Youth Services Position Open in Wisconsin's Beautiful Driftless Area

Are you looking for a challenging job working with a great team of people who aren't afraid to push the envelope to evolve service, programs, initiatives, collections and efforts to fit the community? Here it is!

You get to work in the La Crosse area, famous for its exceptional natural beauty. The city (metropolitan population 126,838 based on the 2010 census) is located on the east bank of the Mississippi River below towering bluffs. Abundant water and woodlands provide year-round recreation sites for hiking, biking, skiing, hunting, camping, and other outdoor activities. La Crosse is also home to two universities, a technical college, a symphony orchestra, excellent theatrical and cultural events, and superb health care facilities. The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is a major flyway for migratory birds and boasts the longest river refuge in the continental United States.

Oh and we can meet for lunch anytime! Throw that hat in the ring!

Brief Job Description:
Do you have your dream job? You could! If you're eager for a challenge, and welcome the opportunity to network within the community to create amazing results, love collaboration and trying new ideas, and are fearless in your approach to great service using tech and non-tech means, you may be who we are looking for. 
We seek a motivated, dynamic person to join our youth services team in beautiful La Crosse, Wisconsin - someone who loves to work with infants, toddlers and children of all ages—along with their families and caregivers; has outstanding customer service skills; is outgoing with a great sense of humor and flexibility and who has the ability to sell the library and literacy to everyone in our community. 
Strong skills in early literacy programming specifically but also programs, outreach and services for infants through teens, excellent collection development skills, and a finger on the pulse of innovative youth services, are key as is the ability to take things from big vision to real life implementation. 
The ideal candidate for this full-time position will have an MLS and at least two years experience working in public library youth services or the equivalent in education and experience.  In return, you will have the opportunity to work with a star team of professionals, receive an excellent benefit package, be in a strong professional development environment and transform traditional library services.  Salary starting at $50,900.
Electronic submissions only; interested applicants can submit a resume with references and cover letter to Youth Services Manager Dawn Wacek. Preference to applications received by March 8, 2018.  Position will remain open until filled.


For Director's Ears Only - Supporting Youth Services Webinar

For many years, in hallway conversations, across meals and anywhere youth services staff gather, we have shared tales and instances in which our library co-workers have been less than...shall we say...supportive?

We all know the stories. Sometimes it is treating youth staffers as if we are children; sometimes a cluelessness about how programming is more than 30 minutes of face-to-face time (Oh the planning! Oh the prep! Oh the cleanup! Oh the energy of presenting! Oh the humanity!); sometimes the sheer inequality of disparate pay and task expectations.

It seems to me we need to get out the echo chamber of talking among ourselves. We know what we do, the value of our services and expertise and the need for equity with our peers in adult services.

Now we need to step up to leadership and advocacy by bringing the conversation to our directors, managers and administration. We need to help them understand what we know.

In that spirit, I will be presenting a free webinar for directors on Tuesday February 27 at noon CST through UW-Madison iSchool. Thanks to the generosity of peers in Wisconsin who shared their stories and Storytime Undergrounders from throughout the country who shared their thoughts, directors will have some great food for thought. I hope you encourage folks in your administration to spend an hour getting more in-depth on how everyone in the library can support youth services.


Libraries Are Like Snowflakes....

...no two are alike!

I've been reflecting alot on this lately. Of course, winter gets me into "the -wonder-of-snowflakes"  territory.

But really, anyone who works in libraries - for a system (county-wide, regional or state-wide); for a multi-branch system; in stand-alone libraries in neighboring municipalities dotted one after another in large urban areas or far-flung neighbors in rural counties - gets this true uniqueness of each library and branch.

We all share the core values of librarianship. We all work to improve the way we serve our communities through working through standards developed for youth work like the ALSC and YALSA competencies. We network like maniacs.

But still and all, each library and each different staffer in a continuing round of leavings and hirings; changing demographics and adaptation to opportunities bring unique talents, education, perspectives, ideas, talents and skills to the table. New wrinkles; successes from past jobs; new adaptations; realignments; tweaks and new directions based on each community and neighborhood served.

It gives me a constant frisson of delight to walk into every library - and re-visit and re-visit  - to see all the changes, innovations and amazing inventions that are an ever-evolving part of each library's landscape. It's people, it's learning, it's snowflakery!

One of my favorite return trips involve visits to libraries where I have worked - whether as a line staffer or manager. I love what gets brought to the table. New staff and managers bring  new approaches and expand services in new directions - seemingly un-thought of but all perfectly and deliciously unique and evolutionary.

Old YS Department arrangement - preschool area
Older kids area in back of room

Ranganathan's Fifth Law: The Library is a growing organism.

The preschoolers....
...get the protected area by far end of the room.
The other day I was delighted to see the youth area at my old stomping grounds flipped. The preschool area is nestled far from the exit in a more protected area to prevent toddler run-aways from making their escape easily outside and into the insanely busy parking lot. The older kids get first dibs at the entrance with internet computers, a whiteboard (with kids invited to name their space; my favorite was "Sweat Net") and the info book collection.

The older kids get the entrance
It is this variety in the midst of all our shared values and networking online and in person that strengthens my pride in and belief that library staffers will continue to problem solve, tweak, adapt, explore, discover and push - uniquely and with an always new eye - the envelope in each of their own situations. 

It's what makes us nimble. It's what makes us strong. It's what makes each and every one of us and each and every one of our libraries so like much like a snowflake - something to be be appreciated for its individuality and celebrated collectively.


May I Please? - Getting Permission

Pixabay Image
I do a boatload of presentations - webinars, conference sessions, workshops, classes. And for many of these I do a boatload of slide decks and a boatload of citations.

One of the biggest challenges is finding and correctly attributing images and articles. It's a challenge that I enjoy because of that fabulous intellectual property and copyright training we library folks undertake in our learning in school or on the job.

My first serious wake-up and commitment came in the early '80s when a library colleague and I started a kids radio show on our local public radio station. Ear Tickler's focused on kid friendly music and reading stories to kids. The station had music licenses so we were golden for all the CDs we played.

The books were another story. In order to get permission, we needed to send out a request (via a handy form the station provided) to the publisher for every book we wanted to read. We needed permission for free use or an "under $10" fee (no budget blues). For every 3-4 books we read on air, we averaged 20 requests. Permission was either flatly denied or so exorbitantly expensive, it was simply out of our league. But everything with permission that we read was free and clear and we never looked over our shoulder in the years we ran the show.

I recently thought of this during a cantankerous search.  I usually can find anything I need on my favorite go-to site: Pixabay and attribute anything I use. But I really struggled with this particular search. Then I saw an photo on Google Images that was perfect. I drilled down to the origin; located the blog and wrote for permission. In the note, I briefly listed the presentation, linked to the presentation site and indicated the photo would be attributed to both the theater and the actor and play that the image was of.

Boom, within a day I had the permission.

Over the years, there are other types of fair use that I have worked with to get images. A book's cover is not copyrighted. Rather it is part of it's "marketing." So I can use a cover in my presentations free and clear. Other times, when the image is copyrighted or part of a photo or illustration service (think Shutterstock) I check to see if that oh-so-perfect image is affordable and pay a small fee to download and have legal rights to.

In the era of Pinterest, when images flow often without attribution, taking the extra time to make sure our images are fairly used and attributed is a great way to support creativity, intellectual property and to support artists. What have you found helpful in your thinking on this?


"It's Not Just the Facts Ma'am" Prezi- WA Lib Association

No really, I didn't get lost.

I had a presentation accepted at the Washington Library Association and so made my way to lovely Tacoma. It is wonderful to be able to observe another state's association conference especially with my 2018 WI Library Association Prez year on the horizon. I am learning lots. Bonus? Seeing Kendra Jones receive a fabulous WLA honor. Hurray Kendra.

My prezi was on enhancing your youth information collection. Here is the link to the prezi with all the info!!


The Power of Youth People in Associations!

We are just wrapping up our WI fall library conference. Our Youth Services Section board and volunteers (the street team) is always a vibrant, supportive, welcoming presence.  They not only promote and provide interesting program content, but also social opportunities for any youth folks who attend and games and activities to engage youth folks at their booth in the exhibits.

This year they played a secret game that I found out last night was called "I Saw Marge". Attendees got a small picture of me and needed to secretly take a picture of me (and themselves) displaying the little picture - all unbeknownst to me. I was spending most of my time shadowing our current association prez and working with my 2018 conference chair to begin plans for next year's conference when I'm prez. And chatting of course.
Typical stealth photo with a clueless me

A bunch of my 772 students spoofing the prof ("We want a pix with you!")
When all was revealed at the YSS social and R-Rated storytime last night, it was both a hilarious and touching moment. To me, it represented one of the quintessential reasons why associations (especially state associations) are so important: they bring like-minded library advocates together in real time to meet, develop friendships and move librarianship forward. And in Wisconsin, a vibrant Youth Services Section does just that.

I would never have run for president of WLA without the nurturing, support, wisdom, leadership opportunities, networking, brainstorming power of YSS and my YSS colleagues. They have problem-solved, promoted, created meaningful and fun opportunities to participate for youth folks from every size library. My work on the YSS board, as YSS chair, as a volunteer taught me a ton and made everyone I ran into a valued friend and colleague. It launched me into serving n assocaition wide committees and boards.

YSS is a vibrant part of the association. They regularly nominate colleagues as the Librarian of the Year. Just in the last 7 years, 4 youth librarians have received this association-wide honor (hurray Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Elizabeth Timmins, and this year's winner Leah Langby) out of a total of 12 youth librarians who received the honor since its inception in 1956. 

YSS gives members opportunity not just to learn but to provide content of the learning.  YSS hosts state-wide webinars (co-sponsored by systems who provide the platform) to feature the expertise of members; writing for our blog YSS Shout-Out; involving them in sharing program content in the Early Literacy Calendar, 52 Weeks of YA Programming and soon to be published 12 Months of Coding Programs. 

And YSS is recognized as a vibrant and integral part of the larger Association. Our WLA exec director and finance director attended our YSS business meeting yesterday and were blown away by the can-do problem solving around increasing membership of the association as a whole.

So I hope that in your own states, you step up and join your associations and create leadership magic, IRL networking and support for everyone in your state. I know it is expensive. Maybe you can cut out one eat-out meal a month or two barista-made coffees monthly to afford it. Maybe you can set aside $10-20/month in a savings account just for membership dues. Perhaps you can suggest a family member give you an assocation membership for a holiday or birthday. Better yet, talk with your board/administration and point out the REAL benefits that happen with association memberships (legislative lobbying power; learning; leadership; a chance to share and gain expertise) and seek their support.

Associations need the mightiness of youth services folks. Together, we ARE stronger!


2019 Power Up Youth Leadership Conference is ON!!

Great news, peeps! The uber amazing Power Up: A Leadership Conference for Youth Managers and Staff will be back. Mark your calendars for March 28-29, 2019 and join us at the beautiful Pyle Conference Center right on the UW-Madison campus for all things youth library staff and leadership.

Watch for requests for conference proposals to be out in early 2018 and registration to open in early fall 2018!


Happy 10th Birthday to Tiny Tips!

Happy 10th birthday to the blog. It's always a surprise to think it's been around, albeit vaguely lately, for such a long time. It has connected me to you, and for that I am forever grateful.

During all those years, I've been so excited to see the growth of blogs about creating innovative youth services join in the conversation.

Again this year, I can't promise more regular posting but like a comfortable old pair of shoes, I think Tiny Tips has a few miles left to go yet!

Thanks, dear readers, for your support!


1000 Books Before K Resuscitation

After reading Jenni's recent post at From the Biblio Files on re-launching her library's 1000 Books B4 K program, it got me thinking - what are keys to continuing success in a long-term program? How can we keep it fresh?

From my observations and listening on my consulting travels and in my CE teaching, I have gathered a few clues particularly about 1000 Books programs.

Do Ongoing Promotion 
Long-term programs need far more continual marketing.
- Work through schools, preschools and child care centers to get the word out at parent nights, through newsletters, at preschool and kindergarten screenings and registration, in pediatric clinics at baby "showers" or preschool fairs and celebrations.
- Present at service organizations to keep the word circulating in the community.
- Meet with your United Way, Literacy and Reading councils, communities of practice and any other professional organization and promote the benefits of parents and kids reading together and library use.
- Do annual press releases and send annual short-reports to your elected officials, board and to your library networks.

Do Specific Active Programs to Support This Passive Program
- Hold annual "graduation" parties for participants.
-Open the library before or after hours for 30 minutes and invite parents and kids to spend time reading together. Consider serving a snack, having a costume character come by or another short activity to get them excited.
-Hold an annual celebration with a performer or concert to celebrate the number of total books read and visits made to the library (every 100 level sheet bookmark equals 100 books and one visit to the library). Before you know it, you have some powerful stats to share!)

Don't Let the Materials Get Tired
Jenni hits the nail on the head with her changes. Restructure your theme; restructure your 100 level sheets to make them easier; restructure your incentives. A good hard look can suggest ways to make the program less cumbersome and more inviting.

Change Your Visuals
Consider updating your wall or door display that charts kids' progress. Make it bright and interactive like Knutson (Coon Valley WI) Memorial Library. They purchased pre-made material and added little kid craft stick people that kids could move up the chart. A little play literacy goes a long way!

Don't stay stuck on your theme. La Crosse Public Library changed from flowers to trucks for their wall progress chart and use zoomed up again!
Change out your poster and handout designs often. When people see the same thing repeatedly, they stop "seeing" it.

What are YOUR go-to methods to keep your long-standing programs fresh?

Note: For more information on 1000 Books programs , research to use, how to set them up, where they started, etc, stop here.




I have been fortunate over the past few years to be able to morph from FT children's librarian/manager to retiree to consultant and educator. I really meant to just do a little of this and that after retirement but found my ability to say no has apparently deserted me.

This fall my yes's led to my second year of YS consulting for the 28 member library Southwest (WI) Library system; commuting to UW-Madison iSchool to teach the on-campus grad class on Public Library Youth Services; an 8 week CE class on the basics of youth services and a brand new, albeit temporary, gig as YS consultant for my old home system, the 32 member Winding Rivers Library System, while they search for a full-time replacement for the former consultant. I added to that attendance and presenting at the MN, WI and WA state library conferences, a stray webinar or two. Jeez.

All that was planned and booked long before what became an emotionally wrenching summer that made preparing much of anything impossible from May-August. So understandably I hit September and all the commitments for the next few months feeling like this:

The good news, though, is that all the project management skills and comfort and meditation skills I learned over the years helped calm the madness, get some clarity on planning and prioritizing, do some comforting and heart-self-healing and made it possible to enter fall feeling like things weren't spiraling out of control. I am filling up my time with things I love: family, friends, teaching, consulting and spending time outdoors.

Which brings me to one of the things that I love the most and makes me feel the most hopeful, the most excited, the most astounded and the most thankful that I get to be part of this great big thing called librarianship....road trips to libraries!!

My new four month consulting job requires me to travel to all 32 libraries (plus 7 branches) before Dec. 31. This means I get to travel to a wide range of libraries, primarily in small and rural communities, and talk to a wide range of staffers who work with children and teens. I get to hear how they run their library good. I also get to put my head together with theirs to listen to and talk out problems and issues and sing their praises. It's pretty sweet.

Today was the first day of many library trips. It was crispy cool, sunny and bright, and I traveled up and down the hills and valleys of the driftless region drinking in the views of fall colors, farms, vistas, small towns, rivers and at the end of each leg of the journey a warm welcome from library colleagues and a chance to dig into the guts of librarianship. I think that makes a perfect day.

As busy or as hard as life gets, it's this stuff that keeps me going. And I can't wait for the next stop.


Registration Discount for Youth Services 101 Course

August 27 is the registration deadline for a 10% early bird discount for the YS 101 continuing education course I am teaching for UW-Madison iSchool.

The 8-week course starts Sept 11.

It's a "basics" course perfect for library para-pros, volunteers, directors who want to know more about the ins and outs of administering youth services staff, staff at small libraries who do ALL.THE.THINGS. and anyone who wants to get an overall view of youth services. This post has a few more details.

Please feel free to share the info. And see you all in school this fall!


Mission to Mentor

ALSC is looking for mentors. Can you help?

Lots of us mentor colleagues and peers everyday. We share and learn from people in the library to people in neighboring libraries and systems to state association colleagues to our networks on social media (Twitter, Facebook blogs) to our cohort from school or workshops or learning opportunities.

People who are mentored have a leg up in dealing with the picayune and the profound.

People who mentor are willing to share their thoughts and networks to help peers - and gain more knowledge and skills from their proteges.

What does it take to be a mentor?  A desire to share and support; encourage and listen; learn and explore.  We can all be mentors.

You don't have to be a decades-long employed librarian to be a mentor.

You don't have to know ALL.THE.THINGS. to be a mentor.

You don't have to have started a thing or achieved a thing or be involved in a thing to be a mentor.

As Nina Lindsay, ALSC President writes,  "Mentors need not be experts. A good mentor has experience, a grounding in standards and trends, a willingness to share and an eagerness to learn.  I have found mentoring to be much more rewarding than I ever anticipated, and I have learned much from my mentees."

If you would like to be a mentor, please consider stepping up to be one for ALSC. Over 30 people have applied to have a mentor - and there is still a need for mentors to match them with. You can apply by Sept 1 to be a mentor (more details and application here)

Youth services folks are effective because of our networking and support of each other. This is an opportunity to make a difference. Hope you will!


Back to School!

I'm excited to be teaching a fall online UW-Madison SLIS/iSchool CE class that has been a long-time dream - Youth Services 101. It's an eight weeks "basics" course perfect for library para-pros, volunteers, directors who want to know more about the ins and outs of administering youth services staff, staff at small libraries who do ALL.THE.THINGS. and anyone who wants to get an overall view of youth services.

Pixabay image
From the beginnings of youth services through looking at future trends, we'll examine the how's and why's that make youth services great. Topics include: child development info; programming mightiness; collection development skill-building; planning and visioning; advocacy; partnerships and communities of practice, success with difficult patrons; and creating kid-friendly environments. No textbooks needed for this wild ride into the guts of great youth librarian-ing!

Registration is now open (with a 10% discount if registered by August 27).

And if you've got the basics down, don't forget to check out the other great library and youth courses
Fostering Inclusivity; Creating Top Notch Customer Services; Programming for Tweens; The Disability Community in Your Library; and Creating a Coding Club at the Library.

A huge thanks to the University of Wisconsin Madison SLIS/iSchool CE department for supporting great CE for library staff at all levels and in all types of libraries!

Come on! Let's learn together!!


Saying Yes

In our Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association, the board is currently reaching out to association youth folks to consider running for board positions (vice-president elect and directors).

Some folks contacted say yes; some say no - or indicate they are no longer members.

I want to send out a call for all of us to consider putting in some time and support for our state (and national) library associations both as dues-paying members and as active participants.

I will say here to you what I have said personally to countless colleagues around our state to encourage them to step up and out into association membership and work.

As youth librarians, library associations need our voice.

As youth librarians, they need our leadership.

As youth librarians, they need our advocacy skills.

As youth librarians, they need our innovative ideas and flexibility.

As youth librarians, they need our compassion and our passion.

As youth librarians, they need our skill sets.

And what do we receive in turn from these associations?  Among many positives, I would include the opportunity to:

  • strengthen our leadership skills
  • grow our network of peers from outside the "youth services silo" to include colleague from all library types, ages and persuasions
  • effect change by plunging our hands into the guts of an organization
  • be organized for legislative action to protect library access, IF and our core mission and values
  • find common ground and lifelong collaborative partners and friends
What other more intangible benefits accrue with association membership?

As a hiring manager, those candidates (MLIS or not) who were association members always went to the top of the "resumes-considered" stack. Their membership told me they were open to a larger view of librarianship, valued networks and a willingness to pitch in on behalf of the profession rather than just their own interests.

Plus active association membership (working on committees, boards, conferences) offers a pathway to leadership that makes the leap into management easier. Again hiring managers recognize that the candidate brings more than just experience at their day job to the table.

Association members have a network of peers IRL and in real time to tap and don't just rely on co-workers for all their support. This "long-form" peer mentorship of people is invaluable.

Please, when you get the call, say yes and stand up for your association and great libraries in your state. You will have the support and fun of working with other young, mid-career and veteran leaders and a chance to help support libraries in more than just your community. 

And you will not be alone. Your association peers and mentors will help you every step of the way (and if they don't, YOU will become the peer and mentor to lift those who come behind you up to successful leadership).


It's Not "Just the Facts, Ma'am" - Celebrating Info Books

In a word of alternative facts, our information books (aka non-fiction; factual books) should be front and center in our celebration of literacy and reading with our kids. After last year on the Sibert committee, reading and being delighted by so much great NF, I'd be remiss not to encourage everyone to leave behind the bland series nonfiction books and dive into and purchase the great info books being published. Below are some tips I'm sharing on the road this week (the slide deck is linked at the end). A big thanks to the Great Brian at PUBYAC for their willingness to share their ideas. You all rock!

Major review journals, publishers catalogs, hands-on book looking are all ways to identify the amazing fact books coming out. If you have a small budget, wait for the end of the year "Best of" lists, CCBC Choices, and the award winners like ALSC's Sibert Award, the YALSA Excellence in NonFiction Award and the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award. Don't forget to check awards like Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpre, South Asia Book Awards, American Indian Children's Book Award and Americas Award to find more quality informational books.

Definitely weed but don't use the "informational books with a copyright older than five years should be tossed" rule - or mis-rule as the case may be. Quality children's information books are made to last. If you have a copy of Franklyn Branley's 1987 gem The Moon Seems to Change  or the D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths or Jean Fritz's Homecoming, you're still good to go. The information, the writing and the clarity are still as good as when these books were first published. Be selective in what you weed to make sure that you keep an interesting, eye-catching and browsable collection. By all means weed out material that is out of date - but do it book by book.

Dewey doesn't really do it for kids. If you can, consider combining kids information and fiction picture books together. Or if that's too radical, simplify Cutters to first letter of author's last name only. Or back to radical, consider truncating Dewey numbers and doing a little creative cuttering. Football can go from 796.332 to 796 F (for football!) or Wisconsin and Minnesota could change from 977.5 and 977.6 to 977 WI and 977 MN!

Consider putting poetry books with their subject area rather than hidden in 811. Who doesn't want a cat poetry book with their Abyssinian book? Ashley Bryan's new Freedom Over Me and Carol Boston Weatherford's Freedom in Congo Square would be amazing with other informational books on slavery in Amercan history. Why not put author biographies by their books. Melissa Sweet's Some Writer would be right at home by E.B. White's fiction. Consider breaking out easy NF or quality series NF (Let's Read and Find Out; Gail Gibbons; Scientists at Work; etc) into permanent display shelving to highlight them for kids

Don't be fiction-centric. Check with children about their interests and lead them over to those info books! Include information books in outreach collections and booktalks; in SLP book prizes or 1000 Books Before K book selections. Make sure these are your best quality books in high interest areas and kids will flock to them.

Include info books in storytimes and programs. In information-based, STEM and STEAM programs, the possibilities are endless in highlighting non-fiction. Passive programs that bring NF to the fore (scavenger hunts, pick-a-stick with NF numbers etc) are great ways to high;ight your robust info book collections.

More face-out and shelf top shelving
Try bundling 3-4 info books together on a similar subject with a rubber band
Do "Mystery Reads" or Blind Dates with a Book" and be sure to include NF
Make sure info books are part of all displays
Do create info book only displays, changing them out monthly or even weekly ("Fact of the Week")
Use social media or podcasting to do quick promotions of new cool info books
Tie in your info books to media trends (Pokemon characters can have books about their special interest - singing, electricity, fire - near their pictures).

Stop here to see the slidedeck with more pix and tips! And let me know YOUR tips and tricks to make your information book collection mighty!