ALSC Member of the Month – Alyssa Morgan

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, Alyssa Morgan.

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

Courtesy photo from Alyssa Morgan

Courtesy photo from Alyssa Morgan

I’m the Children’s Librarian/Head of Youth Services at the Morgan County Public Library in Martinsville, IN.  I’ve been in this position almost 5 years, and actually began my career here as an intern.

And yes, the library and I do have the same name.

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

I see ALSC as a way to keep in touch with other librarians across the nation.  Through ALSC, I’ve gained not only great programming ideas, useful management tips, and the knowledge that I’m not the only librarian who faces triumph and struggle on a daily basis.

3. If a movie was presented of your life, who would you want to play you?

Kate Winslet or Emma Thompson.  Even though I bear no resemblance whatsoever to either of them.

4. Do you have a favorite word?  What is it?

Serendipitous!

5. What forms of social media do you use regularly?

I’m a Facebook fiend!  I try to tweet (@LibraryLyssa) and blog (www.librarylyssa.com) on a regular basis but it usually falls on the back burner.

6. Do you have any cats or dogs or other pets?

One cat, Olivia.  When I was at the shelter looking for a cat, I was holding her in my lap and another cat hopped in my lap and hissed at her.  She very calmly turned around, smacked the snot out of the other cat, and went back to cleaning her paws.  I knew this was the cat for me!

7. What do you like to drink? Coffee, tea, juice, water, or something else?

COFFEE!  COFFEE!  COFFEE!

8. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  The teen librarian and I recommend it to EVERYONE!

9. Do you normally celebrate holidays? What’s your favorite?

December 4 has become a holiday at my library because there are four of us who share that date as our birthday!  Cards and all sorts of sweet treats are brought in to help celebrate.

10. What would you be doing if you weren’t a librarian?

I honestly have no idea and hope I never have to find out!

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Thanks, Alyssa! 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

Coming Soon!

Summer Reading is imminent, librarians. We all have a ton on our plates and very little time to think about anything but programming, performers, reading logs, and summer fun.

Here are just a few books coming out in the next couple of months. Something to put on your radar when you get a minute, in between programs, when you’re trying to put together book orders.  Your kids will like these, and you will, too.

Source: Goodreads

Maria lives in the Bronx with her mom, who works two jobs to keep them afloat. Then her mom gets a job on a seaside estate on Martha’s Vineyard, and Maria’s life for the summer is radically different. Maria spends her summer juggling new friends, her Lebanese family, and an old map that she’s sure will lead to pirate treasure.

Source: Goodreads

Mafi’s long-awaited first middle grade novel has been called “rich and lush” by Kirkus. Alice lives in a land of magic and color, and she has neither. But she’s determined to find her beloved Father in magical Furthermore anyway. She has only one companion: someone she’s not sure she can trust. Can she use her wits to find her dad?

Source: Goodreads

The second in Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel series about the mysteries and magic of coding, this one will basically fly off your shelves completely by itself. There’s something lurking in an underground classroom of Stately Academy: Hooper, Eni, and Josh are determined to find out what!

Source: Goodreads

Jenni Holm’s latest novel is about Beans, a kid growing up during the Great Depression on Key West. Beans knows that grown-ups lie to him. But he doesn’t really let it bother him. He’s got plans of his own. Beans is the cousin of the titular Turtle in Holm’s Newbery Honor-Winning Turtle in Paradise and returning to her beautiful novels is always worth it.

Good luck with summer reading! These books will be waiting for you on the other side.

*
Ally Watkins (@aswatki1) is a library consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

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

Submit a #alaac17 Program Proposal

Submit a Program Proposal for the 2017 ALA Annual Conference

ALSC is now accepting proposals for innovative programs for the 2017 ALA Annual Conference. Be part of this exciting professional development opportunity by submitting your program today!

To submit a program proposal for the 2017 Annual Conference, please visit the ALSC website. for the submission form and instructions. The 2017 ALA Annual Conference is scheduled for June 22-27, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. All proposals must be submitted by Thursday, June 2, 2016.

Submit a proposal

Need help getting started? In January, the Program Coordinating Committee put out a call for ideas and asked for your feedback. We offered thirteen topic areas and asked members to rank their favorites. Here are all thirteen topic areas we suggested ranked in order of ALSC members’ choices:

  1. Diversity in children’s lit
  2. Partnerships and outreach
  3. Age specific programming
  4. STEM/STEAM
  5. Summer learning
  6. Difficult conversations
  7. Media mentorship
  8. Recent immigrant communities
  9. Collection development
  10. Diversity in the profession
  11. Advocacy
  12. Gender diversity
  13. Networking

Need more inspiration? Below you’ll find additional ideas suggested by ALSC members in response to the survey. These are not ranked and appear in the order in which they were received. Additional Program Ideas:

  • Continuing Education after the MLIS
  • Working with difficult coworkers/directors/city agencies– best practices, stress relief, etc.
  • Programming for Children with Special Needs
  • Localized networking- how to bring back info from ALA, etc, and share with people who can’t afford time/money for conference
  • Poetry, poetry programs, apps, National Poetry Month
  • Social services: ie. Food programs at the library to serve hungry families, homelessness, libraries as a safe environment etc
  • Child development and how it relates to library services, the mechanics of reading ( to help with readers advisory for emerging readers)
  • The impact on tech on families
  • Recent youth space upgrades/renovations. Slide shows etc
  • Early Literacy/Babies Need Words
  • Preschool Programming outside of storytime
  • Becoming a youth services manager
  • Statistics, budgeting
  • I would love to see a diversity track that covers diversity in the profession, networking with others that are from a more diverse culture, diversity in children’s lit, gender diversity, also how to encourage diversity in publishing and other areas related to libraries.
  • Creating a culture of reading in our community
  • Time/workload management; librarian lifehacks
  • Leadership and management chops
  • Homeschooling
  • Serving low-income kids and families
  • Parent involvement
  • Advancing early literacy best practices based on research- screens and reality

Please note that participants attending ALSC programs are seeking valuable educational experiences; the Program Coordinating Committee will not select a program session that suggests commercial sales or self-promotion. Presentations should provide a valuable learning experience and avoid being too limited in scope.

Please contact the chair of the ALSC Program Coordinating Committee, Amy Martin with questions.

Submit a proposal

Image courtesy of ALSC.

Posted in ALA Annual 2017, Blogger Dan Bostrom, Professional Development | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Thoughts from a Library School Student

This week marks the end of my first semester of graduate school; the end felt unreal until I received my grades today. They’re my roller-coaster-photo-finish proof the last five blurry months actually happened, complete with wild hair and shocked expression. If you’re just starting this adventure, fasten your seatbelt and prepare yourself for a wild ride with a few suggestions from a recent first-timer in mind.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING:

Most students I’ve met are also juggling several roles, and online programs allow flexibility for those with a lot of things up in the air. However, the ability to attend class in pajamas can lend a false sense of security; it’s easy to lose track of deadlines and projects when classwork is squeezed in whenever you find a spare moment. I carved out mornings for classwork, and after the kids came home from school, we did homework together. During my lunch breaks at work, homework; after I came home from work, homework. Basically, the semester was homework with real life “squeezed in whenever”. But those hours I’d specifically carved out for school work were sacrosanct (in theory – I’m a parent). Which brings me to my next point…

MOVE IT OR LOSE IT:

When I had pneumonia shortly before the semester began, I asked my doctor how long it would take to recover. She replied it would be a few weeks and joked, “Why, do you have a marathon planned?” I explained I’d soon have a full load in graduate school, plus my part-time job and three kids, so yes, I had a marathon planned. She advised me, as she survived medical school and residency with kids, to make time for exercise. When I asked hopefully if “exercise” included the movement of Dr Pepper or chocolate in hand to mouth, she laughed and said it could at times, but actual exercise would keep me sane. It didn’t matter what I did, as long as I got up and moved for at least 30 minutes a day. Remember the wise words of Elle Woods? “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”

REMEMBER YOUR PASSION:

It’s a safe bet if you’re in graduate school for library science, you want to be there. If you’re exploring the ALSC site and found this post, you’re probably interested in library services for children. Nevertheless, at one time or another during library school, you’ll find yourself wondering why you traded Netflix binges after work for writing research papers until dawn. But then you’ll find that one class or idea that sets your world aflame with possibilities and everything’s touched by the burning to know more. That’s the hope, at least. If your studies haven’t uncovered something yet, then recall what inspired you to be a librarian. Was it a librarian who touched your life? Quirky picture books? Your love of cardigans, cats, or library-cake memes? Suggested pick-me-ups: Neil Gaiman’s “libraries are the future” lecture or Library Journal’s inspiration board on Pinterest.

One last tip:

There might be a learning curve on your ride, but don’t worry. Just lean into it. Embrace the opportunity to grow and stretch your skills, maybe even throw your hands up in the air and scream. It will eventually come to an end and you’ll roll to a stop, amazed you’ve come so far despite how quickly it went.

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Today’s Guest Blogger is Stephanie Milberger. Stephanie is a youth librarianship student in the College of Information at the University of North Texas and children’s assistant at the Highland Park Library in Dallas. You can contact her online at Twitter (@milbergers) or email milbergers@gmail.com.

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, Students | Leave a comment

Knitting Club for Tweens – a step-by-step how-to guide

Hand knitting has been around for arguably thousands of years, though in modern times its popularity has waxed and waned.  Waldorf schools around the world have long recognized that teaching young children handicrafts helps develop their fine motor and analytical skills. The great thing is, libraries can promote knitting, too! Currently, knitting is very popular and many libraries have started their own knitting circles. Here are several reasons to start a knitting circle for tweens at your library and a step-by-step list on how to get started:

Step 1

Start a knitting club for adults. My adult knitting group meets in the evenings right near the children’s area, so we’ve garnered a lot of interest from the kids by simply existing. They want to know all about knitting, how we started, what clothes we’ve made, etc. Most kids ultimately ask if I can teach them how to knit. We have a diverse group of men and women in our adult group, and in turn I’ve had both boys and girls show interest in learning. Having a multifaceted group is a great way to highlight that knitting is not just for women.

Step 2

Find someone who wants to teach kids how to knit. If you are a knitter, it could be you. If not, contact your local knitting guild or meet up group to see if one of their members has an interest in teaching kids how to knit.

Step 3

Gather your materials! You’ll need yarn, needles, scissors, tapestry needles, and knitting books from your collection to get the kids started once they’ve masted the basics of knit and purl. Ask your adult patrons if they can donate materials or reach out to your library friends group for the funds needed to purchase some knitting paraphernalia.

Step 4

Pick a date. I find that knitting clubs for adults tend to be the most successful if they occur at the same time and place weekly, so pick a date and time when your tweens will usually be able to attend. We have our summer knitting club on craft day, the same time every week!

Step 5

Publicize! Spread the word about your knitting club at school visits and outreach, and on library social media and websites. It also helps to reach out to your local knitting guild so they can publicize for you!

Kate Eckert is an artist, knitter, and mother of one. She is also a member of the School Age Programs & Services Committee and is a Children’s Librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She tweets @8bitstate and may also be contacted at eckertk AT freelibrary.org.

Posted in Blogger - School-Age Programs and Service Committee, Programming Ideas, Tweens | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Comic Ode to Booktalking

We’re in the throes of booktalking here at Darien Library, and I thought this time-honored tradition deserved a comic.

anodetobooktalking-sm

All illustrations copyright Lisa Nowlain, 2016.

Lisa Nowlain is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow and Children’s Librarian at Darien Library in Darien, CT. She is also an artist-type (see more at lisanowlain.com).

Posted in Blogger Lisa Nowlain, Outreach, Summer Reading | Leave a comment

Painting with Primaries

Our local school is building a Natural Playground, and they are holding several fundraisers. I was recently asked to be part of a Really Good Idea for a fundraiser, which I think would make a fun library program! The idea, which was hatched and hosted by the owner of our local craft shop, was this: local artists would each lead a classroom in painting a large 2-foot square painting which would then be auctioned off.
IMG_1399
I was happy to find out that I was chosen to work with the Grade Primary class (here in Nova Scotia that translates to Kindergarten). I went with a big flower for them to paint. I had them in groups of 3 — the painting had seven areas to be painted, and I had each group work on a section. I might be biased, but I love our painting the most. I love the colours and the freedom of expression that 4 & 5 year olds are unafraid to exhibit. I really didn’t paint much at all— I gave them tips, and once had to quickly grab a paintbrush from an over-exuberant artist who was about to turn the whole thing into a big smear.

I started in the classroom with a stack of books and talked to them about art in picture books.  I read Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales to them and we talked about the art in that book. Their teacher had been part of some workshops I did earlier in the school year, and she had them looking closely at the art in picture books, so this group of 4-5 year olds were pretty savvy about examining the pictures. We had a lively discussion about the art and how everyone can do art. I was impressed that they were able to determine the medium, and talk a little about shape and colour.

I love to combine literacy with art lessons, and this project – and a Caldecott honour book – allowed me to do that. We also did a really great painting which will help raise money for a playground that will further their learning in the great outdoors. IMG_1401

So— to turn this into a library program, you could buy several large canvases (you can get them for a pretty decent price at dollar stores these days). Draw the outlines on the canvases, and have your program participants paint them in, using acrylic paint (again, a fairly inexpensive investment at dollar stores). These could hang in the children’s area, could be donated for charity fundraisers, or you could auction them as library fundraisers. Add a few books on art and a few art picture books, and you’ve got yourself a fairly simple, low-cost program that kids will remember each time they see those paintings. Host an art show in your library and you’ve got another program that will draw in the families of the kids who did the paintings. Art and literacy. They make good companions.

Posted in Blogger Angela Reynolds, Collaboration, Early Literacy, Programming Ideas, Slice of Life | Tagged | 1 Comment

Preparing for the 2016 ALSC President’s Program

Environments are imbued with ideals and beliefs about the core values of their institutions.  As public libraries move to a more patron-centered approach, library settings become less formal and more available for collaborative and creative practices.  This year, ALSC President Andrew Medlar will share his vision for active and child-centered learning spaces throughout American Libraries at his Charlemae Rollins President’s Program:  Libraries: The Space to Be. 

Chicago Public Library is the home of Charlemae Rollins, and here at CPL, we see it as our role to enliven the spaces in our children’s rooms in order to encourage and promote what Fred Rogers called “the work of childhood” play-based learning. By creating meaningful and child-friendly spaces, we serve children and their families more deeply.  It is our goal to create active learning spaces that are a meaningful educator for our children and our communities.  Our libraries are considered pioneers in incorporating STEAM opportunities for child and parent engagement, and we are designing space across our system to meet the needs of 21st Century children and families.  This means age designated ‘neighborhoods’ areas for creativity, collaboration and lots of ways to encourage moments of sharing.  We believe sharing is learning and we want to encourage that in both formal and informal settings.  As our new flagship main children’s library opens later this year, we will roll out even more ways upon which STEAM, early learning and school-aged families can read, discover and create.

In San Francisco, our libraries are family destinations for discovery and community engagement. As part of the library’s early literacy initiative, we partner with the Burgeon Group to design and embed Play to Learn areas in each location.  These site-specific transformations are beacons of play incorporating colorful interactive panels, multilingual features, developmentally appropriate experiences, fine gross activities, texture and tracing elements all to spark spontaneous conversations and build key literacy skills.  (Stoltz, Conner, & Bradbury, 2014) From nook to cubes and the flagship installation at the Main Library, parents, caregivers and most importantly children know play is welcome at the library.

Successful play spaces are those that engage children’s interest; inspire creativity; allow physical movement; and encourage interaction with both materials in the space and with other children.  Many early childhood spaces are modeled on the Reggio Emilia approach, starting with a welcoming space that is arranged to provide opportunities for children to make choices and discover on their own.  Once children have explored, adults facilitate play around subjects or objects in which the child shows interest. This child-driven model is a natural fit for an active learning setting in a library, where children have free access to a variety of resources from books to toys to art materials.  Research shows that having quality books placed at children’s eye level supports literacy-related activities like those that occur when children play in library spaces. (Neuman, 1999)

The Reggio Emilia approach has also been shown to be equally effective for young children who do not speak English, a situation common in Chicago and San Francisco (Zhang, Fallon & Kim, 2009).  Leslie William and Yvonne DeGaetano note the importance of creating culturally relevant spaces based on children’s own communities in Alerta:  A MultiCultural, Bilingual Approach to Teaching Young Children.

Play is a necessary building block for children’s brain development, along with culture and the creative mindset. (Gauntlett & Thomsen, 2013) It is so essential for life that the United Nations recognizes play as a human right for every child.  Play allows children to explore and experiment with their environments, building synaptic connections in the brain and helping children establish problem solving skills as early as 6 months of age.  The American Library Association-Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) recommends that play be incorporated into library programming, recognizing the direct correlation between play and early literacy.

There are five general types of play that children engage in.  These can all be supported in our libraries, and each type of play supports both children’s general development and literacy in a variety of ways.  These include:

  • sensory play
  • constructive play with objects
  •  symbolic play
  • pretend play
  • rule-based play such as games.

Some of the elements that are shared by both Chicago Public Library and San Francisco Public Library include:

  • Creation of connections and sense of belonging
  • Flexible and open-ended materials
  • Materials that support the ECRR2 practices ( TALK, SING, READ, WRITE, PLAY)
  • Stimulation of wonder, curiosity and intellectual engagement for children and their caregivers
  • Symbolic representations, literacy and visual arts
  • Flexible furniture and arrangements
  • Different levels and heights of displays or tools
  • Nooks to read and/or work
  • Open-ended activities and tools that can be transformed by the child’s interest
  • Places for individuals as well as groups
  • Creation Station and maker areas for encouraging design, exploration and creation
  • Parent and caregiver incubator space
  • Areas and resources for constructive, dramatic and creative play
  • Appealing signage and parent tips to support family learning

As co-chairs, we are eager to have you join us at President Medlar’s Charlemae Rollins President’s Program to learn more about successful elements of library design for 21st Century Kids and hope to see you there!

— Liz McChesney, Director of Children’s Services, Chicago Public Library
— Christy Estrovitz, Manager of Youth Services, San Francisco Public Library

References

  • Stoltz, Dorthy, Marisa Conner, James Bradbury. (2014). The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces. ALA Editions.
  • Gauntlett, David & Thomsen, Bo Stjerne. (2013). Cultures of Creativity: Nurturing Creative Minds Across Cultures. The LEGO Foundation.
  • Nespeca, Sue McCleaf. (2012) The Importance of Play, Particularly Constructive Play, in Public Library Programming.
  • Zhang, Jie, Fallon, Moira & Kim, Eun-Joo. The Reggio Emilia Curricular Approach for Enhancing Play Development of Young Children.
Posted in ALA Annual 2016, Guest Blogger, Library Design and Accessibility | Tagged | Leave a comment