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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Summer Library Program: How Are You Managing?

Photo of three rocks with arms and legs drawn on paper behind them to make it look like one is lifting weights, one is lifting up arms in triumph, and one is running
Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay 
I came across an article from the Harvard Business Review about How to Get Through an Extremely Busy Time at Work and thought immediately of all you wonderful peeps out there in the thick of kicking off your summer programming. 

I'm guessing none of you have time to read a blog right now, but I'm posting this anyway in case you have a short moment to catch up on some reading.  I highly recommend the article, it is very short and practical.  Of course, we need to think about and build in sustainability to our work, but sometimes there is a crunch, when there is more to do than we have time to do it.  A few of the tips include:

  • Intersperse the harder, more taxing things with things that are a little easier on your brain or body.  If doing a program for 75 kids wears you out, follow it up with something you need to get done but that takes less energy or is kind of a treat for you--like some collection development tasks or catching up on some professional reading.  That way you are still being productive, but you are giving your body and brain a chance to rest a little bit.
  • Try to segment things.  When you are not at work, try hard not to worry about work.  Be present with your family, friends, or cats.  Let yourself forget about your to-do list from work when you are at home, and vice versa!

There are a bunch more, I recommend reading!

And if you still have a little time, check out the ALA-APA website about wellness.  It talks about emotional, physical, spiritual, environmental, social, occupational, financial, and intellectual wellness, and there are several resources suggested for each section.  Good stuff!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Cool Stuff Round-Up!

A few weeks back, I put out a call for cool SLP promotion/ideas.  I heard from 4 libraries with great info about their SLP (and beyond!).  If you have stuff to share, I'd love to hear about it!

Barron is having a Summer Reading Program Launch on June 21st!  We have signs, facebook posts, website updates, and we are in the paper to promote our programs.  We have several different programs available all summer long!  Lisa Kuebli.

Some of you know we are fortunate to have a little stage in the Boyceville library and kids love it! We get the entire elementary school to walk over here one grade at a time and help us perform a skit to promote the summer reading program. Laurie did a really fun job of decorating this year, see  alien spaceship below with fun twinkle lights. The kids love being on stage, we get them to read a line or two and they get really excited about signing up.    
umbrella painted silver with additional elements to make it look like an alien spaceship or a satellite
Boyceville decorations
4 people standing on stage, 2 with green alien masks, one with an astronaut helmet, and one librarian wearing a Universe of Stories t-shirt.
Kids on stage in Boyceville

In Durand,  we recently set up a box of free discarded children’s and regular library books to use at the Laundromat.  We got permission by the owner to place the box in there.   We set up with the idea in case they are bored at the laundromat and they are discarded so we won’t worry if they take them. 

Bruce Area Library is partnering with the Bruce Public School this year, in a way. We have at least three teachers from the school helping to make our program a success. The Board of Directors chose Sarah Solberg, a Title 1 teacher, to head the program for the summer and she created the flier that I shared with you. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Healing Library Kit Resources

Orange logo, 3 interlocking circles with a heart in one circle and text in the other 2 circleswith text that says:  The Healing Library:  Children's Books, Conversation, Community, Caring.
Healing Library is a company that creates kits for purchase to help families process a traumatic event or situation.  They have made resources (activity sheets, discussion points, booklists, and more) available for free so that libraries can create and customize their own kits.  They worked with a licensed clinical social worker and a librarian to create these kits--and you can access them for your own use, either for creating kits or for readers' advisory on challenging issues.  The topics available for free include:

Death of a Loved One
Death of a Pet
Alzheimer's and Your Family

Monday, June 3, 2019

Teens and Parents Weigh In on Screen Time

Two young teenagers who present as white boys sit on a brick curb.  One is leaning over looking at his phone, the other is sitting up, looking at his phone.  A person with long hair sits on a bench in the background, also looking at a phone.
Image from Pexels

Pew Research Center has a new survey report out about the way teens and parents view screen time.  I read the overview , and here are a few things I thought were interesting:

  • More than half of parents feel like teens are distracted from in-person conversations by their phone.  But guess what?  More than half of teens feel like parents are distracted from in-person conversations by their phone, too.
  • Just over half of teens feel like they spend too much time on their phones, while 36% of parents do.  At the same time, teens are less likely to be distracted at school by their phones than parents are to be distracted at work.
  • Nearly 90 percent of teens report that excessive time online is a problem facing people their age.
  • Forty-nine percent of girls and 38 of boys report feeling anxious when they don't have their phones with them, but more than half report cutting back on screen use.
  • Fifty-seven percent of parents place limits on teen use of screens, and 86 percent of parents feel very confident in knowing the amount of screen time that is good for their children.

Does this fit with what you've observed of teens and parents in the library?  Do you hear a lot about concerns related to screen time for teens?  And who do you hear it from?  Parents?  Teachers?  Grandparents?  Teens themselves?  

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Taking Care of Yourself When Your Library Is a Second Responder

Orange tabby cat sleeps with its head in its paws
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay 
I read a short piece in the Atlantic about how public libraries often act as Second Responders.  Like when there is a natural disaster, and the library provides resources to help folks figure out where to look for help, or goes to a shelter to provide storytimes or activities for kids and families to do to help ease stress and boredom.  Or when a kid's home is not particularly pleasant or safe, or when they don't have a home, and the library provides an excellent place for them to be.  So many, many examples.

I love seeing this role of libraries getting some attention.  It is what many of us are doing every day, and I'm glad others are paying attention and singing our praises.  I love it when we get good press for doing our jobs.

I'm also aware that this second-responder business can be exhausting, and can leave librarians with some symptoms of Secondary Trauma.  Remember to take time to pay attention to your own health and well-being.  Look for moments to breathe deeply.  Look for chances to reflect and act with intention when you plan your services, and remember that being Second Responders takes time and energy and resource, and you need to figure out a way to track that so you can let folks know what you are doing.

Let me know if you have any thoughts about this!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Spoilers! Game

Yellow triangle warning sign with large exclamation point, underneath it says:  Warning:  Spoilers Ahead

I found out about this game, Spoilers!, from an ALSC listserv.  It was developed by Kendra Wright, formerly at the Sno-Isle Library System in the state of Washington.  Though this game requires library staff to commit to reading a lot of middle-grade books, it sure seems like a great way to develop relationships around reading.  It might be a really fun way to work with kids who struggle with reading, or who need more encouragement to read during the summer (or any time).  You could offer it specifically to a smaller group of kids, or try it out on an individual basis with a kid who spends time at the library already, but who might need a little extra nudge to read enthusiastically.

The basic gist of it is that a child chooses a book they haven't read before, the librarian gets a copy of it, and reads to the halfway mark.  Then the child comes back after reading the whole book and tells the librarian two endings:  one true, one that they made up.  The librarian tries to choose which one is real--kids love trying to trick adults!  Read about the whole idea here.

I love the idea because it engages kids in a one-on-one relationship about reading, with plenty of individuated support and validation for reading, which the research supports as being a really excellent motivator.  Plus it give kids a chance to be creative and sneaky, which is a great combination when put to the right kind of application!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Laundromat Storytimes and Services

a wall of washing machines in a laundromat
Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay 

Do you advertise your library programs and services in the laundromat?  It's a place where people, often families, spend a fair amount of time waiting.  If you aren't already advertising your services there, you might want to consider doing so.  You might even want to see if you can put up a free little library there, or some conversation starters for families.  You can find some fun free graphics at Talking Is Teaching.

Some libraries actually do storytimes at the laundromat during times that they've found a peak number of families there. They have actually found that families adjust their laundry day so that they can be there when the library is there!   If you are trying to reach new audiences, this is a pretty great place to do it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Cardigan Newsletter

small red cardigan on a hanger
Image by emmabeyjd from Pixabay 

The Cardigan Newsletter is a monthly e-newsletter for children's librarians, written by Allie Barton and Katherine Hickey, two youth services librarians from Oklahoma.  Each issue has sections titled:  Learn, Play, Plan, Consider, Connect, Read, Reflect, and Ask.  There is something for everyone here--programs that are simple to recreate at your own library, thoughtful reflection about important topics, great book suggestions, links to resources (like books and webinars) and ideas to make the library welcoming for everyone.  I highly recommend it!

You can sign up for the newsletter, which is delivered directly to your inbox, right here.

You can find back issues right here.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Diversity Audits

Colorful umbrellas floating in a blue sky with puffy white clouds
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I've been hearing a lot about Diversity Audits as a way of critically examining a collection to determine how well it represents typically under-represented groups.  Karen Jensen at the Teen Librarian's Toolbox has some very helpful guides for how to do this, and I would love to help you if this is something you are interested in doing but are feeling overwhelmed. 

It can be daunting to think of analyzing your whole collection like this.  May's Library Journal had an article about the Skokie Public Library's effort to just analyze 3 elements of their services:  Books read in storytime, movies/films shown, and books chosen for book discussions.  I think another simple one to add would be materials in displays.  Here's the Badgerlink record for that article.

We might be really trying to do diversify our collections and our programs, but as Karen Jensen points out, it takes stepping back and really analyzing it to determine if that is just how we feel, or if it is really the case.  I am super interested in this idea, and hope that if you have any interest in doing this yourself, you will contact me!  I would love to help you figure out a plan for doing it.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Service Club Collaboration in Hudson

a child in a hoodie and an adult lift a red wheelbarrow up over the bed of a pickup to dump out sticks and brush.  Two other kids are in the background.
Kids participate in clean-up efforts

Shelley Tougas from Hudson joined the Kiwanis Club as part of the library's outreach into the community.  When there, she discovered that Kiwanis has service club opportunities for young people, as well.  Many high schools have a Key Club, which is the Kiwanis offering for high school students.  There is also a K-Kids program for elementary-aged kids.  The local club has been interested in offering this for the past few years but has had a hard time finding a willing partner.  Enter:  Shelley and the Hudson Area Library!

The library provides space and staff time, along with a deep understanding of kids and what they need.  The local Kiwanis club provides some resources, volunteer help, and a long tradition of service.  The group meets monthly to do a project and decide what kinds of projects to do next.  Shelley has had to tame the Kiwanis Club members' zeal for process--the bureaucratic elements of the club--so that they can keep the kids engaged.  Like any partnership, there are compromises and wonderful benefits.  Maybe worth checking into it, if you are looking for a meaningful way to engage with kids and your community!
5 kids wearing gloves and carrying plastic bags and one adult with a wheelbarrow filled with brush walk in a parking lot
clean-up crew

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

We Are Kid Lit Summer Reading List 2019

Book jacket for Bowwow Powwow, green truck with 2 people driving on a rural roadBook jacket for Darius the Great Is Not Okay, backs of two people sitting and looking over a cityBook jacket for Frazzled:  Oridnary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes.  Cartoonish drawing of frazzled-looking girl reaching out to a gray cat

The We Are Kid Lit Collective is dedicated to promoting high quality literature for kids that recognize and celebrate the humanity of Indigenous and People of Color (IPOC).  They created a summer reading list that celebrates diversity, inclusivity, and social justice.  It emphasizes IPOC, people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ communities.  A great resource for readers' advisory, choosing book discussion books, finding books to feature in programs, and more.  I've expanded my own reading list after looking at the list--maybe you will too!

Teaching Books has created a bunch of resources for working with these books, as well.  Check it out!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Coding Resources to the Rescue!

computer screen with multi-colored coding written on it
Image credit:  Pixabay
If you are like me, you totally get the importance and excitement about coding, but are a little intimidated at the idea of rolling out a coding program in your library.  There are a couple of resources created in Wisconsin to help you with that! 

Most recent, the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association has put together 12 Months of Coding, with low tech, medium tech, and high tech programs to teach coding concepts to a variety of ages.   Check it out here, available on the YSS blog!

There is another great resource created by Department of Public Instruction staff, Coding in Wisconsin Public Libraries.  Lots of great resources, guides for programs, and some tips for helping you figure out a great way to wade into coding programming, taking into consideration your own readiness and interest.

What are you doing related to coding?  Anything to share?  We'd love to hear about it.  Send me a note and I'll do a blog post about it!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Adulting in Hudson

There are so many parts of becoming an adult that are intimidating or overwhelming, and without support it can feel downright impossible to figure out.  Enter:  the Hudson library!  They're in the middle of a 4-session series, bringing in community experts to help teens learn to navigate finances, simple sewing/laundry/cooking tasks, etiquette, starting college, and basic car maintenance. 

The sessions have been well-received and well-attended. I know some other libraries have tried this with less success, so I asked Shelley (at Hudson) how they publicized.  They've used several strategies.  Posting on Facebook has reached parents of teens, and their new Facebook strategy of seeking more engagement has meant that people are paying more attention to their page.  They also put up humorous posters around the library (see example below).  Using humor seems to have been a key ingredient in their success!
Adulting for Teens at the Library poster.  Quote:  Nutrition:  I hate it when I'm trying to eat a salad and it accidentally falls in the trash and I have to eat pizza instead.  Session one:  What's in Your Wallet?  Hopefully Money.  Session Two:  Random Acts of Adulting and Dinner Etiquette.  Session Three:  Supercharge Your College Experience.  Session Four:  Avoiding Car-tastrophe.

Adulting at the library for teens.  Laundry:  I can't believe there's no fold button on the dryer.

Adulting at the library for teens.  Cars:  You Know you're a bad driver when Siri says, 'In 400 feet, stop and let me out.'

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Dav Pilkey on Simple Changes to Protect Freedom to Read

Dav Pilkey, author of the perennial favorite series Captain Underpants, along with several other books, put together a short, sweet, and simple video about how people who don't like a book can make a little, tiny change and protect others' right to read and still express their opinion.  Check it out here!
Book cover:  The Adventures of Captain Underpants now in Full Color by Dav Pilkey, featuring an illustration of a bald person, arms akimbo, wearing only a pair of underwear and a red cape

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

More on Screen Time

young child looks at a laptop screen with a picture of another young child on it
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels
There is an excellent article in The Hill by Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician who helped to write the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines about screen time and media use.  The World Health Organization recently released a suggestion that parents limit young children's screen time, including no screen time for children under the age of two.  The AAP guidelines are not quite so strict, but both recommendations emphasize the importance of prioritizing social interaction, play that lets the child's mind take the lead, and getting enough sleep. 

The article by Radesky points out that though children are getting too much screen time, this is not something we should be wagging our fingers at parents about, but looking to make some systemic changes in the design of our digital environment, which is designed to prolong engagement.  As she said, "We are basically asking each family to figure out how to be a gatekeeper to the most enormous, unregulated playground their child has ever entered."  A much greater impact can occur when we change the environment to make it more healthy.  Check out the article for some specific suggestions and resources. 

If you are looking for resources and ideas about Media Mentorship, remember the resources pulled together as part of an LSTA grant in 2015 (kept updated with new resources).

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Resources about Latinxs in Children's Literature

stack of 11 books
Image credit:  Pixabay
Props to Olivia Langby* at the Waukesha Public Library for this recommendation for a couple of great resources of book reviews and other tips related to literature by and about Latinxs. 

Latinxs in Kid Lit has book reviews about books you may have missed hearing about, or maybe you haven't heard about them from this perspective.  There are also suggestions for using books, and some other program ideas that are relevant and useful.

De Colores:  The Raza Experience reminds me of Debbie Reese's useful and important blog American Indians in Children's Literature.  It contains critical reviews of books for children and teens, calling out problematic aspects that some reviewers might overlook--and also highlighting positive aspects that some reviewers might not notice, as well.

*Yes, in case you are wondering, it is extremely thrilling to be able to geek out about libraries and youth services with my daughter!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Power Up Reflection #3: Streamline for Strength

a stream running through a wooded, mountainous valley
Image from Pixabay
My favorite session at the Power Up Conference last month (how was that already a month ago?!) was Streamline for Strength with Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser (St. Paul) and Amy Koester (Skokie).  They talked a lot about how to really think about the programming you offer, and how to be intentional about these three goals when planning programs:

  • Reaching diverse audiences in your community
  • Move toward your goals
  • Support your library's mission

It can be easy, especially now, in the ramp-up to the Summer Library Program fun, to get into the mindset that more is more.  But that isn't always the case.  I often fall into the trap of wanting to do Every Single One of The Things!  But then I can end up chasing my tail around and around and not accomplishing anything toward my goals, I start to lose track of the mission of IFLS, and maybe I'm only reaching the same few folks who have time to read my voluminous emails.

Kelsey and Amy had so many good ideas and tools that I am thinking of bringing them to do a workshop for us here.  I'll leave you with one of my favorite things they shared--things to consider when you are looking at whether or not to provide another program:

FITShould we do it?  There are lots of things to consider when deciding if a new program or service is a good fit for your library and community.

CAPACITY:  Can we do it?  Even if something is a great idea and would fit well with achieving the other goals we laid out, it's important to decide if you have the capacity in staff time, resources, and other things in order to do this project well.  What is needed in order to build that capacity?  Letting go of other projects/programs?  Getting training?  Finding the right partner?

IMPLICATIONS:  If we do it, then what?  It is important to look ahead and see what might happen if you do this project--how will the new program affect (and be affected by) policies, procedures, partnerships, and precedents?  Are there other potential ways to achieve the same goal that should be considered?

I think it is so great to be able to say YES to trying new things.  But if we don't think about it first, we often end up having less impact than we could if we were applying these questions to our work more regularly.  

Friday, April 12, 2019

Orange speech bubble that says Teens' Top Ten
Yesterday, YALSA announced the Teens' Top Ten Nominees!  I've read a few of the titles, and a few others are already on my to-be-read list.  How about you?  How might you use this list to generate discussion and engagement with teens in your community?

Every year, teen book groups nominate titles for the Teens' Top Ten Nominations.  Next, our job is to encourage teens to read and react, and then VOTE between August 15 and Teen Read Week (in October).  The list of the top ten books is announced after Teen Read Week.

At the very least, making a display of the nominees seems like a fun way to highlight them.  Or, if you have a teen book club, maybe you could suggest reading titles from this list and discussing and dissecting them.  If you are going into the school to do some booktalking, these titles already have the seal of approval of teens around the country, and you can encourage voting, too!  Maybe you could promote this during your Summer Library Program?

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Rural Education Needs

farm field with trees, farmhouse, and farm building in the background
Image source:  Pixabay
As someone who grew up in a very rural area (graduating class of 32, but 3 were foreign exchange students!), and someone who works with libraries serving rural communities, I'm glad to see national attention focused on the particular needs and challenges of education in rural settings.  YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) is considering these issues, especially as they relate to schools, but I bet people working with teens in rural areas will recognize some of these challenges and ideas with an Aspen Institute discussion titled No Longer Forgotten:  The Triumph and Challenge of Education in Rural America.  You can listen to a recording of the live stream or read a summary of the discussion here.  YALSA and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries are working together to convene cohorts of libraries that work with teens in rural areas to support each other and learn more about how to provide services that allow teens to be ready for colleges or careers.  Find more out here, and let me know if you want to apply and want someone to look at your application before you send it in!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Power Up Reflection #2

On Friday morning of the Power Up Conference, I attended two back-to-back sessions about inclusion that set me to wondering.  The first was called But I Loved That Book as a Kid:  Leading Staff to More Inclusive Practices with Angie Manfredi.  The second was Um, Did You Know You Have a Drag Queen Leading Storytime? with staff from the Beloit Public Library and their partner agency.

In the first session, Angie discussed ways libraries can interrupt racism and make our library programs, collections, and environments more inclusive.  She strongly advocated not having programs that include Santa, the Easter Bunny, or other characters associated with Christian traditions so that everyone can feel welcome at all library programs.

We should think long and hard about holiday decorations, playing Christmas music on our speakers, or incorporating Christmas or Easter elements into regular storytimes.  People who don't celebrate these holidays are inundated everywhere, especially with the commercial aspects of Christmas and Easter.  Keeping our decorations more neutral makes it clear that our space is really for everyone in the community, whether or not they celebrate a particular holiday.

I know many libraries have a wonderful community turn-out at special events where Santa and his reindeer are present, or Mrs. Claus stops by with cookies, or where the library is one stop in a huge community-wide Christmas festival or Easter Egg Hunt.  Angie urged libraries to stop any programming like this.   I'm a little ambivalent.  We need to think about how much time, energy, and budget goes into promoting and providing programs like this, and if there is a dearth of other programs available during this time period.  But tradition and community connections and expectations are compelling, and I understand that.

I especially thought of this during the next session I attended.  Drag Queen Storytime features a special guest drag queen (sometimes more than one), who often reads one or two stories, and leads a dance party.  In Beloit, the library has worked for a few years with Yellow Brick Road, an LGBTQ support organization, to provide programming for adults and teens.  They decided to put together a Drag Queen Story Time as a way to provide programming for young children and their families.  Despite some challenges, negative attention, and controversy, the program was a success.  Record numbers attended, and the parents of at least one child who is non-gender-conforming expressed sincere appreciation for the event.  Parents interviewed for news programs indicated that this program allowed them to open up conversation about acceptance, diversity, and differences related to gender expression with their kids.  It turned out to be completely worth the challenging conversations and controversies.

Attending these sessions back-to-back, I found myself wondering if it would be confusing to some patrons to have the library stop hosting a popular visit from Santa Claus because it wasn't something that would be appealing or welcoming to all families, and at the same time hosting a Drag Queen story time and explaining to people who are alienated by it that not all programs are going to appeal to every family, and they could simply choose not to attend.  I know there are complicating issues (separation of church and state; privilege; meeting unmet needs), but I still think it is potentially confusing.  What does that mean?  I guess that we need to think about it!

What do you think?  How do you manage diverse community needs and make sure you are welcoming for everyone, despite the fact that there are items in your collection and programs in your buildings that will be objectionable to some members of your community?  And how do you keep from defaulting to a bias that gives preference to people who already have a lot of privilege?  I truly am interested in this conversation and would love to hear your opinions.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Power Up Reflection #1

light bulb made into a person shape plugs itself into an electrical outlet
Image from Pixabay
So, I guess I took March off from posting to the blog.  Nothing like abdominal surgery to slow a person down.  I am back, and full of ideas for posting, so hopefully content will be more regular from here on out.  Remember that I am ALWAYS interested in posting guest posts, or talking to you about really great programs or services and highlighting them in the blog.  

I came back from the Power Up:  A Leadership Conference for Youth Services Managers with lots of ideas and things to share and follow-up on.  I am waiting for the resources to be uploaded to the conference site so I can share specifics.  So watch for more of that!

One thing I can reflect on right away was something that Andrew Medlar, the opening keynote said.  He was talking about how sometimes staffing or budgets get cut and we end up not being able to provide the level of service we want to, and he quoted a friend as saying, "I may not be able to keep up my standards, but I can keep up my values."

I liked this reminder.  It can be discouraging to see all the things you are not able to do, or all the materials you aren't able to purchase, or all the partnerships you aren't able to pursue to the level you want to.  We all have high standards for our work, and want to do SO MUCH, because there is so much to be done!  Sometimes we can't quite keep up those standards, or meet the standards set forth for us by documents like the Wisconsin Public Library Standards (though you should check those out!).  But we can stay true to our values, whatever those are.  I found this comforting to think about, and also a rallying cry to keep paying attention and holding myself accountable, even as I sometimes find myself unable to keep up with my own (or others') expectations.

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.