Splashes & Ripples

I'm just back from the workshop which was for library staffers from not two but three systems (duh)! It was an exhilarating morning. Like all workshops I present, I get far more from the participants than I give. The ideas folks shared were great and I hope to share not just some of the workshop thoughts here but also the ideas that were shared with me!

I always come away from any CE opportunity with ideas on ways to improve or streamline work, creative new programs, solutions to challenges we share in public library children's work, and energy to bring all this into play for my community. Each idea found is like a pearl dropped into water. A splash of insight ("Aha!!") and then ripples upon ripples that lead to other ideas, other thoughts, other paths. We come back to our library and we talk, we share, we think, we build, we grow something new for our families and kids at the library. I mean what could be better?!?

Image: 'Eruption' http://www.flickr.com/photos/24113168@N03/3891599149


It's Raining Books

Not really. But Amy over at Literacy Launchpad had a great post this week encouraging families to "have books everywhere and watch the magic happen". Her tips and ideas to have books in rooms throughout the house; in the car; and wherever kids routinely are is right on target. When books are seen as part of their many routines, kids become comfortable with browsing and picking out a book to enjoy. Amy also encourages parents to trade out the books often to keep things fresh and alluring.

The library is the perfect place to find those books, books, books. The variety and breadth of our collections for kids will keep those baskets filled with a fresh goodies. And we at the front desks can lead parents to lots of amazing books to keep the stock rotating. Having books everywhere - especially when we include library books in the mix - is a more chaotic approach for parents ("We always keep our books on one shelf"), but one worth the extra hunting to provide kids with great reads. And I would add to this mix parents and other family members also seen reading often and everywhere and young kids - who we know are bodacious imitators - will be drawn into the fun.

Image: 'Detail' http://www.flickr.com/photos/37718678739@N01/9373413


Hitting the Road

I have my handouts, my thoughts and a bunch of fun ideas all packed and ready to go tomorrow. I head out on the train to Milwaukee where I'll be doing a workshop for librarians from two southern WI systems on Friday. I get to do two topics in the morning. The first one is on strategizing to keep the fun in summer reading programs. So often we get bogged down in what we've always done. I like to encourage people to experiment and tailor their SLP to their community and give tips on how to keep things fresh year in and year out. Part two is a give and take on way fun programs to do anytime of year with few resources and staff but maximum impact. We'll look at school agers, outreach, "passive" programs, preschool fun beyond storytime and I hope share, share, share. I can hardly wait!

Image: 'Selective Color: Train'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/28284386@N02/2723721661


Real World Here We Come...

Abby over at Abby (the) Librarian has a great and supportive post about what she didn't learn in library school. Book learnin' and learning on the job are two very distinct animals and each has its own special place in our development as wonderful librarians.

Graduate school - or working with incredible mentors and co-workers - helps give you the framework, the philosophy, the underpinnings for library work. But the day-to-day is where we all learn the tips and tricks as we work with families. Each day we help them discover the wonders of the library and they teach us how to be the librarians they need us to be. It's the real world that fills in the spaces and places and makes us better, wiser librarians.


Rainbows and Bloomers

Two of my favorite recommended booklists have just hit the press. The Rainbow Project, a joint committee of ALA's SRRT and GLBTRT looks at books for kids birth through age 18 that have significant authentic GLBTQ content and publishes an annual list. I am truly pleased to see the robustness of the list. Every child needs to find themselves in books and this list will help all of us grow our collections for the rainbow of children who use our libraries.

And the Amelia Bloomer Project from ALA's Feminist Task Force of SRRT has come out with their list of recommmended feminist literature for kids birth through age 18 as well. It is another rich list that has content that celebrates strong women and girls as well as highlighting the struggles women have had and continue to have.

Thanks to library.groupie@gmail.com for the heads up!


You're Not the Boss of ME!

I was talking to a couple of children's librarian friends in the airport on the way home from ALA the other day. We were discussing some of the challenges we face with our public and how much things have changed in the past thirty years that we have worked with kids and families.

We come from various sized libraries but there was a common theme running through our conversation. People of all ages are increasingly unable to accept limits on their poor behaviors in the library. Back in the day, if you set a policy or limit, most folks accepted it. But somewhere, somehow, somewhen, some people of all ages, all socioeconomic backgrounds and all - well, all! - simply don't think they need to accept there are limits to behaviors out in public and in a public building.

This pervasive "You're-Not-the-Boss-of-Me" attitude is our challenge each day at work. We want everyone to love coming to the library and we want to love helping them. We expect alot of free-ranging action and hubbub- we work with kids after all. But when things start to go bad and patrons are asked to calm down; supervise their children; stop running/climbing/swinging/cheese-doodling on the keyboards - well, you get the gist- the reaction is outrage that someone would attempt to limit their actions.

Some staffers handle this reaction with fear and back down. After all, we are supposed to be endlessly friendly. But in doing so I think those staffers lose control of the space and cede their authority to the kids/adults exhibiting poor behaviors. Other staffers calmly assert their authority to maintain a space friendly and welcoming for all users. Limits are set, perimeters established and expectations calmly conveyed.

Hard to do? You bet. But we do have a responsibility to create a space that all users feel they can use. As the librarian or library worker at the desk or responsible for the department, we help to set the tone for the children's area. We are the boss -not bossy - or at least the manager who manages the space. So here comes my mantra: be brave, don't fear. You can do it!

Image: '018_18' http://www.flickr.com/photos/94976401@N00/362852690


It's A Wrap - Post Awards Thoughts

You can find results of the January 18 announcements of ALA Youth Media Awards posted everywhere around the blogosphere. Additional awards like American Indian Youth Literature Awards and the ALSC Notable Children's Books list and the YALSA BBYA list are also being announced and celebrated. It's a lovely time to cheer all the best in children's and teen literature and we have an amazing array of books and media to savor.

And savor I do. The books honored ran the gamut from picture books through easy readers; fiction to non-fiction; biography, graphic novels, poetry, folklore and did I mention, fiction, fiction, fiction! There are books for every reading taste and age and the richness and variety of award winners and honorees in this particular year speaks volumes for the depth of the literature being produced for youth in our country today.

By purchasing these books for our childrens and teen collections, we strengthen our offerings to our communities - and we send a strong message to the publishing community that we do want great books for kids that stretch the envelope and enrich the lives of our reading kids. So let's buy 'em (if you haven't already), let's read 'em and let's booktalk and sell 'em to the kids and teens!


Almost Time for Award Announcements - Part 2

Over at Booklights, Susan has a great "nutshell post" about the many ALA sponsored youth awards that will be announced on Monday and what they are actually awarded for. It gives a great heads-up for all the Monday morning quarterbacking that goes on post award announcements. You know, the "Why didn't this one get recognized?" and "I can't believe that one was chosen!" Many times the comments are just personal/professional taste disagreements. Sometimes, a commenter doesn't realize that their choice is simply ineligible given the criteria of the award.

As in all things, there are only so many awards and honors. The committee members of the various awards are very aware of their responsibilities and put in unbelievable amounts of time reading, re-reading, viewing, thinking, sharing hundreds of materials with kids to gather their opinions, discussing and pondering before they cast their votes. They all hope, as they sit at the front with their backs to the audience at the Youth Media Award announcements, that the naming of the award they worked so hard on will be met with murmurs (or shouts) of approval and not gasps of shock. But no matter the reaction, they know - and I always trust - that they have worked and read and viewed hard to find the very best of the year to honor.

Image: 'What could I read tonight?' http://www.flickr.com/photos/84296325@N00/262096844


Libraries - Birthplace of Ideas- YEAH!

“The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It is not a temple where literary incense must be burned or where one's devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual. A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas - a place where history comes to life.” - Norman Cousins

Thanks Appleton Public Library for posting on your Facebook account and reminding us of this quote: "The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It is not a temple where literary incense must be burned or where one's devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual. A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas - a place where history comes to life.” - Norman Cousins. This mirrors my thoughts about the gut busting NOW-NESS of the library and our real nitty gritty place in people's lives. Long live libraries!

mage: 'olivia 03'


The Idea Fountain

I have been refreshed! Today the amazing group of people I work with met to plan programs for kids for the summer. I had challenged everyone to come prepared with two program ideas that they were willing to do (we are doing the CLSP water theme). It was a delightful give and take and everyone had more ideas than we could find days to slot the programs in. Pirates; beach parties; duck attacks; undersea adventures; ocean murals on windows; shark adoptions; Dahlov Ipcar puppet show; the Hedgehog Librarian's Incredibly-Patient-Mother's idea to make window clings (worth the price of admission my friends!); fun with rain gutters; a swim party at one of our pools and so much more.

There was incredible energy and generosity as we worked to meet the expressed needs of our customers - more evening programs; a new toddler storytime at one of our neighborhood branches; programming for our preschoolers as well as our school-agers. We chewed over ways to track participation (perhaps a cool new database - slaver, slaver) or just counting what's left of a given doo-dad or gee-gaw (is that pronounced jee-jaw or Gee-Gaw?) to know what we've distributed.

Throughout that meeting I saw the amazing fountain of ideas and thought that my colleagues contributed to excite kids to use the library and read throughout the summer. I know that kids will catch our excitement and we will lead even more kids to the love of reading and books. And now...summer-hater that I am, I can hardly wait for summer!


Don't Fear the Reaper

Well, not the Grim Reaper...just the library weeding Reaper. A post over at What Adrienne Thinks About That got me thinking about the importance of this little celebrated work ritual in librarianship. I don't know if the gardener in me or the librarian in me had the greater influence on my feelings about weeding. I do know that the process and the results are the same. You clear the dross and give air and light to the healthy stuff that keeps your gardens, yards and circulation growing and healthy.

The biggest stumbling block I've seen with people who are shy to weed collections seems to be fear of making a poor decision. What if I toss something and someone asks for it the next day (shared collections within systems and interlibrary loan will save you in this MOST unlikely event)? How can I set myself up as an expert and critic and make these decisions (you work with the collections every day and see what goes and what stays)? What if I make a mistake and through ignorance pull a classic (many books, websites, blogs and wikis help you navigate through those shoals and nothing works better to restore a classic's magnetic pull for a reader than a newer edition with an updated cover)? But I know our customers will get angry with me (no, they won't - they will notice, however, that it is easier to find materials now that there is more room on the shelves to let the remaining collections strut their stuff).

Weed for wear and keeping the collection up-to-date, yes. But weed deeply to grow the collection as well. If you don't have the heart to pull a book or series of books, keep them for a year and monitor their use. Keep your eyes out, if they are non-fiction titles, for books just out or coming out soon covering the same subject areas. Reserve some of your budget to buy newer copies of books back in print or with updated covers -it makes the weeding less painful.

Remember, a weeded book is not really gone forever. It often finds a new place in a loving home. But most of all...be brave, don't fear. You can do it!

Photo: FLickrcc "The Smell of Old Books"http://www.flickr.com/photos/78755281@N00/375980619

Snow Much Fun

It's cold; it's miserable...but who cares - we know how to have fun! Check out my colleague Georgia's blog Come Into Delight with many great snow ideas to use with babies at storytime. And steal a little time for yourself and cut out a few snowflakes virtually at Make-a-Flake. Then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...


Almost Time for Award Announcements

Not like we all don't know it, but in a mere thirteen days, the children's book world's version of the Oscars will be announced in Boston at the ALA conference. An eager crowd of children's and YA folks- librarians, publishers, editors, booksellers, reviewers and book lovers - will hear the results of some very hard working committee deliberations. The Newbery! The Printz ! The Carnegie! The Siebert! The Coretta Scott King! And so much more! "Oooooh" she says with a frisson of delight.

But what's that? You can't be there on Monday morning January 18 in Boston at 7:45 am EST? No problemo. The whizzes at ALA, ALSC/YALSA et al have you covered. You can try catching the live webcast, or get live feeds using Facebook, Twitter or an RSS feed. Just stop by here to get the details and get set up for the fun!


Welcome Madame Ambassador!

Ok, I am VERY pleased. The news today that Katherine Paterson is stepping up to pick up the sash and scepter as the brand new shiny Ambassador for Young People's Literature is deliciously delightful news. Her writing - so full of beautiful images, strong plots, complex characters and rich language - has been well honored. Her commitment to reading with and to kids is unshakeable. Many thanks to the fine committee that did such an awesome job of bringing up an equally strong batter to the children's literature home plate!
Photo: School Library Journal


Throwing Down the Gauntlet

After my rant about the overemphasis on continuing education centered on summer library programs, my colleague, The Hedgehog Librarian, got down to business. She issues a clarion call with some very specific ideas on CE needs in many areas of our youth work.

This is must-read, must-ponder, must-do stuff. Let's go!