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 By all means weed out material that is out of date - but do it book by book.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!


How Did You Get to Leadership?

The ALSC Emerging Leaders team is asking youth folks to fill in a brief survey to help them in studying the potential for new pathways to library leadership for youth and school librarians. Leadership for the survey is defined as the career roles of manager, director, supervisor, etc. The results of this along with other related research will be released in June by this busy team.

It's always interesting to reflect on how we get to the path we are on. While leadership can mean direct supervision of others, I have always found that too narrow a definition. In the halcyon days of my non-management early career, I channeled my leadership potential into getting active in professional associations (regional, state, and national). Those opportunities afforded me a powerful path not only to leadership but to a strong peer and mentor network that still sustains and supports me (and pulls me up short when I gallop off in a bizarre direction!).

One question that I enjoyed thinking about in the survey is whether, at this time, I had achieved the leadership/management position I wanted.

I was totally, YES!!  I now work as a part-time consultant and part-time educator, teaching both CE and grad courses for UW-Madison SLIS...all after retiring from an exciting, inventive, sometimes challenging full-time career as a front-line children's librarian/manager.

In my young-itude I dreamed off having a great career with kids and staff. Check!

I also dreamed working with others to make a difference in children's librarianship and my communities. Check!

As I got older, I dreamed of being a consultant and mentor - supporting and helping other libraries and getting the great gift of being able to learn in return. Check!

In my secret heart of hearts, I dreamed of teaching at a university grad level. I developed workshops, webinars and presentations but never believed I could have that opportunity - until the stars aligned and I thought of a CE course and pitched it. That first CE course birthed others and resulted in teaching at the graduate level in SLIS. Check!

It occurred to me that all those dreams were ones I actively turned my path towards and acted on. So what I dreamed and visioned came true - in small part because I walked a path towards them and in large part because I was supported and nurtured along the leadership paths by organizations and colleagues who believed in me.

Lots of people believe in YOU too! What paths will your leadership take? I can hardly wait to find out!


And the First Ever Power Up Conference is a Wrap!


Yep, that's how I feel about it! What a debut for a national conference addressing youth library leadership and management issues! From it's humble "Let's do this" in the summer of 2015 to its hatch last week, it was a magical process and result. As consultant to the conference I had an inside view and high hopes.

The aim was to have a national conference to support those both in - and aspiring to - library management/leadership. It was to have a conference with content given by and helpful to attendees and presenters from all sizes of libraries; a conference that would take us beyond "Library 101" sessions to content that stretched out all who came; and a conference that would appeal not just to in-state folks but to library staff across the country.

Thanks to our amazing UW-Madison SLIS CE conference leader Meredith Lowe for guiding and coordinating this conference every step of the way. She was the might behind the well-planned and executed event. And mighty as well - powering through despite being sick at the conference itself.

Thanks to our main speakers, Gretchen Caserotti and Deborah Taylor, who set the tone and inspired us throughout the conference. Thanks also go to the many speakers from all library sizes, from all age/experience groups and from teen and children's backgrounds who created sessions that rocked our socks off: Elizabeth McChesney, Bryan Wunar, Amy Commers, Lora Siebert, Leah Langby, Alea Perez, Katie Kiekhafer, Jenni Francham, Sharon Grover, K.T. Horning, Allison Tran, Jennifer Weeks, Amy Koester, Alicia Woodland, Krista Riggs, Shawn Brommer, Kevin King, Renee Wallace, Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser, Brooke Newberry, Lara Lakari, Erin Shaw, Lori Romero, Kristen Bodine, Mel Depper, Claudia Haines and Darrell Robertson. 

Thanks to the CCBC who hosted a delightful reception on Thursday evening so attendees could explore the legendary CCBC book examination center, chat and enjoy nibbles.

Thanks to UW-Madison SLIS who, in celebration of the Wisconsin Idea, offered ten full registration scholarships to WI library staff.

Thanks to the Pyle Center for a great venue - delightful food (ice cream at afternoon break!), top-notch AV and tech support, and space to make hallway networking connections a snap. The location on campus and near State St made social gatherings easy peasy.

Most importantly, thanks to all who attended. The energy was electric, the sharing sublime and it was a great opportunity to get to know new folks and say hi to old friends!

Don't be sad if you missed this first conference. You can get a taste of the conference on Twitter at #PowerUp17.  Abby the Librarian posted a list of books mentioned by speakers (truly "reading wildly!"). There will also be handouts and slidedecks shared on the main conference page in the next month or so,  so check back. 

The hope is that the conference will be offered again in the future (it would be a biennial event). So think spring 2019 and keep an eye out for a proposal call in early 2018.  


What Does IMLS Do for You?

I am over at the Wisconsin Library Association's Youth Services Shout-out blog today sharing links and action to take to save IMLS. Leah Langby writes an important reminder of the many state-wide and system-wide projects and initiatives that WI libraries have benefited from thanks to federal money through IMLS.

As always I am inspired by the work of my colleagues in WI and across the nation as we continue to take action on behalf of libraries and our communities.


Overcoming Project Management Obstacles - Perseverance

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The final part of this series, based on a workshop (Walls, Windows and Doors: Overcoming Obstacles in Project Management) I presented in Eau Claire and the crowd-sourced wisdom of the attendees, addresses perseverance in how we manage obstacles.

Sometimes projects stretch out longer than we expect or, if they are an unending part of our job, take on a feeling of drudgery. They also can undergo significant change in the process that appear to be obstacles. Looking for the doorways through can feel discouraging. But persevering to what can be  unexpected outcomes can often strengthen not only the team but the project.

Perseverance Strategies
  • Incorporate new information – stay current on the project but don’t be afraid to adjust as new info changes focus or as the project evolves
  • Be Patient - projects take time. You may need to adjust deadlines and timelines to adjust for real library life
  • Flexibility - be ready to change and adapt an idea to make it project stronger
  • Keep vision of outcome ahead of you to stay on track/inspired
  • Keep lines of communication open
  • Be sure to nurture yourself to avoid burn-out
  • Find others to build/maintain enthusiasm with you
  • Know your strengths/limitations
  • Be willing to allow “thinking stage” time to allow you to tackle parts of the project in a way that lets you work on those without swallowing the whole project.
  • Make a chart that shows progress of project
  • Consider narrowing focus to a smaller aspect to move project forward and make it more manageable
  • Believe in yourself AND those who you are working with to bring change about. Be convinced you CAN do it! It helps you be a good advocate.
  • Celebrate the success of each piece of the project and thank those who worked on the process 

Thanks for sharing the journey. Here are links to part one (process) and part two (personnel). And last but again not least,  huge thanks to the generous participants in the workshop who so kindly combined and shared their great ideas with us!


Overcoming Project Management Obstacles - Personnel

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This is the second in a series based on a workshop I recently presented on Project Management combined with the crowd-sourced input of the attendees who shared their strategies and wisdom.

The workshop was titled Walls, Windows and Doors: Overcoming Obstacles in Project Management. It is based on my belief that the most successful project leaders and managers, when confronted with a wall (obstacle) don't bang their heads against it and curse. Rather they look over it, around it, step off to the left or right until they find a window or door or a low point that let's them go forward. This going forward is simply another way of saying "problem solving".

Today, I'm sharing our crowd-sourced solutions that often happen around the "personnel" part of project management. People can be a project's greatest asset AND greatest liability. This includes not just a project team, but other staff members in the library and partner organization, stakeholders and the community. A reluctant partner, a prima donna on the team, a bully, a negative personality, an unbudgeable patron are just a few on the types of people who can impede project progress.

Personnel Strategies
  • Coach – work with more difficult team members/partners on ways they can play a more positive role. Kindness and respect are the operative words in coaching
  • Communicate – both listen and share in a way that keeps everyone informed and feeling like they are truly a stakeholder
  • Support – through leadership and empathy everyone on the team and in the partnership
  • Provide clear and careful vision and care of the project in your leadership
  • Examine our strong “No!”s to see if they are age-based or based on the facts
  • Strip away emotion from interaction in order to see what the facts are
  • Gut check- if you are losing sleep over an interaction, take action to remediate it
  • When working with a difficult person, be sure to listen to what s/he is saying
  • Look at an unhappy stakeholder as a “devil’s advocate” who can improve the overall project
  • Create a safe space to allow discussion to include difficult subjects or disagreements
  • Easy to get caught up in “loud voices”; seek out quieter people for their perspective and support them
  • Recommended reading/listening - Brene Brown – Rising Strong  - the power of vulnerability; learning to fail and get back up
Stop here for part three (perseverance) - and here again is the link to part one (process). A huge thanks to the wonderful participants in the workshop who so kindly combined and shared their great ideas with us!


Overcoming Project Management Obstacles - Process

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Whether we label what we do in youth services "project management" or not, it is actually, in essence, what we do.

On a day to day basis, we manage our seasonal programming offerings, our outreach, SLP,  collection development, displays, advocacy,  early literacy area, teen space, our school age areas, etc. We get from point A to point B with good planning, wise use of time (and staff time), careful consideration of desired outcomes, and reflection on how we are doing all along the way.

We also manage larger, more specialized projects that help us move our service to the community ahead and which we think of more traditionally as "projects." The project might be starting a 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, creating a makerspace for teens, creating a new service with a community partner, creating Picture book neighborhood, etc.

No matter the project, obstacles or seeming dead ends can crop up. How we problem solve and "manage" those obstacles often contributes to the ultimate overall success of any project - whether day-to-day or a special project. Good project management suggests that rather than cursing the obstacle or banging our heads into a wall, looking for different routes or doors or windows along the wall can suggest ways to solve the problem encountered.

In a recent Community Engagement Project follow-up workshop at the Indianhead Federated Library System in Eau Claire, the attendees and I created a roadmap of ways to more successfully navigate obstacles in project management. Today, I'm sharing our crowd-sourced solutions to obstacles that crop up in the "process" portion of project management.

Process Strategies
  • Make sure you have administrative/training support before you begin
  • Do the groundwork – do your research, know justifications and what’s behind project
  • Make sure everyone – from participants & partners to stakeholders -  know the goals
  • Consider doing a smaller prototype project first to see how it goes
  • Break your project into smaller, doable parts and work on them piece by piece
  • Prioritize each smaller section so you can see your progress
  • Delegate appropriately – don’t do it alone
  • Renegotiate with partners/stakeholders if necessary
  • Communicate and articulate project and outcomes clearly and make sure all stakeholders are in the loop (not just partners but staff, community as well)
  • Build ongoing advocacy into the project to keep everyone informed
  • Consistently re-examine and re-evaluate the project to stay on track
  • Consider delaying less integral parts or expanding timelines if the project runs into trouble
  • Be ready to bring in additional partners
  • Set firm deadlines if the project begins to stretch out
  • Attach your project goals to your annual professional goals to keep project in forefront
  • Balance competence/confidence with being willing to take advice
  • Reach out beyond original partners to involve other natural partners
Stop here for the parts two (personnel) and three (perseverance). A huge thanks to the wonderful participants in the workshop who so kindly combined and shared their great ideas with us!


I'm Not Kidding - I Am SO Over You, Fines

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Last week, I did a post on why we should put our shoulder to the wheel on eliminating fines in libraries.

This week, serendipitously, a discussion on the alsc-l listserv on increasing circulation of youth materials linked to an important study and white paper. Colorado's wunderkind, Carol Edwards, pointed readers to Removing Barriers to Access: Eliminating Library Fines and Fees on Children's Materials, written by meg DePriest, the result of an IMLS funded SPELL project grant that identified fines and fees for children as a major barrier to service for low-income families.

The clearly written and researched white paper can give all youth librarians the tools they need to push for fine/fee elimination with directors, administration and municipal funders.

Thanks to the Colorado State Library, IMLS and the SPELL advisory board for making this kind of support available not just to CO libraries but to all of us!


Buh-bye Barriers - Stop the Fines

I was struck by the recent Slate article on eliminating fines by Ruth Graham. In it, she not only gives a link-heavy overview of the history of library fines but also some solid data and anecdotal evidence of what happens when fines are eliminated. In general, as expected, revenues from fines go down. At the same time, costs for charge card machines can be eliminated. And access to the library as seen through circ and usage, go up.

Five years ago an ALA white paper on homelessness advocated eliminating fines and fees in order to provide access to libraries for poor.  I bet all of us have heard from teachers, parents, leaders in youth serving organizations - and our consciences - how fines are a true barrier to library use.

Isn't it time we truly open our doors to all our community - including those for whom fines and fees are a daunting barrier to use of our services, collections and programs? Let's truly show what libraries are.


The R/evolution of an SLP

Today, I presented a workshop for the CALL conference on literacy, a collaborative multi-type library event. The presentation was Breaking the Ice: Creating a Successful School/Public Library Winter Literacy Program

While the focus is on the successful years-long winter reading program collaboration, the broader picture is also on how that happy collaboration, begun in 2005, pushed our already evolving experiential SLP further into one that truly became a summer learning experience.

In 1992, in Menasha (WI) Library, we had already begun to morph our SLP from a simple print literacy celebration into one where experiencing the library was added. Kids who checked out books and attended programs could use those activities along with reading and listening to reach their goal.

As the years passed, we added donating food to our food pantry, doing acts of kindness and volunteering for others, and writing book reviews into the mix. We also experimented with kid-friendly formats and weekly cards rather than a summer-long reading log that brought kids in again and again over summer.

When we partnered with our schools in the winter of 2005, we truly discovered how to enfold multiple literacies into our SLP - writing, talking, playing, word games, adventures outside and more. By co-designing the program with our school colleagues, we discovered ways to make our summer library program into a summer learning program that received massive support from our schools. Win-win.

When I came across state to La Crosse, we revamped the library's SLP program to reflect that paradigm and kept growing the experience and the re-formatting of our weekly bookmarks into weekly game cards with more detailed suggested activities for kids to try. We added an early literacy SLP program and let that grow and change as well.

Each and every change brought us closer to creating a summer learning adventure that gave kids multiple pathways to experience the library and its many different literacies. It reminds me how small changes over a long arc of time culminate in an SLP that truly meets the changing needs of our communities.

To find out more, stop here for the slide deck of the presentation!


Tweens/Teens & Libraries - Search Institute's "Relationships First"

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The Search Institute has just published a brief 20 page report titled: Relationships First:Creating Connections that Help Young People Thrive. 

The report gives starting points for organizations and those working with youth to up their game in working with youth in a way that supports and deepen relationships that help youth capitalize on assets. It includes research results, information on growing developmental relationships with youth; promoting strong webs of relationships and ideas for deepening one-on-one relationships. The information is broken down for parents, teachers and youth program leaders (that's us!!)

The report is free to download for a limited time.


Seriously, Libraries ARE for Everyone

Colleague Rebecca McCorkindale, who blogs mightily at Hafuboti, and shakes things up from her home base in Nebraska, is doing some great graphic (and writing) work around diversity and inclusion.  Best of all, she generously shares with people.

Her current series is based on amazing graphics that expand on her original adaptations of the universal library symbol to bring attention to the many, many communities we serve. Here is one of the graphics:

Not only does she provide a beautiful inclusive vision, but she is publishing the graphics in multiple languages and inviting people to use her generously provided graphics to extend our library welcome in our communities. Besides the many languages she is also providing B&W graphics for those of us who need to watch our pennies and ink budgets! Take some time to browse all the great posts (including a n excellent recent series on really re-thinking holidays) and get to know her.  Stop by her blog, read all about it, SUBSCRIBE, and share.



Lake Superior Library Symposium is...Superior!

I'm stoked to see that LSLS is putting out their annual call for proposals for their amazing multi-state, multitype daylong library conference set for Friday June 9, 2017 in Duluth MN. While organizers hope to bring library staff from states surrounding Lake Superior together as a community, attendees come from all over the neighboring states to this cozy, insightful conference.

Keynoted by Dr. Loriene Roy, this year's focus is on going "Beyond Neutral" and the call for proposals (due March 17) is out:

"This year’s theme, Beyond Neutral, invites attendees to challenge the traditional stance of libraries as neutral spaces. In the current political climate, how do we navigate our institutional restrictions while upholding our professional values? At LSLS17, we will look outward to connect with our community, and inward to reflect on ourselves and our profession.
Possibilities for presentation topics include:
Breaking Barriers, Opening DoorsWhat steps have you taken to make your library welcoming and accessible to your community? How have you connected with community partners or altered the physical space of your library?
Reflecting Our CommunitiesHow have you used programming, collection development, displays, or services to support diversity and inclusion? Within your library, how do your policies and practices work with, or against, these initiatives?
Starting the DialogueHow can we best address challenging questions within our profession, like our lack of professional diversity, the pace of change, and the library’s purpose? How have you facilitated conversations about these issues both within your library and with your community?"
Please stop at this link for details and get those proposals in. I promise you, it's worth the trip (and throw your canoe on top the car or hiking boots in your suitcase and head along Superior's North Shore the weekend after for outstanding relaxation and fun). I'll be there defending my hockey puck trivia prize in one of the delightful social events. Hope to see YOU there!


On My Honor: Creating an Ethical Work Environment

I was honored to present at the 5th annual Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference - 2 days of amazing free, hour-long webinars on a great variety of library stuff.  My prezi was on exploring issues involved in being ethical and creating an ethical work environment. While it was on the management/leadership track, it has alot to say to all library staff.

Thanks a million to Jamie Matczak, founder and coordinator of this CE day sponsored by all 17 WI library systems and to Jean Anderson and Leah Langby who ably moderated along with a host of library system folks who assisted in organizing the days. You can find all the archived prezis on the website. They are ALL amazing!

2017-01-26 13.01 WWWC17 On My Honor Creating an Ethical Work Environment from Nicolet Libraries on Vimeo.

Resource List
American Library Association. Code of Ethicshttp://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics

American Library Association. Conflicts of Interest. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advocacy/proethics/explanatory/conflicts-of-interest

Private Lives. Julie Jurgens. Hi Miss Julie blog. December 30, 2015. https://himissjulie.com/2015/12/30/private-lives/

The Things You Might Be Doing That Will Force Your IT Guy to Start Spying on You. Jake Swearingen. August 26, 2016. New York Magazine http://nymag.com/selectall/2016/08/how-to-be-so-dumb-that-the-it-guy-is-forced-to-spy-on-you.html

Martin Luther King: A True Servant Leader. James Perry. Huffington Post March 20, 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-perry/martin-luther-king-jr-a-t_b_427417.html

Library Ethics in the 21st Century. Sarah Houghton. Librarian in Black blog. November 18, 2015


Monday is a Fun Day

It's been a busy year especially this fall as I got further into my service on the Sibert Committee (best information book for children).

So coming to midwinter has meant the culmination of lots of reading, reflection, re-reading and nominating titles I thought were especially noteworthy.

Now days later, the discussions are done, the voting is over and I celebrated by eating my look-alike Sibert Award committee so generously provided by committee pal Elisa Gall.

Join me Monday January 23 at 7am CST to hear the results! You don't have to be at midwinter to enjoy the fun!