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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Power Up Conference Testimonials!

a lightbulb with arms and legs, plugging itself in to a power source
Image source:  Pixabay
Power Up:  A Leadership Conference for Youth Services Managers and Staff will be held in Madison March 28-29, 2019.  This is a great conference, and several of your IFLS-land colleagues participated last time it was offered.  A few of them loved it so much, they agreed to write short testimonials about it.  Once you read them, you'll probably want to register, or at least apply for a scholarship to attend.  Here's where to get more information on the upcoming conference.

Here are some words from your colleagues:

I attended the first Power Up conference nearly two years ago and I thought it was tremendously worthwhile.  I feel that way because it was specifically for Youth Services staff and there just are not many opportunities to get that focused during most conferences I’ve attended.  The topics were relevant to what is happening on a daily basis in my world and it is always helpful to hear others who are experiencing the same good and bad that you are.  There were staff who were new to YS or new to libraries but there were also seasoned YS librarians so the mix was fantastic – a lot of great topics but also a lot of wonderful conversations between sessions getting to know people from all over the country.   I especially appreciated the really positive energy from both presenters and attendees.  Some of that positive energy COULD have come from the stellar treats they had out on breaks and the GOOD coffee.  So in summary, let me say this:  Relevant topics, good coffee, fun treats, positive energy, YS staff and Madison.  Who could ask for more? --Shelly Collins Fuerbringer, LEPMPL 

I highly recommend attending the Power Up conference!  It was awesome to be at a conference that was totally focused on youth issues and the empowerment of youth services staff. The conference was very balanced between programming ideas you could take back to your own library and thoughtful conversations and reflection on where you want to go with your own career. I haven't found that at any other conference I've been to, I usually feel overwhelmed or frustrated that there isn't anything happening in a time slot that I actually want to go to - not at Power Up.  I was often torn between multiple sessions, so I also recommend finding a buddy and reporting back to each other on different sessions. It's also rewarding to be able to speak with librarians from across the country, not just Wisconsin about all the library things.  The price tag is a little overwhelming, but I'd say that the experience is definitely worth it, and APPLY for a scholarship!  I was a lucky recipient of one last year, and I encourage everyone to apply, it can't be more than 300 words! --Claire Parrish, Rice Lake Public Library 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Giant Games in Eau Claire

Many thanks to Alisha Green from LEPMPL for sharing this guest post!
a collage of photos, giant tick tack toe, cards, guess who?, jenga
A collage of super-big games created by LEPMPL staff!

The good folks in Eau Claire got to celebrate International Games Week with Giant Games!  We’ve supersized everything including a giant game of cards, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Connect 4, Tic-Tac-Toe, Memory, Jenga, Chinese Checkers, Yahtzee, Banagrams, and Guess Who? featuring some silly characters our customers might recognize, or hopefully get to know better (not book characters, but silly LEPMPL Youth Services characters). 

Julia Reid and I partnered in planning this program and other than the giant game of Jenga and playing cards (which we borrowed from co-workers) everything was made with cheap materials including boxes, construction paper, tagboard, plastic cups in place of marbles for Chinese Checkers, and plastic plates for the Connect 4 pieces.  We printed off a few more parts and pieces…and voila!  Giant Games Week is ready for play!  (photo collage attached).

Monday, December 10, 2018

Developing Resilience

pine tree growing out of a rock cliff face
Image from Pixabay
Many of you have heard of (or even attended workshops about) Adverse Childhood Experiences and the effects of toxic stress on the long-term physical and mental health of people who experience it as children.  If you don't know what this is, check out this TED talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris for an excellent 15-minute introduction.

Last week, at an ACEs training at the library in Eau Claire, we spent a whole hour learning about resilience, and how resilience factors can act as protection against some of the more devastating effects of ACEs.  There are quite a few, and I am POSITIVE that in every single library in our system there are things happening that will help build resilience in all kids.  Maybe learning more about the factors will give you the inspiration to think even more, and from another perspective, about your services.  Here they are:

Caring Relationships:  Youth have a relationship with someone who conveys compassion, respect, empathy, interest, encouragement, and connecting with others.
That time you spend connecting with kids is NOT wasted!

Meaningful Participation:  Allowing young people to have a voice and speak up for what they need.  Don't do for do with them.
This can come into play in everything from art projects where kids get to make the choices and do it the way they want to, to having teens really take charge of events or displays.

High Expectations:  Messages of high expectations convey a belief in the youth's abilities, especially with support.  Look for strengths.  Provide clear limits and consequences.
Limits and consequences are not bad (especially if kids/teens have a chance to help develop them!).

Mastery Experiences:  Tap into the strengths of youth and care about what they are good at.
If you learn a kid likes a type of book, or has a great collection, or has a skill--express an interest in that and maybe even let them create (or help create) a program or display about it.  Remember to look for opportunities to do this with kids who might not immediately strike you as being "good" at stuff.

"Real Talk":  Take your conversation to a deeper level.  Talk about what interests them.
Listening and expressing interest is really worthwhile!  Asking questions about what they are excited about, and letting them tell you all about it is really good for them!

Creative Expression: Provide opportunities to make art, music, theater, building things, science  and technology exploration
Maker projects, puppet shows, art projects (especially process art), chances to explore science and technology without needing to worry about outcomes and grades all help build a growth mindset!

Service to Others:  Provide opportunities to help others.  Kids love to give back.
Like the programs you offer to allow kids to provide something for others (making toys for the Humane Society, blankets for shelters, cards for people who can't leave home without assistance)

Culture Identity:  Provide opportunities to learn about their own culture.  Allow students to be seen, heard, and empowered.
Think about your collection!  And your displays!  And your programs and what you feature!  Libraries can be a natural for this!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Great Youth-Focused Sessions Included in Web Conference

Those of you who have been part of the Wisconsin library scene for a while probably already know about the Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference, and you'll be glad to know that there is a great line-up of 14 webinars for the 2019 Conference.  If you are new to the scene, welcome!  Hopefully you will find this web conference a great way to get some practical, relevant, and inspiring professional development without having to brave icy roads or temperatures!

All sessions will be recorded, and this year we are going to caption the recordings to make them even more accessible.

This year there are 3 sessions in the Youth Services Track on Wednesday, January 23.   I'm excited about all three of them, and hope you will be, too.

10:30 am:  60 Teen Programs in 60 Minutes with Linda Jerome, LaCrosse Public Library
Are you always on the lookout for teen programs for your library?  We will explore 60 successful teen programs that range from passive to massive, crafty to techy and silly to serious.  Register here.

1:00 pm:  What Makes a Great Children's Librarian?  with Marge Loch-Wouters, Loch-Works Consulting
You know them, you've seen them, you may even be one!  But what factors contribute to making someone a great children's librarian?  You may be surprised at both the universality of the answer as well as the specialized skills and talents that separate the ho-hum from the wowsers!  We'll look at nature vs. nurture; perception vs. reality; what top children's librarians say are the "must-haves" and the "definitely-don't-needs;" and reflect on getting to greatness.  Learn how you can step up your game at any time or place in your career (or, if you are a director, how to coach your staff) to achieve amazingness in youth work.  Register here.

2:30 pm:  Let's Talk About Race with Jessica Anne Bratt, Grand Rapids Public Library (Michigan)
This webinar will engage participants in thinking about their power and privilege in representing diverse viewpoints as a storytime instructor.  a self-reflection of the society implications of ignoring race and race talks and how it shapes bias for the next generation.  Participants begin by exploring their own storytimes and how they become more informed in encouraging caretakers to talk about race and model inclusion.  Attendees will learn about microaggressions and solidarity work in how our storytime power can be used to inhibit or advance equity and social justice in the library.  Register here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Getting Invited, Excited, and Ignited at the WLA Conference

WLA Conference 2018 logo, Excite Ignite Invite
Many thanks to Danielle Welch, Programming Specialist at the Prescott Public Library for this guest post.  Danielle is one of the IFLS 2018 WLA Conference Scholarship recipients.

A few pieces of advice for anyone interested in attending a WLA conference. First, plan on attending all of the mixers and ceremonies that are offered. You only have a small amount of time each year that you can visit with people who have the same passion for books, libraries and learning that you do. Jump in with both feet! Please do not be afraid to talk to people, to introduce yourself or give them your business card. People are there to visit and find out what you do, what works at your library or what doesn’t work. Sharing your experiences with someone who walks in your vocational shoes can create friendships through common experiences.

Second, don’t feel like you need to purchase all of the meals that are offered at the conference. Some of the best conversations happened spur of the moment or over a meal out with a group of attendees. Third, attend as many sessions as you can and take as many notes as you can without your hand cramping. There is so much great information that your brain simply cannot process it all at once. Reviewing notes later will help remind you of all of ideas and programs that inspired you!

Some of my biggest take-a ways from the 2018 WLA Conference:
  • ·       Do not limit the power of children and teens. Their power in your library and in your community is immeasurable. Children and teens can assist with programming, can make recommendations that will increase circulation, can be great community advocates for your library and can really make your job FUN!
  • ·       Libraries are offering more and more non-traditional events such as healthcare classes, memory care classes and in less formal formats. Think outside the box when it comes to programming at the library. It may take some convincing of patrons because of their preconceived notions of what a library should be, but eventually the community will benefit from this out of the box approach.
  • ·       Lean on your friends in the library community. They are a wealth of knowledge!
  • ·       Love what you do! People in your community can see that passion for your profession in the services, books, and programs you provide. If you are invested in your library and community, that can help build community partnerships and advocates for library.
I am grateful for the opportunity to go to the 2018 WLA Conference. The Prescott Public Library and our community will benefit greatly from the information I gathered. I would recommend that anyone in the library world attend, learn all that you can, bring it back to your community and hit the ground running!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What About Pronouns?

hand painted in rainbow colors gives the thumbs-up signal
Image source:  Pixabay
I've been thinking about pronouns lately.  It goes with thinking about how to make things like workshops, conferences, and library programming more welcoming, inclusive, and healthy for everyone, particularly trans people.  People have talked to me about the pain of others assuming the wrong gender for them, or consistently forgetting to use the pronouns they identify with.  I've been at meetings and workshops where people are asked to introduce themselves and share their pronouns, or put this information on their nametags, and I've wondered if this is something I should start doing at workshops myself.

But then I think about what it would be like for people who haven't talked about this with co-workers and don't really want to disclose this--is this putting them in a bind?  I reached out to some educators and trans people I respect and got the advice that this should be optional information to disclose, not required, but that it is still worth asking if you can do it in a way that doesn't put people on the spot (so, don't go around the room and require it as part of an introduction).  Dr. Alex Hall shared a really excellent article with me digging deeper into the topic, and I highly recommend looking at it! 

I love how things evolve.  We do our best, and then find out there is a better way, and we get to adjust and keep listening and learning.  If you are interested in learning more about serving trans patrons in the library, check out this handout from Dr. Hall's presentation at the Wisconsin Library Association's Annual Conference last month!

Monday, November 26, 2018


silhouette of 5 people holding hands and jumping with arms raised
Image source:  Pixabay
This weekend, Morning Edition featured a crowd-sourced poem featuring things about America that people are thankful for.  The remarkable Kwame Alexander took submissions and turned them into a beautiful poem.  And guess what?  The thing he said stood out to him from all the submissions from around the country was:


Public libraries get a specific mention in the poem itself, but the conversation beforehand has a lot more library love.

I highly recommend checking it out.  I found it quite moving!