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Obi, the African Lion. Photo by Angela Reynolds
I’m changing Summer Reading this year. When I was in Chicago for ALA last summer I saw their Summer of Learning and was duly impressed. I am going to try something similar this summer, using STREAM – Science, Technology, Reading, Experience, Arts, and Math. The Common Core is not a Thing here in Canada (yet) but I love the idea of experience-based Summer Reading Program. Yes, Reading is still a big part of it, the main focus even, but I wanted to offer some experiences rather than Pieces of Plastic as incentives. So I contacted the local zoo. Oaklawn Farm Zoo is small and owned by a couple that are known in our area as generous and kind folks. I had a meeting in their farm house to talk about offering 2 Library Days this summer– 18 and under get in free if they show their library card (and can earn a badge if we get that part figured out). We sat at the table over tea, muffins, and homemade jam to discuss the details. They liked the idea as much as we did– we’ll be offering storytime and needle felting demos (using zoo-animal fur collected by the keepers). We’ll also take our portable StoryWalk and our Bookmobile for a total library/zoo day! Fun!
So, we have at least one great experience to offer for our Summer STREAM. And for me, the experience was even more amazing because when we first arrived, we heard ,”Oh, here comes the lion. Put your boots on top of the fridge.” Yes, that’s right. LION. For the winter, a lion cub lived in their house. Obi, the 6-month old African lion strolled in, rolled over on the floor, and allowed us to pet his belly. Library Days at the Zoo — YEAH! Plus, I got to pet a lion. I love my job.
What's going on in your world today? Share your story here today at TWT!
By: Stacy Dillon,
A couple of weeks ago my twitter feed kept revealing a #whylib hashtag. Some of the most creative folks in my PLN were participating, so of course I clicked through and have spent quite a bit of time reading the stories of how so many of the people I admire ended up in libraries.
I didn't start out ever thinking I'd be a librarian. The public library was always part of my life growing up. I wrote a post for the Nerdy Book Club
outlining my early experience with libraries. (Please excuse the typo in the text!)
My journey to being a librarian didn't start until I was well into my undergrad years. Originally I was setting my sights on earning a PhD in History. After meeting quite a few TAs who were mid thesis and having some serious conversations with them, I started to think more about options for someone graduating with a degree in History and Women's Studies. After a bit of exploring, I starting thinking about Archival Studies...after all, my favourite bits of history were the research ones - especially those dealing with primary sources. In the last year of my BAH I applied at UBC's program for Archival Studies. It was not meant to be. In hindsight it makes lots of sense, but at the time it did sting. I took a year after graduating to take some extra classes and thought about library school.
Interestingly enough, once I decided on library school, I asked one of my History professors for a recommendation to McGill's program and she told me she thought I was making a mistake. She had come the other way...she had been a librarian, and then went back for a PhD in History. She told me that my love of research would be lost in library school.
She wrote me the letter and the next year I started my MLIS at McGill in Montreal. The degree is a 2 year program that I attended full time. The summer between first and second year I scored a job in a special library (thanks, Uncle Michael!) and pretty much decided that special libraries were where I wanted to land. The second year of my program, I was free to take some optional courses and I decided to take a course in YA lit. My sights started to shift.
My graduation year was 1996 - a very different time. This was a time that the NYC libraries came to Canada to recruit folks. Entry level jobs were scarce in Canada and many of my classmates were moving to the States to work. My roommates and I attended ALA in San Antonio resumes in hand hoping to score an offer before graduation. I was still of two minds - special libraries or YA? An offer came for each, and ultimately I followed my heart and became the YA librarian at a branch of the New York Public Library.
I landed at the perfect branch for me, which is a lucky thing when you think about the fact that there are 81 branches plus the research libraries. My teens were little goths and punks and comic book addicts and poetry writers. I know, right? I had a fantastic branch manager who let me try things like zine workshops and other programs that hadn't been done in house before.
Ultimately my journey has brought me to school libraries, and I have to say this is where I think I belong. I am lucky enough to work with a team of librarians (also a rare thing for a relatively small school) who challenge me professionally in a school where I am allowed to take risks.
At the end of the day, I am glad I didn't take my History professor's advice. While I don't pull on the white gloves and tweezers to look at primary resources, I get to have conversations with kids about their reading and their lives. Every now and again I get an email out of the blue from a former student who has something great to say. I am immersed in amazing literature written for children and teens. I am exploring technology and learning about and using resources I hadn't heard of the year before. Each day is different, and I have to say I love it.
Image from freefoto.com
I don’t know about you all, but the kids in my library are feeling SPRING FEVER! There are quite a few ways to capitalize on this and harness it rather than just stare at in wonder.
One of the first things I like to do it take the kids outside. Even though our school is firmly planted in an urban environment, right outside of our front door is a collection of city benches where I can bring the kids for independent reading or for a story time. There is quite a bit of noise out there so I try to make sure any read aloud is short and boisterous.
A less weather dependent way of adding some spring to the library, is simply reading some books that are spring themed or related in some way. Some of my favorites are:
Clementine and the Spring Trip, by Sara Pennypacker
The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown
and then it’s spring, by Julie Fogliano
In for Winter, Out for Spring, by Arnold Adoff
What are some of your favorite books to read aloud to welcome Spring?
Yesterday was the last day of the March SOLSC but it doesn't have to end there! Come join us on today for Tuesday SOL.
You know you’re a children’s librarian when …
you sing the words to fingerplays while driving to work – just to be sure you’ve got them memorized before morning storytime.
DAYS OF THE WEEK (Stand up to begin this rhyme.)
Clap, clap, clap. (Clap hands.)
Tap, tap, tap. (Tap foot.)
Hop, hop, hop. (Hop on one foot.)
Stop, stop, stop. (Hold up hand.)
Jump, jump, jump. (Jump on two feet.)
Thump, thump, thump. (Pound fists together.)
Turn around. (Turn around.)
Now smile quietly
Without a sound! (Sit down and smile.)
(Credit: DAYS OF THE WEEK fingerplay, Dr. Jean Feldman)
Happy Friday, all!
“So Katie,” a fellow grad student inquires during a class break. “You’re working three different jobs. You’re going to library school. Are you crazy? What’s your schedule like? How does that work?”
I stare into space for a moment. “Well,” I say, giggling to myself. “I don’t have a boyfriend.”
Ahh, yes, we all know it. The act of juggling a million things at once. Whenever I’m asked “how I do it,” I look around and see that practically everyone is doing the same thing. With the recession and budget cuts, many librarians are turning to working part-time in multiple places (often times without benefits) and having to balance time working, commuting, socializing, parenting, and the basics like eating, exercising and sleeping.
I’m not going to lie: it’s really hard. Talk to anyone I know and they’ll say that I’ve had my rough spots. Yet, I look over the past two years at Dominican and my upcoming graduation in July, and I’m so grateful for the rich experience doing multiple things at once has given me. I’ve learned storytime techniques, collection development, and reader’s advisory in one job. I’ve learned about professional development and the business side of libraries at another. I’ve blogged and window designed and helped run book sales and learned about early literacy, Makerspaces, and advocacy.
But so many people have asked: practically, how do you do this? How do you maintain sanity in a busy life, juggling multiple commitments? I don’t guarantee that these tips will work for everyone, but here’s what has worked for me:
Rather than take in my entire syllabus or calendar at the beginning of the semester, stare at it, and immediately have a panic attack and think, “HOW AM I GOING TO GET ALL THIS DONE?!”, I take it in pieces. One day, I write in due dates for one class. The next day, I write in my work schedule for one week. I look at long-term planning and short-term planning. I’ve found that I’m actually doing real, honest work on a project when I simply sit on the train and just think about the project. Then when I get to it, I have a direction. A fellow coworker schedules out his entire work day by the hour, and when I followed this format, I felt so accomplished having different tasks checked off a list and then moving on!
2.) Don’t procrastinate.
This is a big one, and it’s one that I hear the most about from fellow students. They want to be motivated to study, but when they sit down to it, they go grab lunch with a friend or watch Netflix instead. I get it—we all need downtime (see #5). But if you schedule time for work, then work—no excuses. Silence your cell phone so it doesn’t buzz with texts right next to you on the couch. Eat a good meal so you have energy to study. For me, the scariest thing in the world is a blank word document. AHH! I’m feeling a rush in stomach and my palms are getting shaky thinking about it! The deep abyss of a white screen is just a reminder that you haven’t started. So just start the project, even if it’s just your name in MLA format with a title, or a brainstorming list. Then you feel like you can go forward.
3.) Take breaks.
Google your favorite cupcake store. Order a theater ticket. Whatever it is you need to get a good break in (I like jumping jacks or running around my apartment singing), do it. But then go back to your work. Don’t watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother, because it will be too easy to watch another one. Wait until your scheduled breaks—eating or finishing work—to really calm down. I’m always surprised that when I don’t feel like getting in the “work mode” but I do it anyway, I usually get a ton done! Then, if I’ve started something early, I can revise while everyone else is panicking with a first draft.
4.) Communicate with professors and employers.
Asking for help is hard for me. But the thing is, if you are a good worker—if you show up to class, rarely miss deadlines, and do your daily and weekly work as well as your big projects—employers and professors will see that. They will associate you with being steady, reliable, and dedicated. Then, when you are sick or an unexpected event happens, your leaders will understand. If your norm is missing class and asking for extension after extension, you need to reevaluate your commitments and see how you can change things so you can give your best self to the world. I truly believe that your managers and professors want you to succeed, and they will be on your side. Talk to them.
5.) Schedule time for yourself.
I don’t have a family right now, which is how I can do what I do. But regardless of life situations, everyone needs to recharge their batteries. For me, that’s yoga, dance, writing, tea, piano, Pinterest, baking, reading an adult book (WHAT?! WE CAN DO THAT?!). Evaluate how much screen time you have, and try to spend time away from gadgets. Our bodies are meant to move throughout the day, truly.
6.) Know that it’s impossible to be perfect.
I get behind. I panic. I make mistakes. My tweens know more about current events and pop culture than me because I don’t always have time to catch up on news that’s not children’s lit related. Remember, your life doesn’t depend on being perfect. You just gotta be you, and I promise: doing the best you can is all you can do.
How do you balance your juggling act?
Guest blogger “reading” in front of the Hawaii State Library
Our guest blogger today is Katie Clausen. Katie is currently in her second year of library school at Dominican University in River Forest, IL, where her focus is Youth Services. At Dominican, she works in the Butler Children’s Literature Center. She also works as a children’s services assistant at Oak Park Public Library and started an internship at ALSC last September. You can read her blog at www.houseatkatiecorner.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because I keep seeing so many amazing storytime ideas from blogs I read, I am feeling the itch to do Storytime. My position as Head of Youth Services means that I do a lot coordinating, consulting, book ordering, book recommending, grant writing, program development, and training. Which means I am in an office based in a Headquarters location that is not a public library. Which means: I don’t have a regular storytime. For many years, this has been ok with me. I was actually kind of tired of doing storytime, and was happy to compile booklists and make storykits and show staff, child care providers, and parents how to interact with kids around books. But how I can recommend all this new fun stuff if I don’t test-drive it first? Enter Storytime Lab. Once a month, I will be heading over to my local library to test out new songs, fingerplays, flannel stories, activities, and books on the willing “Guinea Pigs” that come through the doors. Not only do I get to test out new ideas, but I have also invited our staff that do storytimes, plus local agencies that do storytime activities, to come and observe as a training session. They get to see a storytime modeled, and see how the kids react. The children and families that attend get to experience the newest books, songs, puppet stories, and flannelboards that I can find. Plus, it is only once a month. That fits in just right with my schedule. Now, I just need a lab coat….
Writing a Slice of Life every day is challenging for us, and challenging for our students. And, just as we (may) struggle with getting to everyone and leaving a meaningful comment, so it… Continue reading
Can first graders write Slice of Life Stories?
“I write only because There is a voice within me That will not be still” ― Sylvia Plath, Letters Home Welcome, Tuesday slicers. It is the last Tuesday in February…four days from the start… Read More
Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.- Barbara Kingsolver … Read More
This time of year, many of us hear cautions against over-eating. The cookies! The candies! The parties with melted cheese appetizers! But do we caution ourselves against over-reading? I have been on a reading binge this year. Next year my reading will be reserved for committee work, so this year, I have been a reading maniac. On Twitter, I have been part of a “50 Book Pledge”. It is a reading campaign put on by The Savvy Reader. Basically, you sign on to read at least 50 books in the year, and Tweet about your reading. For those of us who use picture books on a regular basis, 50 books is a breeze. But this year I’ve been wolfing down adult books, too! And my diet contains YA novels just for fun, in addition to all the picture books and middle-grade fiction. Just for fun! I am only 1 book away from my 200-Book goal – if you want to see my bookshelf, here it is.
Photo of book shelf by Angela Reynolds
How many books have you read this year? Do you keep track? If so, where and how do you keep track? I love having this online bookshelf, it is easy for me to go back and find a book that I read but can’t recall the title. I want to hear your over-reading stories – there’s lots of room in the comments…
It’s December – the time to ponder the best books of 2013, and to wonder which ones will receive the coveted awards of January.
It’s also time to come clean and admit the books still languishing on your TBR pile.
What book did you want to, plan to, or have to read this year … but didn’t?
Here are the two that I most regret not having read this year:
- Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (Simon & Schuster)
- Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg (Scholastic)
So, now that I’ve made you (and me!) feel guilty, take heart – we have 21 days left until next year. Grab a book and start reading!
Luckily for me, I’ll be reviewing the audiobook version of Rooftoppers soon for a magazine, and I’ve got time to squeeze in Serafina’s Promise. How about you?
“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with… Read More
“A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.” ― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind It is time… Read More
On the 12 days of Christmas, my library system gave to me:
One new library catalog
Two busy self-check-outs
Three new children’s tables
Four prizes for summer reading
(image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)
Five book displays
Six wonderful weekly story times
Seven freshly painted walls
Eight interesting book series
Nine outreach events
Ten chairs in our conference room
Eleven special preschool programs
Twelve happy children (and many, many more!)
While some of these numbers are only a brief representation of the total figure, other quantities are right on target. Regardless of the number, all of these examples are just some of the gifts I received while working at our community branch library in 2013.
(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)
The highlight, of course, was sharing time with the people, both customers and staff members, I have been blessed to work with this year.
What has been the greatest gift you have received at work this year? What upcoming opportunity are you most anticipating in 2014? Please share in the comments below!
“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.” ― Anaïs Nin It is time to write your Slice, share your link, and give some comments to (at… Read More
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. ~T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding” How appropriate that… Read More
Can you believe it is approaching the seventh annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge?
Can you believe it is approaching the seventh annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge?
“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”
― Ray Bradbury
“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
Dear SOLSC writing community, We, at TWT, have been gearing up for our annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge, for some time now. March is drawing closer with every passing day. Taking… Read More
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With the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge just around the corner, perhaps some of you are thinking more than ever about starting a class blog just for writing. Over the past few… Read More