Welcome!

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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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Online video course to learn about children across the gender spectrum

Stanford University has come out with a free online course to help people learn about gender identity issues, particularly with regard to children.  Wow!  What a great resource!  It consists of several short videos made up of conversations with transgender kids and their parents, and some assignments.  It looks like the time commitment is pretty reasonable--a total of 3 hours, one hour each week.  I'm excited to check this out.

If you think you are maybe in too small of a town to need to know about this this, think again.  I have known two kids who identify as transgender, both from VERY small towns in rural Wisconsin. I hope you will consider taking the time to learn more about this complicated topic!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Awesome STEM Resource!

The Milky Way
The Milky Way (Pixabay)
Thank you to Claire Parrish at Rice Lake Public Library for letting me know about STAR-Net:  Science Technology Resources for Libraries.  This website, provided by The Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL)  is a treasure trove of information.  Look here for grant information, suggestions for programming around the August 21 solar eclipse (and an opportunity to get special eclipse viewing glasses), resource guides for programming around building, earth science, space, science and MORE.  Webinars, success stories from other librarians, and a place to pose your own questions and ideas...I am just scratching the surface here.  Check it out!!

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Youth Services Institute Is Coming!

butterfly emerging from cocoon
Transformation's coming!  (from Pixabay)
I'm so excited!  Since 2013, odd-numbered years have a special transformative quality for 25 lucky library staff who work with youth in Wisconsin.  That's because every other year, there is a Wisonsin Youth Services Development Institute--a 3 day intensive in-person session, followed by a year (and usually more) of chances to connect virtually.  It's not a small commitment of time, but nearly everyone who has done it has found it to be more than worth the time and energy.

The Institute is specifically designed for those who do not have a Masters Degree.  It provides a chance to network and access professional development, and participants have described the experience as life-changing.  Really!  If you want to read a blog post by an eloquent past participant who you probably know (Jenna Gilles-Turner in Chippewa Falls), here it is!  If you want to see what other past participants have said, look here.

This year's Institute will be held at the Heartwood Conference Center near Trego, WI (in our corner of the state!)  August 27-30.  It is free to participate (including lodging and food, but not including mileage), thanks to LSTA funding (remember LSTA funding?  It's in danger, so don't forget to ask your representative to keep funding it!). According to an email from Tessa Michaelson Schmidt:  "There is no fee for Institute participants; the costs are covered through an LSTA grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) administered by the Public Library Development Team at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). At this time, we anticipate full funding of this event; if funding changes, applicants would be notified immediately."

Applications are due April 28.

If you have any questions about this, please let me know!  I would love to talk with you more about it, or put you in touch with a participant from a previous year.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Advocacy Resources and Ideas

libraries are for everyone graphic with pictures many different kinds of people enjoying libraries
According to an article in Cosmopolitan Magazine, the Institute for Museum and Library Services accounted for 0.00006 percent of the federal budget in 2016.  Yet this institution provides crucial infrastructure to Wisconsin libraries, along with funding to pursue important projects to improve access to early literacy programs, help for job seekers, outreach to teens, and more.

As you've probably already heard, the IMLS is in danger of being eliminated.  The simplest way to make a difference is to contact your representatives in Congress, but there are other things to do, too.  Here are a couple of resources:


  • YALSA's list includes writing letters to editors, meeting with Representatives when they are home on recess April 8-23, and encouraging friends and family to contact Representatives, among other things.  Look there for sample letters and more!
  • ALSC's list includes many of the same things, but also encourages sharing your library's story with the #SaveIMLS hashtag on social media and inviting your Representative to visit your library when they are back in the area for recess.
  • And Hafuboti (blogger, librarian, and creative artist who made the Libraries Are for Everyone artwork to share with everyone) is encouraging folks to make #SaveIMLS short Book-Drop videos (like a mic-drop, but with a book).  

Varying levels of commitment and time needed for these, but maybe you'll pick one or two!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reading without Walls Campaign and Tool Kit


from Gene Yang's website
I'm a fan of Gene Luen Yang--I love his books, he's a terrific speaker, and I'm so glad he is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.  His platform is Reading without Walls--he is encouraging young people (and everyone, really) to read things they might not otherwise read:  books about people who look different from you, books about topics you don't know much about, books in formats you don't usually choose, and more.  He has compelling stories about why this is important, and there are some great resources out there to help you promote the idea (thanks to Patti in Durand for sending me that tip!)

So, are you reading outside your comfort zone?  What have you been reading?  I'm on a non-fiction kick lately, which is not my usual m.o.  How about you?


Monday, March 20, 2017

Calming Tip for Overwhelmed Kids

puppies playing tug of war
Puppies need heavy work, too!
I learned about the concept of "heavy work" when I was learning about autism and sensory processing issues.  It can be calming, and help kids organize their minds so they are ready to participate in whatever other learning activity is going on.  Heavy work is any kind of slow, steady resistance that requires a child to use their muscles.  Things like pushing on the wall, giving yourself a bear hug, marching with really heavy stomps--all of these allow for more input, which can have a calming affect.

There's a nice blog post about using heavy work, with some good examples of the kinds of things to try for various age groups.  This is another of those universal design things--it's great for kids with sensory processing issues, but good for everyone else, too!


Friday, March 17, 2017

What Has the IMLS Ever Done For Us? A Lot!

Now that its future is in question, I've been thinking about LSTA funding, which comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.   I've been considering what it has allowed us to do in our system, and in Wisconsin.  It's a lot of things.  Here's what I can think of off the top of my head (meaning I'm missing many more):

  • Growing Wisconsin Readers, an initiative that provided continuing education, partnership, and public awareness opportunities that have had long-ranging ripple effects.
  • The Youth Services Institute, a transformative experience for rural librarians who have participated in the past.  (For a great description of it, see this guest post)
  • Providing subsidies to libraries to make MORE more affordable
  • Education and resources to help libraries get a handle on new media for young children
  • Education and resources to help libraries communicate with families about early literacy practices and skills
  • Maker Kits (the extensive Maker Kits created by WVLS were LSTA-funded)
  • Storytime Kits
  • Education and resources to help libraries serve preschoolers, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum
  • Education and resources to help libraries serve job-seekers
  • The Coding Initiative in Wisconsin
  • Outstanding leadership from staff members at DPI, many of whose positions are funded all or in-part by LSTA.
This is a partial list.  More will occur to me as soon as I post. Many of these programs have had significant ripple effects, allowing for partnerships, relationships, improved services, improved visibility for libraries, and improved outcomes for families and individuals, in the long run.