ALA Midwinter 2018

Cheering for #alayma

THE highlight of the #alamw18 conference for me is sitting in the audience at the announcements of the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards. Just to give you a little flavor, here was the line when I got to the convention center 30 minutes before the program was scheduled to start: This photo does not accurately portray the number of twists and turns and line segments there were so that people could still actually walk in the convention center. Once inside, it’s a magical wonderland filled with people who LOVE youth books.   I hope that you got to tune in for the live broadcast of the awards. In case you didn’t, ilovelibraries.org has the full list of winners and honorees. I love that there were so many diverse and #ownvoices authors represented throughout the awards and many winners and honor books from small presses. It was a great year…

ALA Midwinter 2018

Fine Free at #alamw18

How are overdue fines preventing you from meeting your library’s core values? Yesterday, I attended a session on going fine free at your library presented by three library administrators who have gone fine free in some form. The effects of fines and fees is an important issue for youth librarians to consider since children and low-income families are disproportionately hurt by libraries enforcing overdue fines. Peter Bromberg, Gretchen Caserotti, and Sara Houghton presented on why and how their libraries have eliminated overdue fines and what effects they have seen. They started the session by asking why libraries have overdue fines. Although librarians were quick to answer – to ensure our materials come back, to teach responsibility – there is little to no research that supports that fines are effective in these ways. Instead, fines are barriers for the families that need our library resources the most. If you’ve not considered…

ALA Midwinter 2018

Snow Day! at #alamw18

  It was a very snowy day in Denver today! It made me very glad that ALA provides shuttles (sponsored by Gale) to transport attendees to and from their hotels and the Convention Center. Even though my hotel is close to the Convention Center, having the shuttles as an option on a day like today was very nice. And everyone was very patient waiting for shuttles that were maybe having to take their time a bit more with such slushy roads. Yay shuttles!

ALA Midwinter 2018

Failure is an Option

Yesterday, I attended an #alamw18 preconference on collective leadership presented by Cassandra O’Neill. One of my biggest takeaways from this pre-conference is one that I think is super relevant to youth librarians. As she was talking about the process of implementing collection leadership techniques, Cassandra emphasized that things might not work the first time. And that’s okay. It’s okay to fail as long as you don’t give up, as long as you keep learning and trying. She suggested that this is a big idea to emphasize with staff as you’re making changes. It might not work right away. And that’s okay. Librarians, and especially youth libraries, like to be excellent. We like to be great right away. And if you’re great right away, that’s fantastic. But if you try something new, something different, and you’re not great right away, that’s also okay. In fact, it’s expected. When we’re trying out…

ALA Midwinter 2018

#BlackLivesMatter founder at #alamw18

The opening session of ALA Midwinter 2018 started off with a bang as we heard from #BlackLivesMatter founder Patrisse Cullors and 13-year-old Marley Dias, founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks. Both of these amazing women have recently published books and their talk was structured as an interview, with Marley asking Patrisse all kinds of questions from how to handle the responsibility of starting an activism movement to how she educates her son about feminism to what her five favorite animals are. Both these amazing women had so much to say about the adults that influenced them as children. For Patrisse, her fourth grade teacher who handed her books about civil rights, talked to her about them, and allowed Patrisse to teach her classmates about the books was an enormous positive influence in her life. Marley shared words of advice from her mother many times. I’m so glad that ALA brought these accomplished and…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Using Scarves in Storytime

Scarves are one of my favorite props to use in storytime because: They’re colorful! They’re fun to wave around and something that most of our kids probably don’t have at home. We ordered a ton of them so they’re a good choice when we’ll have large storytime crowds. They’re lightweight and pack down very small, so they’re easy to take on the road to outreach visits. Lately, I’ve been collecting lots of ways to use scarves in my storytimes because I love them so much, and I’m here today to pass on what I have learned. How do you pass out scarves?  They’re hard to smoosh down into a basket, so how do you pass them out? One of my colleagues showed me this way: Lay out your scarves and then tie them into a bundle. Hold the bundle by the knot as you’re going around and each child can…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Bundle Up for Storytime

The weather outside may be frightful (or it may not, depending on where you live!), but it’s always a great time to cozy up for storytime. There are TONS of great ideas for winter storytime and here are some of my favorites: Books: Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2002). This is a great rhyming book about hibernation. Blizzard by John Rocco (Disney-Hyperion, 2014). I use this one for slightly older kids and they love the idea of school being closed for days (and the fold-out map through the snow). Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London (Puffin Books, 1992). The pattern and humor in this book lend themselves well to storytelling, so this makes a great felt story, too! A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke (Dutton Children’s Books, 1994). Silly Minerva Louise wanders out into the snow and gets everything…

Blogger Abby Johnson

On Feeling Overwhelmed

Photo by Bernard Goldbach, used under a Creative Commons license. It’s been quite a year in the Children’s Room, and this is normally something I’d post on my personal blog, BUT I think it’s something we all need to hear from time to time. Sometimes things are overwhelming. This year, my director suddenly resigned in March. We still do not have a replacement. Our budget was frozen from May to August (yup, right during the Summer Reading Club – fun!). In June, we moved the teen area downstairs and combined Children’s and Teen into the Youth Services Department, which I am supervising (more staff to supervise!). I bought a house with my fiance in August (and yes, I’m planning a wedding, too). In, I don’t know, September or something we shifted the pages from being supervised by Circulation staff to being supervised by Reference and Youth Services (more staff to supervise!)….