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Friday, May 25, 2012

YOU Deserve an Award!

Nearly every day, I find out about another terrific project or program a library is planning.  While most of you would agree that providing terrific service and programming is its own reward, awards sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Association could provide you with the recognition you deserve and the financial resources to do even more great stuff!

Library of the Year, Librarian of the Year, Special Services Award--all of these are worthwhile and important, and definitely worth applying for, if a little time-consuming.  But there's one award that has been out there with no applications for a few years--and it is one that nearly every library in our system deserves to win!

WLA/HIGHSMITH AWARD: (Award winner receives $1,000) Libraries of any size or type are eligible for the award, which "recognizes a library's achievement in planning and implementing an exemplary program or service that has had a measurable impact upon its users.  The purpose is to encourage innovation by highlighting collective efforts within a library, wherein staff, administration and volunteers have successfully marshaled the library's resources to benefit its users."  

Applications are due on June 1!  Programs for kids, programs for teens, programs for adults--all are eligible!  If you are thinking of applying but are intimidated by the application process, let me know!  I'm happy to provide any assistance I can.

Best wishes, I hope to come to the Awards Ceremony at the Annual Conference in October to cheer for one of you!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

More Ideas from the WAPL Idea Swap

Here are some more ideas I got from the programming-for-elementary-ages- idea swap, held at the Wisconsin Association of Public Librarians Conference earlier this month (look for more coming up!)

  • From Waupaca:  Jousting using library stools as mounts and swim noodles as swords--the goal is to knock a ball off a cone held in the non-noodle hand.
  • From Algoma and other places:  Chocolate program included:

    • Personality test, based on what kind of chocolate bar was your favorite
    • Chocolate tasting
    • Photos of cross-sections of candy bars, guessing
    • Microwave candy bars, then guess what kind they are
  • From Rhinelander:  Worm racing!
    • Teams of 2
    • Worms (nightcrawlers) from the bait shop
    • Give the worms a wet surface to traverse
    • They always have a local vet there, with worm ambulance for very, very tired worms
    • Someone else was reminded of minnow racing in gutters
  • Kite programs!  Very popular, especially if you have a place to take kids to fly them
    • Wisconsin Kiter's Club is a good resource--here in western WI, we might have better luck with the Minnesota Kite Society (it looks like they do educational events)
      • Several folks mentioned having great success with 20 minute kites, and how fun it is to see families and individual kids out flying their kits for weeks after the program!                         
  • A How-Does-It-Work program:  get donations of old computers, radios, and other.  Let kids take them apart and examine how they work.  BYOS (Bring Your Own Screwdriver).  Most cities have a recycling program for electronics--make sure you aren't stuck with a huge fee for recycling these before accepting donations!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wretches and Jabberers

One of the most inspiring and mind-expanding things at the Wisconsin Autism Society's annual conference I attended earlier this month was a keynote speech by Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette.  Tracy and Larry are two intelligent, perceptive, humorous, poetic Vermont natives, and neither of them speak.  Both men are autistic, and as adults were introduced to facilitated communication--one-finger typing into a computer that vocalizes for them. As children and young adults, neither of them had a way of communicating the thoughts and ideas they had.

They are tremendous advocates for themselves and others with autism and other disabilities, and last year they released a movie (Wretches and Jabberers) about their world travels--Finland, Sri Lanka, Japan--to meet with other people who communicate this way.  The Power Point and movie clips they shared were moving, and the presentation as a whole had a tremendous affect on me.  It was a clear reminder how important it is not to assume anything about intelligence or lack thereof based on whether or not someone can communicate, how they look, or how they behave.

In fact, during the presentation, there were several times when Larry (an eloquent, artistic, deeply funny and perceptive person who talked about craving connections with others) couldn't keep his seat on the stage and needed to leave and pace, tap his arm, and do other things to organize himself.  He apologized for this, but for me it was a powerful reminder that there is so much going on with people beyond what we can initially see.  It drove home some of his points so effectively that though it was frustrating for him, I appreciated it.

I haven't had a chance to see the film, but I'm very excited for the copies I ordered for libraries to arrive so I can watch it and begin to recommend it enthusiastically to all of you, especially those of you who are starting to work more with kids on the spectrum.  Intelligence and good hearts are not the exclusive domain of neurotypical people!  Remembering that in our core will make a difference in how we serve people in our libraries.