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).

Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

NPR's 2018 Book Concierge

smiling green robot gestures to 2 books
Image credit:  Pixabay

Readers' Advisory!  What a staple of our work.  I am always excited to find a new and interesting resource for providing high quality RA, or for suggesting to patrons.

For the past several years, National Public Radio has pulled together the over 300 books recommended by staff and critics during the year.  Then they allow you to limit your search in all sorts of interesting ways.  You can limit to kids' and/or young adult books, but you can limit further to look at realistic fiction, seriously good writing, rather long, rather short, eye-opening reads, funny stuff, and MUCH MORE.  It is a really fun, graphic way to find some books that might be a good fit.  And you can check for past years suggestions, too!  Take a peek!  You might want to recommend it, or to use it to make recommendations when your mind is blank.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Power Up Conference Testimonials!

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

Here are some words from your colleagues:

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

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Giant Games in Eau Claire

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

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2018

Developing Resilience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 7, 2018

Great Youth-Focused Sessions Included in Web Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Getting Invited, Excited, and Ignited at the WLA Conference

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What About Pronouns?

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

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

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

Monday, November 26, 2018


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


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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


In a pile of rocks, one in the foreground is heart-shaped
Image from pixabay
November can be kind of a gloomy month, and I tend to spend the hours of 3:30-5:30 pm feeling vaguely anxious because it seems wrong for it to be getting dark so early.  Whatever I might think about the origins of Thanksgiving, I truly appreciate the nudge to really spend some time thinking about what I'm thankful for, and the month of November seems an especially good one to turn my mind to gratitude.  So here's my [incomplete] list of things I am grateful for that are related to my work in and with libraries.

  • I love working with public libraries and librarians because I believe so strongly in what we DO:  provide access to information and ideas, build community, empower families and individuals, and all the other great stuff.
  • I'm happy I get to learn about gorgeous new books (I'm looking at youThe Stuff of Stars!) and that I work with people who also get excited about fantastic books.
  • I love that librarians tend to be extremely generous with each other--especially the librarians in our area!
  • I love having colleagues (and others) and who challenge me to THINK and re-examine my assumptions and ideas, even though that is sometimes uncomfortable.
  • I deeply appreciate the power of a kind word or deed, and I've been the recipient of many in the course of my work life!
  • I appreciate getting chances to push myself outside my comfort zone in terms of responsibilities and leadership roles--and to feel supported by people from around the state as I take on new challenges.

So thanks to all of YOU, who make my job remarkable.  I hope you are able to come up with a list of things yourself!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Brain Development Tip!

Did you know it takes small children at least 8 seconds to process a request and then figure out how to respond?  Brooke Newberry, one of our fabulous presenters last week at the Youth Services/SLP workshop, reminded us of this important fact.  She also helped us think about what that means for interacting with children and caregivers!

  • It's a good thing to remind caregivers of this cool fact.  If you continue to give a person a request ("Say bye-bye!") without giving them time to process the request and act on it, each new request re-sets their brain and they have to start all over again with processing! It's important to allow kids time to respond before assuming they don't have a response.
  • During story time, Brooke says she sometimes asks all the grown-ups in the room to hold their answers to questions (like "What does a cow say?") and she waits for 8 (sometimes awkward) seconds for the children in the room to be ready to answer.
  • Some kids take even longer than 8 seconds, and kids who have sensory processing issues continue to take longer to process a request as they get older.
An alalog alarm clock showing the time 12:48

Friday, November 9, 2018

Fun Ideas from Ogema

Thanks to Mary and Debbie from Ogema for sharing these great, easy-to-replicate programs!

A spinning prize wheel, with multicolored pie-shaped sections and a pointer, sitting in the the library under a computer table

In October, the library used their brand new prize wheel (made for them by a friend of Mary's) to allow people to spin to win $5 off fines on Ogema materials!  If they landed on a different color, folks could win cheese snacks donated by the farm bureau, or other trinkets the library had on hand.  This was popular!

In November, the library has been soliciting 6-word stories from patrons.  Here is a sampling they have received:

One text. Three Cars. Seven Coffins.
We grew up and not old.
Torched the haystack found the needle.

Surprisingly powerful and poetic!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Life-Sized Candy Land at Ellsworth

Thanks to Jeanne at Ellsworth for this guest blog post!
2 toddlers and their parents walk through the library stacks decorated to look like Candyland, while an older child hands out candy

The Ellsworth Public Library hosted  a Life Size Candy Land game for children on Saturday, October 20th.  We started the game at 1:15, just after our 1 pm closing time.  The players followed a game board set up throughout the library and received treats along the way. The game took players on a meandering journey through the stacks to locations like “Licorice Lagoon,” where they received a Twizzler, "Gummy Hills,” where they received a small bag of Gummy Bears, and “Candy Cane Corner” where they received a peppermint candy. There were a total of seven “treat stops." The last stop was the Candy Castle where children received an official Candy Land scratch ‘n sniff sticker and gift certificates from McDonald's, which were given to the Library after a goodwill donation to the Ronald McDonald fund. 
A candyland castle at the front desk

Taking much of our inspiration from Pinterest, the Library purchased some of the props for each candy location through Amazon and Oriental Trading. Multiple items were also made by teen volunteers during our monthly Teen Maker Meet-Up.  The process of creating the game took several months.  Now that it is completed, the library is planning to offer it again during Christmas Break and possibly  spring break.  The event was advertised as best suited for ages pre-school through 11, with the most enthusiasm coming from the 5-7 year old crowd.   Parents were asked to participate with younger children, and we also had teen volunteers available to help navigate through the game.  Preregistration was required and allowed us to schedule five groups of two-three players for each fifteen minute time slot. This kept things flowing, and we were able to avoid children waiting in line to play.
Participants decorated a paper bag with Halloween stickers and drawings before starting the game to stash their treats along the way.
We attracted about 20 enthusiastic children and 15 adults for our first run of Lifesize Candy Land, and expect interest to grow as we offer the program in the future.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Inclusive Services Guide and Assessment Tool Ready for Beta Testing!

illustration of tool box with wrenches and pliers and a socket set
After many months of hard work, the Inclusive Services Institute has created an Inclusive Services Assessment Tool for libraries!  The Inclusive Services Institute is a group of librarians, with representation from every system in our state and leadership from the Wisconsin Public Library Development Team, that was tasked with creating a tool for public libraries in Wisconsin to use to help assess where they are, and what they have left to do, in creating inclusive, welcoming, and accessible spaces and services for everyone.

The tool is ready to be looked at, tried out, and evaluated by libraries of all sizes.  I hope you will consider taking a look at it and providing some feedback to the ISI so that the tool can be made more useful to everyone!

To find it:  Go to this page and scroll down to the Inclusive Services section.  The tool is available as a Word document, and you can download it there!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Three Inclusive Nuggets from the WLA Conference

pyramid of multi-colored plastic cups
Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash
Attending the WLA Conference is always a treat--seeing old friends, meeting new folks, and getting lots and lots and lots of amazing ideas.  More to follow over the next few weeks, but here's a quick starter.

I want to leave you with three small nuggets that we could use to make our libraries more inclusive:

  • Aimee Schreiber from the Sparta Public Library recommends cutting up the stretchy therapy bands to give to kids to stretch and work with, especially  kids who need more sensory input in order to concentrate during storytime.  
  • Our own Jenna Gilles Turner from the Chippewa Falls Public Library talked about doing fingerplays that use pronouns (5 Little Monkeys, for instance), and switching out pronouns to use he, she, AND they to help get kids used to this as an option for a personal pronoun.
  • Dr. Alexandra Hall talked about bathrooms for non-binary people and how difficult it can be to figure out which bathroom would be safest to use.  Many libraries have a single stall restroom they can make gender-neutral, but some libraries don't have that option in their building.  Dr. Hall suggested a sign on the door "Private restroom available, please ask at the desk" as a possible work-around--allowing people to use the staff bathroom if necessary.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Teen Swap Wrap-Up

A hand reaching out to catch an airborn incandescent lightbulb
Photo by JĂșnior Ferreira on Unsplash
It's always fun, and never enough time, when youth services librarians get together.   Thirty percent of attendees have played Madame Trelawney at Harry Potter events in the past few years!  I will be musing about some of the questions and discussion more in future blog posts, but for now, a few ideas from some of the librarians who attended the Teen Services Swap in Prescott last week:


  • Teen Advisory Board has over 50 members!  Teens have real ownership of programs.
  • Battle of the Books with a library spin--teams read books in categories--each team has different titles for each category, and then the battle is trying to convince the spectators to read their title!  Spectators vote on which one they are most excited to read.
Plum City
  • Tweens and young teens are really excited about playing Dungeons and Dragons, which Kayla is learning along with them.  There is a moratorium on killing each other.
  • Having success playing on a Play Station 4 with kids and asking them for input while playing!
  • Had a 95% participation rate in kids who signed up for the Summer Library Program this year.  Karen credits the dog tag necklaces recommended by Monica at River Falls with some of their success.
  • All ages enjoy a Creative Space on Fridays, with things like perler beads and coloring.
New Richmond
  • Had success this summer with a Teens on Demand program--different passive programs weekly that teens could check out from library staff.  This ranged from movies (with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) to craft projects to other things.
  • They've found that having 1-2 after-hours teen events per semester works well, though attendance is spotty.  Friday from 7-10 pm is the magic time.
River Falls
  • Found a corporate sponsor (ALDI) to purchase the books that they give away at their book clubs--they have 20-30 fourth-fifth graders, 40+ middle school students, and 15 or so high school students who participate in these book clubs every month!
  • Trying a lot of hands-on activities, finding they are helpful in bringing really different kids together.
  • Adding a ramp to LEGO building days makes for un-ending fun

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Super-Charged Storytimes

flash of bright white lightening in a  dark purple sky

Storytimes!  They are the bread-and-butter of what we do as youth services librarians.  They are an important tool for sharing early literacy information and skills with kids and parents, they are a ton of fun, and most libraries have one. 

Now, thanks to the Institute for Museum and Library Services and OCLC, there is a chance to take a course, completely self-paced, absolutely free, about ways to Super-Charge Storytimes.  Taking this course will allow you to examine ways to make your storytime more intentional and more exciting!

Saroj Ghoting, one of the lead instructors, came to IFLS-land a few years back to give a well-received and inspiring workshop.  Now's your chance to get more inspiration and information to help make your storytimes effective and amazing.

If you would love to have a group of people from the area to take this course together and get together now and then to talk about it, please let me know.  I'm considering trying to coordinate something like that.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

What Do the Doctors Order? MORE PLAY!

toddler playing with foam blocks, small ball, and scarves
A young child enjoying play in Bloomer 
I know I harp on about the importance of play for young children's development, including opportunities for play that is set up with some intention on the part of caregivers.  But it is SO IMPORTANT!  And so under-valued!

I came across this article in the Cap Times, written by pediatrician, librarian, and extraordinary Wisconsinite Dr. Dipesh Navsari.  It draws attention to the importance of play experiences for children, and how crucial it is for kids to have opportunities for play in childcare and school settings. And libraries are perfectly positioned to help with this, too.

Because it is play, many people don't understand the developmental tasks that can best be accomplished by it.  If you have to argue for the importance of early childhood play areas in your library, or if you are trying to figure out the best way to talk to funders, directors, board members, and families about play, take a look at Dr. Navsaria's article, or better yet, at the most recent article on the topic from the American Academy of Pediatrics!

Monday, September 24, 2018

National Book Award Long-List

Check your shelves and your order carts!  Are these books on them?  Several of them have holds on them, I'm guessing that people have seen the news and want to read them!

The Truth as Told by Mason ButtleThe Journey of Little CharlieHey, Kiddo
The Poet XThe Assassination of Brangwain SpurgeWe'll Fly Away
  What the Night Sings
Blood Water PaintA Very Large Expanse of Sea

Monday, September 17, 2018

Civic Labs for Kids and Teens

Civic Labs:  Think, Learn, Connect

Over the past year, after much gnashing of teeth on my part and the helpful advice of several IFLS-area librarians, I created a resource for libraries to use when hosting programs and displays that promote civic dialogue and engagement about pressing issues.  I am interested in figuring out ways to make that resource useful for people working with kids and teens, too. 

It seems to me that kids and teens get a few more opportunities (in school and maybe in other youth groups) than adults do to practice discussing challenging topics in a respectful way.  But it also seems like a natural fit to have displays and programs for all ages in this arena.  And probably some cool ways to incorporate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) concepts and civic concepts together, like the Girls Who Code project that encourages kids to create coding projects that will address a community problem or concern.

So, look for more in this regard (after significant additional teeth gnashing by me), and if you are interested in helping me think about it, please let me know!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Every Child Ready for MATH!

child building with multi-colored blocks
Image:  Pixabay
There's been so much great work in libraries about early literacy skills, and empowering parents to talk, sing, read, write, and play with their kids to help develop them.  Many libraries are also doing some great work around early math skills (Fall Creek incorporated Bedtime Math into their summer programming this year!). 

Now, the Global Family Research Project has pulled together some great resources and ideas for libraries looking to support families as they develop math skills with their small children.  Take a peek here!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Venn Diagram Boost

Winding down the summer, maybe you need a little boost?

I was chatting with my daughter the other day about someone we both know--I know her because she's a librarian, Alice knows her because she works at another job with her.  We were discussing how much we like this person, and my daughter had a great quote:

In the Venn Diagram that includes Librarians and Super-Awesome People, there's a lot of overlap.

Could be she's biased, since half of her immediate family is currently working as a librarian.  But I think she's on the right track.  Thanks for being super-awesome.

Venn diagram showing lots of overlap between librarians and super-awesome people

Monday, August 20, 2018


chicken finger puppets
Image:  Pixabay
Things are frequently in flux in the IFLS-region, with new directors and new youth services people a regular part of the job.  It keeps things very exciting around here!  But at the end of this summer, we are saying goodbye to two youth services librarians who have been working with kids in IFLS-land for many years.  They were both here before I started my job nearly 14 years ago (by my rough scan of the IFLS map, there are only 4 libraries where the same youth services person is holding down the fort from those days).

Jo Hick from Phillips and Mary Davis from Hudson are both moving on to new adventures this fall.  Let's take a moment to celebrate ALL the story times and other programs; the learning; the playing; the costumes and puppets; the art and science projects; the connections with community members; hugs; relationships with kids, teens, parents, and caregivers; the generous sharing with colleagues; and all the other things that have gone into making remarkable careers for these lovely women.

Consider sending a card or email to cheer them on, or better yet, if you are available to attend open houses in their honor, I hope you will consider it!  Here are the details:

In honor of Mary Davis, join Mary and Baby Bear for cake and conversation at the Hudson Public Library on Tuesday, August 28 from 3-7 pm.

In honor of Jo Hick, come to an open house at the Phillips Public Library that runs from 9-3 on Friday, August 31.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Bike Locks in Chippewa Falls

silver and orange bicycle locked to bike rack
Image from Pixabay
In case you missed this great press from the Chippewa Falls Public Library--a sad and frustrating situation (a kid's bike got stolen) turned into a terrific opportunity to do something cool (a bike lock collection).  I've seen the bike lock collection advertised at the library in Eau Claire, too.  Anyone else do this?  It is a good way to encourage biking, deter crime, and make the library more welcoming and easier to use for people who might not have other reliable forms of transportation!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Thanks to Patti Blount in Durand for sharing news about this upcoming webinar from Lee & Low Books and the Anti-Defamation League:

Back to School Webinar: Teaching Tough Topics with Children's Literature

Teaching Tough Topics with Children's Literature, along with logos for Anti Defamation League and Lee & Low Books

The start of the school year is a critical time to establish community and shared values of respect, honesty and trust.
With the one-year anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville coming up and other traumatic news constantly making headlines, many educators are left wondering how to discuss current events with their students and to navigate meaningful, age-appropriate discussions on topics like hate, racism, and prejudice.
Join Lee & Low Books in collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and special education teacher and Responsive Classroom teacher consultant, Ina Pannell-St. Surin, for the timely, hour-long webinar: “Teaching Tough Topics with Children’s Literature” that aims to help address these concerns through worthy books, activities, and resources on Wednesday, August 22 at 3PM EDT. Registration is free, but space is limited so register today!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Inspiring Play in Young Children

book cover for Loose Parts:  Inspiring Play in Young Children
I came across some books that some of you may already be familiar with:  Loose Parts:  Inspiring Play in Young Children and Loose Parts 2:  Inspiring Play with Infants and Toddlers, both written by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky, with gorgeous photos by Jenna Daly.

The books are lovely reminders, beautiful to look at, of how fundamental play is for children, and full of simple and easy-to-obtain suggestions of materials that you can use to intentionally support their development by having them available for them to explore.  The books hone in on the importance of letting kids explore and problem-solve, and setting up an environment that allows for that.  They also give examples of things teachers/caregivers have done to support and challenge kids to try more things. 

I highly recommend taking a look at these books!  Whether you consider using loose parts in your play areas, or think about how to use them in play groups, story times, or other programs, there is a lot of potential for awesome exploration and fun.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday Inspiration from Jason Reynolds

a sparkler in a night-time background
Image:  Pixabay
Whew!  It's the end of the week, nearing the end of one of the busiest times for youth services librarians.  You are almost there!  Hopefully you have had some exciting adventures with kids this summer, and some time to regroup and enjoy the summer on your own, too. 

By Friday, maybe you need just a little spark of inspiration to help the fire in your belly.  Check out Jason Reynolds' commencement speech at Lesley University.  It's only about 10 minutes long, but it is remarkable, and it made me a little weepy (this could be due to sleep deprivation, but I think it was truly moving).

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

College Admissions Campaign

overhead view of Carleton College campus
My alma mater, Carleton College, busy looking picturesque  (photo credit:  Pixabay)
How much do librarians end up helping college students with the college admissions process?  Most libraries collect materials to help, many provide programs that are relevant.  There's a whole variety of needs out there, and what public libraries do depends on what their community needs.  The most recent issue of School Library  Journal had an article about what school librarians can do to help, with some mention of public libraries, as well.

At any rate, many teens are in the thick of thinking about this, stressing about it, working on it, being pressured about it, or possibly not pursuing it for lack of someone to tell them they could consider it.  In researching something else, I came across the Harvard College College Admissions Campaign.  They are working with other colleges and universities, high schools, and others to promote some pretty amazing goals:

1.  Developing greater concern for others and the common good among high school students

2.  Increasing equity and access for economically disadvantaged students
3.  Reducing excessive achievement pressure

It seems like public librarians might be able to do some things to help achieve these goals, even if it is being aware of resources to share with kids and parents who are freaking out!  Harvard has collected several of these, too.

What do you do about the college admissions process in your library?

Monday, July 30, 2018

Submit a Proposal!

lightning bolt in a darkened sky
Image source:  Pixabay
Just a last reminder:  it's not too late to consider submitting a proposal to the Power Up Conference, to be held in Madison March 28-29, 2019.  This will be the second time the iSchool-sponsored conference on youth services and leadership will be held.  The first time, the conference was terrific--lots of great content, terrific conversations, and unusually tasty food.  People from 20 states attended, it was a great chance to get to know and learn from people from around the country.

Chances are, you have something to share with this audience!  Time is getting short, but you have till August 3 to propose a session at this conference, and each presentation will receive one free registration (a $300 value!).


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Encouraging Conversation with the Yes/No Challenge in Pepin

the word yes in neon lights
Photo by Julian Lozano on Unsplash
the word NO in faded red and white paint
Photo by Julian Lozano on Unsplash

Christy from Pepin recently shared a fun idea for a challenge for kids in the library.  The goal:  have a 3 minute conversation with library staff without saying "yes," "no" (or yeah or nah).
She says:
The kids are having fun with it.  If they fail, they get a small prize - Star Wars collectible pictures, erasers, keychains - if they complete the three minutes they get a larger prize - flashlight, battery pack for cell phone.  Out of 12 tries, I've had 2 make it for the full three minutes.  One young lady (9 years old) practices at home and then comes in to try, but she hasn't made it yet.  I do limit them to one try per day.  
The trick is to get them comfortable and just talking to you and then you ask another question that they just automatically answer with a yes or no.  Then the look on their faces as they realize what they said.  They are really thinking hard for most of the time and understand that other answers "indeed", "affirmative" and such are acceptable.  We'll do it through the end of August.  I didn't have anyone try in June, but now that they've discovered it I think we'll have several continue to try.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Save the Date!

Save the Date stamp

Save the date for the annual Youth Services Workshop--November 8 from 9:30-3:30 at the Chippewa Valley Technical College's Energy Education Center in Eau Claire.

Join us for a wonderful day of swapping ideas and thinking deeply about youth services, with some special attention to serving preschoolers, the summer library program, and outreach.  We'll hear from Brooke Newberry (Winding Rivers Library System), a nationally recognized expert in service to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and their families; then from Kristi Helmkamp (Beloit Public Library) and Alicia Woodland (Appleton Public Library) about their summer programs and outreach for school age kids and teens.  You'll have a chance to do some hands-on play with outer-space-related projects with NASA-trained educator Marguerite Blodgett (Boyceville Public Library) and have discussions about topics of interest to you!  Watch for more details and registration information, coming soon, but make plans in your schedule now so you can join us for a terrific day.