Is #Mentoring Right for You?

There’s a lot of research out there that suggests that mentoring is pretty good for you. In adult-mentoring-children scenarios, research shows that the mentoring relationship assists in developing stronger ties to the community. Individuals who participate in a mentoring relationship experience:

  • improved self-esteem
  • improved communication skills
  • reduction in depressive symptoms
  • greater social acceptance
  • better academic attitudes

Career mentoring isn’t much different. Professional mentoring relationships help create connections and foster career growth. In fact, these are two of the objectives of the ALSC Mentoring Program. The others:

1. Build the skills and confidence of early career children’s librarians and those new to the profession
2. Encourage personal and professional connections
3. Give members the opportunity to acquire peer-taught skills
4. Re-energize and re-invigorate members in their work
5. Create interest and familiarity with ALSC committee service and participation
6. Build familiarity with ALSC’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries
7. Foster the development of a new cohort of leaders

The ALSC Mentoring Program is entering its second year of existence and we’re looking for some good mentors and mentees. Applications for the Fall 2014 program are now open. Please submit your application by Friday, August 25, 2014.

We hope that you’re interested in participating, because we think you’ll get a lot out of it.

Posted in Blogger Dan Rude, Mentoring | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Serving Parents of Children with Disabilities

Being a children’s librarian goes beyond serving children.  Certainly, that’s a HUGE part of the job, but the reality is that our jobs are more encompassing than that.  We are challenged and rewarded to serve the needs of patrons of all ages, and that includes the needs of parents and caregivers.  If your library is focusing on outreach to children with special needs, don’t forget that the parents of these children require our services, too.  Here’s just a short list of things that public libraries can offer parents of children with disabilities.

Special Needs Collections: If your library already has a parenting collection, think about expanding it or adding a new, targeted collection of items focusing on special needs related topics.  Whether this collection is simply made up of adult materials, or if it includes a combination of materials that both adults and children can use, there is a variety of ways you could serve the informational needs of your community.  And highlighting those materials in a separate collection makes those items more accessible and noticeable.  Make sure to gather input from your patrons first–you might discover that your community is interested in this collection having a specific focus.

Parent Workshops: Libraries are community centers for learning, so it makes sense to offer learning opportunities for parents about a variety of special needs related topics.  You could bring in guest experts to speak on topics, such as education, technology, language development, medical issues, or even advocacy.  Providing a forum for discussion of topic issues is a great way to get your community informed and involved.  At my former library, we hosted a series of Tech Talk parent workshop programs.  We knew we wanted to serve this audience of parents specifically, so we partnered with a local assistive technology specialist and offered a parent program called “Is There An App For That? Using iPads with Children with Special Needs.”  It was well received and well attended!

Booklists:  It’s been my experience that sometimes parents who have a child with special needs are looking for ways to introduce a new concept or topic to their child.  Often times, those parents are looking to the library to find a book to help that conversation along.   Quick and handy, booklists are perfect for getting book recommendations into the hands of you patrons right away.  They act as great passive reader’s advisory tools, as well, for those that are not comfortable asking more personal questions at the desk.  Be sure to freshen up your display of booklists often to check for currency and accuracy.  For a great example of what you can offer, check out Skokie Public Library’s comprehensive resource guide for parents and educators of children with disabilities.

Social Stories: Did you know that there are now free social story templates available through Microsoft Office?  Autism Speaks has partnered with Microsoft Office to offer free and customizable Social Story Templates available for download from their website.  As with any social stories, parents can use these tools to help teach various social situations to children with autism.  Topics include potty training, taking turns, going to the doctor, and even bullying.  Helpful tips like this one could easily be shared on a library’s social media page, as a way to quickly get the information out to those that need it.

Meeting Spaces:  More and more libraries are making their meeting spaces available to the public–sometimes even at a reasonably minimal cost to the user.  If you already are in touch with local support groups or parenting groups in your area, they may be interested to know that the library is a place they can come together and meet.  Once you have made contact with these groups, they may be interested in having a representative from the library come in and speak with them.  The more conversations we can have with actual library users (or non-users) to find out what they want their library to be, the more informed we are.

 

….and these are just a few ideas.  What are YOU doing at your library to serve the unique needs of parents of children with disabilities in your communities?  Share your ideas below!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

5 Ways to Turn Homework Help into Summer Fun

We usually think of our library’s online resources as homework help, but in summertime kids can use them to explore the topics they really love.

1. Animals- Who doesn’t love animals? Online encyclopedias include pictures and even video, along with articles on everything from aardvarks to zebras.

2. Places- Young travelers can find out about, or just plain find, destinations near and far in geography and history resources.

3. Celebrities- Whether they’re into sports, movies, or music, biography and news databases are keeping up with kids’ favorite stars.

4. Family- Tap genealogy resources to clarify the family tree when visiting relatives. Figure out who’s a third cousin and who’s a second cousin once removed or find great-grandma in the 1930 census.

5. Weird stuff- News sites just for kids include many stories of the bizarre. Is it true that an accountant fell on a crocodile? Look it up!

Have you tried marketing your databases for summer or used them in a program? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Blog post by Rachel Wood
Arlington Public Library
ALSC Digital Content Task Force

Posted in Blogger Digital Content Task Force, Digital World, Programming Ideas, Summer Reading | Leave a comment

Soldering in the Library

It has almost been one year since my library opened our makerspace for kids, cleverly branded the T|E|A Room for technology, engineering, and the arts, by Kiera Parrott. While we have seen a flood of new experiences in the library due to the growth in STEAM-related programming, the most inspiring thus far have been T|E|A Room family programs. The majority of maker programs offered could have easily been transformed into family programs, and our plan is to combine this new wave of library programming with our desire to grow intergenerational activities in the community.

A grandfather and his grandson working on their skill badge. Photo courtesy of author.

A grandfather and his grandson working on their skill badge. Photo courtesy of author.

One program that caused families to make the library a destination point one cloudless spring day was the Intro to Soldering class. Neither my colleague nor I had ever soldered anything before, and to be quite honest we both couldn’t even tell if the L was silent! Fortunately there were many reasonably priced soldering kits available to teach families as well as ourselves. We also made it a point to ask the library for assistance and both the Assistant Director and Building Engineer graciously offered to help us with supplies, and even gave us a tutorial on soldering basics.

The project we decided to use, mostly for its simplicity, was the Skill Badge from the Maker Shed. This is a perfect introduction to soldering and because the families learned so quickly we were able to make multiple blinking robots. Here are some tips for any librarians who may want to take their makerspace programs to the next level with soldering:

  • Safety First: Make sure to provide all the necessary items to ensure safety. This includes safety goggles for both parents and kids. Check to see within the community who might be able to donate or loan goggles for the program. In the beginning of the class I stress listening, wearing goggles, asking for help, and never touching the tip of the soldering iron. One thing I noticed was that online there were many images of kids soldering without safety goggles. I made it a point to not use those images in the class. Also, make sure to purchase lead-free solder when working with kids. It’s difficult to find, but available online.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: I’ve definitely winged it for some programs, but with soldering that’s not an option. You want to be knowledgeable about the process so you are best equipped to help your participants. If you are terrified (like me) then ask some of the library staff to assist. I discovered many staff members and parents had soldered before and were more than willing to lend a hand. It only took two skill badges before I got the hang of it, and both of blinking robots’ eyes lit up with ease.
  • Provide Visuals: I found it helpful to make each step visible to help guide us through the activity. Since the project we purchased had clear instructions on the website, it was easy to use the photos and text to explain how all the parts came together. I created a Keynote document which helped to open up discussion on defining soldering, objects that need to be soldered, and the tools and materials we would be using. Accessing tutorial videos whenever possible allows kids to see soldering up close and personal before they even heat up the iron.
  • Location, Location, Location: Be wise about where you decide to host a soldering program and feel free to limit the amount of families. We ended having two separate classes so we could manage the activity effectively. We also needed a location that had enough outlets, ventilation, and space. Smoke does come from the hot soldering iron, so I brought additional fans and asked parents to fan away the smoke.

Both sessions were a huge success, both for the kids and their adults. Those in attendance included parents, teenage siblings, and grandparents. One mother mentioned recently that a few days following the event her son’s grandfather dug out his old soldering kit so they could work on other projects together.

When I became a children’s librarian I had no idea it would lead me to the art of soldering. This program has far exceeded what families thought would happen within the library. T|E|A Room programs have challenged both my staff and I to discover ways of exposing kids to new learning opportunities. It’s refreshing to think that libraries are now becoming known for both reading and robots.

Want to learn more about soldering? Check out these resources:

Tech Will Save Us – How to Solder and Desolder A hilarious kid-friendly video on how to get started soldering. The instructor does a great job of stressing the importance of safety.

Science Kids – Soldering Lesson I specifically used this video to show how to tin the solder.

Raspberry Pi Blog – Soldering is Easy Comic

This seven-page comic is an illustrated guide to more in-depth projects. The visuals are descriptive, accurate, and fun.

Claire Moore is a member of the School-Age Programs and Services Committee. She is the Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library in Darien, CT.  For further questions, please contact at cmoore@darienlibrary.org.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Help, Thanks, Wow”

When ruminating over this past year as ALSC President, the above title of a book by Anne Lamott comes to mind.

Help! Luckily, there was always plenty of it!

  • The stellar staff in the ALSC offices was always available for support.  From guiding me through the appointments process, organizing Community Forums and other events with members, editing (so many) communications, cultivating collaborations to expand and enhance our work, to finding a way to make some cockamamie ideas concrete, they never lost their patience or good humor.
  • My fabulous fellow Board members engaged in lofty thinking and diligent deliberation to move the work of the Association forward and always stepped forward to volunteer for each new task and accept every assignment.
  • The truly remarkable membership continues to humble and astound me with their vision, passion and commitment to raising issues and producing results.

Thanks!  So, from the above, you can already see that I have an abundance for which to be indebted. But, in addition, I had the opportunity to steep myself even more than usual in this wonderful, dynamic profession for an entire year. It was my honor to be the voice of the association, to represent libraries at the White House and children’s services in national media. It was my pleasure to be the ears as well and to get to know my amazing colleagues from across the country as I listened to their concerns and their aspirations for the association and the profession at large.  I thank you all from my heart.

I was recently reminded of the multitude of hats we wear when I had the good fortune to see Pepito’s pom-pommed velvet topper at the New York Historical Society’s Bemelmans exhibit. (Not a bad hat at all!) I am grateful to have had the chance to don the hat of ALSC President this past year. I encourage you all to throw your hat in the ring (or in the air) to create a better future for children through libraries by working together in ALSC.  Please, do yourself, the association and the profession a favor–volunteer for a committee or task force, write a blog post, participate in a Community Forum, or consider running for the ALSC Board.  The possibilities are endless and the rewards are infinite.

And finally…

Wow! That’s just about all I can say. Wow!

 

Posted in Blogger Starr LaTronica | Leave a comment

Reusable Book Tags

Returning from the ALA Conference, I was inspired by the notable tags used by the vendors on the exhibit floor.  I didn’t want to print up tags because with our library’s circulation, the books on display are constantly changing.  I needed a tag that was easy to see, but also adaptable to whatever book it was placed in.  Thankfully, I have a really creative staff at my branch and by brainstorming with my branch head and afterschool leader, we were able to create some fun and useful book tags.  To begin, I found some speech bubble post-it notes and laminated them.  (Moment of honesty:  These were a giveaway by Sam Hain Publishing at ALA this year.  There are so many benefits of going to conference beyond the great programming!)  When I cut them out, I kept a tail of laminated plastic on the end: 

postitIt’s a little hard to see in the picture, but I cut a slit into the tail so it would slide over a page in the book.  Now that it’s laminated, it can be written on with a dry erase marker.  (My after school leader told me about this and it’s revolutionized my life!)  Here is a picture of some of the books:

do not reshelveI added a security tag to the back of each post-it, so they won’t accidentally walk out the door inside the book. Because the security tag is white, you really don’t notice it.  Here is a group of books on display:

bookcaseThe picture is a bit dark, but they look great in person.  If we lose any, we’re only out a post-it and some lamination paper.  When I make more, I’m going to make the tails a little longer.  I was able to make 9 tags out of one lamination sheet, but I think 6 would be better.  This will allow the tail to be a little longer and fit more securely in the book.  I’m using them in my picture book area currently, but I think the possibilities are endless. 

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

Christopher Brown Headshot

Photo courtesy of Christopher Brown

Our guest blogger today is Christopher Brown. Chris is a librarian for the Wadsworth Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.  He received is MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 and his MA from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2013.  His current books obsessions are The Sittin’ Up by Shelia P. Moses, the Green Knowe series by Lucy M. Boston, and Leah Wilcox’s Waking Beauty.  He’s probably book talking at least one of these titles right now.

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 Displays, Guest Blogger | Leave a comment

Top Ten Things You May Have Missed in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, the city of distractions, proved to be an entertaining and exciting location for my first Annual Conference. With so many wonderful restaurants, an energetic exhibit hall, and lots of great meetings and sessions to attend, it was very easy to miss out on something. The following list highlights 10 things you might have missed at Annual 2014:

1.  The Long but Super Fast Registration Line!

registration lineWith over 18,000 people attending ALA Annual in Las Vegas, it is no surprise that the registration lines got a little long. As nervous as I was when I first stepped into the line, it went incredibly fast! The staff did a fantastic job getting everyone in and out, all of our questions answered, and communicating their excitement for the conference. Thanks ALA staffers for your hard work leading up to and during the conference!

  1. The Banned Book Video Booth

IMG_0806The energy and excitement at the Banned Book Week Video booth was evident every time I walked by (located near the exhibit hall). Librarians and other library-loving individuals seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to read some of their favorite banned books and talk about the importance of intellectual freedom and free access to materials. One of my favorite moments of the conference was watching a captivating librarian read And Tango Makes Three!

  1. Networking Between Sessions and In The Exhibit Hall!

IMG_0809One of the highlights of every conference is networking with other passionate professionals in our field. While waiting in line to meet Marcus Zusak (who truly is a delight!), I met two charming librarians from around the US. What began as a quick chat about how excited we were to meet Zusak turned into a longer discussion about makerspaces and the maker movement in school and public libraries. Thanks Lynda Reynolds, Director of the Stillwater Public Library (Oklahoma) and Jessica Stewart, Librarian at The Meadows School in Nevada for the great conversation!

  1. Author Meet and Greets

Every time the exhibit hall was open, there seemed to be at least one fantastic author signing copies of our favorite books and answering some of our best questions. Each author seemed pleased when I told them I felt like I was meeting a rock star (which to us, authors and illustrators are our rock stars!). Two of my favorites this trip were Kadir Nelson and Tom Angleberger.

  1. Dinner with Friends from Afar

IMG_0814Conferences are some of the best times to get together with other professionals from near and far to eat dinner, relax, and enjoy both library and non library conversation. Las Vegas in particular had some of the best restaurants to choose from, and the air conditioning offered an appreciated chance to rehydrate and reenergize.

  1. The Scholastic Literary Brunch

IMG_0818Over a hundred youth librarians gathered in one of the ballrooms at Caesars one morning to eat, network, and listen to some wonderful authors talk about and read from their new books. In groups of three, authors performed an excerpt from their new books reader’s theater style. It was a really wonderful experience!

  1. The Starbucks Line (A Great Place for Networking!)

IMG_0837No surprise, but librarians love their coffee! The line at the Starbucks next to the exhibit hall always seemed to be out the door, but the coffee was good and the conversation was always great!

  1. The Comic Book, Graphic Novel, and Trade Paperback Aisle in the Exhibit Hall

IMG_0844As a first-time ALA Annual attendee, the comic book, graphic novel, and trade paperback aisle in the exhibit hall was an unexpected treat! While there, I got to meet so many wonderful artists and writers; Stacey King, an author for UDON Entertainment’s upcoming “Manga Classics” line was wonderful to talk to, signed my books, and posed for quite a few pictures!

  1. The ALSC Membership Meeting

The 2014 ALSC Membership Meeting offered a great opportunity to chat with other youth librarians, meet members of the ALSC board, hear about the awards and accomplishments of professionals in our field, and discuss the very important white paper The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children. If you have not read it yet, I encourage you to stop reading this blog and go check it out at http://www.ala.org/alsc/importance-diversity.

10. Your Flight!

IMG_0798Flight delays were plentiful on the way home from Annual due to thunderstorms in the Midwest and Northeast. Anyone flying anywhere near Chicago was probably stranded either in Vegas or somewhere along your route!

 

Thank you so much to everyone who agreed to be pictured in this blog and to everyone who made my first ALA Annual Conference such a wonderful experience! A very special thank you to everyone involved in helping me attend my first ALA Annual Conference, especially everyone involved in the Penguin Young Readers Group Award. I look forward to seeing everyone at Midwinter 2015 in Chicago and Annual 2015 in San Francisco!

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

IMG_0661Our guest blogger today is JoAnna Schofield.  JoAnna is an Early Childhood Librarian at the Highland Square Branch Library, part of the Akron-Summit County Public Library System in Akron, Ohio. She passionately enjoys her toddler, preschool, and school age programming and outreach. She is eagerly awaiting her great artists themed preschool story time series and her STEAM after school club this fall. When she is not connecting with the Highland Square community, she is training for her first half-marathon this September, spending time with her family at the Akron Zoo, and looking at the newest memes of Grumpy Cat. Her inspiration comes from her three beautiful children: Jackson (4), Parker (3), and Amelia Jane (16 months). She can be reached at jschofield@akronlibrary.org.

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 2014, Guest Blogger | Leave a comment

ALSC Member of the Month – Jenna Nemec-Loise

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, Jenna Nemec-Loise.

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

Courtesy photo from Jenna Nemec-Loise

Courtesy photo from Jenna Nemec-Loise

I’m a relationship architect, a community builder, and an early childhood specialist. I’m an Everyday Advocate for youth, families, and libraries. On occasion, I’ve been called Flannelboard Ace and Teen Volunteer Coordinator Extraordinaire. And I’ve been doing it all at school and public libraries in and around Chicago for 14 daring years. (You thought I was just going to say “children’s librarian,” didn’t you? Ha!)

2. Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

Doesn’t everyone join ALSC to be more awesome for the communities they serve? That’s certainly why I did! When I got my first job as a librarian at a small private school, I had no idea what I was doing. But I did know that in order to be awesome at my job, I had to do two things: (1) get an MLIS, which I earned two years later from Dominican University, and (2) join ALSC, which I did immediately. Guess which one started paying off right away?

I’m also a member of PLA and YALSA, and my involvement with both divisions has been equally rewarding.

3. What are you proudest of having accomplished in your professional career?

By far, it’s been my advocacy work on behalf of children, families, and libraries through ALSC-related opportunities.

Through a four-year term on the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee, I helped coordinate a 2012 membership survey on early learning partnerships. Our data not only contributed to the May 2013 IMLS Growing Young Minds report, but it also made it into the hands of a White House Domestic Policy Council member at National Library Legislative Day 2013 in Washington, D.C.

I’ve also been honored to serve as Member Content Editor of the ALSC Everyday Advocacy website and electronic newsletter since February 2013. Most recently, I had the privilege of representing ALSC and PLA during the 2014 Opening Minds Innovation Award showcase, where educators, administrators, policy makers, and funders voted Every Child Ready to Read @ your library as the next game changer in the early childhood field. What an incredible experience!

4. Favorite age of kids to work with?

Those babies! I can’t resist their fascination with everything and the sheer joy that comes from sharing books, songs, and rhymes with them. That magic is the elixir of my library life!

5. What’s one “rule” you wished every librarian followed?

People over paperwork.

In these days of budget cuts and staffing shortages, we have to arm ourselves daily with endless streams of facts, statistics, and anecdotes to ensure we stay relevant in our communities. It’s easy to get lost in this climate of urgency, bogged down by this report or that deadline. We have a choice, though, and it’s a simple one: Stay grounded.

The child standing in front of you deserves every ounce of your attention. For the precious minutes you have with him, make him feel like the Most Important Child in the World. The paperwork can wait; the child can’t.

6. What do you collect?

Is it too nerdy to say Folkmanis puppets? Because I’ve got about 50 of ‘em! They’re the biggest hit you can imagine at all my book sharing programs, and even the big kids get in on the fun when we bring them out at the library.

My first puppet was Mabel (a big wooly sheep), who was quickly followed by Snap (an alligator) and Wally (a camel). The fan favorite, though, is Otis, my big floppy sheepdog. The little ones love rubbing their faces in his fur!

7. Who is your role model? Why?

Hands down, it’s Fred Rogers.

As a young child, I desperately loved Mr. Rogers and his Land of Make-Believe. He piqued my sense of wonder and made me feel safe with his soft-spoken demeanor and familiar routines. When Mr. Rogers talked to me, I felt smart and important.

And that’s why I love Fred Rogers to this day. His respect for young children and every aspect of their physical, socioemotional, and psychosocial development inspires my adult passion for engaging in developmentally appropriate library practice.

(Funny Mr. Rogers story: My mom called the pediatrician once because she was concerned that I was talking out loud to no one. When Dr. Mabini asked what else I was doing, she told him I was watching Mr. Rogers on TV. Dr. Mabini chuckled and said, “Well, Mr. Rogers asks lots of questions. When someone asks you something, you answer him, right?”)

8. What’s the best thing you’ve learned this year?

I learned a new definition of advocacy that clarifies the whole murky business! During the ALA Advocacy Coordinating Group meeting in Las Vegas, Office of Library Advocacy Director Marci Merola defined advocacy as “turning passive support into educated action.” Awesome, right? (Thanks, Marci!)

9. Favorite part of being a children’s librarian?

Building relationships with children, families, and communities. My library building is starting to show its age, and our children’s collection could use some refreshing. But I know I’m doing something right when kids and families stop by just to say, “Hi, Miss Jenna!” I treasure those moments when I get to say in return, “I’m so glad you came by to see me today! Have I got a book for you…”

10. Do you have any pets?

I sure do! Trudy is my two-year-old mini-lop rabbit and the unofficial mascot of my library’s animal-themed summer program. Kids and families love hearing Trudy stories and seeing pictures of her various bunny shenanigans. (Trust me—there are many.)

I’m proud to say my little gal has inspired lots of reading this summer! Back in May, I challenged kids at my library to read 150,000 minutes as a group during our eight-week program. I promised that if they met this goal, I’d adopt a second rabbit as a mate for Trudy. With two weeks left to go, kids have read a whopping 120,000 minutes, so it looks like it’ll be double the bunny fun at my house come August!

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

Thanks, Jenna! 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 alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.


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