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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: professional development, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Mentoring: How You Can Give Back to the Profession

ALSC Mentoring Program

Applications are open for the spring 2016 mentoring cohort. Apply by Feb. 26, 2016. Image courtesy of ALSC.

January was National Mentoring Month, but there’s still time to make a difference. The ALSC Mentoring Program is in it’s third year of existence and it’s worth re-visiting what the program is all about.

In 2012, the ALSC Emerging Leaders team put together recommendations for a new mentoring program. The original intention was to pair early career professionals with experienced ALSC members. Since Fall 2013, ALSC has been matching mentors and mentees in an effort to make new connections in the profession and increase awareness of interest and familiarity with ALSC committee service and participation.

Mentors and mentees set their own goals and meet on their own time. Matches do a lot of different activities, including mock interviews, writing blog posts, and performing research.

What Does It Take To Be a Mentor?

One difficulty for the program has been in attracting as many mentors as mentees.  The misconception is that it is easy to be a mentee, but hard to be a mentor. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

To combat this, the ALSC Membership Committee and Managing Children’s Services Committees have come up with three suggestions for why you should be a mentor:

  1. Being a mentor is giving back to the profession
  2. Mentoring requires only a few hours of time per month
  3. It can be as easy as having a 30-min conversation every two weeks

ALSC has also sought to increase communication about what happens in the program. Every year, ALSC hosts two mentoring forums – one in the fall, one in the spring – to bring matches together to talk about goals and obstacles. If you’re curious check out the recorded webcasts of these events to learn more.

Thank You Mentors and Mentees!

Another one of the new practices of the program is to recognize mentors and mentees for their participation. The following mentors and mentees were matched in Spring 2015. We thank them and wish them well in their future endeavors:

Spring 2015 Mentors

  • Jordan Boaz
  • Anne Clark
  • Mary Cook
  • Cheri Crow
  • Carol Edwards
  • Lucia Gonzalez
  • Christie Hamm
  • Carol Hopkins
  • Abby Johnson
  • Kendra Jones
  • Julie Jurgens
  • Rachel Keeler
  • Laura Keonig
  • Marybeth Kozikowski
  • Mollie Lancaster
  • Meghan Malone
  • Angie Manfredi
  • Allison Murphy
  • Brooke Newberry
  • Carol Phillips
  • Marian Rafl
  • Julie Ranelli
  • Angela Reynolds
  • Kristina Reynolds
  • Katie Salo
  • Brooke Sheets
  • Robin Sofge
  • Kelly Von Zee
  • Marc Waldron

Spring 2015 Mentees

  • Emily Aaronson
  • Megan Ashley
  • Carly Bastiansen
  • Emily Bayci
  • Jeannine Birkenfeld
  • Amy Cantley
  • Katie Carter
  • Kathleen Dean
  • Jessica Espejel
  • Joie Formando
  • Haley Frailey
  • Rebecca Greer
  • Pamela Groseclose
  • Emily Heath
  • Ajarie Holman
  • Kimberly Iacucci
  • Amanda Jachec
  • Taylor Johnson
  • Kristen Jones
  • Naara Kean
  • Kari Kunst
  • Samantha Magee
  • Kate Mahoney
  • Kyra Nay
  • Alison O’Brien
  • Renee Perron
  • Jessica Ralli
  • Amy Steinbauer
  • Mary Watring

How You Can Participate

Want to be a mentor or mentee? ALSC is now accepting applications for the Spring 2016 cohort. The deadline to apply is Friday, February 26, 2016.

The post Mentoring: How You Can Give Back to the Profession appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. The Learning Curve


Pixabay image
I've been trying over the past couple of months to finish writing on two projects.*

For the first time in a really long time, I found it a real challenge to get down to business and put fingers to keyboard to do the actual composition of what amounts to five presentations all due within a few days of each other. I procrastinated over this in November and December. EVERYTHING seemed to take precedence over writing - from the ridiculous to the mundane. You know, that stuff.

While immersed in this procrastination period, I worried whether I was having some kind of performance anxiety. Why couldn't I get down to business? Was I struggling because I had bitten the forbidden fruit of retirement relaxation and lost some of my drive and discipline? Was I feeling like I had less to say on these subjects because I was less active in the day to day of librarianship? Or had I simply lost the confidence to express myself?

January finally kick-started me (as looming deadlines will) and I got 'er done (hurray)!

Then the tinkering started.  I dipped in and out of what I wrote constantly (thank you computers for letting me make constant revisions so easily). No sooner would I say, "I'm done" then a new piece of research would be published, a new blog post from a peer, a new article in the professional journals, a new Twitter thread, a new conversation with colleagues would get me right back to revising and refining my thinking.

If that all wasn't enough, over the past few days, during the amazing Wild WI Winter web conference developed by the equally amazing Jamie Matczak from the Nicolet Federated Library System, I plunged into webinar after webinar (and so can you - all the webinars are archived in the site).

You guys, I learned so much!! And that lightening bolt thought stitched together the last few month's writing delays into a realization.

It wasn't performance anxiety that held me back. It was more that I was learning so continuously that committing to something as a finished product seemed almost sacrilegious. Each revelation adds to my thinking and enlarges my view of librarianship. How can something one writes or thinks or believes ever be truly "finished"?

I don't think I'm alone here. In fact you may be going "She is one dense person. Isn't this obvious?" But that's learning for you.

Our lives are constantly about learning and revising and growing. This best part of our librarianship involves that ability to absorb, debate, revise, change, evolve and build on what we know given all the things we encounter in all the places. I am so appreciative of all the sharing everyone does that helps me keep learning and growing.

And I swear, I'll stop and call the class finished now (oh, look a link....).

*One was a webinar on my 10 biggest management mistakes for the Wild WI Winter Web conference (above). The other is an upcoming four week class on youth management problem solving for UW-Madison SLIS CE

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3. #alamw16 The Force Awakens

This girl’s force is about to go to sleep but I thought I’d give you all an impression from the first day before I turn out the lights and pull open the hotel curtains so I can see that fabulous skyline of Boston that stretches across the full length of my window.

Here we are in the land of Harvard, MIT, the Charles River, Fenway, Top of the Hub and the Boston Tea Party.    You feel the whispers of the past as you walk and drive this city.   History lives in the mortar around here.

This whirlwind day has offered hints of our roots and handed me an opportunity to ascend a very steep learning curve in the land of Uber.  I needed Uber to get around today and Uber and I were just getting to know each other.

To get Uber moving for me required the help and savvy of two lovely employees at the registration desk at the Westin Boston Waterfront.  They didn’t blink an eye.  They just took my smartphone and went to work and conjured up Daniel in a Toyota Camry.

(Oh, and the awesome guy at the ALA registration who told me how to get my free ride by putting in the promo code Feeling22…. Worked like a charm.)

So Daniel and I zipped across town to Cambridge so I could meet with Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid. We got a cup of tea together and talked about our shared passion for giving children the best chance at life we can imagine by opening them up to books.

She is one of the brightest lights I’ve run into in my life and it was an honor and a privilege to spend time with her.

We talked about the challenge we all face in managing screen time and young children. Even this neuroscientist says the research we have to guide us is piecemeal. We have no longitudinal studies at this point.

Next a lovely employee at Sofra Cafe and Bakery helped me figure out how to get past the block on my phone’s screen…turns out you have to rate the driver of the previous Uber ride and then you can get conjure up the next one.   I stood inside the Cafe watching out the window for Paul in a Honda Fit.

Paul and I zipped back across town and I listened to Paul describe his career “Portfolio.”  Seems that now instead of working one job…you work a portfolio of jobs.   Paul teaches ESL to au pairs and scientists and is also working on the Emergency Services plan and policies for Washington, D.C.  His GPS delivered me to the loading dock of the Westin but I assured him I could get back to my hotel via the Convention Center. You gotta laugh…this technology has almost, almost I say… got it right.

Back at the hotel I changed into something slightly sparkly and graduated to being able to call my own Uber…yayyyy….and Mark came to the rescue in an Infinity and careened across the city to the Candlewick Publishing event at a suite at Fenway Park. Talk about history and whispers.  Talk about authors…Matt Tavares, M.T. Anderson, Timothy Basil Ering, David Elliott to name a few…and looking at the Golden Glove Awards won by various Red Sox greats. There was the big green monster and there was Peter H. Reynolds.  Hallowed halls indeed.

By now I can get an Uber ride with one hand tied behind my back. Totally starting to get into this thing.  Hey, no money changes hands, right?  You just click on the little Uber icon and tell ’em where you want to go and they send someone in 4 minutes and off you go.

My fellow adventurer, a wonderful Texas librarian named Cynthia Alvarez, and I headed off into the night with Nasr in a Honda Civic.  Nasr I am sorry to tell you seemed to circle the block a time or two.  Let’s just say we kept passing the famous Citgo sign and I think maybe we should only have had that little treat one time.

Cynthia and I peered out the window as we got deep into downtown because Nasr’s GPS was getting a bit fitful. Finally we convinced him that we could see the Prudential Building so we got him to stop the car and let us out.  Then Cynthia and I had to figure out how to get up to the Top of the Hub. Then we had to show our ID to get up to the Top of the Hub.

The elevator ride to the Top of the Hub delivered us to the Simon and Schuster Dessert event where we found old friends and were treated to Cassandra Clare surrounded by a group of students who could not believe their good luck. There was cotton candy, fruit…(no one was eating the fruit)..some kind of blue martini looking beverage in fabulous long-stemmed glasses… fancy pastries and then….. at the far end of the room was the lovely lady making crepes.  I kid you not.  She cooked up the crepe and you added your raspberries, blueberries, vanilla sauce, raspberry sauce, chocolate sauce, whipped cream…yep ….it was the most fabulous way to end the evening.

There we were looking out over the city of Boston with all of its twinkling lights and its Revolutionary ghosts and an army of Uber drivers.

Cynthia and I headed back to the hotel via Uber and Miguel and his small car to be named later.   Miguel had been in the IT business and had lost his job.  His dream now is to move to Florida and invest in a business with his wife.  He has two small children…one is 2 1/2 and one is 4 months. He also has a daughter who is 22. We asked him if his daughter is in college and he said she tried it but after one semester she didn’t know what she wanted to do so she left.

Yep, typical day in the life of a librarian.  I think we pretty much have the same job as these Uber guys.  We meet all kinds of people and we help them get where they want to go.  It’s that part about the credit card that we need to iron out.  Can you imagine if every time we walked a library customer through their “trip” our phone was ringing up their credit card? I don’t know…this is starting to sound pretty good to me… I wonder what the Sons of Liberty would say?

The post #alamw16 The Force Awakens appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. The Competencies Awaken

Now that you’ve seen the new ALSC Competencies, do you need a refresh?

1. Commitment to Client Group. Because everyone deserves excellent library services.

1. Commitment to Client Group.

2. Reference and User Services. Considering context and format of delivery, along with the information itself.

2. Reference and User Services.

3. Programming Skills. Sometimes you need backup to keep it fresh.

3. Programming Skills.

4. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials. When’s the last time you really looked at your collection?

4. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials.

5. Outreach and Advocacy. Saying it in a way they will hear it.

5. Outreach and Advocacy.

6. Administrative and Management Skills. (It can take a while to refine the art.)

6. Administrative and Management Skills.

7. Professionalism and Professional Development. This is just the beginning. Even when it seems like the middle.

7. Professionalism and Professional Development.

Just remember, let the Competencies guide you. Because the library:

ALSC Core Competencies

This post comes from the ALSC Education Committee. Images are not the property of ALSC; shared as commentary under fair use guidelines.

The post The Competencies Awaken appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Professional Resources for Learning About Inclusive Play

So much learning happens through play. Play can help children practice language, motor skills, problem-solving skills and social skills. Many of our libraries may already include free play as part of our storytime programs for young children to support this growth. We may not realize it, though, but there are many barriers to play that exist for children with special needs.  Some of the kids in our communities may not be equipped with the skills to play without accommodations or support. So it’s important that we develop strategies to be inclusive and enable access to play for all.

Coming up with accessible and inclusive play-based activities and games for storytime programs can be a challenge if you do not have a background in occupational therapy or special education. Thankfully, there are a variety of up to date and valuable resources at our disposal to help us learn about inclusive play-based programs.  Check out this professional literature–or interlibrary loan it from your nearest library–to learn more!

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514xCQvodNL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgEarly Intervention Games: Fun, Joyful Ways to Develop Social and Motor Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum or Sensory Processing Disorders by Barbara Sher

 

 

http://www.alastore.ala.org/images/banks300.jpg

Including Families of Children with Special Needs by Carrie Banks

 

 

 

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51osu68LY4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgSocial Skills Activities for Special Children by Darlene Mannix

 

 

 

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Y6UmRVPTL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, Revised Edition: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Kranowitz

 

 

 

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41vNc1frGYL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgPlaying, Laughing, and Learning with Children on the Autism Spectrum: A Practical Resource of Play Ideas for Parents and Carers by Julia Moor

 

 

 

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51l7XYn-FtL._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Inclusive Play: Practical Strategies for Children from Birth to Eight by Theresa Casey

 

 

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51oqchZwxnL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg101 Games and Activities for Children with Autism, Asperger’s and Sensory Processing Disorders by Tara Delaney

 

 

 

Renee Grassi, LSSPCC Committee Member

The post Professional Resources for Learning About Inclusive Play appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. One More Week to Sign Up for ALSC Online Courses

Winter 2016 ALSC Online Courses

We’re heading into the final days of 2015 and it’s also the the final days before the next semester of ALSC online courses!

With topics like school/library collaboration, STEM programming, and the Sibert Medal, you can bring new ideas into your library! Classes begin Monday, January 4, 2016.

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

It’s Mutual: School and Public Library Collaboration
6 weeks, January 4 – February 12, 2016
Instructor: Rachel Reinwald, School Liaison and Youth Services Librarian, Lake Villa District Library

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
4 weeks, January 4 – 29, 2016, CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs
Instructor: Angela Young, Head of Children’s Department, Reed Memorial Library

The Sibert Medal: Evaluating Books of Information
6 weeks, January 4 – February 12, 2016
Instructor: Kathleen T. Horning, Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin- Madison

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

Image courtesy of ALSC.

The post One More Week to Sign Up for ALSC Online Courses appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. Join the Friends of ALSC

Friends of ALSC

The Friends of ALSC is accepting tax-deductible donations (image courtesy of the Friends of ALSC)

It’s not too late to become a Friend of ALSC!

Friends’ projects have a powerful impact not only on our members, but also on their larger communities as a whole. Friends of ALSC support activities such as innovative conference programs and institutes, 21st century challenges, professional development and early literacy projects.

As you are making your plans for the holidays and your final year-end donations for the 2015 tax year, we hope that you will include Friends of ALSC in those plans and show your continuing support for creating a better future for children. Every contribution helps ALSC support the work of our members and meet new challenges.

Be sure to check out the new 2015 Friends of ALSC Annual Report as well to read about all of the great things the Friends did in 2015.

The post Join the Friends of ALSC appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Core Competencies in Comics

What’s new in the ALSC Competencies? The Education Committee asked Lisa Nowlain to just show you.

ALSC Core Competencies

Original illustration by Lisa Nowlain, 2015

The post Core Competencies in Comics appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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9. Make Lab Sites Meaningful

General tips for literacy coaches to use when facilitating writing workshop lab sites.

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10. Is the 30 Million Word Gap a stat we should be using?

1-30millionwordgap

Most recently, I read about it in the ALSC campaign Babies Need Words Everyday.

2-whenifirstsaw

It was such a clear campaign with great graphics that we immediately hung up in our library’s bathroom. And, it had research to back it up – the introductory flyer said “By the time children from low-income families reach the age of four, they will have heard thirty million fewer words than their more advantaged peers.” The initiative was created in response to the Obama Administration’s 2014 call to increase early literacy initiatives to bridge the word gap. It uses the research that coined the 30 Million Word Gap as a talking point, and integrates newer research done by LENA or Dr. Dana Suskind, both of which use the “30 Million Word Gap” research as a framework for theirs. My colleague Claire Moore and I were curious about this statistic, and did some digging to learn more.

The “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3” by University of Kansas researchers Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley was a 2003 article in American Educator (Spring: 4-9), which was an excerpt from their 1995 book Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children. The research, although it has been used as a rallying cry in campaigns across the country (including Too Small to Fail, Thirty Million Words, and local initiatives), has been shown to have some disturbing issues.

The issues that other researchers and educators have found in this study include:

3-tinysamplesize

Here is a breakdown of their critiques.

Sample size

In their most cited body of research, the researchers visited 13 high-income families, 10 families of middle socioeconomic status, 13 of low socioeconomic status, and 6 families who were on public assistance in Kansas City one hour per month for two and a half years. They made 1,318 observations and counted vocabulary words spoken to children by parents. The families only included African-American and White families that spoke English; bilingual children do have slower rates of learning vocabulary, but have other skills that monolingual children do not have (Dufresny & Madsey, 2006). They then looked at the number of words heard by each child by SES and saw the gap that has been trumpeted over and over again. The average child on public assistance heard 616 words per hour, the working class child 1,251 words per hour, and the professional family’s child heard 2,153 words per hour of observation. This number was then greatly extrapolated to show that by age four, there was a 32 million word gap between the child receiving public assistance and the child in the professional class. This assumes that the year had 5200 hours and the big assumption: that the number of words heard in an hour during observation was typical.

Data coding

After the observations, the researchers coded the words the children were hearing from parents. They coded for “quality of interactions” and spent very little time explaining how these codes are backed up by research – in fact, their explanation cites extensive research, but the footnotes only contain a reference to look at their earlier research. Sarah Michaels, Professor of Education at Clark University, said, “Hart and Risley coded for upper middle class/academic or professional politeness and interactional patterns, found that the upper income families used more of them, and simply asserted that more of the quality features is better in producing learning-related outcomes. They identified upper and middle class features of talk, coded and counted them and found, guess what, they correlate with class” (p. 26, 2013). Other researchers say “…by taking the language practices of the middle- and upper-SES families in their sample as the standard, Hart and Risley transformed the linguistic differences they found among the welfare families in their study into linguistic deficiencies” (Dudley-Marling & Lucas, p. 365). The Hart and Risley study set up the working class families and families receiving public assistance to fail. Teresa McCarty, from the University of California Los Angeles, puts it well: “Cloaked in well-intentions— ‘giving children the competencies they need to succeed in school’ (Hart and Risley 1995:2)—gap discourse simultaneously constructs a logic of individual dysfunction, limitation, and failure while masking the systemic power inequities through which the logic is normalized” (Avinerini, et al, p. 71).

4-byusingthewordgap

This deficiency thinking is similar to the reaction to a 1961 book by Oscar Lewis called The Children of Sanchez which coined the term “culture of poverty.” The book was an ethnographic study of small Mexican Communities that attributed 50 shared attitudes, such as violence and poor planning skills, to the larger culture of all poor people. Unfortunately, this deficit thinking is incredibly harmful to both those under the microscope and the educators (and librarians) who work with them. Paul Gorksy says “Deficit theorists use two strategies for propagating this worldview: (1) drawing on well-established stereotypes and (2) ignoring systemic conditions, such as inequitable access to high-quality schooling, that support the cycle of poverty” (2008). Again, by using a deficit framework, we obscure structural inequalities.

“Valence” or the emotional character of the words was also coded: affirmative, open-ended statements were seen as quality, whereas directive were seen as low quality. Again, no research was cited. There are many reasons why coding in this way without an explanation is wrong – mainly, that white, upper and middle class ways of speaking to their children were valued as quality. In a 2015 article, Gulnaz Saiyed says, “While middle-class activities do lead children to develop a sense of entitlement, individuality, and set them up to feel comfortable in schools, they deemphasize other childhood experiences. For example, many working-class parents do not overschedule their children with extracurricular activities. Instead, they provide opportunities for play, development of curiosity, creativity, and respect for different perspectives.” Another point brought up by Saiyed is how African American children are disciplined more harshly in school, and parents may be preparing them for that. Michaels (2013) agrees, saying “Again, I want to remind you that people from different cultures talk differently to infants, and no one approach or style has been shown to be cognitively superior to another in helping children acquire their native language or grow up to be smart” (p. 29).

5-childreninmywhitewealthy

In addition, mobile technology has changed parenting for all social statuses. In other research conducted by Dr. Dana Suskind, middle and upper class parents have other bad habits: “[Anne] Fernald, who sits on the scientific advisory board for Providence Talks, told me, “Some of the wealthiest families in our research had low word counts, possibly because they were on their gadgets all day. So you can see an intermingling at the extremes of rich and poor. Socioeconomic status is not destiny” (Talbot, 2015). The blanket assignation of the bad culture of poverty is harmful to all parents.

Extrapolations

The research makes sweeping extrapolations for its findings. In their book Meaningful Differences, Hart and Risley assert that vocabulary is an important indicator for future success, but spend very little time explaining why: “Because the vocabulary that individuals can command reflects so well their intellectual resources, we still have oral examinations, and vocabulary plays a major role in tests of intelligence” (p. 6). There are no citations of other research that describes why vocabulary is indicates “intellectual resources” – instead, they talk about how it is easy to measure.

7-isvocabreallythebestindicator

As a librarian, I understand the importance of vocabulary as one aspect of literacy. However, I don’t understand why this study allows vocabulary to be the main indicator for school success, or why specifically children as partners in the conversation (as opposed to overhearing conversations) was seen as so important. As Susan Blum says in “Invited Forum: Bridging the ‘Language Gap’” (Averini, et al, 2015), “Anthropological research shows, in fact, that addressing the youngest children as conversational partners is extremely unusual in the world” (p. 75). Are we sure that makes it better?

Michaels says, “The deeply destructive, pernicious thing about the Hart and Risley study is that it presents what seems like totally rigorous, careful, objective science (what under careful inspection is nothing more than pseudo-science)—that gives teachers, educators, policy makers the ‘proof’ they need to believe that these poor kids aren’t smart, aren’t good learners, don’t have adequate language to think well with” (p. 35).  As librarians, when we cite the 30 Million Word Gap, we run the risk of continuing to enforce the bias and classism that this study did, as do some of the initiatives that have cropped up around this study. “In effect, the word gap interventions propose that improving social and economic outcomes for poor and minority families can be as simple as training them to act more white and middle-class (and monitoring their compliance with a ‘word pedometer’)” (Saiyed, 2015). While Babies Need Words Everyday does not go as far as to install word pedometers on parents, and instead simply encourages them to speak with their babies, the issue is very different – but by using word gap and deficit thinking, we may be treading in dangerous territory.

What can we do?

As librarians, we can help support literacy skill-building for both parents and children with Babies Need Words Everyday’s colorful posters and in our storytimes and outreach efforts. As public libraries, we provide free support to parents of all classes who may be struggling to find time or resources to provide early literacy practices to their children. Families in poverty also get support from public libraries to help them combat the structural inequalities they face. We also have to make sure we are creative and reflexive about encouraging multiple literacies, such as (all of which are strengths of a diversity of groups):

8-narrativeskills

As centers providing informal learning opportunities, libraries are the perfect spaces for encouraging multiple literacies. For instance, “Low-income children are more likely than their higher-income peers to be in factory-like classrooms that allow little interaction and physical movement. As a result, these children spend more time sitting, following directions and listening rather than discussing, debating, solving problems and sharing ideas” (McManus, 2015). ALSC members have many brilliant ideas for programming to combat this issue on this blog. What else can we do?

If we are truly invested in literacy equity as librarians, being engaged in understanding our own attitudes and resources is important. I feel hesitant to use the 30 Million Word Gap as a statistic in my storytimes because of what it implicates, and I wonder what you all think. Even the newer research by the LENA foundation and Dr. Dana Suskind use Hart and Risley’s flawed framework. The newly updated ALSC competencies are full of guidance about recognizing and responding to structural inequalities, being self-reflexive, and culturally competent. I’ll end with one of them.

9-competency

-Many thanks to Claire Moore – this piece is the result our meetings and conversations and her editing skills.

Lisa Nowlain is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow and Children’s Librarian at Darien Library in Darien, CT (you can be the next one! Apply by April 1 at www.darienlibrary.org/mcgrawfellowship) She is also an artist-type (see more at www.lisanowlain.com).

Sources cited

Avinerini, N., et al (2015). Invited Forum: Bridging the “Language Gap.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 25(1), pp. 66–86. Retrieved from  http://www.susanblum.com/uploads/4/7/2/1/4721639/jla_-_language_gap_forum_2015.pdf

Dudley-Marling, C. & Lucas, K. (May 2009) Pathologizing the Language and Culture of Poor Children. Language Arts, 86(5), pp. 362-370. http://academic.evergreen.edu/curricular/med/langpoor.pdf

Dufresne, T. & Masny, D. (November 2006). Multiple literacies: Linking the research on bilingualism and biliteracies to the practical. Paediatr Child Health, 11(9), pp 577–579. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528653/#b12-pch11577

Gorski, P (April 2008).  The Myth of the Culture of Poverty. Poverty and Learning, 65(7), pp 32-36. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr08/vol65/num07/The-Myth-of-the-Culture-of-Poverty.aspx

Hart, B. & Risley, T.R. (1995). Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. Paul H. Brookes: Baltimore.

Hart, B. & Risley, R. (Spring 2003). The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3. American Educator, 4(9).

McManus, M. (2015, October 12). Are some kids really smarter just because they know more words? The Conversation. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/are-some-kids-really-smarter-just-because-they-know-more-words-47819

Michaels, S. (Autumn 2013). Déjà Vu All Over Again: What’s Wrong With Hart & Risley and a “Linguistic Deficit” Framework in Early Childhood Education? LEARNing Landscapes, 7(1), pp 23-41. Retrieved from http://www.learninglandscapes.ca/images/documents/ll-no13/michaels.pdf

Saiyed, G. & Smirnov, N. (2015, January 9) OpEd: Does ’30-Million Word Gap’ Have Gap in Authenticity? Chicago Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.chicago-bureau.org/oped-30-million-word-gap-gap-authenticity/

Talbot, Margo (2015, January 12). The Talking Cure. The New Yorker. Retrieved from  http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/01/12/talking-cure
Other Resources

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11. What Is Your Hot Topic for #ALAAC16?

Submit Your Hot Topic Program Proposal for the 2016 ALA Annual ConferenceDo you see a trend in youth services that needs to be addressed? Have an idea for a great program proposal?

The ALSC Program Coordinating Committee has opened a call for two Hot Topic Programs to be presented at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, June 23-26, 2016.

Participants attending ALSC programs are seeking valuable educational experiences and are critical of presenters or sessions that are self-promotional. Presentations should advance the educational process and provide a valuable learning experience. The Program Coordinating Committee will not select a program session that suggests commercial sales or self-promotion.

Further information and the online application are available on the link above. All proposals must be submitted by Sunday, December 13, 2015.

Image courtesy of ALA

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12. On the Road with ALSC at the NBCDI Conference

Last month I was privileged to represent ALSC at the NBCDI Conference. What is NBCDI, you ask? Good question.

nbcdiNBCDI is The National Black Child Development Institute focusing on improving and advancing “the quality of life for Black children and their families through education and advocacy” (from www.nbcdi.org/who-we-are/who-we-are on 11/1/2015). This year was the 45th annual conference held in Arlington, Virginia, that included a host of sessions on a variety of educational topics. Several national speakers were featured in the plenary sessions, including Geoffrey Canada, Founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone. On the final day of the conference, I participated on a panel for the program, Early Learning in Museums and Libraries: Tools, Partnerships, and Promising Practices.

Tim Carrigan, Senior Program Officer at the Institute of Museum and Library Services organized the program and invited the Association of Children’s Museums and the ALSC to share our perspectives and initiatives around early learning. Tim gave an overview of IMLS priorities, as well as national programs and partnerships including:Prescription for success
BUILD Initiative – better integrating libraries and museums into statewide early childhood systems.
Reach Out and ReadPrescription for Success fosters collaborations between medical professionals, libraries, and museums.
Growing Young Minds – a call to action to fully use libraries and museums to close the knowledge and opportunity gaps.

Every Child Ready to ReadTim also spoke about IMLS funded projects like Every Child Ready to Read, Family Place Libraries, and LEAP into Science. All these programs are focused on supporting early learning in libraries through a collective impact model; so that by working together children will start school ready to learn to read.

Jennifer Rehkamp, the Director of Field Services at Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) presented information from the children’s museum perspective. Some of the early childhood focused programs and activities from ACM include:

  • Eat Play Grow – collaboration with the National Institutes of Health on heathy nutrition and healthy physical activity choices

Eat Play Grow

 

Museums for All – a program to ensure museum access for all with free or low cost admission.
Museums for All Logo-with tagline_RGBJen also spoke about the importance of play in the lives of young children and how play is essential in helping children develop critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, and collaboration skills.

With support from the ALSC Leadership and Staff, I presented some of our flagship programs for young children (below), highlighting not only these important initiatives, but also the everyday work that children’s librarians do every day to support young children and families.

Overall we had a great discussion with the participants and they were very excited to receive the ALSC program handouts and to hear about so many opportunities to collaborate with libraries. Don’t be surprised if a community member reaches out to you to ask about ways to work together – take advantage!

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Our guest blogger today is Christine Caputo. She is the Interim Chief of Public Service Support at The Free Library of Philadelphia, where she manages youth services programming, outreach, and special projects. Chris is a current member of the ALSC Board of Directors. She can be contacted at caputoc@freelibrary.org.

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

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

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13. Participate in the Next ALSC Community Forum

ALSC Core Competencies

The topic of the next forum is the newly revised ALSC Core Competencies (photo courtesy of ALSC)

The ALSC Board of Directors and ALSC President Andrew Medlar will be hosting an ALSC Community Forum live chat on the freshly updated ALSC Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries.

Join us to discover how these recommended professional standards, newly revised to reflect our ever-evolving field while honoring our best traditions, can support you and your colleagues in providing the best service possible to the kids in your community. This event will be co-hosted by the ALSC Education Committee.

ALSC’s next forum will be held on Monday, November 9, 2015 at:

  • 2pm Eastern
  • 1pm Central
  • 12pm Mountain
  • 11am Pacific

Members are invited to logon to learn more about the revised competencies and to discuss their implications on the field.

Accessing the Forum

ALSC Community Forums take place on Adobe Connect. A few days prior to the event, ALSC members will receive an email with a URL link to the forum. You can also find a direct link to the forum from the Community Forum site.

Questions? Contact ALSC Membership and Marketing Manager, Dan Bostrom, or by phone, 800-545-2433 ext 2164.

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14. A comic about creativity in the library

Here is a summary (in comic form) of the Center for Childhood Creativity’s Report: Inspiring a Generation to Create: Critical Components of Creativity in Children. I highly recommend giving it a read. It’s got a lot of information that apply to our work as children’s librarians, and lots of interesting frameworks for thinking about creativity!

Original comic by Lisa Nowlain

Original artwork by Lisa Nowlain

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15. Peering at Peer to Peer Mentoring


No matter how long we've been in the profession, we all need mentors.

Pixabay Image
Jessica Olin over at Letters to a Young Librarian has a brief post post about the importance of peer mentoring and it got me thinking about my own experience.

I was lucky, throughout my career, to have experienced librarians take me under their wings in my library jobs, in my state association work and at the national level. Their support helped me navigate alot and taught me a ton.

But I can also say, forty years down my library career path, I have relied - and still rely  - on my peers for a tremendous portion of my professional support. Often referred to as PLNs (personal learning networks), our peer mentors can be life and sanity saving. These men and women, from libraries of all types and sizes, were my go-to reality check, my support, my place to dish, to unload, to problem solve, to listen and learn.

Without these peers who shared the same journey I did and were kind counselors and ardent thinkers, I would have been far lonelier and isolated; unconnected and unchallenged in my practice and my perceptions. I've always said I learn at least one new thing everyday, and my peer mentors often led that learning. Our frequent contact (emails, calls, twitter, FB, in person lunches and visits) informed my career and helped me navigate a thousand good and bad experiences.

I am profoundly thankful to all of you who are/were there for me. And I encourage everyone to reach out to link to your peers and share and grow together.

As I commented in Jessica's post: "While all mentors have had a profound and lasting impact on my long career, my peer mentors have saved my bacon (oh, or tofu) time and time again. The support, commiseration, problem-solving, uplift, shoulder to cry on, bold "let's hatch a plan," collaboration and sassytalk have enriched my practice every day in every way!"


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16. Final Week to Apply for Three ALSC Professional Awards

ALSC Professional Awards

Get your application in for an ALSC professional award today! (image courtesy ALSC)

November 1 is a significant deadline for three ALSC professional awards. Fall is professional award season for ALSC. Every year, more than $100,000 is given away through ALSC’s professional awards, grants, and scholarships. These funds are awarded to deserving individuals and libraries across the country. Submit your application or nomination for one of these great awards soon:

Applications open!

Opening soon!

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17. ALSC on the Road in Idaho

Skye: Greetings from the land of famous potatoes! This two weeks ago, energetic and passionate librarians from all across Idaho descend upon Boise for the annual Idaho Library Association Conference. The theme this year was “Libraries Leading the Way,” and what better way to kick it all off than with an early morning keynote address that challenged listeners to adapt and grow in the areas of character development, contextual awareness and competence, since no organization can rise above the capabilities of its leaders.

From lively sessions focused on innovative STEAM programs, to an entertaining and informative guerrilla storytime, to a legislative panel that affirmed the vitality of the library in early childhood learning – there was much at this year’s ILA Conference to excite, challenge, and inspire.

Storytime Parachute

Energetic Youth Services Librarians sharing their parachute knowledge!

What made the conference extra-special, though, was the presence of the ALSC Roadshow booth. Since it is true that an organization is only as strong as its leaders, I am grateful to have had ALSC leaders with the foresight and wisdom to bring the ALSC booth to this year’s ILA Conference. Being a first-time volunteer at the booth was a great way to meet fellow ALSC members, a great way to share the benefits of ALSC membership with those who were not yet members, and a great way to work together to create a better future for children through libraries. Since Gretchen was the one responsible for bringing the ALSC booth to ILA, I’ll turn it over to her to describe the process!

Gretchen: I was already familiar with the ALSC Roadshow and when Dan (Bostrom) told me that Idaho only had 16 members in the state it seemed obvious that having a booth at the conference was a place to start! It was SO EASY to do. I filled out the form, connected with the few members in Idaho over email, Dan sent some handouts to have at the table, and then all that was left to do was to show up and set up! I even cut off my address on older Children & Libraries issues so people could see the excellent journal ALSC members receive.

We set up a schedule in advance to try to get volunteers arranged in time blocks, but once we got there I realized that wasn’t going to work. We just came over during breaks so we could still attend the conference sessions. In times dedicated to networking on the schedule, we’d head over to the booth. By crowdsourcing “staffing” the booth with fellow members, we had much better coverage throughout the whole conference. Unlike some of the other vendors, many conference attendees knew us so they would stop to chat and we had the chance to make sure they know about the Día resources and Babies Need Words posters as well as other other fabulous ALSC programs and initiatives. We encouraged Trustees and Directors who stopped by to make sure someone from their library is a member to get the maximum value of the professional development and support that ALSC offers.

ILA 2015 Roadshow

Enthusiastic ALSC members: Gretchen Caserotti, Skye Corey, Laura Abbott, Stephanie Bailey-White, and Megan Egbert.

Having a booth at our state association conference was an easy and fun way to meet the other members in the state and to help raise awareness of ALSC programs and initiatives. We definitely would like to do it again next year and hope it results in adding a few new members to our roster!

Photos courtesy of guest blogger.

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Skye Corey

Photo courtesy of the author

Today’s guest blogger is Skye Corey. Skye is a Youth Services Librarian at the Meridian Library District in Meridian, ID. You can reach her at scorey@mld.org

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

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

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18. 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.

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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.

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19. 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.

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20. 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?

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21. Happy Birthday, Anita Silvey

According to FaceBook, September 3rd was Anita Silvey's birthday. As someone who has been an outspoken advocate for quality literature for children, and an author of several nonfiction titles, The Nonfiction Detectives would like to wish her a very Happy Birthday. As as a publisher for Houghton Mifflin and editor of the Horn Book Magazine, Anita's conviction that children deserve only the very

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22. Apply for an ALSC Professional Award Today!

ALSC Professional Awards

Get your application in for an ALSC professional award today! (image courtesy ALSC)

Fall is professional award season for ALSC. Every year, more than $100,000 is given away through ALSC’s professional awards, grants, and scholarships. These funds are awarded to deserving individuals and libraries across the country. ALSC has several awards to choose from:

Applications open!

Opening soon!

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23. LIBRARIES ARE IN THE LEARNING BUSINESS!!

We know this. We have been working with schools for decades and our summer reading programs are an integral part of our service to customers. With the advancement of research in summer slide, and libraries role in reserving the adverse effects of summer slide, we have new colleagues at our table. One of our most stalwart and enlightened partners are the folks at the National Summer Learning Association.  This year their annual conference is in my home town!! The speakers promise to be informative and inspiring. Join us and find new partnerships at every turn.

Our colleges at Urban Libraries Council ULC, partnered with the National Summer Learning Association, to collect a significant amount of information about the many innovative and meaningful ways in which public libraries are providing summer learning opportunities for youth and their families; contributing to closing the achievement gap and mitigating the summer learning slide. Both partners would also like to thank the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) who made this work possible.

Read more about these great summer learning programs at libraries across the country.

ULC will be highlighting the innovative summer learning programming developed by public libraries during NSLA’s Summer Changes Everything National Conference held October 12-14, 2015, in Baltimore. ULC will be hosting Schools + Libraries = Power to Leverage Summer Learning, a working session demonstrating how libraries and schools can leverage resources and develop partnerships to support summer learning initiatives. ULC members Chicago Public Library and Virginia Beach Public Library will also host sessions highlighting their programs. Click here to learn more about the Summer Changes Everything library programming and ULC’s special registration discount!

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24. Who’s Up For a TWT Voxer Book Club?

Are you a Voxer skeptic? Read on to find out how Voxer can enrich your teaching life and an opportunity to use Voxer with others in our TWT community.

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25. Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Apply for An ALSC Professional Award

ALSC Professional Awards

Get your application in for an ALSC professional award today! (image courtesy ALSC)

It’s ALSC professional award season and our goal this year is to see you apply for one of these great grants and scholarships. To help you understand why, we’ve prepared a list of the top ten reasons why you should apply for award or grant this fall!

1. Programs are expense

ALSC has a bunch of great grants that will help cover the cost of materials, speakers fees, and other assorted costs.

2. Your boss will love it

Nothing says, go-getter like going and getting a grant or award. Especially for early-career professionals! Go get ’em!

3. Your community will love it

Awards and grants are great public relations fodder. When you win, you can share the news with your local newspaper. Brag a little!

4. A gateway to becoming more involved

ALSC professional award winners are in a special community among themselves. Winning an award with ALSC shows that you are ready for bigger things. Think of the places you’ll go, for instance, if you won the Bechtel Fellowship and spent four week studying children’s literature at the University of Florida’s Baldwin Library!

5. Take advantage of membership

Most ALSC professional awards are open to ALSC members, so make sure to use this benefit to your advantage.

6. Host a famous author or illustrator

This is specific to one amazing award…the Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Award. You could bring a recognized author/illustrator to your school or library!

7. Showcase your great ideas

Think you have a really innovative and exceptional program? This is a great way to show it off. Apply for a grant like the Light the Way or Baker & Taylor Summer Reading Grant which recognize outstanding ideas.

8. We tailored these specifically to librarians involved in youth services

You’re probably already doing these things in your library, so why not get recognized for it?

9. You can also recognize someone else!

The ALSC Distinguished Service Award recognizes an ALSC member who has made significant contributions to and an impact on, library services to children and ALSC. Know someone like that? Nominate him or her!

10. Money doesn’t grow on trees..nor do books!

Maybe your parents told you this at one point, but it’s true! ALSC grants and awards are a great way to supplement your library budget. If you’re in a small library that wants to build your collection, consider applying for the Bookapalooza program (applications open soon)!

Hurry! Many ALSC professional awards have deadlines of November 1, 2015. 

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