Friday, June 28, 2013

ALA 2013 - Chicago!

So, here I am in beautiful Chicago for the ALA 2013 Conference!  This year I will attempt once again to give a play by play of all the activities I take part in during the conference.  I've already had a big day, so here goes!

Started out my conference experience by riding up to Chicago with two librarian friends and what did we talk about most of the way up?  Libraries, of course.  Particularly ideas for how to make our state-wide youth conference amazing.  Once we got to the Windy City it was a quick stop to drop my bags off and get checked in at the hotel, then I was off to the convention center!  But first I had to get there.  Last year, my hotel was about one mile from the main convention center.  This year, it's more like five.  So, even thought I love my running, a five mile run is not exactly how I was anticipating getting around.  Luckily, ALA provides a free shuttle service to get us all carted around the city.  Unluckily, my first shuttle whizzed past me without so much as a how do you do.  So, I had to wait for almost an hour to even get to the convention center!  Of course, I spent that time meeting some librarians who are staying at or near my hotel.  Who can say networking!  Shuttle arrived, and I was off to get pick up my registration materials.

After checking in at registration I high-tailed it my first meeting...I sat in on the 2014 PLA planning meeting since it will be in Indianapolis and I now represent the State Library.  I can't divulge anything about that meeting because I was sworn to secrecy.  But I was treated very kindly by all who were there.  And that's all  I can say about that.  I will add that I took notes on my iPad using Evernote.  See how relevant I am?

Next stop, the first Keynote of the conference.  Steven D. Levitt of Freakonomics fame kicked off the conference telling us a bit about how he got into talking about Freakonomics and a few of his freaky ways of thinking about problems.  I had already heard about his premise that the crime rate went down in the 1990's because of legalized abortions in the 1970's, so that wasn't a surprise to me.  I was surprised that apparently global warming can be fixed by putting chemicals up into the atmosphere to create more clouds.  Uh huh.

The vendor hall opened after that.  Oh sweet free books.  Getting in right when the vendor hall opens is an honest to goodness cluster activity.  Then it's a constant press to pick up the piles and piles of freebies from all the many vendors.  I barely scratched the surface of the hall and only hit the major kid publishers, but I still ended up with a Wonder Woman tote bag, dozens of free books, and two interviews with Sammy!  Sammy got to speak with Tanya Lee Stone, author of many books including Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote, AND Ken Setterington, author of Mom and Mum are Getting Married and his newest, Branded by the Pink Triangle.  Ah, Sammy makes life good.

By then, my librarian friends and I were getting very famished.  We started our walk to our last destination, grabbing a quick dinner at Panera on the way, and arrived at the Sheraton for the session titled:  “Bleak New World: YA Authors Decode Dystopia."  And YA authors there were.  The panel was made up of YA stars Veronica Roth, Patrick Ness, Cory Doctorow, and the one and only Lois Lowry.  

Wow.  I was in the same room as Lois Lowry.  

I didn't actually get to hear Lois' opening remarks, which was disappointing, but I did get to hear her answer some questions and I also totally felt one with Veronica Roth when she mentioned reading a lot of Lois Lowry as a young adult.  Hearing authors speak is fascinating, especially hearing them react to their readers during the Q and A segments.  

Then came the big amazing moment of the evening.  Sammy got to interview Cory Doctorow.  Yep.  That really happened.  All in all?  Great first day.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Year of Programs for Tweens / Coming Out in Print

Well folks, ALA is slipping further and further into the past as the days stretch forward into August.  It's hard to believe that July is gone and the conference was well over a month ago.  Here in Indiana we are suffering from the worst drought we've had in 30 years.  It is all around us, from the brown grass, to the trees that are dying and losing their leaves.  It looks like Africa instead of Indiana.

But, back to California! 

Brianne Wilkins-Bester presented an awesome session on programming for Tweens.  She put together a great website on this session that you can see here:  Programming for Tweens.

She focused a lot on programs based on TV, which to be honest, I would suck at.  I just don't watch enough freaking TV.  So, there are programs based on The Amazing Race, Iron Chef, Mythbusters, The Price is Right, and CSI.  But she also had other great ideas not related to TV:
  • "Would you rather" ice breaker
  • Feed them and give them swag (anything...they just want stuff)
  • I loved her Anti-Valentine's Day Party...make Gocks, rip up a Teddy Bear, beat a pinata, write fake break-up letters, make black roses out of duct tape!
  • Urban Legend programming using the website
  • YouTube Video contests
  • Wee Bit of Fun St. Patty's Day program
  • Jersey Shore Dance Off (Insert name of your town instead!)
  • Also, serve Yoda Soda (anything green) at your next Star Wars program!  That is if you don't have a moral issue serving cokes to kids.  Yeah.  I struggle with that.
At the end of this session, Sammy had an opportunity to interview Tom Angleberger, author of the Origami Yoda books.  That was just amazing.  It was definately the highlight of Sammy's conference.  Agghhh!

The last session I attended was Coming Out in Print:  The LGTB Literary Landscape.  This session talked all about the literature available today with gay (I'm using that term to talk about everyone...hope that is okay) characters, story lines, by gay authors, etc.  The panel was very thoughtful and lots of great questions were asked and answered.  Two things stuck out in my mind...first thing, items with gay themes can be hard to find.  Catalogers have to do a really good job putting information in their records so that people wanting to find these items can...even information regarding secondary characters is helpful.  The second thing that stuck out in my mind is the fact that its seems we had a bubble maybe 5 years ago with lots of titles published, but the panel thinks that we are currently in a little bit of a drought.  They think it's because publishers believe that titles with these themes don't sell as well.  Whether or not a book sells is just a crap shoot.  There are SO many factors that go into it.  Luck is a big one.  The clout of the publishing house is another.  The online presence, word of mouth, the blogesphere...all those things affect all books.  So, somehow not publishing this particular kind of book now, when the audience is only just going to get bigger, is really dumb. 

Well readers, that's it from me.  The American Library Association conference was an amazing experience.  I really hope I continue to get opportunities to attend such great professional development events.  Happy reading!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

ALA Camp Friends!

I figured that all my avid readers are probably a little tired of just hearing about sessions, riveting though they may be, and maybe you want to hear about fun stuff?  Well, here's some fun stuff.

My last day in Anaheim was spent with my ALA Camp friends.  We went to the Muzeo museum to see an exhibit called The Word:  Ink and Blood - Dead Sea Scrolls to Gutenberg.  A perfect exhibit for a bunch of bibliophiles.  The museum also had a second exhibit, a photography exhibit, in a related (were they connected?  Cannot remember.) building called Resonating Fields.  This was the work of Lois Greenfield and it was very cool to look at.

My ALA Camp friends and I did camp-like things like singing Kum-by-a in the car (provided by our local ALA Camper!), eating outside (although this was at a little sandwich place...not actually at a campsite), and posing for pictures, and then I bid them all adieu and they headed back up to the state of Washington, I headed back to the state of Indiana (currently we are in a severe state of drought), and our one friend is left holding down the fort in Cerritos. 

Miss you ALA Camp friends!

Still to come, a post about programming for tweens, and a post about the state of GBLTQ publishing.

Love from Broadway Gal!

Focus on the Future: Connecting Books and 21st Century Readers

This was a super fun session presented by Deanna Gouzie and Susan Dee.  They gave loads of ideas for ways to use technology to connect young readers to books.  Think about that concept for a minute.  This isn’t using technology just to tell your board you are using it, this is using technology for a purpose and that purpose is to get young people excited about books and reading.

First thing I jotted down in my notes was about book reviews.  Librarians have been encouraging their young readers to write book reviews for millions of years (well…okay…not millions, but you get the picture).  Reading and writing go together and personally, I believe the more we can get kids to write, the better off they will be.  In the good old days, there might have been a system where a child could initial books they liked, or slap a large post-it note on the cover of a book they liked, or maybe a library would have a binder in the youth area where children could submit their writings. 
So, how can we use technology to get kids excited to write book reviews?  These ladies suggested creating a simple form using Google Docs.  I actually did this a couple of years ago to do a survey for my library’s in-service and they are right!  Google Docs creates a simple, attractive form, that kids might be more drawn to using than hand writing a review or sending an email.  There are certainly other ways to use technology for book reviews…blogs of course; your website might have its own form function you could tap into, and I’m sure there are lots more. 
Speaking of blogs, they do a lot with blogs and they suggest the site  I just took a look at it and it seems pretty easy and hip.  I’ve always used Blogger for my blogs, but that’s because I started dappling in blogs over six years ago and WordPress was just a toddler then and I didn’t know what I was doing…but Blogger’s been good enough for what I need it for, but Glogster looks fun too.  So that was kind of a ramble-y sort of thought.
Something fun that sometimes happens when kids blog about books is that the author might leave a comment.  This just happened at our library and it happened to one of the presenter’s students and man does that leave an impression on a student!  The great thing about getting this stuff online is exposing the kids to a larger community of people excited about books and that includes the authors!

A great way to connect kids with authors, and something I’d like to try with my homeschool group in particular, is using Twitter! They also suggested using Twitter for professional development.  They suggested using national events to tweet on; days like National Picture Book Day / Poetry Month / and Children’s Book Week.  Find the hashtags that everyone else is using and tweet away with your students.  You can all be in the same room even, but document your discussion via Twitter and who knows who might join your discussion!
They talked a lot about book trailers.  We’ve use book trailers some with our patrons…mostly Scowl Face (one of my co-workers) creates them at my library.  They use Animoto, which I will have to try, and they do simple things like just filming their students giving booktalks.  

Other great ideas they had included Skypeing with authors (some will do this for free!) skypeing with other libraries, having programs where you teach the technology, using the Educator Accounts you can find (Animoto and Glogster both have Educator accounts) for more control over access to the student work, and much more. 
This was an awesome session and I came away with lots of ideas of things to do. The other thing I came away with was a free book!  Thanks ladies!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


So, this is the session that will most likely strike fear into the hearts of many librarians everywhere; the session about abandoning Dewey and moving towards a subject based categorization system based on children…not on decimal points. 

This was a fantastic session presented by Tali Balas Kaplan, the librarian at the Ethical Culture Fieldstone School, Gretchen Caserotti from the Darien Library and Deborah Cooper from Stark County District Library.  These fabulous librarians presented a very well organized session all about taking the plunge and putting all the truck books together…yes.  All of them. 

It happens all the time.  It happened to me about five times last week.  A kid comes in with their parent and asks for a truck book (or dinosaur, or super hero, or puppies).  What do I do?  I take them to the easiest place…J nonfic.  They choose a couple of books with lots of pictures of trucks and detailed descriptions and then come back to the desk.  “Do you have more truck books?” says the kid.  And mom might add, “he really wants something I can read to him.” I hear that and I think Picture Book.  So then I have to go to the catalog and spend an easy 10-20 minutes finding what’s in, where they are located, and pulling them for the frazzled mom who wanted to get out of here 15 minutes ago. 

Sure.  We could have a little “how to use the card catalog” lesson.  And sure, I could write down a list for her and have them pull them herself, but I’m not going to do that.  She’s the one trying to find books for her kid and I’m the one with the knowledge of where they are.  Plus it’s just good customer service to spend time with your patrons.  And she has an antsy kid.  Oh, and let’s give that kid a brand new baby sister.  Because that is very common at my library.  Mom rarely comes in with just one kid.  Oh, and let’s say that everyone else is at lunch and I’m the only one on desk and there are three families wanting books only this family wants trucks and that family wants dinosaurs and that family really is interested in books about the seasons.  This is going to take at least an hour and meanwhile, I’m ignoring my other patrons and I’m not getting anything else done.

What if instead, mom come up to the desk, asks for truck books, and I walk her over to the Transportation section where all the truck books are located.  Mom is incredibly happy because she can see a host of books all about all kinds of things that her kid will like: trucks, trains, helicopters, motorcycles…oh, and here’s Thomas!  And here’s an information book about submarines!  She is empowered because she now knows her new favorite section in the library.  Kid is happy because he finds many new books, fiction and nonfiction, that will satisfy his hunger to learn more about trucks and other kinds of transportation.  And I’m happy because the next time they come into the library, they will zip right over to the Transportation section, they will find what they want, and, aside from me making sure that their visit is going well, I will not have to spend hours each week pulling books for the same families.  Instead, they will know what they want and they will be able to go right to it. 

Okay, obviously there are challenges.  First thought?  What sort of sections?  Here are some used at some of the libraries who presented:

Growing Up / All About Me
Folk / Fairy Tales
Rhymes and Songs

Those are just ideas.  The school library who was represented uses a more detailed section which you can learn about here.  It is called Metis and it is fabulous.

Obviously, you would want to choose areas that work best for your library. 

Think about these facts…kids don’t learn decimals until the 3rd or 4th grade.  So those children who are most likely looking for books about dinosaurs are not likely to know how to find the nonfiction dino books using Dewey.  Remember…decimals = 4th grade = 9 year olds.  That’s 9 years of using the library before we should expect them to be able to use Dewey.  And how long do children use the kids’ section of the library?  Until they are 12…maybe 14.  So, that’s just another 3-5 years.  Why not reorganize based on how their brains are actually wired to accept information?  Visually.  The are visual learners. 

The libraries who presented made their own stickers and color coded everything.  The school even color coded fiction vs. nonfiction so that patrons could easily recognize what was what.  There are a million different ways to do it, but the main hurdle I see is looking at your collection based on content and not based on reading level.  Of course, we’d still want to keep our Ready 2 Read section, but we could absolutely expand our ABC / 123 section and just turn it into the Concepts section complete with books about Opposites (how many times do we have to pull those books Jaymi?) and Colors.  Our Picture Non-fiction section would obviously get redistributed into the new “glens” (that’s what one library called them…we would probably use a different word…we are arranging by subject? topic? Section?  Something like that.) We already have the Youth Bio section…all those 921s in the Picture Nonfiction section would move over there and we’d never have to decide where to put those books again.  All in the Famous People section (not biography…Famous People).  See?  We already have these sections.  We just need more.

Yes, there would be challenges.  Yes, it would take some time and we’d have to really be organized about it, create goals and deadlines and stick to them.  Yes, we would have to suspend some other services at the same time we are working on this project.  However, we could do it in 6 weeks.  And look at the benefits.  One library increased their circulation of their picture books by 500%.  Yes.  You read right.  Patrons are happy that they know where to go.  Children can learn more about themselves and become more independent as they discover their favorite areas.   Extensive weeding could go on at the same time.

Another thing.  It’s okay if our sections are a disaster all the time.  As long as things are easier for the patrons to find, we should be happy. 

So, am I going to do this at my library?  I would really, really like to. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Digital Lives of Teens and Libraries of the Future

Oh ALA.  I miss you so.

These are notes from two different sessions I attended about the future of libraries.  One related to teens and one related to libraries in general. 

The session about teens was all about how they develop and how we as librarians need to stay up on what's going on as far as technology so we can continue to be relevant in the lives of young people.  Some things from my notes:
  • Adults are people who have their full frontal lobe completely developed and have practice with reasoning
  • Teens don't have this yet
  • Girls hit puberty earlier than boys and they go through it quicker
  • Boys get 40% of their development between the ages of 8 and 10
  • Boys get 40% of their development between the ages of 10 and 14
  • The last 20% of their development they get later
  • All of a male's development occurs when they are sleeping
  • Don't forget the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents 
None of this was really new to me. I took an adolescent psychology class in college and learned all that AND MORE about the teen brain, but it's always good to get a review.  Next they talked about technology.  Sheesh, it's moving so fast.

They talked about personal phones versus family phones...I remember when I was a kid that phone in the back hallway was a very important staple in our household.  We wrote telephone numbers on the bare wall when we didn't have wallpaper.  I'm sure they are still there.  But there was a transparency throughout our family because of that phone.  I knew when my sisters got calls from their friends and mom knew if we were on the phone.  Teens today have personal phones giving them a lot more privacy, empowerment, and opportunities for all kinds of things.  We are also rapidly moving toward the model of each family member having their own computer vs. just one for the entire family (like our old phone!).  The speaker said DVDs are on their way out. 

Teens are good at managing relationships and networking.  They remember their friends from summer camp six years ago because they are still friends with them on Facebook.  They can handle multiple levels of relationships and higher quantities of relationships.  Is this changing how their brains are wired?  Hmmmmm...

The speaker also said that we are moving towards changing careers more frequently.  The average American will have 8 different careers in their lifetimes.  That's a big change from the past. 

He said we don't have a digital divide as much as we used to because of smart phones bridging the gaps...instead we have more of an urban vs. rural divide having do to with fast access to the Internet. 

Guess what else is coming?  Chipping your children.  Have you all read Feed

Give it a shot.

So what does this mean for libraries?  We need apps and we need them now.

Here are some notes from the "Libraries of the Future" program...

This is something the speaker said that I wrote down...this isn't really verbatim:  this is the last generation that we can engage with to help change our libraries.  We have to hold onto the young and align with the way they are NOW or we will keep falling further and further behind. 

Some good common sense advice?  Look at the 21st Century Common Core Standards to see what is being taught in schools and make your collections reflect that. 

Create an experience that causes learning...sounds like what I do when I program, but we have to do that in our spaces as well.  Digital Creations Lab anyone?

They encouraged us to have pictures of staff on the website and in the building.  People are our only edge over Google.  They also said you should use how you are serving men and boys as your measuring stick...not just moms and babies. 

Um...One True Media is a good way to mix video online. Going to try it for my Lego Star Wars program...doesn't have anything to do with what I'm talking about here...oh well.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What to expect when you're expecting posts from Suzanne: Part 2

Here's what you have to look forward to! 

Posts on the following sessions...
  • Digital lives of teens and young tweens
  • I want a truck book
  • Focus on the Future:  Connecting Books and 21st Century Readers
  • A year of programs for 10-14 year olds
  • Coming out in print:  the LGBT literary landscape today

There's an App for That!

Wow!  This was probably the best session I attended at ALA.  And that's saying a lot because I attended many wonderful sessions.  However, part of the reason I was so gung-ho to go to ALA was to learn more about changing technology (since I didn't get my first email address until I was in judging you hip Washington students!) and how to use technology with the kiddos.

Presented by librarians from the Darien Library (CT), Manchester City Library (NH), Wayland Union Schools (MI), and Brook Forest Elementary School (IL), this session was simply packed with ideas for using apps, apps to use, logistics of apps, and was entertaining to boot!  Great job guys! 

The slides from the presentation are posted here and here and more information is posted here.

Lots of ideas for the iPad and using them in your children programs. Here are some thoughts from my notes:
They listed lots of different apps on their slides, but since I linked to them above, I'm not going to talk about there here.  But I will talk about program ideas and how to use them in programs.  One thought is to have a technology class or club.  One of the libraries had a program called "Little Clickers."  Isn't that cute!  But, in today's touchscreen age, should it be called "Little Tappers?"  But then all we'd get would be a bunch of crazy tap-dancing kids, which would actually be okay with me. 

Kids like to play, so just giving them an opportunity to play with a few iPads or other tablets could make for a good element to a program.  You can let them experiment with making digital content (pictures...little cartoons or videos), you can sneak in library lessons (let's use the iPads today to look at the eSebco books!)...for Story Time you can have it linked up to your projector so everyone can see, or you can go around and let the kids take turns poking or tapping.

So, what makes a good app?  Well, they covered that too.  They should have NO ADS.  They should never, or hardly ever fail or not work.  They should have outstanding graphics, enhance your program rather than distract from it, and have lots to interact with. 

How to purchase all those apps?  Try using a giftcard and do it that way...then you don't have to worry about all those little charges on your personal credit card (or the library's if you are lucky like me).  You can sync many iPads together through iCloud...they recommend putting a passcode on your iPads...Apple TV is something to look into...

How do you find new apps?
Also, here's a hint when sure to buy the iPad version and not the iPod! 

Other programming ideas (and this would be great for Homeschool Group) could do a class on how to use an iPad...on cleaning, turning it on, etc.  Also, a unit on Storybook apps, digital storytelling, how to make stuff, or you could focus simply on photography or poetry! 

One last thought, I for one LOVE apps and technology.  I think we are going to have to keep embracing content and information as it grows and changes so that we don't  but we have to do it carefully and mindfully.  I for one am not for exposing children ages 2 and under to screens.  The American Academy of Pediatrics says it's not a good thing and I believe them.  My sister is a pediatrician, so they have a special place in my heart.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sammy Interviews Author Tom Angleberger!

So, Sammy got an opportunity to interview the author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda!  Ahhh!  This was a very exciting time for our feathered reporter.  So sorry the sound isn't better.  This was one of the most magical moments at ALA for our Sammy.

Sammy Meets a Friend at ALA

Sammy met a fellow puppet...I mean the conference.  Something about this video seems a little disturbing.  The friendly pig wasn't a talking animal like Sammy (Sammy got her "speaks" from Narnia, by the way), but grunted and oinked instead.  But, as you can see, they still got along famously.  I am an extremely bad conference goer and cannot remember what business card goes with what person (bad bad bad networker) so, if this is YOUR pig, please tell me!

Late:  It has been confirmed that the pig in the video is none other than Bacon from the Ak-Chin Indian Community Library in Maricopa, Arizona!

Sammy at the Exhibits at ALA 2012

Here is Sammy excited about picking up ARCS (Advanced Reading Copies) in the exhibit hall at the conference.  I might add that because of all of Sammy's grabbiness, my luggage was overweight to come back to Indy.  Most people at ALA are savvier than me (and no doubt, if Savvy had been here, she would have been) and ship their boxes back.  But I just didn't feel that I had enough to warrent all that extra effort. 

Fortunatley, I was helped by the BEST worker at US Airways who found me a coffee-maker box to put my books in.  She taped it all shut, created a handle out of tape, sent me through security, met me on the other side, and checked my box (for free) all the way to Indianapolis (and I had a stop in Phoenix!).  I might add that my flight number for Indy was 500.  They kept saying "If you are on flight number Indianapolis 500 blah blah blah blah..." Because once they said Indianapolis 500 I couldn't focus enough to hear what the blah blahs meant!  Flight Indianapolis 500!  Ha!

So when Sammy and I got back to Indy, Dad met us at the airport (at 1:30 in the morning) and I told him the story of the coffee-maker box and when it finally came through the luggage carosel (at 2:30 in the morning) we did a little dance.  Well, ok.  I did a little dance.   I probably jumped too.  Gosh those US Airways people are amazing. 

Lego Mania!

Sammy has a few things in common with me.  While I try not to scream and squawk quite as much as Sammy does, Sammy and I both love Legos.  I mean we really do.  A lot.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What to expect when your expecting blog posts from Suzanne

The internet at this hotel is not fast enough to do pics and videos in any way that will not drive me insane.  I ran this morning and am now packing too many books in my suitcase.  I'm sure it will be overweight.  So, I will be updating this (I know I said that once...oh well) with all my last sessions and more pictures and videos soon. 

Today's agenda?  Pack / shuttle / airport / home!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Typo City

Miraculously, today I'm posting from the convention center...meaning im using mynipad and im certain to make mistakes, so please bear wuth sure thisbalso means that im missing something wonderful while i sit here and wait for my cell to chsrge. Oh well. Such is life at ALA. So thisnmorning I had another great run with my Minnesota library friend then made my way to the CC (czonvention center) where i got to hear Dan Rather speak!!! He was a real class act. He has a new book outbsoon, andeven thoughindontusuallyread booksforadults (no judging) I may try his. That'swht happens when you hear authors speak. Then i heard Daniel Handler speak with his illustrator. Personal dream of mine. Awesomeness. Went to a great session about connecting readers to books with technology and also a session about young adults, theur brains, and how we need to communicate with them. More sessions now! More later!


Sunday morning I did the Yoga Fit class which was a GREAT deal…you got an amazing yoga class in the California sun with over a hundred other librarians, a free very healthy breakfast, AND a yoga mat, bag, pedometer, and water bottle!  What a deal!  Cauli and Sammy enjoyed as well. 

After that wonderful start to the day I headed to a session about library spaces for little ones.  It was really a great session.  We need self-check in our Youth area.  We need to get rid of our Book Nook mat (that’s why we have jumpers all the time), we need to add a rice table (yup…you read right) and we need to read up on Family PlaceLibraries.  I keep hearing about them everywhere! 
Why get rid of the Book Nook, you ask?  Well, it's all about what message we are sending our patrons.  If we have a nice soft area that is surrounded by things to climb on, what do you think will happen?  You're right!  Chidlren will jump!  Librarians will be annoyed!  So, Suzanne's recommendation for the day is:  get rid of book nook.  However, play is very important (learn about SPICE!).  Very important.  So important, that instead of calling crafts crafts, let's call it playing-with-paper-and-stickers instead.  This will also take away the whole let's-make-a-craft-that-looks-just-like-the-teacher's-craft attitude.  We are all set for good play-spaces...we've already got the train table and the puzzles.  But we can also teach through the space.  Tell parents it's good to play with their kids through placards placed around the area.  The Parent / Teacher area should be closer to the play areas. 
Some other ideas from this program: 
  • no shelving over 66 inches (we do pretty good with this in our lower level areas but not in our upper level issues)
  • tackable surfaces that look good when nothing is on them (we neeeeeeeed more surfaces like this)
  • stroller parking or cubbies for patron stuff...maybe in our RR hallway?
  • magnetic poetry / magnetic PAINT!  Wow!
  • white board paint
  • we really need to change our mini-lab into a Create Space with video equipment, a green wall, editing software, the whole nine yards.  We have the space!  Let's write an LSTA grant and do it! 
  • young people learn what they discover themselves
  • parents and caregivers like to learn informally
  • when I do my ECRR parent training (coming up!) I should open with a social time for them to network
  • Oh!  Let's get more toys and put them on the bottom shelves of the R2R area!
  • Weed!  Weed!  Weed!  In almost every session I went to I heard about weeding!
  • Don't make areas too young (worried about our mural by the train table)...have things for kids and adults as well
  • And here's a good quote:  The more complex the toy, the simpler the learning and teh simpler the toy, the more complex the learning.  We want complex learning!  Yay simple toys!
  • Here's another "know your community idea..."  Go through your community and look for PUBLIC spaces that really ARE for both kids and many do we have? park, McDonald's and that's about it.  So we have to make our space awesome!
  • Encourage lingering...we want them comfortable in our building.
Places to get more information about this session...Rethinking Libraries and the Norfolk Public Library!  I was excited about Norfolk because my sister lived there! 

Then I attended an AMAZING session about using apps in your library and ways to share them with your patrons.  It was great and amazing and warrents its own post, so look ahead or behind and you will find it! 

I had a quick lunch and grabbed up lots of free books in the exhibitor hall then it was onto a speaker event with Sherman Alexie, the author of Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  He was hilarious!

Then I went to an AMAZING session about reorganizing your Picture Book collections based on topic.  I know…crazy and a lot of work but so much easier for our patrons, who are, after all, why we are here.

The Newbery / Caldecott banquet was incredible.  I met some more wonderful librarians, this time from Arizona and got to hang out with Renee, a librarian from Chicago who sat with me during Chris Colfer the day before. 

Amazing day.  Lots more later!  I promise!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Brushes with Fame

It really is exciting to be at such a huge national conference.  I’m seeing people from everywhere!  This morning I started my day off right J with a run around the Disneyland Park accompanied by a librarian from Minnesota who used to serve on the CYPD board with me!  It was a great fun and we did about 4 miles. 

Took the shuttle to the Convention Center and ran into my Washington friends.  We all decided that it is probably just as easy to walk as to take the shuttle.  It doesn’t really save you any time and the weather has always been great here so walking is a treat.

I did a bit of session hopping this morning.  First up was a session about eBooks.  I was a little late, so I don’t know if they covered this, but I was really hoping to hear how quickly they think eBooks will take over, but mostly they talked about the nuts and bolts of eBooks…how to find money in your budget, streaming vs. downloading, and platforms available.  They really encouraged getting the records into your catalog. 

After that, I scooted over to a session that talked about marketing tools available on the internet.  I just caught the tail end of their discussion, but they were talking about a tool that I think a library created called Gimme.  I believe it is a Reader’s Advisory tool.  They also talked about Goodreads and how they feed that directly onto Twitter and a tool called Hootsuite that gives you a platform to tie all your social media together so you can update them all on the same page.  Some other ideas for connecting readers to books...put a staff review box in your staff lounge and input reviews later, have a copmputer station set up right there for staff to use on their break to review a quick book, make it personal. 

After that, on a whim I visited Houghton Mifflin’s Book Buzz and learned about some new titles including (drumroll please) Lois Lowry’s new book Son, the last book in The Giver quartet.  And guess who now has a free Advanced Reading Copy of said book!  Me!  I’m so excited!  Today was a good ARC day.  I got several freebies that I’m pretty excited about!

My last session before lunch was about programs that were funded with LSTA grants.  They gave some tips for getting the grants but mostly described their programs.  One was a great video project called Rhyme Time that was directed towards parents of emerging readers and another project concerned a product called Brain Boxes.  The second part of the session focused on making your space work for your patrons, especially your spaces for young children.   I was introduced to Family Place Libraries and am really looking forward to learning more about them. 

I attended a luncheon today honoring the great Susan Cooper for winning the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Young Adult fiction.  We each got a copy of one of her books, but the really exciting thing for me was that I randomly got to sit next to the Newbery Award Winning Author, Susan Patron!  She was lovely to talk to and even let me take my picture with her and Sammy.   Susan Cooper’s talk was touching, evocative, and entertaining.  It was wonderful to get to be there for that event. 

It was really a star-studded day.  After that I stopped by Jack Gantos’ book signing area.  I didn’t have any books to get signed but I said hi and reminded him of the time I picked him up from the airport.  He said he remembered my cautious driving and gave me a huge stack of bookplates to put into books.  He squeezed my hand and I was off to yet another heart stopping moment with famous people.  Yes, this time it was Nancy Pearl!  She was sitting in a booth and I just went right up to her and told her that my mother and I heard her speak in Indianapolis and thanked her for being wonderful.  She was great and said she’s be in Indy again soon for the ALSC Conference!

Oh, but the brushes with fame didn’t stop there. I headed upstairs and hung out in a line to get front row seats for Chris Colfer’s talk. I met a real live mover and shaker (hi Renee!) and managed to get front row seats for Chris! He was just darling and funny and so charismatic. And to top it all off, we got free ARCs of his book. Amazing.

One last session to wrap up the day…I attended one about marketing based on libraries that have won the John Cotton Dana Award.  I was a little late for that session as well (things are just so far apart and it’s really easy to get caught up in the exhibit hall) but heard all about the Como Public Library and their successful marketing campaign to draw attention to their unique music materials related to their blues history.  They created a DVD and and had a DVD release party!  Great idea!  Very powerful stuff. 

Some other notes from that session included some ideas for swag to give away (maginfiers, post-it notes, generic business cards, magnets) and they also stressed the idea of focus groups as well.  I'm starting to see informal focus groups walking around my library everywhere!  I just want to grab those people and be like, "would you like to spend 10 minutes talking about the library?  I'll give you a Diet Coke..."  Because you can get really really good info that way. 

Some notes on applying for the award (which we should do because we had a really good marketing plan for our 100 Year Celebration including a new website...coming soon...a new logo...see below...a butterfly release, a new tag line:  "You're Very Welcome!"  and, my favorite, dancing through the ages)...they said to find out what makes your community YOUR community and focus on that.  Also, they said to put all the infomation on one file instead of several little ones all linked together, and here is an idea that came out of this session that has nothing to do with what I'm talking about.  You want to get your staff engaged more with your databases?  Offer a quick award for the first staff member to answer a question using the databases.  Don't know where that idea came from but it's in my notes!
It was a long day, so I headed back to the hotel and wound down in front of the pool with Susan Cooper’s book for a while and now I’m being a loser and staying in just to plan out the next couple of days and to update you all on what’s going on.  Oh well.  Sometimes it’s fun to be a loser.  J

Here’s a bit of knowledge I learned at some session today but can’t remember which one:  Don’t go after non-library users right off the bat. Go after casual library users and make them into power users. They will then tell their friends how great the library is and voila!  Word will spread and you will have non-users become casual users and the cycle starts all over again until everyone in your community is a card-carrying member of the library community!  So, something to think about.  Tired.  Good night!

Sammy at the Preconference at ALA!

Sammy at the Preconference...

Summer Reading Program Tied to Outcomes

Okay folks...I have a lot of catching up to do so here goes. 

Yesterday for the preconfererence day, I started out doing the Unconference and then moved onto a session all about changing up your Summer Reading Program (SRP) and tieing it to Outcomes instead of Output. 

Output are things we easily measure.  Diane knows that I love tracking Output.  I love seeing how many programs we have in any given month, how many volunteer hours we've racked up, and my favorite:  how many kids we reach through library programming.  Of course, my favorite statistic over the summer is sometimes stressful - How many children are signed up for summer reading?  It's stressful because I always want to beat my number from the year before.  This year we have real goals tied to our Strategic Plan that have framed what we are trying to accomplish very specifically and it's tied to guess what?  Output.

Outcomes are different.  They are things like skills, knowledge, attitude, behavior, condition, and life status.  This program, which was presented by some California librarians (LAPL was at least one of the systems presenting) says that outcomes basically reflect how people change because of participating in your program or the library.  It's the impact that your program actually has.  It's hard to measure if reading scores in your community improve because of your SRP, but you can show if people feel differently after your program.  Outcome measurements are great to have when applying for grants or presenting info to your library board or anytime you need to prove your worth.

They gave us lots of ideas including doing focus groups, "pre-tests" and "post-tests," targeting a specific underserved group to tie outcomes to, and of course, do a Needs Assessment (what are your reading scores doing, who is moving in and out of your area, get a goup of local leaders together and ask them, partner with your principals, find out what else is going on in the summer in your community...) before starting the whole thing. Even just taking a walk through your community can help you discover a lot.  They said if you do this, identify your self as a librarian (usually a tote bag, comfortable shoes, and an embroidered sweatshirt that says LIBRARIAN AND PROUD OF IT will accomplish this) and get people to talk to you.  Also, talk to your own staff and the clerks who work at your circ desk.  They can be very knowedgable about your community and might welcome the chance to share their local knowledge. 

The librarians who were presenting focused on getting all their participants to feel like they belonged to a community of readers and not just individual people participating in the Summer Reading Program.  They did many things to make this goal happen, including getting targeted community members to participate in their SRP. 

Just from my notes, here are a few other things...turn the SRP into a community service project for teens...I don't know about your library, but the teens in my community are just itching for community service all the time.  I have so many teens that want to volunteer and I just don't know what to do with them all!  Choose a goal but direct it from the patron's point of view, not the library's.  Create a benchmark by choosing an attainable goal. You can use teachers' observations as part of your outcome.  It's always good to tie your outcomes to your strategic plan (Yep.  We've got one of those.)   Another note, they stressed not to try to do everything on your own!  Have a SRP committee and have all of them help.  Survey your staff after the SRP to see how it went.  This is really important for planning for the next year.  Oh, and what about this?  Swap libraries when you are doing focus groups!  You will be much less biased when talking to people who aren't your own patrons. 
It was a very worth-while session made even better by the fact that a woman I went to IUPUI with was there!  She now works at the Cincinnati Public Library system and I ended up joining her and two of her co-workers for dinner at P. F. Changs (I know...fancy.) 

Then it was onto the exhibits.  This was the biggest one I'd ever been in.  Super fun with lots of things to see.

After that, I went to a really fun session all about playing games in the library.  I played Blokus and Tellestrations, and also played a fun simple game called the Dancing Eggs Game.  This was really more of a social event than a session and was lots of fun.

Then (and the reason I had no time to blog yesterday) I went out for drinks and dancing with a group of hip students from Washington.  I had fun, but headed back to the hotel at the early hour of 11:00.  It really felt like 2:00 am for me and you all know, I never stay up that late.

Here are Sammy and Cauli at PF Changs!

In the land of Mickey, walking characters are everywhere...even if you might not know what they are...any guess as to what this happy fellow represents?

And here I am with Spidey.  He wanted me to keep my bird away from him.  Said his uncle was eaten by one...

Broadways Gal - aka, Suzanne

Friday, June 22, 2012


Went to two sessions today...I guess you could say one session and one "unsession."  The Unconference was an unscripted event for attendees to get together and talk about topics we wanted to talk about.  There were lots of great topics mentioned included ebooks, career paths, hackerspaces (I know...I didn't know what they were either), but I ended up joining a table talking about programming for teens and adults.  It was a pretty good discussion...heard some great ideas including the following:
  • partner with area teachers to find the local ringleaders in the high school or middle school and get them involved at the library.  Their friends will soon follow.
  • require all teen volunteers to participate in the summer reading program
  • do a round table with local librarians and share just one great program idea (a little more formal than your typical round table
  • if teen volunteers are scheduled to work and there is not much to do, tell them to find a nook and have them read for their SRP goal
  • it's always good to get a local person to come give a talk.  Patrons like being asked to help and patrons like listening to someone other than you.
  • we also talked about how important advocacy is in your library.
  • learned about the best games to use in gaming tournaments (Smash Brothers / Marvel vs. Capcon 3 / Double Dash / Super Street Fighter 4)
  • talked about how great it is to have animals in your library, snakes are a good choice
  • we discussed having a Read-a-thon as a money maker, like those walk-a-thons you remember from school
  • someone reminded us all of the website as a source for library grants.
  • one way to do prizes is to have a generic box of "really great things" (read, leftover crap you can't get rid of) for teens or kids to pick from for any time you need a reading incentive
  • someone mentioned the amazing blog The Unquiet Librarian 
  • I learned that the Smithsonian Institute has a lot of great online resources for educators
  • Of course we talked about Pinterest and how you can make a Pinterest board and have the teens follow can talk about crafts, books, and anything else they might be interested in.  An aside...Pinterest is a force to be reckoned with.  Must pin more!
  • One librarian in California did an awesome program with his local college...he partnered with the Physics department and did a program all about how to build rollar coasters!
  • What about this for an idea?  Build mini-weapons of mass destruction?  Adventure Club program anyone?   I could get a military guest to come into talk to round out the program!
  • someone suggested Cupcake Chess...although I try to stay away from pumping kids full of sugar, but that's just me.  Sugar definately makes for fun, easy programming...I will say that.
  • Oooo...listen to this!  One librarian suggested having a bike for mobile service!  Now I can totally see myself biking to the close schools for booktalking!
  • Someone mentioned renting a Star Lab...I mentioned Google Sky which I'm in love with
  • someone said teens really need solid relationship maybe a dating without drama program?  Could use this website:
  • I met Thomas Vose and he shared this article about Dungeons and Dragons, after I talked about how you don't have to know anything to have a great D and D program...oh the good old days of Dungeons and Dragons lockins!
  • More game ideas...Portal, Mindcraft, Roblox (this is Legos!  Must remember to look up!)
  • What about this?  Someone suggested doing a pumpkin patch for library families!  I'd be all over that if Diane would let me!
  • technology classes taught by the teens.  Unfortunatly, I'd be the first one to sign up for Twitter.  ;)
  • Try dry erase contact paper for the walls of your Teen Area!  Or chalk board paint!
  • Or how about some moss graffiti?
  • Also heard about Karen Jensen's Blog
After that session I approached some friendly looking folks and was like "um...can I join you all for lunch?" and I did and we had cheap Mexican fare and it was maaaaaaaaaarvelous.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Good Life


So, I was innocently wondering around the hotel looking for something to eat that was not pizza and I come back (banana and cereal in hand) to find that Sammy has turned our room into a TV studio. She is still mad that I stuck her in a suitcase for our whole flight here (sorry Sammy) but she shouldn't be that mad because I took her to the pool today along with Cauli!

I got to the hotel with no issues at all. Am meeting librarians left and right. So far I've met Penny, Erin, and Jennifer by name. After getting lunch at a close restaurant I decided to take it very easy today and get settled into my room (our room if you count my feathered and feline friends...don't worry...they aren't sleeping near each other) and then hang out at the pool. Kate, I got all my ordering caught up. Expect a deluge of Publisher's Weekly's when I get back!

Tomorrow AM I'm doing 4 miles (it's safe Dad, I check with the concierge) to make it to the closest grocery store so I can stock my fridge with food that isn't pizza then after that it's get ready for the convention! I'm hoping to be at the convention center by 8 to get registered and all set for my first preconference event, the Unconference. After that, it's a session on Summer Reading and then the exhibits open! I'm actually kind of scared of the exhibit hall. It seems like a jungle.

Enjoyed seeing the statue of John Wayne at the airport and boy did I love seeing mountains from the plane!

More (library related) updates coming tomorrow!  Hopefully I'll get Sammy's video uploaded tomorrow too.  It wasn't playing nice today.

By the way, the Disneyland Fireworks are very spectacular, but not when you are trying to sleep...

Airports, Travel and Planning!

Well, I'm on my way to the American Library Association Annual Conference!  Thanks to mom for dropping me off at the Indy Airport at the uncivilized hour of 5:00 AM.  I'm now safely in Phoenix getting ready to board my flight to the John Wayne airport in Orange County!  Once there I take a shuttle to my hotel and then it will be time to really delve into the ALA Scheduler.  I already have plans to hear Susan Cooper, Jack Gantos, Dan Rather, and Chris Colfer (yes, you read right!) all speak and am very excited about that.


There are lots of good sessions on eBooks, library spaces, graphic novels, leadership, etc!  Can't wait!  It's getting pretty intense here at the airport.  I think they are boarding 5 flights all at once.  I should be soon!  So, I forgot they have mountains in Phoenix (no judging).  I just love looking at mountains.  It's so restful after the flatness of my native land. 

Here's Flat Cauli on the plane and I took a picture of See's Candies in the Phoenix airport because I think my Walker family loves them.  More later!