ALA Midwinter 2012

Business, Book Haziness, and Brainstorming

What’s the difference between ALA Annual and Midwinter #alamw12? In general, I think of Annual as being all about celebration and inspiration.  There are publisher and vendor parties galore, the Awards Banquet, and plenty of juicy programs and sessions from which to glean ideas to take back home. Midwinter, on the other hand, is all about business and books.  This is when the committees, boards, and councils meet – and of course we’re all walking around in a Book Haze, drunk on the thought of the awards about to be announced and on the prospect of those luscious 2012 titles to be published over the coming year.  Oh, the Youth Media Awards!  Oh, the publisher previews (with snacks)! But despite the lack of programs at Midwinter, I’ve found plenty of inspiration this weekend as well.  For me, it was the weekend of Every Child Ready to Read 2, and more…

ALA Midwinter 2012

Sweaty Start to a Busy Day

Why does everything start so dang early at #alamw12?  The Fun Run 5K in Reverchon Park was no exception, but it turned out to be a fine way to start the day.  And I placed 3rd female, 10th overall – yeah, baby!  For all results, check here. Then it was on to a PLA Community of Practice discussion on Every Child Ready to Read 2, where those of us who have implemented the program shared thoughts and ideas with those who are beginning or considering the program.  If you are interested in joining the ECRR2 discussion, come to the ALSC Preschool Services Discussion Group Meeting on Sunday at 4:30 in the Hyatt, Shawnee Trail #362. And now on to the Convention Center and some ARC wrangling!

Blogger Eva Mitnick

A Profusion of Resolutions

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who make New Year’s Resolutions every year and those who roll their eyes at the very idea. Being very much in the first camp, I’ve become something of an expert at making (and breaking) New Year’s Resolutions.  There are three basic guidelines for making a New Year’s Resolution that you actually have some chance of keeping: Be specific Announce it to the world If at all possible, don’t do it alone – invite participation For example, saying “I resolve to read more in 2012” is laudable but way too general.  Here’s how a hard-core Resolver might do it: “I resolve to read as much well-reviewed children’s nonfiction published this year as I can!” Announce it to all your colleagues in person and on Twitter, Facebook, your blog – get the word out. Start a blog on which you review one…

Blogger Eva Mitnick

Here we are now: engage us

Across the country, public libraries have come to the realization that we’ve been giving an entire segment of our service population short shrift in terms of programming. Yep, I’m talking about those kids who are too old for storytime and and too young for teen programs – the tweens!   Definitions differ, but let’s say they are between 8 and 11 years old. We’re good at providing books for this group, and that certainly benefits the readers among them, as well as kids doing their homework. But when it comes to providing enticing year-round programs – well, we sometimes neglect this age group. There are plenty of articles, webinars, conference sessions, and blog posts about tween programming; anyone looking for great ideas will find plenty of them. But what I’m pondering is how to fit tweens into our overall library mission in order to ensure that service to this age…

Blogger Eva Mitnick

Renovating beloved programs

There comes a time when any library, whether it’s one branch or a whole system, needs to reassess the way it does things, whether it’s something specific (storytime or visits to schools) or broader in scope (programming for families with young children; outreach). It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, especially when that rut is a particularly pleasant and apparently popular and successful one.   Even when things aren’t going as well as one would hope, it can be hard to see beyond “that’s the way we’ve always done it” to figure out how improvements can be made. I’m at that point with a program that we’ve offered at our 72 branches and Central Library for over 20 years, in which adult volunteers read to children, one-on-one or in small, informal groups, at the library. First called Grandparents and Books because we focused on the intergenerational benefits of pairing older…

Blogger Eva Mitnick

Librarians then and now – passion and questions

One of my favorite books about our field is Library Work with Children, reprints of papers and addresses by children’s librarians, selected and annotated by Alice I. Hazeltine and published by H.W. Wilson in 1917. From programming to discipline to reference to “values” – it’s all here, the work we’ve been doing for over a century.  It’s clear from these essays that children’s librarians have been passionate, opinionated and outspoken from the very beginning. Take “Story Hour.”  Way back in the dawn of children’s librarianship, this meant something far different than it does now.  If you could step back in time to 1905 or 1930 or even 1965, you’d see a group of kids, most of them no younger than 8 or 9, seated around a librarian.  This librarian would be telling a story.  Not reading a story – telling it.  It might be a Hans Christian Andersen tale, a…

Blogger Eva Mitnick

ECRR2 – ready to roll!

In an earlier post, I anticipated happily the arrival of the new version of Every Child Ready to Read.  And sure enough, the new approach to presenting early literacy parent workshops, with its emphasis on the 5 activities parents can do with their children from birth to get them ready to read, is a vast improvement. We just got the packet of materials in late June, and I spent July training small groups of children’s librarians at our 72 branches and Central Library on the new product, with two more groups to go in August.  Though we haven’t yet had the opportunity to give the new workshop to parents, our children’s librarians are enthusiastic about the attractive, interactive, and flexible new presentation. Here’s what we like: The slides are attractive, with photos representing many different ethnicities There are very few words on each slide, and very little jargon The talking points (no script…

Blogger Eva Mitnick

A little nosiness now; effective planning later

Like Kelley and the folks she links to in her intriguing post on Technology and SRCs a few days ago, I’ve thought about library summer reading programs quite a bit over the years – first as a children’s librarian on the front lines and now as manager of Youth Services for my system. Really, it’s been about a search for meaning.  Why do we do it?  Is it doing what we hope it’s doing?  How do we know?  Yes, there’s the Dominican Study – but I need more! My own questioning aside, our summer reading program is here to stay, and this year we have done away with cheap gewgaws and are focusing on books as prizes, plus chances to win system-wide prize drawings, based on minutes read (for grades K-5) and early literacy activities completed (for ages 0 – 4). But…!  The fact that we took a new approach this year, plus our lack of…