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The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is a network of more than 4,200 children’s and youth librarians, children’s literature experts, publishers, education and library school faculty members, and other adults committed to improving and ensuring the future of the nation through exemplary library service to children, their families, and others who work with children.
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51. Museum passes

ticket-imageThis month I am thinking about the trend of public libraries offering museum passes for check out. The idea is to partner with local museums and other fun, family-friendly, educational and/or cultural places and create an agreement that allows the library to circulate day passes to the partnering institutions. From the small amount of research I’ve done, I see there are many ways to go about doing this. Some libraries are high-tech and have web portals that allow patrons to print off museum passes from any computer. Some libraries have actual tickets that circulate like any other physical materials in the collection. Does your library have circulating museum passes? Do the tickets allow an entire family in to a facility for free? Do the tickets cover any kind of additional fees (like parking)?

Here are some examples of this kind of service – this is just a few, there are many more out there:

Please share your knowledge about how this program works. If you offer at your library, is it a popular service? How is this service funded – through donations or grants? Any words of wisdom to share? How many days is the ticket valid or how long can each patron keep it? Have you used this unique kind of circulating material as a patron? Tell me all about it in the comments.

The post Museum passes appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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52. Poetry Month Wrap-Up Illustrated

I did a fair amount of live-blogging for PLA this month, so all my serious thoughts were all dried up – except to say that PLA is incredible and I learned a ton.

So, to wrap-up Poetry Month, I wanted to share a display my coworker Krishna put together:


We had slots for children to write their own pocket poems, and some of them are too good not to illustrate (no grammar or spelling altered).

Poem #1: dope


My interpretation:


Poem #2: My Zootch


Here’s what Shel Silverstein had to say about that:


Poem #3: untitled


My interpretation:


To all budding poets, I salute you!

All illustrations copyright Lisa Nowlain, 2016.

Lisa Nowlain is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow and Children’s Librarian at Darien Library in Darien, CT. She is also an artist-type (see more at lisanowlain.com).

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53. Prince, Putumayo, and Streaming Music

News broke of Prince’s unexpected departure from this world during our monthly book order meeting last Thursday. It was impossible to avoid the flood of quotes, photos, and music performances on social media, but many fans found it challenging to listen online to  “Little Red Corvette,” or “Diamonds and Pearls,” in memoriam. Prince was a huge proponent for artist’s rights and this is why listeners cannot find his work on streaming services like Pandora and YouTube. Prince did not totally abandon placing his music online, and the artist utilized Tidal, the subscription service owned by Jay Z, and SoundCloud to share new music. Lucky for me I somehow kept a copy of Purple Rain in my office – something every children’s librarian should have tucked away!

The search for Prince’s music was the perfect opportunity for libraries to market their own digital services, and USA Today even gave public libraries a shout out in an article providing listeners with alternative options. In response, libraries such as Highland Park Public Library and Green Tree Public Library shared Hoopla’s Prince offerings with their users.

About six years ago my library eliminated CDs for mass circulation and the children’s library has been the only place where CDs continue to exist. Parents and caregivers still request music, especially storytime cult classics like Hap Palmer’s Getting to Know Myself. As playing this type of media becomes increasingly difficult, we have been guiding families to Hoopla, the streaming service which we introduced two years ago. Luckily Hoopla has a comprehensive Raffi collection, as well as They Might Be Giants and Putumayo World Music.

Many libraries opt to provide another streaming offering, Freegal, if not having the ability to offer both services. Freegal offers users the ability to stream unlimited content which includes exclusive Sony Music Entertainment options. Despite having different pricing structures for libraries, both services are valuable for being free to library users, and also claim to give artists a percentage of their earnings.

If you provide digital music services for your library how is it received? Are parents, caregivers, and kids using these resources?

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children and Teen Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at [email protected]

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.

The post Prince, Putumayo, and Streaming Music appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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54. 2016 Día Booklists

 2016 Building STEAM with Día Booklists

Download your copy of the new 2016 Building STEAM with Día Booklists (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee has developed two new booklists for this celebratory year of Día.

The 2016 Building STEAM with Día Booklists continue the theme of identifying promising resources to supplement (S)cience, (T)echnology, (E)ngineering, the (A)rts, and (M)ath programming while reflecting a variety of cultures and languages.

The 20 Years of Día: Share the Gift of Reading lists are a special tribute to encourage everyone to participate in the celebration of Día’s 20th anniversary. To help libraries and community members access these books as easily as possible, ALSC has collaborated with our Official Día Supporter, First Book, to identify which books are available through their First Book Marketplace. By registering with First Book, librarians and others serving children in areas of high poverty can access books at little or no cost. In addition to printed books, these titles may also be available as unlimited eBooks through the recently launched Open eBooks Initiative.

20 Years of Día Booklist

New for 2016! The 20 Years of Día Booklist is great for your celebration (image courtesy of ALSC)

Each of the lists are available for download in the ranges of Birth to Pre-K, Kindergarten to 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade to 5th Grade and 6h Grade to 8th Grade. Click the Free Program Downloads tab to download them all today!

The post 2016 Día Booklists appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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55. Update on the #ALSC16 Institute

Thank you to everyone for the robust and respectful discussion regarding the status of the 2016 ALSC National Institute following North Carolina’s passage of HB2 one month ago. I’m incredibly grateful to my Board colleagues for their careful consideration and knowledge-based decision making. We heard very loudly and consistently from ALSC members on this issue and while I very much share in the disappointment that we won’t be gathering together in Charlotte this September, I’m proud of how all of us in the ALSC community have handled this challenging, important, and very real issue that led to its cancellation.

Throughout this process, the work of ALSC Executive Director Aimee Strittmatter and of Kristen Figliulo, Program Officer for Continuing Education, has been nothing short of extraordinary, as has that of their office colleagues Laura Schulte-Cooper, Dan Bostrom, Angela Hubbard, Marsha Burgess, and Courtney Jones. Vice President Betsy Orsburn, Fiscal Officer Diane Foote, Division Councilor Jenna Nemec-Loise, and Budget Committee Chair Paula Holmes have also been particularly involved in this process.

If you haven’t yet seen the Board document that outlines the details involved in this decision, please do take a look at it here.

Support from across all of ALA has been tremendous. ALA President Sari Feldman is a great friend of ALSC and of library service to children and I hope you’ll join me in expressing appreciation to her for her advocacy and support, as well as to Mario Gonzalez, ALA Treasurer and Executive Board Liaison to ALSC. ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels and Senior Associate Executive Director Mary Ghikas, along with the Public Awareness Office and Office for Library Advocacy have been there for ALSC at every step along the way. And a very special THANK YOU to our good friends at the ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table, especially Chair Peter Coyl, Chair-Elect Deb Sica, and Immediate Past-Chair Ann Symons.

Please also help me express our incredible thanks to the Institute Planning Task Force, who have put so much dedication, care, and excitement into their work for many, many, many months. Thank you to Chair Emily Nanney and members Seth Ervin, Catherine Haydon, Jesse Isley, Karin Michel, Rebecca Thomas, and Priority Group Consultant Julie Dietzel-Glair. For those of you who will attending the ALA Annual Conference in June, please plan to attend the ALSC Membership Meeting on Monday (June 27) at 10:30 a.m. in the Orange County Convention Center Room W308, as we pay special tribute to the Task Force.

It was important that we took these weeks to make such a careful and considered decision, and while some elements of its implementation are still in progress, here is the latest information:

  • Our Quicklists Committee has compiled a Transgender/Inclusion Advocacy & Information resource. The aim of this list is to educate and support both library workers and the general public regarding the legislation and the issues of transgender rights. It includes several organizations to contact regarding advocacy, donating time and money, and a bibliography of related books, including picture books, fiction, and nonfiction.
  • Those who were registered for the Institute will receive a full refund of registration fees without penalty.
  • For those who had already booked airfare, ALSC has created a memo to airlines (including American Airlines, for which Charlotte is a major hub) requesting they waive the change fee or offer a full refund, in the spirit of solidarity, to those who booked travel to North Carolina over the Institute dates.
  • ALSC is now planning to hold a one-day workshop immediately prior to the 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday, January 20, to accommodate as much of the Institute’s creative programming as possible.
  • ALSC also plans to offer much of the Institute’s educational content in an online format.

Specific details around which content will be offered, as well as its timing, pricing, and format, will be available in the coming weeks as ALSC works through the details, and Betsy and I will have additional information in our upcoming May ALSC Matters! columns. So stay tuned, and if you have any additional questions or thoughts, please feel free to share them in the comments section below or via e-mail at [email protected].

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56. Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): How Our Standards Relate and Interconnect

This past November, I saw a post on our
North Carolina State Library blog about the SPLC-Committee-Wordle-300x240-300x240new Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries.  After reading, I was curious to see how they compared to our North Carolina School Library Media Coordinator Standards.  Similar to other states, our NC SLMC standards are based on guidelines from AASL, ISTE, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, ALA/AASL Standards for Initial Preparation of School Librarians and other state standards.  After reading this document and noticing that it is geared towards those serving ages birth to 14, I decided to also check out YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth* since I am in a high school setting.


I wanted to see if there were areas where we overlapped that might be used to promote more collaboration between school and public librarians.  I noticed that we had similar standards although some of our elements may come under different standard headings.  Some key places for collaboration are education, resources and digital access, professional development and advocacy.  Below, I have listed standards from ALSC and YALSA that I felt correlated with our NC school librarian standards.   You can match up your own state’s school librarian standards where mine are listed.

Educational Practices
ALSC Standard I.5. Understands current educational practices, especially those related to literacy and inquiry.

ALSC Standard II.2. Instructs and supports children in the physical and digital use of library tools and resources, information gathering and research skills, and empowers children to choose materials and services on their own.

YALSA Standard II.1. Become familiar with the developmental needs of young adults in order to provide the most appropriate resources and services.

YALSA Standard VII.5. Instruct young adults in basic information gathering, research skills and information literacy skills – including those necessary to evaluate and use electronic information sources – to develop life-long learning habits.

NC SLMC Standard 1.a. School library media coordinators lead in the school library media center and media program to support student success.

NC SLMC Standard 4.a. School library media coordinators use effective pedagogy to infuse content-area curricula with 21st Century skills.

In order to facilitate your local public librarians’ ability to keep up with educational practices, make a point of sharing any new state educational guidelines that are issued and also any school improvement initiatives that your particular school is implementing.  They may be able to facilitate your school meeting some of your initiatives.  Each semester I have the public librarians and the college librarians come in to do a session with our seniors before they start their Graduation Projects.  We instruct them on accessing the resources at the school library and also at the public and college libraries and review proper citation guidelines for using resources.  We are discussing also having them come in next year to do sessions with our juniors.

Resources and Digital Access
ALSC Standard II. 1. Creates and maintains a physical and digital library environment that provides the best possible access to materials and resources for children of all cultures and abilities and their caregivers.

YALSA Standard VI. 5. Be an active partner in the development and implementation of technology and electronic resources to ensure young adults’ access to knowledge and information.

NC SLMC Standard 3.a. School library media coordinators develop a library collection that supports 21st Century teaching and learning.

There are a number of public librarians from different states that are creating student access policies with school librarians so students can have easier access to digital and print resources.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg in NC has successfully been running their One Access collaboration format for a year now.  Our county is looking into developing a similar program.  Currently our high school librarians have worked with the public library to provide digital access for our students.  If there is a resource that you think would benefit your students and it is something that your library cannot afford, see if it is available at the public library and if there is a way that your students may be able to access it.

ALSC Standard III.7. Delivers programs outside or inside the library to meet users where they are, addressing community and educational needs, including those of unserved and underserved populations.

YALSA Standard VII.3. Provide a variety of informational and recreational services to meet the diverse needs and interests of young adults and to direct their own personal growth and development.

NC SLMC Standard 4.c. School library media coordinators promote reading as a foundational skill for learning.

Who doesn’t want help with running a special program or author visit to your school.  Public librarians are also good sources for book talks, helping with Battle of the Books events or collaborating on a makerspace activity, especially if you haven’t created one of your own yet. If your public library is located where your students live, see if you can help with afterschool programs or a weekend program, that way your students can see you in a variety of libraries and become aware that both librarians are there to support them.

Professional Development
ALSC Standard VII.9. Participates in local, state, and national professional organizations to strengthen skills, interact with fellow professionals, promote professional association scholarships and contribute to the library profession.

YALSA Standard III2. Develop relationships and partnerships with young adults, administrators and other youth-serving professionals in the community be establishing regular communication and by taking advantage of opportunities to meet in person.

NC SLMC Standard 5.b. School library media coordinators link professional growth to their professional goals.

We all enjoy going to conferences, in part to exchange ideas with fellow librarians. But there is often the issue of lack of time and funds.  Why not set up a local one-day conference and invite local school, public and academic librarians?  I am a member of the Azalea Coast Library Association which covers several area counties; we are about to have our first one-day conference with participants from all types of libraries including librarians from our local hospital.  No one has very far to travel and the very low registration fee includes lunch.  Another idea is to set up an after-school or workday coffee break with your public librarians to share information about what is taking place in your libraries.

ALSC Standard V.6. Communicates and collaborates in partnership with other agencies, institutions and organizations serving children in the community, to achieve common goals and overcome barriers created by socioeconomic circumstances, culture, privilege, language, gender, ability, and other diversities.

YALSA Standard III.3. Be an advocate for young adults and effectively promote the role of the library in serving young adults, demonstrating that the provision of services to this group can help young adults build assets, achieve success, and in turn, create a stronger community.

NC SLMC Standard 1.c. School library media coordinators advocate for effective media programs.

Working by yourself to advocate for a strong library program may be difficult at times but working with all local librarians together could provide opportunities to showcase the benefits to the community of not only the school library program but also the public library program.  By collaborating on joint ventures, you will be better able to make the community aware of how library use from toddlers through young adulthood creates life-long learners, which benefits the community as a whole.

If you are the only librarian in your school you may sometimes feel (with budget and time constraints) that you have a difficult time meeting your own standards for evaluation.  Remember that there are also public librarians you can collaborate with to make it easier for both of you to meet your own individual goals.  Look through ALSC’s and YALSA’s competencies to find areas that you both share and that would benefit your program.  There are many more standards that overlap with our own school librarian standards. Comment with any ideas that you have for connecting one of your school librarian standards with ALSC’s and YALSA’s standards. Or, if you are a public librarian point out a standard that you feel you would be able to collaborate on with a school librarian easily.

*YALSA’s revised standards are due to be published in the summer of 2016. Visit this link to see a draft of the updated competencies.

Joann Absi is the media coordinator at Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. She is a member of of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation and currently blogs for Knowledge Quest. 

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57. Passive Programs for School Age Kids

Passive programs are a great way to engage kids, whether they’re hanging out after school, coming in on a school-free day, or are just looking for something to do! They often require minimal effort to prepare and get off the ground, but are then good for hours of fun and engagement. If you’re looking to add school age passive programs to your library’s offerings, want to freshen things up, or just try something new, take a look at some of these great options!

Book cover puzzle

Book cover puzzle

Make copies of a book cover, laminate, cut into puzzle pieces, and set them out (above)!

Put “postcards” out on a table and encourage kids to write a postcard to their favorite author or book character, like in The Show Me Librarian’s blog post. Bonus fun if you can find a place to display them in the library!

Take a look at this collection of passive program ideas from Jbrary.

We all know Pinterest is a great resource for ideas. There are lots of passive programming boards out there, so find your favorites or start with this one from Central Mississippi Regional Library System.

See what you can do with cardboard squares and plastic cups over at Library Learners.

Magnetic poetry wall

Magnetic poetry at La Crosse Public Library

Have some fun with magnetic poetry (left)! If you have a magnet wall like the one pictured here it’s extra easy, but you don’t need something as elaborate as this! Try painting some cardboard with magnetic paint and lean it against a wall or set it on a table, and you’re good to go.




If you have a magnetic surface, there are lots of cool options to consider. Those book puzzle pieces pictured above? There’s magnetic tape on the back of each piece, so they double as magnet puzzles (below).

Book cover puzzles on a magnetic wall board

Magnetic book puzzles at La Crosse Public Library

Mad Libs provides some fun, free downloads, and you can find lots of other Mad Libs-style downloadables elsewhere online. Print them out, set them on a table with pencils or pens, and let kids get extra silly! Or, find a paper Mad Libs booklet and set that out instead!

Build your own Tinker Toys and let kids create like at Never Shushed.

When it comes to passive programming, this is just the tip of the iceberg. What awesome passive programs are you doing with your school age kids?


Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser is a youth services librarian at the La Crosse Public Library in La Crosse, WI and a member of the ALSC School-Age Programs and Services Committee. 

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58. Preschool Tinker Labs


A year or so ago I stumbled across the book called “Tinkerlab:  A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors” by Rachelle Doorly.  The book contains hands-on activities that encourage children to explore art, science, and more.  This book was so inspiring and was really the driving force behind a series of programs we now do at the library for children ages 3-5. These programs, by far, have been and remain to be, some of our most well attended programs.  The feedback we get from parents is fantastic.

What do these programs consist of?  We schedule one program each month of our programming sessions.  They are meant to be a time where children come to play, explore, tinker, and create.  The programs run for one hour and children ages 3-5 and their parent/caregiver are invited to explore stations that all revolve around the same theme.   We encourage children to investigate, explore, and participate in whatever way they want.  Sometimes a child will stay at one station for the whole hour, and we are fine with that.  While we do set out some directions/suggestions at each station, every activity is designed to be explored independently as well.

Some of our most popular themes have been:  It’s Dark in Here:  We played in the dark with homemade light tables, flashlights, and things that glowed.  ​We included translucent blocks and shapes, water beads, glow-in-the-dark letters and critters, and more.  Sensory Bin play:  We had fun with sand, popcorn kernels, beans, rice, water beads, and pipe cleaners.  We shared with parents the importance of play and using our senses to investigate the world around us.  Play Dough Picassos:  Children rotated through four different playdough stations:  Mr Play Dough Head, Play Dough Mats, Play Dough Bakery, and Play Dough Mud.  There was lots of creative play and discovery happening.  Marvelous Music:  We made beautiful music with carpet drumming and water xylophones.  We crafted egg shakers, balloon drums, and kazoos.  We ended with a marching band around the library!  
Crazy Painting:  
Children participated in marble painting, mesh dabber painting, painting with cardboard tubes, bubble wrap painting, popsicle painting, blow art, color mixing bag, stamps and ink and painting with different objects.  Building with DUPLOs: Children explored with LEGO Duplos by painting, stamping in play dough, counting, measuring, creating patterns, sorting, making tanagrams and building.



Click to view slideshow.

Kara Fennell Walker works as the Head of Youth Services with the Geauga County Public Library in Middlefield, Ohio. She is writing for the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. If you would like to learn more about her early reader backpacks, you can email her at [email protected].

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59. What Do You Do With An Idea (The Manager Version)


What do you do with an idea, picture book.

Picture book, What Do You Do With An Idea.

What Do You Do With An Idea is a brilliant picture book by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom, that many of us know and love. It has an inspirational message that all creators, makers, dreamers, and children’s librarians alike can appreciate: Hold tight to your ideas and see them become reality.

We all know that when we have an idea we need to consider it precious and valuable, but what if the idea is not your own? What do you do with an idea if you are a manager, or anyone else within a library, who has the power to help turn dreams into reality? How do we give meaning to the ideas of other people, while still upholding our jobs as a manager? It is a tight-rope walk between two vastly different terrains, but it is possible to achieve.

We all know that feeling. Someone is sitting in your office and they are bursting with excitement about some new idea/project/collection/program they want to do. Instantly our mind can go to a few places.

  1. This is way too much work.
  2. We’ve tried to do this before and it didn’t work.
  3. This person has had too much caffeine and they are on a different level than I am.

Those things might be our immediate response, but as a manager it is critical we take a step back and approach things a little bit differently. Here is what I’ve found to work when I am approached with an idea.

  1. Say yes. I know this sounds crazy. What if the idea is really big? What if they don’t have time to pull it off? What if the idea is really crazy? As long as the idea falls within their job scope, I suggest you start by saying yes. I’ve been inspired with the philosophy behind the book, The Answer to How is Yes.  You start by saying yes, you show a dedication to their idea, and then you work out the details.
  2. After saying yes you clarify what they see your role being. This is as important for a manager as it is a staff member. “What do you need from me?” and “When do you need it by?” are key questions to ask. You won’t necessarily be able to commit to their needs, but it is the starting point for a conversation.
  3. Last, you shape the parameters of the idea. If number one made you really nervous, number three should help you feel better. Just by saying yes it doesn’t mean that you have to turn the library into a circus in three weeks (although I think Children’s Librarians could pull it off). At this point you can offer suggestions about a timeline, about scaling the idea, and advice for who can help them pull the miraculous feat off.

With these three easy steps, managers can make sure that they are approachable and open to the ideas of others, while still maintaining their job role and supporting their staff members. It is important that managers are interested in ideas, and treat them carefully, after all the picture book that inspired this post will tell us:

“And then, I realized what you do with an idea… You change the world.” 

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60. Moving? New library job? Some helpful hints

moving-truck-300pxWhether you’re a new librarian moving to take your first job, or an experienced librarian moving to greener pastures, here are some suggestions that might help.

I’m not saying I followed them all, but I should have! :)

Before you move:

  • Make sure you leave your previous job in good stead.  Give adequate notice, file paperwork, clean your desk, get your checkups in before your insurance runs out, return all your library books. :)
  • If you can, give yourself some time open roadbetween jobs – especially if you’re moving out-of-state.  Acquiring a new, license, registration, cell service, cable, electricity, etc., can be daunting if you’re working full-time.

At your new location:

  • Be a team player. It’s easy to think of yourself as the “outsider,” but work is more fun when you work together.  Be interested, be helpful, be approachable.
  • Know what’s going on. It’s your  home now. Who’s your mayor, your congressman, your baseball team? Subscribe to the local news in print, feed, or online.
  • Join your union – or at least hear them out.  They’re the folks working to earn better wages and benefits for you and they’re a good source of job-related information that you might not receive elsewhere.
  • Figure out who doesn’t mind answering questions, who doesn’t like to be pestered, who likes to joke around.  Work with that.
  • When you get that mountain of papers about insurance options – read it! And don’t miss the deadlines.
  • If you’re offered the chance to sign up for deferred compensation of some kind, do it right away before you ever have a chance to  miss the money.  Later, you’ll be glad you did.

A few don’ts:

  • Don’t get discouraged. If your new library is like every other library – there’s too much to do and not enough people to do it.  Relax; do the best you can do.
  • If you’re in a position of authority, don’t make  drastic changes right away.  First, find out what works and what doesn’t, and why things are done the way they are.  Be respectful.library icon
  • Don’t eat the boiled peanuts.  I hear they’re terrible! 😉



Image credit: Openclipart.org

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61. Distinguished Service Award – Nominate!

Who inspires you? Have  you ever thought, “I want to be THAT librarian when I grow up”? Do you know an ALSC member who should be recognized for their work? If you can answer these questions, perhaps you should consider nominating someone for the ALSC Distinguished Service Award.

The nominee should be an individual who has made significant contributions to, and an impact on, library services to children and to the Association for Library Service to Children. They must be a personal member of ALSC.  The nominee may be a practicing or retired librarian in a public or school library, a library or information science educator, a member of the library press, or an editor or other employee of a publishing house. Nominations are open until December 1, 2016, so you have some time to think about this.

Who has won in the past? The award was established in 1991. Here is a list of the past winners, and the 2016 winner  is Pat Scales. Who will you nominate for the 2017 award? Our virtual committee awaits your suggestions.

Once you are ready to nominate, just fill in this form. The hard part will be choosing who to nominate. There’s someone you admire, someone you look up to, someone who has done amazing work for ALSC and has made an impact on library services to children. We count on you, ALSC members, to let us know who you think this person is.

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62. Create New Community Partnerships With A Volunteer Fair

Later this spring our library will be hosting its first ever Volunteer Fair.  We are so excited for this event as it brings value to the community and lays the foundation for new partnerships with many local organizations.

volunteerWe considered a volunteer fair for our community for several reasons.  First, our library is fortunate to be located in a village that is dedicated to civic service and philanthropy.  This event is also a great way for us to target and engage two elusive age groups for us– tweens and teens.  Finally, a volunteer fair supports one of our library’s missions: “to act as a responsive resource for lifelong learning.”  We hope a successful fair will further strengthen the library’s position as a vital center of the community and create lasting partnerships with local organizations.

Finding and securing participants in the fair has been a great education in the breadth of service opportunities available.  If you’re interested in holding a Volunteer Fair, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Begin with existing partnerships.  Does the library partner with any other local organizations for programming or outreach efforts?  Does your Friends group use volunteers?  Does your library display flyers or brochures from organizations that could use volunteers?
  • Collaborate with colleagues.  Are any coworkers actively volunteering?  Or do they have a connection to an organization in need?
  • Look at which other organizations are present at community events. Farmer’s Markets and festivals are a great way to make contact and learn about other local organizations.
  • Research national organizations that may have a local chapter nearby in need of volunteers.  These can include: American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Alzheimer’s Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and many others.
  • Perform an online search to see what opportunities are available in your area and contact those organizations directly about your event.  Websites like volunteermatch.org and createthegood.org are a good place to start.  Also your community’s website may list opportunities.

Enlisting participants may seem like a daunting task, but the mutual benefits of a volunteer fair encourage involvement and support.  The organization is able to recruit volunteers and increase public awareness of their mission while the library is able to connect its patrons with meaningful service opportunities.


Today’s post was written by Sophie Kenney. Sophie is a Children’s Librarian at the Glencoe Public Library and is currently serving on the ALSC Liaison to National Organizations committee.

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63. Host a Volunteer Fair

Later this spring our library will be hosting its first ever Volunteer Fair.  We are so excited for this event as it brings value to the community as well as lays the foundation for new partnerships with many local organizations.

We considered a volunteer fair for our community for several reasons.  First, our library is fortunate to be located in a town that is dedicated to civic service and philanthropy.  This event is also a great way for us to target and engage two elusive age groups for us– tweens and teens.  Finally, a volunteer fair supports one of our library’s missions: to act as a responsive resource for lifelong learning.  We hope a successful fair will further strengthen the library’s position as a vital center of the community and create lasting partnerships with local organizations.

Finding and securing participants in the fair has been a great education in the breadth of service opportunities available.  If you’re interested in holding a Volunteer Fair, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Begin with existing partnerships. Does the library partner with any other local organizations for programming or outreach efforts?  Does your Friends group use volunteers?  Does your library display flyers or brochures from organizations that could use volunteers?
  • Collaborate with colleagues. Are any coworkers actively volunteering?  Or do they have a connection to an organization in need?
  • Look at which other organizations are present at community events. Farmer’s Markets and festivals are a great way to make contact and learn about other local organizations.
  • Research national organizations that may have a local chapter nearby in need of volunteers. These can include: American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Alzheimer’s Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and many others.
  • Perform an online search to see what opportunities are available in your area and contact those organizations directly about your event. Websites like volunteermatch.org and createthegood.org are a good place to start.  Also your community’s website may list opportunities.
  • Enlisting participants may seem like a daunting task, but the mutual benefits of a volunteer fair encourage involvement and support.  The organization is able to recruit volunteers and increase public awareness of their mission while the library is able to connect its patrons with meaningful service opportunities.

Sophia Kenney is a member of the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations committee and works for Glencoe Public Library.

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64. Program in a Post: Costume Characters!!

Elephant & Piggie Celebrate #bookfacefriday

Elephant & Piggie Celebrate #bookfacefriday

With this post and $140 to $280, you can bring in huge crowds for costume character extravaganzas! Simply rent a costume character, put on a storytime, and smile for the camera!


  • Costume character rental
    • $140 for one character, such as Pete the Cat, Maisy, Clifford or $280 for a pair, such as Elephant & Piggie or Frog & Toad
  • Books for storytime
  • Music & rhymes for storytime
  • Minimum four staff people/volunteers
  • Printouts of activities from the character’s website for craft tables (optional)

Program set up: You will need at least four people working your event, one to present storytime, one to BE the character, one to be the character’s handler, and one to control the crowd. More staff is always better because you can expect a BIG crowd.

Pete the Cat relaxes in the Bookmobile

Pete the Cat relaxes in the Bookmobile

We set up the auditorium with a line (usually made of masking tape) across the front of the room so that the storyteller and costume character(s) have plenty of room to move. Families sit mostly on the floor behind this line, with a few chairs set up along the edges of the room for those who don’t want to get down on the floor.

For the storytime, we like to read books about the character or on topics that the character would enjoy. After each book (about three total), we stand up for a rhyme, song, or dance. For the very last dance/song/activity, the character will make an appearance. The character will be “on stage” for five to ten minutes to dance along with the crowd, wave, be silly, etc. and then will retreat from the room. At this time the crowd is invited out to the children’s department to line up for a photo opportunity/personal visit with the character.

Lilly reads And Tango Makes Three

Lilly reads And Tango Makes Three

We prepare the photo area ahead of time with a backdrop, stanchions, and another masking tape line so that the crowd assembles in a nice, orderly line. While the crowd is leaving the auditorium to line up, the character is in the back room, taking a break to catch their breath and take a drink of water.

Elephant & Piggie hand out high-fives at the Meet and Greet

Elephant & Piggie hand out high-fives at the Meet and Greet

Once everyone is lined up, the character and handler can make their way to the photo area. At this time the storyteller and crowd control person from storytime will help families take photos and ensure that the line moves along relatively quickly. You can expect this part of the program to take 30-45 minutes and I promise you, the person in that character suit is VERY hot and, while having fun, is looking forward to the end of the line. It is a good idea to work out a signal between the character/handler before the event so that the character can indicate if they need to take a five minute break in the middle of the line. Since visibility from inside a large costume character is limited, it is also the handler’s job to let the character know where children are and what they want “little one needs a hug”, “high five on your left”, etc. It is also nice for the handler to give periodic check-ins of how long the line is “just about 10 families left”, etc.

Bad Kitty sliding down the banister

Bad Kitty sliding down the banister

Besides the need to plan ahead to rent a character (I’m terrible at planning ahead) and trying to schedule several staff people to be in the same place at the same time, costume character events are super-duper-easy to put together and a whole lot of fun.



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65. Summer Reading, No! But Reading in the Summer, Yes!

I’m back with more anti-summer reading ranting!  Interested in reading (or re-reading) the whole diatribe?  Here are the previous entries: Part I, Part II, Part III where I’ve noted issues around how/if the traditional summer reading model supports non-readers; SRP tracking and registration; and learning vs. reading as the program’s focus.  This month, I’m thinking hard about assessment and evaluation again.

Here we are, a little less than 2 months before the summer season starts.  And I’m feeling it!  My stress level is a bit high these days (but calmed weekly with Netflix, the local Y and chocolate banana bread!) But I’m excited too.  This will be a very different summer for my library and I’m eager to see how it all goes.  Since there will be no registration for the reading portion, the only thing from which we’ll gather information is our big LEGO 3D infographic that will definitely give us an idea of how many books each age group read. I’ve talked to more than a few parents who say they’ve never actually participated in an SRP because of the hassle of tracking books for more than 1 child.  I myself don’t want to track my reading (outside of GoodReads, that is) to participate in an adult SRP and I never have. Not even a chance to win an iPad motivates me to either write down the books I read or login to a website I don’t regularly use to track my reading there.  I’d rather be reading – HA!

I do want, however, to spend some time thinking about:

  • what that registration information has meant to us
  • how our library has used it in the past
  • and if we have truly needed it, how could we make do without it

As far as I can see, we’ve only really needed (and I use that term loosely) the total number of books and/or the total number of hours-read.  And even that number merely gets sent out into the void of state reports and is never heard from again.  I know it’s one way libraries have measured success, but I’m not convinced it actually helps us measure our impact.  Again, I would argue that those numbers mostly represent kids who love reading, regardless of what libraries do to support them, other than provide access to amazing books, of course!  And frankly, I’m still trying to find a good way to measure our deep impact.  We applied for a small grant this spring (not sure if we got it yet) but a big portion of the application (as you ALL know!) is about assessment and evaluation.  We included some creative ideas (some we devised, some we got from other grant projects from other organizations) and here are a few:

  • We’re going to ask parents and children/teens to complete brief ladder evaluations. These are 2 mirror evaluations – one giving at the beginning of an event and one given at the end.  These will address interest level and track any change in understanding of a subject or concept.
  • Our staff will create charts that will be available during events and programs alongside stacks of post-it notes and pens/pencils.  The charts will display questions children can answer any time during the program/event such as Did you learn something new about_____ today?  Did you collaborate with someone today?  Would you attend another program like this one?  Our thinking is that this setup, which makes the questions part of the program will yield more responses.
  • Staff will be on alert during programs and workshops to catch stories, ideas and responses to the activities.  We’re also going to be vigilant about snapping photos (for Instagram and beyond) and we’ll be asking follow-up questions to gather transformational stories to share with the community and the library board.
  • And of course, we’ll be keeping detailed track of attendance.  In a more holistic way than in the past.  We’re going to keep an eye on repeat participants and new faces and work on making lasting connections.

This is a far cry from SRP reports that I’m accustomed to filling out and submitting.  And I imagine there will be some work in convincing our library board about this approach as well.  But it’s part of a larger mission I’m on to rework our program offerings and approach to youth services.  Pushing closer to standards more in-line with informal learning projects and organizations.  My hope is that our department can become a seriously official supplemental service to the school.  I mean, truly part of their curriculum.  I really believe this is, at least in part, the future of public library services to children.

Is anyone else going rogue?  I’d love to hear the creative stuff happening out there!

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66. Did You Know this Is Advocacy: In the Schools

It’s a busy time of year for library advocates, with National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) right around the corner on May 2–3. Even if you don’t have the time or the resources to head to Washington for the day itself, you can participate in Virtual Library Legislative Day (VLLD) activities during the week of May 2–6 (for details, check out the Everyday Advocacy website).

Advocacy Begins at Home

Advocacy stories write themselves every day as school librarians do their jobs

Advocacy stories write themselves every day as school librarians do their jobs

As the excitement over NLLD and VLLD build, however, it’s important to remember that big, visible campaigns like these are only one small piece of advocacy, and that much, much more is being done on the ground everyday by librarians simply doing their jobs. Ultimately, advocacy means convincing others of the value of library services to children, and we can all do that just by providing great service—and by ensuring that our bosses, administrators, boards, etc. know about it.

As a solo school librarian with no support staff in a school where only 20% of the student body is reading at or above grade level, the last thing on my mind on a day-to-day basis is advocacy. My number-one, almost obsessive mission is getting my students to read. One way I do this is by keeping the library open after school so parents can drop in with their children to have a little quiet reading time together. This hasn’t been a hugely popular program, but it doesn’t really cost me much effort (I stay late to shelve anyway), and the unintended rewards have been huge.

My most regular after-school customer last year was a fourth-grade girl I’ll call Jane. Her mother brought her by one afternoon and asked if it would be OK if Jane used my after-school hours to sit and do homework and read quietly. It was too chaotic at home, she explained. As a single mom, she found it hard to keep Jane’s two much younger siblings quiet enough for Jane to focus on her reading or her work. I said, “No problem” (this being the abracadabra phrase of micro advocacy), and thus, Jane became my companion every afternoon for the rest of the school year. This didn’t require much effort on my part. She would sit and do her homework, and then dip into the collection, reading everything from picture books to graphic novels to nonfiction on just about every subject. Occasionally, I would suggest a book, but mainly, we worked in companionable silence. It was nice to have company during what is frequently a fairly lonely time of the day.

How Our Daily Tasks Become Advocacy

Where this becomes an advocacy success story is in my conversations with my principal. Obviously, I asked her for permission before taking Jane on for what was essentially free child care, and every so often, I would share anecdotes with her, mostly about how voraciously and broadly Jane was reading. Lo and behold, Jane came through with top marks across the board in the state exams, which the principal attributed to her time in the library. I personally think it had more to do with Jane’s native intelligence, natural curiosity, and strong work ethic, but I was happy to let my principal make assumptions. I am blessed with a very supportive principal, but in my world, keeping her happy is advocacy-goal number one. As with all New York City elementary schools, the decision to have a library rests entirely with the principal.

I’m sure that school librarians around the country all have their Janes—students they’ve helped in some, small way that in turn created ripples throughout their schools. We would love to hear these stories. As Matt McLain wrote in an earlier Advocacy and Legislation blog, “Did You Know This Is Advocacy”, these stories are crucial not just to your own, local advocacy efforts, but also on a much broader scale, as these stories are passed along to policy makers. Please take a moment to submit your school-library advocacy story to the Everyday Advocacy website.

Eileen Makoff is the School Library Media Specialist at P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School in Coney Island, Brooklyn, and a member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee. 

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67. Reviews & Common Sense Media

Kids using the computerDuring late March and early April, the ALSC Discussion List was active with comments and concerns around Common Sense Media (CSM) and that organization’s reviews of children’s materials.  I followed this discussion with particular interest for two reasons. First, the organization is located in the city where I work.  Second, when they were just getting started, members of the organization came to our library to meet with us to discuss their values and seek our support.   We declined as we believed that their practice of labeling was in violation of the ALA Bill of Rights and the core values of library services for children.

I do not intend to rehash all of the comments and statements of the online discussion (sigh of relief on your part!).  Hopefully, most of you followed it and certainly many of you actively participated.  I found it to be a robust and lively exchange.  That being said, I believe that there are some points that bear repeating regarding CSM reviews:

  • The qualifications of the “expert” reviewers are not always clear with regard to their knowledge of children’s literature and their background in bringing children and books together.
  • Reviews contain a not-so-subtle bias that the values of CSM should be shared by everyone.
  • Ratings that focus on a checklist of incidents that CSM considers problematic (i.e. violence, sex, language, consumerism, drinking, drugs, smoking) cannot provide a balanced and truly insightful evaluation of a literary work.  There is no context.
  • The “Parents Need to Know” ratings are presented to the left of the reviews and are the most immediately visible component.  Even if the review itself does present some balance, a parent in a hurry will find it all too easy to simply look at the rating as a guide to deciding if the book is one they consider appropriate.

Nina Lindsay, Supervising Librarian for Children’s Services at Oakland Public Library, focused on this issue in a way that I found particularly insightful.  With her permission I am going to use her comments:

“…it is indeed the “What Parents Need to Know” section and ratings of CSM that I find inherently problematic, and totally different than, for instance, VOYA’s ratings on popularity and quality.  First of all…”Parents Need to Know”?  That very statement presupposes that what is about to follow is what every parent should value.  Try looking up some reviews of titles with complex stories in them, and picture yourself as a parent who is browsing this site to sanction or veto your child’s reading choices.  Does this section really tell you what you need to know about the book?  The point is it is different for every parent, every family.”

Thanks, Nina!

If you haven’t done so, I would like to encourage you to read a blog post from the Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and a Booklist editorial by Pat Scales.  On March 28th, 2016, Joyce Johnston posted a piece to the OIF blog titled Common Sense Media:  Promoting Family Values or Dictating Them?  The original editorial from Pat Scales, titled Three Bombs, Two Lips, and a Martini Glass was published in Booklist in August of 2010.  It has just been reprinted with updates as a result of the ALSC-L discussions.  Both pieces are succinct and on target.

Are two blog posts and an updated editorial on top of the previous discussion excessive on this issue?  I would answer no.  The discussion about labeling in order to limit what children read is a vital one to our profession.  It is one that we should weigh in on whenever possible.

Finally, I encourage you to think about volunteering to serve on the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee.  Several of us currently serving are coming to the end of our appointments at the close of the Annual Conference.  This will provide openings for those who might be interested in participating in this critical committee, and working with great people who share your passion for intellectual freedom!

Toni Bernardi, San Francisco Public Library

Member, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

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68. Poetry Timeline: Slither, Run, Crunch, Flap, Slurp, Aaaaa, Hooray!

Poetry School Visit photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Poetry School Visit photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Do you have poems swirling in your head?  Do you have one poem memorized that you share every day with someone new in the library?   Do you dress up during poetry month?  Have you created a poetree display? There are so many amazing fun things to do during poetry month!  This year, I switched up my school visits a bit and added a poetry timeline. The poetry timeline works great with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders.

Below are two options for adding poems to your timeline-Movement: Day 1 and Historical Events.

Historical Events Poetry Timeline: Before your school visit, create your poetry timeline on a huge piece of colorful paper using makers or paint. Select a series of interactive poems that match up with a specific date. For example, Velcro by Maria Fleming invented in 1955. Start with a really really early date and end with 2016.  Add between 7-12 poems with a variety of dates. (This will change depending on your school group size and how much time you have.)

Sample Historical Poetry Timeline:
1753 Liberty Bell by Linda Sue Park in Amazing Places Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
1912 Fenway Park by Charles Waters in Amazing Places Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
1958 Art Kane’s famous photography Harlem, 1958 in Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photography by Roxane Orgill

Recommended Poetry Books for Historical Events:
28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith Jr.Shane W. Evans (Illustrations)
Amazing Places by Lee Bennett Hopkins (Editor), Chris K. Soentpiet (Illustrator), Christy Hale (Illustrator)
Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World by Jan Greenberg
Pritelli (Illustrations)Rutherford B.,
Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents by Marilyn SingerJohn Hendrix (Illustrations)
World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of  by J. Patrick LewisAnna Raff  (Illustrations)
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Ekua Holmes.
Voices : Poetry and Art from Around the World by Barbara Brenner
Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems by J. Patrick LewisMichael Slack (Illustrator)

Day 1 Poetry Timeline:

Day 15 - walk, crack, dance, pop, and fly. photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Day 15 – walk, crack, dance, pop, and fly. photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Hold your school visit either in the classroom or wing/meeting space, use a white board or bring in big pieces of butcher paper.  Have the classroom or group select a day-Day 1, Day 22, Day 245, or Day 6,780. Have fun selecting the number.  Let’s start with Day 1.  Have the teacher assist with writing the poems on the timeline after you read them.  Students will select (yell out) where the poem will go and what time of day the poem should happen. For example, after reading the poem “A Smoothie Supreme,” students might select the poem to start at 6pm.  Write the poem and time on your timeline-6pm A Smoothie Supreme by Deborah Ruddell.  After-this is the best part! – read together and act out each motion-Slither, Run, Crunch, Flap, Slurp, Aaaaa (roller coaster noises while pretending to ride a roller coaster up, down and around.) Hooray, yells the group together.

Tell your group the name of the poem again and remind them what the action is that matches up with each poem and book.  This is a great way to introduce new poets like Deborah Ruddell, Julie Paschkis, Bob Raczka and more!  The poetry timeline creates interaction and movement.  You will be loud, be silly and be smiling.

 Day 1 Poetry Timeline
8:30 a.m. – Snake by Julie Paschkis (Slither-ssssss)
9:00 a.m. –The New Running Shoes by Fran Haraway (Run!)
11:00 a.m. –21 Things to Do with an Apple by Deborah Ruddell, (Crunch)
12:00 p.m. –A Bird in the Bird Feeder by Judith Viorst-Spring Haikus (Flap!)
6:00 p.m. –A Smoothie Supreme by Deborah Ruddell (Slurp!)
7:00 p.m. –Roller Coaster by Joan Bransfield Graham (Aaaaa!)
8:00 p.m.-Arrival of the Popcorn Astronauts by Deborah Ruddell (Hooray!)

Poetry Timeline Popcorn photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Poetry Timeline Popcorn photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Have fun with each timeline by adding illustrations-markers, pencil drawings or cut-out magazine collages.
You can also create a seasonal poetry timeline-fall, winter, spring and summer or theme poetry timelines-Sports, Animals, Food-so many options.
For more poetry ideas, explore past Poetry Paige ALSC blog posts.
Please share your school visit ideas and photos below (especially, if you dress up during poetry month.)





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69. Creating Spaces that Celebrate Every Child Ready to Read 2

How we serve the youngest of children and their families is, of course, a major priority for children’s librarians.  Besides our services, our spaces can also accommodate each of the major practices of Every Child Ready to Read 2 for our smallest of learners and their grownups.  At this year’s ALSC Charlemae Rollins President’s Program:  Libraries: the Space to Be, we will be discussing President Medlar’s vision of how to bring both big and small ways into our libraries  to enliven spaces to maximize learning outcomes.

Whether you have a grant for space redesign or are just adding a little nook space, there are practical and easy ways to plan for, and then create space for the five practices. In Orlando, we can see and learn from best practices across the nation so that we all can find ways to activate your space for talk, sing, read, write and play practices:  all so essential to young children and their grownups.

First, creating a play space in your library allows for a new type of learning in our spaces:  active, engaged learning that allows children to problem solve and take on the role of learning by doing and being the ‘expert’ in any situation.  Play spaces help families learn together and celebrate their successes as important roles in children’s learning.  It has been documented at the Chicago Public Library that where we have put in play spaces we see families staying up to 40% longer, returning more often, attending more programs and coming together across communities to learn together as families and build friendships.  These all benefit 21st Century’s library goals, and are important for us as we promote our services to stakeholders.

The benefits of play are numerous and the LEGO Foundation spells them out in their Power of Play white paper which cites play as critical to the ‘balanced development of children’.  Play allows children to use their imagination and creativity, and is, at base, a form of communication.  It has been called essential to human development, and the UN calls it a fundamental right of children.  And libraries are proudly joining in as places for play as we embrace learning in its many environments.  Of the five types of play:  Physical Play, Play with Objects, Symbolic Play, Pretend and Socio-Emotional play and Games with Rules,   can you find some easy ways to incorporate play into your spaces and programming?

And what about the other four skills?  Think about ways you can encourage talking in your library.  A library pet goldfish in a bowl with a simple question or prompt about the fish each week, a comparison chart of your height to various animals, bean sprouts growing in baggies on the windows or a whisper tube such as the one Amanda Roberson at Hartford County Public Library, St. Mary’s County Library has installed are all inexpensive, fun and whimsical ways to encourage families to talk with one another.  Close your own eyes and visualize the moment a whispered “I love you” between a parent and child travels all along the talk tube and into the ear, the brain and the heart of the receiving child.  Or consider the thrill families will have upon finding and discovering their bean sprouts have grown since their last visit to you.

Singing happens in story hours all the time: we sing songs, action rhymes, play music and dance, but why leave it for just program time?  What if you had a nursery rhyme or children’s song station and a small, play microphone?  Encourage children and their adults to take turns singing the song of the week.  What a goofy and fun station that can encourage breaking language down into its basic parts.

Reading we know has its foundations in various aspects of ECCR2 such as letter recognition and print awareness.  Add letter toys such as Lakeshore Learning’s Alphabet Apples or their Magnetic alphabet maze into your play areas to help encourage letter recognition.  These toys encourage play with letters and phonemic awareness.  Integrate such toys into your books for a fun, literacy play experience.

Writing:  Dr. Nell Duke talks about the significance of writing in early literacy development, but how can we add this into a physical space?  Think about an easel white board that can be put in your space with accessible markers,  write and wipe lapboards for writing letters in story hours, or a letter writing or post box station.  Sentence start strips are also great ways for children and families to feel ownership in the library and can be an easy way to decorate:  Start a bulletin board with the letters “On my way to the library, I saw….” And then leave sentence strips out for families to complete.  Young children can dictate their sentence or story which can lead to a great bonding experience and fun narrative skills.  Then, add these to your board as a fun and easy way to create a fresh display that is child centered.

Please join President Andrew Medlar at this year’s ALSC Charlemae Rollins President’s Program: Libraries: The Space to Be to learn more from the experts around the country:  folks like you!  National experts in space design and children’s creativity will be side by side for a fascinating panel discussion on creative children’s space.  Best practices for small, medium and large libraries will be showcased in this important look into how space and our programs in libraries transform.

We hope you can join us!

Liz McChesney, Chicago Public Library
Co-chair Charlemae Rollins President Program 2016

Christy Estrovitz, San Francisco Public Library
Co-chair Charlemae Rollins President Program 2016

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70. Exploring Self Collaboration — via MU

In my thirst for all things related to libraries—books, information, technology, trends—and how librarians—in the U.S. and abroad—view their work, I started to think about all of our different perspectives and what this means short and long term for librarians, libraries, and most importantly, our patrons. I understand the focus is different in schools and public libraries, yet the skills we learn are transferable, and many of us employ outreach and collaborate between schools and public libraries. Through modeling collaboration, we create a network of professional librarians who master and implement 21st century life-long learning skills, sharing those same collaborative and transferable skills with our patrons. We manage this process quickly, effectively and differently. Different, is key—just look at MU.

Within Monster University’s website, I came across some very interesting reading to help focus my thoughts. In the article, Are Two Heads Better Than One? the author states, “…self-collaboration leads to better results in a shorter amount of time than solo brainstorming” (Stillwater). This is a new twist I had not thought of, and I wanted to learn more about MU. Their webpage, About: MU at a Glance, indicates the university, “opened [in] 1313”, and is still going strong, housing “16 computer labs”, with a library that holds, “89,000 books…” (2016). Based on the information on MU, now I know, we are not alone. Libraries–their image, impact and social role, will be around, in very different forms, for a very long time. I have also found that author Stillwater’s “solo brainstorming” offers some really fascinating ideas to think about.

For now, while I do engage in a monstrous (sorry, couldn’t help it) amount of self-reflection and research to improve my performance, I still find that multiple (separate) heads are better than one. With mindful leadership and collaboration on professional best practice, and its implications for patrons, we define the professional role of all librarians and libraries. I think MU President Victoria Gross indicates our role very clearly, in her Welcome.

If you would like to observe Monsters University’s library resources, activities and the impact their librarian has in supporting student collaboration, click here.

“Monsters University.” Disney. Web. 09 Apr. 2016.


Courtesy photo from Guest Blogger

Courtesy photo from Guest Blogger

Our guest blogger today is Brenda Hahn. Brenda’s permanent home is in Florida, where she and her family live. As a Teacher/Librarian, her experiences include, U.S. public schools, public libraries and several IB schools. Brenda’s vivid imagination keeps her library full of fun and applicable 21st Century life-long learning skills. She can be reached at [email protected].

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 [email protected].

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71. Hamilton and the Children’s Library

hamiltonBroadway’s hit show Hamilton is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon: sold out until January 2017, its cast album just became a gold record, meaning it has sold more than 500,000 copies; meanwhile the cast recently performed live at the Grammy Awards and at the White House. For those not yet obsessed with the show, Hamilton mixes hip-hop with show tunes to tell the story of America’s “ten dollar Founding Father/without a father.” The cast is stunningly talented and diverse, and young people (and their friendly neighborhood librarians) across America are obsessed.

So how can we capitalize on this Hamilton hunger in the children’s library? True, the musical is based on a book, but not many 10 year-olds are wiling to haul an 800+ page, Pulitzer-prize winning behemoth to school. Prior to his recent fame, Hamilton was an oft-ignored Founding Father. In fact, Chernov’s book bills itself as the “first” full-length biography of the man, written nearly 200 years after he died. So what can we offer Hamilton‘s younger fans?

Luckily, offerings for the young reader are not as slim as you might think. The following books are in-print, well-reviewed, and fun to read:

Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider (2012, Gr. 6+)

The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr (2009, Gr. 5+ )

The Founding Fathers!: Those Horse-Ridin’, Fiddle-Playin’, Book-Readin’, Gun-Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America (2015, Gr. 2+)

Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History (2015, Gr. 2+)

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery (2013, Gr. 5+ – yes, this one is not about Hamilton. But it’s excellent, and tells the story of another early American whose story has been reduced to one thing: traitor)

Better Nate than Ever (2014, Gr. 5+ – again, not about Hamilton. But a kid who loves Broadway will love this book. And so does Lin Manuel Miranda!)

What books would you give to a young Hamilton fan? And what’s your favorite song from Hamilton? Mine is (currently) “Dear Theodosia.”




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72. Taking Advantage of National Resources – The Smithsonian

As children’s librarians we give a lot of attention to reading and various literacy skills, and on many occasions we use fun activities to explore a variety of subjects with children. Through this blog and upcoming ones from me, I want to introduce and/or remind about us about the national based resources that can provide information and program ideas. Although I am spoiled with a wealth of program resources by working in Washington, DC at DC Public Library (DCPL), my colleagues and I should not be the only librarians taking advantage of these opportunities.

The Smithsonian site is overloaded with program resources from most of its 19 museums and galleries. Unfortunately this site doesn’t have a consistent method for accessing them. But by clicking on “educators”, “Kids” and/or “student” pages you should be able to find activities to checkout. Below are a few examples of the ideas and resources available (lifted from the site on Saturday, April 02, 2016).

American Art Museum
The American Art Museum (through its Renwick Gallery) has a project for creating a 3-D collage about your state through the program: Superhighway Scholars.

Although there is no direct link from the “Educators” page to some of the museums such the American Indian Museum and the Museum for African American History and Culture (which opens this September) you can go to their site to look for resources.

The above examples are not only good for you, but are great resources to recommend to teachers and other educators to check-out. You don’t have to do the lessons on the site exactly as presented but hopefully they will spark some new ways for fun programs with children. And, of course, promote your collection by showcasing related resources before and after the program.


Carmen Boston is a children’s librarian and the Children’s Programs and Partnerships Coordinator for DC Public Library and a member of the ALSC School-Age Programs and Services Committee. You can contact her at [email protected].

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73. Upcoming Día Celebrations

El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros is a celebration of children and reading across all language and cultures. While it is intended to be celebrated all year long, the culminating event is held annually on April 30. This year is the 20th anniversary of promoting literacy for all children from all backgrounds through Día. Check the Día website to discover a wealth of information, including the history of the celebration and how it came to mean what it does; booklists; and tons of suggested activities. Support materials include downloadable publicity, coloring sheets, bookmarks, and activity sheets. Take a look!

The 20th Anniversary of Día!

You’re invited to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Día! (image courtesy of ALSC)

Many different programs fit under the vast umbrella of Día celebrations at libraries across the country. The program registry on the above webpage allows you to publicize your own programs, as well as to look at what others are offering. Location, time, and descriptive information are provided. Registrations so far include libraries from Louisiana to Michigan and California to Massachusetts!

Here’s a sample of some different programming approaches:

King County Library System, outside of Seattle WA, will host programs during the week of 4/23-4/30 that include a Steel Drum Party, South Indian Classical Dance Performance, and Story Telling through the Harmony of Koto. Story times will be held in 11 different languages across the county. And that’s in addition to multicultural-themed story times in English. For more information, look at www.kcls.org/dia.

Seattle Public Library will host two separate events on 4/30 called Celebrate Día! One features an Open Mic for participant-sharing, and both will have stories. See more on these programs and others at SPL at http://www.spl.org/audiences/children/chi-calendar-of-events.

Denver Public Library will host a celebration on Sunday 4/24 that reflects a partnership with local museums. Activities are planned for children and adults, including dance, storytelling, and artmaking. More details can be found at https://www.denverlibrary.org/event/kids/celebrate-d%C3%ADa-del-ni%C3%B1o.

These examples are just a smattering of the programs that will be taking place in libraries this month to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Día. Share your plans in the comments!

Jennifer Duffy works at the King County (WA) Library System. She is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee.

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74. Día Turns 20 Capitol Hill Event

The 20th Anniversary of Día!

You’re invited to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Día! (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC is heading to Washington, DC, to kick off the 20th anniversary celebration of Día!

Pat Mora, children’s book author and founder of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), will join ALSC President Andrew Medlar on Capitol Hill to bring national attention to the importance of connecting children and their families with books that embrace all languages and cultures.

The Día Turns 20 Capitol Hill event takes place on Wednesday, April 27. Stay tuned to find out how you can celebrate the 20th anniversary of Día from your hometown on April 30!

Visit dia.ala.org or follow #díaturns20 on social media for more information.

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75. By Design: A New Way of Thinking #PLA2016

Idea generation phase of the Design Thinking session at #PLA2016

Idea generation phase of the Design Thinking session at #PLA2016

I was first introduced to Design Thinking last August while attending the ALA Leadership Institute. Seeing it in action was what drew me to this session hosted by librarians from San Jose Public Library, Rancho Cucamonga Public Library, and YOLO County Public Library, who have implemented this process in planning for new services such as trivia nights, pop-up outreach, and after-hours craft events. It’s no surprise that many great ideas come from using one’s imagination to think broadly about services.

Design Thinking most notably came out of Stanford’s d.school, where students were asked to think of a creative way to make a new type of incubator for infants in developing countries. After much research, a visit to Nepal, and abandoning pre-conceived notions, the student team created the Embrace Infant Warmer, and have made a lasting global impact.

How can we bring this new method of thinking to libraries? The presenters had the entire room of public librarians participate in a few exercises which helped with idea generation and implementation. The steps for the process are:

  • Define the Problem
  • Empathize
  • Brainstorm
  • Prototype
  • Iterate or “Try again and again”

The first exercise had one idea generator come up with a concept for a party. Each time they made a suggestion, the rest of the group met the idea with, “Yes, BUT.” This was extremely challenging for the idea generator who felt continually stifled. The next step was to have group members respond to new ideas with, “Yes, AND.” A much better result and leads to more growth and collaboration.

The final exercise was to have groups think magically about the possibilities of library service and how to make work more fun. Once we had an idea, the group had to use physical materials to create a prototype. The Rules of Brainstorming which the librarians provided were:

  • Think of as many ideas as you can
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • Defer judgment
  • Be visual
  • Yes, And thinking
  • Headline

Many of the projects, including my own group’s design were completely out of this world. We made a prototype for a Library Lunar Lending program for the moon. This was certainly a wild idea, but seeing how the speakers used this method of brainstorming innovative services was inspiring for my own department’s planning process.

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