Institute from near or far

2014 Institute LogoIt’s true: registration for the ALSC Institute has reached maximum capacity and is now closed. We’re very sorry that we weren’t able to accommodate the demand.   But not to fear: you can come right here for live blogging during the Institute!  And watch for a wrap up post next month, along with an announcement of the location for ALSC Institute 2016.

For those that will be joining us in Oakland, stayed tuned for local information on our website, as well as instructions for how to access online materials.  And… would you care to share with your colleagues? We are still recruiting live bloggers; just contact alscblog@gmail.com.

Here’s what’s happening in Oakland this week. See you all soon!

Nina Lindsay, ALSC Institute Task Force Chair, Oakland Public Library

Posted in Institute 2014 | Leave a comment

Andrew in Asia

Andrew Medlar getting ready for his trip to the Philippines

Andrew is reading Pedro and the Monkey by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Michael Hays (Morrow Junior Books, 1996) at the Dr. José Rizal sculpture in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Dr. Rizal (1861-1896) “is the Philippine national hero, the ‘father of his country,’ the founder of its modern literature, the inspirer of its educational system” (Reines, Bernard. A People’s Hero: Rizal of the Philippines. New York, Praeger Publishers, 1971.).

The National Library of the Philippines is sponsoring an International Conference of Children’s Librarianship in Tagaytay City next month and I’m very excited to be attending to represent ALSC! The theme of the conference is “Connecting and Linking of Information through Transformed Children’s Libraries to the Digital Era,” and I’ll be giving a presentation on the first evening, October 13,  on the topic of “Envisioning a 21st Century Children’s Library.”

This topic is right up ALSC’s alley as our core purpose is creating a better future for children through libraries, and I’m looking forward to reaching out and sharing how we’re moving together into our association’s envisioned future in which “libraries are recognized as vital to all children and the communities that support them.”

I would love your help in telling this story! What is your vision of a 21st Century Children’s Library for your community? We’re talking collections, technology, programming, spaces—and anything else you can think of. What innovations in library service to children can you imagine developing in the 85 years still to come in this century, and what traditions and proven tactics will we be carrying forward?

Please share your ideas you’d like me to spread around the world by September 16 in the comments section below or by clicking and submitting them here. If you have a picture of something special you’re doing now that you feel represents the future and you’d be willing for me to include it in the conference presentation, please e-mail them to me at andrewalsc@outlook.com. You can also tweet pictures and any other thoughts using #21stkidlib.

And please follow me on Twitter (@ammlib) where I’ll be gearing up for the trip by exploring Filipino folklore (find my reading list here), practicing ordering coffee in Filipino (Higit kape mangyaring), and warming up my taste buds at some of Chicago’s delicious Filipino restaurants. And throughout the trip (October 10-16) I’ll be sharing my experiences and the amazing ideas of our colleagues across the globe using #andrewinasia.

Thanks!

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Andrew Medlar is the 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect and the Assistant Chief, Technology, Content, & Innovation, at Chicago Public Library.

 

Posted in ALSC Board, Digital World, Guest Blogger, Programming Ideas | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Chain Reaction Challenge

We’ve all seen Rube Goldberg machines: overly complicated machines that use everything from dominoes, to motors, to squirrels in order to complete a simple task. But have you ever thought about hosting a Rube Goldberg competition at your library?

Back in July, I hosted the Chain Reaction Challenge: an event where families were given supplies and two hours to construct a Rube Goldberg machine. I admit that I had my doubts about the program initially – especially since our target age was grades K– 5. However, I found that this is a great family program that emphasizes teamwork, critical thinking, and STEM!
CRC 1Interested in hosting your own Rube Goldberg program? Here are a few components you might consider:

Theme/Objective:

Our theme was Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’, and the objective was to have a golf ball roll from one side of the machine to the other and trigger the next machine (creating the chain reaction). While having a theme is pretty optional, it’s imperative to have an objective so that the teams know what they’re working toward. I felt that the golf balls were an excellent choice for this age group, but there are other objectives you could do, such as:

  • Machines must have dominoes
  • Machines must incorporate gravity in some way
  • Machines must involve matchbox cars
  • Machines must start and end with catapults
  • Machines must start and end with a string being pulled
  • Machines must involve trained squirrels (okay, I’m joking on that one)

Supplies:

While many Rube Goldberg machines require motors and technical aspects, we wanted this to be a simple, age-appropriate program. We told families that they were welcome to bring supplies from home, but we also provided a lot of simple, everyday items:

  • CRC 3Paper towel and toilet paper tubes
  • Small cardboard boxes (such as tissue boxes, frozen dinner boxes, etc.)
  • Lots of duct tape
  • String, yarn, wire, pipe cleaners
  • Legos, tinker toys, blocks
  • Various other toys
  • Things that make noise (bells, chimes, buzzers)
  • Things that roll (cars, cylinders, balls)
  • Wooden dowels
  • Balloons
  • Rulers, crayons, markers, scissors
  • Just about anything you can find

CRC 2

Maker Know-How

I was lucky enough to partner with a local nonprofit organization http://tekventure.org/ that specializes in the maker movement. Therefore, we had engineers on hand to mentor the teams and give them some ideas and suggestions for how to build their machines.

But you do not need engineers to run this program! You can just as easily start the program with a slideshow to demonstrate some simple machines (such as ramps, pendulums, etc.). Or even have handouts with suggestions on it. As a matter of fact, the teams that participated in this program came up with most of the ideas themselves, and many of them had zero maker experience prior to the program!

Awards

We had awards for ten different categories, such as: tallest machine, most colorful, most musical, etc. This worked well for us because we had five teams that participated, so each team was able to get two awards! However, the biggest reward was watching the finished machines run. There was a great sense of accomplishment for both kids and adults to see that they created a simple, working machine.

(all photos courtesy Guest Blogger)

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Erin WarzalaErin Warzala is a Children’s Librarian at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  She is passionate about early literacy, STEM/STEAM programming, books of all genres, and tea.  She blogs somewhat regularly at http://fallingflannelboards.wordpress.com/ and can be followed on Twitter at @fallingflannel.

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, STEM/STEAM | Leave a comment

Youth Services Basics: Cross-Training by Building Confidence

Are staffers outside of youth services ever responsible for staffing your children’s desk in a programming pinch?  Would employees outside of your department feel comfortable and confident in providing this service or would they feel stunned like a deer caught in the headlights?

At our community branch library, information services staff members also staff our children’s services desk, and we receive a great number of children’s reference questions at our adult information services desk.  Staff members outside of youth services must be familiar with the needs of children and those that work with them. Being cross-trained to provide customer service to customers of all ages is a necessity, but how do we ensure that staffers receive the training necessary to handle the unique needs of our young customers?

My colleague recently presented training for library staff outside of youth services. Not meant as a substitute for advanced youth services training in reference or readers’ advisory, this overview highlighted many of the traditional questions staffers receive when they work in the children’s services department. This training served as a perfect introduction for those employees who may occasionally need to staff this service desk.

Where are the BOB books?     

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

During this youth services basics training, my colleague used questions that have been previously asked by customers as training examples. Just as when working in the information services department, training participants realized that questions are often not as simple as they appear.  The question, “where are the BOB books?” is a perfect example.  The answer could mean numerous things in our library system, depending on the needs of the library user, and could include a request for a standard beginning reader series; it could also serve as a request for the TV inspired books based off the popular Bob the Builder character, or the extremely popular Battle of the Books (BOB) competitions sponsored by our public school system.  Understanding how this one type of question, “where are your BOB books?” could mean various things to different people, was rated by attendees as one of the most valuable pieces of information they learned during the training.

Let’s Take a Tour

As part of the training, participants toured our children’s department at our Headquarters Library.  This touring component provided staffers with a close and personal look at our collection and was helpful to staffers from each of our branches as our youth services departments are structured similarly in each of our eight library locations.  By including this hands-on training component, participants were able to view exactly where items were located, from the juvenile biographies placed at the end of the children’s nonfiction collection to the difference among board books, picture books, and beginning readers.  Knowing our collection is critical in providing excellent customer service, and this tour helped our trainees gain confidence in providing that service for our young patrons.

Priorities of Programs and Services

Questions about children’s programming, and the specialized services offered within the children’s services department, are often questions asked by patrons.  Adults may frequently register their children to attend special programming, request information on how to duplicate the story time experience at home, or request tutoring resources. Staffers must be able to quickly address these questions while also being aware of the unique services offered within the children’s department, such as our picture book bundle service, where customers may check out a group of books organized by a specific theme. Children’s unique interests and needs must be understood by all staff, not just those librarians specializing in children’s services.

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

This training helped staff members without a background in children’s services to gain a better understanding of the interests and needs of our young patrons. Our goal is to prepare our colleagues to feel as comfortable and confident as they can when working with children and their families, instead of feeling caught like a deer in the headlights! What topics do you believe are important to introduce to staff members outside of your department if they were to staff your children’s desk? How do you ensure staffers are most effectively able to reach out to your customers?  Please share in the comments below!

Posted in Blogger Meg Smith, Research | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Back to School Booklist – Humor

So, the kids are going back to school. Or are already back in school. Down here in Mississippi, this is the fourth week of school! Middle school is hard. The adjustments, the transitions. A lot of turmoil. So what I’m saying is that I think our kids deserve a laugh. If you need a quick display idea or just something to hand a kid who’s dreading going to school on Tuesday, here’s a list of really hilarious middle grade:

 

Source: Goodreads

Source: Goodreads

The Ginny Davis books by Jennifer Holm (of Babymouse fame!). These are old enough that your middle school readers might not be familiar with them, and they’re great. Filled with photographs, journal entries, and looking like a scrapbook, this colorful series will grab a tween’s attention–and make them giggle, too.

Source: Goodreads

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle – every single person I talk to about this book says “HILARIOUS” in all caps. Nate wants to be in a Broadway show so bad that he’s willing to risk pretty much everything to make it to an open casting call for ET: The Musical.  Hijinks and shenanigans ensue! Per my friend Jessamyn, a school librarian–if your kids like audiobooks, this is the one to hand them. Federle does his own narration and with his acting background, totally nails it.

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Goodreads

 

 

It says “funny” right in the title! But seriously, these books (including I Even Funnier and the upcoming I Even Funniest) are hugely popular in my library and I can often hear my tweens giggling at them in the stacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Goodreads

 

 

A very nearly honorable league of pirates. A sailor’s daughter shipped off to finishing school who wants nothing more than to sail the seven seas. A talking stone gargoyle. Need I say more?

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Goodreads

 

 

 

A retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with a quest, a lot of magical creatures, and tons of butt jokes. Because his name is Rump. This one is adored by everyone I give it to.

 

 

 

 

One of the reasons that we read is to escape. Let’s remember that when giving books to stressed out tweens and teens.

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Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

Posted in Tweens | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Ahhh, the fall. A sweet, sweet time for those in charge of booklists, displays, and story times. Back to school and fall books are perennial favorite subjects until it’s time to rediscover the fall and early winter holiday collection. However, if you’re not quite ready to break out your fall books collection, Hispanic Heritage Month is an ideal time to highlight or expand your collection of books that celebrate the diversity of Hispanic cultures. What started as a week-long celebration in 1968 is now a month long observance (September 15-October 15) of Hispanic history, arts, and culture.

 

marisol

(image taken from author website)

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match captures the reality of many biracial children in an upbeat and endearing spitfire of a character. Marisol doesn’t see anything weird with mismatches: green polka dots and purple stripes, peanut butter and jelly burritos, or brown skin and red hair are pretty cool in her eyes. When Marisol tries to match, she finds that things are confusing and boring. Thanks to an intuitive teacher, she regains confidence in her unique viewpoint and look. This bilingual story is charmingly illustrated and told through a very realistic child narrator.

papa

(image taken from HarperCollins website)

Arthur Dorros and Rudy Gutierrez’s Papa and Me is a loving, gentle, and authentic look at a father-son relationship. Papa is encouraging, wise, and just plain fun to be with. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the story. (See also Mama and Me by the same author.)

tooth fairy

(image taken from Random House website)

As a huge fan of cross-cultural children’s books, The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Perez is one of my favorite Latino-oriented picture books.  When Miguelito puts his tooth under his pillow and falls asleep, two magical creatures appear in his room to lay claim to his tooth. The Tooth Fairy asserts ownership because Miguelito is in the United States, but El Raton Perez, the tooth-collecting mouse who collects teeth in Latin America and Spain, defends ownership due to family tradition. Thankfully, they both work out a compromise.  This is a fun and unique way of presenting a rite of passage in many cultures.

 

rebozo

(image taken from Random House website)

What can you do with a rebozo (a long scarf)? You can accessorize a dress, play hide and seek, keep a grandmother or baby brother warm, use it as a blindford while attempting to burst a pinata…so many things! Not only is this is celebration of a close-knit family, but it’s also a tribute to creativity.  (See also What Can You Do With a Paleta? by the same author.)

What are your favorite picture books featuring Latino characters and culture? Tell us in the comments!

 

Posted in Blogger Jennifer Schultz, Children's Literature (all forms) | 1 Comment

Happy 20th Anniversary Early Head Start!

Did you know that Head Start was founded back in 1965, with Early Head Start joining the ranks in 1994? Both agencies promote the school readiness of young children from low-income families through agencies in local communities, making Head Start a perfect partner for the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations committee, and libraries in general. Head Start also promotes and enourages the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teacher, just like libraries do.Smiling kids

For the last two summers, I have worked with my local Head Start agency, which has 21 centers in Suffolk County, NY, to help promote the summer reading programs in our local libraries. One easy thing to do? If your library is part of the CSLP, you can share some of the great information on family literacy that promotes parents and summer reading.

A father reading to his daughter

Photo rights maintain by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

On a state level, the NYS Library maintains a website, Summer Reading at New York Libraries that offers tip sheets for parents and caregivers on the importance of reading aloud in multiple languages, and an early literacy manual to download for childcare providers. I made 21 copies of the manual to share with each Head Start center in Suffolk County; encouraging the Head Start staff to share information on local summer reading programs with their families before the end of the school year.  I also gave out any early literacy give-away item that I had purchased with our Family Literacy Services grant to both the public libraries and the Head Start sites. And, I have presented twice now at their yearly staff conference on topics such as “how to choose books for babies and toddlers” and “best books for early childhood.” The teachers and classroom aides really appreciated having a librarian come and share books that they can use in their classrooms.

A more extensive, and long term partnership has evolved over the last two years with our Head Start agency. They administered an early literacy pre-survey to families last summer for my office (I am the youth services coordinator for the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, with 54 member libraries). We provided the survey in both English and Spanish to over 1600 families, with over 900 being returned. Questions ranged from “I play with my baby or child every day” and “I know where my public library is in town” to “my baby or child participates in the summer reading program at our library.” It is our hope that we can administer a post-survey, asking the same questions, to returning families this September to see if we are creating change in early literacy knowledge and habits. Please feel free to contact me at lisa@suffolknet.org with any questions or comments about our local partnership with Head Start.

So help Head Start celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Early Head Start program this year by picking up the phone and making a call to your local site today. Because it’s never to early to start planning and building a partnership, one book and family at a time.

Lisa G. Kropp is the youth services coordinator of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System and a member of the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations committe and the Managing Children’s Services virtual committee. She also writes the First Steps column at School Library Journal.

 

Posted in Committees, Early Literacy, Partnerships | Tagged | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the CCSS

How ironic that the more fluid the study of math and science becomes, the more rigid becomes the study of language and literature…

Solve for x

© L Taylor

…in which math becomes form and reading becomes function.

Posted in Blogger Lisa Taylor, Bloggers, Children's Literature (all forms), Slice of Life, Uncategorized | 2 Comments