A Little Love Goes a Long Way

There is a delicious post, a love letter to libraries and librarians, over at the ALSC blog today.  It's nice sometimes to just hear a little appreciation for work that we do.

It's a hustle bustle world - people sometimes blow in and out with hardly a word or smile to staffers.  With a tough economy, we are becoming more and more crowded with users - including many families down on their luck and living at our homeless shelter.  This shelter, a block away, has more families than they've ever had and they are just jammed in.  The library represents a place to get away, meet up, hook into the internet and let their kids be surrounded by normalcy - or sometimes a place to just tune out and let staffers deal with acting-out behaviors by their kids because parents are just too beaten down to cope.

It is especially hard as the weather worsens to see these folks and navigate through their issues and some of the ensuing chaos that desk staff needs to manage.  It gets tiring and frustrating and disheartening for the staff.  I know I sometimes ask myself, "What good am I doing anyway?"

So a post that helps me reconnect to why I do what I do and love what I do gives me a chance to take a deep breath and go on. And it helps me remember that each step and smile we share with even our toughest patrons can make a difference.

Image: 'รข™¥ Letter Box'   http://www.flickr.com/photos/46458074@N00/5187169522


Globally Yours

I had the privilege - and apparent good sense - to attend an amazing one-day children's literature conference recently. The 10th annual International Children's and Young Adult Celebration was held, as it has been for all its existence, in Madison WI - my home state. This is only the second one I've attended and I can't help asking myself, "Where the deuce have I been?!?!"
Sponsored by our university and technical college departments of international studies, this was one of the best days I've spent in a long time thinking about and exploring global literature for youth. The sessions were thoughtful and thought-provoking. We started off with a trip around the world with K.T. Horning booktalking 80 international books for youth we should know. Man, if we don't have some, after this exploration, I want them all in the collection.

I was charmed by the remembrances and storytelling of Anne Pellowski but I was even more thunderstruck by her dedication to helping create children's books in minority languages around the globe. She brought samples of the cloth books created and they are miraculous.  Her passion for putting books into the hands of children everywhere was inspiring.

Atinuke, author of the Anna Hibiscus books and the new No. 1 Car Spotter title (both set in "amazing Africa" and perfect for kids making the leap to chapter books) talked about growing up between two cultures - Nigerian and English - and how the expectations of people in each culture about people from the other were often quite off base.  She is also a powerful storyteller and shared a spellbinding tale at the end of her speech.Her books fill a huge gap in most library collections and I was so pleased to see her in our country and reading from her works.

Miltali Perkins, author of numerous teen and tween books - most recently, Bamboo People, further explored the theme of living between two cultures.  Using an autobiographical theme, she wove issues about race, expectations and societal pressures that support bias "under the waterline" into her brilliant talk. Her honesty and humor brought a fitting ending to the day.

Some of the talks and handouts of the conference will be posted here in the near future. It's also a great spot to get information on former speakers and to experience some of their presentations and handouts. Be inspired!

This funding future for the federally sponsored literature conference (US State Dept and US Dept of Education) is in limbo right now so it is uncertain if there will be a conference next year.  That would be a shame.  Just in case it does happen though, it is always held the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Maybe mark your calendar now and if it happens, you will be in for a rare treat - oh and a gratis copy of one of the speaker's books.You can't do better than all of that!

mage: 'Blue Marble Animation'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/24662369@N07/4401845574

Give Me That Old Time Paper, Give Me That Old Time Paper...

The New York Times had a trez interesting article exploring the trend of ebooking and wired parents preferring to have their children read print books. It is a phenom I have seen at the library where I work.

Adults are coming to that tipping point where many more are going to own/use ebook devices than don't.  Wisconsin libraries are pitching in a combined $1 million dollars for our consortium to acquire even more Overdrive content for the clamoring public (and of course steeling ourselves for the possibility of more epic fail during Christmas when all those new ebook owners are going to be trying to download content - ALL AT ONCE!!).

We haven't seen quite the brouhaha on the children's side here.  Sure the kids sit down at the AWE computers.  Sure they access Tumblebooks through our library online. We've had a couple of inquiries from parents on print books based on apps (some of which exist and some don't).  Interestingly enough, when a public library/school library group convened to talk ebooks and readers here last week, the district schools saw nothing on the horizon from their side yet.

That hasn't stopped us from looking ahead and thinking about how to bring more e-content into our library and to our kids.  We were excited to read the always forward-looking Darien CT library's ALSC blog post on their circulation of ipads in Early Literacy pack. We are looking to fund raise for this type of initiative at our library.

Still and all, old print warhorse that I am, I am happy to see print books for kids staying, for the moment, strong in the heart of our parents. Because it is strong in our hearts too.

Image: 'for the love of books'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/75632859@N00/471634239


I Spy Ipads

I love the post over at the ALSC blog by Kiera Parrott from the Darien CT Library about their vision and success in circulating Early Literacy Ipad kits to children.  This is the kind of red meat "how-to" post that gets my blood pumping.  Thanks to the Youth Services team there for leading the way towards ebook/technology circulation use for kids.

And more importantly, thanks for sharing the information in a way that helps all Youth librarians begin or improve their own technology plans!

Image: 'Eye See You' http://www.flickr.com/photos/21314760@N00/518956588


Wimpy! Wimpy! Wimpy!

Yes, the Ides of November marks the publication of the sixth book in the fabulous series of everyone's favorite middle school slacker, Greg Heffley, and his always amusing exploits as chronicled in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Since we will use any excuse to host a Wimpy Kid book party, we threw a pre-publication bash yesterday that was easy, fun and very popular with the kids (and adults) that attended.

Key to our success is - we contacted the publisher for an events kit. That resulted in special game pages - but also in delivery of a stand-up display, free posters, bookmarks and pencils!! Thanks Abrams!  You made my job uber easy.

We started out having the kids put their names in a sock for a grand prize drawing for two Wimpy pens we scored as swag at the ALA exhibits.  After reading a letter from the author (part of the Abrams events packet) and talking a bit about the books, we played two games of Wimpy trivia bingo (also from the packet).  The fan-kids knew most of the answers which is what makes this so much fun.

This was followed by our....um, more active party games. Since snow, blizzards and icy weather are prominently featured in Cabin Fever, we decided to let kids "ice skate" on the carpet by stepping on paper plates and gliding around the room. Simply boffo.  This was followed by our ever-popular Manny Cereal Toss - kids got chances to try and toss mini-cereal boxes into a toilet seat placed atop a waste basket. This never fails to please the crowd.  We wrapped up with the kids dividing into two teams, crumpling up recycled paper into snowballs and having a snowball fight.

We had lots more stuff but ran out of time.  So kids took home a word search and Zoo Wee Mama cartoons to fill in the word balloons.  Now if we could just get those ten new copies of the book in and processed....

For more Wimpy Kid parties we do check here and here.


Why Get Involved?

I'm just back from our annual three day Wisconsin Library Association conference.  Once more, I had the chance to attend thought-provoking sessions; chat with friends and colleagues from all sizes and types of libraries; participate in a number of business and board meetings and relax and enjoy some truly fun and funny after-hours events.  I love my state association meetings and would go even if I paid my own way and had to take vacation to get there.  How come?

First, foremost and always, WLA is a huge leadership and advocacy group for libraries in our state.  Without their work during the craziness of the spring and the ongoing legislative madness that continues in our state, we would have had rollbacks on services and funding. And of course, WLA is us so we are able to respond quickly and effectively to legislative alerts and involve our friends, neighbors and family in speaking up for libraries.

My state association is also a leadership incubator.  Opportunities exist - and we all are supported in - chairing divisions, committees, conferences and other work that brings us into contact with our colleagues in becoming leaders. Currently, the president of our 1700 strong association is Rhonda Puntney, a long time mover and shaker in WI youth services. She is joined on the "big" board by other Youth Services advocates (including me as newly elected state chapter councilor to ALA Council) to provide a strong voice for youth and libraries.

Each of us in leadership roles was mentored by colleagues outside of public library youth services (as well as YS folks of course) and have had our visions widened and enriched by this breadth of knowledge from academic, special, school, tech and adult services colleagues. I can say that without a doubt that I am the librarian I am today because of professional associations like WLA, ALA and Wisconsin Women Library Workers that gave me an opportunity to be with, learn from and laugh with dedicated library workers from all types and sizes of libraries.

WLA also provides the framework for youth librarians to gather and advocate for excellent service, collections and initiatives across our state. Together, when we are strong, we help chart the course of Youth Services.  Of course like any membership organization we are only as strong as our active members make us.  I have heard, in this time of tight budgets and staffing, rumblings of "no time, no money, no support- I don't think I can continue to be a member".  We mustn't give up on our state or national professional commitments though. Each of us is the engine that drives greatness in our local and national associations and each and every voice is important.

I hope you are all members of your state and national library associations. We are needed now more than ever to present a strong and coherent leadership and advocacy agenda. And the friends you make, the leadership you step into and the work you do for libraries is an investment that will long remain with you and benefit your library.