ALA Edition - Monday!

How the deuce did we hit Monday already?!?! Egads!

After the boost of that amazing Friday pre-conference, I hit the ground running with my ALSC "process" work as a member of the ALSC board. First up was our ALSC division leadership meeting. We focused on mentoring and looked at the ALA Connect's mentoring module. It's pretty slick and a great way to mentor or be mentored. Then off to our ALSC board meeting for the rest of the afternoon.

We discussed a number of issues that alternated between housekeeping and exciting new ideas.  Of particular interest to me is an opening discussion of the possibility of creating a designated board position especially for newer members of ALSC to create leadership opportunities for younger members.  I feel strongly that we ask our emerging young leaders to wait too long to before they can gain a place at the policy making table of ALSC.  It is difficult when they are on a nominating slate to overcome the name recognition of members who have long served the organization.  I have seen a few members serve more than one term on the board and I ask myslef if it is really true that our 4,000 member strong division, with 700 active committee members really doesn't have enough qualified leaders to run for board that we  ask some people to serve more than once on the board level.  It will be interesting to see if only a few people are interested in this change or if there is broader support in an idea like this that would require a bylaw change approved by the wider membership.

The is All-Committee Meeting day. We board members try to visit and touch base with as many ALSC committees that are meeting simultaneously as possible. We listen, share news, advise and thank our hard working committee members.  From there, I had luncheon with Scholastic and was treated to some delightful readings by authors of their new works.   They all sounded great and I look forward to reading the books and sharing them with staffers and eventually with children as prizes at our programs. There was time to visit the exhibits for an hour or so, check out the new children's books coming for fall, pick up a few advanced reader's copies. Then a stop at the Book Cart Drill Team Championships for wacky cray fun as Jon Sciescka and MoWillems emcee the hilarity. The winners this year -  decked out as skeletons - did a LOL Dance Macabre that simply had to be seen to be believed. Then back to the apartment to get ready for the Newbery Caldecott banquet.

The banquet is always a highlight.  This year I just attended the speeches which is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the evening. After dinner with friends, I nestled into a great seat in the peanut gallery and got ready for the festivities. I was so pleased to share the celebration with Jerry Pinkney as he received the Caldecott Award and loved Rebecca Stead's speech as Newbery winner.  After the speeches, I got to whisk Newbery honoree Grace Lin off to the receiving line where hundreds of well-wishers congratulated the winners and honorees.  Standing between Jackie Kelly's editor Laura Godwin and Grace made the evening fly by. It was tremendous seeing and hearing people giving props to these wonderful book creators!

Time to mail off the books and advanced readers copies to the library; catch the tail end of the ALSC President's program and enjoy the second round of awards for the Siebert; Batchelder; Geisel and professional awards. The highlights for me were the introduction of Claudette Colvin who accompanied Phillip Hoose as he accepted a Siebert honor for the book Claudette Colvin and Tanya Lee Stone accepting the Siebert award for Almost Astronauts.

Then the ALSC membership meeting; a quick lunch with a colleague; one last run through the exhibits to check out final book sales; one more stop at the post office; a quick bite to eat; a metro ride to the National Building Museum with 20 minutes to hit their bookstore before closing; a Metro ride back to catch Battledecks (TOO funny!); and a last stop at the ALSC Poetry Blast to listen to two poets share their work.

And now zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  Tomorrow is another big day!


GREAT ALSC Pre-Conference!

What an amazing day!  200 people attended the ALSC preconference Drawn to Delight: How Picture Books Work and Play Today.  Participants were treated to outstanding panels and presentations by children's book illustrators, editors and designers including :
  • Caldecott award winner Brian Selznick talking about learning to really see when looking at art and life around us;
  • Eric Carle Museum's Megan Lambert who discussed some great strategies for enhancing picture books in storytime (more on that in another post!);
  • Caldecott Medalist David Small, Patricia Gauch, Neal Porter, Caldecott honoree Laura Vaccaro Seegar, Tad Hills and Lee Wade talking about the relationships of editors and illustrators to the work of book creation;
  • Break-out sessions on digital art; whole book approach to reading; international approach to picture books; a visit with Rosemary Wells and a petting zoo for paint that encouraged participants to play with acrylics, gouache; pastels; watercolor and charcoal to test each medium for themselves; 
  • Break-out sessions with ten illustrators demonstrating their art techniques (Yuyi Morales; Tad Hills; Kadir Nelson; Brian Selznick; WIlliam Low; Melissa Sweet; Timothy Basil Ering; Laura Vaccaro Seeger; Javaka Steptoe and Dr. Pamela Harris Lawton);
  • an eloquent wrap-up by this year's Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney discussing the flow of text and story in his Lion and Mouse 
I don't think I'm alone is saying that I learned a ton today.  While it is always wonderful to see the rock stars of the children's book world, it is even more amazing when they stretch themselves to share insights; philosophy and the reasons behind how they they do what they do. Our dear late Kate McClelland  created the initial vision for what would have been her presidential year's preconference and the able committee she appointed (Wendy Lukeheart, Nell Coburn, Sharon Hancock, Kathy Isaacs and Luann Toth) brought the vision forth. A big thank you to Thom Barthelmuss, ALSC President, for stepping up to the plate to lead the division after Kate's untimely death and for his support of this great day.

When people ask what does ALA or ALSC do for anyone, it is days like today - beyond the hard work and advocacy on behalf of libraries, beyond the partnerships forged with organizations around the country; beyond the wonderful CE and leadership opportunities for colleagues - that show the very best of what ALSC can do!

Image: 'Reading Time'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/12692384@N00/255230682



I'm here in mega-steamy Washington DC, sitting happily in a great little apartment 3 blocks from the convention center. One of my roommates and I got ourselves settled in; the third had a horrendously delayed flight and instead of arriving at 4pm is now likely to appear, ghost-like, after midnight. Travel is always an adventure these days.

Still and all, the fridge is stocked from nearby stores with water, fruits, cheeses and veggies; the A/C is nice and we think we are more oriented to get where we need to be.  I am looking forward to tomorrow's ALSC preconference: Drawn to Delight. And ahead stretches days of conferencing with my library peeps.

I want to share a post from Bobbi over at Librarian By Day on getting the most from conferences. She shares great tips and each and every one is worth doing.  From the practical to the philosophical, these gathered hints will make all your conferences a ton better.  Now let the fun begin!

Image: 'And I Thought Yesterday Was Hot!'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/17731548@N00/2569878338


ALA Bound

I have almost all my pre-conference prep done:
  • Mapped Metro routes from airport and around town - check
  • Figured out my route to the ALSC Pre-conference Friday morning (can hardly wait - Picture Book Art learning!) - check
  • Determined which 2 programs I can attend outside of ALSC board duties - check
  • Read and studied all my ALSC board docs - check
  • Arranged for a last night crash since my hotel runs out earlier than my conference commitments -check
  • Figured out the 3 minutes I can devote to the entire exhibit floor - check
  • Re-read my Grace Lin books so I can help out at the New/Cal post-banquet receiving line - check
  • Purchased scads of nuts and mini-chip bags to get me through long stretches w/o food at conference -check
  • Am entirely revved up to see friends and colleagues again after a long six months away - check
See you there!

Lights! Camera! Children's Literature!

Oooooh- ahhhhh a trailer for an upcoming feature-length documentary on children's literature, Library of the Early Mind. It looks verrrry interesting!

Thanks to Betsy over at Fuse 8 for the heads up!

Pertinently Pert?

Eva over at Eva's Book Addiction kindly conferred a Pertinent Posts Award on me and my tiny blog!  It's a first ever award and I'm glad it's for being pert...inent!  Thanks for the shout-out Eva.

According to the rules:
  • Thank who gave you the award and link to them;
  • State what is is you look for in a blog;
  • Give the award to 7 people whose blogs pertain most to you.
now I get to recognize seven of my peers! 

This is a tough choice to winnow down all my faves so, let me share just a few. I love looking for blog content that makes me think about libraries, working with kids there and ideas for programs and storytimes that keep me fresh.  So here are my favorite go-to blogs:

Come into Delight - Georgia always has a unique view of kid's library work and great ideas.
Keeping Up with Kids - a brand new blog of a neighboring Wisconsin Library system has great tips and info
100 Scope Notes - playful, tasty info tidbits and links from Travis on children's literature make this a go-to spot for me
Hi Miss Julie - a blog that is new to me but full of thoughtful insights plus fun from a perspective of a children's librarian
Imaginary Librarian - great teen programming tips complete with pictures and instructions
Almost Librarian - I j'adore Valerie's booklists - they are hands down some of the best choices for books within a theme - but i also appreciate her insights.

One more, one more, one more...ok, I HAVE to choose the next one - I must have a laugh each and every day and when things are most dire, Cake Wrecks (with sassy commentary on cakes gone wrong) always fill the bill! What could be more pertinently impertinent?


Welcoming Summer Groups

There was a question on the pubyac listserv in the last week asking librarians how they deal with large groups of children in care situations who come to the library during the summer. This is often a tough seasonal situation for libraries who struggle with increased family usage; administering a summer library program and handling increased crowds at programs in too-small meeting rooms.  It's tough because so many of us want to serve kids no matter what but physical limitations in our buildings and staffing make it a challenge when a large group of kids come in.

We have tried a couple of things that have helped us over the years serve both individuals and groups: 

Group Summer Reading Program
We offer daycares; summer school groups and other organizations who work with groups of kids this option. This has eliminated long lines of kids waiting to pick up prizes when the whole group comes in and gives us more time to help the kids find materials and more time for kids to find quiet times to read.

This do-it-yourself-at-the-Center program is contained in a simple folder. The folder contains a large poster with spaces beneath the headings "Read"; "Write" and "Do a Creative Project; 200-300 tiny stickers; a sign-up poster for participating children's names and an instruction sheet.  We ask that each time a child in the group does one of the three activities, the child puts a sticker on the poster.  We also provide a prize for each child that the group leader can give out whenever they decide they are at the culminating point or end of their program. We reassure kids that if they also are in our individual program with their families, they can indeed do both programs (prizes are different in each).

Program Attendance Registration/Special Programs for Groups
When we have had certain care groups come to programs and had to turn away people because our room was at capacity, we have approached solutions in two ways.  We have sent notes out in May asking care groups to pre-register for programs and letting them know that we can only accomodate a limited number of groups per program.  This helped tremendously and we were able to shift groups among programs to balance out the numbers over the summer.

We also have created special group events just for our care groups that offered fabulous programs and could accomodate many groups. This worked out very well. And we are always willing to stop by a center and do a special program once during the summer if we can.

Scheduling Visits
We ask groups interested in weekly visits to let us know when they want to come in order to help us provide great service.  Although we don't always get advance notice, we work with the leader who comes in unexpectedly to explain how we can help them more with adequate staff and resources when we know when they are coming. The next summer, we usually get advance notice and can make sure we have good staffing.

Communication with Leaders
Probably most important in all of this, though, has been honest communication with the group leaders and teachers who use our services during the summer.  We work with these folks to talk about what we can do for them; how they can help us; behavior guidelines and our expectation of their supervision of the kids; how we can assist them to create quiet reading times or provide extra materials for their classroom or center; the importance of scheduling visits so they can get maximum staff interactions; and ways to make their visits win-win for kids, library staff and care giving staff. 

If we run into a prickly leader, we continue the communication into the school year and make sure we meet with their supervisor before the next summer to discuss mutual expectations and limitations.  This has made all the difference in our success. We each walk in each other's shoes; we learn their challenges and they learn ours and we achieve (mostly) successful outcomes.

These strategies have helped us create a welcoming atmosphere for kids and providers.  It is their library too and we want kids that may never come in with parents in the summer to know that we are just as glad to see them in this situation!

Image: 'Crowds'   http://www.flickr.com/photos/59468038@N00/240903973


Splashing into Summer

Children's library blogs are alive with news of summer reading because we are in the midst of it!  After all the days, weeks and months of prep, it's showtime. 

It's going pretty well so far here.  We started on Saturday and three days of dreary weather are really making a difference. This morning we signed up a new participant every two minutes.  That equals madly exciting chaos.

Our shelves are far emptier than a week ago; we are seeing familiar faces reappear after a year using their school libraries; and we are seeing brand new kids who were tempted by our school visit book talks; jellyfish hat and baby shark song to be first-time summer library program participants.  Our database is slicker than slick and will yield amazing information to help us craft future programs.  SPLASH!


Three Cheers for Shout-outs!

I really enjoy the sometimes curmudgeonly, often hilarious, and sometimes bent outlook of the.effing.librarian.  Today, he gives definite props to all of us children's librarians out there for the work we do with with kids.  Of course what always makes this kind of thing special for me is when someone in the library world who doesn't usually come near kids stuff still "gets" it and appreciates the good stuff we do. We saw it with the Library History Buff's powerful essay at LISNews in February.

It's good when any of us in the library biz give a little love to others way outside of our own career niche.  So let me give a little praise back to my friends up on the front line of every Circ desk in the country.  I know the joys and annoys you go through minute by minute, day after day.  You handle the ups and downs with aplomb and there is not one other desk that handles the sheer number of transactions with such grace. Without your work and equalibrium, we would fold! Thank you!

Here's to the Tech Services folks who put such care and concern into all you do to put things into some kind of organizational order...and deal with all the dreaded discards and processing issues.  You are my heroes behind the scenes - you make us all look good!

Hey my Tech savvy friends who keep the systems chugging along, look at the big tech picture and help translate it in a way that makes me interested and eager for new technologies.  You make our webpages slick, our operating systems hum and our computers remain lively and far away from the blue screen of death!  All hail!

Custodial staffers - you rock bigtime.  Thanks for keeping our place looking so amazing and inviting all the time - from the inside to the outside (mowing; tending gardens and constantly removing snow).  You deal with the roughest stuff and do it with cheer -plus you invent stuff that helps us...cool!

A big "Hey" to all the adult services folks who deal with so many social issues and ferret out info and create amazing programs for their clientele.  They fight mightily against becoming simply internet computer overseers.  They are true champs in showing that google does not replace the amazing skills of a true reference detective!

So here's to you my colleagues.  I'm glad you do what you do to make libraries a great place!

Image: 'Hands in the air - in concert' http://www.flickr.com/photos/45409431@N00/3272079115


Getting That Children's Library Job - Being Your Own Fabulous You!

There has been a surprising and pleasing rash of job openings for children's librarians in our state over the past year.  Boomers retiring or heading to greener pastures; children's librarians stepping up into directorships and overall shuffling happening.  A number of young librarian colleagues I know have been honing their resumes and interviewing and are on the hunt (or just finished with it).  Eva at Eva's Book Addiction;  the New York Public Library; Meredith Farkas over at Information Wants to Be Free all have posted some sound tips for job seekers over the past few weeks.  Please take them all to heart.

I don't have alot to add other than to know yourself; know your work and think about how to convey the essence of your skills.  The interview goes deeper than your resume and cover letter.  Be ready to say just what skills you bring to the tech table (web 2.0 savviness; RSS feeds ease; favorite blogs/listservs that enhance your skills; blog; etc); the program table (early literacy work thru storytimes, outreach and projects; partnerships you've forged and innovative events you have invented; etc); the leadership table (projects you have spearheaded; groups you have chaired or organized; staffers/volunteers you have managed-officially or unofficially); the vision table (what are the five most important pieces that make a great children's services department; how do you approach change; how do you effect change; etc) and the strength table (what are those more elusive qualities that make you the right candidate: great listening skills; consensus building; morale booster; nurturer; etc).

Be sure you know about your potential employer - it's easy to track down online board minutes; community characteristics; budgets; staffing.  At the interview, find out what their goals and challenges are.  Remember, you are interviewing as well as being interviewed.  Is this really the right job for you?  I used to joke at my former job when the director would say "I hired you!'; I would invariably reply: "And I chose you!" It shook him up, but it's true.  Most important, if you know yourself and feel confident in the match to the job, you will feel much stronger and calmer in the interview process. Now, all you good children's librarian candidates, go out and shine!

Image: 'Resumes from Scratch'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/7759477@N05/4502690115


Thank You and May the Gods Bless You

This shout-out goes to Editorial Anonymous the always wry, witty and to the point (ouch!!) children's book editor who anonymously answers queries about writing and publishing and sometimes skewers the clueless and the crass.  Today's missive addresses the dreamers who imagine that all that is needed to write a children's book is a knack for rhyming "cat" with "mat".  Zing!  Her last three summarized pieces of advice are ones we should all keep in our back pocket to trot out when we get the dewy-eyed hopefuls who drop off their "children's book I've just written today!"

Image: 'Books, anyone?'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/14228046@N03/4444473213


A Rose is a Rose...

Today in the mail, a friend sent me a little newspaper clipping and picture of a young woman doing a summer reading promo visit at a school near my former job.  And it was Rose!  She is now a young woman but I knew her first as a preschooler in my storytimes. She and her brother Alex were sweet-faced, wide-eyed kids who were always *there* for the stories. Their parents brought both of them to the library often and we had a wonderful comfortable relationship with the family over the years -finding books, answering questions and, as the kids grew older, visiting and finding out what they were interested in and how their lives were going.

The last I time I spoke to Rose before I left my former job, she was working towards her Education degree and heading to a life of teaching. But today I saw that her life had taken an amazing twist. A little research and I see that she was hired as the Youth Services Librarian at a nearby library.  Wow.  Lucky library, lucky kids!  I am so excited for her!  It is wonderful to see such a library lover working in a library.

These are the moments that always make my day!

Image: 'majestic_rose'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/82201122@N00/2333847657