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1. Collaboration for Learning: Notes from the Public Libraries & STEM Conference

I was recently able to represent ALSC at the Public Libraries & STEM Conference in Denver, CO. The conference was kept very small–around 160 people total–and thus was very concentrated, with plenty to learn from and discuss with colleagues from libraries, STEM organizations, and other institutions with missions for informal learning. And while the small size necessary means that the participant pool was limited, the takeaways weren’t. I particularly want to share with you one of my major takeaways: the library as a single element in a larger learning ecosystem.

Note: I tried visual note taking at this conference. Since my handwriting isn’t always great, I’m transcribing text in the captions of images.

Here’s what I learned and have been itching to share:

Public Libraries & STEM Conference (Image by Amy Koester)

Public Libraries & STEM Conference; Denver, CO, Aug. 20-22, 2015 (Image by Amy Koester)

Help define a new 21st Century vision of STEM in public libraries. (Image by Amy Koester)

Help define a new 21st Century vision of STEM in public libraries. (Image by Amy Koester)

There were several goals of the Public Libraries & STEM Conference, but one in particular resonated with me immediately: to figure out what STEM/STEAM in public libraries could/should look like in our age of technology and innovation. What is the library’s role now, and what should it be? It’s within our collective power to create a framework for STEM in public libraries.

Collaboration as a System of Collective Impact (FSG) From individual orgs with individual goals & pathways to collaboration of goals and pathways (Image by Amy Koester)

Collaboration as a System of Collective Impact (FSG) From individual orgs with individual goals & pathways to collaboration of goals and pathways (Image by Amy Koester)

That said, while we, libraries, can certainly make some decisions and create some practices around this (or any other) topic, it’s imperative that we recognize that we are NOT the only institutions with a vested interest in STEM learning and experiences. Yet if we think of ourselves as wholly separate from other organizations even when  they possess similar goals to our own, we’re muddying the waters. Or, rather, as Marsha Semmel (formerly at IMLS) shared from an organization called FSG, each individual organization is moving in its own direction. It’s a little bit of chaos, no matter how well intentioned. But when we collaborate, however–and this is meaningful collaboration, in which we set a common goal and common pathways to achieve it–we can actually accomplish meaningful progress and change.

Progress moves at the speed of trust." Collectively see, learn, do. (Image by Amy Koester)

“Progress moves at the speed of trust.” Collectively see, learn, do. (Image by Amy Koester)

An integral part of meaningful collaboration: trust, said Marsha Semmel. If we observe together, learn together, and act together out of a trust that we truly are working toward a shared goal, we can accomplish transformative change much more quickly than independently, or even working parallel to one another.

STEM Learning Ecosystem: P-12 Education, Family, Out-of-School Programs, Higher Education Institutions, Business Community, and STEM-rich Institutions as spokes around the Learner - Ellen Lettvin (Image by Amy Koester)

STEM Learning Ecosystem: P-12 Education, Family, Out-of-School Programs, Higher Education Institutions, Business Community, and STEM-rich Institutions as spokes around the Learner – Ellen Lettvin (Image by Amy Koester)

Part of developing that trust is recognizing that we as libraries are a single aspect of a larger learning ecosystem. When it comes to STEM learning for youth, we fit into a larger puzzle of groups and individuals supporting students. Ellen Lettvin, of the U.S. Department of Education, emphasized some of those other players in this ecosystem, including students’ families; their schools; their out-of-school programs and activities; community businesses; institutions of higher education; and STEM-rich institutions, of which libraries may be one.

Out of school experiences are increasingly central to the public's STEM learning. (Image by Amy Koester)

Out of school experiences are increasingly central to the public’s STEM learning. (Image by Amy Koester)

Why do we need to recognize that we’re part of a larger learning ecosystem? John Falk, from Oregon State University, has researched this very topic, and has oodles of evidence supporting the fact that all of those experiences that youth–any age person, really–have out of formal school contexts are more and more important to overall STEM learning. Schooling isn’t sufficient in and of itself.

Learning is continuous and cumulative. (Image by Amy Koester)

Learning is continuous and cumulative. (Image by Amy Koester)

That’s because, says Falk, learning is continuous and cumulative. It happens all the time, and it constantly builds on what a learner already knows. There is no place or situation that is not ripe for learning. As such, if the library is a place people spend time, the library is necessarily a learning place.

Libraries are hubs & hosts of STEM. (Image by Amy Koester)

Libraries as hubs & hosts of STEM. (Image by Amy Koester)

Now, we know this. We know that libraries are institutions of learning. But in what capacity? Are we mostly places of individual discovery? Of information support? What if we really embraced that concept of library as learning place to its fullest extent and intentionally and proactively support the public who use us? We could be intentional hubs and hosts of STEM learning–or, truly, any type of learning that our communities need.

R. David Lankes: "The power of libraries is not in being a space for X, it is in being a space to facilitate connections between community members and local organizations that are experts in X." (Image by Amy Koester)

R. David Lankes: “The power of libraries is not in being a space for X, it is in being a space to facilitate connections between community members and local organizations that are experts in X.” (Image by Amy Koester)

David Lankes, from Syracuse University, was careful to emphasize, however, that our being hubs and hosts of STEM learning does NOT necessitate that we ourselves be the be-all, end-all experts. Should you tap staff expertise and interests in creating STEM programs and services? Absolutely. But remember that whole bit about collaboration for collective impact? Here’s where it really comes in. There’s a very legitimate school of thought that says that libraries’ best role in supporting STEM learning, across the board, is to meaningfully collaborate with organizations who are unequivocal experts in STEM so that we can connect our patrons directly to the experts. We are mediators, introducers. That makes our capacity so much greater than it could ever be on our own.

Partnerships help us develop more and more programs and to bring those programs to the people we are targeting." -Sharon Cox, Queens Library Discovery Center (Image by Amy Koester)

“Partnerships help us develop more and more programs and to bring those programs to the people we are targeting.” -Sharon Cox, Queens Library Discovery Center (Image by Amy Koester)

This sentiment was echoed by Sharon Cox, from the Queens Library Discovery Center. It’s an entire library dedicated to children’s STEM learning and exploration, and even with that mission, focus, and staff expertise, they add huge value to what they are able to bring to their community through partnership with organizations who are expert in STEM and whose goals align with the library’s. As libraries, we’ve always thought of ourselves as the people who connect our public to the resources they need. This type of collaboration means that the definition of “resources” our public requires may very well include organizations other than our own.

Do what you do best, and link to the rest." -L. Rainie; Libraries should NOT be trying to do everything. (Image by Amy Koester)

“Do what you do best, and link to the rest.” -L. Rainie; Libraries should NOT be trying to do everything. (Image by Amy Koester)

Or, in other words, we continue to do what we do best and then connect our patrons to the rest of what they way. That was the overarching sentiment from Lee Rainie from Pew Research Center–that libraries are strongest not because they can do everything, but because they can connect you to people and organizations who can.

Cultivate collaboration. Ask: What are our shared interests and goals? -Dale McCreedy, The Franklin Institute, LEAP into Science (Image by Amy Koester)

Cultivate collaboration. Ask: What are our shared interests and goals? -Dale McCreedy, The Franklin Institute, LEAP into Science (Image by Amy Koester)

So if we’re deliberately not doing everything, and we’re also going to best support our patrons’ STEM learning through collaborating with expert STEM learning organizations, how do we collaborate? Dale Creedy, who works at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and is a collaborator with the Free Library of Philadelphia to offer a LEAP into Science program, says that the first step in cultivating collaboration is to reach out to other organizations and straight up have a conversation. Your intent: to identify what, if any, are your shared interests and goals. If you determine that you don’t have sufficient shared interests/goals to merit the time and resources that would go into a formal collaboration, it’s no real loss–you now know more about the organization and can better identify when to direct your patrons to them. But if you do have sufficient overlaps in your interests and goals, the foundation is primed for you to work together. Now you can shift your conversation to what, specifically, your shared goal is, and how you might reach it together.

Collective Impact: How do we serve as part of a solution, as opposed to the solver? -M. Figueroa (Image by Amy Koester)

Collective Impact: How do we serve as part of a solution, as opposed to the solver? -M. Figueroa (Image by Amy Koester)

This type of conversation can actually be a little clumsy for libraries. We tend to think in terms of the library being the sole solver of a problem, rather than just one player in a larger solution–that’s according to Miguel Figueroa from the Center for the Future of Libraries at ALA. Collective impact necessitates that libraries be part of a collective solution, which may require a bit of a mindset shift.

Collaborations: Actively participate in a robust learning ecosystem; Re-envision the library with community input; Bring people to museums, and vice versa -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

Collaborations: Actively participate in a robust learning ecosystem; Re-envision the library with community input; Bring people to museums, and vice versa -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

So what to do to enact that mindset shift, to form those meaningful collaborations? Dr. Scott Sampson, Vice President of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (and also Dr. Scott the Paleontologist from Dinosaur Train), gave some suggestions in the form of a few progressively-more-involved strategies. Starting small, figure out how to bring people to libraries, and vice versa–that is, how to bring libraries to people. Where are the people in your community who do not come to the library? What spaces do they tend to use? Figure out collaborations with those places to bring the library to them.

Next in the spectrum is re-envisioning the library with the input of the community. We tend to get into a library echo chamber and create new programs and services based on what other libraries are doing or what we think would be appealing to the community. But that’s not the same thing as asking the community what they need the library to be. It could be through surveys, focus groups, inviting a cultural organization to the space… the possibilities are endless, and the results fruitful.

Last on that spectrum is actively participate in a robust learning ecosystem. Sound familiar? It should, and the concept is repeated here because it is so important. When we work on our own, we are limited to reaching the people we personally serve. But when we are part of a larger ecosystem, however, we not only draw on the strengths of fellow elements in the ecosystem but we draw from the people they reach as well. Maybe a person child will just never come to the library; that’s just the reality of their life. But they do go to school and out-of-school activities. So if the library is part of a learning ecosystem that includes that school and those activities–if we collaborate with them–we do reach that child in a fundamental way.

A Collaboration Workbook: 1) Install a collaboration team; 2) Find a common goal; 3) Listen to the community; 4) Generate ideas for collaborative programs; 5) Prioritize and implement programs -Heart of Brooklyn (Image by Amy Koester)

A Collaboration Workbook: 1) Install a collaboration team; 2) Find a common goal; 3) Listen to the community; 4) Generate ideas for collaborative programs; 5) Prioritize and implement programs -Heart of Brooklyn (Image by Amy Koester)

Dr. Sampson’s best suggestion for a model for collaboration comes from the Heart of Brooklyn, a cultural partnership involving the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park, and Prospect Park Zoo. Their method: Install a collaboration team whose first task is to find a common goal that al of the partners can get behind. Then listen to the community; is your goal their goal, too? From there, the partners and the community can generate ideas for collaborative programs and services–these should be in play with one another, building off one another, not simply a list of isolated programs that take place at isolated institutions. With those ideas in mind, it’s time for the collaboration team to prioritize and implement select programs. Obviously there will also need to be some evaluative piece after this implementation, but that’s a bit beyond the main takeaway of this post: collaboration.

What is holding us back is not money. The currency in short supply is collaboration and vision." -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

“What is holding us back is not money. The currency in short supply is collaboration and vision.” -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

And collaboration is vital for transformative, dynamic support of STEM learning by libraries. Yet many of the smart people at this conference indicated that, right now, collaboration–and the vision of collective impact that can inspire and support it–is in short supply. We need to recognize that libraries need not go it alone when it comes to supporting STEM. That is not to say that we shouldn’t invest in doing some STEM programing and providing relevant services ourselves; it is just to say that we can do so much more when we collaborate with others who also aim to support the STEM learning of our communities.

That vision of what we can do together is huge.

The collective impact we can have when we collaborate meaningfully is massive.

And what, after all, is our overall goal as libraries if not to support our communities in transforming their lives?

The post Collaboration for Learning: Notes from the Public Libraries & STEM Conference appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Tips when Changing Jobs (in the Library Profession and Beyond)

Creator: Live Life Happy, © 2013, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0

Creator: Live Life Happy, © 2013, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0

I’ve recently changed jobs, moving from one public library to another 25 miles east. The new-to-me position is in a different city, with different coworkers, different policies and procedures, and a different organizational culture. It’s the same kind of job that I did previously, but in a different setting.

Changing jobs is frequently included in the lists of most stressful life changes. This most recent move has me thinking about compiling a list of tips for myself and others who may change positions, either within their current organization, or shifting to a role at a different institution. I’ll start with several that are somewhat specific to Youth Services, and we’ll see what you think too in the comments.

My list of things to consider for Youth Services Librarians (ok, and others) when changing jobs:

  1. Compile favorite program ideas (e.g. story time themes and extenders, past successful elementary and family events, and teen programming ideas that you don’t want to forget). Also while working on the programming idea list, save bookmarks of favorite places to visit online when creating new programs, so they available and ready when needed.
  2. Save work-related contacts to be imported into the new e-mail system – especially the local performer and vendor contact information if you’re not moving far. Also get the personal contact information for your colleagues if you want to keep in touch. (I forgot to do that last bit when I changed jobs most recently.)
  3. Purge the documents and files that you’ve been saving – you know which ones I’m talking about. Changing jobs is a good time to declutter.
  4. Put things in writing for the person who will be taking on your responsibilities – best practices, your planning notes, even a To-Do list. (I’ve written about this before.) Make the task delegation easy for your supervisor by creating a list of your current responsibilities.
  5. Be ready, willing and open to see new ways of conducting library services. You have your way of doing things (and you might think it’s the best way), but it’s not the only way to be successful.
  6. Remember that there will be things left undone at the previous job – that’s just how it goes.

Have you changed jobs recently? What are other things to consider? This could also be addressed from the perspective of a team that is taking on a new member. What are good tips to help new coworkers feel welcome?

___________________________________________________

Claudia Wayland is the Youth Services Manager at the Allen Public Library in Allen, TX and Adjunct Professor at the University of North Texas College of Information. She was a participant in this year’s TLA TALL Texans Leadership Institute, and is a member of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

The post Tips when Changing Jobs (in the Library Profession and Beyond) appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. 2016 Penguin Young Readers Group Award Applications Are Now Open!

Have you been a children’s librarian for less than 10 years? Have you been yearning to attend ALA Annual Conference, to get energized and inspired and learn from others in the profession?

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Grants Administration Committee are now accepting online applications for the 2016 Penguin Young Readers Group Awards. This award, made possible by an annual gift from Penguin Young Readers Group, provides a $600 stipend for up to four children’s librarians to attend their first ALA Annual Conference in Orlando.

Each applicant will be judged on the following:

  • Involvement in ALSC, as well as any other professional or educational association of which the applicant was a member, officer, chairman, etc.
  • New programs or innovations started by the applicants at the library in which he/she works
  • Library experience.

Applicants must be personal members of ALSC, as well as ALA members to apply. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 1, 2015. For more information about the award requirements and submitting the online application please visit the Penguin Young Readers Group Award webpage.

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

Today’s guest post was written by Sondra Eklund, this year’s Grants Administration Committee Chair.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

The post 2016 Penguin Young Readers Group Award Applications Are Now Open! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Apply for the Penguin Young Readers Grant Award

ALSC Professional Award

Applications for the ALSC Professional Awards are opening this fall (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC and the Grants Administration Committee are now accepting online applications for the 2016 Penguin Young Readers Group Awards. This award, made possible by an annual gift from Penguin Young Readers Group, provides a $600 stipend for up to four children’s librarians to attend their first ALA Annual Conference in Orlando.

Each applicant will be judged on the following:

  • Involvement in ALSC, as well as any other professional or educational association of which the applicant was a member, officer, chairman, etc.;
  • New programs or innovations started by the applicants at the library in which he/she works;
  • Library experience.

Applicants must be personal members of ALSC, as well as ALA members to apply. Deadline for submissions is Thursday, October 1, 2015. For more information about the award requirements and submitting the online application please visit the Penguin Young Readers Group Award Web page.

The post Apply for the Penguin Young Readers Grant Award appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. How to Foster a Love of Reading

93% of educators and program leaders use books from First Book to develop a lifelong love of reading in their students.

But how can we help kids develop this love of reading? First Book hosted a Twitter chat last week wherein educators around the country convened to discuss their experiences and tips for fostering a love of reading in the kids they serve.

Here are some of the highlights from our chat. To see full answers to all six questions, visit the hashtag #FirstBookEDU on Twitter or read our full recap on Storify.

Why is it important for kids to love reading?

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6. Applications open for 2016 Bechtel Fellowship

ALSC Professional Award

Applications for the ALSC Professional Awards are opening this fall (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC and the Special Collections and Bechtel Fellowship Committee are now accepting online applications for the 2015 Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship. The Bechtel Fellowship is designed to allow qualified children’s librarians to spend a total of four weeks or more reading and studying at the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, a part of the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

The Baldwin Library contains a special collection of 130,000 volumes of children’s literature published mostly before 1950. The fellowship is endowed in memory of Louise Seaman Bechtel and Ruth M. Baldwin and provides a stipend of $4,000.

Each applicant will be judge on the following:

  • the description of the topic of study for the fellowship period;
  • the applicants’ demonstration of ongoing commitment to motivating children to read;
  • the applicants’ willingness to spend a total of four weeks in Gainesville. The time spent does not have to be successive weeks.

Applicants must be personal members of ALSC, as well as ALA members to apply. Deadline for submissions is Oct. 1, 2014. For more information about the requirements of the fellowship and submitting the online application please visit the Bechtel Fellowship page.

The post Applications open for 2016 Bechtel Fellowship appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. What’s New With IF?

Greetings from the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee! Our committee is tasked with keeping ALSC up-to-date on IF issues being discussed across the ALA divisions. We’ve got a few exciting projects on the horizon that we’re looking forward to sharing with all of you!

Need support materials on Intellectual Freedom? ALSC has a number of useful links on the Professional Tools for Librarians Serving Youth webpage. Our committee has recently updated the links dealing with issues of Access as well as Intellectual Freedom. Read something recently that you think might be useful for others? Let us know! We’re looking to add some more recent articles and online resources.

Looking for something to empower kids and teens to stand up for their rights? Over the next couple of ALA conferences, our committee will be updating the Kids! Know Your Rights handout originally created in 2007. In particular, we plan to add information specific to the Intellectual Freedom implications of leveled reading programs, and we hope you’ll share it with the young readers and future advocates in your communities.

Do you or your staff feel ill-equipped to handle community concerns? Do you wish you had a better understanding of what the right to read means in your library?  We’re working on that, too! Over the next two years, we will develop a general framework for basic IF training that any library can implement as part of new staff training as well as continuing education. We’ve heard from many ALSC members that there is a need for staff at all levels to better understand the principles of IF and how they apply to daily public service, including fielding questions and concerns from parents and community members. If you already have a similar training at your library, we’d love to hear your best practices!

And one last thing – consider joining the Freedom to Read Foundation to support their work, to spread the word about censorship and to defend everyone’s freedom to read. FTRF is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the first amendment through participation in litigation and by providing education and grant programs. Membership is only $35 and that money helps FTRF accomplish good work and support these creative Judith F. Krug Memorial Grant projects. The FTRF Board meets the day before the official start of the ALA annual and midwinter, and guests are always welcome. It is a great way to get caught up on current issues across the country.

And that’s what’s new with the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee! Feel free to use the comments to share your own ideas.

The post What’s New With IF? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Ideas with Crossover Possibilities

Creative Commons search - maker supplies

Creative Commons search – maker supplies

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.

Edutopia – Design Thinking

Maker Ed – Projects and Learning Approaches

Teacher Librarian – The Philosophy of  Educational Makerspacea

Knowledge without Borders – Design Thinking for Kids

I’d love to hear back from librarians who have successfully used design thinking either with colleagues or kids. Also, feel free to drop your favorite maker link into the comments!

The post Ideas with Crossover Possibilities appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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9. Free Media Mentorship Webinar

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth white paper

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth white paper (image courtesy of ALSC)

On Tuesday, July 21, 2015, ALSC is offering a free webinar on media mentorship. Presented by Amy Koester, Youth & Family Program Coordinator, Skokie (IL) Public Library, Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth: A Primer is an opportunity to learn more about the core ideas behind the white paper. Registration is free and open to anyone.

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth: A Primer
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

  • 12pm Eastern
  • 11am Central
  • 10am Mountain
  • 9am Pacific

The post Free Media Mentorship Webinar appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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10. ALSC Online Courses Start in One Week!

Summer 2015 ALSC Online CoursesCheck your clock! You have one more week to sign up for ALSC online courses for summer 2015. 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

NEW! It’s Mutual: School and Public Library Collaboration
6 weeks, July 13 – August 21, 2015

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
4 weeks, July 13 – August 7, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs

Storytelling with Puppets
4 weeks, July 13 – August 7, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 2.2 CEUs

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.

Image above provided by ALSC.

The post ALSC Online Courses Start in One Week! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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11. The LSSPCC Toolkit: Making All Families Feel Welcome at the Library

Who Are We?

We are ALSC’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers (LSSPCC) Committee.  We are accessibility and inclusion advocates who care deeply about the needs of our entire library community, especially special population children and their caregivers.

What Do We Do?

We discover and disseminate information about what libraries have to offer these special populations.  We develop and maintain guidelines for selection of useful and relevant materials.  We also help prepare the next generation of librarians and library workers by creating and providing resources to serve their communities more inclusively.

What Is The LSSPCC Toolkit?

The LSSPCC Committee has worked hard to develop a brand new resource for librarians and library works to develop or enhance your knowledge about serving special populations.  Launched earlier this year, this easy-to-use Toolkit for Librarians and Library Workers is available FREE online and can be downloaded or saved as a PDF file.  Whether you are just getting started learning about serving special populations of children and their families or want to brush up on the latest resources, this toolkit is for you!

What Special Populations Does the Toolkit Cover?

This toolkit offers a wide variety of information about serving many different types of groups in your library community, including homeschoolers, spanish-speaking families, LGBTQ families, children with autism, children with incarcerated parents, children with print disabilities, and more.  While this is by no means an exhaustive list of special populations that are served in all of our library communities, it’s a great place to start.

Why Is This Toolkit Useful?

In this toolkit, you will find a brief introduction in each section, which will provide librarians and library workers with context and background information needed before beginning to serve these groups in your community.  In addition, each section has a list of subject headings and keywords that will help make catalog and online searching on this topic a lot easier.  We have included short lists of subject area experts, if you are interested in connecting with people in our field and finding out more about that particular area of outreach.  We have even included information about existing partnerships, which are examples of the successes some libraries have found connecting with local organizations to serve these special populations. There are numerous lists of additional print and digital resources for further learning beyond the toolkit itself.

http://www.clker.com/cliparts/d/c/3/7/13233219911441831713inclusion-1%20(1)-md.png

We hope you will share this resource with your library staff.  Through advocacy and awareness of various special populations, we can work together to help all children and all families feel welcome at our libraries!

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

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

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12. My Top Transforming Takeaways from #alaac15

  • The Sunnyvale Library Make-HER blog offers fantastic inspiration. From: Conversation Starter: From Maker to Make-HER: Leveling the STEM Playing Field for Girls.
  • Look at your existing resources people, meeting rooms, digital, etc.   Are you using them to their greatest potential?  From  Session: So You Didn’t Get the Awesome Teen DigiTechnoSuperLab: Now What?  Joslyn Jones was funny, smart and offered valuable information.
  • Change is inevitable.  When the work environment is in transition, most everyone experiences anxiety.  You can control your situation in the long-term.  Transform yourself.  Make yourself more valuable to your library and community.   From: No Sugarcoating Allowed: Four Honest Perspectives on Change Management.
  • Social media is a powerful tool that can be used to connect not only with our customer base, but also with authors.  Virtual author visits anyone?  From: riding the shuttle bus with the energetic and cool School Librarian and ALSC Live Blogger Stacey Rattner.
  • Moving outside your comfort zone is a good thing.  Librarians are naturally helpful.  So if you need help navigating your first conference or getting a ride to the airport when it is all over, just ask.   ALSC also has a mentor program.  You can check it out here.
  • If you can’t make it to an in person event, try these online learning opportunities offered by ALSC.

I had a wonderful time at #alaac15.  I enjoyed learning and sharing with the amazing librarians, writers and artists.  Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and making my experience so grand.

Angela Chadbourne
Youth Services Librarian
Santa Clarita Public Library

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13. 10 Myths about Teaching STEM Books and How You Can Teach STEM in Your Classroom Now

STEM Friday + Lee & Low Books (1)Join Lee & Low Books and Anastasia Suen, Founder of the STEM Friday blog and award-winning children’s book author, for a dynamic discussion on how to teach STEM in your classroom starting this fall. Share My Lesson is hosting a Summer of Learning professional development series and Thursday, July 9 focuses on all things STEM.

With the right tools and support, we will show how educators can support all students to become successful in learning STEM content knowledge and conceptual understanding.

We will look at persistent myths about teaching STEM, explore the intersection of STEM and English Language Arts, and reexamine what makes a great STEM read aloud.

Sign up to learn how to discover the right STEM book and hands-on activities for your students’ interests and learning needs. We will cover strategies on inspiring and supporting underrepresented groups in STEM as well as how to differentiate for special populations.

In addition to learning about how Lee & Low titles can fit into your science and mathematics units and how to integrate STEM learning throughout your literacy block, teachers can earn an hour of professional development credit! The whole series is FREE and open to all.

At the end of the presentation, you will have strategies you can apply immediately to your classroom and resources for further exploration.

share my lesson 2Overview:

Title: Teach STEM Now

Date: Thursday, July 09, 2015

Time: 01:00PM Eastern Daylight Time

Duration: 1 hour

Cost: FREE

Register here!

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

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14. #guerrillastorytime at #alaac15

Literacy is not a luxury and that’s just what children’s librarians at the Guerrilla Storytime events are trying to profess when we gather to share ideas and learn from each other. The first Guerrilla Storytime of the 2015 Annual Conference happened this afternoon and I wanted to share a little taste of what it’s like:

(Video taken by Abby Johnson at the Guerrilla Storytime event)

Children’s librarians from all over the country gathered at the ALA Networking Uncommons to demonstrate storytime skill and activities, to share tips on managing storytimes, and to learn from each other at this grassroots event.

While Guerrilla Storytimes happen at the ALA Annual and Midwinter Conferences, lots of librarians are making them happen at their state library conferences, too. The folks at Storytime Underground have created a Guerrilla Storytime toolkit that can help you bring this awesome training opportunity to wherever YOU happen to be!

There will be additional Guerrilla Storytimes held on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and you can follow the hashtag #guerrillastorytime to follow along at home (and add your expertise!).

— Abby Johnson, Youth Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN

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15. An Unusual School Visit

An Unusual School Visitinstitution-icon

We’re accustomed to classroom visits … there’s Read Across America Day, Library Card Sign-up Month, Summer Reading Club outreach, and any other number of reasons why public librarians visit classrooms.  Last month, a colleague and I enoyed another type of classroom visit.  We were virtual guest lecturers for a university class in Children’s Literature.  The class was not for librarians, but rather, for aspiring teachers.  We spent two weeks with the students during their planned chapters on censorship and graphic texts.  We introduced discussion articles and scenarios, and participated in the discussion boards by posting topics and responding to students’ questions.

training-icon (1)

I firmly believe that librarians and teachers should be close partners in serving their constituent children.  I am fortunate that my library is located in a school district that is wonderfully cooperative, and where I have met and worked with many caring teachers.  Still, I have often ranted about things that annoy me  – particularly minimum page requirements and a frequent admonishment that picture books (and by extension, graphic novels) are “not allowed.”

This partnership with our local university, gave me the opportunity to speak directly with the future generation of school teachers.  We spoke of the importance of knowing one’s collection and being prepared to defend it; the value and appeal of graphic texts; the collection development resources available from ALSC, ALA, and other organizations in making collection development decisions; and a myriad of other topics related to censorship and graphic texts.  It was refreshing to hear what is on the minds of future teachers and to offer to them a librarian’s perspective on the same.

Kudos to Constance Chismar, Ed.D. of the Georgian Court University English Department for asking us to participate and to Ocean County Library for allowing us to attend.  If you have a local university or college that offers undergrad degrees in education,  inquire if you might participate in something similar.  It was a valuable experience for me and my colleague, the university students, and the children who will someday benefit from the partnership!

 

Images from openclipart.org

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16. #libtechcon15

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Folks at #libtechcon15 . Photo by Jay Heath

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.

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17. Upcoming ALSC Online Learning

ALSC Online Education

ALSC Online Education (image courtesy of ALSC)

Online Courses

Explore new ideas and great library thinking with ALSC online courses! ALSC is offering four great options including three CEU-certified courses. All courses are offered asynchronously (self-directed) meaning you won’t need to logon at a specific time. Learn new youth library-specific skills at a pace that’s comfortable and convenient. Courses start Monday, April 6, 2015.

Webinars

Because life in a library moves fast, ALSC webinars are the perfect solution for someone who wants and needs educational information but doesn’t have a lot of time or resources.  These short (one to two hour) interactive sessions taking place in Adobe Connect give librarians and library support staff the opportunity to learn right at their desks.

March

Building STEAM with Día: The Whys and Hows to Getting Started
Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 12 pm Eastern/11 am Central

May

Celebrating with Poetry Snapshots
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 3 pm Eastern/2 pm Central

Archived Webinars

Missed a webinar you wanted to attend? Don’t worry! ALSC presents archived versions of webinars, which are offered at a discounted price. Archived webinars cost only $25. Please note that recorded versions are not available until all of the live sessions of that webinar have taken place.

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18. Young Children, New Media & Libraries Infographic

Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey

Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey (image courtesy of ALSC)

Between August 1 and August 18, 2014, 415 children’s librarians responded to a survey of 9 questions concerning the use of new media with young children in libraries. The survey was created as a collaborative effort between Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), LittleeLit.com, and the iSchool at the University of Washington. Preliminary finding are available through an infographic created by ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee.

You can download a copy of this infographic from the ALSC Professional Tools site.

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19. Spring Cleaning: Storytime Style

Friends and colleagues, it is time to get organized! Spring is here — even though the nearly half a foot of snow Chicago just received might indicate otherwise — and summer is on the horizon. Now is the time to prepare for the chaos awaiting us come June.

So here are my tips and tricks for getting some simple office supplies and storage solutions working to keep us in tip-top shape.

Closet Storage Bins + Library Hanging Bags = Felt Flannelboard Solutions
and
Hanging File Folders + Sandwich Bags = Clip Art Flannelboard Solutions

Storage bins (left), hanging bags (upper right), hanging files (lower right). [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Storage bins (left), hanging bags (upper right), hanging files (lower right). [Photo courtesy of the author.]

I store my flannelboards in two different ways. For the felt sets, I use six closet storage bins and library hanging bags to organize. Each bag contains all of my flannel pieces and a sheet of paper explaining the rhyme, story, song, or game to be used with the pieces. These are in alphabetical order and I allow all of my co-workers to borrow any set as long as they let me know. It takes up two shelves in my cube, but I feel it is well-used space since I have an estimated 150 flannelboards.

The second way I store flannelboards are for my clip art laminated flannelboards. I use a simpler system. I put all the pieces in a sandwich bag and write the name of the flannelboard on the outside of the bag. Afterwards, I toss them in these alphabetical hanging files. I don’t include the rhymes in these since most of these sets are my Letter Puzzles and different versions of the “If You Have…” song I use often.

Desktop Organizers + More Bins + Clipboards = Storytime Solutions

Desktop organizers (upper left), cloth bins (lower left), and clipboards (right). [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Desktop organizers (upper left), cloth bins (lower left), and clipboards (right). [Photo courtesy of the author.]

I use a simple trick to get my books organized for storytime. Desktop organizers are absolutely perfect; the ones in this picture are typical called vertical file organizers. [A very similar one to mine looks like this example from Staples.] Each slot holds a week of storytime books, flannels, and CDs. I can grab a whole slot with ease on my way to step up!

The cloth bins are where all of my personal finger puppets (in the little ones) and hand puppets (in the bottom ones) go. I got both of these sets on clearance once college organizers hit the sales rack. The little ones I’ve had for quite a few years, but the tubs at the bottom are new for this year. All of these were fairly inexpensive since I waited for sales. I like using cloth bins because it doesn’t smash the puppets down like other storage solutions might.

Clipboards! At this point, you might have figured out that I never grew out of shopping for back-to-school supplies. But clipboards make my life so much easier! I keep a clipboard for each of my three weekly storytime programs. Before the sessions starts, I print out each week’s activities and attendance sheets. I put them all on the clipboard. I’m able to have this nearby in storytime in case I blank on an activity and can immediately circle the activities that we used that week. Keeping the papers on the clipboard allows me to write anywhere and also makes sure the papers don’t get crinkled in my storytime bag.

Plastic Bins + Old Kit Bags + Small Bins = Drawer Solutions
and
Managing the In-box Solutions

Inside of my drawer (left), the in-box solution (right). [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Inside of my drawer (left), the in-box solution (right). [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Manage the little minutia by hiding it in a drawer! In here you can see I try to compartmentalize my mess. All of my little office supplies (tape, post-its, expo markers, tacky glue) lives in a small cloth bin, with easy access. The plastic bin underneath the batteries, HDMI cord and cleaning cloths contains my felt supply at work in case I need to make a back-up felt piece. The green kit bag has all the extra charging cords and cables associated with our circulating LeapFrog kits. (That’s what the batteries and cleaning cloths are for as well — part of my job maintaining that collection means cleaning and battery checking once a kit comes back.)

Now for the paper in-box. Get three bins. The top is for weekly to-do items, the middle is for items to be filed, and the bottom is for on-going projects. Right now the top bin has a muffin tin to remind me to make felt cinnamon rolls. The middle bin has some strategic planning documents and ILS training sheets. The bottom bin it contains a replacement order I have to wait to order until after our ILS change in April, an audio order catalog to go through, and my clipboards that have programs that need to be written up from this week. The hardest thing to remember about the in-box is when your week ends, it should be empty except for on-going projects. I’ve used this system for years, including when I was a manager. It is GOLD for me.

I hope you feel confident and full of new ideas about tackling organization now! If you want specific product information, please email me [simplykatie(at)gmail(dot)com] and I will send you more information. If you want to trade tips and tricks, please feel free to do so in the comments! Do you have a favorite organization technique? Or a great idea to share? Let us know!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library
http://storytimekatie.com

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20. Annual 2015: What To Do There -- And When You Come Home

This is a guest post from Susy Moorhead, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

You’ve decided to attend the annual conference this year! If you haven’t been before, and even if you have, you must be excited. Attending conference is a lot of fun but it is tiring and it can be overwhelming as well. Here are some tips to help you share what you learned once you get back to your home library.

  1. Pick up handouts from the programs you attend, note the exhibits that catch your eye and get information from those that you can, and ask for business cards from others in the library world that you want to start a network with. Building your professional network is one of the best opportunities of conference. Great ideas come from networking with your colleagues on a national level.
  2. Know that the ALA conference website is your friend. After conference, and sometimes before, you will be able to access slideshows from programs, people who present at programs, and an extensive vendor list.
  3. Be aware that there is no way you can take everything in that interests you at Annual. There will be some things that really excite you and those are the ones you should focus on. If it doesn’t really excite you it will be hard to implement when you get back home. Your excitement will be contagious to your colleagues. That said, if there is a colleague or friend who really wanted to attend but couldn't, it can't hurt to pick up an ARC specifically for him or grab an extra handout for her.
  4. Be ready to fall back in love. One thing I always take back to my library from any conference I attend is a sense of rejuvenation and renewal. I always regain excitement for what I do and I get a greater sense of the importance of libraries, librarianship, and library support positions in the greater world. Just bringing that invigorating feeling back is a wonderful result of attending a national conference.
  5. Once you get home be sure to write up a summary of what you did at Annual. You can share it with your supervisors to justify the time away from the library and to justify the funding that you receive to attend. It will also help to support conference requests you make in the future.
  6. Share what you learned with your colleagues in your library system or if you are a solo librarian with your regional or statewide colleagues. You will inevitably find others who share your passion in implementing what your learned. And you may find others that you didn’t know shared your interests!
  7. Consider writing something up for a regional or statewide organization publication or website. Tweet, Facebook, or get the word out on other social media platforms – you will probably find partners outside of the library too. If you blog, start blogging soon after you get home before you forget things or lose your notes. If you don't blog yet, doing a guest post at a blog you love (cough - YALSA has two) about a conference session is a great way to start!
  8. Know that seeing results of taking action won’t happen immediately. A lot of the programs and vendor wares you will see are the “future of libraries.” Work towards creating similar programs or offering similar services when you get back to your library. Put the seeds in to place and then work them in to your busy summers (and autumns!).

Have fun, and see you in a program or on the exhibit floor!

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21. Upcoming ALSC Online Education – April 2015

ALSC Online Education

ALSC Online Education (image courtesy of ALSC)

April is coming up and ALSC has a bundle of great learning opportunities. From online courses to webinars, ALSC has a learning choice that fits your budget!

Online Courses

Explore new ideas and great library thinking with ALSC online courses! ALSC is offering four great options including three CEU-certified courses. All courses are offered asynchronously (self-directed) meaning you won’t need to logon at a specific time. Learn new youth library-specific skills at a pace that’s comfortable and convenient. Courses start Monday, April 6, 2015.

Webinars

Because life in a library moves fast, ALSC webinars are the perfect solution for someone who wants and needs educational information but doesn’t have a lot of time or resources.  These short (one to two hour) interactive sessions taking place in Adobe Connect give librarians and library support staff the opportunity to learn right at their desks.

April

Be a Winner: Inspired Youth Grant Writing (Part I)
Thursday, April 2, 2015, 3 pm Eastern/2 pm Central

Be a Winner: Inspired Youth Grant Writing (Part II)
Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 12 pm Eastern/11 am Central

May

Celebrating with Poetry Snapshots
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 3 pm Eastern/2 pm Central

Archived Webinars

Missed a webinar you wanted to attend? Don’t worry! ALSC presents archived versions of webinars, which are offered at a discounted price. Archived webinars cost only $25. Please note that recorded versions are not available until all of the live sessions of that webinar have taken place.

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

2015 ALSC Membership Needs Assessment Survey

Image courtesy of ALSC

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

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

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

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

Take the 2015 ALSC Membership Needs Assessment Survey!

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23. Putting it all together

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

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

Ingreadients

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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24. Present with ALSC at an Upcoming Conference!

2016 ALSC National Institute

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please contact the chair of the ALSC Program Coordinating Committee, Patty Carleton, at PCarleton@slpl.org with questions.

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25. Communication: the Spine of Supervision

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

1. Take a Personality Test

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

2. Let Your Staff Evaluate You

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

3. Go Through Job Descriptions and Duties

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

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

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

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

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

The post Communication: the Spine of Supervision appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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