Blogger Ellen Riordan

Diversity Matters

We know diversity matters. It is a part of our strategic plan, it is a major focus of our work and it is critical to our customers and our communities. Figuring out the best way to help increase diversity awareness in our communities and having this reflected in our libraries isn’t always easy. Libraries have been at the forefront of realizing the value of diverse content. Our communities are changing and it is challenging to build content that really reflects the world we live in today. It starts with our collections and our collections are dependent on what is available from publishers. ALSC has taken up this charge by organizing a dialogue around diversity with publishers in Chicago as part of the Midwinter meeting. On the heels of ALSC’s invitational dialogue on diversity in publishing, Sunday, February 1, 2015 – 1:00pm to 2:30pm McCormick Place West W183b there will be…

Blogger Ellen Riordan

ONE OF OUR OWN

On my trip to Beijing to attend the Chinese Library Association, I was struck by how different everything was from America. Perhaps this seems to go without saying but I had never been as immersed in a culture and a language that had no foothold for me. There to speak about our Caldecott Award, my only point of reference was the familiar illustrations from much beloved books though I couldn’t recognize a word of text. One of our hosts, Mr. Wang, is head of the National Children’s Library. He is an energetic, brisk man who dresses very formally in a blue suit. Despite his habit of looking to our translators when he needed to make a point and wanted to talk fast, Mr. Wang understood English very well. I could tell by the way he would nod his head vigorously in agreement when we spoke about our work: its ability…

Awards & Scholarships

One World One Mission

By the time you read this I will in Beijing, China. Our fabulous Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter, and I have been invited to speak about American children’s library work at the Chinese Library Association Conference. Our whirlwind visit will include a tour of the National Children’s Library, the Children’s Library of Beijing and another location intriguingly referred to as Juvenile & Children Reading Experience Wonderland. We also hope to see the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and maybe even (please, please, please) a panda cub or two. Our Chinese counterparts are particularly interested in learning more about our Caldecott Award and the role that libraries play in making that award the catalyst for the creation of and celebration of great children’s picture books it has become. In 2009, China inaugurated their own award for children’s literature called the Zikai Award named for a famous Chinese cartoonist and modeled after the…

Blogger Ellen Riordan

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

This month children’s librarians from all over the country will gather in Oakland, California for the biennial ALSC Institute. There are educational sessions including libraries’ roles in early education, better ways to connect our customers to information, tips on how to be at the “community table” and even, this time around, a trip to fairy land. It is an exciting and inspiring event; to be among so many people who share our passion and commitment. The greatest value of the Institute though is the space and time to really connect to our colleagues. In the busy worlds of libraries today with the competing demands of customers, stakeholders and administration, made more urgent by shrinking budgets, most of us have little time to consider what drives us to this work. A weekend sharing knowledge and energy is just the thing to recharge. Even if you can’t get to California, reaching out…

Blogger Ellen Riordan

How Come Outcomes?

I encourage all of you to check out the ALSC Emerging Leaders report (Ask, Assess, Advocate:Demonstrating the Value of Youth Services) which articulates an important question for us. How do we accurately assess the value of children’s services in libraries? Many of us must justify our services to our communities and stakeholders when we secure our budgets, write grants or report to City Hall and very often we are asked for more than numbers. This is good news. We know we are more than the sum of our parts. Numbers, outputs, only tell part of the story. The real value we have is in our impact in the lives of our families we serve. We all have stories of this impact. These are the moments we hold dear: watching our customers grow from preschool storytime participant to confident young reader to successful student. In research, this ability to change behavior…