Welcome to this latest attempt to connect librarians from west-central Wisconsin with each other! Please send in content (booklists, ideas, photos, etc.), and comment on posts so we can help each other. If you were using feedmyinbox to get new posts sent to you before, you'll need to switch to another service (blogtrottr works like feedmyinbox, googlereader is a good blog-reader to try).

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

John Green Shout-Out to Librarians and Teachers

I used to watch the vlogbrothers videos more regularly.  I got my fill of them a few years ago, but I got reintroduced when the Office of Intellectual Freedom blog highlighted a video that John Green made, talking about how his Printz Award winning book Looking for Alaska topped the list of Most Challenged books in the US in 2015.  My favorite part of the video is where he emphasizes that LIBRARIANS and TEACHERS are trained and skilled professionals who choose materials carefully and with a deep understanding of literature and the youth they serve.  It's always nice to get a shout-out like that from a revered author.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Promoting Voting for the Teens' Top Ten

The YALSA's Teens' Top Ten Nominations are out!  This is a list of 25 books that are nominated and selected by teen book groups from across the country.  Then, from August 15-October 15, teens have a chance to vote on the three they think are best.  After Teen Read Week, the winning list of 10 titles is published.

How cool is this?  A teen-run, crowd-sourced book list of some pretty interesting books that were published last year.  Unfortunately, a lot of teens have never heard of it, and many librarians haven't, either.  I highly recommend promoting these titles and the voting!  As a way to help with that, last year a group of librarians and IFLS created a website to encourage teens to interact with each other (virtually) around these books.  We had very limited response last year, but are going to try it again this year.

At http://ratearead.org, teens can easily find a list of the Teens' Top Ten nominees, keep track of which ones they read and which ones they liked, comment on them and engage in discussions with others, and even earn digital badges for doing so.  In addition, thanks to the Menomonie Public Library, this year all participants will be entered into a drawing for a Kindle.

In the meantime, student filmmakers at Eau Claire Memorial High School are working on a promotional video, and the LE Phillips Memorial Public Library is going to have a kick-off party in a few weeks.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rethinking Reading in the Summer

Reading Image from Pixabay
The ALSC Blog has had a series of really interesting and thought-provoking articles about ways to re-think summer, and promote reading in ways that are inclusive, easier for everyone, and focused on the outcomes.  I think this is so worth thinking about, we've been bringing it up at the SLP workshop for the past few years, and I'm seeing some interesting changes happen in our system, state, and across the country.

I urge you to take a look at this series and think about whether some of these changes are ones that make sense for you, your library, and most importantly, for the kids and families you serve.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Thursday, April 14, 2016

And the winner is...someone you know?

I think awards and honors are pretty nifty.  I realized after attending nearly every Wisconsin Library Association Awards and Honors event for the past 11 years that it is really worthwhile to honor the hard work, dedication, and effectiveness of the librarians, trustees, volunteers, and libraries in our state.  And do we ever have some great folks out there to honor! Last year, the River Falls Public Library was named WLA's Library of the Year, so you know it can happen to people we know.  Please consider nominating one of your terrific colleagues (or your own library) for one of these awards, it is even more fun to attend the ceremony if you know one of the honorees!

The Wisconsin Library Association Awards & Honors Committee is seeking nominations for annual awards in the following categories: 
  • Library of the Year 
  • WLA/Demco Librarian of the Year 
  • Trustee of the Year 
  • Special Service 
  • Citation of Merit 
  • Muriel Fuller 

This is the perfect opportunity to recognize a colleague who has contributed significantly to our profession, that tireless library volunteer or trustee, an original program, or anyone else whom you feel deserves special recognition.  You can find the nomination forms with listed criteria here.

Nominations are due to the WLA office no later than August 15, 2016, via email to wla@wisconsinlibraries.org. Awards and honors will be conferred at the annual conference, October 27, at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee.  

Friday, April 8, 2016

Common Sense Media Discussion

Toddler watching television from flickr
There was a flurry of discussion on national list servs last week about the nonprofit media review site Common Sense Media.   ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom weighed in, raising the alarm that Common Sense Media's rating guides to media of all sorts (movies, apps, books, and more) are problematic and paternalistic and are gaining unprecedented power.  Common Sense Media ranks media based on things like positive messages and role models, violence, sex, language, consumerism, drinking, drugs and smoking, and also discuss the quality of each item, as well as things families can discuss before/after/during watching.

The Association for Library Service to Children list serv also had significant discussion of the Common Sense Media reviews coming up first in many Google searches about books.  Some folks raised concerns that the CSM reviewers do not have demonstrated credentials in literature, and many pointed out that when the first thing that comes up about a book is the ratings on violence, sex, language, and positive role models, it puts tools into the hands of would-be censors and encourages parents and consumers to look at these factors over the overall quality and value of a book (or other material).  It also has pretty strong age suggestions, which are frowned on by Intellectual Freedom advocates, and sometimes appreciated by parents.

I have found Common Sense Media to be a very helpful tool in sorting through and finding apps, and I have recommended their teaching tools for helping parents and caregivers learn about media and new media use.  I can definitely see that breaking down books and media into a series of value-laden judgments is problematic, but I can also see how it could be useful for finding things for kids (or parents) who are super-sensitive about certain issues.   The reviews I looked at discussed the values, but also gave an overall assessment of the book, movie or app.  Still, there are other helpful tools (ALSC notable lists, CCBC Choices) that it would be great to promote, since they don't include the same value judgments.

What do you think?  Do you use Common Sense Media?  If so, how?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Serving the Underserved

I found this to be an interesting, useful, practical, and inspiring blog post from ALSC
about serving GLBTQIA youth and families.  Also a plus?  It is from a nearby library (and the library I went to until I was 10) in Rochester, Minnesota.

What are you doing in this regard?  I know some of you are working on this--share your stories!

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Poet-Tree for National Poetry Month

The Poet-Tree Display
Thanks to Jill from the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library for this guest post.  

I have not always been inspired to do an April Poetry Display, but this year I came up with this “Poet-Tree” and I’m really happy with it. It incorporates poems relating to the parts of the tree and the nature around it, and also some of our staff’s favorite poems. 
Detail of a favorite poem

I hope that it will catch the attention of kids and parents during our upcoming storytime break. I also hung a “poem Pocket” and put in small copies of poems for people to take. Any one of these ideas alone or combined makes a fun and eye catching April Display.
Poem pocket--poems for the taking!