A Magnificent Midwinter #alamw16

MW Pic 1

From the moment I touched down at Logan airport it was a great Midwinter!

I’m excited to share some of my adventures from Midwinter a couple of weeks ago and update you on the ALSC Board’s work together in Boston.

Kicking things off on Thursday, I attended an Information Policy Workshop with our veep, Betsy Orsburn, and our Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter. As one of the key elements of ALA’s Strategic Directions, learning more about this important area was very insightful and you can learn more about the day here.

Tips for advocating for Information Policy

Tips for advocating for Information Policy

Quick selfie with Betsy during a break at the Information Policy Workshop at Midwinter.

Quick selfie with Betsy during a break at the Information Policy Workshop at Midwinter.

Friday began with the happy task of welcoming attendees to the 2016 Bill Morris Seminar: Book Evaluation Training, which is held every other year thanks to the generosity of the William C. Morris Endowment. The Morris Seminar provides mentoring in children’s media evaluation techniques, and I couldn’t be more grateful to this year’s spectacular co-chairs Deborah Taylor and Sylvia Vardell and to all of those who shared their experiences and wisdom with attendees, one of whom, Lisa Nowlain, shared her visual impressions in an earlier blog post.

With Ashley in East Boston. (Note the Babies Need Words Every Day poster and great interactive elements in the children's room!) Photo by Branch Librarian Margaret Kelly

With Ashley in East Boston. (Note the Babies Need Words Every Day poster and great interactive elements in the children’s room!) Photo by Branch Librarian Margaret Kelly



That afternoon I took the opportunity to visit some libraries in the area which I’d never been to before as part of my #ALSCtour. I really appreciate the expertise of my excellent tour guide, Ashley Waring from the Reading Public Library, as we visited the East Boston branch of Boston Public Library and the Watertown Free Public Library.




Fabulous mural in the Watertown children's room by Craig Bostick (http://www.aquaboy.net/).

Fabulous mural in the Watertown children’s room by Craig Bostick (http://www.aquaboy.net/).


Photo credit: Aimee Strittmatter

Photo credit: Aimee Strittmatter

Of course a major highlight was the Youth Media Awards, and I can assure you that it’s as fun to reveal the winners to the world as I always imagined it would be when I would practice in front of my mirror! And now that we all know which books and media were honored and you’re busy celebrating them with your kids, we look forward to also celebrating their creators and selection committees at Annual in Orlando in less than 5 months.

Photo credit: ALA

Photo credit: ALA

The ALSC Board held two meetings during Midwinter (#ALSCboard).

The 2015-216 ALSC Board (Photo credit: ALSC office)

The 2015-216 ALSC Board (Photo credit: ALSC)

We discussed Summer Reading & Learning as a strategic mega-issue for our association, and are looking at how ALSC can help members even more with their important summer work. We established a task force to continue this exploration and I’m delighted that Board member Christine Caputo will lead this eager group’s work as chair. Our next Community Forum, to be held later this month, will an important opportunity to hear your thoughts on this issue.

We talked about how ALSC can more thoroughly integrate the concepts of Día into all of our work throughout the year, rather than limiting its focus to one specific day, and heard from Past President KT Horning about her request to enact a statute of limitations on the confidentiality of ALSC award committees. (A Board subcommittee will explore this further over the next couple of months.) We signed on to collaborate with the Black Caucus of ALA for their forthcoming Walter Dean Myers First Annual Memorial Lecture, and began discussions (continued here) on how ALSC can support REFORMA‘s Children in Crisis project, a true example of how library services can create better futures for kids.

We got a chance to meet our Emerging Leaders, heard from the Media Mentorship Award Task Force on their proposal for recognizing those using digital media with kids in innovative ways, and also looked closely again at the current landscape for app evaluation and recognition. I believe we are moving the needle forward in these areas–please stay tuned!

Our budget is healthy, with strong award seal sales and a greater attention to policing unauthorized use of our seals on editions of award winning titles published abroad; and the work of the Diversity Within ALSC Task Force continues. Finally, in the future, all of this work will happen using Roberts Rules of Order if an item to be placed on the spring ballot to bring ALSC’s parliamentary procedure bylaw into accordance with ALA’s is approved by members.

If you have any thoughts and/or questions on any of the above, please feel free to e-mail me at andrewalsc@outlook.com, and tweets from the meeting can be founding using #alscboard.

And I would like to give a special congratulatory shout-out to our fantastic Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter, on achieving the extremely prestigious designation of Certified Association Executive. Aimee is the first ALSC Executive Director to earn this highest ranking for association professionals and we couldn’t be prouder of her and more grateful for all she does. (Her Twitter handle isn’t @LibraryCrusader for nothing!)


Posted in ALA Midwinter 2016, ALSC Board, Blogger Andrew Medlar | Tagged | 1 Comment

Toddler Participation

The best part of my week is Toddlin’ Tales, when I have a room full (usually 50 plus) of excited, active, curious toddlers and their parent, nanny, or grandparent. As you well know, their enthusiasm is delightful, their antics hilarious, and their adoration of the reader endearing. You also know that the child’s attention can flit from their plastic container of Cheerios to Daddy’s belt buckle in a nano second. A brief moment later she wants to demonstrate how well she can twirl, then tumble to a fall, followed by checking out her neighbor’s supply of bunny crackers. And then back to Daddy, for a reassuring hug and a glance at the librarian to see if anything interesting is going on at the front of the room.

“Look! There’s a puppet dog! He’s silly! He wants me to clap my hands and sing. Oh, I like that song. I can sing, too. “Storytime is here. Give a great big cheer. Yeah!” That’s my favorite part because I get to throw my hands up in the air and yell really loud. “Now quietly. Listen and see.” I like that part, too, when I put my hands by my ears and then around my eyes. “Storytime is here.” Now what is she going to do?”

Keeping a wiggle of toddlers (you know, like a business of ferrets) focused on storytime can be a challenge, but it is easily remedied with one word—participation. Find every opportunity to actively involve their bodies and voices and most will happily jump, roar, shake, hiss, tiptoe, blow a kiss, and whatever else you invite them to do. Here are four tips on participation opportunities that have been successful for me:

  • Tickle MonsterBe silly! For a recent program on monsters I knew I had to choose carefully so as not to cause undue stress and fear. We began with “Going on a Monster Hunt,” which I do as a call and answer, so they were involved with the repeating chant, as well as the actions. When we found the monster in the cave, he was fuzzy, had 3 googly eyes and made a silly sound that made them giggle before we ran back home and repeated all the actions at high speed. Then I read Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau. Whenever the tickling occurred we wiggled our fingers at the illustration and flapped our tongue between our lips, making that sound one makes that I can’t possibly figure out how to spell but sounds something like the noise Jerry the mouse would have made, with his thumb in his ears and his fingers wiggling, to harass Tom the cat. The result—total participation, no fear, and several wanting to check out the book after storytime.
  • Read! Any time a book has a repeating phrase I invite them to “read” it with me while I point out the words. For instance, “I can’t sleep here,” in The Very Lazy Ladybug by Isobel Finn, and “Puff, puff, toot, toot, thrump, thrump, peep, peep, grump, grump, mew, mew, flip flop, bump, bump, off we go,” along with actions, in Down By the Station by Will Hillenbrand. Sometimes it requires moving a few words around so that the same pattern is used, and they get the cue they need to join in. When the story is finished we clap and I congratulate them on “reading” with me, so they get the connection between the words I pointed to and the words we spoke.
  • I got the rhythmAction! If you find yourself interpreting the words with a wiggle or a stomp, then include the children. Some stories are obvious, such as Down By the Cool of the Pool by Tony Mitton or I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison. Others require ingenuity, such as having them walk along with Grumpy Bird in Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard, or looking right and left, hand horizontal above the eyes, to find a moose in Looking for a Moose by Phyllis Root. One of my favorites is Funny Face by Nicola Smee, and watching the expressions on their faces for the different feelings. Anger is hi-larious!
  • In-betweens. After every story, get the children up and moving to a rhyme or song. Not just a finger rhyme, but an actual stand-up-and-move-your-body action. After. Every. Story.

When a child is vocally or physically involved with the stories, songs and rhymes at storytime he’ll be more likely to remember and repeat the story (vocabulary and narrative skills), ask for the book to check out (print motivation), begin to comprehend how print works (print awareness), and retain whatever other early literacy skill you were slyly presenting, such as letter or rhyming knowledge. Plus he’s following directions and learning to wait, both of which are important social skills for kindergarten readiness. And you’re role modeling for caregivers ways they can have fun with books at home.

“What’s she doing now? Oh, I love that book! We get to dance when she reads that book, and I am very good at dancing. I liked singing with Pete the Cat in the other book, too. I want to take him home so Daddy can read it to me tonight. And tomorrow. And every day, every day, every day. Yeah, Pete!”

What are your favorite books for participation?


HeatherMonkey2Heather is a Public Services Manager for Deschutes Public Library in Bend, OR, where she supervises Youth, School, Latino and Impact Services.  She has been presenting storytimes for over 35 years and they remain the best part of each week.  She is also a professional storyteller, and the author of Read, Rhyme and Romp: Early Literacy Skills and Activities for Librarians, Teachers and Parents.  You can reach her at heatherm@deschuteslibrary.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 alscblog@gmail.com.

Posted in Guest Blogger, Storytime | 1 Comment

Apply Now for Día Turns 20 Mini-Grants

Día Turns 20

Día Turns 20 in 2016! Image courtesy of ALSC.

Have you already started planning for your big Día Turns 20 Celebration? April 30 of 2016 marks 20 years of the celebration of Día as the connection of children and books, so ALSC has a funding opportunity to make the celebration even bigger!

Applications for 20 mini-grants of $2,000 are now available. ALSC members in public libraries within 20 miles of a Dollar General retail or corporate location are welcome to apply. Start thinking about how your library would like to celebrate 20 years of connecting children with diverse books and apply now!

Applications are due Monday, February 22, 2016.

Posted in Blogger Dan Bostrom, Dia, Grants and Fundraising | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Backlist Booklist: Mystery Edition

The weather outside is…pretty gross, let’s be honest. It’s the perfect time to snuggle up with a great mystery! We focus a lot on new and upcoming titles (because they’re EXCITING!) but our library shelves are filled up with backlist. Let’s take a look at some charming and fun mysteries that your tweens will be mad about.

Source: Goodreads

Theo is delighted when she finds a beautiful painting hidden underneath an other painting at her grandfather’s home–she’s trying to find money to save their family house. But her grandfather had been a security guard at the art museum. Could the painting be stolen?

Source: Goodreads

Being an Inquisitor is not a job for a nice Jewish boy, but once the police get wind of the fact that Sacha can see witches, he’s apprenticed anyway. This alternate history of early 20th century New York–with magic–is delightful. If your tweens love it, no worries! There’s a sequel.

Source: Goodreads

Enola Holmes is the 14-year-old sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. When her mother disappears on her birthday, her much older brothers swoop in to haul her off to boarding school. But Enola is just as clever as her siblings and is determined to figure out where her mother is. She soon escapes to London and begins investigating all on her own. First in a 6-book series.

Source: Goodreads

Sophie and Grace are in the seventh grade, are best friends, and they spy on their neighbors. Just as a game. But one night, they witness a really scary, really bloody scene at the home of their school counselor, and they’re determined to get to the bottom of it–and it quickly isn’t a game anymore. If you love Young and Yang, don’t worry–a second book has just been released!

Source: Goodreads

What’s a discussion of mysteries without a good heist story?? Jackson Greene is a reformed schemer and conman. Those days are behind him, and he just wants to get on with his middle school life. But when he gets wind that the upcoming school president elections may not be on the up-and-up, he can’t stop himself from assembling a crack team to make sure everything goes the right way. Excellent, diverse cast, and super fun adventure, and a sequel came out just this week!

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

ALSC Member of the Month — Bina Williams

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. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions with ALSC member, Bina Williams.

1.  What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

BinaI have been a children’s librarian at the Bridgeport Public Library for 18 1/2 years. Right now, I am at our North Branch but have also worked at another branch and at the main library.  I spent a year at the Stratford Library Association while I was in library school. Before that, I was a children’s book buyer in several independent bookstores around New Haven CT for about 20 years.  I spent my childhood wandering around the Wallingford CT Public Library while my mom attended board meetings.

2.  Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I am a firm believer in professional involvement–whether it be on the local, state or national level. Fortunately, my supervisors and library board have been very supportive of my work with ALA and ALSC.  I also belong to YALSA and EMIERT. I have been very fortunate to be on ALSC committees of both the nuts and bolts type and the notables/awards type. For all that I may (or may not) have contributed to these committees, I have received back so much more. I have made deep and lasting friendships with people from all types of libraries in all kinds of places through this work. Thank you, ALSC!

3.  What do you think children’s librarians will be doing ten years from now?

Much the same as we are now but with newer technology thrown into the mix. Storyhours, craft programs, technology classes, book talking, advocacy, community outreach and customer service will never go out of style for we children’s librarians.

4.  If you could enjoy a dinner conversation with any author – living or dead – who would it be?

Just one??? Jane Austen? I would love a table with Jane Austen, Ashley Bryan, Clyde Edgerton, Laurie Halse Anderson, Maya Angelou, Lois Lowry, Jason Reynolds, and maybe a few more…mixing up genres as much as possible!

5.  You’ve just been given a million dollars to donate to a worthy cause. How do you give it away?

Is it just one? I would split it (not necessarily equally) to ALA/ALSC for Early Education, Save the Children, FIrst Book, Reading is Fundamental, and Reach Out and Read.

6.  What is one thing you wish people knew about you?

I used to do Vintage Dancing which is historic ballroom dancing. We performed and put on events including balls from the 1850s era and jazz nights from the 20s. I made two Victorian ballgowns along with the corset to wear underneath! We did lots of research into the clothing, foods, and manners of the era as well as the dance and music. Very fun!

7.  Do you prefer winter or summer?

Winter because I don’t like hot hot weather. I love to bundle up under several quilts while watching it snow. Sitting by a crackling fire with a good book is a great way to wile away the cold days. Spring because of the beauty of each day being filled with different shades of green or yellow as trees and flowers begin to bud.  Summer because I don’t like driving 35 miles each way to work in a snow storm. I love to sit on a dock with friends and watch the clouds overhead and reflected in the water.  Or lying on the dock looking for the Perseid Meteor showers. Fall because it is when I was born and there is nothing like the New England trees in autumn. And the air is so crisp  with the scent of fireplace smoke.

8.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Dog person who has a cat. I live too far from work for a dog to be happy at home…I love my cat even if she isn’t a dog!

9.  What’s your favorite thing to do at your Library?

I have two programs for 0-3 year olds…Little Bears is a storyhour for them with a caregiver and Little Hands is an artsy crafty program involving crayons, paper, cutouts, rubber stamps, paint, and lots of glue! I love these little people! Watching the progression from a silent observer to an active participant is so rewarding…and feedback from parents is wonderful especially when I hear that a particularly shy child talks about the library and what we do all the time when at home.

10.  What was your favorite book as a child? 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett because I loved the idea of renewal and growth. The sourpuss Mary Lennox was redeemed by the wonderful family of Dickon and went on to save her crotchety cousin Colin who was the only person more selfish than Mary. And who doesn’t love a secret place that comes back to life?


Thanks, Bina! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

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.

Posted in ALSC Member Profile, Blogger Mary R. Voors | 3 Comments

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Update

In last month’s post I shared my library’s experiences during the planning phases of our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten reading initiative for preschoolers. This month we launched the program, and I have some updates to share with you.

Our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program launched the day we started our first 2016   session. Since last Monday we have been registering children in person and on our website. If caregivers sign up online, we e-mail them the reading log for the first 100 books. To receive prizes and subsequent logs, they must visit the library in person.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author. Bulletin board created by Melody Perez.  Yes, the leaves on the tree are books!

We publicized the start of our new program in several ways:  we inserted a PowerPoint slide at the beginning of every story time presentation, our bulletin board artist, created a colorful display showing a tree with books for leaves, and we included a blurb about it in our January youth events flyer.

In the past nine days, 141 children have registered for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten and one child already even returned the first reading log and has moved on to their next 100 books!

We are still preparing the prize pack that we will distribute for children who reach the half-way point (500 books) and complete the program. Allison Chao, the Youth Services Librarian who has been overseeing this project, has been creating the Apples and Ants booklets (originally created by Nancy Stewart) and the felt-piece sets. We’ve found that children might be half-way done sooner than we anticipated!

I will keep you updated on when our first young patron reaches 500 and 1,000 books. So far thing are going very well!

Posted in Blogger Claudia Wayland, Displays, Programming Ideas | Leave a comment

I’m Saying It: Down with Summer Reading Club

OK, not totally down with it, but now that I have your attention…  see, at my library, we’re looking hard at what our SRC has become and asking ourselves what we really want for the kids in our community over the summer.  And I’m not sorry to say, it’s a heckuva lot more than sitting in a room reading 30 books over the summer – and maybe (eek!) it’s not that at all!

For about 5 years now, I’ve felt like the traditional SRC structure is outdated and only serving avid/passionate readers.  And frankly, those readers will read no matter what. What I want for my kids in the summer, is great ways to have fun, get engaged, get involved, meet new people, relax, and through allllllllllll of that, maybe learn a few things. But see, it’s the fun, engaging, involved, meeting and relaxing bits I want to focus on.  The reading comes after…or, not at all.  I know that’s an insane thing to say as a librarian. But I’m thinking if we get kids interested in doing stuff, then perhaps we can sell them on reading about that stuff they’re doing!  And if not, well, they’re still learning and that’s ultimately what we want.

So we’re not even going to take registrations for a reading club this year. Cough cough. That’s right.  In fact, I wouldn’t even say we’re doing a ‘reading club’ this summer.  We’re headed away from all that in a big way.  We’re looking at Maker, STEAM and Digital Learning, people.  Bring it ON!

I live in a city where we have a Hive Learning network which is part of a larger ReMake Learning movement in Pittsburgh for kids K-12.  And last summer, our city and a ton of organizations (including a few libraries) did the City of Learning thang.  6 cities in the country are involved so I feel pretty darn lucky to have something like this to plug into.


My staff and I are starting a 4-month journey away from SRC.  We’re packing up and heading out.  I think we’re done here and we’re ready to break out and start a revolution. I’ll be posting in February, March, April and May about what we’re doing (who knows!), where we’re headed (who knows!) and how it’s going to work (who knows!)  Maybe you’d like to tag along.

Posted in Blogger Kelley Beeson, Digital World, STEM/STEAM, Summer Reading | 7 Comments

Call for Program Ideas – 2017 Annual Conference

What programs would you love to see sponsored by ALSC at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference? The call for proposals will be released in early April 2016, and for the first time ever, you can help your colleagues develop proposals on topics that are most of interest to ALSC members.

Complete this survey by February 29, 2016. In March, the ALSC blog will publish a “wish list” of the most requested–and most fascinating–program topics. Potential presenters, you’ll take it from there; peruse the list, get inspired, and develop proposals you know your colleagues will love!

We can’t promise every topic on the wish list will end up as an ALSC-sponsored program, and no proposal is guaranteed acceptance. Final decisions on program acceptance will be made by the Program Coordinating Committee. We’re eager to collect member feedback and ideas in a broader way than ever before. Feel free to contact PCC Chair Amy Martin (amymartinalsc@gmail.com) with questions.

— ALA Annual 2017 Program Coordinating Committee

Posted in ALA Annual 2017, Guest Blogger | Leave a comment