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, December 30, 2015

Talk Story Grants Available

The American Indian Library Association and the Asian Pacific American Librarian Association are now accepting applications for the 'Talk Story: Sharing Stories, Sharing Culture' Grant.
Talk Story is a literacy program that caters to Asian Pacific American (APA) and American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) children and their families, celebrating their stories through books, storytelling, and art. Once again, AILA and APALA have partnered on the grant program and allocated funding to libraries to help them implement programs.  

Applications and eligibility details can be found at www.talkstorytogether.org/grants.

Application Deadline: Friday, March 18, 2016
Grant Amount:  $600
Grant Period:  May 1, 2015 – November 30, 2016

For more information, please contact:
Anna Coats, APALA Co-Chair: annamcoats27[@]gmail.com

Liana Juliano, AILA Co-Chair: lj2116[@]yahoo.com

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nighty-Night in Osceola

Flashlights, stories, and bed-time fun in Osceola
Thanks for this guest post from Rebekah Palmer from Osceola.  Send in your guest posts--plenty of interesting prizes left!

We always have a blast at our monthly Nighty Night Time for preschoolers and their families, reading stories, singing, rhyming, playing with our flashlights and blowing bubbles! Children (and adults, if they choose) can wear their jammies and snuggle up in a blanky with their favorite stuffed animal. Last month, we had a great time making constellation shadows on the ceiling! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Who Am I?

Thanks to Sam Carpenter from the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library for this guest post!

Ah, December. Summer is long-gone, the holidays are upon us, and that means it's time for . . . closet cleaning. Yes, we dug deep into our back storage room, eliminated clutter via the IFLS listserv and discovered leftover materials just waiting to have new life breathed into them.

One of those materials was several packages of Grafix Cling Vinyl. I used them to create what my mother calls "a conversation piece," which dovetails nicely with the early literacy practice "talk." I placed images from the internet into 2X3 inch frames in InDesign, then blew those images up with an opaque projector. The resulting window display is very colorful on a gray Wisconsin day and can be enjoyed by people inside and out. And it did get kids talking:  There were a couple of siblings in the Play and Learn the day I put it up competing to be the first to shout out each character's name. We all had a lot of fun with it once they accepted my suggestion to take turns. :) See anyone you know?

A note on cost:  Grafix Cling Vinyl is pricey. You don't need it and InDesign and an opaque projector to make a fun guessing game with character silhouettes--black construction paper and a copy machine will do nicely. Or you could wait for the 2016 closet clean . . . 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Coding and Cookies in Osceola

Kids are happy to be coding
Thanks to Kay Fitzgerald from Osceola for this guest post!

At Osceola Public Library we ran a program called Coding and Cookies that introduced middle through high schoolers to computer coding. We had never run a program like this before and were amazed at the turnout of 20 students. Younger students learned the basics of coding by creating a simple Minecraft or Star Wars game, and older students got an introduction to the Python programming language thru Code Combat. Everyone came away knowing more about coding than when they came. And of course, there were cookies! 

The program lasted 1.5 hours, and most kids finished in that time.  We provided Chromebooks, and kids shared with each other, which worked well.  The only thing we'd do differently is get everyone signed in ahead of time, as it was difficult to get everyone signed in simultaneously.

We used the website code.org/learn and their hour of code. We will be running a Coding and Cookies 2.

A roomful of busy coders

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Youth Services Institute Reflections

Image from Pixabay

Many thanks to Jenna Gilles-Turner, who wrote this guest blog post.

I was one of the lucky few (Yes. Be jealous.) to attend the Youth Services Development Institute in Green Lake, WI in September. It was one of the most inspiring, motivating, and moving experiences I have been part of. Three days of intense inward-looking activities combined with many moments to connect, inspire others, share, and help one another. 

Not having a degree in the library field, I have always battled with what to call myself. While I often FEEL like a librarian, am I really one? Do I make others with a degree feel belittled when calling myself a librarian? How do i introduce myself? What if I never have time or money to finish my degree? Am I alone in this? Who can I talk to? Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Dog gone it... Do people LIKE ME?!?

Yes. A thousand times yes. I am a librarian. I AM a librarian. 


Our battle cry in hand, we learned together and even wept together. We listened to experienced librarians and to one another. There were presentations, round tables, an evening fire, talks, questions, and gathering times. The presenters did an amazing job keeping us active, interested, and inspired. They made sure to accommodate various learning styles and made sure it wasn't all PowerPoints. 

All fears were not quelled, but I sure came out feeling better about myself, about my professional outcomes, and what I was doing in Fall Creek. I felt validated. I felt more certain. I felt AWESOME! I feel awesome!

It wasn't just about sharing program ideas. Or talking one's library up (...or down in some people's cases...). Or listing off social media advice. Or learning ways to better communicate with patrons, co-workers, bosses, community members, and boards. Or exchanging emails.

It was about us doing our best for us. Because when we do what we love and what motivates us, the library benefits. The community benefits. Early learners benefit. Teens. Adults. Our families. We all benefit. Making connections, helping others, ALLOWING OTHERS TO HELP US....It's not just about connecting books to kids. It's not just about teaching an adult how to use a computer. It's not just about weeding and circulation. It's about the community and how we can help improve it and how they can help us. Each seemingly little action is part of the whole movie of life. And I KNEW this. And other people do, too! And through our struggles we don't give up! We adapt, evolve, help one another, reach out. We learn when it *is* okay to give up or take a break. Get rid of sacred cows; ask for help; know when enough is enough; balancing work, life, family, personal goals, and friendships; working with community members and organizations to fill in gaps when so many people are in need or need a little help...which are always some things I've worked on. Hearing other's experiences sure helped!

My experiences are still sinking in. It is still often difficult to verbally communicate exactly how I felt and what happened during those few days. What felt like a lifetime also felt like minutes. I can't thank the other participants or the presenters enough. Due to a change of employment, it is taking even longer for information and emotions to sink in... How can I apply what I learned, felt, saw, and shared into my new location? What are my greatest assets now? What outcomes do I envision for myself at Chippewa Falls Public Library? For CFPL? How do I fit? Where do I fit in? Where do I go from here? What do I flush out? What do I work on first? 

...but I have not asked myself, "Am I a real Librarian?" Because I am. Darn right I am.


If you get a chance to apply for the next institute in 2017: do it. Don't doubt. Don't overthink. Do it. 

You won't be disappointed.

(Take some kleenex.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Candyland in Hudson

Teens dressed up and acted as Candyland characters

Thanks to Jenny Jochimson at Hudson for this blog post about a fun event that involved people of all ages.

If you are looking for a great Halloween or Christmas event, the Hudson Area Library just had great success hosting a life-size Candy Land Event.  Families were invited to walk as game pieces through the library's version this beloved childhood game, receiving candy pieces from teen volunteers dressed up as characters from the game.   It was a lot of work but was a lot of fun--and we had a great turn out.

Cool props and costumes!

Construction for the game props started a month in advance by the library's teen aids and teen volunteers. There was a large cardboard Candy Castle and two boxes were turned into a walk-through Gingerbread House.  We used brown packing paper to make a Chocolate Mountain and empty wrapping paper tubes topped with balloons and cellophane to make giant lollypops for the Lollypop Woods.   A curtain rod draped in black and red ribbon made a Licorice Lagoon kids had to walk through to complete the game.  The game board was made of taped down construction paper.

The Candy Maker with her spinner

Game play was simplified from the real game version.  We had a spinner with colors on it that matched the board.  We assigned the kids a game piece color as they entered the board.  The game pieces were colored gingerbread men made into a lanyard to wear around the children's necks.  New players could join at any time.  I had made game pieces in 8 colors, but there could be two game players who were both the color red.  As "Candy Maker" I spun the wheel can called out where kids moved.  To incorporate multiple players  when I called out moves I used the phrase, "would all red players move to the next blue space".  Eight game piece colors made the game a little too long, next year we will only have four or five.  When players met a pink "candy" space they stopped and got candy from the character.   We also included "sticky" spaces where players stayed until  a certain color was spun on their turn. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Media Mentor Resources

Here's the handout!
After more than a year of digging into New Media, Media Mentorship, and working with various community partners and dynamic educators to learn more and form our own ideas and understanding, I am pleased to say we've put together some worthwhile resources!  Many thanks to the IFLS Early Litearcy Implementation Team (names below) for their help and support as I thought about this, and also to Karen Morris (Public Health) and Amy Carriere (CESA 10) who have given me some great insight from the non-library perspective.

The IFLS webpage has the links to all of the resources we have gathered and created.  I tried to distill a few of the most important points made by all of our workshops and research into a parent handout and some talking points for librarians and other professionals who work with families.  We also have links to the materials created by the Wisconsin ILEAD team that was focusing on this topic, and links to the resources shared by Erin Walsh, Chip Donohue, and Carissa Christner at workshops this fall.

How can you use these?  Here are some ideas, generated by the IFLS Early Literacy Implementation Team (now the Youth Services Implementation Team):

  • Share Talking Points with other library staff who weren't able to attend workshops but may be asked questions
  • Pass out the handouts at storytimes, at the desk, near children's computers and iPads
  • Share handouts, talking points, and slides with community partners who work with families
  • Put slides on early literacy iPads and/or computers for families to look at before using computers
  • Include a tip or two into storytimes, outreach visits, and other programming
Other ideas?  

IFLS Early Literacy Implementation Team members:  Alyssa Cleland (Park Falls), Valerie Spooner (Ladysmith), Kathy Larson (Bloomer), Jenna Gilles-Turner (Chippewa Falls), Alisha Green and Shelly Collins Fuerbringer (Eau Claire), Katherine Elchert (Rice Lake), Patti Becker (Barron), Cole Zrostlik (St. Croix Falls), Georgia Jones (New Richmond), Monica LaVold (River Falls)

Monday, December 7, 2015


It's been a rough fall, with catastrophes and tragedies and outrageous things happening in the world.  Many of my closest friends and family are dealing with tremendous personal challenges and hardships .  And, on a much less traumatic note, there has been more work to do than time to do it in, including some unwieldy projects.

But then last week, I had a virtual meeting with a bunch of youth services librarians.  It wasn't even face-to-face (which I usually prefer), but I spent the rest of the day feeling energized and inspired.  This group of busy librarians took time out of their schedule to help me think more about some Media Mentor resources I'm creating (look for publication of those at the end of the week), discuss ways they might use these resources, and brainstorm ways to connect with and support other librarians.

The generosity of my colleagues always gives me warm fuzzies.  Getting constructive criticism on the Media Mentor pieces I've been wrestling with was useful, and it was also helpful to hear how much they liked them and thought they could use them.  I try not to rely on other people to give me my self-esteem, but let's hear it for some positive feedback!  It is also really heartening to hear busy people brainstorming about ways to support each other and the wider IFLS community.

The lesson here?  I guess it is that I am lucky as can be to get regular infusions of positive energy from a group of dedicated librarians--pretty much all of you.

Image credit:  Pixabay

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Durand Library Featured in SLJ Article

Patti Blount was recently interviewed for a School Library Journal article about collections for English Language Learners.  It is an interesting and worthwhile article, and it is fun to have someone we know quoted in it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Reading Goals--Nonfiction

In January of this year, IFLS librarians enthusiastically signed up to participate in a way of sharing book suggestions.  Each month, we had a reading goal, a genre to try to read and report back to other librarians.  By this fall, participation was flagging, and the time it required to wrestle all of these suggestions into a (possibly) useful form was getting harder to justify.  We switched our discussion of the monthly reading goal to an IFLS Youth Services Facebook Page, and it is just a little discussion, rather than something that results in a book list.

The question is--this seemed like a great idea.  People were enthusiastic.  But it proved unsustainable to create a crowd-source readers advisory list, at least in the manner we were trying to do it.  I'm wondering if there are any other suggestions for how to do this, or if  anyone actually used them when we were creating the actual lists.

Either way, head over to the IFLS Youth Services Facebook Page in order to add your suggestion of a nonfiction book you read sometime in December!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Award-Winning Storytime Collaboration in Bloomer

kids playing with scarves at storytime
Kids enjoy scarves at a Bloomer storytime
You may have already heard that the G.E. Bleskacek Memorial Library in Bloomer won a Standing Up for Rural Schools, Libraries and Communities Award, along with their partner, the Bloomer Area School District.  They won the award for an outstanding collaboration between the library and the early childhood speech and language pathologists.  Here's what Kathy says:

I initially met with the superintendent and two other district staff members to talk about how the school and library could work together to reach common goals. One of the recommendations that came out of it was this joint storytime.

Meggan Bixby and Lynn Hammond are the Speech and Language Pathologists who help plan out our sounds and themes for the fall and spring. Either Meggan and Lynn or both are at each storytime during the school year. They meet with their students individually before or after storytime.

My goal is covering the five practices, their goal is to have their students with speech IEP’s interact with kids who do not have speech IEP’s and at the same time introduce them to the public library in the hopes that their families will use our services and materials.

Our storytime structure is:

·         Introduction to sound of the day
·         Welcome Song
·         Speech teacher’s introduce sound to kids and parents. Give hints about correct pronunciation and how parents can work on the correct sounds with their children.
·         Book
·         Song
·         Book
·         Song
·          The sound bag is a game in which children try to guess what is in the bag by clues the teacher gives them, a fun phonological awareness game (speech and early literacy are such a great combination).
·         Book
·         Craft at the table
·         Playtime

·         Hand out Homework- It is a double sided sheet. I supply the literacy side, the teachers supply the back sound of the day blurb. Here's an example of one.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Amazing Librarians!

librarians laughing and playing a theater game
Learning theater games takes trust and an ability to laugh!  Luckily, librarians had both at the SLP workshop!

Last Thursday was our annual Summer Library Program (and Beyond) Workshop.  We had an inspiring keynote talk from Sharon Grover and Marge Loch Wouters.  We had outstanding breakout sessions from a bunch of system librarians (and one generous teen) about everything from dealing with rough stuff to re-thinking prizes to theater games to performers.  We practiced our elevator speeches on each other.  And we had terrific conversations and connections happening all day long. It truly makes my heart sing to see everyone laughing hard together, taking each other seriously, sharing generously with each other, and acting as amazing resources for each other.  Everyone, presenter or not, has so much to offer to their colleagues--I love seeing that in action.  I could never hope to work with a more devoted, passionate, smart, insightful and open-hearted bunch of people.

Couldn't be there and looking for the list of resources?  It's here (this includes a link to Marge's blog post which wraps up the resources from the keynote, but also some resources from the breakout sessions).

librarians at table talking
Listening and creating elevator speeches together

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thankful but Mindful

heart shaped cloud
I found a thoughtful piece in American Indians in Children's Literature the other day--an open letter to teachers about some of the images that are so popular at this time of year, but are actually inaccurate and ultimately harmful in perpetuating stereotypes about Indians.  I think librarians need this information, too, so I'm linking to it here.

I remember nervously approaching my daughter's kindergarten teacher about what seemed like problematic depictions and descriptions of the first Thanksgiving, and encounters between First Nation people and Pilgrims.  If you have teachers coming to the library for information, or if you are doing displays or craft programs or putting out coloring sheets related to Thanksgiving, please pay attention to what you are providing--make sure it is accurate!  Look for reviews and information--and just skip the coloring sheets with pictures of happy Native Americans smiling at a table with the Pilgrims.  For Thanksgiving, focus instead on what people are THANKFUL for--there are lots of potential art projects and displays to build around that topic!  Debbie Reese has some other excellent suggestions, too, on her blog.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Public Health Partners for Media Mentorship

Over the course of the past year,  thanks to a LSTA grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and also thanks to a growing national and state-wide discussion on the topic, IFLS librarians have been working on getting up to speed about being Media Mentors.  We have learned about they whys and hows of sharing new media with families, and learned about evaluating apps.  We have learned about child development and the needs of young children, and how this fits with technology.  We've had some amazing workshops with national and international experts, and we've had multiple smaller conversations among ourselves.

It's been a fruitful year, and I'm busy working on ways to follow through with additional resources and support to help everyone continue the work we've started.  One of my best resources for doing this is my new friend Karen Morris, this region's Maternal and Child Health Public Health Nurse Consultant.  She is helping me think about ways to link up public health nurses and WIC programs with libraries so they can share information and ideas with each other, work together to reach a diverse clientele, and continue the discussion about child development and media--and how to support families.

I can't tell you how marvelous it is to share perspectives and ideas with someone else who cares passionately about families, but who has a whole different set of background knowledge and work.  I think this will pave the way for a lot more collaboration and partnerships between public libraries and public health (I know many folks are already doing cool things).  Watch for more in the months to come.

tree with sun shining through branches

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WLA Conference

WLA Logo
I've read a few accounts of the WLA Annual Conference, and I have to add my accolades.  I have had a whirlwind fall with more work-related obligations than usual--I've been out of the office more than in, it feels like.  I wrapped up October with a much-needed family vacation, which was fabulous, but also meant I was out of the office even more!  And then I got dumped out of the family car on the way home from North Carolina for several days with my library colleagues from around the state.

Tending somewhat toward introversion, it was a bit of a stretch for me to go from 100% family-friend time straight to a conference.  But I found this conference to be one of the most inspiring, connecting ones I have attended!  Even though after the wild fall I was tired, and kind of longing for my own bed and 2 days in a row in my office, I also relished the chance to be around so many generous, kind, smart, and passionate colleagues. Ashley Bieber (LEPMPL) told me she thinks of the annual conference as being sort of like summer camp--a great chance to get together with old friends you don't get to see often enough, make new ones, and learn some cool stuff--and spending time on different turf with the kids from the neighborhood (yay for all the IFLS-area librarians who were able to attend!).  Would that I would have had a summer camp experience like that!  But I love the analogy.

I met some new folks at a Youth Services Section Meet-Up and while sitting at the YSS Booth in the exhibit hall.  I cheered on the River Falls Public Library (WLA Library of the Year) and the other amazing award-winners.  I hung out with friends from across the state and system.   I attended fantastic sessions--I left every single one with a nugget of an idea that I'm excited to implement:  Every Day Advocacy seems much more in my reach, difficult conversations a little less terrifying, aspiration-based planning a more realistic aspiration, I'm thinking about future presenters for professional development, and much more.  I truly applaud all the conference planners and presenters, almost all of whom are volunteering to make this happen.  Thanks for putting yourself out there!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Reach Out and Read Toolkit

I know there are many fans of the Reach Out and Read program out there in IFLS-land, thanks to the informative and persuasive presentations of Dr. Dipesh Navsaria.  Some of you with programs in your town are looking for ways to engage with the program more, and some of you wish you could convince area clinics to participate.  For both of you, this toolkit, created by Reach Out and Read, might be helpful.  Take a look!  Let me know if you are using it, or what you are doing with your local clinics!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wordcraft Circle Awards

Hungry Johnny, written by Cheryl Minnema and illustrated by Wesley Ballinger, is one of the award winners
Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers recognized several titles for Wordcraft Awards and Honors last week.  These books are written by Native authors, and are great bets for libraries!  In the words of Debbie Reese (of American Indians in Children's Literature), "Librarians and teachers! Get these books. Native kids you work with will find their lives affirmed. Non-Native kids you work with will have that much talked about window into Native life."

Debbie Reese has created a list, with photos of the covers and a few reviews, right here.  Seriously folks, there are a lot of books still being published with inaccurate or degrading portrayals of Native people.  Here is your chance to get some titles that have a seal of approval!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Young Children and Media Literacy Webinar

Many of you attended the October 6 Media Mentor workshop with Erin Walsh and Chip Donohue.   Those terrific presenters told us about Faith Rogow, a "Media Literacy Education Maven."  She has an upcoming FREE webinar from Early Childhood Investigations: Media Literacy Action in the Early Years: Activity Ideas for Reasoning and Reflection.  It looks interesting, and even if you can't attend live, if you register they'll send you the link so you can access it later!

October 28, 1:00 pm (CST)

In this empowering webinar, media literacy education maven Faith Rogow, will provide an overview of how to reach beyond teaching with technology to also integrate reasoning and reflection in age appropriate ways. We’ll discuss the difference between warning children about media and a skill-building approach to media literacy. We’ll also introduce a new, free professional development and teaching resource from NAMLE: short, annotated downloadable videos describing actual media literacy activities that you can try, gathered from accomplished early childhood educators from across the U.S. Learn more...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

More Data that's Encouraging!

In a recent Pew Study on libraries, guess what they found?

  • 85% of people believe libraries should DEFINITELY provide free early literacy programs
  • 85% of people believe libraries should DEFINITELY work more closely with local schools to provide resources to kids.

These services are the ones that the general public is in greatest agreement about.  Maybe that's because 78% of people feel that the library is effective at promoting literacy and the love of reading. 

So--good for you if early literacy programs and school collaboration is part of what you do.  And if you don't yet?  Well, then, maybe it is time to explore ways you can!  The public thinks that is what you should be doing.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Here's What the Data Says (and it's not depressing!)

It's been a while since I've posted--blog posting has been falling to the bottom of my list and then falling right off the list as I've been occupied with other projects and commitments.  Hopefully, this will be the start of more regular posts.

A few weeks ago, I attended the statewide meeting of youth services consultants, and was fascinated to hear our state's Public Library Data and Finance Consultant, Jamie McCanless talking about the data, and the stories the data had to tell were pretty fascinating.

We all have seen the trends -circulation tends to be going down statewide.  Jamie broke out the statewide data, however, and found that in rural areas, the change in circulation is less drastic, and in fact, it went up in 44 rural libraries (compared to going up in zero of the 16 city libraries).  And children's materials circulation went up in 76 rural libraries.  In fact, all across the state, the children's materials as a percentage of total circulation is steadily rising.  So all that time and energy you are putting into collecting, promoting, displaying, and encouraging children's materials?  It's paying off.

Sometime in December, look for another blog post about data--we'll try to drill down in the same way for MORE libraries.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ALA has an advocacy opportunity for us here in Wisconsin!

from an ALA mailing from Beth Yoke:

We know that strong school libraries drive student achievement, and it’s up to us to make sure our members of Congress do, too!  Now through December Congress is working on a new education bill to provide federal funding for the nation’s schools.  The crux of this work is being done in the House and Senate education committees, and your state has Glenn Grothman on the House committee and Tammy Baldwin on the Senate committee.  That gives you an extra edge that we hope you will use.  Your calls, emails, Tweets and visits will make a positive difference for America’s youth and ensure school libraries adequately funded. 

Here’s how you can support school libraries:
·         Invite your rep to your library the week of Oct. 12th or the week of Nov. 23.  This will help Congress see first-hand all the great things you do to help youth succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life.  Tips for sending an invitation and hosting an elected official are here: http://tinyurl.com/Act4SchoolLibraries

·         Take a few teen library patrons to visit your rep’s local office the week of Oct. 12th or the week of Nov. 23 so they can talk about what school libraries mean to them.  For tips, go here: http://tinyurl.com/Act4SchoolLibraries

·         Host a Contact Congress event between now and Dec.  Details are on this wiki page: http://tinyurl.com/Act4SchoolLibraries

·         Other: be creative and think of another way you can reach your member of Congress!

It doesn’t matter if you work in a school or public library, or no library at all!  It’s important for you to pitch in—remember a rising tide lifts all boats!  If you’re a public library worker, team up with your school library counterpart or vice versa.  For more resources to help you be a great advocate visit www.ala.org/aasl/advocacy

Thursday, October 1, 2015

AAP Revision on Screen Time

The American Academy of Pediatrics has long provided patients with guidance about a variety of things, including screen time.  As the kinds of things kids can do with screens has shifted to be more interactive, there have been many discussions--and a growing body of research--about how this may change the effect of screens on children.

Last spring, the AAP held the Growing Up Digital:  Media Research Symposium, and today released the news that they are revising their guidelines to reflect the pervasiveness of screens, as well as their enhanced capabilities.

I'm sure we'll be talking more about this at next Tuesday's Media Mentor Training with Erin Walsh and Chip Donohue.  Watch here for a report on that!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bilingual Storytime in Amery

Many thanks to Tricia Wehrenberg for this inspiring guest post about going outside her comfort zone to provide excellent service.  Way to go!

Recently, the Amery Area Public Library was approached by the United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) to do a storytime for the children that they care for. UMOS is a nonprofit organization that assists migrant workers with a number of different services. The organization has a presence in Amery in order to assist the migrant workers that come to work in the summer months. 

I excitedly agreed to do this storytime because of how great an opportunity it is for outreach, but quickly remembered that I do not speak conversational Spanish. I know some words and phrases, so I can pick up on what someone is saying, but as far as sentence structure, I’m lost. I was informed that the children who would be attending did not speak any English. So, I set to work doing research on how best to make this storytime enjoyable for the children despite our language barrier. I went through a number of different titles and settled on three: Head to Toe by Eric Carle, Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Thong, and Bear at Home/Oso en Casa by Stella Blackstone. I also enlisted the help of one of my coworkers, Carmen Haakenson, because she speaks fluent Spanish. 

The children came in on the day of the program very excited to see the library. Every time we got to a new room, they all gave a collective, “oooh!” I was told after storytime that none of them had actually been inside a library before. Not surprisingly, the children most enjoyed Head to Toe by Eric Carle. I spoke the English text and demonstrated actions, and Carmen explained what I was doing in Spanish. They loved that I was being so silly! 

While the books were wonderful, the kids loved dancing and playing with our parachute the most. Because the teachers enjoyed the storytime, they asked me if I’d come speak to their parent group at their next meeting. This was another situation that was out of my comfort zone since I’d never spoken with an interpreter before. However, librarians always take opportunities when they arise! So, I happily agreed. The head of the program informed me that a number of the parents didn’t read aloud to their children because they didn’t realize the importance and were not often read to while growing up. I was excited to have the opportunity to speak with them about different ways they can bring a book to life with their child by asking questions and opening up a conversation. In collaboration with Carmen, we also created a handout of earlyliteracy tips in both English and Spanish for the parents. They seemed very receptive, and the organization has already expressed interest in coming back to the library next year. Hopefully we can expand our services to them now that we’re aware of what each can offer the other.

Not only did this experience bring me out of my comfort zone, it also made me realize that there are so many groups that are underserved because we don’t have the resources to offer specific programs for them. This has opened my eyes to new opportunities, and I can’t wait to offer more services like this in the future. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mother Goose on the Loose Coming to New Richmond

Thanks to an LSTA grant, Georgia Jones planned a workshop with Dr. Betsey Diamont-Cohen, author of Mother Goose on the Loose, an award-winning early literacy program that libraries across the country use. The session is designed for childcare and early childhood providers, and librarians, too.  WITC is partnering to provide a beautiful venue. The cost is super low and the return will be super high!  Register online at WITC or by mail

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Autism Welcome Here Grants Available

Announcing a NEW library grant opportunity!
AUTISM WELCOME HERE: Library Programs, Services and More Grant

Applications are now being accepted online. Submission deadline is December 1, 2015.  For more information and details about this unique grant opportunity please see: www.librariesandautism.org/grant

Each year, a total of $5,000.00 will be awarded. Depending on the applications received, one grant for the full amount or multiple grants for smaller amounts may be awarded.  Any type of library can apply, and the proposal can fund projects and services for any age group. Applicants may propose to initiate a new, creative program or service, bring an already existing, successful program or service to their library for the first time, or enhance a program or service they already offer. All programs or services proposed must benefit people with autism or their families, directly or indirectly. Funds may be used to hire a trainer to present a workshop, to buy program materials, to pay for staff, etc.

Please direct any questions to Barbara Klipper: barbaraklipper.librarian@gmail.com.

Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected is honored and excited to be sponsoring this new grant opportunity that honors the groundbreaking work of Libraries and Autism co-founder Meg Kolaya for her contributions in promoting inclusion, connecting libraries and the autism community, and bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families to the library community.


This grant is an outcome of the Illinois State Library’s broad and ambitious project, Targeting Autism: A National Forum on Serving Library Patrons on the Spectrum. The grant is funded by Barbara Klipper, retired librarian, consultant and trainer, and the author of two important books, Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ALA Editions, 2014) and The Secret Rules of Social Networking (AAPC Publishing, 2015).

Friday, August 21, 2015

Word Group Game in Pepin

Thanks to Christy in Pepin for this blog post!

What do you do with those flimsy DVD cases that we are not to circulate?  Do they just pile up in a store room or cabinet?  What about the discs from movies or books that are not salvageable or no longer needed?  Looking to re-use both of these items?  Here's one idea that Pepin is putting together to make available for the beginning readers. 

Take a word group, such as words that end in "ap".  Create a label or two with those letters on and place inside the DVD case.  Then place letters onto a label for the disc.  The disc can then be turned to create words from the letters on the disc and the case.  
CD with letters word game
Have available some paper that the reader can then write the words they create.  Place a pencil inside the case and a spiffy cover for the outside and viola!  A quick tool for readers to see and make words.  This activity will help readers to rhyme, spell, write and enrich their literacy skills.  We are putting together several of these cases with word groups and will make them available for use in the library.
place for writing words created

We are also thinking of creating "Scrabble" like tiles from these cases also. Younger readers can create their own words or just place the tiles in order. Older readers can make their own cross-stick puzzles and challenge each other to keep adding words.  The tiles can have capital letters on one side and lower case letters on the other side.  Just some paper and printer toner and a little time should give those old DVD cases new life.
snazzy cover

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Developing Self-Regulation in Children

toddler watching television
Photo credit:  Lou Bueno flickr
My public health colleague Karen sent me a link to this article about a recent study about significant media use and self-regulation issues for young children.  Being able to self-regulate is a crucial life skill that allows kids to be more resilient in the face of challenges and is a strong predictor of school success.  One thing the researchers were trying to determine was whether infants and toddlers who watch a lot of television and videos were doing so as a result of being fussy or more challenging (because watching a screen calmed them down and possibly gave stressed parents a break from crying), or whether the media consumption led to the self-regulation issues.  They found that media use of more than 2 hours per day did result in a small, but statistically significant, increase in self-regulation problems.

One of the recommendations of the study was helping parents come up with more developmentally supportive strategies for helping an infant or toddler who is irritable, fussy, or extremely demanding. The study, being from a medical establishment, recommends pediatricians communicate this information, but it seems like there is a role for librarians here, too.  How can we intentionally model and share scaffolding strategies for helping the youngest children learn to self-regulate?

What do you do?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Get the Mayor Involved in Summer Reading!

Thanks to Kim Hennings at New Richmond for this guest blog post about a great addition to their Summer Library Program:

This year, in addition to weekly reading goals for SLP participants, we added "Mayor Fred's Summer Reading Challenge."

We had a high school student draw a cartoon of the Mayor and we used that as artwork in our Summer Reading Program booklet.  The instructions stated:

"This year we are very excited that one of New Richmond's own heroes, Mayor Fred Horne, has a reading challenge for the children of New Richmond.  

Dear Reader,

I want to give you an extra challenge this summer.  Using the list below read the eight different types of books throughout the summer reading program.  If you complete all eight, you will be presented a special award at the city council meeting on August 10th.

I can't wait to see how many New Richmond kids are reading this summer!  All summer readers are superheroes in my book! - Mayor Fred"

The categories were
-A book where at least one character is an animal
-A funny or humorous book
-A non-fiction book (true story)
-A book that won a national award (caldecott or newberry)
-Re-read a favorite book
-A fairy or folktake
-Listen to a book, eaudio, book on CD or book & CD
-A graphic novel, comic, or wordless picture book

All the children who completed the challenge got a special invitation to the council meeting via email.  50 kids completed the challenge and 30 kids plus parents/siblings came to the meeting.  The council had to bring in extra seating to accommodate everyone.  During the meeting, I called the kids up one at a time and the Mayor shook their hand and presented them with a certificate. (certificates were filled out ahead of time and we checked kids in before the meeting. We also had blank certificates to fill out for last minute additions)  Afterwards we took a group photo and the kids were invited to the basement for cake and punch.  Although it certainly wasn't our highest attended program, several council members as well as parents expressed their enthusiasm and appreciation.  It's a great introduction to local politics and what the city council does. 

It's one thing for me to tell the council how many kids participated in summer reading (which I do), and it is another for them to see how proud those children were as they were accepting their awards.  I also made sure to tell all the children the City Council meetings are televised, which they were very excited about.

We're already brainstorming ways we can tweak the program to make it more successful next year.   The program took virtually no additional work besides filling out the certificates and ordering a cake and helped us build a better relationship with our Mayor and City Council.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Media Mentor Twitter Chat

child and woman laughing with tablet
Photo credit:  Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon
Join ALSC members and anyone interested in participating in a monthly Twitter chat. On Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 8 pm Central, ALSC will be hosting a one-hour chat on the topic of media mentorship. What are you doing already? What do you have planned for the future? Bring your ideas and suggestions to this hour-long chat.

You can follow the chat by using the hashtag #alscchat. The event will be moderated by the ALSC Children & Technology Committee. This event is free and open to anyone including those without a Twitter account. You can follow along at: http://twubs.com/alscchat

Are you following ALSC on Twitter? You can find ALSC at http://www.twitter.com/alscblog   

Interested in learning more about #alscchat or want a transcript of a previous chat? Check out the Children & Technology Interest Group on ALA Connect: http://connect.ala.org/node/86805

On the topic of media mentors, don't forget about two upcoming in-person workshops:

September 18, Rice Lake WITC Conference Center, 9-4:  New Media, Early Literacy, & Libraries with Carissa Christner, talking about finding and evaluating good apps and the whys and ways to incorporate new media into your services and/or programming at the library.  Register.

October 6, Florian Gardens in Eau Claire, 9:15-3:30:  Media Mentors with Erin Walsh and Chip Donohue, talking about child development, media use, and providing resources for parents and caregivers who are trying to manage conflicting information.  Register.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Many thanks to Becky Arenivar of Prescott for this guest post.  NOTE:  If you haven't yet sent in kit requests for fall 2015, please send them to me via email at langby @ ifls.lib.wi.us.  Full list of kits.

Maybe you don’t need the time-saving convenience of IFLS Storytime Kits.  Maybe your Storytimes are all planned months in advance.  Maybe you’re a seasoned Storytime veteran, who knows all the good read-aloud books, songs, fingerplays and movement activities for more than 100 Storytime themes by heart.

Maybe, just maybe, you are missing out on some little-known, but amazing, advantages of using Storytime Kits.  

I was one of those Storytime librarians - I only used Storytime Kits to save time, when I was overwhelmed by (choose all that apply) SLP, outreach, increased desk hours, new tasks and responsibilities, etc. and still had to plan and present Storytimes.  I was unaware of the transformative power of Storytime Kits!  Confession time - I’m also one of those rogue Storytime librarians who don’t do puppets.  Not at all.  Let’s save that discussion for another time, though.

Spring 2015: I realize I might be on leave during June and July.  Panic ensues, “what will happen to SLP, to summer Storytimes?”  After a fruitful and calming discussion with my Library Director, I ordered a Storytime Kit for each summer Storytime.  If I was here, I’d do Storytime; if I wasn’t here, another staff member could do it.  

Turns out, I did not go on leave after all, and it was convenient and time-saving to have a Storytime Kit arrive each week.  But one week, magic happened.  Inside the Families Storytime Kit was the Monkey Face Flannel story, a fun, engaging and heartwarming story.  But, seriously, 5 puppets plus flannel board pieces!

You know the end of this story, don’t you?  I practiced and practiced, presented the Monkey Face flannel story and it was fun and the kids loved it.  I used puppets and flannel board pieces and read from a script - all at the same time!  Were fireworks bursting and lightbulbs going on?  Yes.  Will I become the most awesome puppeteer in the kingdom?  Probably not, but I will work on bringing puppets into my Storytimes.  And, I definitely will order Storytime Kits, even when I don’t need the convenience, probably one or two each session.  Because I know that Storytime Kits not only save time, but will help me expand skills, overcome timidity and create magic.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

July Crowd-Sourced List

The Crowd-Sourced Readers' Advisory List continues, even though everyone is so busy!  Thanks to the contributors, and please consider participating in August, when the topic is books in a series.  Read a book in a series for any age group (PreS-high school) and fill out this simple form and help us crowd-source another list!

Here's the list for July:  Readers' Choice.

 Readers’ Choice Crowd-Sourced Reading Lists for August 2015

Preschool/Primary Grades
I Don't Want to Be a Frog cover

Besel, Jen.  Sweet Tooth:  No-Bake Desserts to Make and Devour.  2015.
Nora at New Richmond enthusiastically recommends this book of easy recipes for sweets, with great pictures and step-by-step instructions to adults and families, preschoolers and kids in primary grades.
Butchart, Pamela.  Never Tickle a Tiger.  Illus. by Marc Boutvant.  2015.
Nora from New Richmond enthusiastically recommends this silly book about a girl who can’t sit still.  She says adults and families, preschoolers and primary grades would all enjoy.
Caple, Kathy.  A Night at the Zoo. 2015.
Nora from New Richmond might recommend this one for preschool or primary grades, especially if they like zoo animals.
Emberley, Barbara.  The Story of Paul Bunyan. Illus. by Ed Emberley. 1994. 
Nora from New Richmond recommends this title for anyone looking for more about Paul Bunyan.  The illustrations are great, the story is simple but interesting.
Kemp, Anna.  Rhinos Don’t Eat Pancakes.  Illus. by Sara Ogilvie.  2015 (US)
Nora from New Richmond recommends this one for preschoolers and primary grade kids who like silly stories.
Matheson, Christie.  Touch the Brightest Star.  2015.
Nora from New Richmond enthusiastically recommends this beautifully illustrated, interactive story, suited especially well for one-on-one or very small group sharing.
Petty, Dev.  I Don’t Want to Be a Frog.  Illus. by Mike Boldt.  2015.
Samantha from LEPMPL recommends this one enthusiastically for librarians doing storytime!
Shea, Bob.  Ballet Cat and the Totally Secret Secret. 2015.
Leah from IFLS enthusiastically recommends this one for preschool and primary grades.  It would be a fun one for storytime or for newly independent readers.  Very funny, great sentiment, too.
Verdick, Elizabeth.  Teeth Are Not for Biting.  Illus. by Marieka Heinlen.  2003.
Valerie from Ladysmith enthusiastically recommends this for preschoolers who need to learn not to bite—it was great for her 2-year-old nephew.  There is a whole series to help address a variety of issues (tail-pulling, hitting, etc.)
Watson, Stephanie.  Behold a Baby.  Illus. by Joy Ang.  2015.
Nora from New Richmond recommends this one for adults/families to read together with preschoolers and primary grade kids to get used to the idea of a new sibling—it is super-cute, she says!

Middle Grade Elementary
Galaxy's Most Wanted cover

Baskin, Nora.  Ruby on the Outside.   2015.
Alisha from LEPMPL recommends this title for middle grade and middle school.  It is a “sensitively written story about a young girl’s thoughts and feelings about her incarcerated mother.”
Bradley, Kim Brubaker. The War that Saved My Life. 2015.
Leah from IFLS enthusiastically recommends this one for WWII history buffs, people who like tales of triumphing over adversity.  About the home front in England, this book was quite moving, but not bleak.  Older kids may also enjoy it.
Kloepfer, John.  Galaxy’s Most Wanted.  Illus. by Nick Edwards.
Nora from New Richmond enthusiastically recommends this one—her nine-year-old son loves them, and it helps to have just a few pictures to stir the imagination of young readers.
McKay, Hillary.  Binny for Short.  Illus. by Micah Player.  2013.
Leah from IFLS enthusiastically recommends this title for people who liked books about the Penderwicks, or people who really like quirky characters in their books.  First in a series.
Tarshis, Lauren.  Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree (2008) and Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love (2009)
Monica from River Falls fell in love with Emma-Jean and her friend Colleen.  She has suggested it to everyone from elementary school to middle and high school students, all the way to adults, it has appealed to a wide age range.  She has given it to both boys and girls with success.  Emma-Jean has autism and her (dis)abilities are handled with respect and care.

Middle School
The Story of Owen cover

Johnston, E.K.  The Story of Owen:  Dragon Slayer of Trondheim.  2014.
Monica from River Falls recommends this for high school and adults/families, too.  It is like nothing she’s ever read—takes place in alternate universe where dragons consume fossil fuel and dragon-slayers are like rock stars.
Moss, Marissa.  The Pharaoh’s Secret.  2009.
Jenny from Hudson enthusiastically recommends this one, especially for kids who like Percy Jackson.  The 6-8 graders in her book group really loved it.  Mystery, myth and adventure.
Thor, Annika.  A Faraway Island.  Tr. from Swedish by Linda Schenck.  2009.
Lynne from Centuria enthusiastically recommends this one to middle and high schoolers.  It is two young Jewish girls sent to live with foster families in Sweden at the beginning of WWII.

High School
The Naturals cover

Barnes, Jennifer Lynn.  The Naturals.  2013.
Samantha from LEPMPL enthusiastically recommends this one to people who love mysteries and thrillers.
Cummings, Lindsay.   The Murder Complex.  2014.
Valerie from Ladysmith enthusiastically recommends this for its alternating viewpoint, strong female character, and fast pace.
Estep, Jennifer.  Cold Burn of Magic.   2015.
Valerie from Ladysmith enthusiastically recommends this first book in a series:  magic, assassins, and a strong female character.
Fisher, Catherine.  Incarceron. 2011.
Deanna from Milltown might recommend this to fantasy fans.  She’s not a big fantasy reader, and it took a while to get into it, but by the end she was hooked, and feels she needs to read the second book to find out what happens next!
Yancey, Rick.  The 5th Wave. 2013.
Tiffany from Ellsworth recommends this one—in fact, she chose it for the Morning Book Club discussion at the Senior Center and is looking forward to hearing what people from that generation think of it.