Guest Blogger

How I Became an ALSC Webinar Instructor

Is there an aspect of children’s services that you’re passionate about? Have you developed a program that you’d love to share with your fellow children’s librarians? If so, you might have thought about offering a conference program or writing an article for Children and Libraries or another publication. Another option is to teach a webinar through ALSC. I’ve done all three, and I think the webinar was a wonderful and special way to share information with my peers. Now that there are fewer program slots at conferences, it is one that you might want to seriously consider. Maybe my experience can help convince you.

I submitted a proposal for an ALSC program for Annual 2010 in New Orleans, and my proposal was accepted. At that conference I led a panel of three librarians and an Occupational Therapist from Louisiana, speaking about sensory integration and a special preschool program that serves children with autism, called Sensory Storytime. The program was well received, but the time slot conflicted with other sessions at the conference that children’s librarians wanted to attend. So, not everyone who was at the conference and who had an interest in the subject was able to come. The folks who were sorry to have missed it and the many librarians who are no longer funded to attend conferences would have had no opportunity to receive this information if Jenny Najduch from ALSC hadn’t asked me to repeat my talk in the form of a webinar.

Being a bit of a Luddite I was suspicious at first. I like seeing the people I’m speaking to, and I worry that technology will fail me at a crucial time. Jenny was fabulous in addressing my concerns and briefing me in advance, and in fact I found the system very easy to work with once I’d had a little coaching.

To prepare, I adapted the Power Point presentation I used at the conference and sent it to Jenny. As I spoke during the webinar, we advanced the slides so registrants saw them as they listened. After the webinar, participants had access to the Power Point, to an audio of the session, and to any handouts I wanted to provide (no need for printing and distributing!).

We scheduled the webinar to run four times, which gave people who were interested some choice. I wasn’t sure there would be enough interest to fill four sessions, but in fact the webinar proved to be quite popular and in total 45 individuals and 11 groups registered.

Participants could ask questions or comment via a chat feature, and both the things that came up in the Q and A and in the detailed evaluations I received after each session allowed me to tweak the program as we went along. By the fourth one I’d added some material, like sources of funding, streamlined some sections and got my timing down perfectly. The questions were thoughtful and helpful and I even heard from a few participants later on when the decided to start a program at their libraries after attending the webinar. Another nice feature; ALSC continues to offer the webinar as a webcast, so I’ve been able to steer a number of people to that when I received inquiries after the series of webinars was over.

I enjoyed the entire process, which proved to be much simpler than the prep for a conference program, and I appreciated the way Jenny held my hand (virtually) the whole way. I was so caught up in the experience that I almost didn’t register the added bonus of doing a webinar, presenters are paid based on the webinar enrollment. The check that came from ALSC was more than I’d expected and it was a welcome and pleasant surprise.

After it was all over, Jenny asked me to think about doing another webinar for ALSC at some point. If I have another topic I want to share, I intend to do that. In the meantime, maybe I’ll have the chance to attend a webinar taught by one of you. How about it?

If you want to submit a proposal to teach an ALSC webinar, contact Jenny Najduch at jnajduch@ala.org, or Kate Todd, chair of the ALSC Education committee at edukatetodd@gmail.com. You can also submit an idea via the ALSC Education Committee’s Online Education Proposal.

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Our guest blogger today is Barbara Klipper, youth services librarian for The Ferguson Library in Stamford, CT and ALSC webinar instructor. Barbara’s Sensory Storytime: Preschool Programming That Makes Sense for Kids with Autism is now available as an archived webinar for only $25.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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