Youth Librarian as Guide and Sister?

I appreciated this recent reflection on "parenting like a librarian" from Michelle Woo, writing for Lifehacker. In the article she references the work of John Holt, unschooling pioneer, and his belief that parents need to "get out the way" and allow kids to discover.  Woo then compares that advice to how we in the library world do just that: offer diverse choices; don't dictate what to read; take part in the cultural conversation; and help people follow their interests.

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This dovetails with something I share with grad students in my classes when we examine history and current practice in youth librarianship.

"Precepts and Practices" by Christine Jenkins published in the September/October 1999 issue of Hornbook has a much quoted set of  beliefs or central concepts in children's librarianship  that are part of our history as well as very present in our current librarianship. One of the seven beliefs she explicates is the the belief that children's librarians have "a friendly and unsentimental older sister's attitude towards children."

This particular description is one that often elicits the most discussion and controversy from students. (sometimes I wonder whether its because students might have fraught sibling relationships). So as I teach, I have given alot of thought to this. I think part of this belief description is turning away from the concept of youth librarians as motherly or grandmotherly; away from the concept of youth librarians as bosses; away from the concept of youth librarians as teachers.

Rather, the description enfolds the best of what an older sibling can provide: pathfinding guidance; experience; and support. Woo's article comes at this in much the same way and really speaks to me about how we approach our work with people of any age that use the library.

I like it!


Working on a Growth Mindset

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I was struck by a 2015 post on the InformED website that Stephen Abrams linked to on cultivating a growth mindset.

It wraps into much of my thinking as someone who feels like a day is a lost cause if I don't learn something new - about the profession, about myself, about the world (both locally, regionally and globally), about how others experience the world. Learning is what I do.

Sharing that learning is also what I do. I have been teaching and sharing through classes, lectures, presentations, mentoring, informal chats in hallways, linking people to people, (more recently) this blog for more than thirty years.  We are lucky to be in a marvelously connected profession where we can celebrate all the ways of knowing and providing services.

Over all that time my thinking and consideration of youth work has grown and changed as I have absorbed far more than I shared from my reading, listening and attendance at conferences.

Most recently, I was struck by the learning that went on at the ALSC Institute in Cincinnati. Sessions were focused on research and on "how I run my library good". The research was bracing. The practical sessions included not just the triumphs but honest assessments of the rocky path there - the obstacles, fails and solutions that made the project or plan truly work for each community.

A key to this conference is that it really is all learning all the time - not just in information sessions -and provides ample time to connect with and meet many new people. Because the Institutes are located in areas that ALA conferences never come to, it is an extraordinary opportunity to meet library staff from the regions surrounding the conference and learn a ton. I came knowing very few people and left knowing lots of new colleagues that I met during breaks, at receptions, at meals and sitting next to me at sessions. It's exciting not just to hang out with people you know but to reach out and include everyone.

That personal learning is powerful especially at a conference whose theme was diversity and inclusion. My take-aways included learning about links to inclusive programming; the importance of identity in programming, and sharpening my eye in terms of decolonializing book selection and my work in making sure I do this. It made the closing session a painful reminder of how there is much work to be done here and I need to be part of that work in my sharing and learning.

Growth mindset. Learning. A sense of and a re-commitment to: "We can all do better".


Power Up Conference is Coming!

The University of WI iSchool Continuing Education Department has opened up registration for its 2nd Power Up Leadership Conference for Youth Library Managers and Staff, March 29-20, 2019.

This day and a half conference with inspiring keynotes and amazing sessions spans two days  at the beautiful UW-Madison campus' Pyle Center. There are 18 different presentations to choose from as well as amazing networking opportunities to share ideas and learn informally with youth services leader/peers.

Speakers from around the US and homegrown WI children's librarian powerhouses will be your guides to learning.

The first Power Up Conference filled up quickly so don't delay in registering for this extraordinary opportunity!


Eleven is Heaven - Happy Birthday TTFLF!

If it's fall, it means it's time to celebrate!!
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Begun in the wild digital learning days of Web 2.0, this blog grew from an assignment into a place to think, share, learn and ponder over the past decade plus.

It has been an extraordinary opportunity to reach out and meet many colleagues and friends -  peers who work so tirelessly everyday on behalf of kids and families. The networking, linking and opportunities that resulted have enriched my practice of the profession and my life in a deep and profound way.

Thank you, dear readers, for being part of the blogging community as writers and readers and for reaching out to me and for sharing this amazing passionate journey we call youth librarianship. What an extraordinary adventure!


The Importance of Being at the Table

I'm at the ALSC institute this week in Cincinnati with a few hundred sister and brother youth librarians learning a ton and meeting many new colleagues. What I love about these biennial Institutes is the concentrated sessions with plenty of time network with regional librarians who don't often get the opportunity to attend ALA conferences. There is no committee work so all our time is learning and connecting with new friends.

This year, the overarching theme is the importance of making sure we get everyone at the table. We in youth librarianship should be leaders in inclusion, equity and diversity.

The programs so far have really celebrated this concept with thoughtful reflections and stirring calls to action on identity in children's programming; decolonializing our book selection methods; demystifying advocacy; true advocacy that recognizes every child and so much more yet to come in the next two days.

I will be presenting on the importance of reaching out and being a leader in connecting community and library to benefit all kids. It's exciting to be part of the group of energetic and innovative colleagues sharing programs, thoughts and action..

The next Institute will be held in Minneapolis MN Oct 1-3, 2020. You might want to mark your calendars now for this immersive experience.


Hey, Hey Harry Potter!

Whenever an anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book or HP's birthday rolls around and I read posts celebrating the milestone, I get nostalgic.

As a fantasy lover, I had HP and the Sorceror's Stone with me on an urgent care visit just after it was published. The doctor and I were chatting about my library work and the large children's book I had in hand. Then he asked if I could answer a reference question. He had been listening to a review of a children's fantasy book on public radio and thought he heard the word "muddles" or "muggles" mentioned. I laughed and said, "This is the book and it's great!" He still read to his teen-age children  and had been intrigued by the review. I laughed and said, "You can't go wrong with this book!"

The moment of kismet told me something special was happening around this book. And the ensuing embrace of the Harry Potter literary universe reinforced that sense.

When the second book was published in Great Britain six months before the American edition, I purchased it immediately on Amazon UK. I did the same for the third book even though the publication was done simultaneously in both countries. I purchased Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone too! I loved reading the British words and expressions in those original versions.

By the third book, we began having a weekly Harry Potter afterschool read-alouds for kids and families. A homeschool parent and I tag-teamed reading for the hour. And it took months. It was heaven. The group became a club that went together to see the first - and subsequent - Harry Potter movies.

Long car trips flew by as my partner and I listened to both the British and American editions of the audiobooks. And of course we purchased the movies for our own home library (although our first loyalty remains with the books).

We began holding Harry Potter sleep-over parties at the library on the eve of publication of the new books. Kids and parents came in costume, we played HP movie soundtrack music over the PA system and we held classes, adventures and feasts. At the stroke of midnight, we would "open" the wholesaler's box with the newest book (all cataloged and covered) and begin reading. The kids were mesmerized until they nodded off (the last one usually hung on until 4 am). When they awoke, the kids were never crabby- they all had been captivated by the magic of the book and the library after hours.

Over the years, we booktalked, recommended read-alikes, talked with kids and parents about the books and kept buying enough copies to fill the requests and always have a least a copy on the shelves.

So here's to JK Rowling and her HP books. They shone a spotlight on reading and enjoying books that lasted long past the time I ever expected! And they enriched my reading and library work immeasurably.


Wanna Know ALL.THE.THINGS. in YS-ville?

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Well, actually I can't *quite* guarantee that but I can open the door to learning a passle of useful information on creating amazing Youth Services in the library.

I'm back in the CE saddle again in September teaching an 8 week basics course on Youth Services called Youth Services 101 at University of Wisconsin-Madison iSchool Continuing Ed Dept.  This course is perfect for library assistants, associates, directors of small libraries who wear ALL the hats, part-timers and full-timers...really, anyone who would like a more solid grounding in working with kids birth though age 18 and their families.

We'll look at child and adolescent development, programming power, outreach, library spaces, advocacy, savvy planning, service trends, teamwork and more. Its a chance to take a course based on the youth services coursework of Masters Degree in Library and Info Science students - so you'll be in the know.

The course is practical, lets you share your thoughts, challenges and successes and gives you the big picture thinking to increase your confidence in working with youth in your community.

Hope you can join me this fall as we learn and share together!


Power Up Conference - Last Call for Proposals

And now a word from our colleague, Meredith Lowe, Continuing Education Services at The Information School at UW-Madison:

Do you have ideas to share about management and leadership in Youth Services? The University of Wisconsin-Madison Information School is pleased to offer the second Power Up Conference to share your exciting ideas! The conference will take place in Madison, Wisconsin on March 28-29, 2019. The program committee will be accepting proposals until August 3, 2018.

Topics may include, but are not limited to: strategic planning, collaborations, ethics, leadership pathways, advocacy, mentorship, managing change, work/life balance, staff motivation, and innovation. Youth services librarians and staff from public libraries, schools, after-school programs, museums, etc. are invited to attend – we had 142 attendees from 20 states at the 2017 conference! More about the conference, including information about past conferences, is here

Our opening keynote address speaker is Andrew Medlar, former ALSC President and current director of BookOps, serving the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library. Our closing keynote will be presented by Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen, Associate Professor of Library and Information Science at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Statement
The Program Committee encourages a diversity of presenters representing a variety of personal and professional backgrounds, perspectives, and voices. We encourage submissions from anyone who is interested in presenting, including students, new professionals, first-time presenters, and representatives of allied professions.

Proposal Evaluation
The committee will evaluate all of the submissions as individual entries, and how they fit within the balance of conference content as a whole. The Program Committee will evaluate all proposals submitted by the deadline using the following criteria:
• Clarity and completeness of the proposal, particularly having well-developed content and sufficient speakers to address all relevant aspects of the topic;
• Originality and relevance of the proposed topic;
• Uniqueness of content in relation to other conference presentations;
• A range of speaker experiences and representations
How to submit a proposal

Please submit a 200-250 word description of your proposed session to Meredith Lowe, by August 3, 2018. Sessions at the conference will be one hour. Please include an additional sentence or two about how this proposal aligns with our diversity, inclusion and equity statement outlined above. Note that the proposal will not be the finalized description for the conference program; the committee will contact selected proposal submitters for a final draft.

Panel presentations are accepted. All selected proposals will receive one complimentary conference registration ($300 value), which may be divided however the presenters of that session choose.


Let's Power Up Conference!

Do you have ideas to share about management and leadership in Youth Services?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Information School announces their second Power Up conference on youth leadership and management March 28-29, 2019 and this is YOUR chance to pitch your exciting ideas for a session proposal. 

The first conference was amazing, deep, dynamic and 100% empowering. The second promises the same with new voices, content and powerful networking opportunities.

Topics can include (but aren't limited to): strategic planning, collaborations, ethics, leadership pathways, advocacy, mentorship, managing change, work/life balance, staff motivation and innovation.  Pitch a panel; pitch a solo prezi; pitch a session that pushes the envelope. Proposals are due August 3 but don't delay!

And stay updated on the conference's Facebook page.


Heading to WEMTA

I'm excited to be heading to the WI Educational Media and Technology Association conference over the next few days to hang out with my school library colleagues and friends. I do a quick presentation on creating a dynamite youth info book collection today that I've presented in WA and in one of our northern WI systems based on my Sibert Award committee work.

Joining me are other YSS members who pitched programs to present to our school colleagues. It will be fabulous learning.

For me,  the real fun starts Monday when I am staffing a booth for our WI Library Association and Youth Services Section inviting our school colleagues to learn more about - and maybe even join - WLA/YSS. I look forward to chatting and re-connecting with lots of school colleagues and having them play at the booth! Every hour, people who stop at the booth can vote on a new pairing of book characters (gets us ready for our April 2 statewide voting!!)

I hope to see lots of friends there...maybe even you! Stop by and say hi!!


Library Consulting - Staying Connected

One part of my regular system-level consulting work with 28 member libraries involves keeping our  youth staff up-to-date and connected on news of note. Each week, I send out a quick newsletter with info that happens throughout the previous week, upcoming workshops, member tips, an occasional mini-consult on a burning question or expressed need (I survey the librarians biennially).  I think it's important to stay connected and thoughtful about what staff need to do their jobs. Here is this week's email newsletter.

Happy Spring-Equinox SWLS Youth Newsletter

Hi everyone,

Great to start seeing you all. Expect contacts within the next few weeks to book the rest of the year's visits to your library!

Please fill in your order by Friday April 6.

Linda at Cobb recommends Dubuque's Smithsonian National Mississippi River Museum's Outreach programs  For $175 and $.65 a mile you get a dynamic science based program! Details are here (price breaks for multiple sessions of same program)

Generally, almost all links in the newsletter are archived on our SWLS Youth Pinterest page! 

Friday April 13  9:00-2:00 pm,  
SWLS headquarters
Join Anna Stange for a hands-on, music-themed summer library program workshop that will  give you a lift and the inside scoop on confidently presenting and doing music with children and teens.  Discover new ways to use music and rhythm, chanting and poetry, beats and boxes (maybe even bottle caps!) in this interactive workshop. There will be time to share your ideas with everyone for the upcoming summer as well as tweak them based on what you learn at the workshop!  Anna Stange, a musician, singer, former elementary school teacher and longtime music teacher in the Chicago area, incorporates music and the arts into all aspects of her work. She warmly inspires participants through many styles of learning and engagement.
We will be distributing free books gleaned from the kits at the workshop. Don't miss your chance to take fistfuls home for prizes or your collections.

Tessa did a blog post with more detailed information about the workshops I mentioned last week.These workshops are different from our hoped-for mid-August SWLS school/public library collaboration workshop that we are still planning!

The first ever! Hope to see you there. You don't need to be a member of WLA or of WISL to attend. Please share this invite with another librarian!

MINI-CONSULT - STEM RESOURCES (also posted on our SWLS Pinterest Page)
Information on programs (active and passive) with STEM content has been a consistent request from lots of you. While we can't have a STEM system level workshop like Lisa Shaia's every year, we can still connect to great resources. Please try these and program madly and STEM-ly!!

Sowing Seeds Librarian blog - SWLS' own Emly Zorea has a super helpful blog in which she shares programs on STEM and Coding (among other things. If you are not subscribed to it, I highly recommend it).

PBS Design Squad - Lots of great do-able science-based ideas on this website.

STEM in Libraries blog - with the tagline: "We are scientists...library scientists" you know you are in the right place. A TON of programs.

STARNET STEM Activity Clearinghouse - vetted programs and activities perfect for libraries.

Teachers are Terrific webpage -   a TON of cheap and well-designed lesson plans for various elementary grades

Jbrary blog post on STEM resources - a one-stop shop of blogs and websites by the rpolific early literacy video gurus!

As always if you have questions or concerns, some news or pix to share with everyone, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.


For Director's Ears Only:10 Secret Tips to Support Youth Services

The webinar is on the books. If you'd like to see what youth librarians identified as the most important tips that directors need to be amazing supporters of youth services and youth services staff, please click here to view the University of Wisconsin- Madison iSchool CE webinar.


Make Mine Music SLP Workshop Links 2/23/18

This project was funded in part with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which administers the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Division for Libraries & Technology

It was great to join so many colleagues from the northeastern side of Wisconsin for some fun times surrounding planning for summer ...and contemplating change.

Here are some of the links I shared with you

Summer Learning -  Horizons National video

Summer Library R/Evolution Pinterest Board

Marinak, Barbara and  Linda Gambrell (2016) No More Reading for Junk: Best Practices for Motivating Readers. Heinemann

Summer 2018 Pinterest Board and here is another one from Wisconsin's Miss Pippi!

Wisconsin Library Association

PDF of slidedeck

Idea Sharing from the workshop:
Ukekeles are inexpensive way to invest to create hands-on music with kids
Consider getting a sponsor(s) from small business(es) to sponsor programs or food for events.
Create songwriting books for teens monthly meetings where attendees can work on songwriting skills; once a year open mic night.
Community Outreach – look into non-profit arts group who often need to do community outreach.
Do Dance Party “Rock n Stroller” CDs…highlight your CD collection.
Street party- block street off if your library is small. Or use nearby park.
Work with your schools that do music. Create an instrument petting zoo and ask high school kids to bring their instruments and demonstate how it is played.
Not a singer, no problem..use rhythm.  
Don’t apologize for singing.
Have a kid parade with homemade instruments
Made eggs and spoons to make shaker and added different things to each (rice, noodles, gravel, ) and have kids listen to the difference
Show videos of sound effects being made – “Foley” is name of making sound effects
Sing along to movies (can you say Frozen?)
Make music with sounds of nature or sounds of your town.
Musical selfie – sing or play some notes that are you and put on library FB page
Listen to a variety of music and draw what they hear (jazz; fast, slow,etc)
Lip sync contest
Folk dance/square dance/line dance
Music camp
Create a jingle for the library
Use digital Garage Band to create music with teens
Rap battles with karoake machines
Do a family talent show
Don’t forget rocks
Rocks build– build with rocks – tower, wall, road, balanced rock sculpture
Rock science - layers of the earth; show different rocks

Rock art – polished rocks; kindness rocks; jewelry with rocks
UW-Madison Geology Museum will lend collections if you pick up and drop off
Check with Weis Museum of UW-Fox Valley campus
Use pictures of rocks to make a mosaic
Rock Fashion Week - tweens and teens can make fashion accessories
Starburst Rock Cycle video

Hope you have a great summer!!


Youth Services Position Open in Wisconsin's Beautiful Driftless Area

Are you looking for a challenging job working with a great team of people who aren't afraid to push the envelope to evolve service, programs, initiatives, collections and efforts to fit the community? Here it is!

You get to work in the La Crosse area, famous for its exceptional natural beauty. The city (metropolitan population 126,838 based on the 2010 census) is located on the east bank of the Mississippi River below towering bluffs. Abundant water and woodlands provide year-round recreation sites for hiking, biking, skiing, hunting, camping, and other outdoor activities. La Crosse is also home to two universities, a technical college, a symphony orchestra, excellent theatrical and cultural events, and superb health care facilities. The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is a major flyway for migratory birds and boasts the longest river refuge in the continental United States.

Oh and we can meet for lunch anytime! Throw that hat in the ring!

Brief Job Description:
Do you have your dream job? You could! If you're eager for a challenge, and welcome the opportunity to network within the community to create amazing results, love collaboration and trying new ideas, and are fearless in your approach to great service using tech and non-tech means, you may be who we are looking for. 
We seek a motivated, dynamic person to join our youth services team in beautiful La Crosse, Wisconsin - someone who loves to work with infants, toddlers and children of all ages—along with their families and caregivers; has outstanding customer service skills; is outgoing with a great sense of humor and flexibility and who has the ability to sell the library and literacy to everyone in our community. 
Strong skills in early literacy programming specifically but also programs, outreach and services for infants through teens, excellent collection development skills, and a finger on the pulse of innovative youth services, are key as is the ability to take things from big vision to real life implementation. 
The ideal candidate for this full-time position will have an MLS and at least two years experience working in public library youth services or the equivalent in education and experience.  In return, you will have the opportunity to work with a star team of professionals, receive an excellent benefit package, be in a strong professional development environment and transform traditional library services.  Salary starting at $50,900.
Electronic submissions only; interested applicants can submit a resume with references and cover letter to Youth Services Manager Dawn Wacek. Preference to applications received by March 8, 2018.  Position will remain open until filled.


For Director's Ears Only - Supporting Youth Services Webinar

For many years, in hallway conversations, across meals and anywhere youth services staff gather, we have shared tales and instances in which our library co-workers have been less than...shall we say...supportive?

We all know the stories. Sometimes it is treating youth staffers as if we are children; sometimes a cluelessness about how programming is more than 30 minutes of face-to-face time (Oh the planning! Oh the prep! Oh the cleanup! Oh the energy of presenting! Oh the humanity!); sometimes the sheer inequality of disparate pay and task expectations.

It seems to me we need to get out the echo chamber of talking among ourselves. We know what we do, the value of our services and expertise and the need for equity with our peers in adult services.

Now we need to step up to leadership and advocacy by bringing the conversation to our directors, managers and administration. We need to help them understand what we know.

In that spirit, I will be presenting a free webinar for directors on Tuesday February 27 at noon CST through UW-Madison iSchool. Thanks to the generosity of peers in Wisconsin who shared their stories and Storytime Undergrounders from throughout the country who shared their thoughts, directors will have some great food for thought. I hope you encourage folks in your administration to spend an hour getting more in-depth on how everyone in the library can support youth services.