ALA Annual 2016

On the Road Again, Reaching Out

One morning in mid-December, Hogwarts woke to find itself covered in several feet of snow . . . [and] no one could wait for the holidays to start.

–J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The writing's on the wall at the Central Children's Library in Denver!
The writing’s on the wall at the Central Children’s Library in Denver!

As the days get shorter and colder in the northern hemisphere and the holidays arrive, it’s been a busy season!

A couple of weeks ago I was in Denver (where it’s already snowed about as much as at Hogwarts) reaching out to those gathered for the LENA Research Foundation conference (#lena2015), the theme of which was “Parents Have the Power: Solving the ‘early catastrophe’ through science and parental investment.” It was an ideal opportunity to share the work ALSC is doing with Babies Need Words Every Day and in our partnership with PLA on Every Child Ready to Read, and I joined a panel with a pediatrician, health policy professor, and early learning innovator to discuss what each of us can bring to the work of making sure children are ready to read. Dr. Dana Suskind, author of Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain, gave the conference keynote, and we also heard from the Campaign for Grade Level Reading; Kara Dukakis, Director of Too Small to Fail; and Carine Risley, Library Services Manager at San Mateo County Library in California. I was delighted to be joined by children’s librarians from across Colorado, and of course it’s always fun to visit the Denver Public Library, where I saw many piles of cardboard (have you read Amy Seto Forrester’s recent post yet?) and many, many instances of kids talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing—thanks Ann Schwab, Rachel Hartman, and Lauren Dennis! (You can see all of the conference presentations here.)

The sign says it all!
The greeting at the Bangor airport


I’m most grateful to ALSC member Louise Capizzo (@Lcapizzo) for inviting me to be a part of this year’s Maine Library Association Annual Conference in Bangor where I was lucky enough to present a keynote about ALSC’s work, entitled “The Future: Moving Forward, Reaching Out, Giving Back.” I had an absolutely fantastic time and was thrilled to be joined at the conference by my ALSC Board colleague Vicky Smith, as well as ALA president Sari Feldman, right off the plane from the Sharjah Library Conference, who inspired us all with her Libraries Transform message.


Paul Bunyan greets MLA conference attendees on a beautiful Maine morning.
Paul Bunyan welcomes MLA conference attendees on a beautiful Maine morning.

On this trip my #ALSCtour took me to the Brewer Public Library and I arrived just as storytime was wrapping up and the whole building, parking lot, and playground (the library has their own) was filled with happiness! Many thanks to director Katie Conner, children’s librarian Shelley Arnold, and all of their wonderful colleagues for all they do for the kids of Brewer, Maine every day!

Miss Shelley hangs a Babies Need Words Every Day poster in the children's room.
Miss Shelley hangs a Babies Need Words Every Day poster in the Brewer Public Library’s children’s room.

And December may be icy at Hogwarts, but it’s warm and sunny in Puerto Rico, which made this the perfect time for me to visit and–even better!–get to work with 2010 Belpré Honor winner Georgina Lázaro León to film a promo for next year’s 20th anniversary of the Pura Belpré Award. Working together with our Belpré partner, REFORMA, we shot it on the grounds of Escuela Central de Artes Visuales, the building where Pura Belpré attended high school in San Juan’s Santurce neighborhood, which is where she lived until moving to New York in the 1920s and going on to be the first Puerto Rican librarian at New York Public Library. Stay tuned for the final cut of our video and in the meantime save the date for the Belpré celebración at ALA Annual in Orlando on Sunday, June 26, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Yours truly & Georgina Lázaro León, ready for our close-up
Yours truly & Georgina Lázaro León, ready for our close-up

This is one among many, many wonderful things coming in 2016 as we all continue to work together to build a better future for children though libraries!


  1. Amy Seto Forrester

    Thanks for the shout out, Andrew! Sorry I missed your visit, but so glad you were able to talk with my wonderful colleagues and see the recent early literacy improvements at the Children’s Library.

    1. Andrew Medlar

      Cheers–see you soon, Amy!

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