Somewhere over the Rainbow

It was a wonderful time to be in San Francisco. Libraries, a cultural embodiment of inclusion and acceptance, happily shared in the celebrations honoring equality. In this past year, with our focus on diversity in all its aspects, materials, services and our own ranks, it was particularly fitting that we would be at the center of this latest piece of good news. Rainbows were everywhere.

I am struck again and again by the passion of our members. Library work is more a calling than a profession and in this digital age, our work is more vital and less understood. In my presidential year, I was particularly gratified that children’s librarians are embracing their role in helping families determine how and what media to use to help children learn and thrive. The leadership discussion of the ALSC white paper on media mentors was a highlight of the conference for me. The awards ceremonies are always grand and I am always impressed with our members desire to discover the best of the best of what is published for children each year.

My president’s program, MORE TO THE CORE, focused on the premise that excellent informational books are created, loved and read with the same alacrity of our most loved fiction. Words and images combined to ignite imagination and inspiration continue to move the next generation to greater empathy and understanding of our world. We heard from both a creator, award winning illustrator and author Melissa Sweet and practitioner, RIF’s Judy Cheatham. Both speakers’ passion for great literature for children was evident and affirming.

Great books are at the root of children’s ability to understand and empathize with others. That ability gives us hope and moves us all forward to the better world we imagine. This June in San Francisco we were there as we moved a little closer together. I like to think there is a great children’s book waiting somewhere in the imagination of some child that will describe this time for others to remember, imagine and understand.

Posted in ALA Annual 2015, Blogger - Ellen Riordan | Leave a comment

Summer Reading Club Check In

Here at my library, we are just about halfway through the summer (hooray!), so I thought it might be a good time to check in and see how Summer Reading is going for everyone.

Our reading program is going like gangbusters with about 1500 kids (plus about 300 in the Daycare Summer Reading Club) registered and lots of finishers coming in (we typically end up with about 2000 kids signed up by the end of the summer). This year, we’re able to give out a FREE BOOK to every finisher, which feels awesome (we typically have about 1000 finishers).

Another big hit has been the Fine Bucks we’re giving out to children and teens. Each SRC finisher gets 10 fine bucks, which can be used to pay fines on late or lost books on children’s or teen cards. I really love any way we can get kids’ cards clear and allow them to check out books. Parents love that our Fine Bucks don’t expire, so they can save them for when they might need them.

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

My staff and I have been reading, too! We’re slowly filling up our staff “reading log”, which is posted at our Children’s Reference Desk to (we hope!) inspire families to join us in reading all summer long.

Our programs have been going strong, with huge turnouts for our large performers this summer. Because we had such a HUGE increase in our outreach to schools this past school year, we took a little step back from summer programming. Families are still coming in and using their library and checking out tons of books!

It’s almost time to begin the countdown to the new school year. Our schools are changing to more of a year-round schedule and most of our schools start back on July 29!

How’s summer at YOUR library?

— Abby Johnson, Youth Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN

Posted in Blogger Abby Johnson, Summer Reading | 1 Comment

A is for Annual

Banners in the San Francisco Public Library’s Main Library welcomed more than 20,000 conference attendees

Banners in the San Francisco Public Library’s Main Library welcomed more than 20,000 conference attendees

What a conference!

ALA’s 2015 Annual Conference was full of more energy, enthusiasm, equality, and engagement than any I’ve ever witnessed, and whether you were one of the tens of thousands attending in San Francisco, were following from elsewhere in the world on social media (#alaac15 & #alaleftbehind), or are just now taking a quick breather from summer reading to catch up here on the ALSC Blog, I hope you can see that the future of library service to children is an exciting one!

A bird’s eye view of San Francisco’s Moscone Center and its rainbow flags, home base of the 2015 ALA Annual Conference

A bird’s eye view of San Francisco’s Moscone Center and its rainbow flags, home base of the 2015 ALA Annual Conference

In addition to learning and connecting, Annual is also a time of business when Board, staff, committees, and task forces work hard to move our association forward. There are two ALSC Board meetings at Annual and you can peruse the Board’s documents here and find updates on Twitter (#alscboard).

I’d like to bring you up to speed, as well. FYI, this past week, the ALSC Board:

  • Considered a report from the Evolving Carnegie Task Force, which was charged with investigating the opportunities for evolving the Carnegie Medal from an award recognizing what was an evolving format at the time of its establishment a quarter of a century ago (videos) to current evolving formats and/or those who are doing great work with them. The next step is having further conversations with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, our partner in the support of this award.
  • Heard from the chair of the Diversity within ALSC Task Force, Jos Holman, about their early work “to thoroughly examine diversity within all areas of ALSC such as membership, recruitment, award committees, and leadership and to recommend short-term and long-term strategies for developing richer diversity within the association.”
  • Partnered with the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee (CSK) to pilot the expansion of ALSC’s Bill Morris Seminar in 2016 to include CSK members.
  • Adjusted the expanded definitions in the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal committee manual to clarify the importance and eligibility of illustrated, graphic, and primary source materials in consideration of the Sibert award.
  • Gave a collective thumbs-up to the Program Coordinating Committee’s great slate of proposed programs for next year’s Annual Conference in Orlando. (You won’t want to miss it June 23-28, 2016!)
  • Approved ALSC’s healthy fiscal year 2016 budget, as recommended by the Budget Committee, with some exciting growth opportunities which you’ll be hearing about over the next couple of months.
  • Wrapped up, together with the Organization & Bylaws Committee, the expansion of some committees to include co-chairs with overlapping terms to foster communication and continuity.
  • Reviewed and discussed the Education Committee’s proposed scheduled revision of ALSC’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries; the final update will be available soon.

Thank you to all of our committees and task forces who work so diligently during and between conferences, as this work is truly where the rubber meets the road in achieving ALSC’s strategic goals of Advocacy, Education and Access to Library Services. Special gratitude is due to Local Arrangements Committee chair Christy Estrovitz and her entire team for all of their incredible work making ALSC members feel welcome in the Bay Area!

Then, as the sun began to set on the Bay and on Annual, it was time to bid farewell to Immediate Past President Starr LaTronica and other departing Board members Lisa Von Drasek, Rita Auerbach, Jamie Campbell Naidoo, and Michael Santangelo, and to welcome Vice President/President-Elect Betsy Orsburn and new Board members Jenna Nemec-Loise, Christine Caputo, Vicky Smith, and Mary Voors to the table. And, as I was honored to pick up the gavel as ALSC President for 2015-16, I look forward to hearing from you with any questions or ideas at

Past President Starr LaTronica, Immediate Past President Ellen Riordan, and President Andrew Medlar at the ALA Inaugural Brunch on June 30, 2015

Past President Starr LaTronica, Immediate Past President Ellen Riordan, and President Andrew Medlar at the ALA Inaugural Brunch on June 30, 2015

 (All photos courtesy Andrew Medlar)

Posted in ALSC Board, Blogger Andrew Medlar | Leave a comment

ALSC Online Courses Start in One Week!

Summer 2015 ALSC Online CoursesCheck your clock! You have one more week to sign up for ALSC online courses for summer 2015. Classes begin Monday, July 13, 2015.

Two of the courses being offered this semester are eligible for continuing education units (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:

NEW! It’s Mutual: School and Public Library Collaboration
6 weeks, July 13 – August 21, 2015

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
4 weeks, July 13 – August 7, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs

Storytelling with Puppets
4 weeks, July 13 – August 7, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 2.2 CEUs

Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC Online Learning website. 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, 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

Image above provided by ALSC.

Posted in ALSC Online Courses, Blogger Dan Bostrom, Professional Development | Tagged | Leave a comment

The LSSPCC Toolkit: Making All Families Feel Welcome at the Library

Who Are We?

We are ALSC’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers (LSSPCC) Committee.  We are accessibility and inclusion advocates who care deeply about the needs of our entire library community, especially special population children and their caregivers.

What Do We Do?

We discover and disseminate information about what libraries have to offer these special populations.  We develop and maintain guidelines for selection of useful and relevant materials.  We also help prepare the next generation of librarians and library workers by creating and providing resources to serve their communities more inclusively.

What Is The LSSPCC Toolkit?

The LSSPCC Committee has worked hard to develop a brand new resource for librarians and library works to develop or enhance your knowledge about serving special populations.  Launched earlier this year, this easy-to-use Toolkit for Librarians and Library Workers is available FREE online and can be downloaded or saved as a PDF file.  Whether you are just getting started learning about serving special populations of children and their families or want to brush up on the latest resources, this toolkit is for you!

What Special Populations Does the Toolkit Cover?

This toolkit offers a wide variety of information about serving many different types of groups in your library community, including homeschoolers, spanish-speaking families, LGBTQ families, children with autism, children with incarcerated parents, children with print disabilities, and more.  While this is by no means an exhaustive list of special populations that are served in all of our library communities, it’s a great place to start.

Why Is This Toolkit Useful?

In this toolkit, you will find a brief introduction in each section, which will provide librarians and library workers with context and background information needed before beginning to serve these groups in your community.  In addition, each section has a list of subject headings and keywords that will help make catalog and online searching on this topic a lot easier.  We have included short lists of subject area experts, if you are interested in connecting with people in our field and finding out more about that particular area of outreach.  We have even included information about existing partnerships, which are examples of the successes some libraries have found connecting with local organizations to serve these special populations. There are numerous lists of additional print and digital resources for further learning beyond the toolkit itself.

We hope you will share this resource with your library staff.  Through advocacy and awareness of various special populations, we can work together to help all children and all families feel welcome at our libraries!


This post was written by Renee Grassi. Renee is the Youth Department Director at the Glen Ellyn Public Library in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  She is also a member of ALSC’s LSSPCC Committee.  In 2012, she was recognized by Library Journal as a Mover & Shaker for her work serving children with autism and other special needs.  She is also one of the co-founding members of SNAILS, a state-wide networking group in Illinois for librarians and library staff who discuss and learn about expanding library services to those with special needs.  As a proud ALSC member and a former ALSC Blogger, she has written on the blog about a variety of topics related to inclusive library services. 

Posted in Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Blogger Renee Grassi, Child Advocacy, Library Design and Accessibility, Outreach, Professional Development, Special Needs Awareness | Leave a comment

ALSC Member of the Month – Sharon McClintock

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, Sharon McClintock.

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

Photo courtesy of Sharon McClintock

Photo courtesy of Sharon McClintock

I’ve been a Children’s Librarian for 15 years at the Mountain View Public Library in Mountain View, California. I present a baby storytime called Mother Goose & More, preschool storytimes, school age class visits and a 3rd/4th grade reading club named READ Quest. I coordinate our Parenting speaker series and recently started a Rubik’s Cube Club. I love providing readers’ advisory and reference service as well as managing our Parenting and Children’s Music collections. Not long ago a friend asked me what my dream job would be. I answered honestly, “I’m doing it!”

2. Why did you join ALSC?

I joined ALSC to benefit from the experience and knowledge of my colleagues around the country, and get inspiration from conferences, online courses and the ALSC Blog. Just last week I created a Kids’ Choice display that I read about on the blog in a post by Abby Johnson, and I took an excellent online course on Storytelling with Puppets last year. ALSC does so much to advance library services to children, including early literacy initiatives and the Youth Media Awards; I want to support and be a part of it.

3. If you could be on a reality show, which one would it be?

Dancing with the Stars! When I can, I join some of my librarian friends who get together regularly to watch this show and it’s so entertaining. I love dancing, and I’m looking forward to planning some preschool dance parties with a colleague this year.

4. If you could enjoy a dinner conversation with any author – living or dead – who would it be?

If I could fudge a little on “author” (though he did write some books for children and parents, he is much better known for his TV show) I would choose Fred Rogers, no question! His kindness, his wisdom, his incredible talent for explaining the most profound concepts in the simplest terms, have been a professional as well as a personal inspiration to me. He always encouraged and lifted up those around him, and he inspires me to do the same. Though I’m sure I often miss the mark, he is always there as a role model for me.

5. What’s the last book you recommended to a friend?

I recommended the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith to a friend who is visiting Botswana soon. I love those books, and am so happy that we now have a children’s version — the Precious Ramotswe Mysteries.

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

I adore children’s books and music and learning new nursery rhymes for storytime. But more than that I care about the children and parents I work with and love helping families create happy memories.

7. What is the last song you sang?

We sang Baby Shark in storytime yesterday, after reading Nick Sharratt’s brilliant Shark in the Park! Everyone, adults included, got a kick out of both!

8. What do you love most about working at your library?

Our staff is fantastic — kind, creative and very supportive. Once, someone in our Customer Services group said to me, “we’ve got your back.” What a lovely thing that was to hear, and I feel that support from my colleagues every day.

9. Who is the last person you said thank you to?

This morning I thanked an incredible volunteer who has helped me with our 3rd/4th grade reading club for the last several years and will be joining us again this summer. His name is Benson and he also happens to be my next door neighbor! I have wonderful teen volunteers who help with this program, but it’s so nice to have another dedicated adult in the room, as well.

10. Favorite age of kids to work with?

If I had to pick a favorite it would be toddlers. They are so cute and so affectionate. I’ve gotten some hugs from toddlers that I will never forget!


Thanks, Sharon! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

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; we’ll see what we can do.

Posted in ALSC Member Profile, Blogger Mary R. Voors | Leave a comment

Growing Healthy Readers and Eaters @ the Library

The time has finally arrived for summer reading, that magical time of year most youth services librarians simultaneously long for and dread. Planning and preparation begins months before the first child registers for the summer reading program (SRP) and I’m sure the last thing librarians want to do is add another task to their long summer reading to do list. Despite this ever-growing list, I encourage you to think about how you can incorporate nutritional literacy and free summer meals into your SRP planning list!

Last week kicked off the Grafton-Midview Public Library’s summer reading program as well as our free summer lunch program. This will be the second year the library has participated as a meal site in the free summer lunch program, serving free lunches to children eighteen years and younger Monday through Friday throughout our eight weeks of summer reading. The program is made possible by partnering with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lorain County who are participants in the Kids Café program sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio. We have some special additions this year, including two outreach lunch sites staffed by library associates, an entire crew of summer lunch volunteers, and a vegetable and herb garden!

The summer lunches have been a wonderful way to reach out to our community in new ways, build new partnerships, increase summer reading program participation and introduce various library services to new patrons as well as regular visitors. The library garden has also proven to be a great resource for our children’s librarians, Ms. Abby and Ms. Katie, to incorporate nutrition education into their summer storytimes as an extension of the nutrition information provided during the free lunches. I’m always surprised by the wealth of new faces and increased interaction I see at the children’s desk during SRP and the lunch program seems to have only increased the traffic in the children’s department since last summer.

There are plenty of great resources available for families and libraries interested in the how and why of free summer lunch programs. For starters visit the USDA Summer Food Service Program site,,, and, a great site put together by the California Library Association and the California Summer Meal Coalition. You can also encourage families in search of a free summer meal to download the free Range app, which not only helps locate the nearest free meal site but also the nearest public library. If patrons do not have smartphones or devices, librarians can always download Range to a library-owned tablet and allow families to use the app in-house to find the nearest meal.

Librarians can utilize summer lunch programs and library gardens not only through programming but as fun opportunities to promote library collections. Below are some awesome food-related materials great for children and tweens.

  • Lunch Lady series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009-2013.This graphic novel series depicting a lunch lady who is a secret crime fighter is a perfect choice for chapter-book readers!
  • Whoopty-Whoop by Koo Koo Kanga Roo. Asian Man/Fun Fun Records, 2014. With high-energy songs like “All I Eat is Pizza” and “ I Like Cake” this album is sure to be a wiggle inducing addition to any food focused program for little kids and big kids.
  • Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller; Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Schwartz & Wade Books. 2013. Sophie’s new best friend is a squash, so what will she do when her friend begins to get squishy and spotty?
  • Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy. Workman Publishing Company. 1999. A classic non-fiction book that is full of great gardening tips and ideas for adults to share with children.
  • Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear; Illustrated by Julie Morstad. Tundra Books, 2014. A beautifully illustrated picture book about a girl named Julia and her friend Simca and their adventures in French cooking.

For more garden ideas, check out the new summer 2015 edition of Children & Libraries from ALSC. It has a stellar article from Sandy Kallunki, A Bumper Crop of Ideas, highlighting many awesome programs that can stem from library gardens. I hope that you will be inspired to plant a garden of your own and perhaps even add “become a summer meal site” to your SRP 2016 planning!


Courtesy of Guest Blogger

Courtesy of Guest Blogger

Our guest blogger today is Nicole Lee Martin. Nicole is a member of the Public Awareness Committee and the ALSC Valuation & Assessment Task Force. She is currently transitioning from her position as Emerging Technologies Librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library, OH to Children’s Librarian at Rocky River Public Library, OH. You can reach her at

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

Posted in Guest Blogger, Summer Reading | Leave a comment

Passive Picture Book Programs

As a first year librarian, I was constantly looking for new passive programming ideas.  We had a passive “mystery box” program, that the children could participate in once a week. I was getting burnt out on trying to find 5 new items every Monday to fill the box, and the kids were getting frustrated that they had to wait a week to play again.  At other libraries, the mystery box works well when most children come just once a week, but our children come to the library every day after school and in the summer.  I felt like this type of passive programming was not as enriching as it could be.

Early this January, a new book came by my desk called, “28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World” by Charles R. Smith.   I flipped through this and immediately wanted to turn this into a daily passive program.  Each page of this book has an illustration of a famous black person, the date of the important event, a poem describing the person and event, and a paragraph at the bottom giving more detail.  I planned to put the book out on the reference desk, turning the page every day to reveal a new person and event during the month of February to celebrate Black History Month.  First, I created a handout to give children with general questions that could be applied to any page of the book; who, what, when?  The kids had to read the page, write the name of the famous person, what they did to change history, and when did it happen.  After they completed the questions, I would go over their answers and the page to make sure they fully understood the events and why they were so important.  They then would get a small reward of a piece of candy.  Other kids would come up, seeing a crowd around my desk, asking what was happening. I collected all answer sheets to tally the participation numbers.  The passive program was so popular that I would collect 80 answer sheets weekly.

After the end of Black History Month, I brought the old mystery box back out, and the kids actually requested for the book to come back! I had to think quick and just my luck; another new book came my way, “Maps” by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski.  This fit one of my goals for the children perfectly; to teach them about world culture and that we are all world citizens. Each page has a different country with illustrations of historical buildings, native plants and animals, cultural food, sports, etc.  I created over a dozen questions that could pertain to any country’s map. The children would choose a random answer sheet with 4 questions. The first two questions were always the same on all the papers; country and capital.  The last two questions were different, so one child could potentially read the same map page multiple days, but answer different questions each time. The other questions were to name specific animals, food, historical buildings, famous people, bodies of water, ethnic food, sports, natural formations, major cities, language, size, and population.  The children would turn their answers, I would initiate a discussion about the country (would they like to visit, what about the culture is interesting to them), then they would receive a small prize. This, again, was very successful and popular.

slide1With the Summer Reading Challenge coming up, I created a passive book program.  I have two book clubs, one is preschool to second grade and the other is third to sixth grade. Each club has their own short picture book; I chose Iron Man books because of our superhero theme. Children can come up to the desk to get their club’s book, read it, and then answer a few short questions.  I have multiple sheets with different questions pertaining to each group’s book and the children will be able to participate once a day, choosing different questions for each new day.

I am very pleased with how successful these passive book programs have gone and I am excited to discover new books that will produce fun and education programs in the future.


Courtesy photo of guest blogger

Courtesy photo of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Angela Bronson. Angela has a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio. This is her ninth year working for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, and is currently a Children’s Librarian at Kent Branch Library. In the past, she was a Preschool Art Teacher for Bowling Green State University. She illustrated her first picture book this year titled, “Alora in the Clouds.” 

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

Posted in Guest Blogger, Programming Ideas | 2 Comments