Evolving the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video

A core value of children’s librarianship has always included finding, evaluating, selecting, and collecting the best products for young people, and making them accessible to those we serve. The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video was established in the late 1980s (and first awarded in 1991) “to honor outstanding video productions for children.” The Medal reflected librarians’ desire to help shape the marketplace, by encouraging production of high quality videos for children.

At the time, video was the “new media” format of the time, and was rapidly expanding into libraries and children’s homes. Yet public opinion about videos for children varied. While some acknowledged potential for video to be a “constructive educational resource” (Project, 1989, p. 3), others felt that video presented “dangerous commercial interests,” along the lines of broadcast television.

Fast-forward 26 years, and video is now perceived as an “old” media format, slowly going the way of the typewriter, the land-line telephone, and the floppy disk. New media formats, which may or may not have useful educational value, are eliciting the same types of worries that video once did, and more. And librarians still want to have a voice in encouraging and shaping quality new media products.

To address these changes, in summer 2014, ALSC President Ellen Riordan formed the Evolving Carnegie Task Force to investigate how the existing Carnegie Medal might be “evolved” to encompass some of today’s new media formats.

The Task Force started by interviewing a panel of new media experts, including Faith Rogow, Senior Fellow at the Fred Rogers Center; Betsy Bozdech, Executive Director of Common Sense Media; Tanya Baronti Smith, Program Coordinator at the Fred Rogers Center; Jason Yip, Research Fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center; ALSC Board Members Gretchen Caserotti, Ernie Cox, and Julie Roach; Kay Weisman, 1989 Carnegie Medal Chair (also on the ALSC Board); Martha Simpson, 2011 Carnegie Medal Chair; and ALSC’s Children & Technology Committee members Liz Fraser, Clara Hendricks, Tara Smith and Swalena Griffin.

The data from the experts provided a snapshot of the field, and helped us shape questions for the ALSC Membership survey. Yet after collecting responses, we ended up with even more questions. For example, it is relatively easy to compare books or videos, because the content is packaged in similar containers. In contrast, new media formats are not consistent. How do you find them, and how are they accessed? How can they be defined, compared, or evaluated? How should an award committee determine if a product is a “book app,” an “interactive e-book,” or an “enhanced book”? How would committee members be able to determine criteria for a “Best-of-List”? Is a new media product closer to a book or to a game, and how does that impact eligibility for inclusion?

And then there are the problems involved in evaluating new media products. Does the book app look and function the same on an iPad as it does on a different tablet? Does your library have tablets? Does your library provide access to its patrons? Does your library have a well-defined way to purchase content for tablets? Where do we begin . . . and where do we stop?

Despite the challenges in finding, defining, evaluating, and comparing new media, after the ALSC Membership survey results were in, we found general consensus among ALSC Membership that ALSC should have a leadership role in finding, evaluating, selecting and guiding the use of new media, just as librarians have always done with other media products for children, from books, to video, and beyond.

After presenting our report to the ALSC Board at Midwinter, it was agreed that this task force should have its charge extended to Annual. Stay tuned!

Evolving Carnegie Task Force Members include:

  • Mary Fellows (co-chair)
  • Marianne Martens (co-chair)
  • Gretchen Caserotti (ALSC Board Member, and liaison to the board)
  • Cen Campbell (former co-chair, now member)
  • Jessica Hoptay-Brown
  • Kim Patton
  • Laurie Reese
  • Soraya Silverman


Marianne Martens is Assistant Professor at Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science, co-chair of the Evolving Carnegie Task Force, and a member of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee. You can read more about her work at mariannemartens.org, and she can be reached at mmarten3@kent.edu.

Posted in Blogger Children and Technology Committee | Leave a comment

Summer Reading


Creative Common search.


It is time for school librarians to dust off their summer reading lists and refresh them.  I know that the public librarians are wondering how we can possibly just start thinking about summer reading now, but in the school things are a bit different.  We tend to release the students to you all to fulfill their summer reading duties!

Since the majority of librarians at my school came from the public systems, we are hyper sensitive to the look and feel of our summer lists.  We remember keenly the super long, out-of-print, completely off grade level lists that we had handed to us.  So we make sure not to contribute to that problem.

My own lists are updated every year with award winners, books that will give students a running start in terms of curriculum, books that provide both mirror and window opportunities as well as some personal favorites.  I don’t reinvent the wheel every year, but instead add about 30-40% new titles each year.

In the past I reformatted the lists to read “Lower Elementary” (grades 1 and 2) and “Upper Elementary” (grades 3 and 4). While I enjoyed the fluidity, the parents were much more comfortable with set grades.  So there is quite a bit of overlap in titles between the grades. And that is ok.

This year, I am thinking of embedding some book trailers into the lists as well to freshen them up even more.

What do you do to your reading lists to keep them fresh?

Posted in Blogger Stacy Dillon, School Library Media Specialist, Summer Reading | 3 Comments

Charge Up Your Service Delivery

Gathering a teacher collection on a specific topic is a task to relish. It exercises reference and readers’ advisory skills and provides a respectable cover for book mania. Many of us keep track of the titles we collect, but finding time to do so can be problematic. Luckily, the solution is just a click away.

Simply arrange a teacher collection in a pleasing pyramid, step back, and take a picture. Upload the photograph; label it according to theme and grade level; and save it to a flash drive or to a cloud storage service.

Courtesy photo from guest blogger

Courtesy photo from guest blogger

When you get a similar request, open that file, enlarge the photo so the titles and authors can be easily read, and use the visual information to build a collection. Pictures of newly discovered or newly published titles can be uploaded to the same theme folder.

The above photograph was taken with a smartphone. Many places of employment have stringent guidelines about the use of smartphones and tablets at work, for obvious reasons; however, an open dialogue about the ways these devices can be used as tools to provide library services might reveal that we are already using technology beyond those strictures.

Do you use smartphones or tablets and projection systems to deliver storytime content? Do you use these devices to provide point-of-need service? Do you use smartphones to contact Information Technology directly from public computers? How many of you provide library service without a reference desk or nearby desktop computer?

How are you using smartphones and tablets to deliver excellent library service to children?


Our guest blogger today is Jan Connell. Jan is a Children’s Librarian at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, in Toledo, Ohio.

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 Digital World, Guest Blogger | 4 Comments

Are you willing to answer ten questions?

Have you noticed the monthly ALSC Member of the Month Profile on the Blog? Have you enjoyed reading these profiles?

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.

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.

We’re looking for ALSC Members willing to be profiled in the coming months. C’mon, it’s fun! Wouldn’t you like to be highlighted? We’ll be waiting to hear from you!

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

Neighbors Read

Mini-library in Rochester, MN.

Mini-library in Rochester, MN.

In 2013, Rochester Public Library, MN launched the Neighbors Read program in the Slatterly Park neighborhood with support from the United Way of Olmsted County. Through the Neighbors Read program the library connects with families of preschool children, bringing them to the library for early literacy activities and then planting a mini-library in their yards. With continued support from the United Way of Olmsted County, Neighbors Read is now in its third year and will continue into 2016. Each year, we make adjustments and improvements to the Neighbors Read program to better meet our goals and connect with the community.

The goals of Neighbors Read are to increase school readiness through early literacy information and programming and to increase access to books in economically diverse neighborhoods. Results have shown that preschoolers in the program have increased early literacy skills and families have increased engagement with the library. Families also reported an increased connection with their neighbors.

Rochesterites using the mini-libraries also have many positive things to say:

“We’re very glad to have a few of these mini-libraries in our neighborhood!”Postcard survey

“Whenever we visit our friends, my kids drop off and pick up a book. This is great!”

“This is awesome. I love having access to more books and it’s often such a brilliant variety. Thank you!”

In addition:

  • 76% of repeat mini-library users who responded to the postcard survey indicated that they read more in the previous month due to access to a mini-library.
  • 75% of mini-library users visit a mini-library once a week or more often.

Many other Rochester community members have purchased or built and installed their own mini-libraries. Through the generosity of the Friends of Rochester Public Library, RPL is able to provide a stock of free books to fill the boxes. Forty-two mini-library users are currently registered with the library and we have distributed over 6,600 books through their libraries. Registrants were surveyed in 2014 and the responses provide more evidence that the libraries not only provide books to community members, but build stronger neighborhoods.

“I’ve found many people love stopping to talk about the books when they see us outside. I’ve been told families will use visiting 3 to 5 libraries as a goal for their evening walks, thus encouraging them to get more exercise with the kids.”

“This is a conversation piece that helps us get to know the neighbors better.”

“Our neighborhood is economically diverse and the library provides books for kids who do not have books in their homes.”

Mini-library in Slatterly Park, Rochester, MN.

Mini-library in Slatterly Park,   Rochester, MN.

100% of the mini-library hosts who responded to the survey would choose to do it again based on their experience.

Neighbors Read is a powerful and time consuming program; some of the best programs can take the most work!  Every minute is worth it for the positive changes that it is bringing to our community.

Because of the success of Neighbors Read, a local leadership group has focused their efforts on a project to bring 40 more mini-libraries to Rochester. We are pleased to partner with them on this wonderful program. It is going to be a busy year once the ground thaws!


Posted in Blogger Heather Acerro, Early Literacy, Outreach, Programming Ideas | Leave a comment

History in the Making

Literature lovers are gathering in Washington DC , at the DC Public Library to hear Brian Selznick’s May Hill Arbuthnot lecture. It is the 45th lecture and he joins an august bunch of authors, illustrators, children’s literature experts and scholars that have shared the podium to provide “a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature. “ Looking through the past honorees, one has a sense of the vast and changing world of children’s literature.

Established at a point of high consciousness of changing times (1969), this lecture has remained rooted in the cannon of our work. In its implementation, the Arbuthnot honors both creator and space. Part of the process, as we know, is the application of host institutions that vie for a chance to showcase a renowned figure in children’s literature in their own world of work: city, town, university and in one notable case, a farm. 1

For all its academic trappings, a look at this lecture series brings to mind the most important connection of all: child and book. This synergy of reader and creator is celebrated in an integrated way, creating for all who attend a world of shared experience and history in the making, fueled by a mutual passion for and the ability of children to connect to books in meaningful and life changing ways.

If you can, come. It is a chance to be part of history, our history. No matter the speaker, the subject or the venue, it is always an event full of delightful surprises and discovery and joy. We are reminded again that really talented, committed, smart people write for and care about children. This is a wondrous thing worthy of the pomp and care it requires, the hard work of all involved: the committee, the staff at the venue, the speaker, and the publishers. Come, you deserve it.


1 The 2009 lecture by Walter Dean Myers was held in Clinton, TN hosted by the Children’s Defense Fund and the Alex Haley Library at Haley Farm.
Posted in Blogger - Ellen Riordan | Leave a comment

Take the Membership Needs Survey, Win a Prize!

2015 ALSC Membership Needs Assessment Survey

Image courtesy of ALSC

The ALSC Membership Committee announced the launch of the 2015 ALSC Membership Needs Assessment Survey. This survey is performed biennially and will assess:

  1. who ALSC members are
  2. how the division can best serve its members

To encourage participation, the committee is offering participants the opportunity to be entered in a giveaway. Prizes include tickets to the 2015 Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet, an ALSC online course, a $50 ALA Store gift certificate, and award books. Winners will be notified by Friday, May 15, 2015.

Participants must be personal members of ALSC. The survey is 25 questions and should take around ten minutes to complete. The deadline to submit the survey is 11:59pm Central on Friday, May 1, 2015. Learn more at the Needs Survey tab above.

Take the 2015 ALSC Membership Needs Assessment Survey!

Posted in ALA Annual 2015, Blogger Dan Bostrom, Professional Development | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Quick and Easy Storytime Adaptations

In storytime, we often serve groups of participants with widely varying physical abilities.  This may or may not be obvious; a wheelchair is visible, but many other variables, such as Juvenile Arthritis, aren’t.  Offering options and adaptations for physical movement accompanying songs and games is key to ensuring accessibility for all participants.

One of my favorite preschool storytime songs is Tick-Tock; many participants stand up, hold their arms out at their sides, and rock back and forth as we sing.  I introduce the song this way: “Some people like to stand during this song.  Others like to sit on the floor or in a chair!  You choose where you’d like your clock to be today.  Grown-ups, you might like to hold your child and rock him or her back and forth as we sing.”  By providing options, we’ve made it possible for everyone to participate in the activity.  We’ve also made it possible for babies, who may be attending with older siblings, to participate in the song, by having caregivers rock them.  I vary my demonstration of this song.  Sometimes I stand, and other times, I sit on the floor or on a chair, showing a variety of methods of moving to this song.  By doing this, I’m demonstrating that there isn’t just one correct method.

What are some of your favorite adaptations for storytime activities?

Amanda Moss Struckmeyer is a Youth Services Librarian at the Middleton Public Library in Middleton, Wisconsin.  She is a member of the ALSC Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee.

Posted in Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers | 1 Comment