Wednesday, April 18, 2018

On Having it All and Having it All Figured Out

This post is cross-posted original content on this blog's new home, BryceKozlaBlog.

[This is another self-indulgent blog post about my life. You're welcome to read it. If you're looking for a good Youth-Services-related read, check out "There's No Room for 'Priceless' in My Advocacy" by Amy Koester.]

I’ve been spending time with 20-year-old me lately.

It started out because Caleb and I are writing a toast for a friend who’s getting married next month. I met this person in college and we became closer friends in Junior year. I thought that maybe I could dig through my old journals and see if there were any funny stories we’d forgotten about to share.

Crossword clue taped on a denim background.

Text originally said "Peggy Lee hit",
has been changed to say "Peg Leg hit*."
This is the front of my journal from 2003.
There wasn’t much of what I was hoping for besides stories we revisit any time we get the chance; because, of course, we are obviously the funniest people we know.

What I did find, though, were the musings of a version of myself that I hadn’t forgotten but I also hadn’t checked in with in a long time. And I came to a realization:

35-year-old me would scare the hell out of 20-year-old me in all of the best ways.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Announcement: Making a Blog Move!

My blog is moving!

Over the next few months, I will be migrating and redirecting my content to...

Why not just BryceKozla? That's Caleb's and my old wedding website and I'm just too vain to let go of it.

I turned 35 this past year and I was totally not prepared for what that feels like and I may write some overly confessional article about it sometime, but probably not.

I have a "skin care regimen" and floss every day, though. I also eat vegetables multiple time a week, on purpose.I wanted to make sure YOU knew that I know what defines a grownup.

Comparing videos I made for a course in October with ones I made in 2014, I realized that I think- I THINK-I finally lost the last of the baby-ness in my face.

2014: Bryce with long, dyed red hair that's growing out, wearing a hoodie.
Bryce has a smirk, having been caught mid-sentence in a screencap.

2017: Bryce with shorter brown hair, wearing a hoodie.
Bryce has also been caught mid-sentence, but is smiling.
Okay, so maybe not so much. The 2017 screen-cap was taken in our spare bedroom that I've turned into a makeshift home office, so I'm actually sitting in a swivel chair at a table. The 2014 screen-cap was taken in our bedroom in La Crosse. I'm sitting cross-legged on a bed.

So, you know, some changes, regardless.

ANYWAY: Hopefully, the new website will be an archive of reader favorites from this blog while holding the capacity to grow and change as I mid-career around. Who even knows.

Some logistical stuff:
-continuing to host for free was a conscious decision:  While I'm not in a position to do extracurricular work for free much anymore, I want my blog's address to be a reminder that the content of my blog, as-is, is a no-cost resource. Please reach out and let me know if I can do something else for you-- I'll see if I can make it work!
-you won't lose your Pins: I've been assured by Pinterest staff that the type of redirect I'll be using for my old links won't be affected by the move. Yaay! This was truly the one thing that kept me from moving years ago--I wanted to make sure you all had what you needed.
-Feedly also shouldn't be a problem for a little bit: I'm intending to dual-publish if I can, just in case. UPDATE: Here's the follow page for Feedly.
-To ensure no interruption of my content on your feed, be sure to add brycekozlablog dot blogspot dot com to your preferred reader. If you follow by email using Feedburner, you can subscribe here.

I'm also pretty pumped to say that I'll be partnering with Chris at On a Roll Designs  to make an updated header! That's not an affiliate link or anything; I just like to support badass fellow ceeps wherever I can!

And if you end up completely forgetting about this, don't worry: 1) that's what redirects are for, 2)expect a few more reminders before it's all redirected, and 3) I'm sure we'll find each other again, someday.*

As the move is happening, look forward to some brewing posts on youth services and workplace culture. Also, we've got a few posts coming up from the amazingly creative Jennifer!

*No, I am NOT sorry for that.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Magic Tree House Library Party!

This post is authored by Jennifer Johnson, blog intern. See the rest of her posts here.

National Library Week is coming up next month, and I always try to do at least one or two special literature-based programs for kids during that week. Last year, we hosted a Magic Tree House program and it was a huge hit with our young patrons! The program I’m going to talk about today was based on the first four books, but we had patrons request more programs to keep going through the rest of the series!
This was an hour and a half program, so I knew I wanted to have at least one activity for each of the four books, plus snacks and a photo booth, which ended up filling the time quite nicely.


The activities here are super simple, but I spent a lot of time on the logistics of the tree house. The activities totally work without it; the payoff for the kids was pretty amazing though.
two wooden doors, each decorated like a tree.

Our meeting room can be split in two with a partition wall that, when not in use, is pushed into a storage area between the two sides of the room. I knew that I wanted to make that storage area our treehouse and have the kids go inside it and emerge into each story. And somehow, amazingly, we pulled it off.

I had the dinosaur side of the room ready to go before the kids arrived, on the other side of the partition wall that they couldn’t see when they entered the front half of the room.

Jennifer dressed in a red velvet dress and a white
wig, posing with Pete the Cat (who was there for another

I dressed as Morgan le Fay and acted as their guide, taking them all into the “tree house.” The decorations for the tree house were a collaborative effort between our teens (the leafy tree part at the top) and our maintenance staff (the carefully measured wood grain strips and windows). The inner décor was from a Magic Tree House program several years prior, and the painted bookshelf was repurposed from an escape room program. I brought the string lights from home since the storage nook has no lighting of its own, and I also brought a fan for some wind effects. I put real books in the tree house as well, and pulled one out each time we went inside for one of the children to point to and take us to our next destination.

inside the Tree House: storage room decorated with a string of lights,
a painted on book shelf and painted on window.

When we emerged into the time of dinosaurs for our relay, the room was decorated with some fake plants and toy dinosaurs I had brought from home. I even had a dinosaur costume that one of my teen volunteers wore (this good-natured girl switched props every time we switched activities, which was about every 15-20 minutes. She wore a helmet and carried a sword for the knights, wore a paper Egyptian headdress for the hieroglyphics, and wore a swashbuckling hat and eye patch for the pirates.)

While the dinosaur relay was going on, my other two teen volunteers were working their magic on the other side of the room, putting out the supplies for the jousting and throwing up some simple decorations (felt flags and knight action figures I’d brought from home). This way, when we went back into the tree house and emerged on the other side of the room, it had been transformed into a different time and place! The same happened while we were jousting. The two behind-the-scenes volunteers took down the dino decorations and set up for the hieroglyphic activity so that when we came back through the Magic Tree House, we had been transported once again and so on.

This was really complicated to coordinate, but the kids loved actually getting to go inside the tree house and see the room transformed each time. I’m really glad I did it that way, but I think for the next one, I may just have the tree house be a part of the room that the kids can interact with, and put all these stations in the same room to let them peruse at their own pace rather than taking the whole group through each activity at the same time. It certainly is fun to have that wow factor though if you are able to do it!


Dinosaurs Before Dark
Dinosaur Stomp Relay: I put tape on the floor for a starting and turn around point (one for each team) and split the kids into two teams to race against each other. I didn’t provide prizes; the glory of being the winning team is reward enough! Each team was given two sets of dinosaur feet, but you could do it with one set for each team. On my signal, the kids would race down to the turn-around point on their dinosaur feet, then race back and pass the feet on to the next person to race, and so on. You may want to stress that this is more of a race of endurance rather than speed because if they try to go too fast on the stompers, they may hurt themselves.

A young child dressed in pink standing on top
of plastic dinosaur feet

The Knight at Dawn
Jousting Competition: Again, there was no prize for this other than the glory, but the challenge was for the kids to see if they could spear a ring on their lances. I borrowed stick horses from various staff members’ children and my mom was kind enough to make a few for me out of pool noodles. I also made ring holders so that myself and my volunteers wouldn’t have to hold them in our hands and risk getting speared (with a pool noodle, but still). I hot glued clothespins on the ends of dowel rods to clasp the rings in place. The rings were paper plates with the middles cut out. The kids would choose their steeds and lances (also made from pool noodles and lovingly crafted by my mother), then line up to take their turns at attempting to spear the ring. I was fortunate to have a teen volunteer helping me, so we were able to let four kids joust at once if we each held a ring out to both sides. We tried to let each of the children have at least two or three passes at the rings. Unfortunately, to this day, this is still the activity that I regret not getting pictures of the most! The kids had a great time with it, but it was impossible for me to hold the rings and take pictures at the same time!

Mummies in the Morning
Hieroglyph Messages: I made copies of a hieroglyphic alphabet pulled from National Geographic for Kids, laid them out on tables with different colored paper, crayons, and coloring pencils, and let the kids create their own signs, letters, etc. using the hieroglyphic alphabet. This was so easy to do and I got some very interesting messages! (One of them translated to “Poop is cool.”)

Several children sitting at a desk, writing on
colored paper

Pirates Past Noon
Pirate Bean Bag Toss and Walk the Plank: The bean bag toss was something I created years ago for a summer reading finale that I pulled back out for this program. The kids could take turns at the toss, and they could take turns at walking the plank, which was a piece of wood I borrowed from our maintenance department laid out on a large blue piece of paper. I made three-dimensional shark fins out of cardstock and hot glued them to the paper as if they were circling around the plank. These activities were incredibly easy for my volunteers to supervise which gave me a chance to set out the snacks we had prepared.

Large cardboard box decorated like a treasure map.
Several holes are cut in it for the bean bag toss.

Child walking carefully on a wooden board
placed in the middle of a large piece of blue paper,
simulating water. 

Dinosaur Eggs: This program was right around Easter, so we were able to buy several bags of chocolate eggs fairly cheap!
Pretzel Swords: I bought the large, thick pretzel rods and put a Lifesaver Gummy around the end of each one to make a hilt. Super easy and the kids loved them!
Cheese Pyramid: I simply bought a variety of cheese cube flavors and stacked them into a pyramid. No fuss!
Fish and Chips: This one is a great example of my dad joke humor at its finest. I bought potato chips and Goldfish crackers and tossed them together almost like Chex Mix.

We also had a photo area with a Jack and Annie standee that I won at a conference that year (it was fate!) and an adorable knight/horse photo prop that one of our very talented clerks had painted for an outreach event.

I called in a lot of favors and reused a lot of old things for this program. Without the help of our teen volunteers, all that razzle dazzle with the tree house would not have been possible. I borrowed a lot of props from my mom because she and I love going to the local Renaissance Festival every year and she’s built up quite a stash. I commissioned a lot of help creating new things from our volunteers and other staff members because I was out of town at a conference the week before the program. But I think it’s important to make use of the talents of the people around you when they are willing to help. We all want to be Super Librarian, but you don’t have to do it all yourself. That’s the great thing about library services! We are all in it together!

I hope some of these ideas are useful and inspire you to have a Magic Tree House program at your library! One thing’s for certain, these books don’t seem to be losing popularity any time soon!

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Center for the Future of Libraries Fellowship-- a YS Opportunity!

I'm excited to share that the Center for the Future of Libraries has opened a call for proposals for the Center for the Future of Libraries Fellowship. And, OF COURSE I think this a great opportunity for Youth Services library staff!

A lined background with a red stamp that says, "Due
5/15/18." In black text: "Center for the Future of
Libraries Fellowship: A YS Opportunity!"

What does the future of Youth Services look like to you? What innovation in youth services are you itching to research, try, or develop? What pie-in-the-sky ideas are swimming around in that wonderful, youth-focused head of yours?

From the press release (emphasis mine for skimming purposes):
"The Future of Libraries Fellowship will provide an individual or group with a stipend of $10,000 to advance new ideas and perspectives for the future of libraries through the creation of a public product – report, white paper, video, resource, tool – that will help library professionals envision the future of library collections, services, spaces, technologies, or partnerships. Projects may build on existing work, research, or initiatives of the Association, its Offices, Divisions, and Round Tables, or explore new directions and interests.

The deadline for proposals for the 2018 fellowship is May 15, 2018."

I'd love to see a ton of Youth Services submissions. I really feel like there are so many great conversations happening about even the nature of youth services itself, but implementation can be tough when you're running 15 programs a week/managing tours for your whole district/on the desk several hours a week/yelling "walk please" every 20 minutes/getting Child Germ Flu/constantly planning either Summer Reading or Battle of the Books/ etc etc etc. Or maybe you're facing a rough time and buzzing along and could use a new project to sink your teeth into.

Youth Services IS the future of libraries; we're literally shaping family library legacies and creating lifelong library users and supporters, everyday. But we hardly get the time or support to really consider what that even means. We see it in the courses that are offered, the conference proposals that get accepted, the Storytime Underground questions that get asked again and again: we're looking for quick tips for right now, and that's what we're getting.

And that's great, and it can work.

We ALSO deserve the space, the time, and the support to really consider what youth services actually means, and what our future could look like.

So here's a chance: $10,000  to create something that could inform the future of our work.
What would you do with it?

Learn how to apply here and email completed applications to mfigueroa at ala dot org.

(You might be thinking that this looks like something someone in academia would be more suited for. And you're right that library staff from other fields may have had more past experience with proposals like this. But you're already doing the tough work of creating their future patron bases; I know you can do this, too.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

All You Need to Run a Great Minecraft Library Party

[Bryce note: For years, I've wanted to change my web address-- once I stopped having 11 views a week, basically. I think I finally figured out a way to do that without losing all your Pins and bookmarks! Stay tuned for an official announcement. Expect a migration to a new address in the next 6 months or so.]

This post is authored by Jennifer Johnson, 2018 blog intern.

This month’s program is another high-interest one: Minecraft Party! This would be great for Libraries Rock! Summer Reading (rock, mining, there’s something there, right?). I honestly think I could do a Minecraft program once every month or so, and registration would fill up every single time.
I’ve found that it’s a good idea to give your patrons a paper bag with their name on it at the beginning of the program so that they have a place to put all the goodies they will gather.
So without further ado, here are some game, activity, and snack ideas for your next Minecraft celebration! (Note: these were done over the course of a couple years of these programs. I recommend three to four of these activities for a one-hour program.)
Perler Beads: This station was a huge hit at my first Minecraft program. However, if you have a high number of attendees, I wouldn’t recommend this one simply because it can be time-consuming. If you don’t have enough pegboards to accommodate a large number of kiddos, then patrons end up waiting forever for a turn at the beads that never comes. This would be ideal for a smaller group or just to do on its own as a program. Minecraft lends itself very well to Perler Beads and patterns are super easy to find online. Or you can give the kids graph paper and coloring pencils and encourage them to create their own patterns!
You need:
-Perler Beads (We purchased ours and our pegboards from Amazon.)
-Perler Bead pegboards (The square ones are best for the blocky, angular designs in Minecraft)
-wax paper (Perler Beads typically come with wax paper squares.)
-patterns printed from online
-iron (I included signage saying that only adults were allowed to use the iron. If you can get an adult volunteer to help monitor this part, that would be ideal.)
-graph paper and colored pencils (for creating original designs)
-small bowls (I used some of the small plastic containers that the Olive Garden dolcinis come in so the kids could scoop out some beads to look through. This ensured that no one was hogging the larger container to search for beads.)
If you’re unsure what Perler Beads are or how to use them, here’s a great tutorial video.
Various square Minecraft faces made out of perler beads

Create Your Own Minecraft Skin: This post at Parties4Ever inspired this activity. I cut cardstock into 8x8 inch squares (doesn’t matter what color because most of it gets covered), cut colored printer paper into 1-inch squares (hundreds of them), and spread them out on several long tables with glue sticks. The kids had free reign to do it however they wanted. Super easy and very open-ended, which is my favorite kind of craft.
You need:
-8x8 inch cardstock pieces
-lots of 1-inch squares of different colored paper
-glue sticks
Color a Minecraft Scene: This one is another super simple, open-ended craft with minimal mess. I put out graph paper and crayons and encouraged the kids to dream up their own Minecraft scene. Hands down, one of the easiest crafts I’ve ever done.
You need:
-graph paper
-crayons or coloring pencils
Creeper Toss:  I straight up stole this idea from here. We made our Creeper Toss pretty much exactly like hers; however, it did not hold up past the first Minecraft party as an unsupervised station because kids were torpedoing the bean bags at it. Those thin, fragile places between the eye holes and mouth broke very easily, so I would advise spacing them out a bit more if you want this game to get some mileage.
You need:
-game board made out of painted cardboard
-bean bags (or something else to toss)
Pin the Tail on the Pig: You can find lots of bloggers who have done this for their children’s birthday parties and it’s so easy to do, it’s no wonder it’s widespread! I cut my pig parts out of construction paper and assembled him onto a piece of posterboard. I made the tails out of construction paper as well. I had each kid write their name on their tail before pinning, so we’d be able to tell whose was whose. For a blindfold, I used a cardboard Creeper head (borrowed from my husband) with a piece of fabric tied around the eyeholes. For the person who got their tail closest to the piggy’s bum, I made a “diamond” necklace, which was just a yellow paper chain with a giant, printed and cut-out Minecraft diamond stapled to it.
You need:
-pig tails with some sort of adhesive (I used tape.)
Optional: prizes for closest tail
Child with a Minecraft Creeper mask on and a blindfold,
attempting to "pin the tail" on paper pig hanging on the wall.

Creeper Bowling: At the time of my third Minecraft program, I noticed that a friend of mine just happened to buy a brand of bottled water that came in green bottles. I asked her to save several for me and transformed them into Creeper Bowling. I colored black squares onto the bottles for the faces, put some dried beans in the bottom of the bottles for weight, and hot glued the lids on.
You need:
-bottles colored to look like Creepers
-small plastic balls
Musical Blocks: Inspired by this mom, I blew up clipart images of about 30 different blocks, printed each one on a separate sheet of paper, and taped them to the backs of chairs. I made a key for the caller (which was me or my supervisor who was helping) so that blocks wouldn’t get repeated too many times or left out. We played the song “Don’t Mine at Night” from YouTube for the music. Prizes for the last person standing were the paper chain diamond necklaces.
You need:
-printouts of different types of blocks to go on chairs
-laptop or other device to play music
-list of blocks to call out
Optional: prizes for last person standing
Chairs set up in a circle. Each chair has a piece of paper taped to it.
The pieces of paper have Mincraft elements on them. 

Minecraft Bingo: This printable Bingo from Catch My Party is a great, no-fuss addition to any Minecraft program. Sometimes you spend a lot of time meticulously piecing together crafts and activities and just want something completely pre-made. This is my go-to. I used paper-punched circles as Bingo markers and made more of the paper chain diamond necklaces as prizes.
You need:
-Bingo sheets and markers
-prizes for winners
-small containers (like the dolcini cups) to hold Bingo markers
Photo booth: This is a super easy, self-serve station. I blew up pictures of Minecraft character heads, cut out the eyeholes, laminated them and attached them to dowel rods with hot glue. I also made some 3D characters out of cardboard and paper and put them all in front of a black backdrop.
You need:
-photo props and backdrop
Crafting: This is a must for any Minecraft party! In the video game, you collect materials to craft items, so this is a live action version of that. I’ve had a variety of different prizes over the years that the children can “craft.” You can do as many or as few as you want. Here's a blank crafting sheet that you can download for free from her store and customize. This is what I used to create my crafting templates. I made one for each prize showing which materials the children had to collect in order to get that prize and hung them up near the crafting table. Then I printed blank crafting sheets and taped them to the crafting table for the kids to put their materials on once collected. For the crafting materials, I pulled clipart images of the materials I wanted and copied and pasted them into a Publisher file. They ended up being about one-inch squares and I taped them all over the room for the children to find. They would have to bring the materials to the crafting table for whichever prize they wanted and then a volunteer or myself would give the prize to them.
You need:
-crafting keys for prizes
-prizes (Prizes I’ve used have included Minecraft bookmarks, Minecraft pins made from Perler Beads, licorice made to look like TNT, Minecraft cootie catchers, paper Minecraft torches, this adorable Minecraft chess set (just printed out, not assembled)
-crafting material squares scattered around room (I taped mine all over the walls and windows.)
Four necklces made from perler beads, and 4 paper fortune tellers.
Accompanying them is a sign that reads "Minecraft Prize: Crafting"

Videos: Sometimes if you have a lull where kids are waiting to do something, it’s nice to have something going in the background. I used the Mod Playlist on the PrestonPlayz channel on YouTube so that the kids would have something to watch while they waited.
Creeper Rice Krispie Treats: The first time I made these, I did them the way Rosanna Pansino does on Nerdy Nummies but I am no Ro and piping out the little faces (which admittedly, I recruited my husband to help me do) took way too long. The second time I did this, I made a huge Rice Krispie square and put chocolate chips on top of it in the configuration of a Creeper face and just cut slices of it for the kiddos. It took so much less time and the kids did not care one bit that I took the lazy route! =)
Licorice TNT: The first time I did this, I spent hours slicing up tiny bundles of licorice and putting mini TNT wrappers around them. The second time, I just stuck a handful of whole, full-length licorice sticks in a cellophane bag and put the TNT label around the outside. Learn from my mistakes; the easy way is always best when it comes to food for children. They’re going to scarf it down without a second thought about how it looks. =P
Diamond Sword Cupcakes: You can find lots of images for this online. You just bake cupcakes, frost them with the colors of the diamond sword, and arrange them on the table to look like it. It’s so easy but looks so impressive!

Cupcakes arranges on a table in the shape of a sword.
The hilt is made of cupcakes with brown frosting; the
cupcakes making the sword are blue.

I’ve also used strawberries with the tops cut off as “Redstones” and pretzels as “trapdoors” or “sticks.” There are so many simple things to riff off of in the Minecraft universe when it comes to food. =)
There are lots of nifty labels out there for water bottles as well. I used these Potion of Healing labels from Catch My Party.

I hope this will be a helpful resource for you! While struggling to sift through my Pinterest boards to find all the links for this post, I kept thinking, “Gee, I sure wish all of these ideas were in one place!” Well, now they are, so happy mining (and crafting)! =)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

HR 620: A Review for Library Staff

A couple months ago I wrote about accommodations in the wake of the announcement of HB 620, which was a proposed amendment to the ADA.

This bill, now HR 620, passed in the House and is on its way to the Senate.

There are definitely implications for libraries here.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Announcing: Fostering Grade Level Reading!

Just in time for the proposed elimination of funding for the Institute of Museum of Library Services, I'm pleased to announce a new project funded by a Library Services and Technology Act grant: Fostering Grade Level Reading!

A teddy bear with an open book in its lap, appearing to read
on a blue background. Text reads, "Fostering Grade Level Reading."
Picture created in Canva with a free image as decoration.

Fostering Grade Level Reading (or Fostering Readers, as the team is calling it colloquially) is really one of those dream-come-true projects for me. As project co-manager, I'm able to deep dive into my background with literacy research to work with our project team toward providing librarians and out-of-school-time providers with what they need to support children learning to read, and foster student ability to read at grade level by third grade. At our first in-person meeting, I was able gush with our reading specialists about big names in educational research, which was fun! I'm using brain cells that haven't been tapped since 2009 which... hurts my head. But in a good way!

Fostering Grade Level Reading is a partnership between Washington County Cooperative Library Services and OregonASK. Right now, our subject matter experts are compiling research in preparation to create a toolkit for use in libraries and for out-of-school-time teachers/caregivers. In accordance with our LSTA timeline, we will have a toolkit prepared for publication online, available for free by the beginning of 2019.

We need your help: Currently, our funding is made possible by a grant obtained through the State Library of Oregon while Katie, project co-manager, was employed there are the state Youth Services Consultant. Katie has since become my new coworker (!!!) and our employer has taken over as the fiscal agent for the grant. We are applying for a second year of funding, which would allow us us to: 1) strengthen the toolkit with an official pilot and unofficial feedback from those around the country who are using it, and 2) make informed recommendations for training with the toolkit. For the second year funding, we are asking for support from youth services library staff in the form of letters of support; the more, the better! This will enhance our justification that not only is a product like this needed; but an evaluated and vetted product like this is crucial to filling the knowledge gap posed "after" Every Child Ready to Read. If you work in libraries and are not a youth services staff member, but can speak to the importance of this project for libraries and youth services, you're welcome to send one along as well.

Take a look at the documents linked below for more information and talking points you can use to craft your letter.

Please email me (brycek at wccls at org) or Katie (katiea at wccls dot org) your completed letter of support! Letters are due to us by March 16, 2018 for compilation and submission with our grant application.

Fostering Grade Level Reading description and talking points

Fostering Grade Level Reading Project Team
(I never get tone right on bios and if I get enough letters of support, I may be inspired to redo my bio on the blog not unlike my Emerging Leaders one)

Thanks for your consideration!