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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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Zero to Three's State of Babies Yearbook

State of Babies Yearbook 2019: Where does your state stand?  Picture of adult feet with baby feet, along with Zero to Three logo
Zero to Three
What do the data say about how babies in Wisconsin are doing, and what could we be doing better?

Zero to Three has collected a LOT of data in their State of Babies Yearbook:  from how many families are accessing services they are eligible for, to how many infants live in poverty, to how many infants and toddlers have experienced two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences, and a whole lot more.  In addition, they look at whether our state policies that support families with young children.  You can see how Wisconsin stacks up against other states, and you can get some ideas of the disconnect between all the amazing services we have in our state and some of the people who could use those services.

I found it worth looking at.  I hope you do too!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Talking Is Teaching Bundles

Pictures of cars, roads, and text that says:  Let's Talk About Cars.  Dialogue bubbles say, "My favorite Place to Go Is..." "Let's name the parts of the car", "Which car is the biggest?"  "What colors are the cars?" and "Honk!"
I'm working with a few IFLS-area libraries and a marvelous load of other partners on the Talking Is Teaching Chippewa Valley initiative.  The goal is to empower parents and caregivers with the knowledge that the more they talk (and listen!) to their kids, the better the outcomes.  It fits perfectly with Every Child Ready to Read efforts, Parents Interacting with Intention playgroups, and just about everything else we do that is encouraging and supporting parents and caregivers.

Talking Is Teaching has created some fun bundles around a variety of themes.  Bundles include book suggestions, posters, talking prompts, and more.  I'm guessing some of you could find a good use for this resource!  Check it out here:  http://talkingisteaching.org/bundles 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Thinking about Dr. Seuss

Read Across America Day is coming up, and many of you have fun activities planned for your communities, encouraging family reading and celebrating the fun of literature.  Since this celebration of reading happens on March 2, which is the birthday of Dr. Seuss, often we read favorite Dr. Seuss stories or dress up as Dr. Seuss characters, do art projects based on the books, and all sorts of other fun things.

For the past few years, there has been growing awareness of the fact that many of Dr. Seuss's works have racist images.  Many of these are in cartoons and advertisements he drew, but several of his books also have racist caricatures.  There are arguments that the beloved Cat in the Hat is based on black-faced minstrel shows.  Thanks to Kathy Larson from Eau Claire for pointing out this recent article about these concerns.

The National Education Association, the sponsor for Read Across America, has, in the past few years, focused efforts on promoting a more diverse array of books instead of focusing on Dr. Seuss alone.  It's fun to celebrate favorite stories and have great traditions.  But it's also important to showcase a whole variety of books, especially considering all the delicious ones published in the past few years.  And important, just like with the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, to take a look at some of our favorites with a critical eye, and be aware of what we are featuring and why.
Read Across America Logo from the NEA, a map of the U.S. with the Cat in the Hat draped over the top, tipping his hat

Friday, February 15, 2019

Parents Interacting with Intention

silhouette of parent lifting child above head
Wow, I cannot believe that February is half-over and I haven't managed to write a blog post till now!  Remember, if you have a program or something you've been thinking about you'd like us to highlight, those are always the most popular posts!

Last week, I (along with librarians and other early childhood providers from around the region) attended a teaser program about Parents Interaction With Intention (PIWI) Playgroups.  PIWI is based on trying to support and nourish parents as they interact with their children, and it is especially designed to work well with families who are working with disabilities. 

It builds on the ideas that libraries have been thinking about for a while: 

  • Parents are the experts on their own children
  • Parents are the most important people for their children
  • Our role is to help develop parental competence and confidence, and to promote mutual enjoyment for parents and their children.
  • We can support parent/child groups by having great environments that set them up for success.
One thing I wish you all could have experienced was how much library-love was in the room.  The other early childhood providers (folks from Early Head Start, early childhood special education teachers, Birth to Three folks, and more) were SO EXCITED to think about working with families in the natural and supportive environment of libraries.

We'll keep you posted about all of these developments and upcoming opportunities, and hopefully we'll be able to share more with everyone about some ways to take PIWI principals into regular library work.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Global Family Research Promotes Public Libraries and STEM

several test tubes in a test tube holder, holding various colors of liquid, surrounded by empty beakers
Image from Pixabay
The Global Family Research Group, the group that created the excellent resource Public Libraries:  A Vital Space for Family Engagement, have a new resource:  Public Libraries Engage Families in STEM.  

They talk about the way public libraries are so well positioned to address the opportunity gap that exists, particularly with opportunities to be involved in STEM activities.  They draw special attention to the fact that libraries:

  • Make STEM more equitable for children and families
  • Engage parents and children in STEM learning together (which leads to better outcomes for kids)
  • Connect school and out-of-school learning
  • Create and avenue for youth voice and leadership
They draw special attention to the role that rural libraries play in providing opportunities for kids that are often more plentiful in urban and suburban environments.  They even draw attention to a wonderful Wisconsin library, the Waupaca Public Library, that has a Teach Your Parents to Code program that allows teens to mentor adults in technology skills.  

I recommend downloading the brief.  It has a lot of inspiring ideas and affirmation that the work you are doing already is important and necessary.  

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Colfax Intergenerational Program Will Warm You Right Up!

a girl reads a picture book aloud while sitting at a table with 2 senior citizens, other reading groups are in the background
I've tried to forswear Facebook for my own happiness, but I can't quite give it up because sometimes I find something on Facebook that makes me feel better about the world.  And last week, I found some posts about a project youth services librarian Jolene Albricht is doing in Colfax that made me happy and excited.  I hope you are similarly inspired!

Jolene's daughter works at the assisted living/nursing home facility in Colfax, and she was talking to her mom about the lonely folks who don't get many visitors.  Jolene contacted the Activity Director and came up with a plan, then she found four kids (ages 8-11) who were interested in visiting the residence to read with seniors.

The library supplied the books and prepared the kids for what would happen, including preparing them for seniors who might doze off while being read to. The kids read with small groups of 3-5 residents.  Most read picture books, but the oldest child read several chapters of a fiction book.  Then the group shared a snack (prepared by the staff at the residence) and spent some time working on puzzles together.  Jolene treated the kids to pizza afterwards.

a young person reads to a table full of 5 seniors

As you can see, both kids and adults had a terrific time.  Jolene said she'd be hard-pressed to figure out which group was having a better time or got more out of it.  This is going to be a monthly activity in Colfax.  They're doing their program on Saturdays, when kids have time and the facility doesn't have quite as full of a slate of activities.

What could be better?  Giving kids and seniors a chance to make meaningful connections.  Allowing kids the chance to make a difference in their community in a real and definite way.  Giving kids practice in reading to an appreciative audience.  All the good things!!

an older woman and a young girl sitting at a table smile for the camera.  A book is on the table in front of them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Youth Media Awards!

YMA ALA Youth Media Awards logo

I was moderately interested this morning when the newscasters, with bated breath, announced the Academy Award nominations this year.  But give me some Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Schneider Family, Pura Belpre, and Printz Awards action (not to mention all the other amazing awards)?  I'm all over it! 

Why do I get so excited?  Partly because I know people who have served on committees, and I have some idea of the level of time, intention, commitment, consideration, thought, and deep discussion that have gone into the selection of the winners.  Partly because I know it draws attention to literature for young people in a way that is special and unusual.  Partly because it often celebrates books I've appreciated, but also lets me know about books I've somehow missed over the course of the past year.  All of this combines to a thrilling time when those announcements are made!

And thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the sponsorship of Baker and Taylor, you can watch a live webcast of the announcements!  Mark your calendar for Monday, January 28 at 10 am and tune in to be inspired about the books we get to promote and share with kids and families.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

a bronze statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Image from Pixabay
Honoring the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. should be something we do year-round, and not just on a particular day or month.  But since it is MLK, Jr. Day today, it seems important to think about some things we can do that continue his important and unfinished work.  Here are a few things I have been thinking about, and I'm interested to hear about other thoughts!

  • Looking at our collections, displays, and books we use for programming to make sure they reflect the diversity of the world around us, including books by and about people of color.  Even if you work in a predominantly or overwhelmingly white community, this is crucial!  
  • Learning and listening!  There is SO much to learn!  One organization that, as a white person, I have found useful lately is Showing Up for Racial Justice.  Lots of great resources and tips and things to think about!
  • Discussing race.  Modeling talking about it in storytime.  Discussing it with co-workers. Talking about it with kids and teachers and community members.  Knowing we'll mess up sometimes and talking about it anyway. 
  • Thinking about economic inequality, and what we can do to make our libraries more welcoming and relevant to people who are poor and working class.
  • Thinking about the voices we invite to serve on our committees and leadership positions, the people we ask for advice and guidance on how we serve the community.  Does it reflect the socio-economic diversity of our communities?  And how do we change the opportunities we have to make them ones that truly welcome and include people from diverse backgrounds?  Do we offer childcare?  Transportation assistance?  How do we conduct our meetings to make them truly welcoming and allowing for different communication styles?  I feel like I have a lot to learn in this area.  I'd love to hear from folks who are doing it well.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Chilling Effect of Ghosting

4 ice cubes in a row
Image from Pixabay

Here's something that I know happens in libraries, maybe even in your library:  people decide not to purchase materials because they are concerned about potential challenges or backlash from the community.  Collection development is tricky.  We have limited funds, limited space, and a whole community to serve, and it is challenging to balance all the demands and responsibilities inherent in choosing materials for a whole community.  There are, despite the guidance of our collection development policies, plenty of times when we have to use our discretion to figure out what is the best way to spend our collection dollars. 

We may worry that making a decision to purchase a particular book or books could jeopardize the library's standing or decrease crucial community support for the programs and services we offer, or for that building project we so desperately need.  Or it might be that we have a closely held belief or understanding of the world that is in direct opposition to some of the books we are considering for purchase.

When we decide not to purchase a book, that is a selection decision.  But if we are not purchasing something because we are afraid or because we have some personal qualms about it, we need to really challenge ourselves.  Author Kari Anne Holt wrote a column about what happens when librarians "ghost" a book, meaning that they just don't purchase it for fear of challenges.  What a chilling effect that has!  There's no chance of access, or even knowing about these books, when no one purchases them. 

And the truth is, there is no predicting what someone might object to in a book.  There is no way to have a collection that has no chance of upsetting anyone at all.  There wouldn't be much point in trying to create a collection like that because it would have so very few books in it.

If you have questions or concerns about collection development, I would love to talk with you about them.  And remember we have a great resource in our state, the Cooperative Children's Book Center.  They not only assist when there is a challenge, they also provide some great things to think about related to Intellectual Freedom.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Community Event Kit

I am guessing that many of the libraries who read this blog get invited to have a table at community events.  This is a great way to meet new people who might not otherwise make it into the library, but it can be time-consuming, and sometimes difficult to think of what to put on your table to best attract a crowd and engage them once they come.

I am considering putting together a kit for libraries to check out from IFLS to use for community events, particularly ones where families with young children will be present (think:  preschool screening, community night out, school open houses, community festivals).  I'm interested in your feedback about what you think would be the most useful things to put in a kit like that.  If you are an IFLS or WVLS library, please take a few minutes to fill out this form!

multi-colored prize wheel illustration

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Free ALSC Webinar about Summer Learning

small child in shorts holds sifter and shovel with sand and rocks in it
Image credit:  Pixabay
Making the Move from Summer Reading to Summer Learning
Thursday, 1/17
1:00 pm (Central)

Children need to keep learning during the summer.  Libraries have long embraced their role in the summer learning landscape.  The National Summer Learning Association has embraced libraries as valuable community hubs of summer learning.  Learn how the NSLA can support libraries, and gain an awareness of the best practices in making the shift from summer reading to summer learning and examined outcomes based evaluation as a way to measure program success and communicate your program's impact.

This webinar is FREE of charge!  You can register here.