Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Summer Reading Tic-Tac-Toe: A guest post by Katie Gatten

Poodles dancing in leotards
Katie Gatten is the Branch and Youth Services Administrator for the Mansfield/Richland County Library in Mansfield, OH, located directly between Columbus and Cleveland. There are 75,000 cardholders in their diverse county. For more information on their Summer Library Program, contact Katie a kgatten at mrcpl dot org.

This post will be decorated with GIFs of cute animals dancing because we all need that in our lives right now.

We decided to change up our Summer Library Program this year, having done the same program for many years.  It wasn’t a bad program, but we just wanted to try something fresh.  We had been giving the kids reading records to complete with 7 images to check off that represented 15 minutes of reading time.  When they turned in a completed record they got to pick a prize.  This was the classic Rhode Island Novelty stuff that was cheap quality yet costly, and fell apart soon after the kids received it.  Once the child completed 5 records and visited the library five times, they would also receive a final prize of a new paperback book of their choice.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Building a Better (?) Summer Reading

View of mountains and water from the
conference center
This week I had the pleasure of travelling to the absolutely stunning Columbia River Gorge to talk to the participants of the Oregon Library Support and Development Services Focus on Children and Young Adults Institute  (for brevity, named “The Focus Institute”).  This professional development opportunity takes place on even-numbered years and is attended nearly exclusively by non-MLIS library staff from small libraries, and has inspired the creation of similar programs in other states.

As I told attendees, I use a question mark after “better” because while I shared what’s worked for me, and we were going to try some things, I don’t think of any of the material as a do-all-end-all.  We did, however, get a jump start on our planning for SRP right there in the room.

The 2-hour presentation had three parts, some of which was structured similarly to the SRP presentation I gave in February 2014 in Wisconsin. These were:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Power of Validation

A tiny goat wearing a sweater
(Note: All images on this post will be decorative pictures of baby goats. Because.)

A few days ago, it was the one-year anniversary of my blog post “It’s Always Been Done That Way.”
At the time, writing that piece and posting it in public, where people might see, was one of the scariest things I have ever done in my entire life.

Would I be completely skewered?

Would think-pieces be written and completely misrepresent what I said in favor of complaining about something else?

Twenty minutes after posting, a librarian I admire and who has like, three times the Twitter followers I do tweeted out the link. My initial response was shaking terror. I breathed through it, and realized that the exact type of shame I talked about in the post was the same shame that I was feeling right then.

So I tweeted about that, too.

And I continue to do scary things.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The 'Made It Through' Awards

Ribbons that say, "I put pants on today" and "adulting honorable mention"
There are a lot of awards in library-land. While they're there to commend brilliant work, it can often make the rest feel like we're not good enough, not shiny enough. And sometimes, it's enough for many library staff just to get through the day.

I decided we need some acknowledgement of the everyday things that keep our workplaces moving along. And I'm calling them the "Made it Through" awards.

I created these images in Credly, but the logistics of giving them to other people or claiming them was more time than I felt like spending. so I took screen-caps and turned them into .JPGs.  Scroll to the bottom for the direct link to the Google Drive folder, or right-click to save.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Disability Allies in the Library: An Unsolicited Rant

Tweet from Storytime Underground that says
"Librarians are not neutral and libraries are not neutral spaces"
in all capital letters.
We need to talk.

What I am about to say is a long time coming. I am far from an activist and am speaking from the heart.

So here’s the thing; we all been dealing with a lot of tragedy recently. And it really sucks. And I get that we’re all tired.

But this week a bunch of stuff happened related to the largest minority in the world, disabled people/persons with disabilities/PWD* like me.

First, a minor with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2 has decided to end her life. One thousand people attended a party hosted by her mother  to celebrate before she dies. In other words, a suicidal teen has announced her decision to commit suicide, and the adults in her life are celebrating it. Let me be clear that I am not against the right to die, but I am critical of the adults in her life, including her doctors and counselor. ThisTwitter thread by Kayla Whaley gets at my feelings about it. This is not an isolated incident.

Second, nineteen people were murdered in Japan explicitly because they are disabled.  I didn’t see this shared on my Facebook feed until 24 hours after the fact, even though I searched Facebook for it so its algorithm would know it was important to me. Conversely, I saw many people who shared the new ALS gene findings, the sharing of which reads like an in-your-face to critics of the Ice Bucket Challenge drive which just so happens to include a huge portion of the disability community (I was going to find you some links to that, but please Google it if you have questions. It is multifaceted and not the point of this post**). I’ve seen it shared on library groups and on library Facebook pages.

To me, the narratives behind these two stories and its responses are the same: disabled lives are actively seen as less than able-bodied lives, unless our lives serve to make able-bodied people feel better about themselves.

I need to ask you, library staff and librarians on the Internet, to be disability allies.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Top 5 Places to Hide and Cry at Your Library During Summer Reading (plus bonus links)

You didn't think I could make it through the entire summer just letting other people motivate everyone at WCCLS, did you? Well, I still kinda am. Back before the promised flurry of SRP was punched in the gut by mass shootings and overt injustices, I made a little *attempting to be funny* video about crying in the library.

It's first-take and there's no title cards or props or anything. I always intended to redo it, but I'm unsure I could bring the same levity to this video now:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Importance of Deliberate Play Opportunities for School-age Kids and Teens

In the spirit of Summer Reading, this post will be filled with completely unrelated galaxy cats.

I’ve talked about the power of play in relation to early literacy and the Babies Need Words Every Day campaign. Today, I want to talk about the importance of the deliberate use of play with school-age children and adolescents.

When we talk about play and creativity in the library, we often talk about young children. And why not? Play is one of Every Child Ready to Read’s five practices. Once children hit kindergarten, though, we talk about makerspaces. We talk about STEM. Even though these are steeped in self-discovery in the library, the overt goal is to educate. Or, at least, add to our evidence that the library helps children “learn” by the academic definition. And for good reason:  It’s clear that libraries have resonated with stake holders about their role in early literacy education. The next obvious step is to show that we make an academic difference with school-age children. Some libraries do pre- and post-tests to prove Summer Reading helps prevent the Summer Slide. I’ve created outreach with measurable alignment to State Standards.

But it’s important not to lose the very real fact that play has non-academic benefits. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may notice that even saying this signals a huge shift in my thinking over the past year or so. Down to the deepest parts of my heart and soul, I am an educator who was born out of the public school system and for all its faults I will defend what is considered a public school classroom until at least the end of this sentence, and probably after that. I will give you that it’s not for every single individual; but public education has never been about The Single Individual, anyway.

That’s why I think it may feel so critical to me that I separate the library from its possible academic benefits here.  Play has so many additional benefits, especially for school-age children and adolescents who come from backgrounds in trauma: those who live with food insecurity or transiency, those who live with toxic stress, those who live in volatile or neglectful environments. Those who may not have a space to play. Basically, a lot of the kids and teens who come into our libraries whether we’re aware of it or not.

If we wanted more deliberately center our school-age and teen programming around play in a non-academic way, what could we say to justify it?