ALA Midwinter 2019

How Libraries Can Save the World – Sylvia Acevedo at #alamw19

“It gave me hope. I wasn’t alone.” Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo said those words about her local childhood library in yesterday’s keynote speaker session. Acevedo grew up in a very poor household. Her parents were immigrants from Mexico and Acevedo spoke about the educational and civic opportunities her public library gave her, saying it was her first experience with civic engagement. The library, funded by the community and for the community, is a place where people of all backgrounds come together. Girl Scouts also helped Acevedo become the woman she is today, teaching her that she could make a plan to achieve her dreams. She shared how learning to sell cookies to fund her planned activities taught her perseverance, resilience, and that she could achieve her dreams no matter what anyone else thought. Acevefo said that she wrote her book to share her story, so that kids like her could…

ALA Midwinter 2019

Advancing Racial Equity at #alamw19

Yesterday, I spent the day at the PLA pre-conference Advancing Racial Equity in Public Libraries presented by Gordon Goodwin from Race Forward. It was a really valuable day if learning as we looked at how institutional racism has contributed to inequity and how we can identify implicit racism and fight against it. We discussed whether we agreed or disagreed with statements like “Hiring and promotion decisions should be based solely on merit”, digging deep into what those statements might mean to us and to our communities. And as a group we identified some policies that might have unintended negative consequences for groups of people, demonstrating implicit institutional bias: Only providing outreach services to licensed daycares might miss children who stay with relatives or other caregivers: families who might really benefit from that outreach. Locating all your foreign language materials at a certain branch and instructing your patrons to go there…

ALA Midwinter 2019

A Visit to the Seattle Central Library at #alamw19

I’m here, I’m here in Seattle for ALA Midwinter 2019! We got in yesterday and one of my favorite things about traveling to different cities for ALA Conferences is checking out their local libraries. Whether big or small, I feel like I always come away with neat ideas. The Seattle Central Library is a stunner with 11 floors and a distinctive steel and glass structure. When we came upon it, my colleagues and I literally gasped. The Children’s Center is on the first floor, a glassed off area reserved for families and caregivers with children (and curious librarians!). I love the feel in the Children’s Center – the light wood floors and hanging lamps make it feel very bright and inviting, even when it’s dark outside. They have a lot of neat art features throughout the library and I snapped photos of a couple of them. I love that they…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Using Scarves in Storytime

Scarves are one of my favorite props to use in storytime because: They’re colorful! They’re fun to wave around and something that most of our kids probably don’t have at home. We ordered a ton of them so they’re a good choice when we’ll have large storytime crowds. They’re lightweight and pack down very small, so they’re easy to take on the road to outreach visits. Lately, I’ve been collecting lots of ways to use scarves in my storytimes because I love them so much, and I’m here today to pass on what I have learned. How do you pass out scarves?  They’re hard to smoosh down into a basket, so how do you pass them out? One of my colleagues showed me this way: Lay out your scarves and then tie them into a bundle. Hold the bundle by the knot as you’re going around and each child can…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Bundle Up for Storytime

The weather outside may be frightful (or it may not, depending on where you live!), but it’s always a great time to cozy up for storytime. There are TONS of great ideas for winter storytime and here are some of my favorites: Books: Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2002). This is a great rhyming book about hibernation. Blizzard by John Rocco (Disney-Hyperion, 2014). I use this one for slightly older kids and they love the idea of school being closed for days (and the fold-out map through the snow). Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London (Puffin Books, 1992). The pattern and humor in this book lend themselves well to storytelling, so this makes a great felt story, too! A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke (Dutton Children’s Books, 1994). Silly Minerva Louise wanders out into the snow and gets everything…

Blogger Abby Johnson

On Feeling Overwhelmed

Photo by Bernard Goldbach, used under a Creative Commons license. It’s been quite a year in the Children’s Room, and this is normally something I’d post on my personal blog, BUT I think it’s something we all need to hear from time to time. Sometimes things are overwhelming. This year, my director suddenly resigned in March. We still do not have a replacement. Our budget was frozen from May to August (yup, right during the Summer Reading Club – fun!). In June, we moved the teen area downstairs and combined Children’s and Teen into the Youth Services Department, which I am supervising (more staff to supervise!). I bought a house with my fiance in August (and yes, I’m planning a wedding, too). In, I don’t know, September or something we shifted the pages from being supervised by Circulation staff to being supervised by Reference and Youth Services (more staff to supervise!)….

Blogger Abby Johnson

Visit the Science Playground

Last month during our students’ Fall Break, I offered a STEM program that was easy to prep, easy to staff, and cost us nothing! We held a drop-in Science Playground where I put out all kinds of science materials and allowed families to explore at their own pace. ** This is the caveat where I tell you that the reason that this program was absolutely free to us is that we have been collecting science tools and kits for several years for our summer Science Explorer table. Worry not, I have some ideas in case you do NOT have science tools at the ready!** I scheduled the program for an afternoon during Fall Break. It was drop-in and open to all ages, although the materials we had were mostly geared towards the early elementary crowd (and that’s the audience we ended up attracting). I set up tables in our meeting…