Blogger Amy Koester

Collaboration for Learning: Notes from the Public Libraries & STEM Conference

I was recently able to represent ALSC at the Public Libraries & STEM Conference in Denver, CO. The conference was kept very small–around 160 people total–and thus was very concentrated, with plenty to learn from and discuss with colleagues from libraries, STEM organizations, and other institutions with missions for informal learning. And while the small size necessary means that the participant pool was limited, the takeaways weren’t. I particularly want to share with you one of my major takeaways: the library as a single element in a larger learning ecosystem. Note: I tried visual note taking at this conference. Since my handwriting isn’t always great, I’m transcribing text in the captions of images. Here’s what I learned and have been itching to share: There were several goals of the Public Libraries & STEM Conference, but one in particular resonated with me immediately: to figure out what STEM/STEAM in public libraries…

Blogger Amy Koester

What does an author think of Día?

As part of the lead-up to formal Día celebrations in April, I had the privilege of interviewing an author of multicultural and multilingual books for children–the inimitable Pat Mora herself, author and founder of Día! Ms. Mora is an outstanding advocate for youth literacy, and the books in her body of work are a joy to share with families any time of the year. It was my pleasure to ask Pat Mora a few questions. Q: You’re the founder of Día, and you’re also an author of children’s books. How do these dual roles affect how you think about Día? Pat Mora: My first published book was A Birthday Basket for Tía, 1992. I quickly became aware how many children did not have books in their homes and how many families, particularly non-English speaking families, had not embraced their literacy role. I also became aware that many book buyers of…

Blogger Amy Koester

Thinking about STEAM as Pop-Up Programs

One of my goals for programming at my new library is to increase the frequency of pop-up programs in the youth area. We offer a great range of formal, specific-place/specific-time programs every quarter, but I’ve been thinking about whom these types of programs engage. I’m still learning the demographics of youth and families at my new job, but I do have the feeling that the Venn diagram circles of kids who come to the library and kids who come to programs are not wholly overlapping. Why not provide pop-up programs, then, that can take place in the open, without registration restrictions or time requirements, on days and at times when lots of kids are in the space? And why not structure these pop-ups around STEAM activities, which kids are hugely enjoying? Here are five potential pop-up programs, one for each STEAM content area. These pop-ups would be facilitated and supervised by a…

Blogger Amy Koester

The Science of Slimy Things

A few months ago, one of my frequent program-goers made a request: Would I please be able to offer a program that includes slugs, one of his favorite animals? I was inclined to agree to the challenge, even before said child had his mother email me a photo of him with his three pet slugs. How’s a librarian to say “no” to that? I gave some thought to how I could meet the “slug” challenge while also closing out a season of many science-themed programs. I decided to return to a favorite concept with school-agers–slime–and explore it from two different perspectives: animal biology and physics. Thus “The Science of Slimy Things” was born. The program was divided roughly into two parts, the first considerably less messy than the second. We opened with an exploration of slugs–pictures, how they move, their scientific names, how they differ from snails, and the purpose…

Blogger Amy Koester

Excellent Explosions! Chemical Reactions for Preschoolers

Mine is one of the myriad libraries celebrating science this summer through our “Fizz, Boom, Read” summer reading program. Much to the delight of my STEAM-loving heart, all branches across my library system have hosted a ton of science programs this summer for every age. Some were led by outside groups like the St. Louis Science Center (always tap your local STEM resources!), and others have been led by in-house staff. They’ve all been a huge hit with kids and their families. One of my most successful in-house preschool programs this summer was a recent program titled “Excellent Explosions.” Here’s what we did. Excellent Explosions: A Preschool Science Program While I did have plenty of materials on hand for attendees to check out, this wasn’t a storytime program, per se. That is, I didn’t share a book at the beginning of the program as I usually do in my Preschool Science programs….

Blogger Amy Koester

Tap the STEM Resources in Your Community!

My monthly post here on the ALSC Blog usually chronicles my personal adventures in STEAM programming at my library–programs that I’ve created from the bottom up, and which I lead. Since this is the summer of all STEAM all the time, however, I’ve been thinking about the variety of community resources that libraries can tap in order to supplement their home-grown programming. Are you looking for knowledgeable, engaging presenters to help diversify the STEM options at your library? Here are some ideas of places to look in your community. Children’s Museums & Science Museums – Children’s museums and science museums can range from small operations to massive institutions, and pretty much all of them are interested in education and outreach. Find a museum in the general vicinity of your library, then check out the museum’s website. Oftentimes, the museum will list their ready-to-go outreach programs on their website, allowing you to…

ALA Annual 2014

What’s on your library’s secret menu? #alaac14

One fun aspect of attending conferences is getting to experience what the host cities have to offer. I made a trip with some colleagues to In-N-Out burger for lunch–it’s a restaurant that none of our home states has. It also pretty famously has a secret menu. Which got me thinking: what’s on your library’s regular menu of services, and what’s on your library’s secret menu? Or, more specifically, what service do you offer that your customers don’t know about? I know that the availability of readers’ advisory comes as a surprise to many customers, even though it seems par for the course for anyone trained in reference services. And I’m sure there are lots of other “regular” services we offer that would come as a surprise to even our most frequent customers. How do we ensure that the public are aware of everything we offer?

ALA Annual 2014

Follow Your Vision Completely -Markus Zusak #alaac14

Markus Zusak said something in his Margaret A. Edwards acceptance speech that really resonated with me: “Follow your vision completely. Follow it and do not stop. Zusak was speaking specifically about writers sticking to the story they know they want to write, but I think those words have relevance to youth services practitioners, too. When we have ideas for excellent services, motivation for changes that will motivate our communities, etc., we need to follow those visions. We need to put our energy and focus into making these transformative visions happen. We need to trust that we are taking our institutions in a good direction and see change and ideas to full fruition. That’s when amazing things happen. What an exceptional reminder to stay the course and do those amazing things.