Cookie Club Goodness

In another in our library's series of "stealth" or "passive" programs, we developed a Cookie Club initiative in December and January to encourage families to use the library often during this often slow library-use season. Kids up to age 10 could join up by simply picking up a little business-card-sized "Cookie Club" card.  Then each time they checked out books they got a stamp on their card and a paper cookie to put their name on and could put in a "cookie jar" on the wall.

There were no sign-ups and no tracking beyond pre-counting the different cookie shapes each week and figuring out how many kids came in based on the number given away.  Kids, in fact, kept track of things by coming to the desk on their own with their club cards. And if they forgot them, we still gave them their paper cookie to sign and double stamped them the next week.

It gave us a great chance to visit with the kids, give them high fives and encouragement and ooh and aah over the materials they selected.  It had virtually no set-up beyond designing a little card (using Word and a business card template) and putting up the giant cookie jars. It was easy to encourage kids to join as they used the self-check and we were pleasantly surprised to see we had.over 400 Club visits.

The Club just culminated in a Cookie Party. We shared a few cookie stories, served cookies and had a visit from the Mouse from Laura Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (we rented the costume from Costume Specialists). The crowds had fun and so did we. Thanks to the Colfax Library in WI for the original idea nudge!

It was a sweet treat of an easy and fun two months!


Sensible Shoes and Cardigans or Sequined Gowns?

PW's Tip Sheet has a very funny and spot-on article about the failure of the TV morning shows again to schedule interviews with the Newbery and Caldecott Award winners. 

Coupled with that is a shout-out to the all-out hilarious Stephen Colbert interviews with Maurice Sendak this week that have folks ROTFL. You can stop over at Wisconsin's YSS blog to see both clips.

Finally the comments in the first article referenced reminded me of a conversation with friends that I had after the news hit that the Today show wouldn't invite the authors. We speculated that if the attendees at the press conference were gowned and tuxedoed up, would that get the TV producers thinking how special our children's book creators are?

Image: 'Aspetta, ti aggiungo come contatto'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/22132739@N02/3952070713


Wrapping up ALA Midwinter Around the Blogosphere

Just a few wrap-up posts on the adventures. Share your faves in comments!

Mary Ann at Great Kids Books shares some love and insight on the Morris seminar (that helps train people to serve on the YMA* committees).

Travis at 100 Scope Notes always provides a supportive and even-handed wrap-up of some of the YMA.

Monica at Educating Alice shares her pleasure at YMA results.

Betsy at Fuse 8 Productions gives her usual thorough and very witty take on the YMAs.

Jonathan at SLJ's Heavy Medal blog points out that all winners/honorees had great reviews/accolades.

Robin over at Horn Book's blog talks about the process of selecting honor books. Then to top it off she exactly describes the way the YMA conference feels in another Horn Book post in Calling Caldecott.

The OIF Blog championed an excellent resolution passed by Council (who says issues move slowly through ALA?) calling Arizona legislators on the carpet for a biased and censorious law targeting ethnic and minority studies that I blogged about here.

And of course the ALSC blog was the go to place for observations and news large and small.

And here's a youtube channel with honorees thanking the committees

Plus never say librarians don't know how to spend money and have fun while visiting conference cities. The locals are always a little surprised.

Finally the twittersphere was hot, hot, hot throughout the YMA announcements (#alayma). Someone announced during the mad texting that that the hashtag had trended extremely high for activity approaching top ten status for a bit. The results: many, many porn tweets popped up there.  So getting popular is not always good? Hilarious!

*YMA= Youth Media Awards presented at the ALA Midwinter Meeting


Come On In, the Water's Fine

I joined the ALA Council at this midwinter meeting after being elected chapter councilor for Wisconsin. I found it to be fascinating, and definitely a venue where I will be able to thrive.

I served for the last few years on the ALSC board with my good friend and colleague Rhonda Puntney Gould, ALSC's division councilor. Ever since she started, she told me that I would love Council. I did feel a little trepidation. But I also know I love process, I love working with passionate people from all kinds of libraries and I think that the work that ALA does is vital to libraries.

The reaction of my peers has been pretty funny. I think it's safe to say that they have stayed in a fairly narrow range - "Poor you." " We appreciate your sacrifice." "Better you than me." Maybe I'm being Pollyanna-ish about this but I am puzzled by the reaction.

Although Council has a reputation as a large body that spins its wheels, it is also a large body that is passionate about libraries and library work in our nation. Over the past few days, we passed a resolution opposing restrictions to materials in Arizona and supporting open inquiry in ethnic and cultural studies. We discussed and passed a resolution opposing discriminatory practices of publishers and distributors which adversely impact access to content (think ebooks, audiobooks no longer available to libraries and DVDs that are not released to the library market until a month after general release); resolutions opposing SOPA/PIPA; and resolutions to restore funding to ensure no-fee public access to government information and opposing the Research Works Act. ALA can bring its considerable weight to bear in a way individual librarians and libraries can't.  There are also working groups, task forces and the Washington office working on lobbying and negotiating in many of these areas.

We have had some great ALSC folks on council over the years but right now we are few and need lots more.  I have long felt that many, many of my ALSC sisters and brothers see service to ALSC - and service on award committees in particular - as the be-all and end-all of their ALA work. While of course worthy,  I believe that leadership in ALSC goes far beyond this. I would love more younger members running for Council and contributing their energy, their commitment to youth and libraries and their fresh eyes to the process of supporting all types of libraries.

Just as service on ALSC O&B or Budget committees or priority group consultancy prepares members for service as a board member, so, too, service on Council is a great learning experience and a true path to leadership. The youth caucus councilors (ALSC, YALSA and AASL) play and work beautifully together and the rest of the councilors are welcoming to the new among their ranks. I will be serving my state on Council for the next three years. The nominating committee is always looking for candidates. Why don't you consider joining me. After all, the water truly is fine!

Image: 'Bali Kuta Beach : May their JOY+Embrace+U!'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/32594277@N04


Post ALA Award Thoughts

On the twitter hashtag for the midwinter ALA Youth Media Awards (#alayma), there are many accolades but the beginning stirrings of "What happened to this much liked and talked about book?" or "Why so few honor books when my fave wasn't mentioned?" or "What were they thinking?"

In an effort to calm the waters (or the snows) and explain the process, I have blogged over at the Wisconsin Library Association's YSS blog about how things like this happen...and how to chill.

Image: 'Brilliant Reflector'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/48600090482@N01/3088778613

Amelia Bloomer Awards Announced

From the ALA press release:

DALLAS – The Amelia Bloomer Project, a product of the ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table’s (SRRT) Feminist Taskforce, announced the 2012 Amelia Bloomer List at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, held Jan. 20-23, 2012.

The bibliography consists of well written and illustrated books with significant feminist content, intended for young readers from birth to 18 years old. This year’s list includes 78 titles published between July 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2011.

Named for Amelia Bloomer, a pioneering 19th century newspaper editor, feminist thinker, public speaker and suffragist, the list features books about girls and women that spur the imagination while confronting traditional female stereotypes.

The bibliography is intended to aid children and teens in selecting high-quality books released over the past 18 months and may be used for a recommended reading list for youth and those who interact with them and as a collection development or reader’s advisory tool for interested librarians. Find the top 10 titles of the 2012 Amelia Bloomer List here.


ALA Awards - Behind the Scenes

I've been blogging over at the WI Library Association's Youth Services Section blog (YSS Events) here and here over the past few days giving a behind the scenes look at what it's like at the ALA Midwinter conference for award committee members.

Drop by and read!


Make Yourself # 21!

Even though this is from October 2010, the 20 Heroic Librarians Who Save the World always tickles me.

I believe all of us who work in libraries are heroes everyday.  I blogged about it in the past here and here.

Now get out there, you heroes, and greet the day!

Please Sign White House Petition on School Libraries

 Need ammo for the petition below? 

Check out this report from Library Research Service News, Change in School Librarian Staffing Linked to Change in CSAP Scores, 2005-2011.

Whether you are a school librarian, public librarian, academic librarian, book creator, or a book lover, supporting school libraries and the presence of trained school librarians is vital to children's reading and education.

- From Marci Merola on behalf of the ALA School Library Task Force:
Dear Colleagues,

Carl Harvey, 2011-2012 AASL president, has initiated a White House petition on school libraries, which specifically petitions the Obama administration to "ensure that every child in America has access to an effective school library program." 25,000 signatures are required in order for this petition to be viewed by White House staff, no later than February 4, 2012.
Please take a few seconds to sign this petition, spread the word to your member groups, ask your colleagues and library supporters in your circles to sign on and spread the word via Facebook, Twitter and other channels.

Image: 'The List'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/40609437@N04/5185095492

Arizona is Afraid of Words. ..and Thoughts

Wow. If you haven't been following this bizarre story, A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy has a good, brief set of links.  Clearly how we each vote matters.

Image: 'no evil'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/36770908@N08/4385543669


Meet E.M. Kokie, an Apocalypsie from the YAmazing Race

I gotta say, as a practitioner out here in the fields, I have never heard of a gathering of authors across houses like this doing this level of coordinated promotion in such an inviting and downright "perfect-storm” sort of way. I asked one of the Apocalypsie debut authors, E.M. Kokie (Personal Effects, Candlewick, Fall 2012) if she could spend a few minutes enlightening me on the fabulous race. I share her responses below.

TTFLF: How did the Apocalypsies originally come together?

E.M.: Debut YA and MG authors have been banding together for a good number of years in groups ranging from small marketing collectives to larger support communities. For example, the 2K classes have been around since 2007. And groups like the Tenners and the Elevensies preceded the Apocalypsies.

The Apocalypsies started fairly organically in that those of us who are active online and in social media knew of the Tenners and Elevensies. So, when we learned we would be 2012 debuts, we started organizing. While there were many of us helping to make decisions and organize as early as the summer of 2010, authors Gretchen McNeil and Lynne Kelly went above and beyond, really helping the Apocalypsies to organize, communicate and plan early. But this has been a group formed through self-identification and social outreach, with authors finding us, and us finding them, through word of mouth online. The group grew in numbers and in enthusiasm and in friendship faster and larger than I could have imagined. It's been amazing to have these friends to share the journey.

TTFLF: Is it unusual to have so many debut writers of YA and MG novels sharing their journey towards publication with each other and the kidslitosphere?

E.M.: I can't say it is unusual, but because we organized early it allowed us to support each other and to establish a presence early. Many of us have been members since our books were acquired, meaning we've been able to privately offer moral support and humor and advice through the entire journey - from revisions to sharing covers and title changes and now to support each other, to cheer each debut and news. We spent a good portion of 2011 organizing and supporting each other behind the scenes (and sometimes on Twitter), and lending support to the Elevensies (the 2011 debut group) through blog interviews and shout outs on Twitter and Facebook. Now we are focused a little more on efforts to get the word out - for example, we are doing monthly Twitter chats on the 12th of every month (use hashtag #2012debuts) and some of us are looking at doing some group signings and events, maybe even some in person events organized geographically or around similar themes or audiences. What's great is that the Apocalypsies is all about the support, but members can participate as much or as little as they like, and however they are comfortable.

TTFLF: If it's not unusual, how would librarians or kids lit aficionados find upcoming classes (2013; 2014) of debut authors?

E.M.: If you are active on Twitter, and follow authors and editors and other librarians, you would probably eventually see mention of the groups. But I'll give you a head start and a shout out to the Lucky 13s, the 2013 debuts. I'm not aware of a 2014 group yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

TTFLF: The YAmazing Race with MGnificent Prizes is a great concept to alert the kidslitosphere to all you new authors and your works. How did this idea originate and grow?

E.M.: There have been scavenger hunts and blog hops before. But Apocalypsie Gina Damico suggested that we do a blog race in January to kick off the year with a bang, and she really took the lead in organizing all of the legs and creating the quizzes and deserves a hardy round of applause for all the work she put into organizing this. The enthusiasm has been amazing. And it's been fun, too, which is the important part.

TTFLF: I'm impressed by the way the Apocalypsies have embraced social media to make this very short week, a very big deal. Was this aspect - and the addition of swag - always part of the original concept?

E.M. Well, who doesn't love ARCs and swag and the tangible fun parts of being debut authors? Yes, from the beginning, from Gina's proposal, we knew that the Race would include prize packs, and even side give aways. There are so many amazing books coming out in 2012! And not all of the Apocalypsies were able to participate in the YAmazing Race with MGnificent Prizes. If you go to our blog, you can scroll through all of the members by name or release date.

Or you can go back to the early blog posts (use the pull down menu to select October 2010) and read a bit about many of the Apocalypsies in the form of our own posts on at the blog. We are so excited to finally be sharing our books! And if you missed the Elevensies, I encourage readers to check them out, too, and maybe find some great 2011 books you may have missed.

TTFLF: Just from a day's perspective, are you (and any of the Apocalypsies you've been in touch with) seeing a significant uptick in traffic/interest in your blogs/feeds/followers/newsletter sign-ups?

E.M.: I am in the third leg of the Race, and already I'm seeing a lot of activity on my blog and Facebook page, which means there are already a good number of people at leg three - go early bird racers! And what is even more interesting is that I'm seeing increased buzz and activity at Goodreads and Twitter, too, even though my profiles there are not directly related to the Race. So, I would definitely say the buzz of the Race is causing people to check out our books - which is really what it is all about, beyond the fun, of course.

TTFLF: Anything else, you'd like to wrap-up with?

E.M.: This is such an exciting time for those of us who are moving into a more public forum and who are finally seeing all the hard work pay off in the form of our books heading out into the world. It's wonderful to have the enthusiasm of librarians and teachers who are always looking for great new books to put into the hands of teens and younger kids. Thank you for all you do to put good books in the hands of readers.

TTFLF: Thanks zillions for your time on this, E.M. It is truly a great concept and is really introducing me to alot of books and authors I am excited to meet!

White Hat/Black Ops Needed

Librarian Tony Greenwalt, on his theanalogdivide blog, has an idea to counter some publishers' attitudes about ebooks in relation to libraries: measure the sales impact of Caldecott and RUSA awards at midwinter. He's looking for some "white hat/black ops" cohorts. Can you help?
Image: 'untitled'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/36554617@N03/5710171465


Blinkety Links

Man, the feeds are smokin'. Forthwith, a few shares of what seems to be hot off the web for those who love books:

The Apocalypsies, a fab gathering of 2012 debut YA and middle grade authors have launched a one week-only race through their author blogs in an effort to introduce readers to their work set to be published in 2012. The race features quizzes, swag and encourages readers to like, join, recommend and interact to get the word out.  This may be the best marketing effort I've seen. But don't delay, the race only lasts from Jan 16-23. And all those book teasers...mmmmmm!

As mentioned in my previous post, World Book Night is going to debut in the U.S. this year. They are looking for 50,000 book-loving volunteers to take 20 free copies of a book to a location in their community and give them away. The goal is to give books to new readers, to encourage reading, to share your passion for a great book. Applications to be a distribution point or distributor are due Feb 1, 2012.

For those of us not yet willing to let the wonder of last summer's One World, Many Stories go, Paper Tigers blog is calling all readers who love and want to promote world literature to get involved in a very easy year-long challenge - Reading the World Challenge. They encourage readers to open up to the exciting possibilities and blend books into programming, curriculum and everywhere books and kids come together.  If you are interested in expanding your and kids' horizons, you can sign up in the comments section of their post above.


World Book Night

My friend and colleague Leah has a post up over at Keeping Up with Kids about World Book Night which is happening on April 23, 2012. It sounds pretty fascinating and libraries are welcome to participate and promote.

The books, perfect for adults and teens, are great!

Brews and Book Reviews

Recently, Sara, my renaissance-woman colleague at the library, wrote a thoughtful piece at the Ladies of Craft Brewing blog about the importance of reviewing craft brews responsibly. As I read it I thought, "Jeez, this could pretty much be said about book reviewing as well."  Then I saw a link of Madigan Reads where an author really let a reviewer know what she thought right back (before the author took the post down) and things clicked again for me.

Until recently, I was a long time book reviewer for School Library Journal.  I often thought about the power of my words when considering what to say about a book I had before me. Ranganathan's Five Laws always spoke to me. In particular, his second and third laws really yakked:
  • Every reader his/her book
  • Every book, its reader
Because I found the plot strange for my tastes (after all, isn't the Marge-centric view of the universe the way everyone should look at life?), the characters rubbed me the wrong way (maybe one reminded me of my nutjob relative or another kept me in mind of the sneering, stink-eye-giving teen that I don't much care for), the writing not elevated or bright (but would reluctant readers find it a bracing and fun read), did that give me carte blanche to trash the book or dismiss it out of hand? What reader was the book truly speaking to? It didn't have to speak to me but I needed to know who it might speak to. I thought carefully about the audience for the book, about how it might be used in a library setting or in a home, about how it might speak to a reader quite different from me.

I also thought in a larger way about the fact that many people found value in this book - the publisher, editor, promotional department - and put their considerable heft behind it. So somewhere, somehow, someone thought this book had worth. And I went about finding it.  I was honest in my opinion, not Polly-annish, but also willing to explore who best fit with this book. It was certainly analagous to the work I do daily at the library with kids finding just the right book for each individual reader.

As a "citizen-librarian" reviewer for SLJ (no pay), I have felt great kinship with the other citizen-reviewers who blog for the love of youth literature throughout the Kidlitosphere. I have learned whose opinion I trust the most to give clear-eyed insight into the books they read.  I have also learned to be leery of  those who sometimes like to talk but have little to say; and those who occasionally are pretty darn sure they could write a better book. I learned who actually speaks to the book before them and knows how to imagine the many different readers that book might have. Unlike journal reviewers who are assigned the books they review, my sister and brother bloggers can choose to review or not review a book. By their silence, a book can certainly be judged.And in that very silence, I have certainly listened and known much about books.

Our words have power, my friends, just as Sara writes about in her blog on reviews of craft beer and what they can mean.  I am wondering if we are thinking about this as we write or a sense of divine privilege and insight dictates what words we share on the life work of others?

Just wondering...

Image: 'Friday: 1.2.2008'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/7721141@N07/3164270664


Late to the Pinterest Party?

I was happily blogging along  last year when I chanced upon a new and different source when looking at where my blog traffic was coming from.  It said "pinterest.com" and when I clicked through I found this bright and interesting place that had ideas on all kinds of library stuff.  But it was clear to me that I needed to request an invite to come to the party.  That seemed rude. Well,  and I was busy. And. Well. Sigh.

Then, a few months after that, I saw our neighboring library system was planning a webinar on Pinterest. Ah, just the motivation I needed. I signed up for the webinar...and then because I am more OCD than not, I decided to ask for an invite to get a leg up. Meanwhile, a colleague did a brief post on Pinterest at the Wisconsin Library Association's YSS blog and I started getting really excited.

My invite came, I joined up...and I didn't quite get it. Wah!!!!

But thank goodness the webinar was today and, guided by the ever creative and ever confident trio of Georgia Jones, Jill Pachin and Jessi Peterson, I participated and "got" it! They provided hand-holdingly great tips and I saw how it could help my work (ohhhh, those "boards" are like my old manilla folder filing system) and even help me store some of my favorite posts and blogs.  It was total kismet that the first post that I came upon to pin from my Google Reader's starred item lists was one written last week at Anne's SoTomorrow blog on...Pinterest! It includes handy tips for bloggers who are pinning as well as making it easy for folks to pin content from a blog.

So. Two hours later I am mainlining this handy site, finding amazing ideas on library stuff and thinking, "Jeez, glad I have my party shoes and bling on!" And I guess I wasn't too late after all!


Muffins with Mom/Doughnuts with Dad = Perfection

I was asked to come by one of our elementary schools today to do a story and brief presentation about the library and what's up at their monthly breakfast: Muffins with Mon/Doughnuts with Dad.  This 45 minute early morning event for preschoolers, 4K and K kids and their grown-ups features a light breakfast and plenty of books for families to read together as they eat.  There is always a short informational presentation and all kids who attend receive a free paperback book.

My LMC colleague Bridget and some of her school colleagues created this amazing event last year after writing a grant to the district's educational foundation. The grant helps fund the mini-muffins, glazers, fruit, milk and juices - and the books for give-away. It is going into it's second year and the funding has been extended.

The original concept is still being followed and the participation continues to grow. The breakfast is held in the LMC, the tables where families eat are covered in LMC books to read while eating and the free books to take home are enticingly displayed. The families represent a wide range of economic and cultural circumstances and everyone comes together to celebrate books.  Everyone is modeling reading and I think it is very encouraging for families. It is mellow, fun and very conversational.

Simply put, I love this event. I am in awe of the original planning that went into this concept. It resulted in a strong  and worthwhile program - the fact that it is still hewing to it's original form yet continuing to grow in participation speaks volumes. I appreciate being asked to be a part of the mix to highlight a few of our programs and initiatives, encourage library card sign-up and celebrate the fact the school kids are so lucky to have two libraries - a LMC and a public library to go to. And, as a supporter of literacy, I am thrilled to watch the faces of the kids as they are absorbed in books amid the whirl of activity and hum of voices.  To me, this school program = perfection. Kudos to my school colleagues!

Image: 'Blueberry muffins and tangerines'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124473190@N01/2353402378


What Do Books Do at Night?

Oh my gosh!

I KNEW it!  I KNEW it!!!

All my wild imaginings are true.  I was sure this is what happens after we turn off the lights at bookstores and libraries (I somehow feel Luna Lovegood-ish about this!) .

Great work to the film-makers and their group of handy helpers!  And thanks Bina Williams for the link!


What the....?!?!?!?!

You know how I posted a few weeks ago about how much I loved the calm days just prior to and during the holidays?

I must have angered the gods and goddesses because this first week of the new year has been rockin' out crazy.  I suspect everyone put off tasks and to-do's "until after the New Year", and man, we've all been busy like little beavers.  My email inbox has been bursting with requests and my own finger over the "Send" button has been tapping feverishly. And stuff around the library...aieee!

What's up?
- ALA annual housing opened up and negotiations needed to happen with my roommate
- a major typo mix-up in a handout precipitated massive negotiation between a couple of departments to create the right solution
- continuing planning on our efforts to bring in every 2nd grader in for a class visit went into high gear
- emailing art teachers with an art contest entry in collaboration with our local Earth Week committee
- helping to oversee the melding of our Youth Dept shelvers into the Circ department
- negotiating a venue for our state library association's Foundation fundraiser
- working with a colleague to suggest ways to move a request through the ALSC board
- continued detail work on eleven upcoming SLP workshop presentations in two states
- helping support a colleague across the state in a touchy situation
- starting to blog on our youth services blog and recruit a posse of colleagues to help create content
- get ready for ALA midwinter: first ALA council sessions; finish writing up cool programs for a "101 Great School Age Programs" for my committee; prep for ALSC Nominations Committee meeting
- empty out my office bookshelves for transfer into colleagues' offices and prep for new bookshelves
- looking over a colleague's resume
- meeting as library rep with our local Storytelling Festival committee to solidify plans
- getting the news that a website is up for an advisory committee I was part of and we need to help provide some good content
- working some desk time

I could go on. Suffice it to say the 2012 has started with a bang and here I gooooooooooooooooooo!

How's about you?

Image: 'Crazy Kawaii Bot'   http://www.flickr.com/photos/7315825@N04/4837849029


Two Giants...and All the Words Fit to Print.

What a momentous day  - the inestimable Walter Dean Myers has been named as our newest National Ambassador for Young People's Literature!! A writer of rare gifts and insights, Myers has written powerfully and beautifully for young readers for over forty years.  His passion and commitment is as strong today as when he started. His honor makes this the third home run for the LC's Center of the Book and Children's Book Council who sponsor this initiative (Jon Scieszka and Katherine Paterson were his ambassadorial predecessors).  A huge congratulations and shout-out to WDM!!

And just to make things even more delicious on such a day, Horn Book published a lovely piece by Richard Peck based on his remarks this past October at a Horn Book/Simmons Colloquium.  Reading his tribute to books, writers, readers and the power of books and words in the lives of young people gives me pause ...and hope.

Such richness today - it is a wonderful thing to be a Youth Librarian and lover of children's literature and have two such thoughtful and thought-provoking occurrences on our radar!