Welcome to this latest attempt to connect librarians from west-central Wisconsin with each other! Please send in content (booklists, ideas, photos, etc.), and comment on posts so we can help each other. If you were using feedmyinbox to get new posts sent to you before, you'll need to switch to another service (blogtrottr works like feedmyinbox, googlereader is a good blog-reader to try).

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Youth-related webinars coming up!

Don't forget to check out the following sessions at the Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference!  There are many others that would be of use to a general audience, but these Wednesday sessions may be of particular interest to librarians serving youth!

Wednesday 1/25, 9 am: 
Staying Well @ Your Library (Staff Empowerment)
Maurice Coleman, Technical Trainer
Harford County Public Library, MD

Do you feel pressure to be perfect at work? Do you think about your work at midnight or have stressful dreams about a work situation? Do you feel like you are doing three different jobs each day and that the work will never stop?  You're not alone.  
This webinar will give you tips and stories about how you can help keep co-workers and yourself refreshed and engaged throughout good times and bad times at your library.   Practical tips will help your co-workers and you prevent stressful situations and counteract burnout while continuing to be engaged with your customers and co-workers.


Wednesday 1/25, 10:30 am: 
Teaching Patrons to be Successful in the Library (Staff Empowerment)
Melissa Munn, Community Conduct Coordinator
King County Library System; 
Issaquah, WA 

Libraries reflect the communities we serve and like those communities we sometimes need to navigate disruptive and unsafe patron behaviors. Join the KCLS Community Conduct Coordinator as she shares how policies, procedures, and guidelines can empower staff and support a safe and welcoming environment for all. Participants will learn techniques for engaging staff in solutions, review facilities considerations, explore community and police partnership opportunities, and take away ideas for training and resources.

1 pm: 
Dream Big, Learn Code (Tech Trends)
Holly Storck-Post, Youth Services Librarian, Madison Public Library
Joshua Cowles, Library Tech. Coordinator, Fond du Lac Public Library

Teaching our communities how to code is essential for their future. Learning to code allows individuals to interact and compete in a highly digital society. This webinar will help you learn about the importance of code literacy and the valuable skills it teaches, as well as how to talk about the value of coding to your boss, your stakeholders, and your community! We will also show you many ways to bring coding programs into your libraries and communities with the resources that WisCode Literati offers.


1 pm: 
Talking to Teens About Books (Youth Services)
Jessica Moyer, Assistant Professor of Librarian Administration
University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign; Champaign, IL

Ever wonder how to talk to teen readers?  Readers' advisory expert Jessica Moyer will guide you through the basics of readers’ advisory for teens and introduce attendees to  suggested titles in a variety of genres.  This session will give great tips for teen and adult librarians, or anyone that wants to know more about working with teens.


2:30 pm:
The Idea Studio: More Than Just a Makerspace (Tech Trends)
Jon-Mark Bolthouse, Director
Fond du Lac Public Library; Fond du Lac, WI

In May of 2016, the Fond du Lac Public Library opened The Idea Studio, a multi-function creative community space that combines art, technology, music-making and much more.
Come hear Jon-Mark Bolthouse, full-time library director and part-time McGyver Librarian, talk about the journey to bring the Idea Studio to life.  He will highlight the process and the necessary community involvement, and give an overview of all the equipment and programs available.  Jon-Mark will also talk about what has worked and what hasn't over the past six months.


2:30 pm:
Planning & Evaluating Programs & Services for Youth (Youth Services)
Amy Koester, Youth & Family Program Supervisor
Skokie Public Library; Skokie, IL

Do you find yourself scrambling to get events on the calendar every time the program cycle deadline rolls around? Do you wish you could capture the success and impact of your programs beyond occasional patron comments and presenter anecdotes? Programs and other major services for youth are cornerstones of libraries serving the public. Yet our high attendance and packed schedules can leave little time for dedicated planning and evaluation--both of which are integral to offering the most responsive, transformative programs for your community. This webinar will explore strategies and methods for making meaningful planning and thoughtful evaluation a seamless part of current and future programs and services for the youth in your library community.


4 pm:
Service Meets Design: How the Boston Public Library Designed Their New Children's Library to Provide Modern-Day Services for Kids (Youth Services)
Laura Koenig, Team Leader for Central Library Children's Services
Boston Public Library; Boston, MA

Library renovations aren’t just about the physical transformation of a space, they can also be an opportunity to renew and refresh programming and services. Learn how the Boston Public Library shaped the final design features of its new Children’s Library to not only provide a whimsical and welcoming environment for children and families, but also to foster greater public engagement through programming, interactive features, and spatial details.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Serving Tweens--some resources

At our Summer Library Program workshop, one of the groups that librarians felt they had a hard time reaching is tweens (3rd-7th graders or so).  I found  a few good resources for people who are feeling like this is a gap for them:

What Do Tweens Want (2015 SLJ Article)

Also:  remember the amazing kits that both WVLS and IFLS have collected that are available to you, ranging from low tech (woodworking, jewelry-making, needle-felting, calligraphy, knitting) to higher tech (Makey Makey, Sphero, Little Bits).  Many of these kits are perfect for this age group--it's a golden age of MAKING.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Escape Rooms!

Thanks to Sam Carpenter at LEPMPL for this guest post!

Those of you who came to the Sure-fire Teen Programs presentation at the SLP workshop in November might remember Ashley Bieber, the teen coordinator at LEPMPL, talking about an upcoming Escape the Room program. Many libraries have created their own escape rooms/programs for all ages with great success . . . 

. . . and we wanted to try it as well. We felt sure it would appeal to teens, but we also felt sure it would be a great deal of work and that we would have to experience an escape room ourselves before creating one at the library.

Luckily for us, the moment I called Escape EC and explained what I had in mind, owner Jack Trautlein offered to help. He and co-owner Jessica Stickler hosted six employees from LEPMPL at Escape EC, donated a portion of our entrance fee to charity, and gave us just enough hints to help us escape the room “The Professor” with a few minutes to spare. We had so much fun and were so wowed by the props in the room, we ended up booking Escape EC for an afternoon the week of Christmas break for our teen program. It is the first off-site teen program I have ever been a part of, and not having to create our own room at the library was a real sanity-saver at a very busy time of year.

We did the scheduling at the library and ended up meeting thirty-one teens at Escape EC. We had 6 groups of anywhere from 5 to 8 teens scheduled to escape the room every 30 minutes between 1 and 4 p.m. The kids were really excited and appreciative of this free program. We played fast dice games with them while they waited for their turn in the room and provided some simple refreshments. We chatted with parents, played cards with younger siblings, and got to know even library regulars a whole lot better.

If you are thinking about planning a similar program, I would not hesitate to call Escape EC for advice. Jack and Jessica are smart and fun and care a whole lot about kids and their community. It’s also a great place to have a laugh with coworkers and engage in some fun teambuilding. Check it out:

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2016


The final big trend to discuss from the SLP workshop responses to making the Summer Library Program easier:  Simplification.

Several people talked about looking at programs and simplifying them.  Many talked about looking at record-keeping and simplifying it.  Eliminating or reducing prizes definitely figured into the equation for quite a few folks.

Now, I'm someone who tends to complicate things.  It is a lesson I have had to keep re-learning, that I don't have to do EVERYTHING with every, single project.  Planning, prioritizing, and then focusing my attention does not come naturally to me.  I want to do everything, because I can see how everything is related and everything is important.  But when my efforts are spread so thin, they end up being a little random.

So anyway, maybe we could step back and really think about how to simplify programs and reduce prep time (Do you really need to individually decorate the cookies so they match the theme? If a craft project requires many individual parts to be prepared ahead of time, maybe it is time to think about a different craft project?).  We already talked about simplifying record-keeping.  Prizes kind of fit in with that--if you want to continue to give out prizes, how can you simplify them?  Can they occupy less of your budget?  Or can you spend the money on books, which are more expensive, but only give one or two out during the summer?  Think about the role prizes play in your program, and think about ways you can maximize their effectiveness if you want to keep using them.

Good luck!  And remember, even though it is ALL cool and important, you can pace yourself!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Opportunity to Share Information!

We need to spread the word that the earliest weeks matter!
Many thanks to Saroj Ghoting, Early Literacy Consultant (and popular workshop presenter) for pointing out the interesting results of a Zero to Three parent survey.  Major points are summarized here, and the full report is here.

The information reported here shows that there is definitely a need for us to share information with parents and caregivers about critical development periods for infants and toddlers!  Below, I'm basically quoting a post Saroj made on an ALSC listserv:

The time of most rapid brain development occurs during the first 3 years. While 63% of parents identified this correctly, more than 34% said that the time of most rapid brain growth is 3 to 5 years, a significant underestimation of the importance of the earliest years.  Parents overall consistently underestimate just how early children can be affected by some critical experiences:

  • When asked at what age the quality of a parent’s care has a long-term impact on a child’s development, 50% of parents said this begins at 6 months or older, 57% of parents say it begins at 3 months or older.  It starts at birth.
  • When asked to identify the age at which children can begin to feel sad or fearful, 42% of parents say one year or older, and 59% of parents believe it begins at 6 months or older. In fact, this happens as early as 3-5 months. 
  • Nearly half of parents think that reading to children starts to benefit long-term language development about a year and a half later than it actually does: 45% say the benefits start at 2 years or older. In reality, benefits begin at about 6 months.
  • 34% of parents believe that talking to children starts to benefit their language skills at a year old or later, and 63% of parents say the benefits of talking begin at 3 months or older.   In fact, it begins at birth.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

SLP Musings Part 4: On Getting Help

Asking for help should be easier and more pleasant than a giant dose of castor oil!
Moving on from the things that people HATE about the Summer Library Program, and moving on to the things that people thought they might be able to do to make their SLP easier.  A very popular choice?  Asking for help, delegating more projects to other staff members, reaching out to community members and staff members to ask them to help with programs about their interests.

I have to ask people for help quite often.  In order to make our continuing education offerings robust and practical (and affordable), in order to find mentors for new librarians, and in order to help me think about and act on challenging issues, I need to ask people who are busy and working hard to do extra things.  Guess what?  It turns out that for the most part, people are really generous and happy to be asked to share about something they care about.  Sometimes they say no--and I always applaud people for knowing their limitations!  But often, they say yes.

Over the course of several years of doing this and messing up, I have learned to be clear about the expectations that are important to me, and provide as much guidance as people want about the other parts.  Sometimes people really relish having the autonomy to choose their topic or their delivery method.  Other times, people really are looking for some parameters.  As long as I'm clear on the things that are most important to me, I find that it works well to be flexible--and be as bossy as people want me to be.  One constant--I try hard to not lose track of thanking people for the extra time and effort it took to help me.

What works well for you when you are asking for help?

Monday, November 28, 2016

SLP Musings, Part 3: On Being Overwhelmed and Exhausted

Take a tip from the koala:  REST!

Several people listed being overwhelmed and exhausted during the summer in the exercise about the thing people hate the most about the Summer Library Program.  I think we can all relate to the feeling of being inundated with things to do, events, staff shortages, lots of extra kids (some unsupervised and at the library for hours at a time), and the huge input of energy it all takes.  Let's think about some things related to that:

  • Vacations:  Some people feel like they cannot take any vacation time in the summer.  This is a problem!  Summer is prime time for spending time with family that is occupied with school during the rest of the year, and for many outdoor activities! Plus, summer is the time you are busiest and most in need of a break.  Think about how you can make this work--and if you have staff helping you, think about their need of a break, too.  Consider summer vacations when planning your programs--remember your resolution to start doing more passive/provocative/stealth programming, and plan ahead for some of those programs during times when staff will be shorter.  Consider all the elements of your program, and think about ways you can make room for times when it isn't critical to have all hands on deck!
  • Simplify:  If prizes, registration and paperwork are all things that make your program unwieldy, take a good hard look at how you do them.  Are there ways you can simplify or even eliminate some of these elements?  The rest of the library staff will appreciate any simplification you can do.
  • Pace yourself:  Remember that your whole career as a librarian is more of a marathon than a sprint (at least we hope so!).  You don't have to do every single cool or important thing at once, though it can feel like that is the case.  Step back for a minute and look at what you are trying to do and then prioritize the most important things.  
  • Think about the rest of your life: No matter how much we simplify and plan, summer is going to be busy and overwhelming sometimes.  How can you build some things that give you energy into your daily life?  Think about whether diving into another project that is unrelated to work will help you feel more energized and excited about life, or if it will make you feel exhausted and weary--either is possible!  Make sure that you feed your need for solitude and for friends and family.  Ask for help from your loved ones to help make sure you carve out time to rest, whatever that means for you.
  • Notice good stuff:  Both at work and at home!
  • Forgive yourself:  You will have some flops.  Some things won't go as well as you hoped.  You will feel tired and cranky sometimes.  You won't be able to do as much as you wanted to, both at work and at home. Forgive yourself for all of it, let go, and move on to the next thing.