Blogger Heather Acerro


At PLA 2016, I attended the “How Two Libraries Quit Summer Reading and You Can, Too” program with the real hope (deep in my heart) that I would never, ever, ever do a summer reading program (SRP) again. You already know where this is going. That program title was a trick to get me in the door, but the presentation was full of good stuff that re-invigorated my team to finally make the changes to our SRP that we had been imagining for years. That PLA session was the inspiration that made us examine everything we were doing and start over. Let’s begin with a tour of the past. Our SRP wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t a team effort, but rather a task on someone’s to-do list. Since SRP isn’t an easy program for one person to put together, we knew this was a practice that needed to change. Also,…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Getting Logical

Late last year the Rochester Public Library (MN) administrative team worked with a consultant from Wilder Research to develop a logic model. I know what you are thinking: What is that and who even cares? But if you stay with me for a minute, maybe I can sell you on this wonderful tool for tracking outcomes. Yes, outcomes! Those nebulous, seemingly impossible to track things that prove what the library does changes or benefits the community. It has felt in the past that it is best to leave tracking outcomes to the academics, but with a simple and straightforward logic model, even the smallest community library can get tracking. A logic model is essentially  – everything that your organization is doing, everything that you want to know about how your organization is doing, and everything that you hope will change because of what your organization is doing –  all in…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Program in a Post: Captain Underpants Celebration!

With this post, a little money, and mostly paper (much of it toilet paper), you can throw a toilet-tastic Captain Underpants Celebration! Activities: Dirty Diaper Toss – Create some dirty diapers (we used paint and beanbags to fill them) and have kids toss them into a toilet (we used a new toilet seat over a bucket). Create Your Own Comics – Put out a bunch of comic blanks and invite kids to write and draw their own comics. Toilet Paper Contests – Invite kids to work together to create the tallest toilet paper tower or race against each other to build a tower the fastest. Belch the Alfabet Bakwards – A little root beer goes a long way. Fart Zones – Create some signage indicating fart zones and no fart zones. Little kids love practicing their reading on funny words! Poopify Your Name! – Have kids create nametags with their…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth

On May 15th, educators from University of Minnesota Extension visited Rochester Public Library (MN) to deliver the workshop “Lessons from the Field: Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth” to 77 youth workers from the area. This workshop focused on providing gender-inclusive environments in order to support healthy habits and positive body image for transgender youth. You’ve seen the statistics for transgender youth, so you know they are at great risk of harassment, assault, homelessness, and substance abuse. For transgender youth, having supportive adults and a safe environment can improve their well-being considerably. The report discussed yesterday is brand new and provides background information as well as steps that you can take as a youth worker. To read the report visit University of Minnesota Extension: Children, Youth & Family Consortium and click on Children’s Mental Heath eReview: Transgender Youth. Some more library tips for serving LGBTQIA youth and families can be…

Blogger Heather Acerro

RPL ArtCart: Rochester’s New Art Movement

Following two wildly successful seasons with our BookBike outreach program, Rochester Public Library (MN) is delighted to launch our new ArtCart program! The ArtCart will travel alongside our BookBike this summer bringing amazing art activities, including: Watercolors Community murals Bubble prints Solar prints Shadow tracing Scratch art Frisbee art and more! The ArtCart is essentially a table on wheels with a storage box underneath. We will be able to carry all kinds of art supplies and giveaways all over town this summer. We can’t wait to tell you more about this exciting adventure – but first we have to spend some time out there arting it up with the community. For more information about our BookBike program, check out this post or this post.

Awards & Scholarships

What an Honor!

On Monday, the Institute of Museum and Library Services named Rochester Public Library (RPL) as one of this year’s 30 finalists for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. This prestigious award honors institutions for their extraordinary public service and remarkable contributions to their communities. Four of our outstanding programs serve children and teens and we’ve blogged about them here! RPL identified the need for a LGBTQIA Safe Space within the community through conversations with the public and consultation with local organizations. Articulated needs included accurate information, safe spaces to gather, special events, and LGBTQIA materials. RPL responded with improvements to book collections, displays, and book lists. RPL also began offering: q club, a safe and welcoming meet-up for teens; Parents Empower Pride, a program for parents of LGBTQIA children; Rainbow Family Meet-Up, a gathering for LGBTQIA families; and special events like PrideProm, LGBTQIA speakers, and training programs. In…

ALA Midwinter 2017

Top Rainbow Reads for Kids!

At ALA Midwinter I had the honor of finishing my time on the Rainbow Booklist Committee with two days of interesting discussions about wonderful books.  I am pleased to share with you our final list of the best LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) books for kids and teens that were published between July 2015 and December 2016. You can find the entire list on the Rainbow Booklist website; I am going to highlight the top books for kids through grades 6 here. The final list includes almost 50 titles and of these we selected a top 10. Top ten titles are indicated with an *.