Author Spotlight

How Author Visits Helped Heal Our Community

This past November, tragedy struck my elementary school community when one of our fifth grade students died. Within hours of her passing, reporters and cameramen showed up on school grounds, filming our children on the playground and through the windows of the cafeteria, placing blame for her death on bullying at our school. In all the chaos, we didn’t have time to process anything. There really aren’t words to describe how difficult this experience was for us. We were grieving – not only for our student, but also for our community. After an emotional staff meeting, I realized that all of us needed something positive to rally our community around. Since we are located in a suburb of Denver, and ALA’s Midwinter Conference was taking place here in February, I began contacting authors in hopes of coordinating school visits. First, I reached out to Marley Dias’s agent with Scholastic. Scholastic…

Blogger School-Age Programs and Service Committee

The Iridescence of Words and Pictures: Using Picture Books to Create Artist Workshops in Your Library

One of the greatest aspects of being a children’s librarian is having the opportunity to use a host of mediums to inspire and connect children to a wide array of literature. The profession lends itself easily to the use of books, music, movement, and performance, but it is also lends itself to the rich exploration of art and images. One of my primary goals as a librarian is to ignite a child’s imagination, and thereby motivate them to creatively explore both their outer and inner worlds. Personally, I’ve found one of the most satisfying ways to encourage young children to flex their creative muscle, is to inspire them through the work of famous artists, in what I like to call – The Artist Workshop. My rule of thumb for creating programs is to always let a great book be the starting point for my planning. The Artist Workshop is no…

Programming Ideas

Summer Programming for School Agers : No Sweat!

Like many of you out there in Library Land, I am in a flurry and scurry mode to get my summer reading programming finalized.  By this, I’m referring to supplemental programming, outside of our Summer Reading Program. One of the many challenges faced by Youth Services librarians is getting the programming for all age groups balanced equitably. Inevitably there are always requests from patrons for more! During Summer Reading (which runs from June 1 to July 31) my library offers a wide variety of school age programming, with at least one program every week day. I think the key to having successful summer programming for school age children is balance.  Make sure that the majority of your programs will appeal to a large percentage of you patron base. Book some great, energetic performers.  Find a way to bring the school-age children in to the library and more importantly keep them…

Blogger School-Age Programs and Service Committee

Low-Tech Makerspace Programming at the Denver Public Library

Today’s post focuses on two types of low-tech makerspace programming currently being developed and implemented at the Denver Public Library’s Children’s Library. While facilitated by all of the children’s librarians at the Children’s Library (myself included), these programs have been developed by my two innovative colleagues – Carrie Wolfson and Liesel Schmidt. For this post, I chatted with Liesel and asked her to provide insight into the creation of these super fun and very successful programs. The two types of programs are Open Studios and Tinkering Programs inspired by the friendly, accessible nature of the makerspace movement. Both these programs encourage participation and sharing of ideas. Liesel described them this way: Open Studios allow participants to explore different art media like watercolor paint, oil pastels or clay. We make real art materials available to visitors, along with suggestions of techniques to try. It works to demonstrate examples of new techniques…


What makes rural services to school-age children different?

I live and work in Nevada County, which is actually in California, to the great confusion of search engines and non-Californians (and many Californians). Our county has just under 100,000 people and 68% of people live in unincorporated areas, and 93.6% of the population is white (according to 2016 numbers from the US census). This county also skews older, with just 21% of the population under 18. Every rural county is incredibly different, so I cannot pretend to represent what working in a rural county is like everywhere, but here is my experience. I was born in San Francisco and lived there until I moved across the bridge to suburban Marin, worked in Oakland, and then in suburban Connecticut before landing here. Living in rural California has me understanding my own lens as urban. I expect excellent services that are easy to access. Patrons up here know that services exist,…

Programming Ideas

Painting Under the Table: Innovative K-5 Art Programs

Linda Potter, an Early Literacy Specialist at the Kenosha Public Library, has turned the tables on ordinary art programs at the library. On one particular Friday, children lie on their backs, painting paper that’s been taped beneath the meeting room tables. Why? They’re learning what it’s like to be Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. (Turns out, it’s a tad difficult to paint like Michelangelo. Who would’ve guessed?) This is just one program in a popular series called “Art Sparks.” Art Sparks is a drop-in program for children in grades K-5 that runs for 2.5 hours once per month. Each month, Linda turns the spotlight on a different artist and offers an age-appropriate project in that artist’s style. For example, while exploring the work of Wayne Thiebaud, children painted giant cardboard doughnuts and sprinkled them with paper confetti. A program on Jackson Pollock found the meeting room kitchenette covered with plastic…

Awards & Scholarships

Hosting a Mock Award Discussion with Kids

The end of the year is approaching. For me, that means skyrocketing speculation about the Youth Media Awards (YMAs), which include the Newbery, Caldecott. I love pouring over year-end best of lists and reading as many 2017 books as I can. Another reason I look forward to this time of year: I love a good mock award discussion. For this blog, I’ll focus on different ways to host a mock award with school-age kids (for more on the benefits of hosting a blog for your colleagues, check out Amanda Foulk’s stellar post on Guessing Geisel).

Library Design and Accessibility

What I Learned in a Library Renovation

A concerted effort by librarians in my school district, Williamsville Central Schools, to upgrade our library facilities finally bore fruit when I was given the given the opportunity to renovate the library at Heim Middle School, where I have been the librarian for more than twenty years. I was fortunate enough to be able to select both new furniture and carpeting. The furniture in the library was original to the opening of the school in 1965 (first named North Forest Junior High), and the carpeting was from the late 1990s. In thinking about the future of the library, planning for flexible use of the space as well as creating a variety of zones for various activities (e.g.: class space, quiet reading, collaborative small group work space) was paramount. The process has taken close to an entire calendar year, and the results have been amazing! Feedback from our students and staff have been…