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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, July 19, 2017

Does Coding Seem Like the Scary Monster Under Your Bed?

monster illustration


Many thanks to Kathy Larson from Bloomer for this terrific guest post!

I’ve gone to many workshops over the past few years where I’ve heard librarians say, “Setting up a coding club is so easy” but they can’t really explain how they started it. I thought there was some trick to it, or some deep knowledge I was missing that would make me look like a complete idiot in front of the kids and their parents. I just wanted someone to tell me how to do it.

Now that I have a coding club at our library, I finally understand why it is so hard to explain. It’s so simple! Lucky for me there is an AMAZING resource for coding club! I have no idea where I heard about this website, but Prenda will walk you through all the steps. All you have to do is get some computers and some kids and promote your program. It is really that easy. Okay, there is a bit more, but not a whole lot.

Through their website, I was furnished with a packet that is essentially the curriculum for running your coding club. It outlines what to do week by week with websites and challenges for kids to complete. The first week we watched a video recommended by Prenda on some of the perks of being able to code. Then we went to code.org and had them play around on Hour of Code. The next week you set up coding accounts on code.org and have them pick a track for their coding adventure and they are off. That is it.

Even when they need help, you can guide them with questions so they can come up with the answers themselves, so you really don’t need to have any prior coding skills.
In hindsight, I would have set up accounts for the kids before they started because it tracks all of their progress and it has been amazing watching the speed at which some of these kids catch on. In five weeks the kids at our program, ranging from 6-11 years old, have written more than 2,000 lines of code! How do you do that? Prior to the first session, visit Code.org and set up a teacher account so that you can add students as they walk through the door. You definitely do not have to have ANY knowledge about coding, you just have to be able to log onto a computer, access websites and create some accounts.


So that monster that is coding is really just a simple teddy bear.
teddy bear

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Strong Girls School at ALA

group of girls facing away from the camera, holding hands and jumping
One of the programs I attended at ALA this year was called Strong Girls School.  Nancy Evans, from the public library in Levittown, New York discussed a program that she developed after teen girls in a library writing group clamored for it.  As a writing sample for the kids, she brought in a blog post by Maureen Johnson about photo-shopping.  Turns out the girls were more interested in talking about the content of the blog post than in the writing style.  Turns out the girls had a LOT to talk about related to body image, gender expectations, sexism, rape culture, and more.

Combining this interest and desire for information and conversation about important topics with sobering statistics about gender inequality, prevalence of sexual assault, and other depressing topics, Nancy decided that there was a need for a program.  She describes it, and some of the resources, in this Programming Librarian blog post.  She talked, both in the program and in the blog post, about her nervousness about having a gender-specific program, but also discussed her reasons for finding it to be worthwhile, despite being exclusive.  It would be ideal, she agreed, to also have a series of sessions about what it is like to grow up male, with all the challenges and societal expectations that this includes.

The girls who attend the 6-8 week sessions are very engaged and want to continue the series as a discussion group indefinitely.  She offers it once a year, but has enough interest that she could run it more often.  Wonderful collaborations for additional free programming have grown from this program.  Hmmm...it seems pretty interesting--I'm wondering if anyone around here is interested in doing it.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Reading without Walls Challenge

I know I have posted about National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Gene Luen Yang's Reading Without Walls Challenge before.  But I just heard Gene Yang at ALA, and he inspired me to remind you.  He told a great story about his next book, which is about basketball, even though until fairly recently he was not even remotely interested in basketball (partly due to their tendency to hit him in the head).  He discussed how reading a book outside his walls led to breaking down all sorts of other walls for him, and it was thrilling to hear about the challenge put to work.

In fact, I'm thinking of putting together a challenge for librarians to do this fall--wouldn't that be fun?  Folks could commit to reading a book outside their regular comfort zone and then share a review or a conversation about it...Still thinking about the details, here, so if you have any ideas of how you'd like this to play out, let me know.

In the meantime, as you select your books to help you relax and unwind from a frenetic-paced summer, consider the challenge, and choose one book that fits these criteria:

1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.
2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.
3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. This might be a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, a picture book, or a hybrid book.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Art's Power

hands in the dirt CD coverThe Lines we Cross book cover
A couple weekends ago, I discovered a new favorite band (The Resonant Rogues--check them out!).  As I sat in the concert, I was missing a beloved, departed family member and wishing I could share the music with her, so I wasn't surprised to spring a leak when I heard the song Can't Come In.  But in the past week and a half, I have listened to the CD approximately 10 times, like you do.  And almost every time, I tear up when I hear the song.  Aside from the very real possibility that there is such a thing as tear duct muscle memory, I think that the song, which is a plea to be humane and welcoming to refugees, is just plain moving.

At the same time I've been listening to the Resonant Rogues, I have also been reading The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah.  The book, set in Australia but completely relevant for the U.S.,  is told from two perspectives.  Michael is a teen who has a close and loving family, attends private school, and is trying to figure out how to tell his parents he doesn't want to follow his father's footsteps and become and architect.  His parents are the founders of an anti-immigrant political party called Aussie Values.  He has grown up not questioning their beliefs.  Mina is a new scholarship student whose family has moved across Sydney so she can attend a posh private school.  She's a refugee from Afghanistan, where she and her mother lost her father and uncle to the Taliban, and her little brother to hunger and sickness.  Her stepfather is opening a new Afghani restaurant in their new neighborhood, and they are all working to make the adjustment.  When Mina and Michael meet, Michael is challenged to begin looking at his assumptions and beliefs, and is in the uncomfortable position of questioning everything he has grown up thinking he understood.  The alternating perspectives--a tactic that I sometimes feel is overused in teen lit--work brilliantly here.  I love the mixture of a light touch with serious subjects that Abdel-Fattah manages.  This is an important book, and fun to read.  Both Michael and Mina have believable growth, and secondary characters are interesting and well-rounded--even the jerk bully has some redeeming qualities.

The juxtaposition of the book, the song, and the regular news reports I've been hearing about the plight of refugees stuck in camps in Greece and people trapped in war-torn areas--it's been a powerful combination.  I recommend taking a listen and a look!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WLA Awards--Make a Nomination!

Do you have a terrific and innovative program at your library you are proud of?  Is your whole darn library incredible and amazing?  Do you work with someone who you think is inspiring, smart, and effective?  Maybe it is time to consider nominating yourself or someone else for a WLA Award.

These awards mean a lot to the recipients, from what I can tell.  They are a way of recognizing and honoring remarkable people in our profession.  And apparently the nomination process has been streamlined!  Nominations are due September 1.

Please consider it--when people issue invitations like this, they really do mean YOU!

drawing of an invitation being delivered by an animal, and received by another animal
Public domain illustration by Sir John Tenniel

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SLJ Teen Live Virtual Conference is FREE

Authors will speak on topics including immigration, gender, and reluctant readers.
Click here to register for the 6th annual SLJTeen Live!


SLJTeen Live
Join us on August 9, 2017, from 10 AM - 5 PM ET, for the 6th annual SLJTeen Live! This free, entirely virtual conference will feature more than 20 YA author panelists and keynote speakers, plus two hours of panels on innovative and creative approaches to teen services and programming.

Authors will speak on topics including immigration, gender, and reluctant readers, while your fellow librarians share how they work with special populations, small budgets, and other challenges to create outstanding teen programs.
This year's keynote speakers:
  • Benjamin Alire Sáenz, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
  • Barry Lyga, Bang
  • Reshma Saujani, Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World


"Who isn't down with a conference that packs great authors, real-live librarians, free stuff, and high-interest topics for the low-low price of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL?!"
Elizabeth N.
Commerce Township Community Library (MI)

2016 SLJTeen Live! Attendee



During your breaks, network with others or visit digital publisher booths to learn more about upcoming titles you’ll want to purchase for your collections. Special treats, swag, and materials will be available at the booths.

Want to go to two panels at the same time? All sessions will be recorded so that you can re-watch or catch what you missed at a later time.
Register today! No teen librarian will want to miss this.

REGISTER FOR FREE

Don't be greedy : )
Forward this invite to a friend or colleague.





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Monday, June 12, 2017

Cumberland Scavenger Hunt

illustration of a treasure map
Building off a successful program from years' past, the library in Cumberland is sponsoring a scavenger hunt for Pete the Cat, who is hiding in the windows of different downtown businesses each week this summer.  When kids find Pete, they let the library know where they found him, and then they are entered into a drawing for a special prize of the week.  This gets kids walking, families visiting the downtown, and plus, Pete the Cat and the library both get some well-deserved publicity.