Consistency is Key

My library always has a huge turnout for our Summer Reading Program. My branch alone (one of ten in the system) has close to 5,000 kids and teens participate in our Summer Reading Program which means we are busy all summer long. For as long as I’ve worked at the library (eight years) we’ve always brought in hired performers once a week to help take the burden off of staff during a busy programming period. We also continue with our regular storytimes and offer many special programs done by staff.

This summer we decided to try something new. We offered consistent weekly programs for special age groups throughout the summer. We hosted “Monday Madness” for tweens-we defined tweens as grades 4-8. We also added a weekly STEM program called “Science Explorers” for grades K-5. The program was hosted at the same time, but the theme changed every week. Staff did everything from LEGOs and tea parties to the science of spiders, and building catapults.

What we discovered was something we had long suspected-our patrons loved having a consistent day and time set aside for certain age groups. Many parents mentioned how much they loved having a program day and time set aside just for the tweens who often feel left out in other programming. Since we limited registration to 25-30 participants for the Friday events the kids loved having a chance to explore all sorts of science topics in a smaller setting.

Offering weekly programs was a lot to take on in addition to our three days of storytimes a week, Thursday performers and additional programs like our dance party, digital storytimes, and evening storytimes. But it was worth it to add the additional programs to make sure we offered something for everyone all summer long.

We felt like we finally found a great programming formula that worked for our library during Summer Reading Program and we can’t wait to try it again next year.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Work and Life

On a recent solo road trip, I grabbed a random book on CD from the 658s and ended up with “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance” by Tony Schwartz. This book was recently re-published under the title “Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live”. This was one of the best ways that I could have spent my 10 hours on the road. I’m an exempt employee who loves my job, so I tend to struggle with my work life balance, often leaning towards more work and less life.

The basic idea of the book is that we have four core needs that help us perform at our best: security, self-expression, significance & sustainability. We need to make sure that these needs are met so that we can be more efficient and focused when we are at work.

Significance: This is the “why” of your work. Why do you get up in the morning?

Security: Feeling accepted and appreciated for who you are.

Self-Expression: The ability to use your unique talents and skills.

Sustainability: Taking care of yourself so that you can take care of your work.

Sustainability is definitely my trouble area. Schwartz argues, with research to back him up, that powering through a 12 hour day is less productive than an 8 hour day with plenty of “renewal” breaks. Examples of renewal breaks include reading, taking a nap, going on a run or just getting outside for a walk.

Schwartz also argues that we run through a daytime cycle, similar to the 90 minute sleep cycle and we can only give 90 minutes of focused energy before we have to take a break. After 90 minutes, one becomes less productive. He recommends scheduling meetings for a maximum of 90 minutes and some for only 30 minutes. He said that in a 30 minute meeting, you tend to get more done because you don’t have the luxury of time.

He also talked about the myth of multi-tasking and the idea that we are always distracted, giving only a portion of our attention to any one thing; that we don’t fully engage in anything and definitely don’t spend enough time thinking about long term planning or big picture stuff.

Most importantly he mentions that it is important to turn off work and not check email constantly from home, but to fully engage in other activities in order to be better at work.

After I returned home I shared this book with my colleagues and I picked up a print copy for myself. After skimming through the material again I compiled a thirty-one item list of things to do to improve my work life balance. Change doesn’t happen overnight, so although I have only made half of these improvements, I feel good about my progress.

Right now I am looking very much forward to my second to last vacation of the year. I plan to leave work behind and enjoy my family and the last bit of summer.

If you are struggling to leave work at work, I highly recommend this read (or listen). If you are not sure if you could benefit from the book, take this Energy Audit quiz.

Posted in Blogger Heather Acerro, Books, Professional Development, What I Wasn't Taught in Library School... | 2 Comments

Collecting Graphic Novels: What Belongs in the Children’s Library?

graveyardI was so excited when the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book arrived in my library this week. I’ve been looking forward to the graphic novelization for months – advance reviews were glowing, and it seemed like the perfect addition to our Kids Graphic Novel section, which serves all reading children in our library (mostly ages 6-12). Then I opened the book.

Gaiman’s Newbery Award-winner famously opens with the eerie, perfectly spine-chilling line, “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” The graphic novelization of a novel which begins with a family’s murder was always going to be on the dark side. I expected that. I did not expect to turn the second page of a book touted as acceptable for age 8 by 4 of the 5 major review journals and see graphic, bloody images of a family with their throats slit open, red blood pooling around them. These images are hinted at but not described in the novel ( I know, I reread the chapter to be sure!)

Where did you shelve The Lost Boy?

Where did you shelve The Lost Boy?

After quickly conferring with my coworkers, we decided to move the book to the YA Graphic Novel collection. The magic power of the internet helped reassure us in our decision: none less than the venerable NYPL had shelved the book either in YA or Adult graphic novels, depending on the branch. I was bummed to lose what I am sure will be a highly-circulating book to another department, and doubly bummed after reading it – the book was excellent, just not quite a fit for the Children’s Library. I was also glad this happened, as it made me think about how much I rely on reviews when adding to the collection, and how badly reviews had failed me this time around.

Here is my question to you, fellow graphic novel collectors for children: how do you decide if a graphic novel is appropriate for the children’s library, especially when the collection has to appeal to a wider audience than kids in grades 3-6? If a book is dark but not graphic, does it stay (The Lost Boy)? If the characters are battling in a fantastical setting (Battling Boy), does it go in YA or children’s? If there are romantic entanglements (a la Drama), where do you put the book? Where did you put The Graveyard Book?

Posted in Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla, Children's Literature (all forms), Collection Development, Evaluation of Media | 2 Comments

Nominate Yourself or a Peer for the 2017 Wilder Committee

Due to the ALSC Board of Directors recent action to annually award the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the 2015 ALSC Nominating Committee is seeking recommendations for candidates for membership on the Wilder Award Selection Committee. This ballot will be voted on in the spring of 2015 and members elected will serve on the 2017 Wilder Award Committee.

Do you work with a youth services professional whose knowledge, skills and experience you admire? Do you have a colleague who can communicate clearly, critically and concisely about children’s literature? Have you served on a committee with an ALSC member who embodies our core values like respect, collaboration and leadership? We want to know about them.

Don’t be shy – if you are interested in one of these positions and possess these qualities, put your own name forward as a possible Wilder Award candidate for the 2015 slate.

The members of the ALSC Nominating Committee look forward to your suggestions!

Please be sure that your nominee’s ALSC membership remains current. Nominees who have let their membership lapse are not eligible for consideration. Also consider encouraging your nominees to nominate themselves, as this provides us with more complete background information.

DEADLINE: Sunday, August 31, 2014

Access the ALSC Nominee Form for 2017 Wilder Committee.

Posted in ALSC Board, Awards & Scholarships, Blogger Dan Rude, Publishing World | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sharing iDías : Diverse Programming at Your Library

One great initiative that the Public Awareness Committee works to promote is El día de los niños/ El día de los libros (Children’s Day/ Book Day), which was founded in 1996 by Latino children’s author Pat Mora. Día is a special way for libraries to emphasize the importance of advocating literacy to children of all backgrounds while also encouraging Dia_Hi_Colorfamilies and children to connect with multicultural books, cultures and languages. Exposure to diversity on a regular basis is very important for children and the public library is poised as the perfect space to provide diverse encounters. You can read more about why nurturing cultural diversity in your library is important by reading Jamie Campbell Naidoo’s wonderful ALSC white paper The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children.

At the recent ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Naidoo and Debby Gold of the Cuyahoga County Public Library presented a poster session titled “How Do You Día?”on behalf of the Public Awareness Committee. They invited all who visited the poster session to submit and share their own Día success stories into their iDía jar.

Seven awesome iDías were submitted and here they are!

* A public library donates a book for every child to celebrate Día and partners with other organizations to donate goods for diverse programming.

* At the Salt Lake County Public Library four people demonstrated science experiments in four difference languages to introduce diversity into the community.

* Dallas Public Library offers bilingual Día storytimes and crafts.

* A library shares Spanish language uses for materials and provides multicultural book talks.

* Each New Orleans Public Library branch hosts a yearly program geared towards Día  programming. Themes may focus on different countries and their cultures, such as Africa, China, India and Italy. Local authors are also brought in.

* A libraDia bookmarks, etc.ry in Commerce, CA invited author Antonio Sacre to read during a storytime program.

* A library holds multicultural craft events, including creating Native American dream catchers, basket weaving and Egyptian vases. They also invited an Indian dance troupe to perform.

What stellar iDías! I especially love the iDía to hold a science program in various languages. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the poster session and shared their success stories! Do you have an iDía that you would like to share? Tell us! Better yet, show us! Share photos from your diverse library program by posting on the Día Facebook page.

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Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library in Grafton, OH and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at nicolemartin@oplin.org.

Posted in ALA Annual 2014, Blogger Public Awareness Committee, Committees, Dia, Diversity, Programming Ideas | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cultural Competence in the Digital Realm: #WeNeedDiverseApps!

At the recent ALA Annual in Las Vegas, I was part of a panel named “Whet Your Appetite: Rapid Reviews of Apps for Children from Preschool to Tweens” along with Paige Bentley-Flannery, Cen Campbell, and Claire Moore. Our session provided rapid reviews of an assortment of apps, and my portion was on multicultural apps for young people. Based on the ever-growing number of book apps for young readers available in the iTunes store, I wanted to learn more about multicultural book app offerings. Limiting our search to Apple products for the sake of convenience (since I am an iPad user), my graduate assistant Rebecca Price and I combed through the iTunes store, various review sites including Kirkus, School Library Journal, Hornbook, Publishers Weekly, many of the blogger sites that cover apps, such as Carisa Cluver’s Digital Storytime and Cen Campbell’s Little eLit. Frankly, we had a terrible time finding quality apps that reflected diversity. And of those that were available, many were flawed.

One such book app, A Song for Miles, by Tiffany Simpkins Russell, Ph.D., with illustrations by Raheli Scarborough, features beautiful illustrations that look like oil or acrylic on canvas, but there is no explanatory note about the art. The app has very limited interactivity, and is subsequently more of an enhanced book rather than a book app.  The text is about a father educating his young son about the music that inspires him, and he describes songs by artists from Earth, Wind, & Fire to Stevie Wonder, but unfortunately, none of this music is included in the app. In order to hear the music, on the last page, there is a list of the music described, and readers can “Tap on the song titles below to view artist catalog in iTunes.” I imagine that the author and illustrator may not have realized the licensing roadblock their story posed, and they may have had other intentions at the outset, but unfortunately, in the end, this book ends up being little more than a commercial of songs available for purchase.

The Story of Kalkalilh, by Bramble Berry Tales, developed by Loud Crow Interactive, is a book app based on an oral story told by the Squamish people of southwestern British Columbia. According to the developer’s site: “With Bramble Berry Tales we saw a need to bring three oral histories incredibly dear to the Squamish, Sto:lo, and Cree Nations to life”. In addition to English, French, and Spanish, the app can be played in Squamish. The app received a starred review from Kirkus and was included on the 2013 Kirkus list of Best Book Apps. Unfortunately, while this app featured easy navigation throughout and a nice feature of being able to click on icons to hear Squamish words pronounced and get background information on terms such as Potlach (Tl’enk) and Longhouse (Lam’), which are specifically relevant to the setting of the story, I am not able to judge the cultural authenticity of this app, nor could I find reviews that spoke to the app’s cultural accuracy.

The New York Times recently published articles by the late Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher about the lack of diverse books in the US. Christopher Myers cited a study by the Cooperative Children’s book center at the University of Wisconsin which found that Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, only 92 featured an African American character. As a result of these articles, writer Ellen Oh created the Twitter hastag #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

As our roles shift and we increasingly are tasked with providing digital resources for our patrons, it is important that we seek out, collect, and provide access to balanced digital collections, just as we do with print resources. We need diverse book apps indeed. But we must maintain a critical perspective as we evaluate those, and separate blatantly commercial products from quality ones worth sharing with our communities.

Title: The Story of Kalkalilh

Title: A Song for Miles

Marianne Martens is Assistant Professor at Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science 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 apps, Blogger Children and Technology Committee | Leave a comment

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

Experimenting with baking soda and vinegar. Photo by Amy Koester.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. Instead, I started the event by talking with the group about physical vs. chemical reactions, and how when chemicals react, interesting things happen–like explosions.

After talking about reactions and answering any kiddo questions, we proceeded to the main event: four very exciting chemical reactions.

Reaction 1: Mentos & Diet Coke

I had three 1-litre bottles of Diet Coke and two sleeves of Mentos on hand for this reaction demonstration, which we did out on the library’s patio (warning: very messy). Before dropping any Mentos into the first bottle, I had the kids hypothesize what would happen. Hypotheses ranged from “Nothing will happen” to “It’s gonna EXPLODE!” From there, I dropped about three Mentos into the first bottle, with a decent-sized fizz geyser as the result.

Having seen what happens when three Mentos were added to a bottle, we made hypotheses regarding what would happen when we dropped in seven Mentos. That demonstration resulted in a slightly quicker, noticeably higher geyser reaction.

Then, with a pause for dramatic effect, I announced we would put a whole sleeve of Mentos in the last bottle. There may have been a few delighted shrieks of anticipation from the crowd. Friends, that last set of conditions resulted in a very quick, quite large geyser–one that was so quick and forceful, it pushed about five of the Mentos out of the bottle before they even had a chance to react with the Diet Coke. These three reactions gave us plenty of fodder to talk about how the amounts of ingredients that interact affect the reaction.

Reaction 2: Baking Soda & Vinegar

We stepped back into the program room for the rest of our program, which consisted next of a hands-on experiment. I had set out three long tables with paper plates, recycled prescription containers of baking soda, pipettes, and some vinegar for every child. I gave a brief introduction of the materials we were using (including introducing the word “pipette”), then encouraged the children to use their pipettes to drip some vinegar on the baking soda to see what type of reaction resulted. I moved about the room, asking questions about whether the amount of vinegar used has an impact on the fizzing reaction. A few kids dumped their baking soda on their paper plates and experimented there, while others dripped vinegar directly into the prescription bottles. I encouraged caregivers to ask their children to describe the reactions for them.

Using pipettes to mix water and Alka-Seltzer. Photo by Amy Koester.Reaction 3: Alka-Seltzer & Water

After all of the baking soda had exhausted its fizz, I had the children move to another set of three long tables. Each of these stations had a paper plate, pipette, and cup of water, with two children sharing a packet of two Alka-Seltzer tablets between them. I talked about what Alka-Seltzer is and what it is used for, and I posed some questions about why bubbles might help when you have a stomach ache. After our discussion, I had the kids put their tablet of Alka-Seltzer on their plate and use the pipettes to drop water on the tablet. Once again, I encouraged experimentation with the amount of water. Because the tablet will completely dissolve, we had the opportunity to discuss what that word means, too.

Reaction 4: Elephant Toothpaste

Our last reaction took the form, once again, of a demonstration. I introduced our demonstration by announcing we’d be making Elephant’s Toothpaste, and the kids and I came up with a silly story about a zookeeper who needed to brush his elephant’s teeth.

After we had completed our story, I discussed with the kids the ingredients we would be using in this reaction: hydrogen peroxide, yeast, dish soap, and food coloring. I also named all of our tools: the now-empty Diet Coke bottles from our first reaction; a funnel; a measuring cup; and a tub to contain any mess.

I used Steve Spangler’s basic recipe for Elephant Toothpaste, but in the interest of experimentation, the kids and I used different amounts of activated yeast in each of our three iterations of the experiment. Even though the resultant eruptions were not very different in size, the fact that kids got to see the reaction happen three different times was a huge delight to them. The looks of amazement, surprise, and excitement on their faces were outstanding.

That’s the note on which I ended our Excellent Explosions program, and what better note to end on? It is my goal in Preschool Science programs not only to introduce basic science concepts, like chemical reactions, but to instill a love of science in children as well. If their joyful faces and telling the checkout desk staff about the explosions were any indication, this program was particularly successful.

Posted in Blogger Amy Koester, Programming Ideas, STEM/STEAM | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Getting Organized

Image from creative commons reuse search "post its" - source Hyper Island FB

Image from creative commons reuse search “post its” – source Hyper Island FB

As summer winds down some public librarians are feeling thankful and school librarians are gearing up.  I have spent a considerable amount of time planning my year (and realizing that some of those plans will get sidelined).  Each year for the past several school years, I have tried some new organizational methods, but have yet to find something with staying power that smooths transitions and helps me in my day to day life.

I was excited when earlier in the summer #readadv had a chat on this very subject. How do librarians get and stay organized?  What is working for other people?  The storify for this chat can be found here.

It was interesting because folks definitely seemed to use a variety of tools – demonstrating that no one method works for “all the things”.  Being of a certain age myself, I have to say that there is an appeal to some of the analog methods and I am more likely to remember something if I write it down on a post-it than if I type it into my google calendar.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I live off my google calendar for the majority of my in the moment time, but when in comes to actual planning, I need something more visual.

Enter bullet journal.  Some folks have been talking about this on twitter and in blog posts for a while, and this is the method I have decided to experiment with for my overall planning of the school year.  The beauty of this system for me is that it seems infinitely tweakable to allow for my own idiosyncrasies.  I can color code, add post-its (and stickers!), dog ear pages, and blend as much of my outside of school life as my teaching life as I see fit.

I will check back in with you all later to see if I can make this one stick!

How do you all keep your library lives organized?

Posted in Blogger Stacy Dillon, School Library Media Specialist, Slice of Life, What I Wasn't Taught in Library School... | Tagged , , | 2 Comments