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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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Monday, April 17, 2017

Out-of-the-Box Outreach

Many thanks to Valerie Spooner from Ladysmith for this inspiring guest post!

We have a women’s shelter in our town that does a wonderful job, but  residents don’t always feel comfortable coming to the library. Many of the women who use their services also have children, so I have been trying to build a relationship with the shelter, and with the families who live there, so that they feel comfortable bringing their children to storytimes and events at the library. Here are two of the outreach activities I have tried that have been really successful.

Foster kitten visit. I foster kittens for our local animal shelter. I want to raise heathy kittens with lots of social skills, so bringing them to visit the women’s shelter is great. The kittens get a chance to socialize with new people, and the shelter residents get a chance to play with some adorable kittens. It’s a win- win! This outreach activity requires only time and access to kittens. After this event some of the children came to visit me at the library, which was really exciting for me! I plan on repeating this event with my new batches of foster kittens. 

Child and kittens socializing...or napping, as kittens tend to do.
10-day-old tiny nuggets.  They'll be ready for their play date when they are 5-6 weeks old.

Nail decals. My director recently purchased a book about making your own nail decals and suggested that it would be a fun event to host at the library. I thought that I might like to practice on a smaller sized group first, so I asked if anyone at the women’s shelter would be interested. They were, so we set up a visit. 
Materials needed: waterslide paper, small scissors, white nail polish, clear nail polish, tweezers, nail file, cotton balls, nail polish remover, small containers to hold water. And, of course, the book! Make Your Own Nail Decals by Janelle Estep

This outreach event required a bit more prep time, but cost less than $20 total (and I have enough supplies left to repeat this with about 300 more people). I bought waterslide paper ($10), white nail polish ($2), and clear nail polish ($5 for the giant bottle that will last a really long time). Everything else we had on hand. The ladies chose designs from the book, which I printed onto the waterslide paper and sealed with clear nail polish. Then we painted their fingernails white (you don’t have to, but it does help the decals show up) and applied the decals. We topped their nails with more clear polish to keep everything in place. It does take about 30 minutes for the waterslide paper to seal, and then there is the drying time between coats of nail polish, but that gave me a chance to talk about storytimes and the Summer Library Program. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Trauma and Power Aware Interactions

2 signs, one saying ONE WAY, the other saying ANOTHER WAY
from Pixabay
I'm still reeling from the terrific Power Up conference I attended last week, but then I had the chance to attend the Eau Claire B.R.A.I.N. Team Annual Conference yesterday, and I'm blown away again!

One of the speakers, Mark Sweet, is a trainer and consultant for Disability Rights Wisconsin.  He spoke for hours, and I could have listened for several more!  Look for more on THIS, too, but I thought I'd share just a few useful points he made:


  • You will do no harm by assuming the possibility that everyone you meet may have experienced trauma.  
  • You don't have to understand the particulars of people's past experiences in order to notice that they are possibly feeling unsafe, and to make adjustments to your own behavior to accommodate them.
  • How we think and talk about people has an immediate affect on the way we interact with them.  This is relevant when we are talking about people with disabilities, but also when we are talking about anyone!
  • If we teach children or people with disabilities to do everything they are told to do without question, we make them more vulnerable to abuse.  Our culture has a bias toward compliance that can be problematic at times.
  • All of this does not mean that anything goes--but it does mean that we need to look at how we do things, and consider things from the point of view of the people we are trying to support.





More tidbits and rumination coming, but I wanted to share a few things with all of you right away!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Resource for Spreading the Reading Love

Last week, I attended Power Up:  A Conference in Leadership for Youth Services Managers and Staff.  Woah!  Lots of big ideas and smart people and great connections and things to think about!  Look for more about this conference coming out over the course of the next few weeks right here on this blog (and other blogs and Twitter, come to think of it).

One smaller idea to share, I learned from someone in a small group discussion.  I didn't catch her name (no excuse), but she talked about working in the Parks and Recreation Department of a small town 30+ years ago.  At that time, the youth services librarian worked with Park and Rec staff so THEY could provide storytimes to kids during the summer, when it was time for the kids to stop running around for a few minutes so they wouldn't overheat.  Sometimes we want to do it all ourselves, but with a tiny staff, this just isn't possible.  This seems like a great way to find more team members in a small town--train the folks who are hanging out with kids all day so they can help!  Provide them with books and other resources.  Everyone wins!

These kids will be ready for a reading break soon!

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!