALA Editions book will explore. ALSC is helping me, as co-author, to conduct a brief survey to gather information for the book project. If you’d like to participate, complete the survey by end of Wednesday, June 17, 2015.
Today’s guest post was written by Dorothy Stoltz. Dorothy is the co-author of a forthcoming ALA Editions book project on creating collaborations. Dorothy serves as chair of the PLA/ALSC Every Child Ready to Read oversight committee and is head of Programming and Outreach for Carroll County (MD) Public Library.
I discovered Rebecca’s work through participating in her crowd-funding for her ITSY BITSY SPIDER book. By the way, as of two weeks ago, in addition to its print format, this story is is now an interactive book app for the iPad … Continue reading →
I confess that after my trip to Portland, Maine, this summer and falling in love with the area, when I noticed on FB that Lisa spends part of her year there, I thought I should invite her onto … Continue reading →
One of my favorite young adult books (and films) is Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. These authors have written two other novels together, and Levithan also teamed up with John Green for another of my favorite books, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I’m fascinated when writers work together to tell a story, and I’m curious about how these things come about, what their process is, and how the story develops along the way. After all, writing is supposed to be a lonely business, isn’t it?
I think most working writers will agree that all published stories are ultimately collaborations. There’s the critiques you get from your beta readers, feedback from your agent, changes from your editor. There’s also the input of copy editors and proofreaders, who can sometimes save a story at the last possible moment and catch all your mistakes. Your friends and family help you brainstorm, or happen to say something at just the right moment. Your read another story or watch a movie that inspires a brilliant idea for yours. Along the way, many of these suggestions are entirely optional — it’s still your book — but it’s good to listen and be open to anything that will make your book stronger. Your crit partners, agent, and editor all want it to be the best story it can be, and you know what? Even if you agree with them and make some changes, it’s still your book.
So far, I have only collaborated with another author once, on a novelette titled “Lost in Natalie,” which was recently published in the summer issue of Space and Time magazine. I wrote it with my friend Mercurio D. Rivera, a critically acclaimed science fiction writer; he critiqued an early draft in our writing group and thought it was a great premise but the light, almost campy tone was jarring against the darker themes. He wanted to take a crack at working on it together, and I agreed. (There was also some sort-of-incest in the story, which I think is what really got him interested…)
The basic plot was about a guy who attends a sex party called a “swap meat” at which everyone switches bodies throughout the night. But there’s a police raid — because of course that kind of thing is totally illegal! — and he has to escape in someone else’s body. Hijinks ensue.
As this was our first collaboration with anyone, let alone each other, we approached it as sensibly as we could. Mercurio had my original draft, which he reworked into a new outline, and we decided to simply use that as a guide and alternate chapters, sending them to each other to pick up the thread like a round-robin game. As we reviewed the other’s section, we were free to make any changes we wanted — without tracked changes — no questions asked.
Mercurio kicked it off:
Attached is my stab at an opening scene for “Lost at the Swap Meat” (working title). I’m afraid that my outline has sort of fallen apart. Nonetheless, I’ll also send you the outline in its current state in a separate email.My skin is very thick; feel free to re-work any or all of this if it’s not working for you.
I worked on it. A few days later I sent him this:
Here’s my first pass on the second scene, along with some changes and additions to the first section, which was quite good. Wow, it really is porny though–where are we going to market this thing? Anyway. Feel free to change whatever you need to. I’ll choke down my pride I basically stuck to your outline here, and threw in some other threads we might explore or lose along the way.
I got it back a week later:
Tag! You’re it!P.S. Outline is broken. Luckily you don’t normally write with one, right?
PPS. I ramped down the sexual flirting in the cab–I figured they’d be too shaken up from their near arrest, but I kept it in the apartment
PPPS My latest scene sucks. Please make brilliant
PPPPS “Conner” is now “Gustavo”– to make the characters slightly less white-bread
Gustavo? Okay. We changed that to Enrique at some point.
Look! It’s a whole day early! This latest scene is still a little rough, but I think we have some direction. I updated the outline with some ideas for the rest of the story, but feel free to ignore it if you can come up with something better. I am really excited about this and I like how it’s coming along–we’ll obviously have a lot of editing to do when we’re done, but nothing we can’t fix.
It’s coming in a little long as well, so I think we may have to trim a lot if we can’t sell it at that length and with its mature content. We’ll see after we finish.
Carry on! I expect something soon
And so it went. Back and forth. It was awesome.
The collaborators (Photo by Matt Kressel)
Reading through our old e-mails, I was also working on my first draft of Fair Coin at the time, and at least one other short story. But I always looked forward to getting the next section from Mercurio, and my faster turnaround times kept him working and motivated. And the end result (many, many critiques and revisions later) was something better than either of us probably could have managed on our own.
Mercurio writes wonderful dark, thinky stories with beautiful prose, while I think my strengths are in dialogue and character, and our different approaches to plotting meshed very well. The story ended up having a really interesting, provocative theme and the ending is one of the best things “I’ve” written. I learned a lot from him in the process, and because we were constantly revising each other’s sections, and then our own sections and lines, the whole story smoothed out so even our friends couldn’t tell which scenes we wrote. (Actually, we barely remember anymore either. We’re each happy to take credit for the bits we like though.)
Moreover, our friendship survived the experience, and we eventually sold the story to a great market, so I count that a win. So why did this go so well? Being friends helped, but that also could have gotten in the way. First and foremost, we kept our egos out of the equation. We admire each other’s talents and instincts, and we respect each other. We’re both used to receiving constructive criticism and revising our work. It was also a lot of fun! We both loved the story and wanted it to reach its potential, and I am so energized by that creative process with other people.
You would think two writers would make the story go twice as quickly, but that isn’t always the case because you also have two people with schedules and responsibilities and lives to work around. Sharing the workload did help though, and I am often still amazed — and a little shocked — at what we created together. (A small caveat if you’re interested in checking out the story in Space and Time and are familiar with most of my other work: It is really not young adult.)
The experience of writing with Mercurio also prepared me for other projects down the line, including my new novel, The Silence of Six, which took a more collaborative process with my publisher than I was accustomed to. And I would definitely love to collaborate on another story or even a YA novel, with the right project and the right person. (E-mail me!)
Writers, have you collaborated on any stories? What was that like? What are some of your favorite collaborations?
E.C. Myers was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts and raised by a single mother and the public library in Yonkers, New York. He is the author of the Andre Norton Award–winning young adult novel Fair Coin and Quantum Coin, as well as numerous short stories. His new novel, The Silence of Six, a thriller about teenage hackers and government conspiracies, will be out on November 5, 2014 from Adaptive Books. You can find traces of him all over the internet, but especially at http://ecmyers.net and on Twitter: @ecmyers.
I love technology even when I'm less than facile with it. Having come from the horse and buggy days when overdue notices were handwritten, check-out cards (by the thousands) were hand alphabetized for each due date and slowly searched to unite card with returned item, and phone notices ate up a morning each week, how can I not love?
Back in the day, to reach out to your colleagues meant a drive or a long-distance phone call. It wasn't unusual for a director, sweating the bottom line, to ask you to use snail mail. Not exactly conducive to a conversation.
Technology has been powering our work and connectivity since the '80s. Each year it gets better, faster and more interwoven. Social media gets us brainstorming, learning, commiserating and celebrating with pals, new and old, near and far. Travis Jonker just wrote this article on power-using. Combine that with chats, google doc collaboration and we can be right there with each other all the time. I'm with you, buddy!
Bringing technology into our work with kids has also been great. Watching parents using iPads with their kids, kids gaming and solving in Minecraft, kids learning animation, coding, filmmaking, using iPads for trivia/scavenger hunts on tours and more in libraries (check out Jbrary's recent post on iPad programs) has been way exciting. I will never be the Luddite that screams "Books! Books! Nothin' but books!" There is room for all the ways to interact with print and discover and learn information.
So where is all this going? Well with new iPhone I bought last night in hand, for the first time I am free to blog wherever and whenever. So I did, just to see if I could!
Sigh! Technology I heart you!
[Although I couldn't *quite* figure out how to get the links and photo in...more study ahead!)
As some of you know, I've recently been teaching as an adjunct and occasional instructor for continuing ed courses. I pretty much fell into it - never pictured myself teaching. With encouragement, I applied to teach a basic youth services in public library grad course online a few years ago. What's to lose?
Holy academia! I got hired! That first time, I had six weeks to develop a syllabus and content for the fifteen week grad course, find my textbooks and set-up the online course on a platform that was like learning a language from another dimension. It was without question the hardest professional challenge I ever experienced.
I was able to do it because I wasn't alone. The support from SLIS staff and many, many colleagues who mentored me, suggested pathways through this new dimension and from the students themselves taught me a ton and shaped me as a teacher.
Because of that experience, I found I love teaching and kept it up (it's gotten easier and far less other-dimensional since that first "polar plunge" semester).
And alot of that love is because of alot of you!
Teaching allows me to share the wisdom and experience of many of you out in the field blazing paths to great services for your communities. I have been able to link my students to many bloggers and blog posts and the seminal thinking that is going on in the field. I thank you and hope you keep writing and sharing!
And I want to especially thank the kind colleagues who took the time to go the extra mile this semester for my students by creating videos talking about their passions and areas of expertise for my students. Huge hugs go out to Christine Jenkins, Mel Depper, Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Karen Jensen, Abby Johnson, Terrie Howe, Megan Schliesmann, Shelly Collins-Fuerbringer, Lisa Shaia, Amy Koester, Cen Campbell and Starr LaTronica. I know how busy everyone is and it was a privilege to share your thinking with the students.
While the course evaluations aren't in, I would say that these videos touched the students deeply (if the discussion boards and papers written are any indication) and were eye-opening glimpses into the thinking behind what we do as youth services professionals. Your expertise, so kindly shared, will make the students more mighty.
Thanks for joining me in this teaching adventure. I simply could not do it without you!
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I am adding this book to my collection of "books to read at the beginning of the school year." It will also be good for discussions of theme.
Little Round and Big Square begin the book playing nicely together, even though they are different. In their favorite game, one says a word and they both transform into that thing. By splitting in half and flipping their halves, both are able to become butterflies, for instance.
Soon, Big Square is suggesting shapes that Little Round cannot make. Both retreat to their corners.
Until Little Round suggests that they work together. Then the fun really begins.
At my school (LREI), our Library and Edtech departments merged a few years ago. We are in a bit of a unique position since two of our dedicated tech people are degreed librarians, and the Department Chair of the Edtech department is actually our high school librarian. So our joint department numbers 9 strong with 6 of us holding MLS degrees. We are fortunate to work and play well together, but our sense from attending conferences and meetings was that we are a bit of a rarity.
In the fall, we hosted the first #libtechcon14 where we invited librarians and tech folks to come in pairs or teams for an unconference style day that would touch on some of the hard questions about communication, working together and the future of libraries. The event sold out quickly and once it was over, we were asked to consider hosting the conference again.
This time we widened our view and decided why not partner with another NYC independent school to co-host the event. I strongly believe that broadening the conversation and sharing resources is essential to our success in libraries and we soon partnered up with Ethical Culture Fieldston and their librarians and tech folks to host #edtechcon15 up in the Bronx. We looked at what had worked well the first time around, as well as the reflections from participants that let us know what they wanted more and less of. We added an essential question portion asking big questions about collaboration, literacy and future job descriptions. One of the most powerful activities involved all participants anonymously writing down their hopes and fears on separate post-its in terms of library and tech. As job descriptions morph and lines blur, librarians and tech integrators are finding themselves redefining their roles in ways that are both exciting and scary.
I hope this conference will become a bit of a wandering staple the NYC independent school world. I can see this model working not only for schools, but for public libraries as well — to foster community between branches, departments or counties. I know that I left energized with plenty of ideas as well as new contacts.
Summer has a way of sneaking up on you, doesn’t it? ALSC is giving you a little extra time to get ready for our new semester of online courses. Registration is open for all courses. Classes begin Monday, July 13, 2015.
Two of the courses being offered this semester are eligible for continuing education units (CEUs) by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options. For more information on ALSC online learning, please visit: http://www.ala.org/alsced
Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC Online Learning website. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Sutherland, 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.
Some of my favorite programs over the years have involved collaboration with community partners or everyday experts who come in (or we go out to) to create fun experiences for the kids. When we saw the CLSP theme of Dig into Reading for the year we knew that we were going to have plenty of opportunities to partner up.
Our city is absolutely blessed with wild, natural places: towering bluffs, the Mississippi River, marshland, forested areas and prairie (I know!!!). Combined with a significant number of residents who place high value on sustainability, preserving recreational opportunities and in "getting back to nature" (eating and growing locally and organically), we get a perfect storm of partnerships.
One such partnership was with our city Eco-Park which includes significant acreage with trails in one of our marshes. Beautiful at any time of the year, the marsh is filled with wildlife and wild places that are brought up close and personal with the trails laid through it. Bikers, hikers, strollers, skaters, birders and scientists flock to the area. It's a perfect place to "dig into".
Checking for fish
I contacted the park's naturalist Steph and asked if she would be willing to go on a marsh walk with us. I would episodically share the First Nations story of how the earth was formed on turtle's back (how handy - the tale features creatures found throughout the marsh and that we might see on our meander) at stops along the walk and she would share marsh facts. She agreed. And that was the extent of our communication. She knew I knew story and I knew she knew marsh.
We held the walk a few days ago and it was like a dream come true. Our gathering of kids and parents strolled, learned tips and facts about flora and fauna from Steph and pretty much thrilled to the tale of Skywoman's precipitous fall and the brave animals who helped save her and create the earth. The kids soon used their new nature-detective eyes to spot dragonflies (and red-winged blackbirds eating the dragonflies and leaving iridescent wings lying everywhere to be collected), ducklings, flowers, herons duckweed and more. Steph's shoulder bag held bug jars, turtle shell, a duck wing and skull, a beaver skull and other goodies to teach the kids more about what the were seeing.
We also share a library collection with the Eco-Park (identification guides and books about the flora and fauna found there) so it was a perfect place to promote books and reading as well. Kids and parents appreciated the opportunity to discover and learn about the ecology of a treasured natural resource right in their backyard. And a chance for their nature-nut children's librarian to get out of the shop and meander down the trail talking story, listening and learning marsh facts and chatting library on a perfect June day? Well, priceless!
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I've been conferencing a loooonnnng time at ALA. I agree with colleagues posting and tweeting, this conference was a win in every way for youth librarians.
Maybe because this is the first newly compressed conferences - fewer days and fewer sessions sponsored by units and almost all programs held at the conference center itself. This seems to make it possible to attend more events than ever before.
Maybe the addition and continued support for member-driven content (ignite sessions, uncommons, conversation starters) that resulted in great youth presentations. The unit-supported content was pretty amazing as well.
Maybe because groups of librarians connected through blogs, the twitterverse and groups like EL, ALATT and Flannel Friday reached the perfect storm of connectivity creating kismet meet-up moments and IRL chat.
So, despite substantial time spent fulfilling my responsibilities as ALA chapter councilor for my state, I have to say that this conference was an amazing, robust and energetic one for youth librarians.
This doesn't even begin to address the ALSC and YALSA supported programs, the exhibits, committee work, the auditorium speaker series...and just everything.
There was energy and innovation and excitement - not just to see each other but to strategize what else we can do to be uber superhero librarians back in our communities and looking at the future. I talked about this kind of collaborative energy here and here.
And while I celebrate attending conferences, I also think we do so much outside of conferences to stay fabulous and tuned in and inventive. So whether you were at ALA or not, the doors are open for you to walk through!
Mel from Mel's Desk gets at the core of what I LOVE about this at-conference-and-not-at-conference paradigm in what I believe will be THE blog post on personal learning, connecting with those who share your passion and empowerment for the next decade. Conferences like ALA are one way to connect and learn - but there are so many other ways too that happen everyday when we reach outside our workplace and connect. Let's go and let's do it.
I’m excited to share Franki Sibberson’s latest project with you. SOLVE IT YOUR WAY! is an innovative project to encourage creative problem solving and collaborate with others around the globe. I shared this… Read More →
Daniel and I started developing picture books as a team back in 2004. Our earliest picture books were practice vehicles, helping us learn how to create a picture book as well as how best to work together. Our third collaboration landed us an agent and our fourth got us a book deal. Along the way, Daniel and I have discovered a few best practices for successful creative partnerships.
1. Give each other space.
When we started out, we thought we had to muddle through every detail of the development process together—from idea to execution. Soon enough, we felt suffocated by the project, and frustrated with each other. So we changed it up. We’d ruminate on our current task independently and then come to each discussion meeting with solid recommendations on hand.
2. Check your ego at the door.
Even giving each other ample space, our discussions can become quite heated. Naturally, each of us is convinced our approach is the right one. We’ve learned that we can’t hash things out immediately. It’s most harmonious if we present our recommendations with minimal commentary, and then each go back in our respective caves to consider all angles. After some reflection, I often realize that Daniel’s proposed solutions for the story are better than mine, or something he brought up leads me to rethink and rewrite for the better.
3. Try to have fun!
Sometimes we make the mistake of approaching our sessions with too much seriousness. Yes, publishing is a business, but the ideas flow best when we relax and let our creative sides go off on tangents. One of those tangents could be exactly what we need.
Lenore and Daniel Jennewein live and work together in Frankfurt, Germany. CHICK-O-SAURUS REX is their debut picture book as a team. Daniel is also the illustrator of IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN? and TEACH YOUR BUFFALO TO PLAY TO DRUMS, both by Audrey Vernick. Lenore also writes novels for teens under the name Lenore Appelhans, including THE MEMORY OF AFTER and CHASING BEFORE.
“Organized” and “innovation” are words rarely heard together. But an organized approach to innovation is precisely what America needs today, argue Steve Currall, Ed Frauenheim, Sara Jansen Perry, and Emily Hunter. We sat down with the authors of Organized Innovation: A Blueprint for Renewing America’s Prosperity to discuss why American ought to organize its innovation efforts.
Why does America need a more organized innovation system today?
An “innovation gap” has emerged in recent decades — where US universities focus on basic research, and industry concentrates on incremental product development. At the same time, the stakes have risen around technology invention and commercialization. Innovation has become more central to the economic health of nations, but the rate of US innovation is slowing while that if other nations is accelerating. Since 2008, the number of foreign-origin patents that the US Patent and Trademark Office has granted annually has surpassed the number of domestic-origin patents. Between 1999 and 2009, the US share of global research and development spending dropped, while the share of Asia as a whole rose and exceeded the US share in 2009.
What’s behind this innovation gap?
In a nutshell, history and a set of myths held by many in the United States. The gap dates to the 1970s and 1980s, as big US companies retreated from basic research and focused on incremental product development. The shift had to do with a greater focus on short-term financial results, as well as increased competitive pressures. Research fell to the universities, but academic research often remains within particular disciplines, conducted in a vacuum that minimizes societal needs. Too often academic research does not make the leap beyond the lab to the real world. For years, observers have noticed the widening gap, but it has not been addressed. We think that has much to do with three myths—that innovation is about lone geniuses, the free market, and serendipity. These myths blind us from seeing that we tolerate an unorganized, less-than-optimal system of innovation.
What do you propose as a solution?
We call it Organized Innovation. It is a blueprint for better coordinating the key players in the US innovation ecosystem: universities, businesses, and government. The solution taps the power of both the private and public sectors to generate groundbreaking innovations—the kinds of new technologies that create good jobs and improve life for everyone.
The solution has three main pillars:
Channeled Curiosity: steering researchers’ fundamental inquiries toward real-world problems.
Boundary-Breaking Collaboration: tearing down walls between academic disciplines, and between universities and the private sector to better generate novel, high-impact technologies.
Orchestrated Commercialization: coordinating the various players involved in technology commercialization—including scholars, university administrators, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and corporations—to translate research insights into real-world benefits.
The Organized Innovation framework already has proven effective in closing the innovation gap. It is inspired by our nearly decade-long study of a highly successful but little-known federal initiative, the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Centers. These university-based centers require researchers to link basic science to social and market demand, require interdisciplinary and industry-academic collaboration and encourage the creation of proofs-of-concept to demonstrate that a lab-based technology has commercial potential. From 1985 to 2009, about $1 billion in federal funding was invested in the centers. They have returned more than 10 times that amount in a wide variety of technology innovations.
What is your favorite example about new technology generated from the Engineering Research Center program?
Our favorite case is about Mark Humayun and his artificial retina. Humayun is a fascinating individual, and his team developed a device that captures video from a camera embedded in eyeglasses and wirelessly relays digital signals to an implant placed directly on the retina. The artificial retina, called Argus II, is approved for use in the European Union and won US FDA approval in early 2013. Humayun’s device is changing lives — restoring useful vision to people blinded by retinal diseases.
You propose that the US government changes its approach to funding research and development. What is your message to policy makers?
We propose that federal and state funding agencies devote funds to research programs that embody Organized Innovation principles, which may translate into more funding for research with practical significance or innovation outcomes. The key advantages of our model are that we can maximize the public’s return on research and development investments. Both political parties can support this approach; it is fundamentally bipartisan.
Organized Innovation goes against the grain of widespread doubts about the ability of universities, business, and government to work together to solve problems, especially amid growing public deficits. But we’re convinced Americans will have the courage to see the value of such investments in our future.
Steve Currall, Ed Frauenheim, Sara Jansen Perry, and Emily Hunter are the authors of Organized Innovation: A Blueprint for Renewing America’s Prosperity. Steven C. Currall is Dean and Professor of Management in the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis. Ed Frauenheim is an author, speaker, and associate editorial director of Workforce magazine, where he writes about the intersection of people management, technology and business strategy. Sara Jansen Perry, Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Houston-Downtown, earned her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at the University of Houston. Emily M. Hunter is Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University after earning her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at the University of Houston.
Today I join colleagues at the Arkansas State Library Children's Services Workshop in Little Rock. I'm sharing presentations on Unprogramming, Stealth Programming and Dynamic Partnerships (including Schools!) and many of the programs I refer to can be found on these Pinterest boards. My Arkansas friends are also sharing ideas on science, makerspaces, and 1000 Books Before Kindergarten and sharing weather that is far more spring-like than anything I expect to see for some weeks home in Wisconsin. What could be better? If you don't do Pinterest, below are links to some of the resources that are described in today's workshop.
And while I'm on presentations and workshops, I want to encourage everyone to read this vital post at Storytime Underground by Amy Koester about your own power to share your good work with each other. I am a working librarian like you who does just that. So keep on standing up, sharing ideas and feeling your power!
I've always consdered myself one lucky duck to work in the same state as the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) in Madison. This book examination center headed by K.T. Horning and womaned by an amazing staff that includes Megan Schliesman, Merri Lindgren and Emily Townsend (as well as a stellar universe of former librarians who continue to shine out wherever they are employed - and hats off to Ginny Moore Kruse for her work in developing the CCBC into a national as well as state force) has been a touchstone throughout my career.
There have been a number of celebrations this year around their 50th anniversary, including a recent one at the Friends of the CCBC annual meeting. I was thrilled to be asked to be part of a panel presenting on ways in which the panelists used the CCBC resources in their work. Our panel was comprised of a research university prof; an author/historian researcher; a university prof/researcher/writer...and me!
Here are my actual notes for the talk I gave. Lots of laughter when I showed the audience what I was speaking from. The catalog card is significant for many reasons not least of which the CCBC has meant so much to me and my practice of youth librarianship that I only need a hint to share the good stuff.
Library School Student - the CCBC was just a hallway down from SLIS. As a youth focused SLIS student I could access the newest books and get to know the breadth of children's literature and research on it with the best reference desk. I got strong.
Collection Development - the CCBC was a must-go early in my career as I honed my collection development chops. I would bring down stacks of old catalog cards with titles jotted on the blank side to look at and decide if we REALLY needed that particular title. And I found great unreviewed material like books in the incredible Small Press Collection to add to the collection. I could go back to my director with a stack of cards of what we didn't buy because I actually had the book in hand. He made the connection, and always funded these quarterly, 3 hour round trips to Madison.
Colleague Connector - the CCBC was the unsuspecting facilitator of some of my strongest connections with school colleagues. My favorite connection happened with Judy, our district reading coordianator. An invite to experience the CCBC with me and spend those 3 hours commuting resulted in big ideas and a lasting connection that informed our amazing partnership work for twenty years between the library and schools.
CCBC Advisory Board - I served on the board twice and I learned even more about the resources and the many ways both school and public libraries accessed the collections and information. It helped me hone my leadership skills as well!
Book Discussions - the time I spent participating in the monthly book discussions taught me how to truly learn the art of careful listening and powerful advocacy for books. National level book award committees use the CCBC Discussion Guidelines for a reason. They work! Eveything I am as a reviewer for SLJ and in my award committee discussion work I owe to the CCBC and that modeling and training and experience.
Intellectual Freedom Service - not many people outside of our state know, but for decades the CCBC has helped WI librarians navigate book challenges by providing, in complete confidentiality, reviews and other support materials to help answer a challenge. Ably run for the past twelve years by this year's WLA/WEMTA Intellectual Freedom Award winner Megan Schliesman, this service has helped me twice in my career. And I appreciate it.
Multicultural Focus - The CCBC , with its annual CCBC Choices publication and long-running observations and discussions of muticultural issues in publishing, has helped me hugely in creating a collection that reflects our world. Conferences, speakers, authors and illustrators have been brought to me as well through their work in this area. They helped me develop a strong collection early on.
I was honored to be asked to represent a working librarian's perspective on the panel (and I tell you humbled by the company I was keeping!). Congratulations to the CCBC on their 50th and many, many more great years to you!
We have blogged about our field tripadventures before - Library Stars for 2nd graders (now in it's third year), and our two new additions: Library Sneakers for 2nd graders and 7th grade tours. These intensive field trips aim to introduce the kids to the library and its resources in a fun (but focused way) that is choreographed so expertly it looks like we are making it all up as we go. Let me talk about this from the perspective as a manager of our department.
The field trips take a ton of hidden-to-all-but-us work and preparation. We get class lists from the school, look up each and every student for fines and whether they have a card, drop off and pick up new card registrations, set a 2-month storytime hiatus to accommodate the twenty + tours, forgive all but cost-of-book fines for all children – and offer “Fresh Start” cards and forgiveness to parents of kids with COBs – create special bookmarks, write the scripts, recruit from among staff outside the department to have the 3 field trip leaders and desk coverage (and few, if any, twelve hour days or split shifts).
On the day of the field trip, each librarian guide knows her part and is committed to hitting their mark. Classes are split in three and rotated among the librarians (one does book talks, one does a YS intro tour, one does a “secret background”). If we stray off the clock, one group has to wait. Uh-uh. Not gonna happen. There is also improvisation (the group is late but has to leave at the same time; the kids can't focus so we decrease the time free-exploring the books and collections) that flows smoothly because the staff is ready.
The results are worth every bit of background prep - seeing new faces at the library, knowing kids understand just a bit more about how we work and the way accompanying parents and teachers get excited and look forward to these trips. We get an excellent rate of returns (kids who come back get book bags or a special star), the preschool parents who have to forego storytime are grudgingly understanding and staff throughout the library are super supportive.
Our first year was grant funded; our second funded by the schools and the third year our school coordinator and I had talked about the library splitting the costs. The financial pressures on the district are as keen as those we feel at the public library. It's a small thing to prioritize this support . Shall we spend, for each grade level, $500of our programming money on busing that reaches 1200 kids or hire 3-4 performers for the same cost, far fewer in attendance and no message about libraries or what we do? Hmmm. Snap! We know the answer to THAT!
And then you get this message below (in answer to our query on what we owe for half of this year's busing) from the school coordinator and every piece of this is even more powerful:
I'm so glad everything went well and that our families are finding value in our community libraries. I know you sincerely want to help with the cost, but it is not necessary. We budgeted for the buses and all went well. The time your staff spends with our students and staff at our elementary and middle schools more than covers the 'in kind' cost of traveling to get to the libraries! Your work with Central HS is also very appreciated and we're working on the ways to get you connected at Logan High as well for next year! This is how partnerships work, in our humble opinion. We'll budget for the trips again next year -- it is so worth it for our kids!
(and in a PS to our director, she wrote:Iknow that you are fully aware of the value of your staff, but I just want to tell you once again what a great group of professionals you have -- their commitment to our community is over and above most. If at anytime you want to highlight this partnership at one of your library board meetings -- happy to stop by and have our teachers/kids tell their stories!)
As a manager, I am intensely proud of my whole crew. I open doors and support their work, play devil's advocate to hone the process, help connect the right team member to the work or piece of the work that best fits their skills and talents. All the rest, ALL THE REST, is done by the team. To step back and see them all step up is what I am there for. And, as a manager, to read that support for their efforts from our school peers is all I need at the end of the day. Thank you Linda, Celine, Sara, Brooke and Emily (and my management colleague Jen) for what you do.
This is one of my favorite photos at the always amazing Astronomy Picture of the Day. It shows the Great Nebula in Orion - a huge cloud of gas and energy where suns are forming in a stellar nursery. While the science intrigues me, I see it as a metaphor for what we can do best in youth services - help support and lift up our colleagues anywhere on their career path.
I've been thinking alot about this lately - partly because I've been teaching. There is this aspect of giving information in the act of teaching but a far deeper piece where the students give just as much - sharing, problem solving, teaching and supporting each other. I always learn when I teach.
I've also been thinking about this - partly because I have been looking at management and hiring not just in our own library but also as I develop workshops, presentations and courses on youth services management. Part of what you do every day as a manager is look for ways to open a path for the team members to work more smoothly - whether its removing a rock from the path, helping re-find the way, putting the breaks on a cart careening off the path or providing a little muscle to help ease the passage up a tough hill.
Partly because I have been in so many conversations with colleagues all over the country about how to encourage the sharing so we can preserve knowledge but also build on it. We should each want to plug into librarians at all points in their career to network, to share and to encourage their work and passion. Whether new or a vet, we can lift each other up by asking for our colleague's opinions, program ideas, and youth librarianship thoughts.
Amy Koester wrote recently about this is Storytime Underground and I couldn't agree more. We all have something to share, to learn and to gain. It isn't just the bloggers and presenters who have a platform though. It is every youth librarian every day in their work pushing that envelope further out. The stellar nursery isn't just for the beginners in librarianship - it is for everyone along their career's path. We all need that nurturing and support - and we all can give it.
Maybe, in addition to our PLN (personal learning networks), we need to commit to a ULN (universal learning network). Open ourselves up not just to our familiar network but build further and more openly outside of our tribe and our group and our lanes of connectivity. If we each think ourselves as a mentor - even if we are just six months into our first position - and our job is to lift each other up, how powerful could that be?!?!
We can then consciously support a youth librarian idea nursery that spreads and supports the work of us all by connecting to the unconnected, the un-cohorted, the un-MLISed. We can build the network by including never-before-presenters to panels we are creating to present at CE/conferences/webinars at all levels. We can make sure our blogs are open for guest posts. We can nurture those who don't have a path to leadership or an audience and are hesitant to step forward.
Flannel Friday, Storytime Underground, Thrive Thursdays and lots of bloggers are leading the way to this kind of universal support. Our challenge is to continue and reach more deeply out to those unconnected who can use the support just as much. I know we do it. But can we do it more? Oh yeah, we're youth librarians and we all are that nursery for each other.
I've blogged about this before - especially in relation to the our penchant to be good sharing - and taking - people. You can't ever forget where something comes from and it is a beautiful thing when you can do that acknowledgement - most especially in a professional atmosphere (blogging, presentations, workshops, Twitter and Tumblr and etc). We all stand on the shoulders of those before us. We may tweak and we may tinker but somebody got that ball rolling.
I want to add another thought to the conversation - or throwdown from a management perspective: thinking about taking the "I" to "we."
I have always worked in a strong team environment. From the smallest library to larger libraries, many people - not just youth services staff - from director to Circ clerks to custodial staff have had a hand in contributing to conversation and idea-building. They have put in an oar, a thought, a suggestion, a brilliant solution that has made each and every project and program far better than it began.
I can count on one hand, ONE HAND, the actual stuff that I, me, myself, *I*, created, invented or totally birthed ON MY OWN in my 38 year career.
Uh-uh. Didn't happen. Dozens of things I am known for were the result of collaboration - free, wild, plunge-into-"what-if, what-if, what-if", brainstorming, tornadic, mosh pit, scrum-filled collaboration. When I've changed something, I am still building on something that went before that provided the ignition spark to push my own practice. Same goes for all of you, my friends and colleagues, out on the internet - you have shared and changed so many ideas that have helped me grow an idea and make it better. It's ours!
When you look at my blog posts as I am sharing a program, idea or innovation, you seldom see it written in the first person. Far more often, it is written as "we" and "our" because the progress or change or light bulb moment was built by many hands in the department and the library and out in my ULN/PLN land..
While it is vital to credit your colleagues when you are sharing ideas that are clearly theirs and give them "mad props", it is also important to move away from the "I" and acknowledge the true "we-ness" of what is created through every-day and every-way collaboration.
I believe we are stronger together in everything we create. What do you think?
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Then Amy extended the conversation with this. Again, I agree with her wholeheartedly.
My post was chewing around the edges of something else that isn't quite as linear but is a huge piece of crediting people who create and citing them.
When I wrote about management perspective I was not referring to "management privilege". I detest anyone who poaches and claims credit or by omission leaves out the people who do the true heavy lifting. It's not how I try to run my shop or thankfully been managed by others - or most importantly -been treated by all my many colleagues around the state and country.
And I think that there is a great deal of professional pain that youth librarians feel from work they have not been credited for, celebrated for and appreciated for. I am definitely not arguing the great teamwork-kumbaya (we're all in this together, la-la).
I am coming at the discussion from one place as a long-time manager, a long-time active association member and a long-time consultant/presenter. And from the other place, I am coming as a newly energized researcher and teacher who demands citations and digging down to the original roots of work - most especially from myself! It is this perspective that I want to pursue.
As I have been studying the history of children's programming in public libraries, it is increasingly clear that youth librarians have been pushing the envelope of service since the beginning of the profession. Over the last century, children's librarians were at the forefront of developing SLPs, outreach, use of technology (radio, TV, films, filmstrips, record players), programming to parents (my mom was in the parent group while I was in storytime!), and many many of the practices that some in the profession are currently "inventing." Everything old IS new again.
There is a huge scaffold of practice upon which each and every one of us builds our own scaffold of service and innovative ideas. My concern is for some in the profession that don't want to recognize that foundation. Our foremothers and current colleagues have done work that we all build on - whether its oppositional building or complementary. When we don't acknowledge that debt - and appreciate where our own work is coming from, we do a huge disservice.
My point in my original post about how collaborative we are comes from that place. It is the "we" I am trying to get at.
So how do we acknowledge the "I" while being true to the "we" - and visa versa?
As Amy writes: cite! Seek permission from those whose work your work is based on to share. Communicate and don't steal. Never false claim. Know that your support of someone else's work enhances your own. Acknowledge that the brainstorming power of coworkers, tweeps, Facebookers, a conference hallway conversation informed that idea that you brought to full fruition.
You cannot be harmed by acknowledging and citing. Rather you can be the power that raises up those around you. And that is a powerful "I" and a powerful "we".
An interactive Taiko performance–forming new connections brings fresh knowledge to the library.
Rural librarianship can mean a small staff, but it can also mean a tight-knit community full of residents and organizations happy to share their knowledge. Working with other organizations and local experts helps maximize impact and expand services to new audiences without overburdening librarians. How do you find new partners? Leave the library!
Earlier this week, April Witteveen wrote an installment in the YALSA Blog’s Back to School series about making new connections within the school system. She recommends “stepping outside your comfort zone” which also applies to forming community partnerships. If you want to form a partnership to deliver new programming opportunities, step outside the building and strike up a conversation. Take a trip down to the farmers market, visit with business owners, or attend a meeting with a local organization. You might meet a person or group with special experience or knowledge that they are eager to share with local teens. For example, a relationship established with the Montana Taiko Drum Community recently resulted in an interactive performance at the library. It was a new experience for all, but we achieved several mutual objectives including enhancing a sense of community and developing cultural competence.
AM radio made with snap circuits during a program facilitated by a local maker
Hobbyists can also help you develop programming in topics as diverse as your community. The maker movement is an excellent opportunity to call upon local knowledge. This summer my library borrowed a makers kit from the Montana State Library that included a Raspberry Pi and other fun technology that was largely unfamiliar to our staff of six. I reached out to a local makers group on MeetUp and found community members interested in facilitating programs on circuitry, Arduino, and MaKey MaKey. During our latest program, teens used snap circuits to build an AM radio–a result that may not have happened if I had designed the program on my own. Better yet, the maker group gained exposure, and we worked together to promote STEM education.
Forming new partnerships can bring programs and fresh knowledge to the library, but like all relationships, it’s a two way street. As you go out into the community, remember to listen. There are many ways the library can work with other groups to fulfill common goals.The Future of Library Service for and with Teens: A Call to Action report has a section on forming and sustaining partnerships. The report asks librarians to consider “how the mission and goals of the library complement and extend the mission of the other community organizations” (p. 32). By sharing ideas and working toward a common goal, we can bring more to the teens we serve. No single librarian can know or do all things, but we are pretty awesome at connecting the community with resources. Our “portfolio” should include connections with other people, organizations, and mentors.
Over 1.5 million children from more than 75 countries have signed up to celebrate International Dot Day in their classrooms and individually. It is a day of COLLABORATION and CREATIVITY across the globe. Peter Reynolds says, “the theme for this year’s … Continue reading →