We know this. We have been working with schools for decades and our summer reading programs are an integral part of our service to customers. With the advancement of research in summer slide, and libraries role in reserving the adverse effects of summer slide, we have new colleagues at our table. One of our most stalwart and enlightened partners are the folks at the National Summer Learning Association.  This year their annual conference is in my home town!! The speakers promise to be informative and inspiring. Join us and find new partnerships at every turn.

Our colleges at Urban Libraries Council ULC, partnered with the National Summer Learning Association, to collect a significant amount of information about the many innovative and meaningful ways in which public libraries are providing summer learning opportunities for youth and their families; contributing to closing the achievement gap and mitigating the summer learning slide. Both partners would also like to thank the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) who made this work possible.

Read more about these great summer learning programs at libraries across the country.

ULC will be highlighting the innovative summer learning programming developed by public libraries during NSLA’s Summer Changes Everything National Conference held October 12-14, 2015, in Baltimore. ULC will be hosting Schools + Libraries = Power to Leverage Summer Learning, a working session demonstrating how libraries and schools can leverage resources and develop partnerships to support summer learning initiatives. ULC members Chicago Public Library and Virginia Beach Public Library will also host sessions highlighting their programs. Click here to learn more about the Summer Changes Everything library programming and ULC’s special registration discount!

Posted in Blogger - Ellen Riordan, Professional Development | Leave a comment

An Encore Career – A Children’s Author

I am a children’s author! Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I hear those words! I’ve enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember and can’t believe I have two children’s books published and a third written. Recently, I came upon some stories I wrote as a teenager. I think I’ve improved since then but that shows my journey has been a long one. For years, I focused on being a mother, wife, and daughter coupled with a demanding career. While my dream of becoming a children’s author was put on the back burner, the desire never wavered.

Telling StoriesSince retiring, my life is very different. Because I have been able to dedicate my time to writing and presenting my books to children’s groups, an encore career has taken shape. My professional wardrobe has definitely changed from business suits to jeans and sneakers. The stress of the long days and sometimes boring meetings are a distant memory. Although it took a little time to transition from the workforce to retiree, I think that I’ve found my niche. I love doing what I do. Recently, while reading aloud from my book to a group of children, I read that one of the characters had kissed the dog on his nose and a second grader got out of his seat and loudly announced, “I kissed my dog on the nose, too!” His spontaneity made my day! During a June visit to an elementary school, a third grader came up to me and told me that she could bark like a dog. After demonstrating a realistic bark, I recruited her to bark during the story. It added fun to my visit. I feel like I have been given a tonic after spending time with children.

barkleyillustration3When I enter a classroom, assembly or a meeting room, I feel the energy from the attendees and it energizes me. I love talking about books and the importance of reading. I want all children to see themselves as writers. I try to conduct an interactive presentation whereby children feel comfortable to share information. My two published books have lessons embedded within the text, and I discuss those points during my visit. For example, Barkley’s Great Escape is based on a true story. Several summers ago, Barkley, my daughter’s Lab, almost drowned in a neighbor’s swimming pool due to an open gate. As an educator, I was aware that drowning is the number one cause of accidental deaths in young children. I felt an obligation to write the story. While I wanted the book to be fun, my desire was to send a message about water-safety to the reader. Both of my books include teaching strategies.

I love the solitude of working on a book with the plot unfolding in my mind. I spend hours working alone at my computer. By the time I have a finished product, I have developed an attachment to the characters in my story. While I don’t draw the illustrations, I have a picture in my mind for every page.

I write a blog on my website on a regular basis which is dedicated to children’s issues. There are days that I don’t write, but there are no days that I don’t read. I can’t imagine life without having a good book in my hand.

(All photos courtesy guest blogger)


WandaatLibraryOur guest blogger today is Wanda Wyont. After retiring from over twenty five years of teaching ages birth through adulthood, Wanda was excited to published her second children’s book.  Throughout her career,  she has worked to be a champion of the library and the services available to families and children.  Her website is

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

Posted in Author Spotlight, Guest Blogger | Leave a comment

Everyday Advocacy Challenge: Week 4 Reflections

The inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge (EAC) reached the halfway mark on September 22 with this Take Action Tuesday prompt:

Write or call your elected officials to talk about your work at the library.

In six words or less, here’s what a few of our cohort members had to say about their Week 4 experiences:

  • “Voicing political opinion demands attention.”
  • “From library lover to library advocate.”
  • “Calling or email probably more productive.”
  • “This one just crushed me.”
  • “Afraid to start. Managed to complete.”
  • “Scary! Not a skill I’ve used!”

For Brittany Staszak, the EAC Week 4 challenge was a great opportunity to do her homework on the best ways to appeal to her representatives.

For Mira Tanna, the EAC Week 4 challenge helped her champion the critical roles of both school libraries and state-certified school library media specialists.

Brittany writes:

I decided to contact the state and national legislatures that represented both the district I work in and the district I live in via telephone, where I knew I would most likely be leaving a voicemail. After briefly researching the leanings of my representatives and having no specific piece of legislation I intended to lobby for (or against), I decided it was time get some hard facts and concrete numbers about libraries.

I quickly discovered that ALA has a handy “Quotable Facts about America’s Libraries” PDF. Utilizing the annotated version, as well as the Pew Research Center’s “10 Facts about Americans and Public Libraries,” I tailored a few quick and persuasive statements for each representative, hoping to demonstrate the importance of libraries in America, the importance of libraries to voters, and the huge toll legislation can take on the livelihood of America’s academic, school, and public libraries.

The talking points I found most useful were the following:

  • A 2012 poll conducted for the American Library Association found that 94% respondents agreed that public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed because they provide free access to materials and resources. —ALA
  • 90% of Americans say the closing of their local public library would impact their community and 67% said it would affect them and their families. —Pew
  • More than 92% of public libraries provide services for job seekers. —ALA
  • Research shows the highest achieving students attend schools with well-staffed and well-funded library media centers.  —ALA
  • 85% of Americans say libraries “should definitely” coordinate more closely with local schools. And 82% believe libraries should provide free literacy programs to young children, which may include traditional reading, writing and comprehension as well as technology and new media literacies. —Pew
  • Americans go to school, public and academic libraries more than three times more often than they go to the movies. —ALA

Mira writes:

As a new member of ALSC, I decided to join the Everyday Advocacy Challenge as a way to get my feet wet and get to know other ALSC members across the country. Our Week 4 challenge was to contact our elected officials about the work we do.

Conveniently, I had received an e-mail several days prior from YALSA (lucky that I joined YALSA, too!) about the need to take action to ensure that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) includes provisions to fund school libraries.

ESEA is a big deal.  When the law was last authorized in 2001, No Child Left Behind (as it was called) made sweeping changes in education policy, the reverberations which have been felt not only on schools but on families, neighborhoods, and communities. School libraries were impacted as well.

I learned from ALA’s advocacy information that 8,830 public schools across the country do not have a school library, and that 17,000 schools don’t have a full- or part-time state-certified school librarian.

Luckily, the U.S. Senate passed the Reed-Chochran Amendment, which explicitly makes effective school library programs part of ESEA. I wrote my U.S. Representative, Corrine Brown, and my two U.S. Senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, to urge them to support the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), which reauthorizes ESEA and includes provisions for effective school library programs.

Although I work in a public library, I felt that this call to action was important both as a library assistant manager and as a parent. In our large library system, we work closely with the public school system to ensure that students have library cards, to inform families about the resources we offer to children and families, to improve literacy and pre-literacy skills, and to publicize our programs. Our main point of entry into individual schools is through the media specialist. We rely on media specialists to get the word out about the public library. Families also rely on media specialists to inform them about our resources.

As a parent, I also feel strongly that school libraries and effective media specialists are important to my children’s success. Having a quality school library or media center improves students’ love of literature, their digital literacy, and their academic success. My children have benefited by reading books as part of our state’s Sunshine State Young Reader Awards (SSYRA) with their classmates and by participating in televised morning announcements run by their media specialist.

I hope that others will answer the call to action, whether you are directly impacted by the funding of school libraries or—like me—simply understand how crucial these institutions are to our families, schools and communities.

Brittany Staszak is a librarian and supervisor; Mira Tanna is a new ALSC member. Both are participants in the inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge cohort, an 18-member volunteer group convening from September 1-October 20, 2015.

Posted in Call to Action, Child Advocacy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Middle Grade and Young Adult: Another Author Interview

Back in November, I did an interview with two authors who have written both middle grade and young adult books. It was fascinating to see their different and similar experiences in writing for two audiences.  Today, I’m interviewing Corey Ann Haydu, the YA writer of three books. Her first first middle-grade novel, Rules for Stealing Stars, is in stores today!

OCD Love Story (2013), Young Adult
Life by Committee (2014), Young Adult
Making Pretty (2015), Young Adult
Rules for Stealing Stars (2015), Middle Grade

ALLY: Are you in a different mindset when writing MG and YA? How do you think differently about your audience?

Corey: I’ve found there’s a bit of a mysterious, lovely thing that happens in my brain when I’m writing MG. It opens up a new little pocket of imagination for me that has its own life and really took me by surprise. It’s reflexive– writing MG loosens up my mind a little bit. I think it freed up my writing and gave me access to a whole new set of stories and worlds. It was a total surprise– like a path I stumbled upon in the woods.

I always write topics that are more difficult– a little scary and challenging and uncomfortable– but in MG I think my awareness of my audience has to do with my desire to have hope play a role.  I want to write honestly for young readers, but I also want to encourage whatever brightness is growing in them. I think there’s room for both. Mostly, I want my audience to feel feelings, whatever they are. And I want them to grasp that inner spirit can be more powerful than outer troubles.

ALLY: Do you think you will continue to write both YA and MG? What’s next up?

Corey: I’ll absolutely continue to write both. At the moment I’m working on a new YA project AND a new MG project, so I’m really working both muscles in tandem at the moment. It’s really liberating. I’m interested in challenging myself, and I’m a big believer in the power of getting out of my comfort zone. So readers can expect me to continue to push my own boundaries as a writer– as well as theirs as a reader, hopefully.   

ALLY: You started in publishing with YA. What was it like to make the transition to MG, both in your writing, and in terms of the way your book was received by the kidlit community? Does it feel very different?

Corey: Like I said, in terms of writing, I found transitioning to MG to be exactly what I needed– it freed me up, it got me out of my head, it let me explore new feelings, stories, textures, and sides of myself. It was sort of like falling in love with writing all over again.

In terms of the response from the kidlit community, I think I’ve gotten support across the board from the kidlit community for all my books, but it’s been wonderful to get support as I shift gears a little this fall. On a personal level, playing around with genres and age ranges lets me breathe a little, and that helps me be a better member of the community as well. But most of all I am thrilled I’m getting a chance to visit schools, talk to kids, and connect with a new readership. I think there’s something really special about younger readers– for me, 4th, 5th, 6th grades were when I really discovered the total joy of books. In that way, writing MG is unique, because I’m writing with the distinct memory of the books that shaped my life as a reader and a person — The Giver, Mandy, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, A Little Princess, Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting, Sideways Stories from Wayside School. It adds sort of this magical thrill to the whole process, because I forget a lot of books I’ve read over my long career as a writer, but I never ever forget the books I loved when I was ten.

ALLY: Your first MG is out today! Can you give us a quick synopsis?

Corey: Rules for Stealing Stars is the story of four sisters who are trying to cope as their mother struggles with addiction and their family loses its balance. When Silly, the youngest sister, discovers her sister’s magical escape, a new world opens up to her. It seems like the solution to their problems– when things are difficult at home they can hide away in a world of magic. But even the fantastical world scares Silly and her sisters, and the magic they hope is fixing their broken parts might not be everything it seemed, or everything they need.


Corey’s middle-grade novel, Rules for Stealing Stars, is out today!


You can find her on twitter at @CoreyAnnHaydu!


Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

Posted in Tweens | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Whales Ahoy: Nautical Books to Gift and Share

Gifting board books and picture books at baby showers is a wonderful way to start a new child’s home library, especially if this is a first baby for the family. Including classics in your selection is always a good idea, such as any Dr. Seuss or Eric Carle title, but why not gift some books that align with the chosen nursery theme? Parents can then display titles cover out on shelving and suddenly those books also double as wall art.

As it appears to be baby shower season in my corner of Ohio, I’ve noticed a theme recently when perusing registries for gifts. What is that theme? (Hint: It is also the title of this post!) Nautical nurseries are apparently all the rage this year judging by the number of adorable whale onesies and anchor-printed crib sheets I’ve come across. Inspired by these ocean themes, I began to think about great nautical picture books to share. Books depicting adventures on the high seas, beautiful marine creatures, and coastal settings all came to mind.

I’ve put together some spectacular books for little readers that I personally think would make wonderful additions to a nautical nursery library, and will be sure to please readers for many years after they are out of diapers. You’ll find many books depicting whales below, mostly because I’m partial to whales when it comes to my favorite sea creatures, and there are so many sweet whale-centric picture books!

  • If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano; Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Roaring Brook Press. 2013. This beautiful book combines two of my favorite talents in the children’s publishing world while sharing a quiet story of patience. Readers will learn what to do, and what not to do, when attempting to catch a glimpse of a whale.
  • Breathe by Scott Magoon; Simon & Schuster. 2014. A great read-aloud choice with bright, fun illustrations depicting an adorable whale as he experiences his first day out in the sea alone.
  • The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond; Enchanted Lion Books. 2015. Another book filled with majestic illustrations, this nonfiction picture book would be great to gift as it is sure to be a sharable favorite full of interesting facts for readers up through elementary school.
  • Storm Whale by Benji Davies; Henry Holt and Co. 2014. A lovely story about a lonely boy, his father, and the discovery of a beached baby whale.
  • Following Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino; Viking Books for Young Readers. 2014. Little Blue and his Papa, two humpback whales, journey to their summer feeding ground together. Parents will especially enjoying sharing this special story of following and trusting Papa’s wisdom.
  • The Rainbow Fish Marcus Pfister; North South Books, 1999. A modern picture book classic about friendship that is  also available in board book format and perfect for little hands and eyes.

I was surprised by how many awesome titles fit into this theme once I started to compile my list. Clearly, I’ve left off plenty of titles as one could easily compile a nautical nursery library entirely of pirate stories, which I tried to avoid. What are some of your favorite sea-worthy titles for young readers? Do you have a special go-to book that you always give at baby showers? I’d love to hear your responses in the comments below!


Today’s guest blogger is Nicole Lee Martin. Nicole is a Children’s Librarian at the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, OH. You can reach her at

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

Posted in Children's Literature (all forms), Guest Blogger | 1 Comment

eBooks on the Decline? News On the Digital Shift

The eBook discussion was in full force this week as the New York Times wrote about declining eBook sales in the beginning of 2015. Also a surprise to digital book lovers was the announcement that Oyster was shutting down. The “Netflix for Books,” company is providing refunds for its customers, and CEO and co-founders are heading to Google Play.

The news allowed many librarians to breath a sigh of relief, and many within the industry felt that it was far from shocking. Libraries across the country have poured money into their digital materials, growing those materials to provide for an increase in patrons who prefer eReaders. Vendors like Overdrive have also focused on making the discovery and check-outs of eBooks easier for kids with the eReading Room. Is that truly enough to guide young readers into reading solely on a device? The New York Times piece discusses observations by some booksellers on what they call the, “reverse migration to print.”

Where do we go from here?

In other reports, libraries seem to be a big success story for the eBook market in 2015. New challenges include price models which seem to be a barrier for many organizations. Plus, if there is going to be a massive return to print, what should budget priorities be for libraries? Hoopla has been one of the major successes in our Library, particularly with comics and family films. As 2015 rounds out we will be paying close attention to our digital circulations, especially since providing the eReading room for kids and teens.

Whether eReaders are on their way out, or if tablets and smartphones continue to dominate, it appears as if the mighty book is here to stay!

What trends are you seeing in your library’s digital collections?

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children and Teen Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Registration Open for the 2016 ALSC National Institute

2016 ALSC National Institute

Registration is now open for the 2016 Institute (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC announced that registration for the 2016 ALSC National Institute has opened. The conference, themed “Believe. Build. Become.,” will be held Sept. 15-17, 2016 in Charlotte, N.C.

Prospective attendees will enjoy significant savings when they register before June 30, 2016. Included in the cost of registration are all programs and speaker events, networking opportunities, three meals and multiple Big Ideas Sessions featuring TED Talks-like presentations from partner organizations. A full list of registration rates and prices is available from the ALSC website. Housing will be located at the Charlotte Marriott City Center. Speakers and programs will be announced soon.

The National Institute is the premier event for programs and ideas related to children’s library service. This intensive learning opportunity with a youth services focus is designed for front-line youth library staff, children’s literature experts, education and library school faculty members, and other interested adults. It is one of the only conferences devoted solely to children’s librarianship, literature and technology and takes place every two years.

“The 2016 ALSC National Institute Planning Task Force has been hard at work putting together a great lineup of programs and speakers,” said Emily Nanney, chair of the task force. “We’re very excited to welcome attendees to Charlotte and show them all the wonderful things we have to see and do.”

For more information and registration details for the 2016 ALSC National Institute please visit:

Posted in Blogger Dan Bostrom, Institute 2016, Professional Development | Leave a comment

Summer Reading > Numbers

Summer is over. But before I get out my cute new booties and pumpkin flavored everything, it’s time to reflect on what an awesome summer it was in the library.

The easiest way to evaluate the success of an initiative is through numbers and stats and pie charts, etc. While these are effective (and necessary) it’s not always the best way to boost staff morale or provide inspiration.

Our last Quarterly Youth Services Meeting was focused on the end of Summer Reading  and the beginning of back to school. I was supposed to share Summer Reading results but, honesty, the last thing I wanted to do was rattle off numbers to everyone. So I did something… very serious.

Throughout the entire summer, staff had been sending in amazing pictures of displays and programs that really only the people in my office were seeing. I wanted to share them with everyone as well as lighten the mood of the end of Summer Reading. The result? Our First Annual Summer Reading Awards! Here are some of our winners:

Clason's Point Library, Bronx

Clason’s Point Library, Bronx

Best Use of Ceiling  – The Clason’s Point Library is known for going all out on decorating. You know that one house during the holidays where everyone stops to take pictures? That’s Clason’s Point. They turned their ceiling into Spiderman’s web. The whole library was covered- even some of the circulation desk!

Hudson Park Library, Manhattan

Hudson Park Library, Manhattan


Best Use of Action Figure – In the Village lives a library that comes up with the craziest ideas… and then actually finds a way to do them! For their Summer Reading Kickoff Block Party, the Hudson Park Library wanted a superhero action figure to deliver a bookmark to a recently sign-up kid by flying down from the library into the street. Yes, it really happened and yes it really worked (evidence in photo). Leave it to librarians to make anything work with a little bit of twine.


Tottenville Library, Staten Island

Tottenville Library, Staten Island


Best Representation of Staff – If you take the ferry to Staten Island and a train all the way to the end, you not only find a gorgeous Carnegie building but one of the best staff artists in the city. The Tottenville Library turned all of their staff members into superheroes- literally! This photo shows a huge display by their circulation desk with every staff member turned into a 3-D superhero. If you don’t want to be a part of summer Reading after looking at this then I don’t know what will.

Other awards included:

Best Eye-Pleasing Incentive Packet

Best Use of Bulletin Board

Best Staff Uniform

Every winner got a certificate and a round of woo’s and applause fro their peers. A pretty good way to wrap up Summer Reading if I do say so myself.

Anna Taylor is the Coordinator of Youth Educational Programming at the the New York Public Library. She is a member of the ALSC School Age Services and Program Committee and serves on NYPL’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. You may write her at and check out some sweet monthly staff picks at

Posted in Blogger - School-Age Programs and Service Committee, Displays, Summer Reading | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment