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Results 1 - 25 of 75
1. Opening Digital Doors with Open eBooks

Image from http://openebooks.net/

Image from http://openebooks.net/

Last month a huge step toward getting every child in America access to amazing books was taken with the official launch of Open eBooks! The White House announced the news to the excitement of librarians, educators and families across the United States on February 24th. Open eBooks is part of the White House ConnectED Initiative which aims to increase access to digital resources as a component of enriching K-12 education. You can read the official press release here.

The project is made possible through a partnership with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), the New York Public Library, Baker and Taylor, First Book, and made possible by generous commitments of publishers with funding support provided in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. What a great example of many institutions coming together for a greater cause!

The Open eBooks app is now available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. This app provides access to thousands of free eBooks, including many award-winning and popular titles, to youth in low-income communities via their smartphone or tablet. The app not only provides access to children across the country, but also provides access to children on military bases! To get access to the app youth, or an adult working with them, can download the app and enter credentials provided by a person registered with First Book to enable access to the eBooks.

So how do you get access? If you work at a library that serves at least 70% of children from low-income families, and your library hosts a program specifically focused on supporting these youth, you may register with First Book here. Eligibility can be determined by a variety of factors, including the E-Rate of your library or Title I eligibility of the neighborhood school. After you are registered, you can request access codes for Open eBooks through First Book, whose Marketplace is the eBook distributor for the project. You can request as many codes as you would like for each collection of Open eBooks. Once you have your codes, you can distribute the codes to the children or caregivers to use with the Open eBook app on their personal devices.

Image from http://bit.ly/1RUZy0q

Image from http://bit.ly/1RUZy0q

Some great features include the ability to read without checkouts or holds, which makes access to reading materials even easier for users. Youth can borrow up to 10 books at a time and replace each book with a new book as many times as they’d like.

Did you know that you can help choose the next round of eBooks for Open eBooks? The DPLA Curation Corps is a group of librarians and other information professionals who help coordinate books for inclusion in the program.  The DPLA is currently accepting applications to for the second class of Curation Corps members! You can find more information about getting involved and how to apply here. The deadline to apply is April 1st!

The goal of Open eBooks is to grow a love of reading and hopefully encourage children to read more often, either through using their local library, at school, or by using another eBook reading app. Even if you won’t have the ability to distribute codes at your library, you can still spread the great news and help to make your community aware of this awesome project. I can’t wait to see this program grow and expand!

_____________________________________________________

Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, OH and is writing this post for the Children and Technology Committee. You can reach her at [email protected].

The post Opening Digital Doors with Open eBooks appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Digital Reading Platforms & School-Age Children

As the librarian who coordinates OverDrive for my school district (thirteen librarians and approximately 10,000 students), I spend a lot of time with OverDrive and have been able to give the service a considerable amount of thought.  I think digital reading services are a really good fit for school age kids for a variety of reasons and here’s why…

OverDrive and other digital reading services are respectful of student privacy.  Kids may feel self-conscious about what they are reading for a variety of reasons.  Some kids read well below grade level, and they don’t want their peers to see what they are reading for fear of being made fun of.  Some kids have reading likes that are different than what they think their peers read (I had a fifth grade male student who liked reading books that he feared his peers might see as teen romance novels written for girls).  For these youths, these services provide a safe environment for them to explore their interests and reading needs.  It allows them to borrow materials that they might not check out if they had to bring it up to the circulation desk in front of other kids, their parents, or even an unknown adult.

OverDrive offers over 2,500 picture books in a “Read-Along” format.  These narrated books allow children to follow the words of the actual book while it is read aloud to them.  This feature helps build literacy in emerging readers and children who struggle with improving their reading skills.  While I know many of us (myself included) recognize the importance of the social interaction between a child and an adult who reads to him or her, the “Read-Along” format can be a valuable supplement and reinforcement of what kids are learning in school, in their libraries, and from their families.

Ebook collections generally operate (OverDrive certainly) with twenty-four hour remote availability.  That means your kids can access ebooks whether they are five hundred miles away visiting nana, or next door.  They can access your collection in July if your school library is closed for the summer.  They can borrow ebooks even if they can’t get a ride to the library because the buses are not operating when they can go.  If your kids have access to wifi and a computer or device to read on, they have access to ebooks.  The benefits of this go without saying!

One thing that I was surprised to learn is that at least one major children’s publisher offers a significantly larger selection of ebooks to public libraries than it does to school libraries through OverDrive.  I had no idea that this was the case until one of our students brought his device to one of my colleagues and asked about downloading a book from our public library’s OverDrive collection that was unavailable to us in the school library marketplace.  I assume that this is a business decision based on other products this company offers.  While it is disappointing from the school library perspective, it opens up the opportunity for dialog between public and school librarians.  This might, in turn, lead to greater collaboration on matters of collection development and instruction related to digital resources…as well as other topics.

Finally, we have to recognize the role technology plays in the lives of kids.  Numerous studies show that the great majority of children have access to smart phones, tablets and computers, even among low-income families.  While there are certainly good reasons to believe that not everything about the rise of technology has made life better for kids, it is impossible to deny that technology has become one of the ways that kids relate to and shape their world.  Digital reading services give us the opportunity to direct that eagerness and energy in a way that is helpful and productive to the development of young people and the skills they need to function.

Our students are incredibly enthusiastic about reading ebooks on their personal electronic devices.  They love looking for ebooks, checking them out, and downloading their selected titles.  My colleagues and I are delighted by this reception.  On a deeper level, the decision to develop a digital reading collection has helped our school libraries to be seen as more relevant and visible in our school community.  How great is that?!?

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

Dave Saia is a librarian at Heim Middle School in Williamsville, New York, and is a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee.

The post Digital Reading Platforms & School-Age Children appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. 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.

So.

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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4. Harnessing the Energy

Photo from pixabay

Photo from pixabay

This is more of a question, than it is a post.

I work in a school that embraces technology. Many of our students have devices, either as part of our one to one program, or they have their own personal devices.  The library in the morning has shifted as a result of the omnipresent tech.

Don’t get me wrong…we do not expect a quiet library, especially in the morning. But now the groups of students are huddled around, eyes on screens, raucously commenting and enjoying their selfies/videos/games/instagrams/apps etc etc etc.

So. How to harness this? How to direct it? I have a couple of ideas brewing, but I thought I would put it out to the great brain. Any and all ideas appreciated.

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5. Charge Up Your Service Delivery

Gathering a teacher collection on a specific topic is a task to relish. It exercises reference and readers’ advisory skills and provides a respectable cover for book mania. Many of us keep track of the titles we collect, but finding time to do so can be problematic. Luckily, the solution is just a click away.

Simply arrange a teacher collection in a pleasing pyramid, step back, and take a picture. Upload the photograph; label it according to theme and grade level; and save it to a flash drive or to a cloud storage service.

Courtesy photo from guest blogger

Courtesy photo from guest blogger

When you get a similar request, open that file, enlarge the photo so the titles and authors can be easily read, and use the visual information to build a collection. Pictures of newly discovered or newly published titles can be uploaded to the same theme folder.

The above photograph was taken with a smartphone. Many places of employment have stringent guidelines about the use of smartphones and tablets at work, for obvious reasons; however, an open dialogue about the ways these devices can be used as tools to provide library services might reveal that we are already using technology beyond those strictures.

Do you use smartphones or tablets and projection systems to deliver storytime content? Do you use these devices to provide point-of-need service? Do you use smartphones to contact Information Technology directly from public computers? How many of you provide library service without a reference desk or nearby desktop computer?

How are you using smartphones and tablets to deliver excellent library service to children?

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

Our guest blogger today is Jan Connell. Jan is a Children’s Librarian at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, in Toledo, Ohio.

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].

The post Charge Up Your Service Delivery appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. Hot Dogs, get your Hot Dogs

Galactic Hot Dogs, that is! Cosmoe’s Weiner Getaway is the first book in a three part series written by Max Brallier and published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

The book has taken off on Funbrain.com, a popular gaming website for children that has been a launch pad for some of the biggest blockbuster hits in children’s book publishing. Jeff Kinney’s ever popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid got its start there as a free book in 2004 and now has over 150 million copies in print.

Other titles such as Rachel Renee Russell’s Dork Diaries series, Lincoln Pierce’s Big Nate and Brandon Mull’s best-selling fantasy series The Beyonders all of gaining wider audiences due to their popularity on Funbrain and its sister site Poptropica.

Galactic Hot Dogs seems to be destined for the same success. More than six million children have read the book on Funbrain since its debut in the fall of 2013 when individual chapters were posted. What sets this apart is that more than a million children have played the story-based Galactic Hot Dogs game that went live on Poptropica two months ago. Like many books that are popular on the site, it appeals to 8- to 12-year-olds who appreciate its kooky hero, Cosmoe, and its humorous, comic-strip-style illustrations.

Recently, multiplatform books with online gaming components have become essential tools in the children’s book publishing industry. They are clearly seeking to reach young readers who are migrating to digital and mobile reading. Sixty-seven percent of children between the ages of 2 and 13 read e-books, according to a report released in January by Digital Book World and PlayCollective, up from 54 percent in 2012.

While many fear that sites such as Poptropica and Funbrain might detract from reading time, authors and publishers clearly seem to think differently. Some publishers have found that interactive games can increase print sales rather than erode them. Scholastic’s multiplatform game and book series, 39 Clues, which started in 2008, has more than 17 million copies in print.

Clearly there is core audience for this new books to gaming crossover market and they are buying the print books. I think this is definitely the next “big” thing in the children’s digital world.

Allison Santos

ALSC Digital Task Force

Director, Princeton Children’s Book Festival

Princeton Public Library, NJGalactic Hot Dogs

The post Hot Dogs, get your Hot Dogs appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. Send ALSC to SXSWedu!

Cookies

Delicious! (image courtesy the author)

A sure sign of the approaching end-of-warm-weather in my office is the farewell party for our summer interns. (While that’s bitter in several ways, it’s especially sweet when my colleague Michelle makes her amazing cookies for the occasion.) This year about half a dozen high school students joined us and, of course, we have asked them what they learned while working here the last couple of months and how their perceptions of libraries have changed. And it’s been interesting/fascinating/frightening to see how even among this group of engaged young people with library cards most had arrived without full awareness of everything libraries have to offer.

This is another reminder of how important it is for us to advocate and tell our story to all ages, and so, looking to reach out to new audiences, ALSC has submitted a program proposal, Library Media Mentors Transform, for SXSWedu, an educational innovation conference from the South by Southwest folks, which will be held in Austin, Texas, this coming March.

SXSWedu “fosters innovation in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders across a variety of backgrounds in education” and is an ideal place for ALSC to bring our message about Media Mentorship and fighting the 30 million word gap. The objectives of our program proposal include:

• How to identify and support the roles librarians serve as media mentors to families in your community
• Evidence-based guidelines for media usage with young children
• How to partner with libraries to enrich your family engagement effort and support the goals of your educational program.

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth white paper

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

And for ALSC to get there, we need you! SXSWedu sessions are selected by an advisory board and staff, but 30% of the decision comes from votes from the public, so please help us spread the word about youth services librarians as media mentors by casting your vote here for the Library Media Mentors Transform program proposal. Public voting is open now through September 4, and while it does involve creating a log-in to vote, it’s worth those extra couple seconds to bring ALSC advocacy to this new and emerging arena.

Thanks for your help!

The post Send ALSC to SXSWedu! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Exploring Autumn with Apps and Websites

Autumn has arrived here in Northeastern Ohio, bringing with it crisp weather, all things pumpkin, and beautiful fall foliage. The trees are only starting to reveal their brilliant hues of orange, yellow, gold and red here, but soon I’ll awaken to a glowing landscape that seemingly exploded overnight. As this season traditionally brings many requests for fall themed library materials, as well as special fall programming, I was inspired to think of ways that technology may add further enjoyment and educational opportunities to this time.

The best way to experience the beauty of fall is to strap on your hiking shoes and venture to the nearest wooded park (or your backyard!). Bringing along your smartphone or tablet, loaded with fall foliage apps, can enhance your exploration of autumn’s beauty. Children of a variety of ages will enjoy learning more about our natural environment with these  apps and websites highlighted below, although most young users not yet in elementary school may need some parent or caregiver help.

  • Yankee Leaf PeeprThis free app by Yankee Publishing Inc., available for Apple and Android devices, provides you with a very handy color-coded map that indicates where the leaves are changing anywhere in the United States. Users contribute to the map by posting photos and ratings of the foliage, making this app not only useful, but
    Image from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ypi.leafpeepr&hl=en.

    Image from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ypi.leafpeepr&hl=en.


    interactive. The current foliage color is determined by averaging user ratings in a geographic area.
  • Chimani apps- These apps, offered as free downloads on all major mobile platforms,  are a really fun way to explore various National Parks. They help you with planning your trip, letting you know when Ranger-led trips occur, and more. These apps work with or without WiFi or a data signal, which is especially helpful when you are out on the trail.
  • LeafSnapOnce you’ve found some beautiful leaves, you may be left wondering what kind of tree they’re a part of. Make this a great learning opportunity with LeafSnap! Developed by researchers at Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institute, LeafSnap helps users identify trees by allowing users to take a picture of a leaf from the tree and then providing them with the species. The app is free for iPhone and iPad, and also has a website displaying tree species. The only negative is that this is only usable for species found in the Northeastern United States and Canada.
  • U.S. Forest Service website and Yonder app–  The U.S. Forest Service has partnered with Yonder, a free app, to help nature lovers share their adventures. The website also provides a map of fall color based on eyewitness accounts and allows users to choose their state or local forest to see specific fall foliage information. You can find weekly color updates in your state using this tool!
  • Foliage Network – The fall foliage prediction map on this website helps users visual the changing leaves around the United States and plan when to see the most beautiful colors in your neighborhood.

You can pair these fun apps and websites with traditional activities for a great autumn library program. How about leaf rubbing (which was recently discussed here on the blog), sharing a classic fall read-aloud such as Ehlert’s “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” and then using LeafSnap to identify the tree outside the storytime window? There are many possibilities to incorporate technology and nature into library programs and family time. What are some of your favorite hi- or low-tech autumn extension activities? ___________________________________________________________

Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, OH and is writing this post for the Children and Technology Committee. You can reach her at [email protected].

The post Exploring Autumn with Apps and Websites appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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9. Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Promoting Access Through E-Resources

SPLC Committee WordleSchool-public library cooperation can take many forms, and promoting access to electronic resources and information seems a natural fit.

Clarksville (Tenn.) is about 50 miles northwest of Nashville, so I often hear about the Limitless Libraries program, an innovative partnership between Nashville Public Library and the Metro Nashville Public Schools that could take up this entire post. While my school isn’t included that partnership, I can imagine how wonderful it is when public libraries and school libraries share resources between them.

Recently I’ve started wondering about some very basic ways school and public libraries can work together.

A  first step can be sharing information about each other’s program, such as putting up posters and flyers on bulletin boards so students/patrons know about on-going programs and special events. At school libraries like mine, we have a somewhat captive audience, but that’s not the case in many public libraries. Anything I can do as a school librarian to promote programs at the local public library may get more students involved in those problems.

Another step for schools might be to promote the e-resources the local public library has to offer: Music, e-books, e-audiobooks, databases, and other resources students may not know are available. If students know about these e-resources and choose to use them, they would never be without a library.

When I talk to students about the public library, however, I find that many of them have never been there. In Clarksville, we have one main public library. They are no branch libraries, and the main location is geographically distant to my students. We do have a public transportation system, but very few middle school students use it.

While electronic access to public library resources can minimize the transportation barrier, many of my students do not have a public library card. Our public library, like many others, requires patrons to get a library card in person and show proof of residency. Without that card, students can’t access electronic resources.

I would like to see public libraries take a different approach to providing electronic access only to students at local schools. School libraries could distribute and collect library card applications and then distribute electronic access-only library cards to students after the public library has processed them. Students who need Wi-Fi to download electronic items can use the Wi-Fi at school to get the materials and then read or listen to the materials at home or even on the bus.

I know there are issues to think about like parental permission, CIPA, and probably more, but almost all problems have solutions if we keep trying to find them. If the students are only using electronic resources, there shouldn’t be an issue with overdue or lost items.

This electronic resource partnership program would be a small step toward bridging the digital divide. It may not be as robust a program as Limitless Libraries, but it would be a starting point for school and public libraries to work together.


Rebecca Jackman is School Librarian at New Providence Middle School in Clarksville, Tenn., and a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.

The post Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Promoting Access Through E-Resources appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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10. Remembering the Wonder of Books

We are all aware that libraries have been changing. Librarians are busy making future plans and choices for their Children’s and Youth Services departments. Build a Makerspace? Invest in e-reader devices for patrons to use in the library or check out? Buy a 3-D printer? Bring a Smart Board into story time? The jobs ads posted for Children’s and/or Youth Services librarians usually contain the term “tech-savvy” in the description.

Now, before you start thinking this is going to be an anti-technology post, let me assure you otherwise. I’m not arguing about the important role of social media and digital choices in today’s library. Of course technology is imperative, pragmatic, ubiquitous, and learning new technologies is fun! I love my e-reader and the convenience it provides me with. I love that at 9pm when I realize I have read every single book in the library book pile to my child 10 times each, I can quickly download a couple of e-books from my library. I’m just saying that as librarians and librarians-to-be, may we never forget about the value of books for children. I speak of the physical objects.

Young children are developing so many skills…….fine motor, gross motor, and cognitive. Babies and toddlers need to grab at books, squeeze them, chew on them, and throw them. Preschoolers need to hold books, feel the cover, turn the pages, point, and learn about upside down and right side up. All children need to be able to pick up books, study the cover, browse through them, discover their interests, and make choices.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “Pediatricians should continue to urge parents to avoid TV- and video-viewing for children younger than 2 years.” As far as fostering and supporting the many areas of development in our children, parents are faced with many choices. As for developing collections, programs, and reinventing the space in our libraries dedicated to children, librarians are faced with many choices. Let’s not forget, there are so many ways to support healthy brain development, and books play such an important role.

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

Jill A. Eisele

Courtesy photo from Jill Eisele

Our guest blogger today is Jill A. Eisele.  Jill is a Youth Services Assistant at Bellwood Public Library. She has received her BS in Child Development at Northern Illinois University, and is currently an MLIS Candidate at Dominican University.

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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11. Let’s talk iPads, part deux

My first post back in July was about how to get tablets for your library. Now I present to you the basic set-up and results of our new service from the glorious benefits to those pesky pitfalls.

Once our proposal was approved, we got the ball rolling with (1) publicity, (2) setting up security restrictions, and (3) downloading apps onto the iPad. We approached publicity in a variety of ways. First, we set up teaser signs at the Apple Stand to promote the up-and-coming devices. We then printed out our Apple Stand rules just to give people an idea about how to interact with the iPads (these would then stay up when the iPads were available). We sent a press release out to the newspapers and we put an alert in our newsletter.

Are you ready to get your iPads ready for public use?

  1. Set Up Your Apple ID—Then sign in each iPad to your new apple ID.
  2. Set restrictions (Settings–>General–>Restrictions) to secure iPads from wandering fingers. Although patrons can still access your settings menu, there can be no permanent damage done, such as accessing your account, purchasing apps, or setting up an email.
  3. Gather admin apps into one folder and put on second page. Unfortunately, you cannot delete these apps from the iPads, but, once your restrictions are set, even roving fingers won’t be able to do any damage to them.

So we had chosen our list of apps and now I needed to get them onto all 5 devices. From my first time buying apps (and a few revisions later) I created a detailed record of the steps I took (document found on my personal blog). I did this because I would be sharing the responsibility of purchasing apps with 2 other team members.

So we finally made it! All our apps were bought! All our settings were set to maximal! The mounts were newly gleaming and ready! But would people actually like them as much as we hoped? Would parents sit with their children and be engaging with their children and the iPads?

TabletAt my library, patrons were quite appreciative of the new activity to do in the library. We have three mounted in the Early Ed room and two behind the desk for in-house use only. The mounted ones are definitely the way to go. Our iPads behind the desk have only checked out 6 and 7 times since August 1, but the mounted tablets are used all the time, oftentimes having all three in use.

There were a few unexpected trials to test our diligence and our patience but we continue to persevere. These included:

  • Creating an iPad troubleshooting document for staff to use (if the problem is not too complex)
  • Dealing with unattended children at the iPads. This is a tricky situation. There are usually three situations with three responses:
    1. Sometimes the child might be completely unattended in the library and she finds a fun toy to play with while her caregiver is off in never never land. It is explained to the caregiver that they need to be with their 7 and under child at all times while in the library (a long established rule). They must also sit with their child while at the iPads because the devices are expensive, they could unintentionally alter the settings, and we encourage parent-child interaction.
    2. Other times, the child may be old and responsible enough to use the iPad alone while his caregiver is looking for books in the same room or doing a puzzle with the younger sibling. So far, we have had no problems with children mishandling the iPads. They are typically entranced and respectful of the technology. Also, the way the devices are mounted discourages shaking and dropping (because you have to reach to touch it and it is not in your lap and you don’t have to hold it up).
    3. If the child is toddler/preschool size (size works, quizzing everyone’s age all the time does not) then we identify the parent and explain to them that the devices are expensive. They can also unintentionally alter the settings so they need to sit within touching distance of the child. And look! There are headphones for you, too!

Unfortunately, for the times a child plays with the tablet by herself (while the adult is nearby), this does ignore the purpose of the iPads as educational tools to be shared between child and adult. We encourage shared time when we can but we are not a police force and choose to pick our battles.

So, what will you have to do to maintain this service? Your monthly duties will include (1) buy your apps, and (2) update iPads with current iOs software (about quarterly). An overview of your weekly duties include: (1) clean screens with alcohol/water mix, (2) manually close all apps, (3) delete all pictures and reset background & lock screens to default picture, and (4) ensure that all apps are in their folders.

It’s honestly not too bad once you set it up. My biggest piece of advice is staying organized and keeping detailed instruction sheets. Keep at it, I belieeeeeve in you! Please ask me about any of the particulars and you can find more details and documentation on my personal blog at www.librarybonanza.wordpress.com.

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Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Kelsey Cole is a youth services librarian at the Fremont Public Library in Mundelein, IL. For more details on this process, visit her personal blog at www.librarybonanza.wordpress.com for more than you can imagine.

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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12. Community Membership

I am a bit of an anomaly when it comes to being a school librarian.  I work with a team, I am in an independent school that does not participate in standardized testing, and common core is not a factor.  So many of the issues that face so many school librarians do not necessarily apply to me.

That said, even if I feel like a bit of spare peg, it is incredibly important to take part in the larger conversations happening in the field.  While attending the SLJ Leadership Summit in Austin in September, I was lucky enough to share a table with Elissa Malespina ( @SOMSlibrary ) and she told me about #tlchat (teacher librarian chat) on twitter.  #tlchat is a monthly chat filled with concerns of teacher librarians, and each month the topics are broad strokes like “Collaboration”, “Participatory Culture”, “Building Your PLN”.

I took part for the first time this past Monday during the collaboration chat.  Not only did I get a few new ideas, I also found inspiration.  Inspiration, as I have said before, is fuel for me.  Even though I work with a team in a progressive environment, it is pretty incredible to connect across geography with professional peers.

If you have never participated in a library related chat on twitter, I encourage you to do so.  Here is a list of chats that may help you find some inspiration!

  • #readadv – Reader’s Advisory Chat
  • #edtechchat – Educational Technology Chat
  • #storyappchat – Chat about writers creating storybook apps for the iPad
  • #titletalk – A chat about books and promoting reading and readers
  • #pblitchat – A chat about picture books
  • #alscchat – And of course the chat hosted by alsc members focusing on a variety of topics.

Please add any other chats you find valuable into the comments!

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13. The Evolving Classroom: Can Tablets Positively Impact the Learning Experience or Are They Just a Distraction?

Many parents and educators agree young children and technology, namely television and computers, shouldn’t mix.  However, with our rapidly changing society, where our technology dominates and has a considerable amount of control over how we interact, communicate, and learn, mixing is inevitable.  For some, it can seem like a world spinning out of control, while many others embrace the changes head on.  These changes in the way we communicate and learn, and the way out children learn, don’t come without their own set of problems.  And, as technologies such as tablets and other portable devices become increasingly prevalent and in the hands of children, shouldn’t we ask if we have their best interests in mind?  Is the technology really being used to their benefit?

First, let’s look at how things are shifting.  It’s somewhat fair to give Apple a piece of the credit, along with Amazon.  Since the debut of the Apple iPad in 2010, the company has pushed an education angle for the device.  Additionally, Amazon helped to popularize e-readers, with the release of the first Kindle 2007.  Both devices strived for usability and accessibly in terms of hardware and software.  Ideally, for the devices to be successful in the education space, competing with traditional bound books, they have to be as simple and intuitive to use as a book (or surpassing books in terms of usability).  In some respects, these devices have accomplished this (searchability), but in other ways, not so much (affordability).

However, these types of devices are merely the next stage of computing and computers have been a part of many schools and libraries for the past two decades, if not longer.  In the earlier years of the child/computer relationship, a child generally had access to a computer for roughly an hour a day and that access may not have been an everyday occurrence.  Of course, access varied, but generally access was limited.  Plus, it was fairly uncommon for kids to have access to a computer anywhere beyond the school or library.  It wasn’t until the late 90s and into the early 2000s this began to alter significantly.  Initially, it wasn’t a requirement for a child to have access to a computer, but over the years they’ve become increasingly essential as learning and information tools, moving beyond a “supplemental” status.

Now if a child lacks access to a computer, they’re seen to be at a disadvantage.  Whether or not that’s truly the case is debatable, but it often seems that books and libraries are becoming marginalized in favor of various devices, which helps to eliminate the perceived disadvantage.  More and more people have access.  But are these various devices really becoming more essential than books (or even libraries)?  It all comes down to how they are used.

In terms of literacy, when the devices are used as an alternative to books, they can be genuinely useful.  Tablets and e-readers are an excellent way to eliminate heavy books (and textbooks), plus they’re wonderlands for creating interactive and rich learning experiences.  But not everything that calls itself “educational” (or is marketed as an app designed to foster literacy) is indeed “educational.”  And, like anything else, book or device, a child can’t simply be handed the device and expected to learn.  There is still very much a dependence on outside influence.  Kids still need guidance to develop literacy skills.

Then there’s the distraction factor.  Like television, computers offer an element of distraction and passivity and can be non-conducive to learning and developing strong literacy skills.  Sometimes it’s in the form of games, other times it’s just purposeless internet activities (of which there are plenty).  While many schools tend to make attempts to curb these distractions, libraries typically don’t.  It’s another one of those debatable issues.  Should things be blocked?  Should everything be accessible?  There’s a lot of uncertainty.

But looking beyond the familiar computer to tablets, does the learning experience change with the technology?  Tablets are an accessible tool, much more so than the old-fashioned computer, due to its smaller, portable form factor and ease of interactivity.  The touch screen is closer to that of the tactile experience of a book than the keyboard and mouse.  At the same time, it might not be much of an improvement.  That is to say, if the device is being used as a means of pacification (a digital babysitter, a means of distraction) and the user is accessing content of a passive nature, then not much has been accomplished.

Again, it’s a changing landscape.  We’re going digital and the future will be filled with less of the traditional bound books.  Libraries are making room for more computers, sometimes at the expense of the books.  Perhaps tablets and e-readers offer a balance that desktop computers can achieve.  Desktop computers require a considerable amount of space, while tablets don’t, being, quite literally the size of a thin book or magazine.  Perhaps we can have the best of both worlds and we can explore different means of learning and developing literacy.  On that note, we’re still left with many questions as to the way kids learn.  Our teaching tools are evolving rapidly and we all want our children to become literate with access to a number of opportunities going into the future.

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Elaine Wynn is a former grade school teacher and mother of 3. Since taking time off to raise her family, she remained dedicated to education as a supporter of both literacy and the arts and has recently taken an interest in personalized books for children as a way to encourage reading in young children.

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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14. E-Books and Apps in Storytime – #pla2014

Combine Saroj Ghoting, the wonderful early literacy expert and Cen Campbell, the fearless new media user, and you get some terrific ideas about how to use e-books and apps in storytimes. Their focus was not to argue if, when and how much when it comes to app use in storytimes, but to accept the reality–families are using and will continue to use media with kids. If we don’t wade in and position ourselves as the experts, we leave the playing field open for Disney, Nickelodeon, Fisher-Price, etc. Go to littleelit.com for app lists, discussions, training ideas, programming tips, etc. by wise librarians from all over the place.

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15. Universally Accessible E-Content and Gadgets #pla2014

I dream of the day when every public library is my public library.

-Brian Charlson

This Public Library Association 2014 Conference offers a particularly impressive selection of programs about various aspects of serving traditionally underserved users.  And boy–is there a lot to learn.  Before this afternoon, I hadn’t heard about Refreshable Braille Displays.  According to Brian Charlson, Director of Technology at the Carroll Center for the Blind, they are actually the most popular devices for K-12 students who are blind or have low vision.  Refreshable Braille Displays are electronic devices that allow users to read text that is typically displayed visually on a computer monitor.  The devices themselves do not have any screens, but are connected to computers by a USB cord.  Showing 18 characters at a time, Refreshable Braille Displays convert visual text into tactual text and produces Braille output for the reader.

A question that was asked during this program–how do we as librarians provide access to reading material to patrons who are blind or have low vision?  Brian went on to explain that three things are required:

  1. Your users need to know that the technology exists.
  2. Your users need to be able to afford the technology.
  3. Your users need to know how to use the technology.

This is where our role as librarians is crucial.  Even our youngest patrons who are blind or have low vision rely on libraries to provide information, access, and training.  And while consumer products like Kindles and Nooks are not required to comply with ADA Standards, public libraries are, indeed, required.  So, if you circulates e-reader devices in your Children’s Department or elsewhere in your library, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do these devices have text to speech capabilities?
  • Can the user change the font size and the font type?
  • Is there functionality to change contrast settings?
  • Can the user have individual words spelled out?
  • Can users change the background and foreground colors and set transparency to make the interface easier to read?

One last takeaway.  No two people–whether they are blind or sighted–are alike.  Every user has their own set of needs, and we as librarians can/should do what we can to help.

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16. Advocating for Appropriate Technology in the Children’s Spaces – ALSC Institute Programs

2014 Institute LogoThe upcoming ALSC Institute in Oakland, CA, on September 18-20, 2014, provides an abundance of outstanding programs to attend, from exploring innovative ways for youth services librarians to engage with community to the latest in early literacy research and best practices.

Among the many programs offered will be Advocating for Appropriate Technology in the Children’s Spaces, which will explore how to advocate for appropriate technology for children with our patrons, community and organizations. Presenter Elizabeth Gray gave us a few minutes of her time to talk about what Institute attendees can look forward to.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I wish I knew then what I know now! At my first job as a children’s librarian back in 2004, I tried to advocate for children’s computers but was new and my supervisor and I didn’t exactly see eye to eye. Instead of effectively advocating, I got labeled as a trouble maker and ended up making my life more difficult. Now I am a library manager and I still advocate for children’s materials, technology and spaces (and staff!).

Tell us about your program in just 6 words.

Getting your patrons the best technology.

What’s one thing you feel people should know about your program?

I’ll give children’s services staff ideas and practical tools for maximizing those important resources that can sometimes be controversial or minimized: kids’ computers, games, and downloadable media.

What’s one thing someone who attends your program will be able to take back to their libraries and use right away?

Practical tips such as how to look at technology-related statistics and trends and how to “talk budget” in a helpful way. I’ll also provide examples of data and charts that you can use at your library.

Looking at the list of other programs on the lineup, which one are you most looking forward to attending?

It is hard to pick a favorite, but I think I’m most looking forward to Thinking Outside the Storytime Box: Building your Preschool Programming Repertoire.

If you could be any kid’s lit character, who would you be and why?

I would be Lucky from The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron because I love her attitude.

Ted McCoy, ALSC Institute Task Force Member and Children’s Librarian at Springfield (MA) City Library

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17. Like Apps for Kids? #alaac14

Looking for ALA Annual programs on apps for kids? ALSC will be hosting two educational programs on apps – “The Apps are All Right! Exploring the Role of Apps in Children’s and Teen Services” and “Whet Your APPetite: Rapid Reviews of Apps for Children from Preschool to Tweens”, which will take place at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference.

The Apps are All Right! program is scheduled for Saturday, June 28, 2014, 8:30 – 10:00am PT in Room S230 of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Designed as a primer for children’s and teen librarians, this program will offer a dynamic overview of the place of the app as a new format within the library profession. Four panelists will provide relevant research and examples from practice with diverse populations of children and teens. Participants will also be invited to explore the continuously evolving rationale for strengthening the role of the children’s and teen librarian in app recommendation for the communities libraries serve.

The Whet Your APPetite program is scheduled for Sunday, June 29, 2014, 1:00 – 2:30pm PT in Pavilion 11 of the Las Vegas Hotel. This program will showcase some new and favorite apps selected by ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee and Digital Content Task Force. A variety of app recommendations will be paired with ideas for how to use them with children in your library.

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18. The Internet of Things – What does it mean for libraries? #alaac14

The OCLC Symposium this afternoon, titled The Internet of Things: Coming Soon to Everywhere, was a fascinating and intriguing discussion. The primary speaker — Daniel Obodovski, co-author of The Silent Intelligence: The Internet of Things — offered the projection that we could have as many as 50 billion connected devices by 2020. These items with internet connectivity will include wearable fitness and medical devices, appliances in the home like your coffee pot, alarm clock, & refrigerator, cars that will talk to each other, even shoes may be connected to the internet. The big questions of the day were:

  • What does this mean for libraries?
  • How can we use this connectivity between devices to offer a higher level of service to our customers?
  • How does this impact the privacy of patrons and should we be concerned?

A thought-provoking and important topic.

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19. 5 Ways to Turn Homework Help into Summer Fun

We usually think of our library’s online resources as homework help, but in summertime kids can use them to explore the topics they really love.

1. Animals- Who doesn’t love animals? Online encyclopedias include pictures and even video, along with articles on everything from aardvarks to zebras.

2. Places- Young travelers can find out about, or just plain find, destinations near and far in geography and history resources.

3. Celebrities- Whether they’re into sports, movies, or music, biography and news databases are keeping up with kids’ favorite stars.

4. Family- Tap genealogy resources to clarify the family tree when visiting relatives. Figure out who’s a third cousin and who’s a second cousin once removed or find great-grandma in the 1930 census.

5. Weird stuff- News sites just for kids include many stories of the bizarre. Is it true that an accountant fell on a crocodile? Look it up!

Have you tried marketing your databases for summer or used them in a program? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Blog post by Rachel Wood
Arlington Public Library
ALSC Digital Content Task Force

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20. Andrew in Asia

Andrew Medlar getting ready for his trip to the Philippines

Andrew is reading Pedro and the Monkey by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Michael Hays (Morrow Junior Books, 1996) at the Dr. José Rizal sculpture in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Dr. Rizal (1861-1896) “is the Philippine national hero, the ‘father of his country,’ the founder of its modern literature, the inspirer of its educational system” (Reines, Bernard. A People’s Hero: Rizal of the Philippines. New York, Praeger Publishers, 1971.).

The National Library of the Philippines is sponsoring an International Conference of Children’s Librarianship in Tagaytay City next month and I’m very excited to be attending to represent ALSC! The theme of the conference is “Connecting and Linking of Information through Transformed Children’s Libraries to the Digital Era,” and I’ll be giving a presentation on the first evening, October 13,  on the topic of “Envisioning a 21st Century Children’s Library.”

This topic is right up ALSC’s alley as our core purpose is creating a better future for children through libraries, and I’m looking forward to reaching out and sharing how we’re moving together into our association’s envisioned future in which “libraries are recognized as vital to all children and the communities that support them.”

I would love your help in telling this story! What is your vision of a 21st Century Children’s Library for your community? We’re talking collections, technology, programming, spaces—and anything else you can think of. What innovations in library service to children can you imagine developing in the 85 years still to come in this century, and what traditions and proven tactics will we be carrying forward?

Please share your ideas you’d like me to spread around the world by September 16 in the comments section below or by clicking and submitting them here. If you have a picture of something special you’re doing now that you feel represents the future and you’d be willing for me to include it in the conference presentation, please e-mail them to me at [email protected]. You can also tweet pictures and any other thoughts using #21stkidlib.

And please follow me on Twitter (@ammlib) where I’ll be gearing up for the trip by exploring Filipino folklore (find my reading list here), practicing ordering coffee in Filipino (Higit kape mangyaring), and warming up my taste buds at some of Chicago’s delicious Filipino restaurants. And throughout the trip (October 10-16) I’ll be sharing my experiences and the amazing ideas of our colleagues across the globe using #andrewinasia.

Thanks!

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Andrew Medlar is the 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect and the Assistant Chief, Technology, Content, & Innovation, at Chicago Public Library.

 

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21. App Advisory: Where to Start?

App-advisory can be intimidating, especially for those of us who are not heavily engaged in touch-screen technology in our personal lives.  Although I am excited to be a new member of the Children and Technology Committee, and this is a professional interest of mine, I must confess: I don’t own a smartphone or a tablet.  But I strongly believe that whatever your personal habits or philosophies, as professionals, we need to be willing and able (and enthusiastic!) to be media mentors, modeling responsible new media use and providing recommendations for parents and families.  With so many apps out there, many of which are labeled “educational,” we need to be able to provide parents with trusted recommendations and advice.  If you can do reader’s advisory, you already have the skills to do app advisory! Here are some suggestions, based on what we did at the Wellesley Free Library.

Get to know your material!  Read app reviews (see list of review sources below) and keep track of the apps about which you read. We use a Google spreadsheet, so that all Children’s Department staff can contribute.  This includes, when available, recommended age (though this is something significantly lacking in many app reviews), price, platform, categories, and our comments.  Keeping this information centralized and organized makes it easy to come up with specific apps to recommend to a patron, or to pull for a list.

Play around with the apps!  If you have money to spend (consider asking your Friends group for money for apps, especially if you will be using the apps in library programs), download some apps that seem interesting and try them out.  Even if you can’t spend money, you can try out free apps or download free “lite” versions of apps.  Playing with the app allows you to give a more in-depth description and detailed information in your advisory (consider the difference between recommending a book based on a review you read and having read the book itself).

Choose your method of advisory. App advisory can take many forms. There is the individual recommendation at the reference desk, there are app-chats (the app version of the book-talk), which have been discussed in an article on the ALSC blog by Liz Fraser, and then there are app-lists.  For the past year, we have created monthly themed app lists, mostly for young children between the ages of 2 and 6.  The themes have included: interactive books, music, math, letters, and more. Be sure to include free apps as well as apps available for non-Apple devices on your lists.

Provide advice, along with recommendations.  On the back of our paper app lists, and on the website where we post links to the app-list Pinterest boards, we offer advice to parents about using interactive technology with young children.

A year later, still without a smartphone or tablet, I feel much more confident about recommending apps to patrons, reviewing and evaluating apps, and building our collection, and you can too!  You already have the tools for evaluating media that meets children’s developmental needs and creating interesting and attractive advisory methods for families.  The next step is simply taking it to a new platform!

Some of our favorite review sources for apps:

Children’s Technology Review
Cybils Award
Digital Storytime
Horn Book App of the Week
Kirkus ipad Book App Reviews
Little elit
Parents’ Choice Awards
School Library Journal App Reviews

Clara Hendricks is a Children’s Librarian at the Wellesley Free Library in Wellesley, MA. She is a member of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee.

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22. The Tricky Business of a Life Online

At my school, our library and educational technology departments have combined recently.  It makes a lot of sense since we all work together anyway, and there is plenty of cross-over to be exploited in our curriculum.  It is exciting for me because it means more team teaching with our tech teacher, and we are gathering ideas for projects to work on with our students next year.

Currently we are working together with classroom teachers to introduce  our 3rd graders to Edmodo.  Edmodo was chosen specifically because of its social networking aspects.  While we are using it to display social studies content as well as poetry and original writing, we are weaving in the ideas of digital citizenship.

In the past, much of the talk of children and the internet fell into the “Don’t do it!” category.  Now, the conversation is more measured and it is my professional opinion that it is up to us to guide children in the direction of responsible internet use.  We had the students tell us what they knew about being online, and although many of them do have email accounts and play online, the ideas they gave back to us were the scary stories of internet predators.  What we want them to focus on, is responsible use and their own content.

After a trial run of commenting on each others posts on Edmodo, we had the students “notice” each tone and word choice.  We asked them which comments were just silly and did not lend to the over all conversation.  Our students took the lead and really got the flavor of our expectations.

When I recently asked a third grader what she thought was important with regard to being online, this is what she had to say: “You should put positive stuff online because if you put mean or bad stuff online it’s out for everybody to see and you may hurt someone’s feelings.”

Not a bad start!

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23. Appy Hour #ala12

One of the best programs I attended in Anaheim was Using Apps in Children’s Librarianship.  Led by a dynamic panel of two school librarians and two public librarians (mrschureads, 100scopenotes, @gaserotti and @amygrav), I left motivated and inspired by all the innovative ways we librarians can think outside the box and use apps to improve our services.  Here are just a few amazing takeaways.

Consider mounting an iPad to a wall or an endcap somewhere in your department and encourage children to play with it, just as they would a play panel.  Settings can easily be changed to make sure that children have access to only the areas of the iPad you want them to access.  There are also cases that can ensure that the iPad is locked down.  Once you have it secure, you could rotate different apps each week to keep kids coming back for more.  Shape sorting apps, rhyme apps, animal sound apps, storybook apps…the world is your oyster.

I was particular interested in learning about how we can use apps with older children, and the panel certainly did not disappoint.  One idea was to incorporate apps into book discussions.  Say you have a group of kids at a library program discussing Powerless by Matthew Cody.  You could start the activity by asking everyone what superpower do they wish they had.  The Art Studio app allows you to draw, paint, and edit photos.  So, instead of just asking students to answer the question, incorporate app technology and invite kids to be creative.  Working in groups or individually, kids could take their own picture, add drawings to depict themselves with this superpower, and then share their answer and their picture with the group.  Genius!

If you want to invite parents into the conversation, librarians could lead an App Chat or Appy Hour program.  Parents and librarians meet at the library to make recommendations of apps to other parents. This is also a great opportunity for librarians to talk about what qualities to look for in a good app, and talk about how to use the library’s app–if you have one!  We librarians have grown accustomed to reader’s advisory.  Why not app advisory?

Thank you to John, Travis, Amy, and Gretchen for all the FABULOUS ideas!

Renee Grassi, Head of Children’s Services                                                                           Glencoe Public Library                                                                                                              Glencoe, IL                                                                                                                 @MissReneeDomain

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24. #ala12 Through a Different Lens

I have been attending ALA meetings and conferences for many years now.  I have tried to be active in ALSC and have taken on different roles in different committees.  What Annual has often meant to me in the past was a whole lot of committee meetings.  Sure, I tried to get out onto the floor and talk with some publishers and discover new books, but the main thrust of my attendance was my committee.

This year, I looked at Annual through a new lens.

I was on the outgoing side of my Newbery tenure this year, and as such I have yet to commit to another committee!  Anaheim meant celebration for me.  But it also gave me an opportunity to look at my time at Annual in a different light.

Without hours of committee meetings, I was free to explore the sessions that were being offered.  And what happened because of that?  I left Anaheim feeling truly inspired.

Like Renee, I attended the session There’s An App for That.  Before listening to these knowledgeable folks, I looked at iPads as a student device that could be used in the library, but I hadn’t considered using mine for storytime!

I discovered new (free) resources that I am happy to bring back to my teachers and kids.

I also dove into the YALSA and ALSC joint President’s Program that looked into the “Digital Lives of Tweens“.  Not only did this session, enlighten me as to tween tech use in other parts of the country, it gave me a greater understanding about the lives and upbringing of today’s tweens.

And last but not least, there was the AASL President’s Program where Lori Takeuchi (Joan Gantz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop) shared the latest research on just how families and children are using technology in their everyday lives.  Again, the session was enlightening and inspiring.

I am going to continue using my new lens to look at Annual attendance.  I will make my schedule not only based on my committee meetings, but will be sure to make time to attend several of the sessions that are sure to leave me with a spring in my step and ideas for my program!

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25. Science in the Stacks—Taking it to the Next Level

Over the past year, the youth staff in my library district have hosted several successful science programs; “Edible Science” (Ice Cream in a bag), Egg Drops from the top floor balcony, and my personal favorite, “Messy Science” which included making Flubber. Elia Juarez, our tween guru and soon to be MLIS, has led the aforementioned efforts and next month will begin a series called “Clean Science”—which includes experiments using various soaps and water.  In her footsteps, Daniel Hernanadez, Yuma’s duct tape know-it-all will begin his own “Edible Science” program which helps explain how foods are made and  includes food making labs in our craft room.

Science programs have a wide appeal—while most popular with our tween patrons (and boys), all ages and genders have been represented.  With the emphasis now on STEAM, our library has ever so slightly tweaked our programs to make them more relatable to school curriculum.  Our LEGO program in San Luis, for instance, has morphed into “Lego Robotics.”  If you haven’t already, check out the new architecture LEGOS—they are all white.  How neat would it be to offer a locally based architecture LEGO club in which children worked together to re-create a prominent building in your area?  Or popular famous structures, for that matter?  Add to that mix a few points of view from a local architect who’s willing to come in—and voila!–an awesome, community building youth program that celebrates local architectural talent and their subsequent structures.

In thinking about science and how we incorporate science into our daily programs, I wrote out a grant proposal to instill science in our department permanently. Just recently, our library was awarded several thousand dollars to complete what we call the “Touch and Learn” project.  The project consists of two parts: the first is a Science Station in the Youth Services area that is completely digital.  The “station” is really a small table that seats six—three on each side—which consist of ipads mounted to each setting.  Each Ipad will be loaded with well-reviewed games, books and information on one of six categories: Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science, Biology, and Techno-Science (Robots, Computers, etc).

The second part of the grant involves science based story times.  Geared towards children ages 5-12, story times will be offered in the evening once a month that explore a STEAM subject—for instance—Dinosaurs.  A book will be read on dinosaurs followed by a demonstration of apps that those who are interested in dinosaurs might want to add to their collection. A story time moderator will lead this project on their own ipad, while each set of parent/caregiver/child have their own ipad to follow along.  The story time is expected to last the same amount as a regular story time; somewhere between 30-40 minutes.  The premise is to increase awareness of digital technologies in our community by exploring topics that make us desire to read and learn.

In addition, there is an outreach component.  The same story times will also be held one evening a month at the Cocopah Indian Tribe Library in Somerton, Arizona. A secure Ipad locker was bought with the grant money to make the story times “mobile.”

This project is set to launch next month, with a grand opening on October 17th. We are both incredibly excited and nervous for all the new changes that are coming to our Youth Department.

Our hope is that this project will improve Yuma youth digital literacy in anticipation of their prospects of future education and career successes; we are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction to empower our youth community who will someday soon be contributing to the economic and social stability of Yuma and the global society.

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Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Today’s guest blogger is Emily Scherrer. Emily is the Youth Services Manager for the Yuma County Library District. In addition, she takes up a chair on the ECPS committee of ALSC.  When she is not blowing things up or on her Ipad, she likes to climb mountains with one of her three rescue dogs.

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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