ALSC Member of the Month – Chelsea Couillard-Smith

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, Chelsea Couillard-Smith.

  1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?
Photo by Sara Pinnell, courtesy of Chelsea Couillard-Smith

Photo by Sara Pinnell, courtesy of Chelsea Couillard-Smith

My official title is Senior Librarian in Collection Management Services, but what I actually DO is select all children’s and teen print materials as well as audiobooks, e-books, and e-audiobooks. My library is a 41-branch city/county system that includes the city of Minneapolis, and in addition to materials selection, I get to work on lots of other collection-related projects, too. I’m so fortunate to have a job that allows me to focus on the collection, and I absolutely love my work! I’ve been with HCL since June 2015, and prior to that, I spent 4 years as the Youth Materials Selector for the Sacramento (CA) Public Library.

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

I joined ALSC right out of graduate school because I was just starting out as a youth services manager, and I knew I would need the support and resources that ALSC provides. What I didn’t expect was to find such a wonderful community of amazing peers and mentors who have really helped me find my place in ALA and in the library profession. I’m currently co-chairing the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee, and I’ve previously served on the Public Awareness and Newbery Award committees (shout out to FLORA & ULYSSES). I’m also a member of YALSA and the Intellectual Freedom Round Table.

  1. If given the opportunity, would you prefer to be on American Ninja Warrior, Hell’s Kitchen, or The Amazing Race?

I’d love to be on The Amazing Race! I really enjoy traveling, and it would be fun to see all those amazing places in such a unique way. A college classmate (and rugby teammate) of mine actually won a couple of years ago, so I’ve been thinking lately that it might be time to put together a librarian team!

  1. What’s the last book you recommended to a friend?

For a co-worker’s baby shower, my Dad wanted to gift a book that the baby could grow into, so I suggested WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON by Grace Lin. It’s such a gorgeous book, so it makes a great gift. But I also like that it’s both a great read aloud (for a younger child) and a great independent read for a broad age range.

  1. What forms of social media do you use regularly?

I use Facebook mostly because it keeps me connected to my personal and professional worlds, but I dabble in Twitter, too, and I try to use Goodreads regularly. I can’t find the time to add anything else!

  1. What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not working?

I love the outdoors, so when I’m not working (or reading), I’m probably hiking, camping, or biking. And this will be my first summer with a garden, so I’m looking forward to that new challenge.

  1. What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?

I have a very low tolerance for scary stuff. I’m still haunted by a particular GOOSEBUMPS title I picked up as a kid that involved murder by decapitation (using a guitar string), and a “children’s” adaptation of DRACULA affected my sleeping habits until about middle school. Don’t even get me started on SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK!

  1. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Kate DiCamillo’s RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE has really stayed with me. She manages to keep the story so firmly centered on the girls and their emotions in spite of the chaos in their families. The most fun I’ve had recently was reading the second volume in Varian Johnson’s heist series, TO CATCH A CHEAT. I love the humor and the intricate plotting.

  1. Do you normally celebrate holidays? What’s your favorite?

I am a Christmas FIEND. I usually start listening to Christmas music in November because we have a house rule that I can’t start before Halloween. I love all the traditions: baking, selecting and wrapping presents, decorating the house, spending time with family. There’s a peacefulness to the season, one that comes from the cold and the stillness of Midwestern winters, I think, that really appeals to me.

  1. Do you remember the first book you ever read?

When I was 5 years old, my family spent about a year living in Lesotho in southern Africa. My parents were planning to homeschool me, so they made some books to teach me to read. I’m told that I read through all the books they’d made and demanded more, so they decided to send me to “real” school instead. I’d love to read one of those homemade books again!


Thanks, Chelsea! 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; we’ll see what we can do.

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

Museum passes

ticket-imageThis month I am thinking about the trend of public libraries offering museum passes for check out. The idea is to partner with local museums and other fun, family-friendly, educational and/or cultural places and create an agreement that allows the library to circulate day passes to the partnering institutions. From the small amount of research I’ve done, I see there are many ways to go about doing this. Some libraries are high-tech and have web portals that allow patrons to print off museum passes from any computer. Some libraries have actual tickets that circulate like any other physical materials in the collection. Does your library have circulating museum passes? Do the tickets allow an entire family in to a facility for free? Do the tickets cover any kind of additional fees (like parking)?

Here are some examples of this kind of service – this is just a few, there are many more out there:

Please share your knowledge about how this program works. If you offer at your library, is it a popular service? How is this service funded – through donations or grants? Any words of wisdom to share? How many days is the ticket valid or how long can each patron keep it? Have you used this unique kind of circulating material as a patron? Tell me all about it in the comments.

Posted in Blogger Claudia Wayland, Collaboration, Partnerships, What I Wasn't Taught in Library School... | 1 Comment

Poetry Month Wrap-Up Illustrated

I did a fair amount of live-blogging for PLA this month, so all my serious thoughts were all dried up – except to say that PLA is incredible and I learned a ton.

So, to wrap-up Poetry Month, I wanted to share a display my coworker Krishna put together:


We had slots for children to write their own pocket poems, and some of them are too good not to illustrate (no grammar or spelling altered).

Poem #1: dope


My interpretation:


Poem #2: My Zootch


Here’s what Shel Silverstein had to say about that:


Poem #3: untitled


My interpretation:


To all budding poets, I salute you!

All illustrations copyright Lisa Nowlain, 2016.

Lisa Nowlain is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow and Children’s Librarian at Darien Library in Darien, CT. She is also an artist-type (see more at

Posted in Blogger Lisa Nowlain, Displays | Leave a comment

Prince, Putumayo, and Streaming Music

News broke of Prince’s unexpected departure from this world during our monthly book order meeting last Thursday. It was impossible to avoid the flood of quotes, photos, and music performances on social media, but many fans found it challenging to listen online to  “Little Red Corvette,” or “Diamonds and Pearls,” in memoriam. Prince was a huge proponent for artist’s rights and this is why listeners cannot find his work on streaming services like Pandora and YouTube. Prince did not totally abandon placing his music online, and the artist utilized Tidal, the subscription service owned by Jay Z, and SoundCloud to share new music. Lucky for me I somehow kept a copy of Purple Rain in my office – something every children’s librarian should have tucked away!

The search for Prince’s music was the perfect opportunity for libraries to market their own digital services, and USA Today even gave public libraries a shout out in an article providing listeners with alternative options. In response, libraries such as Highland Park Public Library and Green Tree Public Library shared Hoopla’s Prince offerings with their users.

About six years ago my library eliminated CDs for mass circulation and the children’s library has been the only place where CDs continue to exist. Parents and caregivers still request music, especially storytime cult classics like Hap Palmer’s Getting to Know Myself. As playing this type of media becomes increasingly difficult, we have been guiding families to Hoopla, the streaming service which we introduced two years ago. Luckily Hoopla has a comprehensive Raffi collection, as well as They Might Be Giants and Putumayo World Music.

Many libraries opt to provide another streaming offering, Freegal, if not having the ability to offer both services. Freegal offers users the ability to stream unlimited content which includes exclusive Sony Music Entertainment options. Despite having different pricing structures for libraries, both services are valuable for being free to library users, and also claim to give artists a percentage of their earnings.

If you provide digital music services for your library how is it received? Are parents, caregivers, and kids using these resources?

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.

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2016 Día Booklists

 2016 Building STEAM with Día Booklists

Download your copy of the new 2016 Building STEAM with Día Booklists (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee has developed two new booklists for this celebratory year of Día.

The 2016 Building STEAM with Día Booklists continue the theme of identifying promising resources to supplement (S)cience, (T)echnology, (E)ngineering, the (A)rts, and (M)ath programming while reflecting a variety of cultures and languages.

The 20 Years of Día: Share the Gift of Reading lists are a special tribute to encourage everyone to participate in the celebration of Día’s 20th anniversary. To help libraries and community members access these books as easily as possible, ALSC has collaborated with our Official Día Supporter, First Book, to identify which books are available through their First Book Marketplace. By registering with First Book, librarians and others serving children in areas of high poverty can access books at little or no cost. In addition to printed books, these titles may also be available as unlimited eBooks through the recently launched Open eBooks Initiative.

20 Years of Día Booklist

New for 2016! The 20 Years of Día Booklist is great for your celebration (image courtesy of ALSC)

Each of the lists are available for download in the ranges of Birth to Pre-K, Kindergarten to 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade to 5th Grade and 6h Grade to 8th Grade. Click the Free Program Downloads tab to download them all today!

Posted in Blogger Dan Bostrom, Books, Dia | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Update on the #ALSC16 Institute

Thank you to everyone for the robust and respectful discussion regarding the status of the 2016 ALSC National Institute following North Carolina’s passage of HB2 one month ago. I’m incredibly grateful to my Board colleagues for their careful consideration and knowledge-based decision making. We heard very loudly and consistently from ALSC members on this issue and while I very much share in the disappointment that we won’t be gathering together in Charlotte this September, I’m proud of how all of us in the ALSC community have handled this challenging, important, and very real issue that led to its cancellation.

Throughout this process, the work of ALSC Executive Director Aimee Strittmatter and of Kristen Figliulo, Program Officer for Continuing Education, has been nothing short of extraordinary, as has that of their office colleagues Laura Schulte-Cooper, Dan Bostrom, Angela Hubbard, Marsha Burgess, and Courtney Jones. Vice President Betsy Orsburn, Fiscal Officer Diane Foote, Division Councilor Jenna Nemec-Loise, and Budget Committee Chair Paula Holmes have also been particularly involved in this process.

If you haven’t yet seen the Board document that outlines the details involved in this decision, please do take a look at it here.

Support from across all of ALA has been tremendous. ALA President Sari Feldman is a great friend of ALSC and of library service to children and I hope you’ll join me in expressing appreciation to her for her advocacy and support, as well as to Mario Gonzalez, ALA Treasurer and Executive Board Liaison to ALSC. ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels and Senior Associate Executive Director Mary Ghikas, along with the Public Awareness Office and Office for Library Advocacy have been there for ALSC at every step along the way. And a very special THANK YOU to our good friends at the ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table, especially Chair Peter Coyl, Chair-Elect Deb Sica, and Immediate Past-Chair Ann Symons.

Please also help me express our incredible thanks to the Institute Planning Task Force, who have put so much dedication, care, and excitement into their work for many, many, many months. Thank you to Chair Emily Nanney and members Seth Ervin, Catherine Haydon, Jesse Isley, Karin Michel, Rebecca Thomas, and Priority Group Consultant Julie Dietzel-Glair. For those of you who will attending the ALA Annual Conference in June, please plan to attend the ALSC Membership Meeting on Monday (June 27) at 10:30 a.m. in the Orange County Convention Center Room W308, as we pay special tribute to the Task Force.

It was important that we took these weeks to make such a careful and considered decision, and while some elements of its implementation are still in progress, here is the latest information:

  • Our Quicklists Committee has compiled a Transgender/Inclusion Advocacy & Information resource. The aim of this list is to educate and support both library workers and the general public regarding the legislation and the issues of transgender rights. It includes several organizations to contact regarding advocacy, donating time and money, and a bibliography of related books, including picture books, fiction, and nonfiction.
  • Those who were registered for the Institute will receive a full refund of registration fees without penalty.
  • For those who had already booked airfare, ALSC has created a memo to airlines (including American Airlines, for which Charlotte is a major hub) requesting they waive the change fee or offer a full refund, in the spirit of solidarity, to those who booked travel to North Carolina over the Institute dates.
  • ALSC is now planning to hold a one-day workshop immediately prior to the 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday, January 20, to accommodate as much of the Institute’s creative programming as possible.
  • ALSC also plans to offer much of the Institute’s educational content in an online format.

Specific details around which content will be offered, as well as its timing, pricing, and format, will be available in the coming weeks as ALSC works through the details, and Betsy and I will have additional information in our upcoming May ALSC Matters! columns. So stay tuned, and if you have any additional questions or thoughts, please feel free to share them in the comments section below or via e-mail at

Posted in ALSC Board, Blogger Andrew Medlar, Institute 2016 | Tagged | 2 Comments

Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): How Our Standards Relate and Interconnect

This past November, I saw a post on our
North Carolina State Library blog about the SPLC-Committee-Wordle-300x240-300x240new Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries.  After reading, I was curious to see how they compared to our North Carolina School Library Media Coordinator Standards.  Similar to other states, our NC SLMC standards are based on guidelines from AASL, ISTE, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, ALA/AASL Standards for Initial Preparation of School Librarians and other state standards.  After reading this document and noticing that it is geared towards those serving ages birth to 14, I decided to also check out YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth* since I am in a high school setting.


I wanted to see if there were areas where we overlapped that might be used to promote more collaboration between school and public librarians.  I noticed that we had similar standards although some of our elements may come under different standard headings.  Some key places for collaboration are education, resources and digital access, professional development and advocacy.  Below, I have listed standards from ALSC and YALSA that I felt correlated with our NC school librarian standards.   You can match up your own state’s school librarian standards where mine are listed.

Educational Practices
ALSC Standard I.5. Understands current educational practices, especially those related to literacy and inquiry.

ALSC Standard II.2. Instructs and supports children in the physical and digital use of library tools and resources, information gathering and research skills, and empowers children to choose materials and services on their own.

YALSA Standard II.1. Become familiar with the developmental needs of young adults in order to provide the most appropriate resources and services.

YALSA Standard VII.5. Instruct young adults in basic information gathering, research skills and information literacy skills – including those necessary to evaluate and use electronic information sources – to develop life-long learning habits.

NC SLMC Standard 1.a. School library media coordinators lead in the school library media center and media program to support student success.

NC SLMC Standard 4.a. School library media coordinators use effective pedagogy to infuse content-area curricula with 21st Century skills.

In order to facilitate your local public librarians’ ability to keep up with educational practices, make a point of sharing any new state educational guidelines that are issued and also any school improvement initiatives that your particular school is implementing.  They may be able to facilitate your school meeting some of your initiatives.  Each semester I have the public librarians and the college librarians come in to do a session with our seniors before they start their Graduation Projects.  We instruct them on accessing the resources at the school library and also at the public and college libraries and review proper citation guidelines for using resources.  We are discussing also having them come in next year to do sessions with our juniors.

Resources and Digital Access
ALSC Standard II. 1. Creates and maintains a physical and digital library environment that provides the best possible access to materials and resources for children of all cultures and abilities and their caregivers.

YALSA Standard VI. 5. Be an active partner in the development and implementation of technology and electronic resources to ensure young adults’ access to knowledge and information.

NC SLMC Standard 3.a. School library media coordinators develop a library collection that supports 21st Century teaching and learning.

There are a number of public librarians from different states that are creating student access policies with school librarians so students can have easier access to digital and print resources.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg in NC has successfully been running their One Access collaboration format for a year now.  Our county is looking into developing a similar program.  Currently our high school librarians have worked with the public library to provide digital access for our students.  If there is a resource that you think would benefit your students and it is something that your library cannot afford, see if it is available at the public library and if there is a way that your students may be able to access it.

ALSC Standard III.7. Delivers programs outside or inside the library to meet users where they are, addressing community and educational needs, including those of unserved and underserved populations.

YALSA Standard VII.3. Provide a variety of informational and recreational services to meet the diverse needs and interests of young adults and to direct their own personal growth and development.

NC SLMC Standard 4.c. School library media coordinators promote reading as a foundational skill for learning.

Who doesn’t want help with running a special program or author visit to your school.  Public librarians are also good sources for book talks, helping with Battle of the Books events or collaborating on a makerspace activity, especially if you haven’t created one of your own yet. If your public library is located where your students live, see if you can help with afterschool programs or a weekend program, that way your students can see you in a variety of libraries and become aware that both librarians are there to support them.

Professional Development
ALSC Standard VII.9. Participates in local, state, and national professional organizations to strengthen skills, interact with fellow professionals, promote professional association scholarships and contribute to the library profession.

YALSA Standard III2. Develop relationships and partnerships with young adults, administrators and other youth-serving professionals in the community be establishing regular communication and by taking advantage of opportunities to meet in person.

NC SLMC Standard 5.b. School library media coordinators link professional growth to their professional goals.

We all enjoy going to conferences, in part to exchange ideas with fellow librarians. But there is often the issue of lack of time and funds.  Why not set up a local one-day conference and invite local school, public and academic librarians?  I am a member of the Azalea Coast Library Association which covers several area counties; we are about to have our first one-day conference with participants from all types of libraries including librarians from our local hospital.  No one has very far to travel and the very low registration fee includes lunch.  Another idea is to set up an after-school or workday coffee break with your public librarians to share information about what is taking place in your libraries.

ALSC Standard V.6. Communicates and collaborates in partnership with other agencies, institutions and organizations serving children in the community, to achieve common goals and overcome barriers created by socioeconomic circumstances, culture, privilege, language, gender, ability, and other diversities.

YALSA Standard III.3. Be an advocate for young adults and effectively promote the role of the library in serving young adults, demonstrating that the provision of services to this group can help young adults build assets, achieve success, and in turn, create a stronger community.

NC SLMC Standard 1.c. School library media coordinators advocate for effective media programs.

Working by yourself to advocate for a strong library program may be difficult at times but working with all local librarians together could provide opportunities to showcase the benefits to the community of not only the school library program but also the public library program.  By collaborating on joint ventures, you will be better able to make the community aware of how library use from toddlers through young adulthood creates life-long learners, which benefits the community as a whole.

If you are the only librarian in your school you may sometimes feel (with budget and time constraints) that you have a difficult time meeting your own standards for evaluation.  Remember that there are also public librarians you can collaborate with to make it easier for both of you to meet your own individual goals.  Look through ALSC’s and YALSA’s competencies to find areas that you both share and that would benefit your program.  There are many more standards that overlap with our own school librarian standards. Comment with any ideas that you have for connecting one of your school librarian standards with ALSC’s and YALSA’s standards. Or, if you are a public librarian point out a standard that you feel you would be able to collaborate on with a school librarian easily.

*YALSA’s revised standards are due to be published in the summer of 2016. Visit this link to see a draft of the updated competencies.

Joann Absi is the media coordinator at Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. She is a member of of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation and currently blogs for Knowledge Quest. 

Posted in AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee, Collaboration, Professional Development | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Passive Programs for School Age Kids

Passive programs are a great way to engage kids, whether they’re hanging out after school, coming in on a school-free day, or are just looking for something to do! They often require minimal effort to prepare and get off the ground, but are then good for hours of fun and engagement. If you’re looking to add school age passive programs to your library’s offerings, want to freshen things up, or just try something new, take a look at some of these great options!

Book cover puzzle

Book cover puzzle

Make copies of a book cover, laminate, cut into puzzle pieces, and set them out (above)!

Put “postcards” out on a table and encourage kids to write a postcard to their favorite author or book character, like in The Show Me Librarian’s blog post. Bonus fun if you can find a place to display them in the library!

Take a look at this collection of passive program ideas from Jbrary.

We all know Pinterest is a great resource for ideas. There are lots of passive programming boards out there, so find your favorites or start with this one from Central Mississippi Regional Library System.

See what you can do with cardboard squares and plastic cups over at Library Learners.

Magnetic poetry wall

Magnetic poetry at La Crosse Public Library

Have some fun with magnetic poetry (left)! If you have a magnet wall like the one pictured here it’s extra easy, but you don’t need something as elaborate as this! Try painting some cardboard with magnetic paint and lean it against a wall or set it on a table, and you’re good to go.




If you have a magnetic surface, there are lots of cool options to consider. Those book puzzle pieces pictured above? There’s magnetic tape on the back of each piece, so they double as magnet puzzles (below).

Book cover puzzles on a magnetic wall board

Magnetic book puzzles at La Crosse Public Library

Mad Libs provides some fun, free downloads, and you can find lots of other Mad Libs-style downloadables elsewhere online. Print them out, set them on a table with pencils or pens, and let kids get extra silly! Or, find a paper Mad Libs booklet and set that out instead!

Build your own Tinker Toys and let kids create like at Never Shushed.

When it comes to passive programming, this is just the tip of the iceberg. What awesome passive programs are you doing with your school age kids?


Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser is a youth services librarian at the La Crosse Public Library in La Crosse, WI and a member of the ALSC School-Age Programs and Services Committee. 

Posted in Blogger - School-Age Programs and Service Committee, Programming Ideas, Tweens, Uncategorized | Leave a comment