Everyday Advocacy Challenge: Meet the Inaugural Cohort!

Creating a Better Future Button

Image courtesy of ALSC

Who’s ready to take the inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge (EAC)? Eighteen bold and daring Everyday Advocates are—and we hope you are, too!

From September 1 through October 20, our cohort of intrepid volunteers has agreed to do the following:

  • Commit to completing eight consecutive Take Action Tuesday challenges on a back-to-school theme;
  • Collaborate with their EAC cohort members over the eight-week period, sharing successes and troubleshooting issues via e-mail and online documents;
  • Write posts for the ALSC blog about their EAC experiences; and
  • Nominate colleagues to participate in the next EAC.

As the first-ever EAC gets underway today, we’d like to introduce each of our cohort members and their reasons for taking the eight-week challenge. Watch for their sure-to-inspire blog posts beginning next Tuesday, September 8!

Sue Abrahamson, Librarian and Supervisor, Waupaca (Wisc.) Area Public Library
“I want to participate in the challenge so that I take action rather than just thinking about taking action; to show my teammates how easy it is; and to recognize the benefits of telling the story of our work.”

Ashley Burkett, Library Assistant, Birmingham (Ala.) Public Library
“I want to learn, share, and make a difference!”

Natasha Forrester Campbell, Librarian
“I’d like to become a better advocate for libraries, reading, and literacy in general.”

Olga Cardenas, Librarian, Stanislaus County (Calif.) Library
“[I want to participate in the challenge] in order to grow as a professional because the challenge will force me to step out of my comfort zone. I also want to take the EAC in order to become an active member of the librarianship community; I’ve been an inactive member for almost 2 years!”

Pam Carlton, Librarian

Samantha Cote, Librarian, Winslow (Maine) Public Library
“I participated in an advocacy course, Turning the Page, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and ALA, and I loved it. Sadly, I’m not doing as much with it as I’d like. I’ve enjoyed doing the advocacy challenges so far and would love to bring my advocacy skills up to the next level.”

Africa Hands, Executive Assistant

Andi Jackson-Darling, Administrator, Supervisor and Librarian, Falmouth (Maine) Memorial Library
“I am immersed in library administration on a day-to-day level. We are working on a large expansion of our library, and I’ve realized how little I am involved with a large part of our community and our patronage—our children! Challenges are great ways to reconnect and make what is important on my radar and will make me more engaged with our community.”

Kendra Jones, Librarian, Tacoma (Wash.) Public Library
“I see Take Action Tuesdays and always say I’ll do them, but then things happen and they don’t get done. By taking this challenge, I’ll actually do them! I need to work more on advocacy professionally, and this is the perfect thing to help me build some advocacy skills. Plus, working with others makes the tasks more enjoyable and adds a level of accountability that wasn’t there before. I’m excited!”

Eileen Makoff, Librarian, P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School (N.Y.)
“I am a member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee. Plus, I feel strongly that libraries save lives (Little Rock Public saved mine). I’ll do what I have to do protect them.”

Kelli McDaniel, Administrator, Supervisor and Librarian, Piedmont Regional (Ga.) Library System
“As a newly hired Assistant Director, I am responsible for inspiring and steering children’s services in our 10-library system. Learning to be an Everyday Advocate would help me boost the wonderful programmers in our region who are always looking for a fresh approach to serving our communities. I also look forward to working with a cohort to share best practices and hear different perspectives on our important role as librarians for children.”

Matthew John McLain, Supervisor, Salt Lake County (Utah) Public Library
“I’m the co-chair of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee, and this looks like an awesome opportunity to get started.”

Lynda Salem-Poling, Librarian and Supervisor, El Dorado (Calif.) Neighborhood Library
“I would like to strengthen my advocacy skills and my connection to local schools. I am new to this library and see that as an opportunity to make new bonds with the community and local representatives.”

Megan Schliesman, Librarian, Cooperative Children’s Book Center (Wis.)
“[I want to participate in the challenge] first and foremost to support the Everyday Advocacy effort.”

JoAnna Schofield, Librarian, Akron-Summit County (Ohio) Public Library
“What libraries and librarians do for children and their families on a day-to-day basis is important work, and one of the best ways to showcase our value to our communities is to share our work. Many Tuesdays I eagerly open the Everyday Advocacy Take-Action activity and make plans to engage on behalf of the intentional and sometimes inspiring work happening at my library, but some weeks I simply fall short. I am excited about the Everyday Advocacy Challenge and eager to participate because it will give me that extra push I need to follow-through on advocacy challenge and connect me with other like-minded individuals to share experiences and encouragement.”

Brittany Staszak, Supervisor and Librarian
“It’s so easy to get sucked into the everyday flow of library life and habitual users where everyone knows the value of the library and its services. I strive to take my advocacy home with me and make it a part of my out-of-library life and conversations, showing all I interact with exactly what makes libraries so valuable. Being a part of the challenge would be a perfect way to kick-start a new habit of Everyday Advocacy—all day, every day.”

Mira Tanna
“I am new to ALSC and would like to get involved!”

Lise Tewes, Supervisor and Librarian, Kenton County (Ky.) Public Library
“My library and several other library systems in northern Kentucky have spent the last three years fighting a lawsuit that was filed by the Tea Party and which threatened to eliminate our tax-based funding. That would have effectively closed my library system as well as four others in our state. Fortunately, the district court ruled in favor of the library, but these last three years have opened my eyes to the need to advocate for libraries and make sure the public is aware of the tremendous return on their tax investment that public libraries provide.”


Jenna Nemec-Loise is Member Content Editor of the ALSC Everyday Advocacy Website and Electronic Newsletter. E-mail her at everyday-advocacy@hotmail.com and follow her on Twitter: @ALAJenna

Posted in Call to Action, Child Advocacy | Tagged | Leave a comment

I Left My Heart at ALA Annual

Around 8:00 a.m. PST on June 26th, 2015, I sat at a Starbucks, downing as much coffee as possible before my first day at ALA Annual began. As I anxiously flipped through Facebook, a theme spread like wildfire through every post: Marriage equality is the law of the land! Love wins! SCOTUS FTW! I could hardly believe my good fortune to be in what felt like the center of the universe for this landmark decision. Awestruck, I gathered up my things and headed to a 3.5-hour preconference: Rolling Out the Rainbow Carpet: Serving LGBTQ Communities. Later that same day, I heard Roberta Kaplan give the opening keynote speech. Two days later, I donned my rainbow regalia and watched the San Francisco Pride Parade.

In addition to all of that amazingness, my conference experience was made special in the following ways:

  • Attending a preconference. I gained so much in the way of programming ideas that the preconference practically paid for itself. Also, David Levithan magically appeared as part of a panel discussion and then signed books (squee!).
  • Fun, yet practical sessions. I learned the best strategies for approaching my manager with creative (read: far-fetched) ideas. I learned how to fearlessly weed print and digital materials. I learned how to fail gracefully and embrace “relentless optimism” (my new favorite phrase). I learned about the art in Caldecott winners and got a chance to apply that knowledge to upcoming contenders. All this, and more, were immediately applicable to my work.
  • The Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder banquet. Putting on a fancy dress and eating dinner with lovely individuals is great. What’s even better? Hearing Dan Santat and Kwame Alexander’s emotionally charged speeches, and then telling them that they made me cry a little bit. I also got to tell Dan Santat how, upon reading The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, I ran around my library showing everyone Beekle’s backside, saying “Look at his little butt! Look at it!!”
  • Meeting authors. Cece Bell referenced the movie Heathers while being unbelievably sweet. After I gushed effusively over I’ll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson told me she wanted to take me with her everywhere—especially while writing. Tim Federle told me that my necklace was “funsies.” Authors are rock stars, and I will unapologetically geek out over these interactions for the rest of my life.
  • Exhibit hall happenstance. While booking it around the exhibit hall, I screeched to a halt in front of the world’s coolest and most versatile LEGO-Train-Light-Tinker Toy Table. Not only were we in the market, but it even fit my library’s color scheme. Serendipitous! I sped down an uncrowded aisle only to see Raina Telgemeier sitting in a booth all by her lonesome. Magical! I came across my grad school’s booth and there was my advisor! And there were cookies!!  Exhibit hall happenstance: it’s a thing.

Before attending ALA Annual, I spent a lot of time researching it and getting advice from veteran conference-goers. The best piece of advice I got was to talk to everyone. Though extroverted, I am not always outgoing with strangers. But these are librarian-strangers—the best kind of stranger! By chatting with those around me, I managed to befriend people in libraries near my own (what are the odds?), learn major takeaways from sessions I’d missed, exchange business cards, programming advice, book recommendations, laughs, and hugs. Putting yourself out there is the best thing you can do.

Thank you so much to Penguin Young Readers Group and the award committee for allowing me the incredible opportunity to attend the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

********************************************************

FullSizeRender

Photo courtesy of the guest blogger

Today’s guest blogger is Heather Thompson. Heather is a Children’s Librarian / eMedia Coordinator and science programming enthusiast at the Cook Memorial Public Library District. Heather was a recipient of the Penguin Young Readers Group Award.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

Posted in ALA Annual 2015, Guest Blogger | Leave a comment

The Value of ALA Annual: Reflections from a First Time Attendee

This summer my husband and I packed up, threw a couple of dogs in our car, and moved from Texas to Massachusetts. I had resigned from my amazing job as an elementary librarian in Coppell, TX and accepted the Media Specialist position at Shrewsbury High School (just outside of Worchester, MA).   Our summer was spent looking for houses, attempting to understand the foreign language that is real estate, and playing Tetris with all of our belongings.   On the bright side, between packing, driving, and across country flights, I have finished a record number of audio books.

In the middle of all this, I flew to San Francisco for my first ALA Annual conference. I fortunately received a Penguin Young Readers Award, an award that is given to support 4 members of ALSC who have fewer than 5 years experience in the library to attend their first ALA Annual.  This experience may not have been a moment of calm amidst my chaotic summer, but it was a reinvigorating weekend that went beyond my expectations.

Conference attendance provides the important opportunity to increase your involvement in ALSC and ALA as well as network with colleagues. This is the core justification for my continued participation at ALA conferences. I am a member of the ALSC Membership Committee, and as a part of my commitment to this committee, I helped to organize the ALSC 101 event. I have had the opportunity to learn more about the division through the committee, but ALSC 101 helped to provide a greater understanding of opportunities for involvement within ALSC.

Each opportunity to work on a committee or volunteer in any way helps ALSC support library services to children. We are a passionate group of individuals and our voices carry weight within the world of libraries, children’s literature, and education. Take the opportunity to become involved.

Our community is a powerful resource for any librarian. I was able to speak with many others who work with children and teens in the library. There were also a number of sessions I attended about school libraries, STEM programming, and diversity.  This conference allowed me to take advantage of the wealth of experience from other conference attendees as I bring a stack of new ideas and perspectives to my library.

As I write this, I am one week away from my first day at a new school, with high schoolers for the first time, and across the country from everything I know. The conference was not a reprieve from my chaotic summer. In the span of 4 days, I attended my first Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet, explored San Fransisco, watched an incredible city wide Pride celebration, met a number of phenomenal authors, snagged a few amazing ARCs for review, and hung out with some the coolest librarians I know. It was busy, it was crazy, it was fun, but most importantly it was transformative. My first ALA Annual gave me the confidence to take on my new role and the knowledge that there is a large community within ALSC and ALA to support my library, my students, and me.

**********************************************************

EmilyEmily Bredberg works as a High School Media Specialist in Shrewsbury, MA. She has spent the few remaining weeks of her summer reading and hiking through some of New England’s beautiful forests. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @BredbergReads.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

Posted in ALA Annual 2015, Guest Blogger | Leave a comment

ALSC Online Courses – Fall 2015

Fall 2015 Online Courses

ALSC encourages participants to sign up for Fall 2015 ALSC online courses. Registration is open for all courses. Classes begin Monday, September 14, 2015.

One of the courses being offered this semester is eligible for continuing education units (CEUs). The American Library Association (ALA) has been certified to provide CEUs by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options. For more information on ALSC online learning, please visit: www.ala.org/alsced

It’s Mutual: School and Public Library Collaboration
6 weeks, September 14 –October 23, 2015
Instructor: Rachel Reinwald, School Liaison/Youth Services Librarian, Lake Villa District Library

Storytelling with Puppets
4 weeks, September 14 – October 9, 2015, CEU Certified Course, 2.2 CEUs
Instructor: Steven Engelfried, Youth Services Librarian, Wilsonville Public Library

The Newbery Medal: Past, Present and Future
6 weeks, September 14 – October 23, 2015
Instructor: KT Horning, Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin- Madison

Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC website at www.ala.org/alsced. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Sutherland at ksutherland@ala.org or 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

Posted in ALSC Online Courses, Awards & Scholarships, Blogger Dan Bostrom, School Library Media Specialist | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Resources for Youth Services

Summer Reading is over! Many schools have already cranked up, and more will be getting going in the next couple of weeks. Fall, to me, means planning. I love doing long-term planning and reading materials that inspire me.  I’ve compiled a list here of a few more non-traditional resources that we could all benefit from. I hope one or all of these sparks your creative ideas for the fall!

Think Outside the Stacks – This is a TinyLetter newsletter written by Beth Saxon, also known as BethReads. Beth uses this newsletter to compile information that is relevant is YS librarians from outside the usual library sources–family blogs, news sources, museums, craft sites, educators. The title is apt. We have a lot to learn from people who aren’t librarians that also have interest in serving children and family, and Beth beautifully curates current, pertinent information.

Fairy Dust Teaching Blog – Fairy Dust Teaching is a resource site for teachers that actually offers online courses. But the blog is free to browse and is chock-full of classroom fun that can easily be adapted to library programming. She also highlights what educators all over the country are doing.

Planet Esmé – You might know Esmé Raji Codell from her book, Educating Esme, and her site is a wonderful resource for books, teaching, and other fun. You could get lost in those archives.

Podcasts are having their moment in the sun and I, for one, love them! Here are some great resources for podcasts that can help you be a better librarian:

Podcasts to Help Build Your Teen Collection: a post by Anna Dalin over at the Hub about great podcasts for collection development!

Secret Stacks – a podcast about comics in libraries by Kristin Lalonde and Thomas Maluck.

I hope this gets you started. Happy planning!

*

Our guest blogger from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

School Poems

Goodbye Summer Reading!  Hello School Time!
My cape is tucked away and our library super hero readers are almost off to school!

Laura Purdie Salas’s poem captures the summer reading theme of “Every Hero Has a Story” with imagination and books just as our super readers return to class.

SuperReaders
Her cape is sewn from favorite pages
He battles bullies, beasts, and crooks
Their weapon is another world–
the world they choose–
inside of books

Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

I picture students just like Salas’s poem with flying capes made out of book pages, backpacks filled with school supplies and lunches ready to eat.

School supplies ready! photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

School supplies ready! photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Let’s start off the school year with some poetry noise. From Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two Voices by Betsty Franco to Shout!: Little Poems that Roar by Brod Bagert.  Sharing school poems is the perfect way to start the school year out.

Favorite school poetry books created on Riffle.

School Poetry Activities:

  • Listen to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem, “New School New Year.”  After record your own.  Start out with the same word, “School.” Have everyone say it together, “SCHOOL!” Then go around the classroom and have the whole classroom share one word.  Maybe it’s their favorite subject in school, maybe it’s what school smells like or maybe it’s a favorite time like recess.  Go around the classroom having each student share one word then again faster and louder.  End the poem with everyone saying the word “school” together.
  • Create a School Poetry Display with your favorite school poems and school supplies. (If you have a school poetry display already created please share in the comments below.)
  • Attach a long piece of butcher paper in the shape of pencil on the back of a classroom or library door.  Invite students throughout the day to write what the pencil might say if it could talk.  Then read the poem, “Things To Do If You are a Pencil” by Elaine Magilano.
  • Write a school bus concrete poem or shape poem-Draw a HUGE school bus, add school bus noises and things students might say on the way to school.
  • Write a separate poem on “How are you getting to school?” Read “The Very First Day of School” by Deborah Ruddell.  Have the students use their imagination and create their own vehicle or way to get to school.  Examples: Flying chair, jumping shoes, rainbow wings…
  • Find an unusual object in the classroom and write a concrete poem.  Stuffed hedgehog, cuckoo clock on the wall, pink velvet chair—what unusual object do you see in the classroom? Describe it! Use butcher paper, crayons, pencils, markers and make it BIG or use colorful sticky notes and make a tiny concrete poem.  Display them around the room.
  • Write a list poem about what the desk, chair or chalk board (smart board) are saying when children are in the room.  One word after the other-Ouch! Thud!  Write another poem about the same object but when the classroom is empty. What do they when everyone has gone home?
  • Read “On Menu for School Today” by Rebecca Kai Doltish then write a quiet and LOUD poem about a pencil sharper and create new sounds! Thud! Clank!  The first word is in lower case and is quiet and then the second word is in all caps and is LOUD. Continue with one quiet word and then one loud word.
  • Act out “Kids Rule” by Brod Bagert.  Everyone up!  Tell everyone, we are going to do three things (hold up three fingers) and we are going to do those three things three times.  The three things are Run, Chew and Read! (act out)  Practice the three things. Run three times while saying run, run, run.  Pretend to eat your lunch while saying chew, chew, chew.  Hold up your hands like a book and read, read, read. At the end of the poem, have everyone shout out together, “Kids Learn!” “Kids Rule!”  Ready?

Explore more school poems and poetry ideas with Laura Purdie Salas, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Betsy Franco.

Enjoy and share “The Very First Day of School” by Deborah Ruddell from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. Check out her new book, The Popcorn Astronauts. 

The Very First Day of School
by Deborah Ruddell

Today is the day . . . a really big day . . .
The very first day of school!
A Get-Yourself-Dressed Day
A Looking-Your-Best Day
The very first day of school!

Today is the day . . . a really big day . . .
The very first day of school!
A Brush-Your-Teeth-Quick Day
A Camera-Click Day
The very first day of school!
© 2015 Deborah Ruddell
from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations
by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

El primer día de escuela
basado en “The Very First Day of School”
por Deborah Ruddell

Hoy es el día, el gran día . . .
¡el primer día de escuela!
El día de vestirse solo
El día de verse espectacular
¡El primer día de escuela!

Hoy es el día, el gran día . . .
¡El primer día de escuela!
El día de cepillarse rápido los dientes
El día de sacarse fotos sonrientes
¡El primer día de escuela!

from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations
by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
© 2015 Pomelo Books

Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.

 

 

 

Posted in Blogger Paige Bentley-Flannery, Children's Literature (all forms), Programming Ideas | Tagged | 1 Comment

Outreach to Students with Disabilities in Mainstream Classrooms

People with disabilities can celebrate two legislative landmarks this year. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 26. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), signed into law in 1975, is now 40 years old.

IDEA, which guaranteed children with disabilities the right to be educated in the “least restrictive environment”, has been especially important for students in K – 12 schools. However, in many cases it seems that successful implementation of these laws is still in its infancy. One method of providing the “free appropriate public education” mandated by IDEA has been inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream or general education classrooms. Educational support is provided by an aide in the classroom or scheduled visits to a resource room.

Several recent children’s books describe the experiences of fictional young people with disabilities in inclusive classrooms.

  • El Deafo by Cece Bell is the story of a girl with a hearing impairment who uses an FM amplification system in the classroom.
  • Image2

    Books with students in mainstream classrooms (Photo by Kate Todd)

    Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt describes how Ally, who has undiagnosed dyslexia, learns of her disability and develops strategies for reading successfully.

  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is the story of Melodie, a girl with cerebral palsy who is supported by computerized text-to-speech equipment and a student teacher.
  • Rain Reign by Ann Martin is a narrative about Rose, diagnosed with autism, who has an aide working with her at school.
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio tells the story of Augie, who has mandibulofacial dysostosis and begins attending middle school after years of home schooling.

Research has provided insights into the attitudes of adults and students toward inclusive classrooms. Although educational experts (faculty, consultants and doctoral students who published articles about inclusion) believe “inclusion students should be placed in general education settings surrounded by general education students of approximately the same age,” teachers and parents expressed reservations about practical implications such as behavioral disruptions or lack of time for collaboration. (Kimbrough, R., & Mellen, K. (2012). Perceptions of inclusion of students with disabilities in the middle school. http://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/WhatsNew/WNDet.aspx?ArtMID=888&ArticleID=308 )

On the other hand, studies using middle school students, both with and without disabilities, found “Young people today consider it right and natural for students with learning and behavioral difficulties to be in their classes.” (Miller, M. (2008). What do students think about inclusion? Phi Delta Kappan, 89, 391.) It is interesting that the interviewers doing this research were often surprised when some students indicated that they, themselves, received special education support.   This demonstrates that students with disabilities may not always be obvious to the casual observer.

Image1(3)

Inclusion class at the library (Creative Commons license, adapted by Kate Todd, from https://openclipart.org/detail/639/point-to-board)

Outreach to students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms is important for librarians. It is the first step to making sure that all students have a positive library experience. If inclusion is working effectively, it may be impossible to know which students have special needs. However, preparing simple accommodations or setting up assistive technology can make library visits more successful. Alerting library staff to situations that may be distressing—such as visual or communication anomalies—will avoid embarrassing responses.

Here are some suggestions for working with schools that can help assure that students with disabilities in inclusive classes feel welcome in the library:

  1. When collecting information for class visits, ask a question such as, “Are there special needs students in your class?” or “Are there any students that need accommodations when visiting the library?”
  2. Since students, both with or without disabilities, are easily embarrassed when singled out from their peers, remind staff to treat all students equally in the library.
  3. Do book talks of titles that contain characters with disabilities, such as Out of My Mind, Wonder or Rain Reign. Incorporating these books into presentations sends a signal to students, parents and teachers that inclusive classrooms are typical and children with disabilities are welcome at the library.
  4. There are a variety of organizations that serve people with disabilities. Some focus on specific diagnoses while others are more general. Identify these organizations in your community and provide a link to their resources on the library web page.
  5. Tweet about workshops or programs that are sponsored by the organizations in your community. This not only spreads the word about important events, but lets the organizations know you consider their work important.
  6. When possible, attend some of these events yourself so you can begin building personal relationships with others in your community that are also interested in services to people with disabilities.
  7. Design workshops for teachers and parents that highlight advantages of library use for children with disabilities. A good topic outline can be found in the parent blog by Karen Wang, “10 Ways Your Child With Special Needs Can Benefit From a Trip To The Library” (http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2014/10/28/10-ways-your-child-with-special-needs-can-benefit-from-a-trip-to-the-library/ ).

Inclusive classes may mean that children with disabilities are hidden in plain sight. It might require additional inquiries and awareness to identify these children and make sure their needs are met when they visit the library.

*****************************************************************************

Photo courtesy guest blogger

Photo by Kate Todd

Our guest blogger is Kate Todd, a retired librarian who worked at The New York Public Library and Manhattanville College. She especially wants to thank Jordan Boaz, who taught the RUSA online course, “Reaching every patron: Creating and presenting inclusive outreach to patrons of all abilities.” This blog began an assignment for her course.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

Posted in Guest Blogger | Leave a comment

Turning Your Library into a Haunted House

For the last few weeks, the crickets in Philadelphia have begun playing at night. This is the signal for the end of Summer Reading, the time to begin planning back-to-school visits, and the time to start planning a haunted house.

Haunted houses can be easily created, relatively inexpensive, and a fantastic draw that remind community members that the library is vibrant and exciting. They can also be nightmares for staff and patrons if they’re not planned and executed properly. A “well-planned” haunted house does not have to be an “expensive” haunted house.

Floorplans are your friends

The first time I created a haunted house for my branch, I was at a location that had a very large meeting room. This was a blessing and a curse because we had room to do things… and we also had room to fill. Because the neighborhood was excited for the event, I had to plan it out properly. Thankfully, I had a fantastic security guard, Dan Ross, who loved the idea as much as I did.

Dan and I created a simple floor plan of our meeting room space to guide us while we brainstormed. The floorplan gave us a bird’s eye view of the room, which allowed us to see where volunteers would be located, how evenly the scares were spaced apart and where problematic areas might exist. Because we knew that the room would be dark, we needed to eliminate as many “blind spots” as possible. Here is the floor plan from our second year:
Haunted House BlueprintSitting down for 30 minutes and planning saved countless hours of moving and adjusting plans. It also allowed us to know how many volunteers and staff members we would need to operate the gags and keep an eye on the tweens and teens entering the haunted house.

Don’t reinvent the jack-o-lantern

As Dan and I planned, we knew we needed outside advice. Thankfully, Philadelphia has a very active and highly dedicated staff of Children’s Librarians who are always willing to offer advice and support. Librarians who had been running haunted houses for years offered advice. We reduced the group size patrons in the haunted house from five to three. We also had staff members guide the groups. Usually the after school leader or I would walk with the groups to create a “safe” person if things became too scary.

We also went online to various websites to ask advice from professionals and amateurs who ran their own haunted houses. Here are a few places I visited and sought advice:

Haunted World Fright Forum

Haunt Forum

Halloween Forum

In later years, I also started following Halloween-enthusiasts on Pinterest. This was also a great resource for easy DIY projects.
DSCN0758An early suggestion from a haunted house forum became one of our favorite scares. A ghoul on a broom handle “flew out” from behind a fake wall, while the volunteer lowering her screamed. We named the ghoul Cindy, and she’s been in every haunted house since.

Choose your volunteers wisely.

I began canvasing for volunteers at the beginning of the school year and insisted on speaking with parents or guardians before event set-up began. Because the holiday is not celebrated by everyone, I wanted to ensure that parents knew exactly what the eager teens were volunteering to do.

All volunteers were told that secrecy was paramount to the success of the haunted house. They could tell as many lies about what was going to happen as they liked, but they couldn’t reveal any of the actual scares.

Scares require all six senses

Sure, there are only five senses normally – Aliki’s My Five Senses didn’t lie to you. But when it comes to haunted houses, there are really six. The thing that separates an okay haunted house from an excellent haunted house is the sense of anticipation. The feeling of “something is about to happen” needs to always be present to make your haunted house memorable. No matter what your budget, this can be obtained. A dark room and a few strobe lights will do it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

An effective scare can be created with dollar store bats spray-painted with neon colors and hung near a black light. We “upped” the scare value in later years by hiding volunteers behind fake walls. Each volunteer had a can of condensed air that they would use to move the bats. As people walk past, the back of their head would also be sprayed with air. One bat attached to a black pole provided additional movement.
IMG_2838Another easy scare involved dollar store water guns. Volunteers dressed in all black hid behind a table full of rubber snakes. As groups of patrons walked through with a guide, they were told that they snakes did not bite, but they occasionally spit. This phrase was the cue for the volunteers to squirt patrons in the face with water.

Speed is the key to success

The first year we ran our haunted house, over 300 people from our neighborhood came. We allotted an hour and a half for the program, but thankfully volunteers stayed until everyone was able to go through once. We quickly realized that future haunted houses would require speedy walk-throughs. Some of our great scares like the Witch’s Sarcophagus had to be dropped because they took too long.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The Witch’s Sarcophagus was a staff favorite and we were sorry to see it go. Starting on the right, patrons reached inside each opening of the sarcophagus. Her hair was oily angel hair pasta, the eyes were peeled grapes, and the brains were gelatin and cottage cheese. A volunteer hid inside and grabbed patrons when they reached into the “Hands.” As sorry as we were to see this go, we knew this was better themed for a program and not a haunted house.

Our goal was to get a person through the haunted house in less than 3 minutes. We also limited the number of times a person could enter the haunted house. By a third trip, many ‘tweens knew where the scares were coming from – and tried to scare the volunteers back. Obviously, this is problematic, so everyone could enter two times only. After the first visit, everyone’s right hand was stamped. After the second visit, the left hand was stamped. Once someone had two stamps, they knew they could not enter the house again.

Inexpensive is not the same as cheap

When Dan and I first started the haunted house program, we had a budget of $100 from our friends group. Because the budget was small, we had to improvise. We created fake walls by hanging black garbage bags connected with shipping tape from the ceiling. We’ve used the wall design every year since. They are easily assembled by volunteers, can be reused, and they ripple slightly when people walked. They created the perfect ambiance for the house.
2013-10-31 10.30.01The room looked chaotic during set-up, but there was a system in place. Our other big purchases the first year were strobe lights and a scary music soundtrack. If you use strobe lights or fog machines, always advertise it on all fliers and announcements so people with health concerns are aware of the effects.

2013-10-29 18.21.19Items from around the branch were frequently repurposed for the haunted house. A desk fan hidden behind a tombstone powered Tiffani, our graveyard ghost. She was made from PVC tubing, garbage bags, plastic wrap and green plastic table cloths. A neighborhood wig shop donated the Styrofoam head, and a patron donated the wig (from an old Halloween costume.)

Advertising is your friend

Fliers advertising the Haunted House were distributed to the local schools in early October. Local businesses in our neighborhood were also asked to display fliers in their windows. When Dan and I began, we had an age limit. We dropped it in later years because many parents wanted to bring younger children through the haunted house.
Haunted House FlierWe also used our Facebook page to advertise the ghouls moving into the library. Absurd pictures advertised the ghouls slowly moving into the library in the weeks before the haunted house was set up. Each picture featured the caption “There’s something for everyone at the Library.”
Cindy 1As wonderful as our advertisements are, a tween with a big mouth is worth 1,000 fliers. Let your ‘tweens know that you’re planning to scare the pants off of them, and they’ll let the entire neighborhood know.

Never stop planning.

Over the years, we collected items for the haunted house. After a roof leak, roofers left a large roll of clear plastic at our branch. We used it to create a corridor of shredded hanging sheets for people to walk through inside the haunted house.

Items from dollar stores, yard sales, and staff members’ house cleanings were used to enhance the atmosphere of the Haunted House.

IMG_2836Taking a vacation day on November 1st and hitting local stores is a great way to find discounted Halloween Supplies.

I hope this inspires you to plan your own Haunted House. It takes some planning to run smoothly, but it was always my favorite program throughout the year.

(All photos courtesy of Guest Blogger)

___________________________________________________

ChristopherChristopher Brown is a the Curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia.  Chris is a  former Children’s Librarian, who served many communities in Philadelphia.  He received his MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 and his MA from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2013.  For more information about the Children’s Literature Research Collection, please visit us at http://libwww.freelibrary.org/collections/collectionDetail.cfm?id=3

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

Posted in Guest Blogger, Programming Ideas | Tagged , | 3 Comments