How ironic that the more fluid the study of math and science becomes, the more rigid becomes the study of language and literature…
…in which math becomes form and reading becomes function.
How ironic that the more fluid the study of math and science becomes, the more rigid becomes the study of language and literature…
…in which math becomes form and reading becomes function.
Thanks to the kind people at ALSC and Penguin Young Readers, I was able to travel to my first ALA Annual Conference this summer. Tennessee to Nevada travel would generally not be in my public library’s budget, so I was thrilled to have received a stipend help with the cost of attendance. (Thanks again, Penguin!) Here are my top Annual Conference tips from a newbie.
Stay at a conference hotel. I made the mistake of not booking my hotel the moment I knew that I was going to attend. (I was lost in the chaos that is summer reading planning). Transportation in Vegas was a challenge and those free shuttles would have been helpful. Fringe benefits of staying at a partnering hotel include: being surrounded by other attendees, sharing non-shuttle transportation costs, and being in closer proximity to social events.
It is okay to travel alone. I went non-stop the entire time I was in Vegas, sun-up to sun-down. (Isn’t the normal Vegas traveler’s schedule just the opposite?) I was able to hit the sessions and events of my choosing, not trying to divide and conquer with other staff members, and sometimes missing out on a session I am very interested in because another had already claimed it. I may be selfish, but with all sessions open for the taking, I felt like a kid in a candy shop.
Avoid temptation in the Exhibit Hall. As a children’s librarian, I am known to save various odds-and-ends in case I one day have a use for them. I never knew the extent of my hoarding tendencies until I was let loose in the Exhibit Hall. (Let’s be honest, there is no reason I would need enough paper-clip holders that I would have to add an extra baggage fee to my return flight home.) When faced with freebies, ask yourself: Do I need this? Can my library use this? If you can immediately answer ‘no’ to these questions, or if you hesitate coming up with a unique use for 890 temporary tattoos, practice politely saying ‘no, thank you’ to the swag.
Attend at least one session that is not directly applicable to your job. You may be surprised to find quite a bit of useful information that is helpful to you in your current position. As a children’s librarian, I am rarely asked my input on building projects, if it doesn’t directly impact the littles’ space. However, I attended “Environment by Design” session and left with some big ideas for future use of space.
Plan at least one day into your trip for sight-seeing.This is one of my biggest regrets of the trip. I learned so much valuable information, saw all kinds of great library related goodies, was entertained and educated by the speakers, but saw very little of Las Vegas. Luckily, I had an aisle seat on the flight in and caught a glimpse of both the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. I would love to visit again and take in the sights, but with my busy schedule, I will be hard pressed to find the time for this trip in my foreseeable future. One extra day built into my trip would have afforded me quite a bit of sightseeing.
Present right away! (Also, take good notes!).Present what you learned, or even a simple conference itinerary with highlights, to your director, board, and staff immediately upon return. I’ve been back in my library for two months now, and in the chaos that is Summer Reading, I still haven’t had a chance to present to the staff. While we are already implementing some program ideas brought back from the conference, with each passing day, I fear that I’m going to forget some great tidbit of information that I had hoped to pass on to our staff. Hopefully my notes will jog my memory!
Our guest blogger today is Amanda Yother. Amanda is the Children’s Services Coordinator at the Putnam County Library in beautiful Cookeville, Tennessee. She loves learning through playing and revisiting her favorite novels from childhood with her book club kids. Amanda was a recipient of the 2014 Penguin Young Readers Award. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
There are many ways for us to serve the underserved in our library communities. Whether we provide outreach in local preschools or daycares, visit incarcerated youth, or serve children with disabilities, outreach is a crucial part of inclusive library service. This summer, we at the Glen Ellyn Public Library served–quite literally–children with a different type of need.
Food for Thought
Here’s a brief look at some statistics and information about hunger in our communities. The numbers might surprise you.
Summer Reading, Summer Eating
Last summer, our library launched their 2013 Summer Reading Program entitled Read to Feed. Children of all ages were encouraged to keep track of the number of hours they read during the summer. Not only did they read to accomplish an individual goal, but a community wide goal was set, challenging all of the kids to read 70,000 hours throughout the course of the summer. In response to the community’s commitment to reach their reading goal, the local Rotary Club committed to making a donation to the local food pantry, providing funding to feed 500 local individuals. This year, when the idea came up of having the library participate in the Summer Meals program, sponsored by the Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB), we felt that this would naturally coincide and continue with the mission of last year’s summer reading program.
After evaluating our school district’s free and reduced lunch statistics, we realized that we qualified to offer free summer meals in our library community. The NIFB made a site visit in preparation for the summer meals program, providing the required training for staff that would supervise the program. In addition, our School Liaison shared the news with various community contacts, making sure that the word got out to the families that needed the most. And so, for several weeks throughout the summer on Mondays through Fridays from 12 – 1 pm, the library was an open site, serving free boxed lunches to children 18 and younger.
The main focus of this program was to provide healthy, well-balanced lunches to children free of charge. However, soon after we launched the program, we noticed something else significant happen. Our library has a group of kids who use our building as a safe haven during the summer months. They may have working parents that are not home, so often times, they stay for hours on end utilizing our collections and our services. In some cases, these children might not have anywhere else to go. And once the Summer Meals program began, we observed a change in some of those kids. Some of these kids began to open up to us even more than usual, interacting with staff and starting conversation. In some cases, even our rapport with the children’s caregivers grew as well. We were able to connect with new families that have never utilized the library before, promoting the library and all of its services. We also served some of the families that already were regular library users. It may have been the summer lunches that initially drew families to the library, but I do think that it was the personal connection with staff that kept them coming back.
In A Nutshell
Think about how this program fits in with your library’s mission. What might be the added value of a program like this in your library community? The first step would be to determine and evaluate your school district’s free and reduced lunch statistics. If your community qualifies, reach out to a local food pantry or food bank to see if there is a comparable program in your area.
You may also want to consider the cost and the impact of a program like this. The main cost to the library is not the cost of food; boxed lunches are delivered daily free from the food bank. The primary cost is staff time. Staff would be needed to be available to set up and clean up the room, monitor the room during the hour-long program, communicate with the food bank about delivery times and number of lunches delivered, and make sure that the proper documentation is in place. Once that is taken care of, the program runs quite smoothly. The impact, though, can be much greater. While many of us promote reading programs during the summer, the fact is that food insecurity could be inhibiting some children from being able to primed for learning and reading. A child that does not have access to quality and well-balanced meals may not be as mentally equipped or motivated to read. And with a program like summer meals, the library can help serve that need.
If you are heading to Oakland next month for the 2014 ALSC Institute and want to learn more about how to implement a summer lunch program at your library, be sure to check out Summer Lunch at the Library presented by the California Summer Meal Coalition, the California Library Association, and the amazing staff from the Sacramento, Fresno County, Oakland, and Los Angeles Public Libraries. For more information about the upcoming 2014 ALSC Institute, click here!
ALSC and Bechtel Fellowship Committee are now accepting online applications for the 2015 Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship.
The Bechtel Fellowship is designed to allow qualified children’s librarians to spend a total of four weeks or more reading and studying at the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, a part of the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
The Baldwin Library contains a special collection of 130,000 volumes of children’s literature published mostly before 1950. The fellowship is endowed in memory of Louise Seaman Bechtel and Ruth M. Baldwin and provides a stipend of $4,000.
Applicants must be personal members of ALSC, as well as ALA members to apply. Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
For more information about the requirements of the fellowship and submitting the online application please visit: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/profawards/bechtel
As students head back to the classroom many libraries are planning outreach opportunities to their local schools and learning institutions. For my library, this season’s goal is to bring increased visibility to the library’s digital offerings and provide programs to serve the technology needs of our community. If you are looking for ways to highlight your eCollection and other similar initiatives here are some suggestions for the new school year.
Digital Family Open House
Each year after the December holidays we host an event for patrons to bring in their new devices for tutorials on downloading eBooks. Timely as it may be, throughout the year we find many families who are still unaware that you can check out an eBook from the library. This September we are inviting families to bring in their devices for an Open House event to serve all their tech needs. While everyone is in back to school mode, this gives us an opportunity to feature our collections through Overdrive and 3M, and new services like Hoopla and Zinio for parents and their kids.
Contacting your local school board and scheduling a visit is also a way to market the library’s digital services. Language teachers may be interested to know that the library subscribes to language-learning databases like Mango Languages and Muzzy Online. Try to discover what databases your local schools subscribe to in order to maximize available resources. For a few years we have offered an online submission process for teachers to alert the library of town-wide projects. Most recently, a local parent group of children with special needs has expressed interest in learning more about our eAudio collections. Within the past year we have seen a spike in our eAudio collection, while circulation for physical audiobooks has declined. Hearing parent voices has allowed us to focus more on building this new collection.
For the first time this August we offered a roster of Kindergarten Readiness programs for the community. A decision made early on was to bring back Little Clickers, an introduction to computer skills for preschoolers created by Gretchen Caserotti. It was the perfect time to reinstate this successful program, especially after learning that many new students were entering elementary school lacking basic computer skills. This was concerning due to the move towards online testing in our school district. Many parents were appreciative and encouraged us to offer another popular computer class called Techsploration which builds on the skills learned in Little Clickers, while having participants explore programs like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.
Have you thought about raising awareness for your digital collections this September? If so, what are some steps that you are taking to promote these services to families?
Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tukwila WA is one of the country’s most diverse cities. In part, it’s a hub for many Somali immigrants who attend mosque, visit the local ethnic shops and restaurants, and find support at the Somali Community Services Coalition (SCSC). SCSC has a vital presence in Tukwila, offering an array of social services for their clients, Somali language instruction for non-Somali-speaking adults, and both afterschool and summer programs for children. These refugee children are placed in the appropriate grade level by age when they arrive in the U.S.A. If a 5th grader doesn’t know English, nor is literate, it’s a struggle to keep up, especially with parents at home who can’t help them with their lessons, so I formed a partnership with the Youth Program Manager of SCSC to help reduce the summer slide. We made arrangements for two dozen elementary students to visit our library once a week during their summer school period. Our main goal was to improve the students’ reading skills, but we also hoped the Somali children would become familiar with library staff and feel comfortable using the library. I lined up our teen Book Buddy volunteer to help out with one-on-one reading sessions. Additionally, I was tasked with providing library materials to match different themes each week.
Working with this group required a fair amount of flexibility and creativity. Challenges began on the first day – we wouldn’t be doing activities based on a theme, we’d simply be reading. I had to quickly come up with some activities and reading games that would work for children ranging in ages 4-10. Those leftover science storytime materials from the previous night sure came in handy! In preparation for the following weeks, I thought of different ways of using our Bananagrams, and I took ideas from Reading Games for Young Children by Jackie Silberg. Her book offers a ton of ideas that can be adapted for early English language learners. I tried to make our reading activities fun for all the children.
The sessions were chaotic and meetings sometimes fell through. Managing this boisterous group was demanding, usually requiring constant interactions with several young people at once. But contributing toward the success of these students felt rewarding, and it was truly fun! They were so enthusiastic about learning! I’ve been asked to resume working with the students in the afterschool program this fall and I’m looking forward to our continued partnership.
-Gaye Hinchliff, member of School-Age Programs and Services Committee, is a Children’s Librarian at Foster Library, a branch of the King County Library System
This summer has been a busy one full of fun science programs at my library. A couple of months ago, I blogged my plans for a preschool bubble lab that I had scheduled in July. I thought I’d write a follow up post about how the program turned out.
A few days before the program, I prepared my bubble solutions according to the recipes I had found. I labeled the jars but decided to add a few drops of food coloring to two of them so each would be a different color.
On the day of the program, we set up each table with a cup of each bubble solution, observation charts for the children, and my volunteers. We were ready to go. The first snag we ran into was that the combination of it having rained heavily for several days prior to the program and the general excitement over bubbles made for a rather energetic group. It was easy to see that they did not have the patience for a book reading, so I did a very abridged reading of the book I had planned, just covering how and why bubbles form.
We then moved on to our discussion of the day’s activity. When we talked about the various bubble solutions that we were going to test and I tried to elicit observations from the children about the three solutions, we ran into a second snag. What became immediately obvious was that I should have left the solutions the same color. Although the solutions with the glycerine and the corn syrup were slightly more viscous than the detergent solution, the children focused in on the difference in color alone. There was no convincing them that the color did not matter, so we moved on to the next part of the program.
We divided into groups to test the solutions. This was the moment we were all waiting for and, to my relief, there were no snags. We tested each solution in turn and each child was able to try each one. They drew their observations on their observation charts and we worked as a group to determine which solution we thought was easiest to blow bubbles with and which we thought had bubbles that lasted longest. When we gathered together again to share our results with the other groups, it was clear that the solutions with the glycerine and the corn syrup worked best. We talked about why this is the case and even hypothesized about how if we added more glycerine or more corn syrup, the bubbles might last even longer.
Judging by how the children were eagerly explaining their observations to their caregivers and how many came back to tell me they made their own bubbles at home, I would call the program a success. The children left with knowledge about bubbles and I left with the knowledge that sometimes programming is like science. Things may not work out quite as you expect but the end result is still worthwhile.