3.04.2019

Keeping Our Associations and Units Strong



I'm over at the ALSC Blog today talking a bit about my job as an ALSC  Priority Group Consultant. But more importantly, I'm talking about the importance of learning leadership, creating sustainable continuity on committees through succession planning  - and how to volunteer to get active!

See you there!


1.30.2019

New Online CE Session Offered for Changing Up Your SLP!

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You asked, we developed and the demand is high.  My co-instructor Sue Abrahamson and I just started teaching our 4 week online course on "Creating the SLP of Your Dreams".

The course filled and we had a big wait list, so UW-Madison iSchool Continuing Ed Dept opened up a new session running March 11- April 7. If you are interested in considering ways to introduce change, cope with burn-out and be part of crowd-sourced ideas, problem-solving and solutions from peers from around the country, registration information is here.  Note: There is a 10% discount if registered by February 25. But don't delay, we are half-full already!

1.27.2019

Passing the Baton

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ALA Midwinter is always a time when I think of continuity, sustainability and how I can positively impact the health of my favorite division, ALSC. This is the time when the ALSC President-elect begins the appointments for chairs and members of many process committees. This link tells you about the process, has a volunteer form and let's you read about all the fabulous committees that are within ALSC.

My work as a Priority Group Consultant over the past two years for 11-13 committees and task forces has made this reflection at this time especially important. Keeping continuity strong from chair to chair and within the committees means a more smoothly functioning structure for ALSC. It also means that committees don't have to keep reinventing the wheel and instead can move ALSC, children's librarianship and services to children ahead at warp speed rather than turtle-pace.

We often volunteer for a committees and learn a ton and help accomplish alot together. But in my mind, equally important, is ensuring that the committee continues strongly.  How can we do that?

Chairs:
Look at committee members and mentor/support strong potential leaders who might make a great next chair or co-chair. Is there someone who is organized, meets deadlines, is able to listen as well as talk?  Do they have great ideas but also great follow-through? Do they seem willing to partner with others to get the work done? If you spot one or two people, work with them, show them the ropes and encourage them. Ask them if they might be willing to put their name in to be appointed next chair or co-chair (all appointments are done by the ALSC President-elect). Then email the President-elect and recommend that person.

Also consider people who would make committee members. Do you know people within the division who are willing to step up to serve? Do you know people especially from visible minorities within your library, system or state who would appreciate  chance to be active in ALSC committee work? Talk to them to fill in a volunteer form AND drop a note to the President elect to let her/him/them know that you have a good potential committee member for them.

By thinking beyond your term to ensure a smooth transition, you help strengthen sustainability and continuity for the committee or task force.

Committee Members:
Consider your service not only as a time to pitch in and do stuff but as a time to learn stuff - including how to step up as chair. Chairs are never left to fend for themselves in ALSC. There are often co-chairs; an ALSC office staff liaison who works with/communicates with the committee, a priority group consultant to help navigate the work and organizational structure of ALSC and an engaged board who cares about your service. You learn leadership in a safe and supportive environment.

You also can use your networks to identify potential members or put the word out for more members just like chairs can. Think about diversity, equity and inclusion as you invite people. Encourage them to volunteer and drop that note to the President-elect!

Your recommendation can make a difference in helping people become committee members or more active in ALSC. Thinking not just of yourself but of how you can encourage others to serve is a powerful way to sustain the strength of an organization you care about.

So pass the baton and lift others up through your mentorship and support!

1.17.2019

What Makes a Great Youth Librarian?



After talking to children's librarian peers, directors, library educators and library users, I've got some ideas to share on what makes a great children's librarian.

Join me Wednesday, January 23 1-2:00 pm CST for a webinar session at the online Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference sponsored by Wisco's library systems. Registration is still open for this and all 15 webinars presented by national and state speakers.

Session description:
You know them, you’ve seen them, you may even be one! But what factors contribute to making someone a great children’s librarian? You may be surprised at both the universality of the answer as well as the specialized skills and talents that separate the ho-hum from the wowsers! We’ll look at nature vs. nurture; perception vs. reality; what top children’s librarians say are the “must-haves” and the “definitely-don’t-needs; ” and reflect on getting to greatness. Learn how you can step up your game at any time or place in your career (or, if you are a director, coach your staff) to achieve amazingness in youth work.




1.02.2019

Creating the Summer Library/Learning Program of Your Dreams


[There is a 10% course discount if you sign up by Monday January 7]

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Have you been thinking about creating some changes to better meet the needs of your community during your annual summer vacation SLP's? If you've been dreaming or even just want to explore a bit of what's out there, we have a class for you!

Join veteran youth librarian Sue Abrahamson and me for a bracing 4-week online exploration of that most sacred of all cows in youth services - the annual summer library program. We'll look at how SLP's evolved, why we do we what we do; and ideas on how to introduce and sustain change, adaptations, new paradigms and fun into your summer work with the community.

Offered through the UW-Madison iSchool Department of Continuing Education, this asynchronous course (you pop in each week at a time most convenient for you) course offers short lectures, thought-provoking readings and resources, videos and a wonderful forum for you and your peers to share successes, tears, fears and thoughts. This crowd-sourced part of the course lets you share YOUR expertise and experience as well as gain valuable support for your ideas from peers.

Hope you can join us January 28-February 24. You can get all the details here!

12.29.2018

Power Up Conference Scholarship Applications Due January 11

Who doesn't want a chance at a free registration at a national conference?!?!

The second Power Up Leadership Conference for Youth Managers and Staff (btw, that's all of us who work with youth in libraries; we all lead no matter where we are in an organization) is happening March 28-29, 2019 in Madison WI at the Pyle Center.

This national conference brings speakers and attendees from across the country together to explore leadership, advocacy, developing leadership skills and leading from where you are. The one and a half day conference is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in thinking about leadership and management and advocacy.

Scholarships to cover the full registration for ten lucky recipients are still open. Scholarship applications are due by January 11Click here to read about the scholarships and access application form.

11.27.2018

Going to School On Summer Learning/Library Programs




Are you feeling a sense of ennui or dread about your upcoming summer library program?  Are you ready to blast the top off it and re-imagine it as a fun, meaningful feast of discovery, adventure and literacy/learning support for kids?

Join my fab colleague Sue Abrahamson, children's librarian and long-time SLP change agent and me as we teach a 4 week continuing ed course: Creating the SLP of Your Dreams, January 28-Feb 24. We'll look at why we do summer programs, myths and reality of effective programs and look at tips and ways to create programs that fit your community and support kids ongoing learning.

From resources to crowd-sourced wisdom and experience shared by participants, we'll look at approaching SLPs with new ideas and energy. Hope you can join us (10% discount if registered by January 7!).

And don't forget to check out the other amazing youth centered CE that the UW-Mdison iSchool CE Dept is offering after the first of the year!

11.15.2018

"Fine Free Libraries" Local TEDX Talk Goes National

I want to share some fun news about a colleague of ours, Dawn Wacek.

Earlier this year Dawn was invited by the local TedX hosts at UW-La Crosse to share an "idea worth spreading" - her ideas about creating fine-free libraries. Her talk caught the attention of the curation team at the international TED level and today, her talk was featured on the main page of the national TedX website! It's been fun watching the views head towards 180K.

Dawn, who is the manager of youth services at La Crosse (WI) Public Library, has been a fierce advocate for equitable access in the libraries she works at. It has been great watching the transformation of the youth area and the approach she has brought and encouraged among the staff to make the library more welcoming, more inclusive and a focal point of community for youth and caregivers. 

We're all happy to see this issue so eloquently advocated for by Dawn!



11.10.2018

Why Conferences and Associations?


After a great conference I often reflect on why I think professional conferences and association memberships are so important. I had a whirlwind of fall events (ALSC Institute; MN and WI Library Associations; WI Reach Out and Read conference) and I had some thoughts on their importance!

AT CONFERENCES
1)  LEARN A TON
Not just from interesting sessions but also from hallway conversations with new and old friends in libraries and areas of library work we all share.

2)  UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
We get to meet book creators and publishers and look through forthcoming titles that make us more knowledgeable. 

3) OPEN OUR MINDS
They have major speakers who help us and inspire us about our libraries and our work. While we can read award winning youth book award speeches, to be in the audience to hear their passionate and heartfelt remarks is inspirational!

4) DISCOVER AND RE-DISCOVER BEAUTIFUL CITIES
Every conference allows us a chance to get to know a city a little better.

5) FEELING THE LOVE
Publishers, book creators and speakers share their appreciation of the daily work we do. My spirit is always refreshed and my well of energy replenished so I go back ready to dive back in and work hard for my communities.

AS A MEMBER OF AN ASSOCIATION
1) OUR VOICES MATTER
No matter what size library we come from, we can make our voices heard on important library issues WE care about.

2) TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER
Our professional membership means that we support legislative efforts, webinars, classes, booklists, book awards, and efforts to promote libraries of all types and sizes in America. That collective power moves mountains.

3) WE INVEST IN LIBRARIES 
Our dues mean we are investors in keeping libraries healthy, supported and strong in ALL our communities in the state and nation. 

4) WE INVEST IN OURSELVES
We can benefit from what we receive from our associations. But even more importantly, we can volunteer to move library work forward, represent libraries of OUR size, and develop into powerful advocates and leaders thanks to being more involved in association work. This amounts to a strong investment in ourselves and strengthening ourselves as librarians.

I hope you consider becoming an association member or attending local or national conferences. You truly reap far more than the dues you pay. I can honestly say, I would not be the librarian I am today without the support, opportunities, networking and learning that occurred and occurs through my membership and activity in state and national associations.

Wait, dues and costs too expensive? I hear you. Here's something that worked for me to help me afford them when my library couldn't support my attendance financially: 

Do you ever get tired of receiving heart-felt but sometimes useless things from the people you love during holiday or gift-giving?  Why don't you see if family members would give you a gift of membership to a professional association you love but pinch pennies - or can't afford- to join! My mom and my partner used to do that for me and I loved them for it (along with the zillion other ways I loved them!)! And no more bread-making machines, knitted mittens in day-go colors or card tables. Win-win!

11.04.2018

Don't Be Fooled By the Weed-After-5-Years Myth



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In my consulting work with youth staffers at all sizes of libraries, I regularly run into  the belief that information books should be weeded after five years. While this may be true in adult information book collections (I doubt it, though), it is a slippery slope in youth information book collections.

Some areas of information books beg to be updated. Books about states or countries - although for my money database subscriptions and no print in this area make far more financial sense; books on technology; gaming; internet, coding and etc; some applied science and general science; updated information on social issues, cultures and history reflective not of a white majority viewpoint but of  people representative of the culture or marginalized group are just a few examples of areas that need frequent updating due to fast-changing information.

Other information books have content that is fairly timeless. The phases of the moon; the water cycle; mythology; biography; animals; pets; maker-crafts are examples.

So weeding calls for far more nuance than an every-five-years-toss.

I wonder whether a reliance on series non-fiction, many of which are "revised" frequently, fuels the 5-year-weed rule in youth books. While publishers of series nonfiction tout their oft-revised editions, careful examination of the revision often reveals that only 2-4 pages have been changed - one is inevitably the copyright page and the matching page in the signature which may feature a new photograph or box of information. The revision is slight but the spending of precious budget money to purchase the "revised" edition is huge. The old copy is weeded and the new one acquired.

While this may work for series nonfiction, it is a killer for quality information books.

Overall, the number of high quality information books published outside of series NF quality is fairly small. Information books that excite and inform with clear text, high quality writing;  illustration/photography that matches and enhances the text and a true respect for children's and teen's understanding are wonderful and rare. When I served on the Siebert Committee, each quality book, even if it wasn't honored by the award, was a cause for celebration (a book on coyotes! a book on Congo Square! a book on the White Rose movement! a book on Basquiat!).

When a quality information book is published, the care taken by the author, editor and publisher most often produces a timeless book whose purpose is to create a work of lasting information value for youth. They can be benchmark books that can used in collections for decades.

A biography like Barton's The Day Glo brothers: the true story of Bob and Joe Switzer's bright ideas and brand-new colors (2009); Gibbons' Cars and how they go (1983); D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths (1962); Branley's The Moon Seems to Change (1987) are just a few examples of information books whose information and presentation for kids have stood the test of time. There are lots more we can think of.

Authors/illustrators produce information books on subjects that might be addressed once every two or three decades - or even longer. Book creators like Russell Freedman, Jason Chin, Jean Fritz, April Sayre, Sy Montgomery, Kadir Nelson, Larry Dane Brimmer, Candace Fleming, Barbara Kerley, Jim Murphy, Carol Boston Weatherford, Steve Sheinkin, Phillip Hoose, Jan Greenburg, Nic Bishop, Ann Bausam, Susan Campbell Bartoletti and a host of others often write books that can be part of collections for generations.

By using a rigid five year weeding rule, we run the very real danger of eliminating books of great worth in our information book collections.

So before just looking at copyright date on information books, we need to look at the subject, how it is treated, whether there are other books of quality that address the subject and consider keeping a high quality nonfiction book with information that is still relevant and illustrative material that still works.

Our collections are deeper and better when we think beyond five year weeds to the true nature of quality information books for kids.

10.17.2018

Youth Librarian as Guide and Sister?


I appreciated this recent reflection on "parenting like a librarian" from Michelle Woo, writing for Lifehacker. In the article she references the work of John Holt, unschooling pioneer, and his belief that parents need to "get out the way" and allow kids to discover.  Woo then compares that advice to how we in the library world do just that: offer diverse choices; don't dictate what to read; take part in the cultural conversation; and help people follow their interests.

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This dovetails with something I share with grad students in my classes when we examine history and current practice in youth librarianship.

"Precepts and Practices" by Christine Jenkins published in the September/October 1999 issue of Hornbook has a much quoted set of  beliefs or central concepts in children's librarianship  that are part of our history as well as very present in our current librarianship. One of the seven beliefs she explicates is the the belief that children's librarians have "a friendly and unsentimental older sister's attitude towards children."

This particular description is one that often elicits the most discussion and controversy from students. (sometimes I wonder whether its because students might have fraught sibling relationships). So as I teach, I have given alot of thought to this. I think part of this belief description is turning away from the concept of youth librarians as motherly or grandmotherly; away from the concept of youth librarians as bosses; away from the concept of youth librarians as teachers.

Rather, the description enfolds the best of what an older sibling can provide: pathfinding guidance; experience; and support. Woo's article comes at this in much the same way and really speaks to me about how we approach our work with people of any age that use the library.

I like it!




10.08.2018

Working on a Growth Mindset

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I was struck by a 2015 post on the InformED website that Stephen Abrams linked to on cultivating a growth mindset.

It wraps into much of my thinking as someone who feels like a day is a lost cause if I don't learn something new - about the profession, about myself, about the world (both locally, regionally and globally), about how others experience the world. Learning is what I do.

Sharing that learning is also what I do. I have been teaching and sharing through classes, lectures, presentations, mentoring, informal chats in hallways, linking people to people, (more recently) this blog for more than thirty years.  We are lucky to be in a marvelously connected profession where we can celebrate all the ways of knowing and providing services.

Over all that time my thinking and consideration of youth work has grown and changed as I have absorbed far more than I shared from my reading, listening and attendance at conferences.

Most recently, I was struck by the learning that went on at the ALSC Institute in Cincinnati. Sessions were focused on research and on "how I run my library good". The research was bracing. The practical sessions included not just the triumphs but honest assessments of the rocky path there - the obstacles, fails and solutions that made the project or plan truly work for each community.

A key to this conference is that it really is all learning all the time - not just in information sessions -and provides ample time to connect with and meet many new people. Because the Institutes are located in areas that ALA conferences never come to, it is an extraordinary opportunity to meet library staff from the regions surrounding the conference and learn a ton. I came knowing very few people and left knowing lots of new colleagues that I met during breaks, at receptions, at meals and sitting next to me at sessions. It's exciting not just to hang out with people you know but to reach out and include everyone.

That personal learning is powerful especially at a conference whose theme was diversity and inclusion. My take-aways included learning about links to inclusive programming; the importance of identity in programming, and sharpening my eye in terms of decolonializing book selection and my work in making sure I do this. It made the closing session a painful reminder of how there is much work to be done here and I need to be part of that work in my sharing and learning.

Growth mindset. Learning. A sense of and a re-commitment to: "We can all do better".


10.05.2018

Power Up Conference is Coming!


The University of WI iSchool Continuing Education Department has opened up registration for its 2nd Power Up Leadership Conference for Youth Library Managers and Staff, March 29-20, 2019.

This day and a half conference with inspiring keynotes and amazing sessions spans two days  at the beautiful UW-Madison campus' Pyle Center. There are 18 different presentations to choose from as well as amazing networking opportunities to share ideas and learn informally with youth services leader/peers.

Speakers from around the US and homegrown WI children's librarian powerhouses will be your guides to learning.

The first Power Up Conference filled up quickly so don't delay in registering for this extraordinary opportunity!


10.02.2018

Eleven is Heaven - Happy Birthday TTFLF!


If it's fall, it means it's time to celebrate!!
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Begun in the wild digital learning days of Web 2.0, this blog grew from an assignment into a place to think, share, learn and ponder over the past decade plus.

It has been an extraordinary opportunity to reach out and meet many colleagues and friends -  peers who work so tirelessly everyday on behalf of kids and families. The networking, linking and opportunities that resulted have enriched my practice of the profession and my life in a deep and profound way.

Thank you, dear readers, for being part of the blogging community as writers and readers and for reaching out to me and for sharing this amazing passionate journey we call youth librarianship. What an extraordinary adventure!

9.28.2018

The Importance of Being at the Table


I'm at the ALSC institute this week in Cincinnati with a few hundred sister and brother youth librarians learning a ton and meeting many new colleagues. What I love about these biennial Institutes is the concentrated sessions with plenty of time network with regional librarians who don't often get the opportunity to attend ALA conferences. There is no committee work so all our time is learning and connecting with new friends.

This year, the overarching theme is the importance of making sure we get everyone at the table. We in youth librarianship should be leaders in inclusion, equity and diversity.

The programs so far have really celebrated this concept with thoughtful reflections and stirring calls to action on identity in children's programming; decolonializing our book selection methods; demystifying advocacy; true advocacy that recognizes every child and so much more yet to come in the next two days.

I will be presenting on the importance of reaching out and being a leader in connecting community and library to benefit all kids. It's exciting to be part of the group of energetic and innovative colleagues sharing programs, thoughts and action..

The next Institute will be held in Minneapolis MN Oct 1-3, 2020. You might want to mark your calendars now for this immersive experience.