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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Blogger Kelley Beeson, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 9 of 9
1. Summer Is Nearly Upon Us: Part 5 of the Attack on Summer Reading

The summer season at our library is just about upon us.  The reading portion will begin June 1st and the heavy-programming begins June 13th.  Though we are busy getting the last pieces of our program’s structure into place for the launch next week, I’m not too busy to take a minute to rant (it comes quite naturally to me!)  You can consider this post, Part 5 of my Attack on Summer Reading series.   If you haven’t been following along with baited breath, the other posts are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

In April, I talked a bit about the information we gather through registration and reading tracking and what we do with it and don’t do with it.  Turns out, there are some helpful info-bits in there (shocker!)  My library director, who is totally supportive of our switch-up, really wanted us to find a way to track who’s participating all summer-long.  Fair enough.  That is helpful information to have.  But, as you know, I am hesitant (to say the least) to employ any type of registration, so how to do it?  I have been known to have moments of flexibility and we were able to come up with a compromise: kids/teens who get a LEGO to add to our sculpture when they tell us how much they’ve read, will also get a LEGO sticker (on which to write their name) and add to a silhouette/poster that will change each week.  Then, teen volunteers we can tally up who’s been coming all summer. Don’t worry, I see the potential for chaos, but I’m a risk-taker, so bring it on!  I understand that this whole approach may throw our staff into chaos, but I am lucky enough to work with a stellar staff who’s willing to try new things!

Here are some of my big fears questions about how this new approach is going to go:

  • will parents rebel against our no-prize approach and take their kids to the numerous other libraries in our county?
  • will fewer kids spend time reading and will that be a super bad thing?
  • will our ‘tantalize them with in-depth programming’ approach really pique their curiosity enough to cause them to pick up a book?
  • will our weekly camps be too much causing the staff to be totally depleted at the end of the summer?
  • will there be long waiting lists for our camps resulting in disgruntled parents?  (We are capping our camps at fairly small numbers for 2 reasons: we want to offer programs that got deep into a subject; and we want to provide substantial and meaningful exposure experiences which require a small librarian-to-child ratio).

So if I’m not hiding under my desk, you can rest assured I’ll keep the ALSC community posted the answers to the aforementioned questions and on how this whole thing goes, however, I’ll be at ALA next month (woohoo!) and will be blogging on how that whole thing goes!

The post Summer Is Nearly Upon Us: Part 5 of the Attack on Summer Reading appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. 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!

The post Summer Reading, No! But Reading in the Summer, Yes! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Continuing The Anti-Summer Reading Rant, Plan and Discussion

Onward!  If you’re following along with my anti-SRC rants, we’ve arrived at Part III.  If you’re not, here’s Part I and Part II.

So our summer plan is shaping up.  We’ve decided to totally forgo a kickoff (gasp!) and just jump right in.  Last month (in Part II) I asked some questions about tracking and registration.  After some discussion here at my library, we’ve decided to cut the registration completely.  We’re not asking anyone their name, age, school, email or address. It’s a risk, but we’re willing to try it out.  I think one of the irritations for families is the registration process which (if you’re anything like the libraries in my county) seems to change every single year.  So we’re just going to let people start reading!  And as registration goes hand in hand with tracking, we’ve also given some serious thought to the tracking process.  That can be quite a drag too for many families.  So instead of having families record their reading in any of the traditional models (online, paper form, etc.) we’re doing it like this:

  • Each age group in our library will be assigned a color (read-to-me, school age, middle grade, teen and even adult!) and we’ll have 5 bins of Lego organized by color at the circ desk.
  • People will come to the library when they’re ready for more books.  They’ll tell our friendly circ staff how many books they’ve just finished (library books and/or non-library books!) and then they’ll grab that amount of Lego in their corresponding color and head off to add to our communal Lego structure.
  • We’ll have this Lego structure running all summer long (through Labor Day) somewhere in the library for the public to watch grow.

Here’s what I think will be fascinating and super-cool about this approach:  at the end of the season, we’ll have an amazing 3D info-graphic-structure that will provide us with a nice snapshot of how the community read this summer!  If you can picture it, they’ll probably be a ton of one color (picture books, read to me), a good amount of another color (school age) and probably a smattering (or more!) of the other colors (middle grade, teen, adult).  In my own reading life, I have to say, as an adult, I’d be pretty excited about participating in this kind of thing.  No hassle but something interactive nonetheless to be a part of.  We’re also thinking that we can get some teens to count each color at summer’s end.

As you can imagine, we’re doing away with prizes as well.  Again, our thinking on this is that we really want, as librarians, to stand firm on the fact that reading should be its own reward.  And in that same vein, we’ll be keeping a cart of free books near the Lego structure so that kids/teens can take a free book when they reach their own reading goal(s).  So we have really pared down our infrastructure on this program.  I like to think we’re allowing reading to take a bit of a back seat to what we think is becoming an even stronger focus of summer: learning.  So we’re also changing the name.  It’s now our Summer Learning Program (SLP).  Next month: let’s talk programming!

I know there are plenty of other schools of thought on this and I want to hear them!  What do you think about this disruptive stuff vs. the traditional SRP model?

The post Continuing The Anti-Summer Reading Rant, Plan and Discussion appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Asking the Hard Questions: SRC Tracking and Registration

You may remember my post from last month about my library tossing the traditional approach to our Summer Reading Club.  We’ve had a few brainstorming sessions and it’s already feeling really different.  Our conversations about it feel lighter, more exciting, more engaging. While we’re not total renegades, we have decided to completely do away with registration for the reading portion.  And we’re still ramping up our programming, but we’re really looking at how and why to track participants’ reading progress.  For years, I’ve battled the dastardly demons of registration and tracking.

Should we register and track online?  Should we go old school and do paper logs?  Family registrations?  Should we track hours or titles?  Should we ask for addresses?  Should participants have to create usernames and passwords?  Should we offer incentives?  Cheap trinkets or gift certificates?  A grand prize?

The registration part is really there for us the librarians and our obsession with numbers. And those numbers are usually needed to satisfy state reports (and that’s a whole separate blog post: What SRC Stats Do States Track and Why AND How Has That Data Gathering Shaped And Limited Our SRCs?)   State reports are just not enough reason to keep doing it the same way every year.  Sorry Pennsylvania!

I get that tracking can be beneficial and motivating.  And perhaps for many of our patrons it is.  But I (and many others) would argue that the model we’ve been using is inherently designed for motivated readers. Would those kids read without your program?  I know as a kid, I was thrilled to be anywhere (my bedroom, the beach, the pool, the park) with a good book (and I was never part of a library program).  But there are plenty of kids where that’s not the case.  So how can we support (easily, simply and effectively) our dear motivated readers and more importantly, how can we support the kids where books aren’t one of summertime’s allures?  How can we make summer super-simple and energizing, full of learning and brain-expansion?  Is the current SRC structure reaching the kids who need us the most?

These are the questions I ‘m putting front and center as we start planning our summer program. I don’t know if our new approach will change the answers, but I think it’s worth mixing it up to see what happens.

The post Asking the Hard Questions: SRC Tracking and Registration appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. I’m Saying It: Down with Summer Reading Club

OK, not totally down with it, but now that I have your attention…  see, at my library, we’re looking hard at what our SRC has become and asking ourselves what we really want for the kids in our community over the summer.  And I’m not sorry to say, it’s a heckuva lot more than sitting in a room reading 30 books over the summer – and maybe (eek!) it’s not that at all!

For about 5 years now, I’ve felt like the traditional SRC structure is outdated and only serving avid/passionate readers.  And frankly, those readers will read no matter what. What I want for my kids in the summer, is great ways to have fun, get engaged, get involved, meet new people, relax, and through allllllllllll of that, maybe learn a few things. But see, it’s the fun, engaging, involved, meeting and relaxing bits I want to focus on.  The reading comes after…or, not at all.  I know that’s an insane thing to say as a librarian. But I’m thinking if we get kids interested in doing stuff, then perhaps we can sell them on reading about that stuff they’re doing!  And if not, well, they’re still learning and that’s ultimately what we want.

So we’re not even going to take registrations for a reading club this year. Cough cough. That’s right.  In fact, I wouldn’t even say we’re doing a ‘reading club’ this summer.  We’re headed away from all that in a big way.  We’re looking at Maker, STEAM and Digital Learning, people.  Bring it ON!

I live in a city where we have a Hive Learning network which is part of a larger ReMake Learning movement in Pittsburgh for kids K-12.  And last summer, our city and a ton of organizations (including a few libraries) did the City of Learning thang.  6 cities in the country are involved so I feel pretty darn lucky to have something like this to plug into.


My staff and I are starting a 4-month journey away from SRC.  We’re packing up and heading out.  I think we’re done here and we’re ready to break out and start a revolution. I’ll be posting in February, March, April and May about what we’re doing (who knows!), where we’re headed (who knows!) and how it’s going to work (who knows!)  Maybe you’d like to tag along.

The post I’m Saying It: Down with Summer Reading Club appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. Technology and SRCs: Hub vs. Heart

Recently, there have been a number of intriguing conversations in the KidLib blogosphere around summer reading and why we do it.  My interest piqued when I read Transliteracy in Your Summer Reading Program by Gretchen Caserotti at the Libraries and Transliteracy blog.  I learned about another thought-provoking blog post about SRC over at Hi Miss Julie: Summer Reading, Pain in My… it includes some tasty comments that led to even more posts about summer reading here and here.  If you have a minute or two, those posts are rather inspiring.

As many of you know by now, I get pretty excited around technology.  I get especially excited about technology in SRCs.  I’m definitely in the ‘let’s rework that sacred cow of summer reading club’ camp.  I really believe SRCs need to change.  And pretty drastically. Families are different.  Society is different.  And not to mention literacy is now literacies. We have a real opportunity responsibility to move SRCs into the 21st century.   And counting graphic novels doesn’t go far enough.

Technology, in its fancy red cape, to the rescue!

Now, don’t start wringing your hands, technology need not be the heart of summer activities at the library, but it can be the hub.  Technology can allow some deep changes in our SRCs to be pretty easy on staff and pretty fun for the kids.

Ann Arbor is a great example of how to make that happen.  They have reinvented SRC in the form of  The Summer Game and notice reading is not in the title.  Their website allows participants, on the Leaderboard, to see the kids who are really rockin’ and exactly what they’ve done.  How better to inspire kids then through the activities of other kids!  As well, NYPublic, Brooklyn and Queens have all linked arms and created something similar at summerreading.org.  By enticing kids with a pretty cool and customizable online site where participants can create an avatar and a profile, they’ve created a fun way for kids to connect with other kids.  Both Ann Arbor and the NY-trifecta offer electronic badges (think Girl Scouts) for completing tasks – whether they read a book, write a review, tag a book on the library catalog, or (gasp!) watch a movie. According to the Ann Arbor KidLibs,  the kids really get into the competition for badges.

In our county, I’m interested in creating a county-wide game where our libraries partner with all kinds of arts/sports/cultural organizations to allow kids the chance to engage in local activities and various literacies.  I found this recently, a Summer Tooning Story Contest with an iPad app called Toontastic.  The more elements like these that we can add to our SRCs, the more literacies kids are going to d

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7. Jumping In

Quietly ignoring the changing landscape of library services is getting trickier.  Though it still happens, often at the expense of the eager digital minds with which we work. Transliteracy (literacy across multiple media) is a big part of what kids need to make it in the 21st Century and many of us are not part of the mechanism that’s equipping them with those skills.

I’ve been in my position as a Youth Services Coordinator for a large library system now 5 years and when I started, blogs, wikis, RSS-that whole Library 2.0 thing was just getting underway and I know there are libraries who continue to resist taking advantage of tools that not only make our jobs easier like Delicious, RSS, wikis and Google Docs but tools that kids/tweens/teens greatly benefit from as part of their education and in their personal lives.  As information specialists, it’s our duty to get with it and here are some easy, mostly-free or cheap ways to jump in and get more comfortable while also engaging in little professional development:

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8. Technology: Finding Balance and Inspiring Families To Do the Same

Anyone who knows me, knows I heart technology.  My IT husband hearts it even more, so in our house we’re always working to find some balance between ‘life’ and technology.  I know they often intersect, but sometimes we struggle to avoid evenings and weekends in front of a screen – as tempting as it sometimes is!

I imagine many parents and kids with whom you work probably struggle with this too.  On the one hand, we have that whole transliteracy thing going on (which is the ability to read and write across a range of platforms) where we want kids to be able to thrive in all of these cool technological ways but on the other hand, we have Enough Already with the technology!  So how do you help your families (and yourself perhaps!) get to a place of balance?  I offer a few tips (some of which I got from this great Mashable article):

  • Create tech-free zones (in the library and at home!) Though I’m not a parent, if I were, I’d probably make the bedroom a tech-free zone – much like mine and my husband’s. Or better, the breakfast/dinner table!  Which would be a little hard for me – I MUST check email!  As far as library space goes, I know many libraries have cell-phone-free areas, like the storytime room that allow parents to be fully present with you and their little ones (though I wouldn’t recommend making your whole library cell-phone-free – that’s just ridiculous!)
  • Encourage parents to take part in some of their kids’ online activities.  And I don’t just mean in the ‘monitoring’ sense. The more parents share in what their kids are doing, the more discussion and interaction that can happen later!
  • In the same vein as the tech-free zones, suggest parents establish un-interuptable times.  My husband and I try to have one computer-free day a week.  It’s actually really challenging, but rewarding.  We find ourselves enjoying the yard, taking a walk, or (gasp!) reading a book! One father from that Mashable article won’t answer emails or texts from 7-9 every night.  I love it!
  • Consider offering workshops for parents on parental permissions across various platforms.  Parents in your community might not understand the kinds of limits they can set for Xbox Live, for example.  Do they want their 9 year old chatting with everyone?  Cell phones also have restrictions like not allowing multi-media texts.  With multiple computer users in a household, accounts can be created for each member of the family.   Each account comes with its own unique sets of permissions – no downloading anything for the 6-year old!  I don’t even have admin rights on our TV computer!  I imagine parents would love an evening workshop to learn about some of those options and tactics.

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9. Falling In Love

My palms get sweaty.  I’m nervous.  I feel a little anxious.  There’s some tingling in my fingertips.  I feel like I’m falling in love.  And the video below is the reason.  You may have seen it; it’s making the rounds on various literacy and children’s literature blogs these days.   But in case you haven’t, here it is.

Gotta Keep Reading

See?  Do you feel like you’re falling in love too?  When I first saw this last week, it made me want to leap out of my chair, run into the streets and change the world.  Cheesy?  Yes, but actually true.   Even now, watching it again, I feel a thrill.   Hundreds of kids are dancing, singing about reading with books in their hands!

Did you catch the copies of The Giver, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Kingdom Keepers II?  There was even a book exposing the library check-out card and pocket!  Did you catch that very happy, smiling teacher around minute 2:36?  And the cool kid who’s clearly got rhythm at 3:55?

This group of school kids pumping their book-filled fists in the air reminded me of the energy and spirit that drew me into a career as a librarian in the first place.  Today, I’m in love with being a librarian.

Kelley Beeson                                                                                                                             Children and Technology Committee, member

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