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, May 22, 2017

Fidget Spinners

fidget spinner
Not sure if you are seeing Fidget Spinners in your libraries (I've yet to lay eyes on one in person but I live a sheltered life).  Thanks to a Facebook post by Jenna at Chippewa Falls, I read a thought-provoking blog post about them. Not about their popularity or how distracting they are.  This post was written by a woman with autism, who discussed how for many years the "self-stimming" of people on the spectrum was considered to be (and still is, in many circumstances), a behavior to get rid of, rather than as a useful coping mechanism for people who are overwhelmed by sensory input.  And then, a person who is not disabled pointed out that fidgeting helps him concentrate in meetings--and now fidget toys are all the rage.  As she said:

"Think about this: Decades of emotional punishment, physical violence, and other abuses. And then some guy (who just happens to be in a position with more social clout than most disabled people will ever attain) writes an article about how having a fidget toy helps him concentrate during meetings, and all of a sudden, every neurotypical person in America is falling all over themselves to get a fidget toy of their own. "

See what I mean?  Read the whole blog post to get more insight (the blog in general is worth looking at!)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Call to Action

cover for Public Libraries: A Vital Space for Family Engagement
Public Libraries:  A Vital Space for Family Engagement , a report from the Public Library Association and the Harvard Family Research Project, is a call to action for libraries to learn about and reach for more effective family engagement.  Libraries, the report argues, are in an excellent position to work with families to enhance their well-being and the well-being of our youngest citizens.

Family engagement is a shared responsibility to support children's learning and development, from birth through young adulthood.   Families are the first and most important learning environment for children.  Libraries are already doing many things to "encourage and inspire families to be engaged in their children's learning," and there is more to be done!  Libraries have, as the Aspen Report states and this one reiterates, the People, the Place, and the Platform to support family engagement.  Library leadership needs to embrace the importance of these efforts, and we need to make them concerted and intentional, rather than simply a random assortment of programs.

The report asks libraries to continue to:

  • Reach out to families who might not be using the library
  • Raise up family voices and ideas in the development of services
  • Reinforce already existing relationships and practices of families
  • Relate, offering opportunities for families to develop relationships with each other
  • Reimagine what kinds of community partnerships are possible

I highly recommend taking a look at this short, readable,  and practical call to action, as well as the Ideabook that accompanies it.  The Ideabook contains suggestions and examples from around the country, including small libraries.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Scarcity--part 3

jar of coins
Lack of money can cause tunneling
This is the second in a series of posts about the book Scarcity:  Why Having Too Little Means So Much, by Sendhil Mullainathan (an economics professor at Harvard) and Eldar Shafir (a psychology and public affairs professor at Princeton).  Look here for a cool info-graphic visual summary of the book, created by Todd Clarke.  Here's a podcast where they talk about some of their findings.

If we think about how scarcity might be affecting the families we serve, we might make some meaningful tweaks to help make our programs and services more helpful and accessible for the people we most want to reach.

Remember that people who are experiencing scarcity are focused on the day-to-day.  Programs that are rigid are not always a good fit for them.  Coming to the library, or bringing a child to the library, is not inside the tunnel for most people who are struggling day-to-day to make ends meet or to find enough time in their day to sleep and eat.  It's important to think about that when planning programs, or thinking about your summer library program reading encouragements.  Can families participate whenever they can make it?  Is it possible for kids to participate and have access to books and even programs, even if getting to the library at a given time or date is impossible?  It is worthwhile to consider these questions, especially if we want to change the trend of people who may be most in need of the free resources we offer, having the hardest time accessing them.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Scarcity--part 2

The proverbial ticking clock!
This is the second in a series of posts about the book Scarcity:  Why Having Too Little Means So Much, by Sendhil Mullainathan (an economics professor at Harvard) and Eldar Shafir (a psychology and public affairs professor at Princeton).  Look here for a cool info-graphic visual summary of the book, created by Todd Clarke.  Here's a podcast where they talk about some of their findings.

This has implications for us in how we plan our work.  I'm guessing most of us, especially at this time of year, are a little beside ourselves with things to do.  We are planning and publicizing our summer programs, and trying to make the summer jam-packed with terrific offerings for kids, teens, and families in our communities.  It can make it hard to think big-picture. 

Consider building slack into your schedule.  It might seem silly to allow for any wiggle room when there is so much to be done, but if you leave a little space (don't schedule your meetings or programs back to back, leave a few hours free to catch up every week) you will be better able to accommodate unexpected changes  (a sick co-worker, a flooded bathroom, etc.) without getting hopelessly behind.  And if no unexpected changes happen (face it, have you ever had a week like that?) you will have a chance to use that time to get ahead on something, OR to think/reflect about bigger picture things.

In the book, they described situations where having slack in a schedule (having an assistant whose time is not always booked to the last minute) or a building (a busy hospital setting aside an operating room for emergency surgeries) actually made the system more efficient.  Think about that!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Scarcity book cover
If you've had a conversation with me in the past month or so, you've probably heard me talking about a book I finally just finished called Scarcity:  Why Having Too Little Means So Much, by Sendhil Mullainathan (an economics professor at Harvard) and Eldar Shafir (a psychology and public affairs professor at Princeton).  Look here for a cool info-graphic visual summary of the book, created by Todd Clarke.  Here's a podcast where they talk about some of their findings.

The basic premise of the book is that when we are facing scarcity--of time or money, for instance--we use up significant cognitive resources just dealing with the most pressing issues.  We tunnel, which makes good sense and keeps us functioning in the present (it can even make us super-efficient and effective in the short-term).  Anything outside the tunnel, however, is necessarily disregarded.  In the long run, this can be problematic.  In fact, people's decision-making about long-term things is impaired, along with their general cognitive functioning--some studies even have shown that IQ is affected by managing scarcity, and it certainly makes some of the programs designed to serve people living in poverty less helpful.

I'm going to do a blog series about this--breaking this into a couple of bite-sized pieces.  Watch for more tomorrow and Friday!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

SYNC Program=Free Audiobooks All Summer!

The post The SYNC program returns to give you free audiobooks all summer long appeared first on OverDrive Blogs.  It is edited slightly here.

 Audiobooks are wonderful for reading while on the go and thanks to AudioFile’s SYNC program, you can get two free audiobooks each week for the next 16 weeks straight. The program started last week, and today switches titles--Feed and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
How it works
Visit http://audiobooksync.com each week to get your two free audiobooks. Titles change every Thursday at 7am ET so be sure to visit frequently so you don’t miss out on any books. All titles are in MP3 format and they play in the OverDrive app. While at the SYNC website you can sign up to receive weekly reminder alerts by text message or email newsletter. SYNC is dedicated to introducing the listening experience to the teen audience. The program demonstrates that required reading can be completed by listening but these titles can be enjoyed by literature lovers of any age.

You can learn more about the program, see all of this year’s selections and get promotional materials by visiting http://audiobooksync.com. We would like to thank AudioFile for once again partnering with OverDrive on this exciting program to help bring summer reading to headphones around the world.

Thirteen Reasons Why (or Why Not)

You are important!  Stay Strong!  (written)
Flickr Creative Commons, Eli Christman

I live in a bit of a popular culture bubble, and I'm often late to the game of hearing about what is hot.  Last week, one month after the Netflix series based on the teen book by Jay Asher Thirteen Reasons Why was released, I heard about the series three times in as many days.

Just in case any of you aren't aware, I thought I would share some resources and information.  Thirteen Reasons Why is about a teen who completes suicide, first creating cassette tapes to leave with thirteen people who she holds responsible for her desperate solution.  In the Netflix series, each episode covers a tape.

There are conflicting opinions about whether this series is problematic in its depiction of suicide and suicidal thoughts.  Some experts believe that it is getting people to talk about this crucial topic, and asking people to think about the way their interactions with each other might have a lasting and harmful affect.  Others bring up several problems--suggesting that it presents suicide as a means to revenge, possible glorification of suicide, promoting the idea that "if someone is going to kill themselves, nothing one of us could say would change their minds," (as one counselor tells a survivor), and possible triggers with graphic violent depictions of sexual assault and suicide.

Some schools are sending letters to parents, alerting them to the series and urging parents to watch it with their teens and open a dialogue, and recommending that students who are vulnerable to suicidal ideation not watch the series at all.  The JED Foundation has put together a guide about the show, as well as a set of 13 Talking Points about the series, pointing out some important issues in the series.

I'm pointing all of this out because I think we should know about it.  It would be interesting to work with the school to provide a forum for families to talk about these issues when they are at the top of everyone's mind.  Prevent Suicide Wisconsin has a list of QPR Trainers in the state.  Question, Persuade, Refer is like CPR for people you think may be having a mental health crisis--the main take-away is not to ignore it if you are worried someone may be considering suicide.  Ask them about it, persuade them not to do it right now, and help them find help.  I am guessing librarians are in the position to deal with this now and then, and I highly recommend getting yourselves some resources and tools so you don't feel quite so freaked out and ill-prepared when it happens.

Let us know if you are planning to do anything related to this!  We'd love to learn from your experience!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Teens' Top Ten Nominees Announced

Teen groups from across the country read galleys and discuss books all year to select the books they think should be nominated for YALSA's Teens' Top Ten list.  Then, teens from across the country have a chance to vote for their favorites, and the top ten vote-getters are announced during Teen Read Week in October.  How cool is that?  A list created for teens by teens, and everyone can get involved!

Here's this year's list of nominees.
Here are some suggestions for promoting reading and voting.
Look on the Teens' Top Ten site for previous year's lists, tool kits, and more.

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!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reading without Walls Campaign and Tool Kit

from Gene Yang's website
I'm a fan of Gene Luen Yang--I love his books, he's a terrific speaker, and I'm so glad he is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.  His platform is Reading without Walls--he is encouraging young people (and everyone, really) to read things they might not otherwise read:  books about people who look different from you, books about topics you don't know much about, books in formats you don't usually choose, and more.  He has compelling stories about why this is important, and there are some great resources out there to help you promote the idea (thanks to Patti in Durand for sending me that tip!)

So, are you reading outside your comfort zone?  What have you been reading?  I'm on a non-fiction kick lately, which is not my usual m.o.  How about you?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Calming Tip for Overwhelmed Kids

puppies playing tug of war
Puppies need heavy work, too!
I learned about the concept of "heavy work" when I was learning about autism and sensory processing issues.  It can be calming, and help kids organize their minds so they are ready to participate in whatever other learning activity is going on.  Heavy work is any kind of slow, steady resistance that requires a child to use their muscles.  Things like pushing on the wall, giving yourself a bear hug, marching with really heavy stomps--all of these allow for more input, which can have a calming affect.

There's a nice blog post about using heavy work, with some good examples of the kinds of things to try for various age groups.  This is another of those universal design things--it's great for kids with sensory processing issues, but good for everyone else, too!

Friday, March 17, 2017

What Has the IMLS Ever Done For Us? A Lot!

Now that its future is in question, I've been thinking about LSTA funding, which comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.   I've been considering what it has allowed us to do in our system, and in Wisconsin.  It's a lot of things.  Here's what I can think of off the top of my head (meaning I'm missing many more):

  • Growing Wisconsin Readers, an initiative that provided continuing education, partnership, and public awareness opportunities that have had long-ranging ripple effects.
  • The Youth Services Institute, a transformative experience for rural librarians who have participated in the past.  (For a great description of it, see this guest post)
  • Providing subsidies to libraries to make MORE more affordable
  • Education and resources to help libraries get a handle on new media for young children
  • Education and resources to help libraries communicate with families about early literacy practices and skills
  • Maker Kits (the extensive Maker Kits created by WVLS were LSTA-funded)
  • Storytime Kits
  • Education and resources to help libraries serve preschoolers, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum
  • Education and resources to help libraries serve job-seekers
  • The Coding Initiative in Wisconsin
  • Outstanding leadership from staff members at DPI, many of whose positions are funded all or in-part by LSTA.
This is a partial list.  More will occur to me as soon as I post. Many of these programs have had significant ripple effects, allowing for partnerships, relationships, improved services, improved visibility for libraries, and improved outcomes for families and individuals, in the long run.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Crisis Text Line

I got this information from a post to PUBYAC, and thought it would be helpful for all of you out there in library land.

The Crisis Text Line is the nation's first free, 24/7 text line for people in crisis. People, nationwide, can text 741741 to be connected with a trained Crisis Counselor. Nancy Lublin's (Founder + CEO) TED talk does a great job of explaining the concept behind it. 

Here are:

-A flyer to post (Natl Texter Flyer)

-Stickers you can print (Sticker 10 per page: to print on Avery 8164 2? x 4? stickers)

What happens when you text the Crisis Text Line?
Crisis Text Line: First, you're in crisis. That doesn't just mean suicide: it's any painful emotion that's getting in your way, for which you need support.

Next, you text us at 741741. Your opening message can say anything: "Hello," "Start," or a description of what you're feeling.

The first responses are automated. They tell you that you're being connected with a Crisis Counselor, and invite you to share a bit more.

When you've reached a Crisis Counselor, they'll introduce themselves, reflect on what you've said, and ask you to share at your own pace.

You'll then text back and forth with the Crisis Counselor. You never have to share anything you don't want to.

The Crisis Counselor will help you sort through your feelings by asking questions, empathizing, and actively listening.

-Our service is completely free, but messaging rates apply if you're NOT on Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, or T-Mobile.

-About 90% of the time, it takes less than five minutes to connect you with a Crisis Counselor. It may take longer during busy times. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Early Childhood Investigations Webinars

There are several Early Childhood Investigations webinars coming up that look great for librarians!  These webinars are geared toward people who work in child care and other early childhood settings, but once in a while one comes along that is especially relevant to those of us who work in libraries.  Today I found five of them!  Maybe you will be interested, too, or maybe you'll find others you want to take.

Explicit and Implicit Biases in Early Childhood Education:  Becoming Aware of Microagressions with Miryam Daha.  Wednesday, April 5, 1-2:30 pm
Using real life examples, examine different types of microagressions and offer suggestions for addressing them, along with practical strategies for more effective and respectful communication.  REGISTER.

Trauma-Informed Early Education Classroom Design:  Designing Child and Family Friendly Spaces for Recovery from Trauma with Ileen Henderson, Wednesday, April 19, 1-2:30 pm.
Learn about the impact of trauma on children, and its effect on learning and child development.  Discover the importance of creating a space within your classroom, organization, office, or lobby that supports children who have been impacted by trauma.  Wow!  I just posted about my desire to learn more about this!  REGISTER.

Becoming an Ally for Children Facing Adversity by Bridging the Relationship  Gap with Sara Langworthy.  May 24, 1-2:30 pm.
Will address approaches for working one-on-one with children who have endured stressful experiences to build resilience and self-regulation skills.  REGISTER.

Using Storytime to Grow Executive Function and Self-Regulation with Mary Kuehner and Laurie Anne Armstrong.  June 21, 1-2:30 pm.
In this interactive webinar, participants will learn what Executive Function is, why it's important to learning and life success, and how it can be developed through shared storytime experiences.  REGISTER.

Social Skills and Autism:  Using Books in Creative Ways to Reach and Teach in Early Education with Mary Jane Weiss and Cheri Meiners.  October 4, 1-2:30.
How do we prepare young learners with autism for the diversity of situations they are likely to encounter?  Using books and stories can engage children and help them prepare for unexpected social encounters.  REGISTER.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Media Literacy Starts Early

child watching television
(image from Pixabay)
Teaching kids to look critically at the media that surrounds them (in the form of cereal boxes, advertisements, stories in books and movies, and more) helps to develop those muscles so that they are prepared for continuing to analyze the messages media is giving, applying a healthy dose of skepticism to things they read/see/hear.  All of this helps them when it comes time to tell real news from fake news!

Yesterday I watched a patient dad with his toddler redirecting him again and again from gazing fondly and starting to grab the candy on display at the check-out line.  I remember telling my own preschool kids about how the grocery store was trying to trick them into begging for sugar cereal by putting the colorful boxes filled with cartoon characters right at their eye level--same with the candy display at the checkout counter.  The kids actually responded very well to this tactic, and felt like they were pulling one over on the grocery store by resisting the trickery.

I found some good resources for thinking about media literacy for kids.  Maybe worth showing to families, or to kids themselves!  A friend of mine taught a class to a bunch of middle-grade homeschoolers last month called The Liars Club, where the kids learned to manipulate data, twist the truth, and create their own fake news as a way to appraise media more critically.  I love the idea, and I bet it could work at some library settings!

Here are a few resources I found that might be of interest:

Common Sense Media--Media Literacy 101

Canada's Centre for Digital and Media Literacy--MediaSmarts

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Trauma-Informed Care

It's hard to find a photo to go with this topic. Snuggling cats just make me feel better.

Many of us have learned about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and how the toxic stress encountered in childhood can affect people mentally and physically for the rest of their lives.  There are definitely roles for librarians as part of communities to help build resilience.  And there are some great evidence-based resources about how to work with people who have experienced trauma.  Check out this article about a school that inspired a whole community in Washington to shift the way they work with teens who have experienced trauma.  It made me want to learn more!  Watch for more information as I learn more and feel compelled to share.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Helping Guide Teens (and others!) to Difficult Topics

tough topics poster example
From the Loveland Public Library
We all know that it can be challenging to ask for help about sensitive issues, especially for teens.  The zit on their forehead feels and like a strobe light to them, and calling extra attention to it by asking for books or resources about acne might be out of the question.  Now imagine if the issue was even more sensitive--anything related to sex or sexuality, mental health, family troubles, substance abuse, assault...

So how can we help make sure teens (and others) can find the things in our collection that they are looking for, that might act as a life-raft in a sea of confusion or anxiety?  I found some way-finder examples on Tough Topics for Teens.  One from the Loveland Public Library, one from the One for the Books blog.  Both have generously made theirs available to libraries to download and use.  You might need to adapt to fit your collection a bit.  Let me know if you need help!

Friday, February 17, 2017

New Data on Multicultural Publishing from the CCBC

For years, the Cooperative Children's Book Center (a resource that Wisconsin is proud to claim) has been keeping track of the numbers of books published by or about people of color and American Indian/First Nations people.  In the past few years, when increasing attention has been paid to the lack of diversity in publishing, the CCBC information is often cited.  The data for 2016 has been released.  There's been a significant increase in books by and about Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans and Latinos, but the numbers are still small.

You can read their blog post about it and you can find the charts that show numbers from across the years, along with an explanation of what they document, here.

What can we do to improve these numbers as librarians?  Purchase and promote the best of these books in our libraries!  If you are looking for some suggestions for how to incorporate books the reflect the diversity around us into storytime, check out the blog Everyday Diversity from across the river in Minnesota.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tips for Helping Kids Develop Language

Another Facebook goodie, this time from an IFLS librarian with an extensive and impressive early childhood background, Jenna Gilles-Turner.  I found this article about how to support and develop kids' vocabularies and abilities to express themselves in one of her posts, and I'm so glad I read it!  Though it is written for early childhood teachers, it has some terrific tips for the talk part of Talk, Read, Sing, Write, Play!  I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Scaling the Walls of Social Isolation

Image of someone climbing a wall
image of someone climbing a wall from Pixabay

Sometimes I end up spending more time on Facebook than I intend to, and often it leaves me feeling yuckier than before I started.  BUT.  Sometimes I find an article that sort of rocks my world, and today I found one that really gave me pause.  Sparrow Jones posted in The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism blog, an article titled Autism and the Burden of Social Reciprocity.

The author wove her own personal experiences of social isolation and connection as someone with autism with information from a meta-study conducted recently that analyzed the differences in the first impressions people have of autistic and non-autistic people, and the role this plays in inclusion.  She makes a brilliant point that it is not only people with autism and their difficulty with social skills that are causing the isolation.  It is also neurotypical people who do not have the social skills to adapt to include people who present differently.

In her words, "Autistic people can’t take all the blame for underdeveloped social skills because non-autistic people actually are actively avoiding us, limiting our access to opportunities to practice being social in real-world situations. The study authors found that ...our ability to socialize is limited every bit as much by social ostracization from others as it is by our own neurology and the challenges to socialization it can present for us."

I've been thinking a lot about inclusion lately, and what it means to make my own life, my communities, and the libraries I work with more inclusive.  This article was a perfect example of what that looks like.  How can I work against my first-impressions to be inclusive and welcoming to people, no matter how they present themselves socially?  I am reminded something my daughter Alice told me recently that really rocked my world:  "People who have a lot of social skills sometimes seem like they are nicer than people who are more socially awkward.  But they aren't.  They just seem that way because they know how to make people comfortable."  I never really thought about how I tend to assume the opposite, but thank goodness for people like Sparrow and Alice, keeping me on my toes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play Never Looked So Good!

A preschooler develops fine-motor skills and self-expression at the same time in Menomonie!
Hennepin County (MN) Library produced a 13-minute, beautiful video for parents to help them understand ways to support early literacy as they talk, sing, read, write, and play with their children, noting specifically the connections to early literacy and later reading. The first eleven minutes of the video relate to early literacy and libraries in general, which makes it useful for all libraries!  Please credit the Hennepin County Library if you use it!  A DVD is also available, and they are working on a resource guide as a companion to the video.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Media Mentor Course

Laughing Evolution.  Flickr, Petras Gagilas
You've probably read about it from another source, but sometimes I have to see things many times before I follow up, so I'm just making sure!

Many librarians in IFLS-Land participated in a whole series of workshops and other projects in 2015 about Media Mentorship--helping families evaluate media and make sense of the whole complicated landscape.  We developed some resources related to the topic, available here (updated recently!).  At the same time, the state was offering some excellent resources, including the free Digital Storytime e-course.

Now, UW-Madison has put together a course called Media Mentorship and Family Engagement in the Digital Age with instructor Claudia Haines, a respected voice on media mentorship and libraries since the early days of this discussion, and an author of a book on the topic.

If you are new to this discussion, or even if you participated in the 2015 projects but haven't availed yourself of any new learning on this topic, I highly encourage you to take a look at any or all of these resources.  They are important!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Everyday Diversity

I think most all of us would agree that it is crucial to share books with kids that reflect the diversity of our world.  Even when we live in mostly homogeneous areas, it is vitally important to share books and materials that offer positive and regular images of many kinds of people.

Check out the blog Everyday Diversity, which highlights books that are easy to incorporate into storytimes with many different kinds of themes, and which prominently feature people of color.  Remember, you don't have to have a program specifically about diversity in order to include books that include it!  They should just be part of the mix!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Build a Better World Resource

Cardboard.  Cats optional.
The other day Kim, the youth services librarian in Clear Lake, and I were chatting about programs using cardboard to build cool things.  I was reminded of Caine's Arcade, a charming film about a kid who made a whole arcade out of cardboard, and the filmmaker who discovered it and took it seriously.  The Global Cardboard Challenge was inspired by that project, and kids all over the world are unleashing their imaginations and making cool games and other creations out of cardboard.

If you are still looking for a low-cost, engaging, imaginative and fun program that riffs off the Build a Better World theme, take a peek at these resources!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Blogging Class Scholarships Available

Learning new things is exciting, and it is even more exciting when you know those things will help you provide better service to the folks in your community.  And when you can get to do it for free?  Even better!  Check out the following opportunity:

As part of the Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries, the Public Library Development Team at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is proud to offer scholarships for twenty library staff to participate in the online professional development course, “Coding Together, Learning Together” offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison iSchool Continuing Education Services.

The course runs from March 27 through April 21, 2017. There is no cost to scholarship recipients to take part in the course; the $125 course fee will be paid directly by DPI. Applicants must apply online by Friday, February 17, 2017. Twenty applicants will be selected, preferably representing all 16 regional library systems. This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

For more information, view the course description PDF here: http://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/pld/pdf/2017CodingCourse.pdf

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Learning Spaces Unveiled at the Amery Area Public Library

Thanks to Jerissa Koenig for this guest post!

The Amery Area Public Library installed two new learning spaces in the children’s room in January, 2017. The first is the Baby/Toddler Zone, which includes a playful area rug, seating for adults, and a shelving unit that houses a rotating collection of toys that are developmentally appropriate for children between the ages of 0-3. Most of the items are made of natural and durable materials and include shape and color sorters, sensory balls and blocks, puzzles, and more. The materials will be swapped out every few weeks to keep the space novel and valuable for patrons.

The second learning space is the Exploration Lab which features a rotating collection of STEM materials that encourage children to learn through playful exploration and experimentation. Examples of items include an engineer a coaster kit, science viewers, Magna-Tiles, microscope set, acrylic-encased specimens, mirror discovery cubes, programmable Bee-Bot, and more. These materials will be swapped out every few weeks to offer new challenges for users. In the near future, I will introduce art materials to make it a STEAM space because creative engagement with art is valuable for literacy development, problem solving, critical thinking, and more!

The Baby/Toddler Zone and Exploration Lab complement an already established play area at the library called Bud’s Creative Learning Center. The new spaces fill needs that are not met by Bud’s Creative Learning Center by offering a distinct space with developmentally appropriate materials for babies and toddlers and by offering ongoing opportunities for children to engage in STEM activities.  

Though these spaces have only recently been implemented, the response has been enormously positive. I look forward to continuing to observe how these spaces are utilized and make changes accordingly. Do you have a Baby/Toddler learning space or a STE(A)M space in your library? I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to contact me at jkoenig@amerylibrary.org 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Charlotte Zolotow Book Award

The Cooperative Children's Book Center announced the Charlotte Zolotow Book Awards today, recognizing picture books with distinguished writing:

Carole Boston Weatherford is the winner of the 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award for Freedom in Congo Square (illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, published by little bee books).  

The committee named three Honor Books:

Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth written and illustrated by Jarvis. Candlewick Press

Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan

Thunder Boy Jr. written by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales. Little, Brown

And also ten Highly Commended books:

A Bike Like Sergio’s written by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. Candlewick Press

Blocks written and illustrated by Irene Dickson. Nosy Crow / Candlewick Press

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree written and illustrated by Gemma Merino.  Albert Whitman

Daniel Finds a Poem written and illustrated by Micha Archer. Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Random House

Hannah and Sugar written and illustrated by Kate Berube. Abrams

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

My New Mom and Me written and illustrated by Renata Galindo. Schwartz & Wade Books / Random House

The Princess and the Warrior written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams

School’s First Day of School written by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan

The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo. Little, Brown

An award ceremony will be held at the CCBC sometime this spring.  

Further information about the Charlotte Zolotow Award may be found on the CCBC website:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mr. Potato Head at LEPMPL

Thanks to Samantha Carpenter for this guest post:

Mr. Potato Head has been a very popular magnet board activity at LEPMPL the past two months! Every time I walk by, he looks different. There’s something about this particular configuration . . . that accurately reflects my state of mind these days and says something about all the hats we wear at work. Do you feel scattered and overwhelmed today? Or fun and fulfilled? Either way, hang in there and thank you for all that you do for your library and your community.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Youth-related webinars coming up!

Don't forget to check out the following sessions at the Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference!  There are many others that would be of use to a general audience, but these Wednesday sessions may be of particular interest to librarians serving youth!

Wednesday 1/25, 9 am: 
Staying Well @ Your Library (Staff Empowerment)
Maurice Coleman, Technical Trainer
Harford County Public Library, MD

Do you feel pressure to be perfect at work? Do you think about your work at midnight or have stressful dreams about a work situation? Do you feel like you are doing three different jobs each day and that the work will never stop?  You're not alone.  
This webinar will give you tips and stories about how you can help keep co-workers and yourself refreshed and engaged throughout good times and bad times at your library.   Practical tips will help your co-workers and you prevent stressful situations and counteract burnout while continuing to be engaged with your customers and co-workers.


Wednesday 1/25, 10:30 am: 
Teaching Patrons to be Successful in the Library (Staff Empowerment)
Melissa Munn, Community Conduct Coordinator
King County Library System; 
Issaquah, WA 

Libraries reflect the communities we serve and like those communities we sometimes need to navigate disruptive and unsafe patron behaviors. Join the KCLS Community Conduct Coordinator as she shares how policies, procedures, and guidelines can empower staff and support a safe and welcoming environment for all. Participants will learn techniques for engaging staff in solutions, review facilities considerations, explore community and police partnership opportunities, and take away ideas for training and resources.

1 pm: 
Dream Big, Learn Code (Tech Trends)
Holly Storck-Post, Youth Services Librarian, Madison Public Library
Joshua Cowles, Library Tech. Coordinator, Fond du Lac Public Library

Teaching our communities how to code is essential for their future. Learning to code allows individuals to interact and compete in a highly digital society. This webinar will help you learn about the importance of code literacy and the valuable skills it teaches, as well as how to talk about the value of coding to your boss, your stakeholders, and your community! We will also show you many ways to bring coding programs into your libraries and communities with the resources that WisCode Literati offers.


1 pm: 
Talking to Teens About Books (Youth Services)
Jessica Moyer, Assistant Professor of Librarian Administration
University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign; Champaign, IL

Ever wonder how to talk to teen readers?  Readers' advisory expert Jessica Moyer will guide you through the basics of readers’ advisory for teens and introduce attendees to  suggested titles in a variety of genres.  This session will give great tips for teen and adult librarians, or anyone that wants to know more about working with teens.


2:30 pm:
The Idea Studio: More Than Just a Makerspace (Tech Trends)
Jon-Mark Bolthouse, Director
Fond du Lac Public Library; Fond du Lac, WI

In May of 2016, the Fond du Lac Public Library opened The Idea Studio, a multi-function creative community space that combines art, technology, music-making and much more.
Come hear Jon-Mark Bolthouse, full-time library director and part-time McGyver Librarian, talk about the journey to bring the Idea Studio to life.  He will highlight the process and the necessary community involvement, and give an overview of all the equipment and programs available.  Jon-Mark will also talk about what has worked and what hasn't over the past six months.


2:30 pm:
Planning & Evaluating Programs & Services for Youth (Youth Services)
Amy Koester, Youth & Family Program Supervisor
Skokie Public Library; Skokie, IL

Do you find yourself scrambling to get events on the calendar every time the program cycle deadline rolls around? Do you wish you could capture the success and impact of your programs beyond occasional patron comments and presenter anecdotes? Programs and other major services for youth are cornerstones of libraries serving the public. Yet our high attendance and packed schedules can leave little time for dedicated planning and evaluation--both of which are integral to offering the most responsive, transformative programs for your community. This webinar will explore strategies and methods for making meaningful planning and thoughtful evaluation a seamless part of current and future programs and services for the youth in your library community.


4 pm:
Service Meets Design: How the Boston Public Library Designed Their New Children's Library to Provide Modern-Day Services for Kids (Youth Services)
Laura Koenig, Team Leader for Central Library Children's Services
Boston Public Library; Boston, MA

Library renovations aren’t just about the physical transformation of a space, they can also be an opportunity to renew and refresh programming and services. Learn how the Boston Public Library shaped the final design features of its new Children’s Library to not only provide a whimsical and welcoming environment for children and families, but also to foster greater public engagement through programming, interactive features, and spatial details.