Blogger Alexa Newman

Running Background Checks on Outside Performers

Recently there has been discussion on the Facebook group Library Think Tank  (#ALATT) about running background checks on outside performers. It has been a rather animated debate, and caused me and my coworkers to do some serious pondering.   The subject under debate:  Should all performers have background checks run before they appear at a library? There were two incidents that sparked the discussion. One was a Drag Queen Storytime that was held at the Houston Public Library.  After the performance, it was discovered by a pro-family activist group called MassResistance that one of the performers was a registered sex offender.  The group brought the criminal status of the performer to the attention of the media. HPL didn’t run a background check on the performer, although Library policy does require checks be run on all performers. (It should be noted that Since March 2008, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Play Areas in Libraries

Indoor Playground? Early Learning Area? Playland? Seventh Circle of the Underworld?     Play areas for the youngest library patrons are most common in public libraries, although some school libraries have them as well. They range from the simple: an area rug with a train table or puppet theater and some puzzles; to the elaborate:  dedicated themed spaces, with corporate sponsors, that are changed out on a quarterly basis. With our recently completed remodel and expansion my library created a new, dedicated, larger space for creative play. It has quickly become one of the most popular spots in the library. There are busy times where we have upwards of 40 people (children and caregivers) in the space at once. Mornings are usually the most hectic. It can be quite lively at times. (Okay, maybe raucous is a more accurate descriptor.) Located in the youth services department, it offers an engaging,…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Working Through a Remodel : Library Life in a Construction Zone

  My library is in the midst of an expansion and remodel project. Phase one, the building addition, was completed last week. A two story, 8000 square foot extension is now open. For the Youth Services department, this means a new office, Creation Center, study rooms, Homework Center / Parent Teacher collection,  and expanded stacks.   It is super exciting having new spaces (including a new departmental office), but there have been a few hiccups along the way. There’s been a delay with our office furniture, so several of us don’t have desks at the moment. And most of our supplies are still in the mover’s totes. We were closed for two days last week in order to move shelving, including the entire picture book collection and play area. Some materials went to offsite storage, some are in temporary moving carts, and others are in totes waiting to be reshelved….

ALA Midwinter 2018

Namaste, Library Peeps : Getting My Zen On at #alamw2018

One of the coolest amenities at ALA Midwinter 2018 was the Yoga / Meditation Room. I hope many of you had a chance to stop in for a moment, or two, or …. just hang out and be present for a while.     For the past few conferences, ALA has been sponsoring the yoga / meditation room. Since I am moderately obsessed with yoga (although I’m not sure if that is a very “yogi” thing to say) I stopped by Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and got in some abbreviated practice. Even if you don’t have a yoga practice, being able to sit down and collect your thoughts and just BE for 10 minutes or so can be beneficial to both your mental and physical health. I found the room here in Denver to be an oasis of calm.  Dim lights, soothing music, mats and meditation cushions as well as…

ALA Midwinter 2018

Learning, Connecting, and Having fun at ALA Midwinter 2018: It’s Been a Whirlwind #alamw18

It’s been a whirlwind, indeed. Although I’ve attended several Midwinter meetings over the years, this one has been especially fruitful. The sheer pace of meetings and activities has had me dashing all weekend. That’s my excuse for not posting sooner. I arrived from Chicagoland early Thursday afternoon; I managed to avoid the blizzard back home.While my coworkers had a snow day, we were enjoying 60 degree weather here in Denver. On Friday I attended the Bill Morris Seminar, the highlight of my conference experience so far. As part of the 2018 cohort, I came away with an expanded skill set for children’s literature and media evaluation. And I met some truly amazing people in the process. Immediately after that, I attended the inspiring opening session where activists Patrisse Cullars and Marley Dias discussed what inspired them to rise up and take action. Later that evening I joined up with the…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Winter Reading Programs : Game On at the Library!

Most public libraries, and many school libraries, conduct Summer Reading Programs. In fact, many of you (like me) have already begun planning your SRP. I’m curious to know how many other libraries out there hold Winter Reading Programs. And what your different programs entail. Please share your comparisons, ideas, and suggestions. I’d love to gather some innovative ideas. At the Algonquin Area Public Library District, we started our WRP years ago as a family reading program where the entire family would read and record their time together on one log as a group to earn a single prize such as a fleece blanket, or a sled. Each child also earned a paperback book of their choice upon completion of the family program. A few years ago we reformatted the program to more closely follow our SRP model. This included extending the length of the program, from 5 weeks to 2…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Workplace Dress Codes – Does Your Library Have One?

The next two weeks at work are a couple of my favorites. You would probably assume the reason for this is because of the holidays: time off, free treats to be found everywhere, and most everyone is in a good mood. In reality, they rank up there because my library is running a Jeans for Charity event. Two or three times a year, our staff is allowed to wear jeans in exchange for a $5 minimum donation to charity. A different charity is selected each time. Past beneficiaries include animal shelters, Family Alliance (a health service), and a battered women’s shelter. Why, Alexa, (you ask) are you so excited to wear jeans?  Because my library has a dress code. A dress code that prohibits blue jeans, shorts, sneakers, t-shirts with writing (other than our SRP shirts), and backless shoes. It is probably best escribed as business-professional. I do enjoy dressing…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Engaging Your Community : What Does That Mean?

A definition Community engagement is an important emerging trend in public libraries.  What, exactly, is community engagement, you ask? Well, according to Dr. Crispin Butteriss of Bangthetable.com, it can be described as both a process and an outcome.  In other, words it is both a noun and a verb.  Butteriss further describes it as “the process of getting people better connected into the community and for ensuring that the services they were designing me[e]t the specific needs of the people they are working with.” Applying the principles of community engagement specifically to libraries has been the focus of ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative.  The LTC initiative “seeks to strengthen librarians’ roles as core community leaders and change-agents.” On a regional level, RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) has formed a community engagement networking group. I am my library’s youth liaison to the community.   I do outreach with several different agencies,…