ALA Annual 2018

Recap: Fresh Takes on Youth Services #alaac18

Tired of the same ol’ voices presenting every conference? This morning, a group of 6 youth services library folks got the chance to present for the first time ever at a national conference. The catch? They only had five minutes each.

And they brought it.

The session,  reminiscent of past Ignite sessions, was proposed by Brooke Newberry as a way to bring new voices to national attention. Brooke, with other veteran colleagues Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser, Amy Koester, and Kendra Jones mentored the 6 participants through the process of developing and delivering a conference presentation.

Jo Schofield talked about using the P21 framework in robotics programs. Robotics can foster creativity, problem solving, communication and collaboration. An estimated sixty-five percent of children will have a job that hasn’t been invented yet, so it’s important to develop skills that are useful in a variety of fields.

Robin Sofge spoke on positive professional growth. She shared anecdotes as she tale about the importance of failure as a teacher, paying it forward, and believing in yourself. It really made me think about the session itself as a demonstrative example of positive professional growth!

Molly Virello talked on using your own hobbies  and interests to help craft engaging programming. She asks herself,  “What am I passionate about? What is the “essence” of it and how can I share it?” Molly’s small Free Comic Book Day event turned into a full-blown Library Con in just a few years using these guiding questions. The Library Con now brings in over 900 people and is an anticipated event in the community.

Connor Flan Joel Park spoke on the importance of LGBTQA visibility for our kid patrons. They talked about how being a visible trans person is actually “an invisible task” in their position. They are aware how powerful their presence can be in the lives of LGBTQA youth in the library. Connor shared that it is critical for the children’s room to be a trusted space for LGBTQ youth, and that it should be a space for kids to explore who they are and who they might become. They stressed that this space should be fostered deliberately as “not just an attitude, but a goal of practice.”

Sophie Kenny (who is also live blogging for ALSC!) spoke on purposefully making diverse storytimes a new normal. She encourages us to “throw the theme away” because at the moment there are not enough diverse books for all the themes we want to do! Instead, she starts her storytime planning around a featured book. Sophie strives for 90% of her storytime books to have diverse characters and/or be #ownvoices, though that percentage might look differently in different communities. Sophie punctuated her talk with a powerful assertion: “as educators, it’s imperative we are providing diverse and equitable stories 100% of the time”, not waiting for a certain month or holiday to share multilingual or multicultural titles.

Jamie Naylor shared her popular STEAM series, a partnership with her local chapter of the American Association of University Women. The series, focusing on girls ages 9-12, featured a different activity paired with a STEAM skill each week. The activities were Robot Races,  Edible DNA, Pasta Towers, and Art Inspired by Math. Due to the partnership, this program required a small amount of staff time and money to execute.

So much information in such a short amount of time! Welcome to new faces and fresh takes.


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: III. Programming Skills, V. Outreach and Advocacy, VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.

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