Blogger Ellen Riordan

LIBRARIES ARE IN THE LEARNING BUSINESS!!

We know this. We have been working with schools for decades and our summer reading programs are an integral part of our service to customers. With the advancement of research in summer slide, and libraries role in reserving the adverse effects of summer slide, we have new colleagues at our table. One of our most stalwart and enlightened partners are the folks at the National Summer Learning Association.  This year their annual conference is in my home town!! The speakers promise to be informative and inspiring. Join us and find new partnerships at every turn. Our colleges at Urban Libraries Council ULC, partnered with the National Summer Learning Association, to collect a significant amount of information about the many innovative and meaningful ways in which public libraries are providing summer learning opportunities for youth and their families; contributing to closing the achievement gap and mitigating the summer learning slide. Both…

ALA Annual 2015

Somewhere over the Rainbow

It was a wonderful time to be in San Francisco. Libraries, a cultural embodiment of inclusion and acceptance, happily shared in the celebrations honoring equality. In this past year, with our focus on diversity in all its aspects, materials, services and our own ranks, it was particularly fitting that we would be at the center of this latest piece of good news. Rainbows were everywhere. I am struck again and again by the passion of our members. Library work is more a calling than a profession and in this digital age, our work is more vital and less understood. In my presidential year, I was particularly gratified that children’s librarians are embracing their role in helping families determine how and what media to use to help children learn and thrive. The leadership discussion of the ALSC white paper on media mentors was a highlight of the conference for me. The…

ALA Annual 2015

Meaning in the Medals

It is hard to imagine that Annual is right around the corner. This year in San Francisco is particularly interesting for those of us who love children’s books. The much anticipated awards banquet is always a highlight, of course, but we are taking a look at awards from a different lens. The ALSC preconference will feature the honor winners of the ALSC media awards. Often the silver medals of Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert, Geisel, etc. are enduring favorites that contribute to our cannon of children’s literature though not as widely known. The best of children’s literature stands up to the same critical rigor as all great literature does. Plot, character, setting, conflict, metaphor, meaning, exquisite language and lasting insight are integral to those books we offer to our children and families again and again, year after year, generation after generation. We know too that context, the child reader’s context, will shape…

Blogger Ellen Riordan

Tuesday Morning

It is hard to describe to those who do not understand libraries, who haven’t been in a library in years, the value of the public library today. We are community anchors. Libraries are the center of life, a place of aspiration and hope. Sometimes that can sound like rhetoric, even to me. In Baltimore we have 22 libraries. One of them is at the corner of Pennsylvania and North Avenue. It is one of our largest branches and one of our most beautiful. The community it serves is one of our most disadvantaged. Every day the library is open, people of the community come to the library to use computers, attend baby storytimes and relax after school and work. Monday, April 27th was no different. By two o’clock the library had customers. Children, adults and teens were in the library along with staff when the violence that was taking hold…

Blogger Ellen Riordan

History in the Making

Literature lovers are gathering in Washington DC , at the DC Public Library to hear Brian Selznick’s May Hill Arbuthnot lecture. It is the 45th lecture and he joins an august bunch of authors, illustrators, children’s literature experts and scholars that have shared the podium to provide “a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature. “ Looking through the past honorees, one has a sense of the vast and changing world of children’s literature. Established at a point of high consciousness of changing times (1969), this lecture has remained rooted in the cannon of our work. In its implementation, the Arbuthnot honors both creator and space. Part of the process, as we know, is the application of host institutions that vie for a chance to showcase a renowned figure in children’s literature in their own world of work: city, town, university and in one notable case, a farm. 1 For…

Blogger Ellen Riordan

The Joys of Reading through Windows

We all know that when it comes to stories, children need both mirrors and windows to understand their place in the wide world. This never ending winter has given my life a different pace. Curtailed from Saturdays scheduled with errands and voice lessons, sewing lessons and play dates, my children and I have been reading aloud. They are both independent readers and have been for some time. My son is 16 and my daughter turns 11 this month but the joys of reading aloud are even richer than when they were little. Our options are more varied and their views of the world are wider. As librarians we have always known and advocated for reading aloud to older children but at least for me, making the time has been a challenge. My pledge is that after the snow melts, I will still suggest and make space for Saturday morning readings…

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…