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1. ALSC Awards Overseas: A View from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

This spring I had the opportunity to attend the Bologna Children’s Book Fair along with 12 graduate students and their instructor, ALSC Past President and former Butler Children’s Literature Center Curator Thom Barthelmess. As the current Curator, I was eager to not only travel with such fun, smart, and like-minded colleagues, but to learn what children’s literature looks like around the world, and how the world sees us these days. The upshot? They like our books. Our politics, not so much.

Welcome to the Bologna Children's Book Fair!

Welcome to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair!

While I was traveling on Dominican’s dime with support from the Butler Family Foundation, this trip also posed an opportunity for me, as ALSC Fiscal Officer, to learn firsthand about the impact, if any, of ALSC’s book and media awards internationally.

Buying and selling rights to publish children's books in other countries and other languages is the primary business of the Fair.

Buying and selling rights to publish children’s books in other countries and other languages is the primary business of the Fair.

The first thing I learned should have been obvious: In addition to the vast market at Bologna for buying and selling rights to translate books to and from various languages and to publish them in other countries, there is a vibrant market and interest in original illustration. I saw three exhibits: the annual juried Bologna Illustrators Exhibition (featuring only one American illustrator this time, YooHee Joon); “Artists and Masterpieces of Illustration: 50 Illustrators Exhibit 1967-2016,” a special exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the annual one; and one featuring art from wordless picture books (the accepted term overseas is “silent books”). Beyond these exhibits, illustrators also promote their work directly to publishers here: the market for text is a translation one, so it’s not a place for authors to pitch manuscripts, it’s a more open opportunity for art.

High energy in the international bookstore booth itself

High energy in the international bookstore booth itself

A fascinating debate broke out on a panel discussion about the 50th anniversary exhibit. Panelist Leonard Marcus noted the positive development of an “international visual vocabulary” that has made it increasingly difficult to pigeonhole a book’s country of origin; Etienne Delessert countered that it’s still quite easy to identify an American picture book, at least (not necessarily a compliment). This reminded me of the ALSC Board’s decision a few years ago to maintain ALSC award eligibility for books originally published in the United States and by a U.S. citizen or resident, that “reaffirmed the importance of identifying and rewarding authentic and unique American children’s literature, in keeping with award founder Frederic Melcher’s original intent for these awards.” (Foote, The Newbery and Caldecott Awards: A Guide to the Medal and Honor Books, 2010 edition).

Leonard Marcus speaking on a panel discussion about the "50 Illustrators Exhibit 1967-2016

Leonard Marcus speaking on a panel discussion about the “50 Illustrators Exhibit 1967-2016”

Note the array of awards listed on the sign outside the international bookstore booth: Only one ALA/ALSC award seems to have any play here.

Note the array of awards listed on the sign outside the international bookstore booth: Only one ALA/ALSC award seems to have any play here.

These storied ALSC awards that have been around for decades are sacred in our association and well-known in the United States, but what do people overseas know, or think, about them?

While our awards don’t have nearly the impact on the business of publishing outside the United States as they do stateside, high international interest in illustration seems paralleled by interest in the Caldecott Medal, if not the others. This observation is supported by the ALSC office, which reports infrequent queries about seal use from international publishers, almost all about the Caldecott. U.S. publishers with whom I spoke indicated they’re never asked about awards or seals. However, I noticed many books that were published in other countries and languages were in fact ALSC award winners, even though they did not bear the award seal. This could mean overseas publishers recognize our awards as arbiters of quality and are therefore more likely to buy books that win, seal or no seal; or that they might want seals for book promotion purposes but don’t know how to procure them.

Click to view slideshow.

There is certainly an upside to promoting seal use internationally to raise the international profile of ALA, ALSC, and our media awards. Challenges include the need for publishers in other countries to respect U.S. trademark law (our seal images are ALA’s intellectual property); the need for an acknowledgement printed on the book that the non-U.S. edition is not the exact one evaluated by the committee; and the desire of some overseas publishers to work wording in their own language into the seal image itself. ALSC works hard to protect the integrity and reputation of these awards that have stood us in such good stead over the past 80 or so years, so we’ll continue to carefully shepherd appropriate seal use while encouraging its worldwide adoption to the extent we can.

(All pictures courtesy of Guest Blogger)


Our guest blogger is Diane Foote. Diane is assistant dean and curator of the Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University GSLIS in River Forest, Illinois, and the ALSC Fiscal Officer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at [email protected].

The post ALSC Awards Overseas: A View from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. What Kinds of Programs do ALSC Members Want at ALA Annual 2017?

Are you interested in developing a program for ALA Annual 2017, and wondering what topics are in demand from ALSC members? In January, the Program Coordinating Committee put out a call for ideas and asked for your feedback. We offered thirteen topic areas and asked members to rank their favorites.

Here are all thirteen topic areas we suggested ranked in order of ALSC members’ choices:

1. Diversity in children’s lit
2. Partnerships and outreach
3. Age specific programming
5. Summer learning
6. Difficult conversations
7. Media mentorship
8. Recent immigrant communities
9. Collection development
10. Diversity in the profession
11. Advocacy
12. Gender diversity
13. Networking

Need more inspiration? Below you’ll find additional ideas suggested by ALSC members in response to the survey. These are not ranked and appear in the order in which they were received.

Additional Program Ideas:

• Continuing Education after the MLIS
• Working with difficult coworkers/directors/city agencies– best practices, stress relief, etc
• Programming for Children with Special Needs
• Localized networking- how to bring back info from ALA, etc, and share with people who can’t afford time/money for conference
• Poetry, poetry programs, apps, National Poetry Month
• Social services: ie. Food programs at the library to serve hungry families, homelessness, libraries as a safe environment etc
• Child development and how it relates to library services, the mechanics of reading ( to help with readers advisory for emerging readers)
• The impact on tech on families
• Recent youth space upgrades/renovations. Slide shows etc
• Early Literacy/Babies Need Words
• Preschool Programming outside of storytime
• Becoming a youth services manager
• Statistics, budgeting
• I would love to see a diversity track that covers diversity in the profession, networking with others that are from a more diverse culture, diversity in children’s lit, gender diversity, also how to encourage diversity in publishing and other areas related to libraries.
• Creating a culture of reading in our community
• Time/workload management; librarian lifehacks
• Leadership and management chops
• Homeschooling
• Serving low-income kids and families
• Parent involvement
• Advancing early literacy best practices based on research- screens and reality

The call for proposals for ALA Annual 2017 in Chicago will go out in late March/early April. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

-The ALSC Program Coordinating Committee

The post What Kinds of Programs do ALSC Members Want at ALA Annual 2017? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Top Rainbow Reads for Kids

This weekend I had the most incredible book discussion experience of my life. No joke. I had the joy of meeting with 9 wonderful and incredibly smart people to decide on the best LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) books for kids and teens that were published between July 2014 and December 2015. You can find the entire list on the Rainbow List site; I am going to highlight the top books for kids through grades 6 here. The final list includes over 40 titles and of these we selected a top 10. Top ten titles are indicated with an *.

I know that book budgets are not limitless, so if you can’t buy all of these titles for your collection, a good place to start is with anything on the top 10 list: Gracefully Grayson, The Marvels (who are we kidding, you already have this book!), and Sex is a Funny Word.
While no picture books made the top ten list, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth having. They would all make excellent additions to a library collection, but if you can only buy three start with: Red: A Crayon’s Story, Stella Brings the Family and Heather Has Two Mommies.

Picture Books

Red: A Crayon's StoryHall, Michael. Red: A Crayon’s Story. 2015. 40p. Greenwillow, $18.89 (9780062252098). 3-7 yrs.

The label read, “Red.” However, all of Red’s strawberries and hearts come out blue. Friends and family try to fix Red until new buddy Berry helps this crayon discover his true color.

Newman, Lesléa. Heather Has Two Mommies. Written by Lesléa Newman, illus. by Laura Cornell. 2015. 32p. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763666316). 3-7 yrs.

Heather’s favorite number is two: she has two arms, two legs, two pets, and two mommies. When Heather goes to preschool, she learns that not all families look alike, but that they all have one thing in common—love. New text and illustrations make this classic accessible to a modern audience.

Rotner, Shelly, and Sheila M. Kelly. Families. 2015. 32p. Holiday House, $17.95 (9780823430536). 3-7 yrs.

A beautiful diversity of family life is depicted through simple text and photographs.

Schiffer, Miriam B. Stella Brings the Family. Written by Miriam Schiffer; illus. by Holly Clifton-Brown. 2015. 36p. Chronicle, $16.99 (9781452111902). 3-7 yrs.

It’s Mother’s Day, and everyone is making invitations for their mothers to come to the school celebration. But Stella has two dads and no mom to invite…What should she do?

Tyner, Christy. Zak’s Safari. Written by Christy Tyner; illus. by Ciaee. 2014. 38p. CreateSpace, $15.00 (9781502325464). 3-7 yrs.

When young Zak’s outdoor “safari” gets cancelled because of the rain, he leads his readers (and his stuffed animal tourists) on an adventure through the story of his family. Zak introduces his two mothers and how they became a family of three with the help of a donor from a sperm bank.

Juvenile Fiction

Gino, Alex. George. 2015. 195p. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780545812542). Gr 3-7.

Stonewall Book Awards–Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s Award Book. When people look at George, they see a boy. But she knows she’s a girl. With the help of her best friend, George comes up with a plan, not just so she can be Charlotte in her school play but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Gracefully Grayson*Polonsky, Ami. Gracefully Grayson. 2014. 243p. Hyperion, $16.99 (9781423185277). Gr. 4-7.

Twelve-year-old Grayson, through a school play, finds the courage to reveal a deep truth: in spite of being seen as a boy, she knows for a fact that she’s a girl.  

*Selznick, Brian. The Marvels. 2015. 667p. Scholastic, $32.99 (9780545448680). Gr. 5-8.

In black-and-white pencil illustrations, Selznick depicts three generations of actors descending from the sole survivor of a legendary shipwreck. As that story closes, another unfolds in prose as young Joseph discovers his connection to the actors and his family history, and he embraces his uncle’s life story as it affects and changes his own.

Juvenile Nonfiction

Pohlen, Jerome. Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, with 21 Activities. 2015. 192p. Chicago Review, $17.95 (9781613730829). Gr. 4-9.

From ancient China to the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, this narrative history reference gives context to the challenges and achievements of both queer individuals and the broader quest for civil rights.

Sex is a Funny Word*Silverberg, Cory. Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU. Written by Cory Silverberg; illus. by Fiona Smyth. 2015. 159p. Seven Stories, $23.95 (9781609806064). Gr. 3-6.

For children with questions about bodies, gender, touch, sex, and love, this all-inclusive book guides the conversation between children and trusted adults in an accessible graphic format. Gentle, intelligent humor brings home the message of respect, trust, joy, and justice for everyone’s body. Stonewall Book Awards–Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Award Honor Book.

The Rainbow Booklist Committee had so many wonderful books to choose from this year! If you collect for teens or if you are just looking for something good to read, do check out the rest of the list here. I have already started reading for next year and let me tell you, there are some GREAT books on deck. John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior (May 2016) is so splendid, it is ridiculous. If you read a book for kids or teens published between July 2015 and December 2016 that you think the Rainbow Booklist Committee should consider for next year’s list, please send in a suggestion. We would love to hear from you. Happy reading!!

The post Top Rainbow Reads for Kids appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. On the Road with ALSC at the NBCDI Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eat Play Grow


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

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

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


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

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

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at [email protected].

The post On the Road with ALSC at the NBCDI Conference appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Collaboration for Learning: Notes from the Public Libraries & STEM Conference

I was recently able to represent ALSC at the Public Libraries & STEM Conference in Denver, CO. The conference was kept very small–around 160 people total–and thus was very concentrated, with plenty to learn from and discuss with colleagues from libraries, STEM organizations, and other institutions with missions for informal learning. And while the small size necessary means that the participant pool was limited, the takeaways weren’t. I particularly want to share with you one of my major takeaways: the library as a single element in a larger learning ecosystem.

Note: I tried visual note taking at this conference. Since my handwriting isn’t always great, I’m transcribing text in the captions of images.

Here’s what I learned and have been itching to share:

Public Libraries & STEM Conference (Image by Amy Koester)

Public Libraries & STEM Conference; Denver, CO, Aug. 20-22, 2015 (Image by Amy Koester)

Help define a new 21st Century vision of STEM in public libraries. (Image by Amy Koester)

Help define a new 21st Century vision of STEM in public libraries. (Image by Amy Koester)

There were several goals of the Public Libraries & STEM Conference, but one in particular resonated with me immediately: to figure out what STEM/STEAM in public libraries could/should look like in our age of technology and innovation. What is the library’s role now, and what should it be? It’s within our collective power to create a framework for STEM in public libraries.

Collaboration as a System of Collective Impact (FSG) From individual orgs with individual goals & pathways to collaboration of goals and pathways (Image by Amy Koester)

Collaboration as a System of Collective Impact (FSG) From individual orgs with individual goals & pathways to collaboration of goals and pathways (Image by Amy Koester)

That said, while we, libraries, can certainly make some decisions and create some practices around this (or any other) topic, it’s imperative that we recognize that we are NOT the only institutions with a vested interest in STEM learning and experiences. Yet if we think of ourselves as wholly separate from other organizations even when  they possess similar goals to our own, we’re muddying the waters. Or, rather, as Marsha Semmel (formerly at IMLS) shared from an organization called FSG, each individual organization is moving in its own direction. It’s a little bit of chaos, no matter how well intentioned. But when we collaborate, however–and this is meaningful collaboration, in which we set a common goal and common pathways to achieve it–we can actually accomplish meaningful progress and change.

Progress moves at the speed of trust." Collectively see, learn, do. (Image by Amy Koester)

“Progress moves at the speed of trust.” Collectively see, learn, do. (Image by Amy Koester)

An integral part of meaningful collaboration: trust, said Marsha Semmel. If we observe together, learn together, and act together out of a trust that we truly are working toward a shared goal, we can accomplish transformative change much more quickly than independently, or even working parallel to one another.

STEM Learning Ecosystem: P-12 Education, Family, Out-of-School Programs, Higher Education Institutions, Business Community, and STEM-rich Institutions as spokes around the Learner - Ellen Lettvin (Image by Amy Koester)

STEM Learning Ecosystem: P-12 Education, Family, Out-of-School Programs, Higher Education Institutions, Business Community, and STEM-rich Institutions as spokes around the Learner – Ellen Lettvin (Image by Amy Koester)

Part of developing that trust is recognizing that we as libraries are a single aspect of a larger learning ecosystem. When it comes to STEM learning for youth, we fit into a larger puzzle of groups and individuals supporting students. Ellen Lettvin, of the U.S. Department of Education, emphasized some of those other players in this ecosystem, including students’ families; their schools; their out-of-school programs and activities; community businesses; institutions of higher education; and STEM-rich institutions, of which libraries may be one.

Out of school experiences are increasingly central to the public's STEM learning. (Image by Amy Koester)

Out of school experiences are increasingly central to the public’s STEM learning. (Image by Amy Koester)

Why do we need to recognize that we’re part of a larger learning ecosystem? John Falk, from Oregon State University, has researched this very topic, and has oodles of evidence supporting the fact that all of those experiences that youth–any age person, really–have out of formal school contexts are more and more important to overall STEM learning. Schooling isn’t sufficient in and of itself.

Learning is continuous and cumulative. (Image by Amy Koester)

Learning is continuous and cumulative. (Image by Amy Koester)

That’s because, says Falk, learning is continuous and cumulative. It happens all the time, and it constantly builds on what a learner already knows. There is no place or situation that is not ripe for learning. As such, if the library is a place people spend time, the library is necessarily a learning place.

Libraries are hubs & hosts of STEM. (Image by Amy Koester)

Libraries as hubs & hosts of STEM. (Image by Amy Koester)

Now, we know this. We know that libraries are institutions of learning. But in what capacity? Are we mostly places of individual discovery? Of information support? What if we really embraced that concept of library as learning place to its fullest extent and intentionally and proactively support the public who use us? We could be intentional hubs and hosts of STEM learning–or, truly, any type of learning that our communities need.

R. David Lankes: "The power of libraries is not in being a space for X, it is in being a space to facilitate connections between community members and local organizations that are experts in X." (Image by Amy Koester)

R. David Lankes: “The power of libraries is not in being a space for X, it is in being a space to facilitate connections between community members and local organizations that are experts in X.” (Image by Amy Koester)

David Lankes, from Syracuse University, was careful to emphasize, however, that our being hubs and hosts of STEM learning does NOT necessitate that we ourselves be the be-all, end-all experts. Should you tap staff expertise and interests in creating STEM programs and services? Absolutely. But remember that whole bit about collaboration for collective impact? Here’s where it really comes in. There’s a very legitimate school of thought that says that libraries’ best role in supporting STEM learning, across the board, is to meaningfully collaborate with organizations who are unequivocal experts in STEM so that we can connect our patrons directly to the experts. We are mediators, introducers. That makes our capacity so much greater than it could ever be on our own.

Partnerships help us develop more and more programs and to bring those programs to the people we are targeting." -Sharon Cox, Queens Library Discovery Center (Image by Amy Koester)

“Partnerships help us develop more and more programs and to bring those programs to the people we are targeting.” -Sharon Cox, Queens Library Discovery Center (Image by Amy Koester)

This sentiment was echoed by Sharon Cox, from the Queens Library Discovery Center. It’s an entire library dedicated to children’s STEM learning and exploration, and even with that mission, focus, and staff expertise, they add huge value to what they are able to bring to their community through partnership with organizations who are expert in STEM and whose goals align with the library’s. As libraries, we’ve always thought of ourselves as the people who connect our public to the resources they need. This type of collaboration means that the definition of “resources” our public requires may very well include organizations other than our own.

Do what you do best, and link to the rest." -L. Rainie; Libraries should NOT be trying to do everything. (Image by Amy Koester)

“Do what you do best, and link to the rest.” -L. Rainie; Libraries should NOT be trying to do everything. (Image by Amy Koester)

Or, in other words, we continue to do what we do best and then connect our patrons to the rest of what they way. That was the overarching sentiment from Lee Rainie from Pew Research Center–that libraries are strongest not because they can do everything, but because they can connect you to people and organizations who can.

Cultivate collaboration. Ask: What are our shared interests and goals? -Dale McCreedy, The Franklin Institute, LEAP into Science (Image by Amy Koester)

Cultivate collaboration. Ask: What are our shared interests and goals? -Dale McCreedy, The Franklin Institute, LEAP into Science (Image by Amy Koester)

So if we’re deliberately not doing everything, and we’re also going to best support our patrons’ STEM learning through collaborating with expert STEM learning organizations, how do we collaborate? Dale Creedy, who works at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and is a collaborator with the Free Library of Philadelphia to offer a LEAP into Science program, says that the first step in cultivating collaboration is to reach out to other organizations and straight up have a conversation. Your intent: to identify what, if any, are your shared interests and goals. If you determine that you don’t have sufficient shared interests/goals to merit the time and resources that would go into a formal collaboration, it’s no real loss–you now know more about the organization and can better identify when to direct your patrons to them. But if you do have sufficient overlaps in your interests and goals, the foundation is primed for you to work together. Now you can shift your conversation to what, specifically, your shared goal is, and how you might reach it together.

Collective Impact: How do we serve as part of a solution, as opposed to the solver? -M. Figueroa (Image by Amy Koester)

Collective Impact: How do we serve as part of a solution, as opposed to the solver? -M. Figueroa (Image by Amy Koester)

This type of conversation can actually be a little clumsy for libraries. We tend to think in terms of the library being the sole solver of a problem, rather than just one player in a larger solution–that’s according to Miguel Figueroa from the Center for the Future of Libraries at ALA. Collective impact necessitates that libraries be part of a collective solution, which may require a bit of a mindset shift.

Collaborations: Actively participate in a robust learning ecosystem; Re-envision the library with community input; Bring people to museums, and vice versa -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

Collaborations: Actively participate in a robust learning ecosystem; Re-envision the library with community input; Bring people to museums, and vice versa -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

So what to do to enact that mindset shift, to form those meaningful collaborations? Dr. Scott Sampson, Vice President of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (and also Dr. Scott the Paleontologist from Dinosaur Train), gave some suggestions in the form of a few progressively-more-involved strategies. Starting small, figure out how to bring people to libraries, and vice versa–that is, how to bring libraries to people. Where are the people in your community who do not come to the library? What spaces do they tend to use? Figure out collaborations with those places to bring the library to them.

Next in the spectrum is re-envisioning the library with the input of the community. We tend to get into a library echo chamber and create new programs and services based on what other libraries are doing or what we think would be appealing to the community. But that’s not the same thing as asking the community what they need the library to be. It could be through surveys, focus groups, inviting a cultural organization to the space… the possibilities are endless, and the results fruitful.

Last on that spectrum is actively participate in a robust learning ecosystem. Sound familiar? It should, and the concept is repeated here because it is so important. When we work on our own, we are limited to reaching the people we personally serve. But when we are part of a larger ecosystem, however, we not only draw on the strengths of fellow elements in the ecosystem but we draw from the people they reach as well. Maybe a person child will just never come to the library; that’s just the reality of their life. But they do go to school and out-of-school activities. So if the library is part of a learning ecosystem that includes that school and those activities–if we collaborate with them–we do reach that child in a fundamental way.

A Collaboration Workbook: 1) Install a collaboration team; 2) Find a common goal; 3) Listen to the community; 4) Generate ideas for collaborative programs; 5) Prioritize and implement programs -Heart of Brooklyn (Image by Amy Koester)

A Collaboration Workbook: 1) Install a collaboration team; 2) Find a common goal; 3) Listen to the community; 4) Generate ideas for collaborative programs; 5) Prioritize and implement programs -Heart of Brooklyn (Image by Amy Koester)

Dr. Sampson’s best suggestion for a model for collaboration comes from the Heart of Brooklyn, a cultural partnership involving the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park, and Prospect Park Zoo. Their method: Install a collaboration team whose first task is to find a common goal that al of the partners can get behind. Then listen to the community; is your goal their goal, too? From there, the partners and the community can generate ideas for collaborative programs and services–these should be in play with one another, building off one another, not simply a list of isolated programs that take place at isolated institutions. With those ideas in mind, it’s time for the collaboration team to prioritize and implement select programs. Obviously there will also need to be some evaluative piece after this implementation, but that’s a bit beyond the main takeaway of this post: collaboration.

What is holding us back is not money. The currency in short supply is collaboration and vision." -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

“What is holding us back is not money. The currency in short supply is collaboration and vision.” -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

And collaboration is vital for transformative, dynamic support of STEM learning by libraries. Yet many of the smart people at this conference indicated that, right now, collaboration–and the vision of collective impact that can inspire and support it–is in short supply. We need to recognize that libraries need not go it alone when it comes to supporting STEM. That is not to say that we shouldn’t invest in doing some STEM programing and providing relevant services ourselves; it is just to say that we can do so much more when we collaborate with others who also aim to support the STEM learning of our communities.

That vision of what we can do together is huge.

The collective impact we can have when we collaborate meaningfully is massive.

And what, after all, is our overall goal as libraries if not to support our communities in transforming their lives?

The post Collaboration for Learning: Notes from the Public Libraries & STEM Conference appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. U is for Ukulele

U is for Ukulele meetup#alaac15 provides space for meetings of all kinds. Although we’re apparently not that “uncommon,” yesterday I attended a meet-up of ukulele-playing librarians at the ALA Networking Uncommons.  We exchanged emails, discussed creating a group FB page and played a few songs.  Perhaps next year, we can have an ALSC session on Using your Uke for Story Time and Outreach. Wouldn’t that be fun?  Check out today’s gatherings at the Networking Uncommons. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/

U is for Ukulele

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7. Scholastic Literary Event #alaac15

1435514698140Jennifer A. Nielsen reads from her book, A Night Divided with help from fellow authors, Alex Gino (George) and Edwidge Danticat (Untwine).

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8. Surf’s Up with Kwame Alexander


Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander and his lovely daughter have some fun in support of his upcoming picture book, Surf’s Up at #alaac15.

Great fun, and champagne, too!

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9. Sometimes it’s not all about the kids

I’m attending many ALSC sponsored events at #alaac15, but sometimes it’s not all about the kids. This fangirl is joining the throng waiting to hear featured speaker Sarah Vowell!

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10. Freedom To Read Foundation #alaac15

I spent today at the FTRF Board of Trustees meeting hearing about litigation, legislation and other issues that could potentially infringe on our freedom to read. FTRF is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the first amendment through participation in litigation and by providing education and grant programs.

Consider joining the FTRF to support their work, to spread the word about censorship and to defend everyone’s freedom to read. Membership is only $35 and that money helps FTRF accomplish good work and support these creative Judith F. Krug Memorial Grant projects.

The FTRF Board meets the day before the official start of ALA annual and midwinter and guests are always welcome at the meetings. It is a great way to get caught up on current issues across the country.


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11. ABOS Conference – An overview

Last month, I attended the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) conference in San Diego, CA. The theme this year was “Doing More With Less”, a concept that all of us can relate to! Not only was it a celebration of bookmobiles, but it encouraged what we all want, librarians who speak up and connect with others about their work and ideas. Even if you don’t have a bookmobile at your library, you can enjoy some of the wondrous takeaways for reaching diverse children’s audiences. I even got a chance to share some of the cheap and easy ways my library collaborates with local partnerships.

Some highlights from programs I attended:

Children’s Program Ideas for Outreach & From Your Bookmobile by Marianne Thompson (Bolingbrook, IL)

Marianne thought outside the bookmobile for her idea to engage children during the summer months, literally right outside her bookmobile door. She used a small space where the handicap access was to create a stage for a summer puppet show. Starting with simple sock puppets and some creative children’s librarians, they recreate classic children’s stories to delight huge audiences. And even with the addition of professional puppets, the socks ones are still some of the favorites!

Medina R.O.C.K.S by Ann Plazek (Medina, Ohio)

Ann’s presentation showcased her version of R.O.C.K.S. as Reading Opportunities Create Kindergarten Success. A partnership with United Way enabled her library to become empowered investors with parents. And with that partnership, they could facilitate the education of the literacy concepts needed to enter kindergarten for local families. To create that growth, they offer three 2 hour sessions in the summer for families to learn together using ECRR concepts. From this program, they can add on additional skills as needed, like computer literacy for children who will have to take standardized tests on computers and have never used one before.

Sweet Reads by Colleen Hall (St. Louis, MO)

What could be better than hearing the ice cream truck music on a hot summer day? What if instead of ice cream, you got to pick out free books to take home? That basic idea is what has transformed the “summer slide” in some of St. Louis county’s most impoverished areas. With a collection based on donated, deleted, and surplus items, the community can “check out” books on a honor system. Her program provided access to books that children had not previously had due to circulation issues or trouble getting to the physical library. It’s been a sweet success to encourage reading over the summer!

Little Early Literacy Community Connections by Amy Steinbauer (Beaumont, CA)

My bookmobile is focused on children’s literacy from birth to age 5, so the concepts of ECRR are fundamental in the work that I do. One of the “littlest” ways that I connect with the community is through “Play and Learn Kits” that are deposited in local businesses. The kits are comprised of shoe box sized tupperware that is filled with a few donated or discarded children’s books, donated Legos or similar toys, scrap paper, pencils, and advocacy information about the library and our programs. Once a month, the kits are cleaned, and exchanged for new ones. This is a quick and easy way to connect the library to local organizations, and allow an opportunity for parents to interact with their children as they wait at the auto shop, nail salon, or for a haircut.


Take aways:

Small conferences are great to build connections with other librarians and share ideas! Even though we focus on outreach, many of the presentations were done by children’s librarians! We all have the same goal of providing access to children’s materials for all, and many of the ideas presented could work at the library or beyond it!


Today’s guest blogger is Amy Steinbauer. Amy has her MLIS from University of Hawaii, and is the Early Childhood Outreach Librarian at Beaumont Library in California. She drives a bookmobile, has a best friend that is a puppet (Bobby), and advocates for children’s literacy for all! Follow her on twitter @merbrarian.

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. ALSC Institute Reflections

Last month I was lucky enough to attend the 2014 ALSC National Institute in Oakland, California thanks to a generous scholarship awarded to me by the Friends of ALSC. I am so grateful for the time spent at the Institute last month and would like to thank the Friends for enabling me to participate in such a stellar weekend of learning and fun. And a huge thanks to everyone at ALSC who worked hard to put together the Institute!

Fairyland Reception (Photo by Nicole Martin)

Fairyland Reception (Photo by Nicole Martin)

Some of my favorite moments from the Institute have to be the wonderful author presentations and panels, especially the hilarious author panel that took place at Children’s Fairyland with Jennifer Holmes, Daniel Handler and Mac Barnett. The crowd was filled with giggling librarians and even a few fairy wings! After our breakout sessions at the park, a reception awaited us in the Emerald City. There was even a yellow brick road! I excitedly stood in a lengthy line so Barnett and Handler could sign some favorite books for me. It was well worth the wait (and the cost to ship my book haul back to Ohio!). I also loved the Closing General Session, during which Andrea Davis Pinkney presented on her work and even sang a bit. She was so energetic and inspiring, truly closing the 2014 Institute with a high note.

Closing Keynote Speaker (Photo by Nicole Martin)

Closing Keynote Speaker (Photo by Nicole Martin)

I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of which I found myself navigating the conference center. I have attended two ALA Annual Conferences and I have yet to not find myself, at least once, mildly lost in a massive conference center trying to find a workshop. It was so great to be able to attend a workshop, drop off handouts in my hotel room and then make it back for another workshop session without getting lost or feeling rushed. This might seem trivial, but it made an impression for me!

I was especially impressed with the wealth of relevant workshop topics available throughout the Institute. Some of my favorite workshops were “Be a Winner! Inspired Youth Grant Writing”, “Tech Access on a Budget” and “Summer Lunch at the Library”. Each of these workshops offered me incredibly practical information and insight that I brought back to my library to share with administration and fellow librarians. I feel confident that our 2015 summer lunch program will be more successful than last year’s because of what I learned at the ALSC Institute. I returned to Ohio knowing that other librarians struggle with shoestring technology budgets and there are various routes to find grant funding.

Oakland farmer's market (Photo by Nicole Martin)

Oakland farmer’s market (Photo by Nicole Martin)

In addition to the great learning and networking opportunities at the Institute, I was happy to spend some time exploring the neighborhood and even managed to squeeze in time for sleep (a sometimes difficult endeavor!).  A wonderful farmer’s market was happening in the neighborhood adjacent to the conference center and I spent my lunch hour meandering the stalls and munching on delicious shrimp tacos.

I would highly recommend any librarians with an interest in serving youth to attend the next ALSC Institute. You won’t regret it! I would also encourage anyone who might be deterred by travel costs and registration fees to apply for the Friends of ALSC Scholarship. I applied rather humbly not expecting to win, and here I am writing my very own recap as a scholarship winner. The next recipient could be you!


Nicole Lee Martin is a librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library and a 2014 Friends of ALSC Scholarship recipient.  You can contact her at [email protected] .

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13. How to Conference Like a Champ

Thanks to the kind people at ALSC and Penguin Young Readers, I was able to travel to my first ALA Annual Conference this summer. Tennessee to Nevada travel would generally not be in my public library’s budget, so I was thrilled to have received a stipend help with the cost of attendance. (Thanks again, Penguin!) Here are my top Annual Conference tips from a newbie.

Stay at a conference hotel. I made the mistake of not booking my hotel the moment I knew that I was going to attend. (I was lost in the chaos that is summer reading planning). Transportation in Vegas was a challenge and those free shuttles would have been helpful. Fringe benefits of staying at a partnering hotel include: being surrounded by other attendees, sharing non-shuttle transportation costs, and being in closer proximity to social events.

It is okay to travel alone. I went non-stop the entire time I was in Vegas, sun-up to sun-down. (Isn’t the normal Vegas traveler’s schedule just the opposite?) I was able to hit the sessions and events of my choosing, not trying to divide and conquer with other staff members, and sometimes missing out on a session I am very interested in because another had already claimed it. I may be selfish, but with all sessions open for the taking, I felt like a kid in a candy shop.

Avoid temptation in the Exhibit Hall. As a children’s librarian, I am known to save various odds-and-ends in case I one day have a use for them. I never knew the extent of my hoarding tendencies until I was let loose in the Exhibit Hall. (Let’s be honest, there is no reason I would need enough paper-clip holders that I would have to add an extra baggage fee to my return flight home.) When faced with freebies, ask yourself: Do I need this? Can my library use this? If you can immediately answer ‘no’ to these questions, or if you hesitate coming up with a unique use for 890 temporary tattoos, practice politely saying ‘no, thank you’ to the swag.

Attend at least one session that is not directly applicable to your job. You may be surprised to find quite a bit of useful information that is helpful to you in your current position. As a children’s librarian, I am rarely asked my input on building projects, if it doesn’t directly impact the littles’ space. However, I attended “Environment by Design” session and left with some big ideas for future use of space.

Plan at least one day into your trip for sight-seeing.This is one of my biggest regrets of the trip. I learned so much valuable information, saw all kinds of great library related goodies, was entertained and educated by the speakers, but saw very little of Las Vegas. Luckily, I had an aisle seat on the flight in and caught a glimpse of both the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. I would love to visit again and take in the sights, but with my busy schedule, I will be hard pressed to find the time for this trip in my foreseeable future. One extra day built into my trip would have afforded me quite a bit of sightseeing.

Present right away! (Also, take good notes!).Present what you learned, or even a simple conference itinerary with highlights, to your director, board, and staff immediately upon return. I’ve been back in my library for two months now, and in the chaos that is Summer Reading, I still haven’t had a chance to present to the staff. While we are already implementing some program ideas brought back from the conference, with each passing day, I fear that I’m going to forget some great tidbit of information that I had hoped to pass on to our staff. Hopefully my notes will jog my memory!


Photo courtesy of Joey Yother Photography

Photo courtesy of Joey Yother Photography

Our guest blogger today is Amanda Yother. Amanda is the Children’s Services Coordinator at the Putnam County Library in beautiful Cookeville, Tennessee. She loves learning through playing and revisiting her favorite novels from childhood with her book club kids. Amanda was a recipient of the 2014 Penguin Young Readers Award. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at [email protected].

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14. What’s So Funny? Or How I Met Jon Scieszka Three Times in One Day

My husband and I meet a Mike Myers Dr. Evil look-alike on the Vegas strip

My husband and I meet a Mike Myers Dr. Evil look-alike on the Vegas strip

There were many things that made me laugh in Las Vegas at ALA Annual this year. There were zany, homemade costumes worn by street performers and sky high food prices (an $18 burger? You can’t be serious), but the best laughs were found inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. This being my first ALA Annual, I had spent a lot of time in advance researching which authors and illustrators would be visiting the publisher’s booths in the exhibit hall. When I looked at my final list, I realized that many of these picture book icons had one thing in common: they all wrote or illustrated humorous books that I love to use in Storytime. Following are my experiences in just one day of ALA Annual in which I met these talented people and ways in which you can use their books in preschool or family Storytime.

Jon Scieszka (1st time)

Rikki Unterbrink and Jon Scieszka at the YALSA Coffee Klatch

Rikki Unterbrink and Jon Scieszka at the YALSA Coffee Klatch

9:00am – I signed up for YALSA’s YA Author Coffee Klatch for several reasons, but the top reason was a chance to meet Jon Scieszka. I was five years old when The True Story of the Three Little Pigs was published (the book celebrates its 25th anniversary this year) and eight when my mom brought home an autographed copy of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. She had just met Scieszka at a teacher’s conference. I had never seen an autographed book before and thought it was pretty much the coolest thing in the world. I read the story many times and continued to read any Scieszka books I could get my hands on all the way into adulthood. So, when the other young adult author enthusiasts at my Coffee Klatch table asked which author I was most excited to meet, you know what I said. Wouldn’t you know that when the whistle blew and the authors made their way to each table that Jon Scieszka came to our table first. And sat right next to me. Scieszka talked about the first book in his new series, Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor which will be released on August 19th. Since each author only got five minutes at each table, there wasn’t much time for me to tell Scieszka how influential he has been on my life. It’s a good thing I got a few more chances!

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
in Storytime:

In advance, gather several items and place in a large bucket, basket or cauldron. Three pig toys or puppets, one wolf toy or puppet, a bundle of sticks, straw, a toy brick, box of cake mix or bag of sugar, handkerchief, and spectacles.

Before reading the story, inform the kids that you have gathered some items for your ‘story bucket’ and you need their help to figure out which popular folk tale you’re going to be reading to them. Pull out the sugar, handkerchief, and spectacles before the others and see if they can guess what the story it about and who the characters might be.

After the story, sing “The Three Little Pig Blues” from Greg & Steve Playing Favorites. Shakers are a nice addition to this song. Have children huff & puff and say “not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!” during the song.

Since it is the 25th anniversary of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and the wolf is attempting to bake a cake for his granny, end the program with cupcakes!

Dan Santat

11:00am – As I waited in line for Dan Santat, I called my mother in Ohio and told her that I had just sat next to my childhood hero, Jon Scieszka for coffee. She was very excited for me and recalled her experience meeting him all those years ago. I told her that I hoped for another chance to meet him and to get his autograph.

As a huge fan of The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat, I was definitely eager to meet Santat. I practically squealed with delight when I discovered the free book he was signing was the follow-up to Ninja Pigs, Ninja Red Riding Hood. If you haven’t read these books you’re missing out. Ninja Pigs would make a nice addition to the “Three Little Pigs” Storytime theme. Another great book of Santat’s to use in a “Bad Moods” themed Storytime is Crankenstein.

Crankenstein in Storytime:

During the story, have children moan and groan along with Crankenstein. Make sure to get into it yourself! Other good books to use in this Storytime are The Three Grumpies by Tamra Wight, The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and The Not-So-Scary Snorklum by Paul Bright.

Songs and Rhymes:

Five Cranky Crabs

Old MacDonald Felt So Glad
Storytimes for Two-Year-Olds by Judy Nichols, second edition

I’m So Mad
Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and Other Contagious Tunes audio CD

Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

1:30pm – I couldn’t believe I was one of the first people in line for Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen. Both have exceptional talent and have published many award-winning and beloved children’s books. Put them together and you’ve got something magical called Extra Yarn, a 2013 Caldecott Honor recipient. When many authors and illustrators are signing books at the same time at ALA Annual things can get a little crazy in the exhibit hall. Often there are no signs to mark which line is for whom and where it ends. You may find yourself arriving at a booth only to find the end of the queue is somewhere in the next aisle at the back of the hall. I took great pleasure in telling people that I was near the front of the line. However, I found myself getting rather annoyed that people kept asking, “Is this the line for Jon Klassen?” and overlooking the fact that another very talented person was appearing with him! I understand that Klassen has won the Caldecott Medal, a Caldecott Honor, and numerous other awards but he was not the funny man I was there to meet. In my opinion, Mac Barnett is a comic genius bringing the library world some fantastic read-aloud stories including Count the Monkeys, Mustache!, Guess Again, and President Taft is Stuck in the Bath. He has also written a hilarious mystery series for middle grade readers called The Brixton Brothers.

from left: Rikki Unterbrink, Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen

from left: Rikki Unterbrink, Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen

I was definitely star struck when it was my turn to meet Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. I am slightly embarrassed to say that I practically ignored Klassen and told Barnett how much of a fangirl I am for his work. I told him, “I want you to know that everyone has been saying this is the Jon Klassen line and I keep telling them it is the Mac Barnett line.” Well, Barnett thought this comment was hilarious and elbowed Klassen saying, “Did you hear that Jon? She said it’s the Mac Barnett line! Ha! I have fans, too!” Barnett took several photos with me and even purposely made Klassen lean farther out of the frame for one of them.

Count the Monkeys in Storytime:

I used this book during an evening family Storytime with much success. The book requires audience participation to help count the monkeys (which don’t actually appear in the book at all because they are scared of the various other animals in the book). Toward the end of the book, have a surprise guest reader sneak in the back of the room dressed as one of the lumberjacks from the book. He or she can carry mini flapjacks to share as a snack.

Extra Yarn in Storytime:

Extension activities to use before or after reading the story:
Have children and parents sit in a circle and toss a skein of rainbow yarn across the circle to someone. Have them loop the yarn around their finger and toss the rest to someone else. After the yarn has been tossed at least once to everyone, talk about the web you’ve made and how each person is important to your web and your world. If someone leaves the group, part of the web falls away. Have one or two people drop their yarn to illustrate this. Compare this to Annabelle’s magical yarn and how she uses it to change her world in the story.

Dancing Sheep action rhyme by Susan Dailey
(Use a sheep or llama puppet for extra fun)

Mustache! in Storytime:

In the book, King Duncan hangs giant banners and posters of himself all around his kingdom as a “gift” to his people only to find that his subjects have painted mustaches on all of them. After reading the book, give children a washable marker and a picture from a magazine (or a copy of Duncan’s face!) and let them graffiti the picture with mustaches. Other fun books to read with this theme: Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos and Mo’s Mustache by Ben Clanton. For songs give each child a paper or fake mustache to hold and adapt Woodie Guthrie’s song “Put Your Finger in the Air” to “Put Your Mustache in the Air.”

Mustache Song:
(author unknown)
You are my mustache, my trendy mustache.
You make me happy, when skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.
So please don’t shave my mustache away.

Jon Scieszka (2nd time)

I get my book signed by Jon Scieszka!

I get my book signed by Jon Scieszka!

2:00pm – This line was very long. Clearly, I was not the only fan of Scieszka’s at ALA and I was worried I would be too far back in line to actually receive a free book. Sure enough, when the representative from Penguin Young Readers Group approached me as I neared the front of the line, I was not surprised that they were nearly out of books. I asked if I could have him sign something else (I brought a special tote bag for just this purpose) and she said yes. However, as I got even closer to the front of the line I was handed a book! Some had left the line thinking they were not getting a book which turned out very nicely for me indeed. I received my copy of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and stepped up to have it signed. “Back for more, eh?” Scieszka said to me. He remembered me from that morning! Hooray! I told him the story about my mom bringing home his book so many years ago and how I had talked to her earlier that day to tell her how thrilled I was that we both finally got to share the experience of meeting him. He said, “That’s great. Tell your mom I miss her.” What a great guy.

Tom Angleberger

4:00pm – I was glad my husband, Travis, had tagged along to Las Vegas because he got the chance to meet Tom Angleberger with me. Travis has read all of the Origami Yoda books by Angleberger and I really enjoy his picture book, Crankee Doodle. Angleberger was just as we expected. Wearing a Rebel Alliance baseball cap and nerdy t-shirt, he looked like he had just stepped off the pages of one of his books. He was very gracious and friendly. We look forward to reading the final installment of Origami Yoda, Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus.

Crankee Doodle in Storytime:

This book just begs to be read aloud by two actors/librarians. After seeing this book performed in a similar fashion, I just had to do it during a family Storytime because it’s fun for both children and adults. Young children may not understand the reference to the song, Yankee Doodle, but older children and parents think it’s hilarious. In the book, Crankee Doodle’s pony tries to convince him to go to town to buy a new hat, but Crankee doesn’t want anything to do with going to town. Read this book using a horse puppet for the pony’s part and a tri-corner hat (we made one out of paper) and baseball cap for Crankee’s part. Follow up with a rousing sing-along of the original song.

Mac Barnett & Jon Scieszka (3rd time)

Jon Scieszka, Rikki Unterbrink and Mac Barnett with Battle Bunny book

Jon Scieszka, Rikki Unterbrink and Mac Barnett with Battle Bunny book

4:30pm – Proof that dreams really do come true, I got to end the day chatting with both Barnett and Sciezska at the same time. Both remembered me and actually told each other about our previous meetings and posed with me for the most memorable photo of all. Barnett and Scieszka co-wrote a book called Battle Bunny, a “deliciously subversive piece of metafiction” according to Booklist. I told the authors that I love the book, but I am worried that library patrons will start to scribble all over future books using this one as inspiration. I haven’t yet figured out how to use this one in Storytime, but Barnett informed me that if you go to http://mybirthdaybunny.com/make-your-own/ readers can download and print the pages for their very own bunny story. Perhaps I will make my own called Funny Bunny and turn all of the fluffy animal characters into children’s book authors that I met one day in Las Vegas.

(All photos courtesy of guest blogger)


BookOur guest blogger today is Rikki Unterbrink. Rikki was a 2014 Penguin Young Readers grant recipient and is the Youth Services Director for Shelby County Libraries in Sidney, Ohio. She is a co-creator of the Teen Think Tank, a grass roots roundtable for teen and tween librarians in Ohio, a member of the Teen Services Division of the Ohio Library Council and a book reviewer for the Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group. This year she also received the Penguin Young Readers Award to attend her first ALA Annual. Rikki enjoys presenting at numerous conferences, performing family Storytimes, dressing up in hilarious costumes and playing with puppets at the library. She lives in Wapakoneta, Ohio with her handsome, band director husband (their life is just like The Music Man) and three crazy but charming cats, Ron Weasley, Katniss Everdeen and Chandler Bing (he’s adopted). You can find her posting for the Shelby County Libraries Facebook page, reviewing on Goodreads or you may contact her by email at [email protected].

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

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at [email protected].

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15. Volunteer at the ALSC Booth

Calling ALSC Members,

The ALSC Membership Committee is looking for booth volunteers! The ALA Annual Conference is the world’s largest library conference, with over 900 exhibitors. ALSC will have a booth in the ALA Member Pavilion on the exhibit floor (booth #1939). At the booth you can also get your questions about ALSC answered and pick up some free ALSC swag, including member ribbons for your conference badge.

To sign up, please visit the ALSC @ ALA Annual Conference wiki:

Please click ‘edit’ at the top of the page and login with your username and password, or create a username and password if you have not already. Please enter your full name at your preferred ‘Start Time’. A time slot will be considered full when two people have signed up for that particular time slot. If you have any problems signing up, or need a copy of the booth guidelines, please feel free to contact Sam Bloom or Dan Rude.

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16. It’s been real, #alamw12

At this point I’m bleary-eyed, alarmingly over-caffeinated, and nursing a small blister (despite my sensible footwear selections.) I couldn’t be happier. It’s the best kind of exhaustion. I’ve spent the last few days talking about books, art, technology, and public service with- hands down- the smartest, most intriguing, hard-partying librarians, publishers, vendors, and assorted library-lovers.

Yesterday I met my fellow 2013 Caldecott committee members and our fantastic committee chair. We discussed the upcoming year, traded ideas on how we will organize our books and thoughts, and started the process of getting to know each other before the deluge of books begin pouring in. The overall takeaway for me was to keep an open mind, stay organized, and simply enjoy the experience.

Sitting in the audience at this morning’s Youth Media Awards I caught myself tearing up. Not from any particular winner or award, but from the sheer force of excitement and passion in the theater. That energy existed outside the convention center walls, too, as tweets, blog posts, and updates from people across the globe reacted to the announcements. As sentimental as it may sound, you cannot help getting caught up in the emotion and feeling immediately connected to the larger community of librarians, teachers, children, teens, and readers everywhere. In so many ways, it felt like home.

Until Anaheim….

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17. Celebrating Communities

I recently had the pleasure of attending a bilingual conference here in Nova Scotia called Celebrating Communities. When wearing my Teen Librarian hat, I am involved in a group called BaM! Body And Mind, a collaborative program that encourages youth to be active, in well, both body and mind. Our program was a finalist for one of the Celebrating Communities awards. We didn’t win, but that isn’t really what matters, because everyone at this conference was a winner. I know that sounds cliché, but in this case, I found it to be true. This was not a library conference. But it had everything to do with libraries, because we spent 3 days celebrating the best of the community we were in. The conference is presented every 2 years, and a different community is chosen to host and be highlighted. The thing I really came back from this conference with was the idea of CELEBRATING. I heard very little grousing in the 3 days I was at this conference. The idea of “Celebrating” really took hold, and besides hearing from speakers who regaled us with the stories of their successes, the participants all had good things to talk about. In these times of economic uncertainty and money woes, it was refreshing to be amongst folks who have hope, good ideas, and a real ambition to make their communities thrive. And while libraries were not on the agenda, several of the presenters mentioned libraries, because we all know that the library can be a pillar of the community. Let’s all remember to celebrate that, every day, even in small ways. So go on, celebrate YOUR community. Celebrate your library, because you never know who it is that you are helping, it could be the next Bill Gates, or maybe even Vernon d’Eon. (Yes, you are going to have to do some research to find out who Vernon d’Eon is!)

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18. Indiana Wants Me

And you, too! Next September we’ll be gathering in its capital city of Indianapolis for the ALSC Institute. If you attended or heard about the terrific and fun learning experience last year at the Institute in Atlanta, this is already on your calendar. If not, mark it now: September 20 – 22, 2012 at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel right in the heart of downtown Indy.

Joining us will be the talented Peter Brown, author/illustrator of The Curious Garden as well as the Chowder books, among others. You might also remember The Curious Garden as the 2011 Andrew Carnegie Medal winner for excellence in children’s video.

In addition to the many sessions and networking opportunities, we’ll also be able to tour the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and check out the Library’s infoZone. Learn more about this children’s library inside a museum here.

Institute Task Force Chair Joyce Welkie and her team are creating a continuing education opportunity not to be missed! Keep up with the details on our website, or look for more information at Midwinter. Registration will be open in the next few weeks.

Hope to see you in Indy!

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19. You know you’re a children’s librarian when …

You know you’re a children’s librarian when …

you attend the huge, annual American Library Association Conference featuring famous authors like Harlan Coben, C.S. Harris, Erica Spindler, Laura Lipman, and Wendy McClure;

and you pass them all up because you can’t afford to miss

Grace Lin, Rick Riordan, Clare Vanderpool, Erin Stead, Tom Angleberger, Jeff Kinney, Richard Peck, and all the other wonderful authors and illustrators who gathered this week in New Orleans. I wish I’d had the time to meet them all!

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20. The Red Cape Event of the Season

The poopiest place to be at #ALA11 tonight was the Super Diaper Baby 2 party. Here are some highlights:Tinkle tinis and hot dogs were served. Yes, tinkle tinis – get it?The super awesome and talented Dav Pilkey signed copies of Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers and let us take them home with us even though the book hasn’t been released yet! He also showed us a moving video about his inspiration for the book – it will be available on his website in a week or so, take a few minutes to watch it, it will squeeze a few tears out of you.There were plenty of red cape wearing librarians in attendance.And we all got to be the star on a book cover. Thanks Dav Pilkey for the pottyful new book and thanks Scholastic for the red cape event of the season!

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21. Dessert Party! #ALA11

What do chocolate, a naughty red cat, radishes, amazing librarians and flotsam & jetsam have in common? They were each well represented at the dessert party thrown by MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group last night.

I spoke with the adorable Jack Gantos about his new book Dead End in Norvelt. It sounds brilliant and it probably is, considering the author. I don’t want to go off on a tangent here, but isn’t Hole In My Life one of the best books you’ve read ever? Seriously, like EVER?? (I also heard last night that Jack does a fantastic reading of his new book on audio – check it out!)

I chatted with the gifted naturalist April Pulley Sayre about birds and other things we both adore. April has some wonderful new books out this year: If You’re Hoppy (which is getting all kinds of well-deserved attention) and Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant. Radishes! is a lovely book, illustrated with photos taken by April at her local farmer’s market: support your local farmers, eat lots of veggies and read this freshly grown book!

I also had the chance to meet Loree Griffin Burns, the talent behind the award winning Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam and the Science of Ocean Motion (which is now in it’s fifth printing) and last year’s fabulous The Hive Detectives:Chronicle of a Honeybee Catastrophe. Loree is delightful! She talked a little about the work she does at school visits; contact her if you are looking for a dynamic author to invite to your community.

I also met some amazing librarians. Librarians who are out there working every day to connect these authors and their books with the kids who need to read them. The kids who may not be able to identify asparagus, who may not understand why honeybees are so important, or who may need to read about a kid who kinda sounds a little familiar. Thanks authors, editors, publishers and librarians for all of the wonderful things you do! (Shout out to the awesome Karen MacPherson woot-woot!)

Oh, I forgot to mention the chocolate – it was delish.

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22. Midwinter Advance Registration Reminder

Just a reminder that discounted advance registration for ALA Midwinter 2011 ends on Monday, November 29th. Registration includes access to:

  • over 200 discussion groups
  • 0ver 2000 committee meetings and events
  • Exhibits
  • Youth Media Awards
  • much, much more!

Complete information about the midwinter conference, to be held in San Diego from January 7th through 11th,  is available here.

See you in California!

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23. ALA Youth Media Awards

On Monday morning, January 10, 2011, The American Library Association (ALA) will announce its Youth Media Awards as part of the midwinter conference. Beginning at 7:45 am PST, nineteen different awards will be announced including:

  • Coretta Scott King Book Awards which honors African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults that demonstrate sensitivity to “the African American experience via literature and illustration.”
  • John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.
  • Michael L. Printz Award awarded to a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.
  • Randolph Caldecott Medal awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States during the preceding year.
  • Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal awarded to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in English during the preceding year.
  • Schneider Family Book Award which honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.
  • Theodore Seuss Geisel Award is given to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year

For the first time,  the Stonewall Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award will also be announced as part of the ALA Youth Media Awards. This award is administered by the ALA’s Stonewall Book Awards Committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Round Table and is awarded annually to English-language works for children and teens of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered experience.

To allow as many interested people as possible the opportunity to hear the announcements, the ALA will provide a free live webcast. The number of available connections for the webcast are limited. Online visitors interested in following the announcements live can bookmark http://alawebcast.unikron.com. Visitors can begin logging in to the webcast at 7:30 am PST; the Youth Media Awards will begin at 7:45 am PST.

It’s always an exciting time!  Hope you can join us!

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24. Connecting Cultures & Celebrating Cuentos: National Latino Children’s Literature Conference

Registration is now open for the 3rd Annual National Latino Children’s Literature Conference which will be held April 23 and 24, 2010 at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. For more information, visit the conference website: http://www.latinochildlitconf.org. The Conference is sponsored by the School of Library & Information Studies and the Office of the Provost and the Division of Academic Affairs at the University of Alabama.

The conference was created to promote high-quality children’s literature about the Latino cultures and to offer a forum for librarians, educators, researchers, and students to openly discuss strategies for meeting the informational, educational, and literacy needs of Latino children and their families.

Early-Bird Registration (on or before April 15) for the 2 day event is $105. After April 15, the registration fee is $120. More registration information is available at the conference website.

Conference Chair Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo was featured April 22, 2009, on an ALSC Blog podcast.

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25. 26th Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference

The 26th Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth will be held on Thursday, April 8 & Friday, April 9, 2010 at the Kent State University Student Center, Kent, Ohio. The conference provides a forum for discussion of multicultural themes and issues in literature for children and young adults.

“New Horizons – the Next 25 Years!” is the theme of the conference, featuring authors Pam Muñoz Ryan and Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrator, R. Gregory Christie.

The Thursday, April 8, evening program will feature a keynote address by the 12th Annual Virginia Hamilton Literary Award winner, Pam Muñoz Ryan and a performance by The HeartBEAT of Afrika. On April 9th, Friday, a variety of local and national speakers will present workshop sessions on multicultural picture books, notable books for a global society, young adult novels for girls, cultural graphic novels and puppet books. Friday’s conference agenda will include a “conversation” session with the three featured presenters.

The registration fee for both Thursday evening and Friday is $150; for Thursday evening only, $40; Friday only, $120. Contact the Office of Continuing and Distance Education at (330) 672-3100 or (800) 672-KSU2 to register. Or register on-line at http://www.yourtrainingresource.com (Click Program, Conference.)

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