One of my favorite parts of the conference is always the exhibit floor. While some spend time queuing up for author's signatures or advanced reader's copies - and I've snagged my share - I like to spend some quality time really looking at everything children's publishers have out AND up and coming in the next publishing cycle. I like looking not just at the large publishers but also smaller publishers that publish for a smaller niche market or larger publishers that publish primarily in countries outside the US. This is where you can often find hidden gems of diversity that celebrate different cultures and countries.
In the past, these presses and publishers were often relegated to the last two or three rows at the end of the exhibit floor. But this year at ALA, there is a welcome change. The small press tables can be found at the end of rows - rows that put them next door to some of the biggest names in publishing, ILS systems and other national vendors. You won't have to go far to find a first time exhibitor like Karadi Tales, a publisher in India who has two books recently honored by the South Asia Book Awards - The Rumour won the young people's award in 2013 and in 2015 A Pair of Twins was on SABA's Highly Commended list. The books that are on exhibit from this publisher are delightful and easily open up our collections to needed diversity.
This new juxtaposition of large publishers near smaller or more diverse publishers means that it will be easier than ever to take a few steps and discover presses outside the mainstream houses we know and love. So if you are coming to ALA, take some time to chat with these publishers from smaller presses or publishers from different countries and discover the true richness of our publishing world. Your community will thank you!
I am excited to see the publication of two milestones for those interested in bringing digital literacy in to the library for kids and families.
One is the publication of the full Young Children,New Media, and Libraries:A Guide for Incorporating New Media into Library Collections, Services, and Programs for Families and Children Ages 0-5. This book has been written as an online serial over the past year or so by some of the true movers, shakers and thinkers on this issue in the nation. It can be downloaded or accessed online.
The second is ALSC's new White Paper on Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth. This paper was adopted by the ALSC board in March and is now available for downloading. It is a straightforward, well-reasoned, well- researched and helpful guide that places libraries and librarians squarely in a digital literacy role we so beautifully performed with print and nonprint literacy over the years. It is available on page chuck full of information on the many ways libraries are working on media mentorship.
While some see attention to digital literacy and evolving our roles in libraries to include being media mentors as THE.DEATH.OF.LOVE.OF.BOOKS.AS.WE.KNOW.IT, I remain remarkably sanguine.
Could be I've seen four decades of growth, evolution and radical change in libraries since the heady days of the 1970s. Could be I think that Ranganathan's Fifth Law posited in 1931 (The Library is a growing organism) is actually true. Could be that transliteracy and the remarkable resiliency of libraries to meet the community's needs trump any fear we might have of change. Could be I just like change.
I welcome the great work being done nationally, regionally and locally to embrace digital literacy and media mentorship and applaud everyone who is stepping up and on. Go you's!!!
Holly over at the new blog Let the Wild Rumpus Begin has a great post up about robotics in her Maker Monday series.
Miss Molly the Librarian loves cosplay so Free Comic Book Day was just about the best day ever.
Jennifer over at In Short I am Busy has two programs to share: Raising Chicks and her highly successful 1-3rd grade book club (a 3-5th grade version will launch in fall).
Brytani at The Neighborhood Librarian did a Fancy Nancy party just before Mother's Day. Oooh-la-la!
Jennifer at In Short I am Busy is going a new direction with her summer program and also shares her superhero masks passive program win.
And Jenna, well known for her ALSC advocacy work guest posts on Tiny Tips and reminds us of what is really important in summer.
To learn more about Thrive Thursday, check out the schedule, Pinterest board, and Facebook Group.
For all my friends kicking off Summer Learning tomorrow, a few sage words (such as they may be):
You might not feel ready, but you are. You're ready to dazzle kids and families by making them feel welcome, wanted, and valued at the library. They're coming to see you, not to see if all your programs are planned, if your bulletin boards are done, or if all your decorations are up. (Mine aren't.)
Put aside those holy-cow-I-still-have-so-much-to-do lists that feel impossible because they are. That stuff pales in comparison to those little faces glowing with excitement and wonder about summer at your library. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather look at them than at mountains of paperwork, forms, or ungodly spreadsheets of numbers and statistics.
You hardly need the reminder, but nothing and no one is more important than the child standing in front of you or little one sitting next to you. If your library kids know that, you're doing a kick-ass job with SLC. Everything else you "have to" do is secondary or even tertiary. (Trust me. It'll all get done. It can all wait. Kids can't and shouldn't have to do the same.)
All you "have to" do is make the library a fun and magical place this summer, and you do that by simply being present and available for your kids. Greet them. Smile at them. Love them. And for heaven's sake, GET AWAY FROM YOUR DESK and have an amazing time with them.
At the end of the summer or years down the line, kids won't remember the stuff they got by being part of your SLC. They'll remember the time you spent with them and how important you made them feel. Those are the real prizes, both for you and for them.
Need a reality check at any point in the next 8-12 weeks? You know where to find me (email@example.com or Twitter @ALAJenna .
Love to you all
It's almost time for our monthly compilation of all the good stuff you've been doing (or about to do for summer) for school age programming on Thrive Thursday. Because we have the summer thing going, we'll post the goods on Thursday June 11.
If you have a program to share, please leave it in the comments.
I can hardly wait to see what all you've been cooking up!
(Sometimes you just have to go 13th century! This fine blog post title goes back to my Middle English languages roots and I love to murmur it as the lushness of May unfolds inexorably towards summer)
|Kids will add stickers to cover Darth over the summer|
I got totally inspired to write this post looking at all the great non-CSLP/iRead SLP reading/activity logs that people shared on alscl listserv recently. Microsoft Office and free fonts have made it possible for every children's staffer at any library without a designer on staff (that's like 99% of us!) to become a visionary planner and SLP materials design DIYer. It sure helped us!
We love the CSLP superheroes theme and found it easy to design our unique activity cards. Again this year, there are no weekly prizes - only a final book prize for kids who finish four weekly game cards. We are doubling down on our going prizeless/weekly card mojo by wholeheartedly adding in our preschoolers. Brooke breaks down the new preschool program she designed here.
For the school-agers, we loved how we morphed our long-time "experiential-SLP" model (developed over fifteen years ago at my previous library with my smart school collaborator/colleagues) into game cards and we're sticking to it! Our new additions this year included, at the request of our nearby Salvation Army, a square where kids may choose to donate food for other kids as well as other heroic themes hatched out of the mind of Bryce.
To play on the superhero theme, we purchased a large and a couple of small Fathead Spiderman pix. We will cover these with post-it notes, hiding the character from the kids. Each day, staff will remove a post-it and slowly uncover our superhero!
As always, other than a few superhero posters and super hero word balloons here and there, we plan to have kids use Crayola window crayons to be our main decorators on windows during a regularly scheduled program which really brightens up the place. We'll soft launch a few days before the public schools end to help us stretch out registration sanely.
We feel heroically ready for a great summer. How about you?
Like most of you, we look closely at our collections, their arrangement and their kid-friendliness. We successfully morphed our Picture Book collection into Picture Book City "neighborhoods" and stopped fighting board books and made them 100% browseable in easy-to-access bins - both great "accessibility" decisions.
Since Alan, our new head of Collection Management (CM), started two years ago - and we changed our ILS - these types of changes have been far easier. Why? He has two kids and he really "gets" youth services. He knows how challenging big collections are for children seeking information and favorite books. The Dewey Decimal and multiple fiction collections with strange letters and symbols sitting atop author's last names and so.many.books.everywhere. can make a library visit overwhelming.
Our newest collection update was something that Al suggested as soon as he started working here. "Why," he mused, "don't you just color code the spine labels for your different fiction collections (early readers, graphic novels, chapter books, illustrated fiction)?" Why indeed. This coincided with an observation I made when I had first started. Since our catalog clearly spells out what particular fiction collection a book is located in (thank you automation), why do we need to even have a suffix (+, P, E, jgn or jif) as part of the call number in the catalog? We could save cataloging time by simply going suffix-less in the call number field.
Then, like peanut butter and chocolate running into each other and producing a peanut butter cup, we realized that if we took our two ideas (colored labels and no call number suffix on both books and in the catalog) we would save a ton of processing time and reach a hoped for goal- easy kids access. Al's idea sparked us!
We designated unique colors for each of our fiction collections - and while we were at it divided out our chapter book collection into tween and chapter books: early readers = pink; jgn = red; illustrated fiction = purple; chapter = green; tween =orange. Then we simply added the appropriately colored overlays to our existing collections and did global changes to wipe out the suffixes in the catalog's call number field (there's that slick new ILS!). All new books come down from CM without a suffix ((E, +, jgn, jif) - the spine label simply has the first three letters of the author's last name or main entry. YS staff quickly determines which fiction collection each belongs in, puts on a colored overlay and batch updates the catalog.
|Colored overlays show what collection books belong to. Top three books display sleek new suffix-less labels!|
- Kids (and shelvers!) more easily can spot the types of books they are looking for.
- The colored collections make a quick shorthand way for desk staffers to direct kids to books ("Let's find that in the red section where graphic novels are.") ,
- Our Collection Management catalogers and processors no longer have to agonize over exactly which collection a book fits in or do small batch processing to cope with the differences between fiction collection labels.
- If we think a book would be better in a different collection, we simply make a quick change in overlays and a catalog update.
- The overlays themselves - which we have used on other collections around the library - are long lasting but still peel-offable if we want to do a reclass of individual books.
|Left: Illustrated fiction (purple labels). Right: Graphic Novels|
I think simplifying Dewey numbers may be next!
While programming isn't all we do, it is certainly the most public and often the most pressured thing we do (from preparation to conflicting demands). Today we look at strategies to program smarter and more effectively; the importance of balance and how to fairly meet the many needs of our public - and our funders. Creating a zen balance between service to all ages, finding time to recharge and plan, learning to get off the hamster wheel of constant programming and program shares were just some of what we explored.
Here are the workshop resources that were shared with my colleagues:
Today's Workshop Pinterest board
Let 1000 Books Bloom Pinterest board
Basic Resources how-to post for 1000 Books
Pixabay (free images)
Struckmeyer, Amanda Moss. DIY Programming and Book Displays: How to Stretch Your Programming without Stretching Your Budget and Staff. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.
A *Few * Favorite Programming Blogs:
Jbrary (great resource list of blogs to explore!)
Mel’s Desk (great resource list of blogs to explore!)Kids Library Program Mojo (for a full list of fantastic program idea blogs AND great program idea posts- this is the class crowd-sourced blog from our spring CE course and has a ton of ideas from students!)
You can start with the ongoing online chapter-by-chapter publication of Young Children, New Media and Libraries in Little elit, and reading this blog for ideas on using ipads in programming, seminal thoughts on librarians as media mentors and much more.
You can attend these nifty LITA (Library Information and Technology Association of ALA) webinars Technology and Youth Services Programs: Early Literacy Apps and More in May with Claire Moore of Darien CT Library followed the next week by After Hours: Circulating Technology to Improve Kids Access with Megan Egbert from Meridian Library District (go LITA! Go Youth services colleagues!)
You can stay updated on libraries that have been using ipads in-house at blogs like Reading with Red.
And now we're thinking about the nifty and new to the market Launchpads.
There's a world of things to discover! Let's do this!!
It has been an amazing 39 years in the field. I was a hungry young thing in 1976 trying to land a MLIS-level job. Those darn "greatest generation" librarians were NOT retiring to make room for us clever boomers (do I hear an echo in present day grumpiness?). I took a parapro job right here in River City -aka La Crosse - got promoted and promoted again to be a manager and off I went in my career.
Over the years, I was hired two more times at this library (a whole third of my career has been here) and have been thankful each time. Why? Because this is a library where innovation can happen, challenges can be met and problems solved.
We're a three college, two large medical centers community with an emphasis on great cultural/art events, a great night life as well as incredible outdoor opportunities five minutes in any direction. La Crosse combines a small town/big city ambiance - a great family place as well as a place of struggle and poverty. Service for the kids, teens and families can expand a million ways from where we are today.
If you thrive on challenge, problem solving, and making blue sky dreams of great service a reality - this is the place to make things happen. While we have the same struggles as many libraries with budgets, perceptions of the library, changing times and community needs, it is the readiness to go in new directions that helps us stay strong and vital. There is strong support for youth services both in the library and in the community. With two branch libraries in addition to the Main Library, opportunities abound to plunge hands into the guts of youth work to build always better models of service to the community.
And best of all? An amazing team of youth staffers who move earth and stars to give great service to patrons. Innovative, passionate and fearless, this group of people makes it a joy to come to work. Combine that with a solid and strong team of management peers who have a sharp eye for the future and the ability to laugh and back each other up and this is a place to make magic happen.
What are you waiting for? Come get this job! It closes May 22! Youth Services Manager La Crosse (WI) Public Library
Just within this month here in our state, we have had/are having three great statewide conferences that are perfect for public youth librarians to attend. One is with our library media peers in WEMTA; one with the WI Afterschool Association and one an early childhood conference full of great sessions. We made sure we could get a staffer to each.
Attending conferences outside the library world opens us up to new experiences, new ideas, new colleagues and new ways to approach our work. It's a great way to fill up our toolboxes and give even better service to our communities!
What are your favorite "out-of-the-library" box conferences (national or local)? I'd love to hear about them!
I've been thinking alot about the pressure we put on ourselves in our youth library world. We want to be good at our job and for our community but there is also a whole world out there in the profession that sings a siren song of opportunity and over-commitment. Striking a work balance, a professional balance and a personal balance is hard because of All.The Things. that call and call and call.
Two recent blog posts brought this into particular focus. The first was this one at House at Katie's Corner. Katie talks about those many things that pulled at her and drove her to exhaustion. In the end, she reminds herself why she is a librarian : "It’s not to have the best blog or the latest gadget or the best-written article in [although these things are fabulous]. I’m really doing my job to serve my people, my community, my kids. And if I focus so much on myself and how I stack up next to others, I’m not going to do the best job for
We have long been offering continuing education opportunities on a monthly basis for our day care providers. Because we are registered instructors, providers who take our free hour-long classes are able to gain credits for continued certification in our state's certification program. Libraries place such importance on early literacy that it makes sense to give providers the knowledge and encouragement to do just that through these workshops!
We recently did a workshop demonstrating how to create story extension activities using a book and one's own imagination. Activities that extend a story help children play with characters, plots and situations in the just-read book and more firmly embrace and enjoy the story and the concepts inside it. These extensions can be craft-based; sensory-based; pretend-play exploratory; art-based and more. The point is finding the kernel(s) of the book and extend them into the activity. Since we wanted to explore this in a simple fun way, what better books than Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie (aka E&P in this post!) series to do the job?
Here's how it went down:
I read There's a Bird on My Head and demonstrated a fun nest hat the children could make. This was followed with I Will Surprise My Friend and a demonstration on how paper bag E&P puppets could help kids understand the situation of the rock hiding the characters (you can find the extensions used in this post).
Providers then picked a Willems' E&P book, and were given 10-12 minutes to read it and either working as a team or alone, come up with an idea for an extension idea or two that might work. The crowd was enthusiastic and came up with some great ideas. Here's a few they shared when we re-gathered and book-talked their selection and made their suggestions. Look what great stuff they came up with in just a few minutes:
Watch Me Throw the Ball - have the kids toss a ball and comment on all the different ways they throw (best throw to the left; highest; softest; kindest to the ball; best ball that went to the left; etc. Important to focus not on far the ball is thrown but how fun throwing the ball, no matter the result is!)
I Broke My Trunk - using paper towel rolls, let kids hold them to their noses. Talk about what might break their nose. Let the kids wrap their broken noses in toilet paper as a bandage.
Elephants Cannot Dance - have kids practice the dance moves Elephant does. Then ask them to try a new dance move (depending on the group, they may come up with plenty of their own). Add music and have a dance party!
Let's Go For a Drive - let kids pack and unpack a suitcase with clothes. Show them maps. Make a map of a walk around the block and walk with the kids showing them how a map works. Let the kids draw a map. Ask kids what they want to pack for a trip to the store; to the woods; to the beach; to a very cold place with snow.
My New Friend is So Fun! - Have kids draw a picture of their favorite friend.
I'm a Frog - have kids pretend to be frogs and cows. Ask them what other animals they would like to pretend to be. Use pictures of real animals to extend the idea.
Many of the providers had never heard of these books and realized that an early reader could work great with the kids in their care. It also stimulated alot of conversation of other books they love to use with the kids and how they could use the story extension concept to enhance the kids' enjoyment. Mission accomplished!
Our guest today is Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser, a colleague at LPL who joined our team last August. Kelsey is a thoughtful, let's-work-on-this-together visionary who is active on the Friends of the CCBC board and in library work. Before she joined us here she worked in a library in a small community (pop. 5000) in WI. In this post she shares thoughts about the path to change in your SLP based on a workshop she did for librarians in our system.
What comes to your mind when you think about SLP? Yes, it’s fun and exciting, but it’s also a busy time of year, and sometimes stressful – for you, for other library staff, and sometimes even for patrons. While SLP maybe never be a smooth, stress-free zone, we can do a lot to make it easier on ourselves and everyone around us.
Let’s start by considering what we’re really trying to achieve - what YOU are really trying to achieve at your library. Promoting reading during the summer, of course. But what do you aspire to when it comes to your own SLP? Spreading the word about the importance of early literacy, and getting parents with babies to participate? Showing middle-grade readers that books can be funny and interesting? Just getting more people in the door? Being thoughtful about what YOU want to do with YOUR SLP will give you purpose, common staff goals, and direction. The Harwood Institute, currently partnering with ALA on the Libraries Transforming Communities initiative, has a great worksheet on thinking about aspirations. Though the worksheet has a broader community focus, it can easily be adjusted to focus on SLP.
Another important step is to simplify. Do we really need so many sheets and rules and procedures when it comes to participation? Do we really need so many prizes and incentives to get kids to read? Or can we come up with ways to keep SLP fun and fresh and literacy-focused without jumping through so many hoops? Last summer, at my previous library, we spent a lot of time thinking about how to make SLP work better for patrons and more sustainable for ourselves. We simplified procedures, reduced unnecessary elements, and cut way back on incentives. The results were that kids continued their enthusiastic participation, parents were happy to have less plastic junk, and staff had a much easier time registering participants, explaining the program, and answering questions. Streamlining made everyone happy. Making things less complicated doesn’t mean we’re taking it easy or letting our patrons down. It means we’re being realistic about what we can accomplish, and being thoughtful about sustainable practices.
Finally, let’s talk about prizes. Lots of libraries use them, and that’s okay. There is no prize-shaming here. But are there better ways for us to use incentives when it comes to SLP? I’ve recently noticed several libraries changing the way they incentivize SLP, with fantastic results. Some are thinking about ways they can incorporate altruism, with the “prize” being a Friends-funded donation to a community organization of the child’s choice. Some are giving away books as an incentive. Some are doing away with prizes altogether, focusing on recognition and activity. This past summer in La Crosse, kids could add a sticker to help cover a paper robot on the wall. Research shows that extrinsic motivation, which is the drive to do something because of an external reward, is far less effective than intrinsic motivation, which drives us to do something because we love it. Prizes tap into extrinsic motivation, and while that’s not bad, I believe we can find more effective ways to get kids engaged in literacy. Ways that remind them reading is a fantastic experience in itself.
Shaking Up SLP - Facing Down Fear
Shaking Up SLP - Questions
Shaking Up SLP - Research-iness
Shaking Up SLP - Workshop Power
But I have to say the one that is perhaps the dearest to my heart and present in the very most successful youth librarians (and really anyone who works with kids) may be the simplest and the one most taken for granted - translating adult concepts into readily understandable language that kids "get" immediately.
I'm not referring here to using baby-talk or talking down to kids in a patronizing way. Rather it's a way of reaching out to kids and thinking hard about how they see the world and matching our words to their understanding.
It's easy when we get into any occupation, hobby group or organization, to quickly become submerged into the jargon associated with that activity. I mean it's just the shorthand used with those we are in close contact with so we can zip through what we're doing. I would for-instance ALA's many unit acronyms that, while they scare some librarians, are really a quick way to communicate.
I applaud youth librarians who come up with great ways to let kids know how our library works or to introduce a concept. Here are a few samples from our shop.
How This Whole Library Thing Works:
During field trips, we ask the kids who the books belong to (the librarians? Nooooooo; the library? Noooooo; You? YESSSSS!!!!) The books belong to and are shared by all the kids and grownups in the community! Then we tell them the library is like a house that the books live in. But books love to visit with kids at their house. With a library card, children can take home materials for a nice visit. And, just like a visit from a friend (we all know that visiting friends don't stay forever), the books have to return home to the library after a few weeks so they can visit with other children.
Old Maps = Google Earth?
During a tour of our amazing archives with middle schoolers, our archivist was showing the kids a huge old map book used for fire insurance purposes. Peeking over her shoulder, it struck me how to make the experience connect for the kids. Our archivist facebooked: "Shout out to my colleague Marge Loch-Wouters - when I was showing groups of 7th graders a Sanborn Fire Insurance map, Marge summed it up by saying 'This map is like an ancient Google Earth image.' Nailed it!"
The Animals Made Us Do It
When we closed off a running/jumping/general amok portion of our big boat, the preschoolers were a bit taken aback. But our colleague Brooke came up with a great way to navigate them through the change. She shared with the team: "I’ve started calling it our animal boat. Because all of our animals decided they needed a place to live, so they picked the boat. The other side is our “people boat”. If they say they want to go up to the giraffe I just ask, 'Are you an animal? No, you’re a person, silly!' "
How to Say It So Kids Listen/Understand
In her "Management with an Iron Fist" series and soon to be taught CE course and day-to-day work, colleague Bryce breaks down how to communicate in a way that kids can easily understand and get the behavior you expect. These now classic posts break it down.
What do you say to help kids understand how and why the library works that translates into real-kid-world understanding?