Another Favorite Librarian Video for My Hall of Fame

You may have already seen it, but if not....

Joining these faves of  mine here and here, my new fave is here: ca-ca-ca-catologue, ca-ca-catalog...

You go,  U of WA! Somebody hire these people...they are GOOD TO GO!

What Got You Started in Libraries?

We are all working in libraries for some reason - we dreamed of it as kids; we fell into it and in love with it; we needed a career that blended well with that useless English Literature degree; we started as a shelver and worked our way up; we had a librarian who was such a huge influence that we had to follow her career footsteps; we thought doing book detective work and ferreting out answers could save the world; or maybe we wanted to be Kate Hepburn in Desk Set. Whatever the reason, here many of us are.

And now we can share our stories at Librarian Origin Stories. This online survey asks you to share how you got into the business and it's for everyone who is or has ever worked in a library, no matter what your job.  It was a fun trip down memory lane for me  - I loved libraries and reading growing up but felt that the librarians were a little stiff and unfriendly with kids.  I thought, "I could make kids have a more fun library experience and have fun myself" and a career path seed was born.  Thirty-four-years- in-librarianship later, I have been lucky enough to pursue that passion and work on that goal every day.  Thanks to Librarian Origin Stories for letting me let me share those memories and a few thoughts as well. And thanks to LISNews for the link!


Reading is its own Reward...or Is It?

There has been a rockin' and rollin', no-holds-barred discussion on the ALSC (American Library Association -Association for Library Service to Children) listserv over the past couple of weeks.  The subject:  the worth -or lack thereof - of incentive prizes given out in public library summer reading programs around the country. Quite a few firebombs were lobbed and depending on where you came down on the issue, each day brought glee or outrage. There were many peacemakers as well who appreciated the discussion and gently made observations and contributions. 

People made suggestions that included making sure books were part of the incentives if possible; having kids work together towards a reward or creating larger social rewards like adding shapes with the child's name to a wall display.  There was grumping about the lack of research proving that incentives worked to encourage kids to read and anecdotal evidence from frontline librarians who said that each child responds to reading and rewards differently and that incentives have worked.

What do I think?  I say give the kids what they want and need to be enthusiastic about reading!  Encouragement - you bet.  Doo-dads - I'm your gal!  A free book reward -absolutely!  A place for kids to have their name displayed - but of course, my dears.  Working together to pool number of minutes and books to reach a goal that includes adopting an wild critter or donating to a pet shelter - I am all over it.  Asking kids to give a little more of themselves by bringing in items for our food pantry -yah baby!  Nothing - including not wanting to join a summer reading program because they already love reading and because there are kids who will read anything (including the dog's collar) anytime all the time - okie dokie!

One size does not fit with all kids.  We have used all these little strategies combined over the years.  As we say, the point of what we do is to be the cheerleaders for kids to continue their intellectual engagement over the summer months when schools are not in session.  Of course we do it year round in any number of ways. But it is summer when we ramp up the power and do the backflips and amazing presdigitation. Trying to pound all kids into one peggy little hole is silly when kids are as individual in their wants, needs, feelings, level of reading comfort and need for reward as snowflakes in a storm.

So, my friends, I say do what works best for you in your situation - experiment, play and work with the kids who come in. Don't be bothered by the "You better do this", or "You better do that", or worst of all the "I know better than you".  As long as you see the kids responding and reading, whatever path you are on will always be right!


Data Data Data-Base!

Am I excited or what?  Our tech savvy Hedgehog Librarian, who knows her way around databases, has created our first ever sign-up database for SLP!!!  Although we have worked with spreadsheets for various registered events in the past we have three library locations and wanted to share the data.  Our spreadsheets weren't handy and some of the staff that is a little tech shy were hesitant to try it.   But now, with her wizardry, we are in beta testing and about to experiment with delightful fake monikers at all three libraries. There is time to iron out glitches and be ready for the kids when they hop out of school in a few weeks.

It makes a huge difference to be able to do our sign-ups in a way that will provide some valuable information.  How many times are kids visiting; where do they come from (zip code); email addresses of parents of school aged kids to expand our mailing list (we have very well attended preschool events because parents or preschoolers are in our email loop; we need to duplicate that reach to tell school-agers about cool programs throughout the year); what grades levels most respond and participate.  And we will know how many books and prizes we give out which will help us manage our budget better in the future.

Keep your fingers crossed that our testing works and we can get 'er up and running!

Image: 'WebTrends 2007 / otro mapa de web+2.0'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/90646759@N00/1149873101


Giving Back and Learning More

Put half a roomful of young librarians together with  half a roomful of more experienced vets and what do you get - an amazing mentoring-protege gestalt!  Our state library association developed a mentoring program to develop the leadership skills of young librarians. I was fortunate enough to be selected as a mentor this year and yesterday I got to meet my new protege (or mentee...or mentos...or, more like, colleague!) along with four other mentor/protege duos.

Jennifer McNaughton, a reference librarian and youth programmer from the Hartland Library, and I will work together over the next three years.  I hope to learn as much from Jennifer as she learns from me.  New eyes, new views; old eyes, old experience.  We are both pretty excited and have already begun hatching plans. It's all good.

I am passionate about the importance of sharing, learning and mentoring. As a young librarian I was so fortunate to have amazing mentors to start me on my way - Avis Jobrack, my first supervisor at my first job; Jane Botham who introduced me to great librarianship on a national level and Ginny Moore Kruse who guided me through the world of children's books. Since then I have had countless other librarian colleagues who have shared, counseled, laughed and taught me -I am a better librarian each and every day because of these good and sharing people.  Not all have been older than me but all have been generous in listening and pearls-of-wisdom dropping.

If you are a young or new librarian, don't hesitate to ask a more seasoned colleague for advice, instruction, navigation or as a sounding board.  There are alot of librarians out there who have been in the front line trenches and know a thing or two.  If you are a more experienced librarian, don't just chat with your time-honored network of peeps.  Get to know new librarians and see what you can learn and share with them.  It is an experience that will reward you every work day of your life!

A huge thanks to the WeLead task force; WLA, WAPL, WAAL, the WLA Foundation and Embry who supports this effort and created a great program!


Quit It!!! Yer Killin' Me!!!!

Don't know where it came from*....don't know what it is...

But I am forever indebted to LISNews for this link to the Bookulating Suggest-O-Mometer


Why can't our reader's advisory be half as crazy fun!!

*(but, of course I do,  I am a librarian - those clever folks at Blue Rectangle)

Image: '50s Movie poster mad scientist style'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/25217744@N06/4376553184


Come On In, the Water's Fine

I have been blogging for only about a year now and only seriously since just after the new year.  My colleague the Hedgehog Librarian got me re-motivated when she encouraged me to blog about something I was ranting and muttering about for weeks.  I did and the floodgates opened!

I want this blog to be a place where I can talk about children's librarianship - how to do it good; ideas that sparkle my imagination; news that touches me or silliness that delights me.  I will never have breaking news...many others do that so well, I just need to keep up with my feeds.  I will connect with other children's librarian's blogs and share their great ideas in hopes it will motivate others.

BUT, I want to see more children's librarians blogging and sharing!  Where are you all?!?!   While I love all the book reviewers in the blogosphere (and thank you!)  and the literacy champions that bring it on-  I am still looking to find blogs from people like Abby (the) Librarian; the Imaginary Librarian; Eva's Book Addiction; Story Window Storytime; Keeping Up with the Kids; Come Into Delight; What Adrienne Thinks About That; the incomparable Fuse #8 and a few more who explore their work life. They share news; programs; philosophy; anecdotes; thoughts; musings and so much more that helps me grow as a children's librarian.

Abby got me thinking about all this in her latest post Who Knows Your Blog where she encourages people to blog and be proud of it. So come on in and join us!  And share your favorite children's/teen librarian blogs so we can all keep growing and knowing together. Who else is out there?

Image: 'a tribute to all who helped make+this+day+wonderful!'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/8458705@N04/2983707616


Going to the Dogs

Many libraries have started programs using pet therapy dogs that children can practice their reading skills with. We have been doing a weekly Read to Rover program here for quite a few years with our local Humane Society's pet therapy program. The sessions usually run for three months or four months. (Sept-Nov. and Jan- April).  The reading slots are 15 minutes long and we have 3-4 dogs on blankets their owners bring. We ask parents to sign a waiver for each new child who begins the program that exempts the library from any liability. Our Humane Society coordinator is incredible. She makes bookmarks of the dogs to give to the readers and is there every week with the dogs and owners and is a gentle ambassador for the dogs.

After three years, when program participation began to flag, we started kicking off each three month season with a BIG program that included a "Meet and Greet" with the dogs that really rekindled interest. Then, quite by accident since it was the only open program slot we had, our Hedgehog Librarian started a very popular 4-7 year old storytime that immediately preceded the dog program and our slots have been jammed since. It was a perfect marriage of a literacy program supporting beginning readers followed by a program that supported their reading skills.  Win-win!

The kids have been thrilled.  They love their furry listeners and the dogs love the kids (they barely give our librarians a glance when they prance in - they know who does the reading they love).  Kids with hesitations, low self- esteem or other issues that impact their confidence in their reading skills get a non-judgemental ear and a definite boost.  It has been a special literacy program and we are glad we can do it!


Get On the Bus

Over at Keeping Up with Kids is a most delightful program for preschoolers: having a visit from a school bus!  Simple, easy and of course little kids would be fascinated.  Sometimes the easiest ideas give us the best bang for our planning time.  Pair it with a school bus story or two and voila!

We have had vehicle days at libraries where I've worked.  We arranged for heavy equipment, race cars, motorcycles, police and fire vehicles and everyone got up close and personal.  For a few years, during Public Works Week in May, our endlessly patient and delighted public works crew would bring over all kinds of monster city vehicles for the kids to play with.  Though we have never tried this, I bet it would be fun to do a storytime series that features a different real vehicle each week with a story or two about it.  What a great way to involve friends and community agencies with cool wheels and highlight fabulous non-fiction we own.  Thanks KUWK for getting my brain going!

Image: 'School Bus'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035555243@N01/162240763


Promoting Summer Fun

Reading Suasn Baier's post over at the ALSC blog encouraging librarians in tight budget times to continue visiting schools to promote summer reading programs really struck a chord with me.  May is a big month for public children's librarians.  Many of us hit the road and arrive at schools to sell our shiny cool product - summer reading programs that encourage kids to continue to enjoy reading throughout vacation time. 

While I could happily be taking a nice long vacation - exploring the spring woods and hunting for wild ramps, mushroom and asparagus; canoeing around streams and dipping a line in the water for bright and lively fishies; adding pot after pot after plant after plant to my flower and vegetable gardens; or lazing around the deck and watching the birds nest, bats fly and rabbits munch - I know that the work done in May at the schools is some of my most important annual outreach. No matter what theme we use, I make sure I am at the schools, laughing, joking and promoting reading with my whole being.  It's an investment in time, a personal touch, that helps to make the connection for kids and helps to bring them in.

And in it's own way, it's like growing - or hunting or fishing for - readers so it can satisfy my May vacation dreams too.

Image: 'Gazanias - Flores de fuego'   http://www.flickr.com/photos/8991878@N08/1490596477


Digital PR is a Snap

We have had a digital picture frame at our Children's Dept desk for about a year now.  It has been a fun way to load pictures of our programs that kids and adults stop and look at.  We haven't thought about uses beyond this - that is until now!  The Strange Librarian has a wonderful list of suggestions on additional ways to take advantage of these frames.  We must try more of these cool ideas!