Celebrate 404 Day!

On April 4, 2014, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) teamed up to celebrate 404 Day- the day that honors this little message that pops up when there’s an error and you can’t access a webpage. The OIF and EFF took this opportunity talk about the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Enacted in 2000, CIPA was written to address concerns about the exposure of children to pornography and other explicit content, through the implementation of browser filters.  Additionally, public and school libraries that adhere to CIPA and apply to filters to at least the internet devices in their children’s department, are eligible for government funding.  More information on CIPA can be found at the FCC website and the OIF website as well.

Through a Google+ Hangout streamed on YouTube, Intellectual Freedom buffs Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Sarah Houghton, and Chris Petersen talked about what CIPA really means for libraries, how to cope with CIPA, and how to get your board to reconsider CIPA.

Since the Hangout is available for you to watch here, I won’t rehash the whole thing, but I will share some important points:

  • Many people think they understand CIPA fully, but they actually don’t.  If you don’t understand ask questions!
  • Filters are mainly English-centric.  If you have access to a translator page or spell some of the search terms wrong, you will most likely be able to bypass the filter.
  • Only lighter skin tones are recognized as skin tones.  Therefore, a filter might block any variation of this.
  • When asked the best way to start a library board to reconsider their filters and compliance with CIPA, Sarah recommended moving the conversation from a conversation about morality to a cost benefit analysis.  For example, how well are the filters doing their job?  Do things get blocked by the filter, that shouldn’t be? How much does it cost to have these filters in both time and money?

Also, Deborah shared that the OIF will be releasing a new white paper at the end of the month on the topic of CIPA and its role in your library.

Remember, the ALSC IF Committee is always here for you if you have questions about intellectual freedom issues or if you are facing a challenge (it doesn’t have to make the news!).  We’re here to help, so feel free to reach out via ALA Connect or email.

Posted in Blogger Intellectual Freedom Committee | Leave a comment

Meeting with lions

Obi, the African Lion. Photo by Angela Reynolds

Obi, the African Lion. Photo by Angela Reynolds

I’m changing Summer Reading this year. When I was in Chicago for ALA last summer I saw their Summer of Learning and was duly impressed. I am going to try something similar this summer, using STREAM – Science, Technology, Reading, Experience, Arts, and Math. The Common Core is not a Thing here in Canada (yet) but I love the idea of experience-based Summer Reading Program. Yes, Reading is still a big part of it, the main focus even, but I wanted to offer some experiences rather than Pieces of Plastic as incentives. So I contacted the local zoo. Oaklawn Farm Zoo is small and owned by a couple that are known in our area as generous and kind folks. I had a meeting in their farm house to talk about offering 2 Library Days this summer– 18 and under get in free if they show their library card (and can earn a badge if we get that part figured out).  We sat at the table over tea, muffins, and homemade jam to discuss the details. They liked the idea as much as we did– we’ll be offering storytime and needle felting demos (using zoo-animal fur collected by the keepers). We’ll also take our portable StoryWalk and our Bookmobile for a total library/zoo day! Fun!

So, we have at least one great experience to offer for our Summer STREAM. And for me, the experience was even more amazing because when we first arrived, we heard ,”Oh, here comes the lion. Put your boots on top of the fridge.” Yes, that’s right. LION. For the winter, a lion cub lived in their house. Obi, the 6-month old African lion strolled in, rolled over on the floor, and allowed us to pet his belly. Library Days at the Zoo — YEAH! Plus, I got to pet a lion. I love my job.

Posted in Blogger Angela Reynolds, Slice of Life, Summer Reading | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

ALSC Member of the Month — Meagan Albright

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions with ALSC member, Meagan Albright. 

1.  What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?


Courtesy photo from Meagan Albright

I’m a Youth Services Librarian at the Alvin Sherman Library, Research and Information Technology Center at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. My library is joint-use, it serves the residents of Broward County and the students, faculty and staff at NSU; I’ve been here for 7 years.

2.  Why did you join ALSC?

At my very first ALA conference (New Orleans, 2006) I kind of crashed the Early Childhood Programs and Services table at the ALSC All Committee Meeting. They were so friendly in inviting me to join their discussion, so when they needed someone to take notes on the program they were presenting I promptly volunteered, and I’ve been saying yes to every opportunity that’s been offered to me to serve ALSC ever since.

3.  When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A super hero! I read a lot of comics and was a huge fan of the X-Men animated series. Sadly, my only superpower so far is the ability to read really fast.

4.  E-books or Print?

Both, as often as possible. My rule for purses is that they must be large enough to hold both my iPad and a paperback book so that I’m never caught without something to read.

5.  Bonfire or Campfire?

Anything that you can make s’mores over is fine by me! I’m a former Girl Scout, and therefore in charge of managing the fire pit at our Teen Volunteer After Hours Party at the library. Some of the teens have never had real s’mores!

6.  Do you have a “guilty pleasure” TV show?

I know some people are over the “modern fairytales with a twist” trend, but Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Grimm, and the upcoming Queen of Everything are all on my must-watch list.

7.  How many books do you own?

I’m always lending out, giving away, and acquiring more books, so it’s nearly impossible to know the total. Let’s just say the bookshelves at home are always full!

8.  Favorite part of being a Children’s Librarian?

Getting paid in high-fives and hugs from the storytime crowd.

9.  Candyland or Chess?

I would love to play an edible version of Candyland! Sour Patch Kid gamepieces, a Licorice Castle made of Twizzlers, home-baked Mama Gingersnap  and an ooey, gooey, delicious Molasses Swamp.

10.  What do you love about your work?

Finding new favorite books (for myself and for my patrons),  connecting with passionate, dedicated librarians, and seeing the positive impact that libraries have on children and families every day.


Thanks, Meagan! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature! (Meagan can be reached at ameagan@nova.edu.)

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.

Posted in ALSC Member Profile, Guest Blogger | Leave a comment

Breakfast for Bill at ALSC Institute in Oakland, CA in September

One of the most anticipated events at the ALSC Institute in Oakland this September is the Breakfast for Bill, which all attendees are welcomed to as part of their registration (no separate tickets need to be purchased).  The event honors the late Bill Morris, who was head of library marketing at HarperCollins for many years.

WilliamsFederleRyanYangThis year’s Breakfast for Bill will feature a panel of four authors of tween novels: Rita Williams-Garcia, Tim Federle, Pam Munoz Ryan, and Gene Yang.

The emcee for the panel discussion will be Jamie Campbell Naidoo, professor at the School of Library & Information Studies at the University of Alabama, and author of Rainbow Family Collections (Libraries Unlimited, 2012). Naidoo

I will helping to run the event as part of the ALSC Institute planning committee, and had an online conversation with Jamie about our focus on authors of tween literature. Here is some of what we discussed:

What about tween literature appeals to you?

Jamie: While all children are influenced by the literature that they read, tweens are in their formative years at the beginning of adolescence trying to figure out who they are, their place in the world, and how this meshes with larger society, but particularly their family’s views. Literature for tweens can really shape their understanding of the world. Good tween literature can be the impetus for change in their lives and encourage them to be social activists for their peers around the world.

What is your take on the current state of diversity in tween novels?

Like all areas of children’s literature there is not enough diversity in books for tweens. I would even go as far as to say that there is probably less diversity in tween literature than picture books for children and young adult novels. There is a critical need for tweens in their critical stages of development to make connections with characters that are like themselves but to also make larger global connections with peer characters from other cultures.

Is there any trend in tween lit that you are excited about, or any trend that you wish was over?

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I so wish the crush and gushy tween BFF romance trend was over. I realize tweens are beginning to figure out who they are and who they might like (or not). But, I think they deserve a little more emotional depth and sophistication than these types of books provide.

Is there any voice or group that you don’t see represented in tween lit?

Where do I begin! There are so many voices that I don’t see represented in tween lit. Where are the tweens from low socioeconomic households? Where are the tweens from mixed race or bicultural families? Where are the LGBTQ tweens? Where are the homeless tweens? Where are the tweens that are differently able? Where are the tweens that are ethnically diverse? Sure you can probably find 3 or more tween titles representing these groups but are they really good titles? Are they recent and relevant?

What are you looking forward to hear about from our four featured authors?

I’d like to hear from each of them about the stories they liked to read as tweens and what features of those stories are present in their own works. I’d also like to learn what they think about the current state of diversity in tween literature and how we can fix it. On the fun side, what is their most embarrassing tween moment and has that ever featured in their books? Finally, their top 5 favorite tween books (either currently written or yet to come).

Did you ever get the chance to meet Bill Morris, the late editor with HarperCollins that this event honors?

Unfortunately, I never had the privilege of meeting Bill. I really regret that as I have heard from many that he was such an awesome man!

Penny: I was lucky enough to meet him at an ALA conference and to sit by him at lunch. He was hilarious! He loved to dish the dirt on the who’s who of children’s books, but not in a mean-spirited way. He was a delightful conversationalist, and could have held his own on a talk show!

Anything else about the William Morris Breakfast event that folks should look forward to at the ALSC Institute?

It is a breakfast. I don’t do mornings. There will definitely be some surprises to help me (and all those other night owls) wake up. I just have to think of what we can do to make folks squirt orange juice out their noses. :)

Penny:  I totally agree! I am “nocturnal” myself, but I am looking forward to this wonderful event!  We have lots of surprises planned for the attendees, including some local children’s authors coming to sit with the attendees at breakfast, as well as some fun games and prizes planned!

ALSC Institute

If you have not yet registered for the ALSC Institute, there is still time!

Go to:  www.ala.org/alsc/institute

Special thanks to Jamie Campbell Naidoo for his time – and I hope to see many ALSC members at this wonderful event!  

Penny Peck, author of Readers’ Advisory for Children and Tweens (Libraries Unlimited, 2010).

Posted in Institute 2014 | Leave a comment

Reminder: Submit Your Photo in the ALSC Blog Photo Contest by 4/23

ALSC Blog Photo Contest

Photos courtesy of ALSC

Show off your creativity! We’re giving you a reminder about the ALSC Blog Photo Contest. Send us your great photos related to children’s librarianship. We’ll even give you some ideas:

  • Library spaces
  • Programs
  • Displays
  • Crafts
  • Books
  • Children’s technology
  • Reading

May the best photo win!

Participants must be ALSC members to enter. Anyone, members and non-members, can vote in the final round. Be sure to visit the ALSC Blog to vote for your favorite library photo beginning April 25, 2014.

Prizes include tickets to the Newbery-Caldecott Banquet and $50 gift certificates to Barnes & Noble. Entries must be submitted by 8 am Central Time, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. For rules and entry form, see the ALSC Blog Photo Contest site.

Posted in Blogger Dan Rude, Contests, Displays | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“How Do I Get On an Award Committee?”

ALSC announced that it will hold a live New Member Forum on Wednesday, April 23 at 3pm Eastern. This hour-long event is free and open to members and non-members. Registration is now open.

As part of the forum, ALSC Membership Committee Chair Amanda Roberson will examine ways of getting involved in with the division. Attendees are invited to discuss these topics and their experiences as members. The forum will take place on Adobe Connect. A recorded webcast of the event will be available following the live session.

ALSC encourages current members to participate in the forum as well. There will be time provided for questions and discussion. The event is free, but registration is required.

Posted in Blogger Dan Rude, Committees, Professional Development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Get Ready for Día!

What celebration are children’s librarians across the United State getting ready for on April 30th that involves families, fun, food and of course, books? Although every day is an opportunity to celebrate the joy of reading, El día de los niños/ El día de los libros (Children’s Day/ Book Day), founded in 1996 by Latino children’s author Pat Mora, “Día” is a wonderful way for libraries to reach out to their community and emphasize the importance of advocating literacy to children of all backgrounds. In addition, Día connects them to different cultures through books, craft activities and recipes.

 Your celebration can be as small as promoting Día at a storytime with a bookmark making craft or as large as an evening event with a special guest such as an author or storyteller. To get started with some excellent ideas, check out the Día Facebook page or the Día Pinterest account. Register your program on the Día Registry and receive special bookmarks, stickers, and posters. Don’t forget about the wonderful Día Family Book Club Toolkit available for free download! A special bonus offered this month only to help you prepare and incorporate Día into your library programming are the four free webinars offered through ALSC. What are you planning for Día?


Debra S. Gold is blogging on behalf of the Public Awareness Committee and has been a Children’s Librarian for Cuyahoga County Public Library (Cleveland, Ohio)  for the past thirty years.  She served on the Newbery Committee in 1996, the Caldecott Committee in 2004, and the Coretta Scott Book Award Committee in 2011 and 2012.

Posted in Blogger Public Awareness Committee, Committees, Dia, Diversity, Programming Ideas, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Making without a Makerspace

What?! Makerspaces again?! No, not really. Though makerspaces in libraries has been a seemingly ubiquitous topic of conversation and debate the past several years, building one at your library is for another post on another day. Still, you’ve probably heard of all sorts of program-based maker ideas being implemented at libraries across the country, or maybe designed a few programs yourself (see Andrea Vernola’s recent post on Exploring Tech with Kids, which is full of great links and program ideas). But these programs can be expensive to run, the technology can become obsolete quickly, and the staff effort involved can be significantly greater than with other kinds of programs.

So is making, especially high-tech making like you see featured in all those library publications, out of reach for your financially-strapped or short-staffed library? Not necessarily. By reaching out to nearby private makerspaces and maker organizations, libraries who would like to try out a maker program or who cannot afford to offer access to more expensive maker equipment on their own can start to participate in this movement.

For instance, in the Baltimore and D.C. area a special company has popped up to provide kid-centric maker programs and activities to local libraries, schools, and other organizations. FutureMakers, founded in 2010, provides a wide assortment of maker projects and exposure to advanced tech equipment for kids ranging from first grade through early high school. My library system has had FutureMaker coaches come with 3D printers, vinyl cutters, MaKey MaKeys, miniature robot electronics, sewing machines, laptops, LEDs, electric drills for hacking Legos…they’ll bring pretty much anything that you can think of that involves making and can be transported in a van. The focus is on allowing the kids access to these great tools and giving them the creative space they need to make something uniquely their own.

FutureMakers logo

FutureMakers logo, attributed to https://kidsmakethingsbetter.com/

A few years ago, FutureMakers had been primarily working with local schools to bring the maker philosophy and technology into the classroom. By reaching out to them, our library was able to tap a ready-to-go resource that made maker programs almost instantly available to us for a per-program fee, which was not too much more than other performers we contract with regularly. Library staff who are supervising the programs are also encouraged to learn and even participate with the kids, which has been an easy and informal way for staff to learn more about making and about using maker tools and technology.

Collaborating with FutureMakers has been a great experience for my library, but not every community has a company like it to draw from. Other collaborators could be nearby private makerspaces or local vocational schools looking for a way to reach out. Those avenues might require a bit more effort, but could become valuable partnerships that could relieve some of the administrative and cost burden from library staff and library budgets.

Do you have tech or maker programs at your library resulting from collaboration with a local business or organization? How did that work out for your library? Any lessons learned or best practices? List them in the comments!

Rachael Medina is a Programming Coordinator at Baltimore County Public Library. She is a member of the ALSC Children and Technology Committee.

Posted in Blogger Children and Technology Committee, Children & Technology, Partnerships, STEM/STEAM, Technology | Leave a comment