Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Part One: One World, Many Stories : Getting There By Plane Train or Automobile

Ah, summer is almost here. Children are smiling a little more, parents are bracing themselves for the annual ritual of summer vacations and YS librarians are gearing up for the “season” of reading programs. There is something magical about this time of year. The longer days provide plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors, hang out with friends and escape to special places that make summer months memorable. Along with programming, children's librarians busy themselves with compiling Reader’s Advisory handouts for eager summer readers. Bookworms wishing to escape to somewhere special know it is as easy as opening a book. However, even they need a little help with the decision on what books to read. This year’s SRP theme is perfect for guiding readers of all ages wishing to escape to a locale.

There are many books about traveling that invite the readers along for the “ride”. Whether it is by train, cars or planes the stories are colorful, creative and captivating. A few favorites mentioned here are perfect for story time or one on one reading. They are also good for discussion starters that prompt the question such as who has been on a plane? or When traveling, do you prefer to go by land, sea or air? The first title that invites the reader along for the “ride” is Karma Wilson’s Dinos on the Go! In this short tale, dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes are traveling by train, boat, or cars to get to a dino reunion. The fun rhymes make it an enjoyable journey for young readers. Dave Horowitz’s tale of Duck Duck Moose is about an unlikely trio, Moose, Duck and Other Duck going south for the winter. Moose is not really excited about the trip since he loves the North but figures since his friend Bear is hibernating he might as well go along for the ride. All ends well, when Moose is dazzled by the warmth and charm of Florida. For a true original tale that is based on an actual event, reader’s can not go wrong with Eric Carle’s 10 Little Rubber Ducks. The adventure for 10 bright yellow rubber ducks begins when they were loaded onto a freighter destined for faraway countries. Unfortunately, a storm hits and the 10 rubber ducks fall into the sea. Each duck floats in a different direction and each meet different animals along their way. The 10th one meets a mother duck with her offspring and bobs along with them to their nest. They many not have gone to their original destination but the reader is left with the impression that it was one swell trip for each of the rubber nautical travelers. Dinosaurs once roamed the earth but Deb Lund convinces young readers that they also used ships. In her rhyming tale Dinosailors, the dinosaurs are awfully excited about sea life when they first embark on their journey. However after a rough time at sea, some seasick dinosaurs decide that land is really where they were meant to be and perhaps trains would be a better form of transportion. This sets up the next book All Aboard the Dinotrain! Travel diaries are wonderful ways in which to share details about a trip. There is one book that comes to mind that teaches the concept of a travel journal to young children. In Jan Ormerod’s .Miss Mouse Takes Off a rag doll, Miss Mouse, gives a simple, yet engaging account of her trip by plane with her best friend.

Every picture book title mentioned describes a worthwhile journey and different ways in which to reach the final destination or in some cases an accidental destination. There are wonderful titles for juvenile and young adults that pick up on the theme of modes of transportation. Those titles are save for another time. in the meantime, enjoy the five favorites here. Remember, there may be one world, but the many stories will take readers to extraordinary places!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Librarians As Truth Detectors

It's interesting to notice the changes that have come about because of the Internet. In it's infancy, finding information was difficult and pinning down authority was a task in itself. Librarians working with students, patrons and peers, would instruct over and over again to discern if the information was accurate, authoritative, and accountable. These days the internet more pages, more pictures, more of everything that it has lead to information overload. This is how librarians can fill the role as truth detectors. To take it a step further, libraries can be the voice in the internet wilderness using social media as its megaphone.

Statistics about Facebook and its users can be a real eye opener. For example, comScore reported that in 2010 1 out of every 8 minutes online was spent on Facebook. With this in mind, it would be logical to conclude that patrons are spending more time online. Articles have begun to surface asking the question, "Do you know your Facebook friends?" Some statistics indicate that for most users they do not personally know 20% of their Facebook friends. Perhaps its not who has the most toys that wins but the one with the most friends. One thing for certain, Facebook and other social networks like it, is the platform to reach out and connect with people. The opportunity awaits for libraries to bring information and people together. Many libraries have already made their own path through social networks. Their examples should be the blueprints for everyone to follow.

In this fast paced world, it is often assumed that everyone knows how to use the Internet. That assumption is based on the fact that computers have become imbedded in our society as a tool we can not live without. Libraries can not afford to make that assumption about their patrons. Which is precisely why social media is very important to use as a communication tool to reach out to the community. New technologies are always a hard sell to users in the beginning. The thought of learning something new can be intimidating, especially when there does not appear to be a "need" for it in everyday routine. When Twitter first began, there were skeptics who did not think this social network would fly. Gradually, users began to see the value of putting out an instant message as a way of marketing skills, products or opinions. Libraries found this network as a exciting way to blast out the word about library programs. Patrons who were not familiar with Twitter, would begin to ask questions about the network. What is Twitter? Why would I want to sign up for it? What types of information can be found there? With the librarians guiding them, patrons are becoming familiar and comfortable with tweeting, posting, and poking.

Bringing together people and information is what libraries do best. The library of the early 1900's did not have to deal with complex ways of finding information. The amount of information available to the community was limited to what the library's collection held. Added to that, verifying the sources of information was much less complicated. Now with new technologies it is the libraries responsibility to make sure that no citizens are left behind in the digital divide. Social media can be effective in finding out what patrons need and want of their libraries. It can also be the avenue to finding out how savvy patrons are on the computer. For example, are patrons finding the information they need quickly or are they spending too much time "googling" information that should have only taken a few minutes to find. If it's the later, librarians can take the step to get tips on internet searching instantly on Twitter or Facebook. When patrons see the tips posted, one of two things will happen. First they will be satisfied with the tips and begin using them immediately. Secondly, it may spur the conversation to go further when patrons post message asking for additional help. Its a win win for everyone involved.

At the same time as making information easily available to everyone, the Internet has made it more confusing to pick out the "correct" information. Being a truth detector is an important task in helping patrons become effective on the Internet. It also paves the way for an informed and educated society. It can only be hoped that with critical thinking skills, patrons will not only click on the "right" information. It will also eliminate all the misinformation out in cyber land because people would avoid visiting such sites.

Friday, May 13, 2011

SRP: One World Many Stories: Going On A Bear Hunt

This is the time of year youth librarians love because either they are crazy, creative or both. This year's theme One World, Many Stories provides many opportunities to set young readers off exploring their world. There are so many directions to point them towards, different foods, different ways of saying hello or different bears. Yes, bears can teach children much about the world. Inviting young children to join you on a bear hunt around the world is as easy as putting on a safari hat, gathering together great books about bears, hunting for Brown, polar and panda bears in the library and complete it with the perfect paper plate bear craft. What is wonderful about this story time plan, is that it can be done at anytime during the year

As all children librarians know, story times are not complete without props. (Which is why my basement is filled with hats, stuffed animals, wigs and tons of other stuff that will one day be the greatest garage sale ever.) Safari hats are optional, however if one is available it doesn't hurt to wear it during the "bear hunt". The list of stories that work well with this theme are: Karma Wilson's Bear Snores On, Bill Martin's Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?, Matthew Baek's Panda and Polar Bear and Helen Oxenbury's We're Going On A Bear Hunt. Colorful and brief nonfiction books may be used too. However, since this is an upbeat story hour, it may be better to trick children into learning something by making it a fun experience. The best trick ever known to sly librarians is using a story board to build up to the "highlight" of the program. On the board a children's map of the world is displayed. When children settle down, pass out several pictures of different species of bears. Begin the story time by briefly explaining to your audience that the habitat in which a bear lives can give clues about the continent in which they live. Then ask if anyone has a picture of a bear from China. Children who have pictures of Panda Bears are encouraged to come up and place the bear on China. Do the same for the polar bear and brown bear. Once the bears are on the maps, invite the children to listen to the stories. Afterwards, they will be joining you on a "bear" hunt through North America, the Arctic and China.

Stuffed animals are great props for story times such as this one. Hide each one of the bears around the library before the story time begins. When it's time to go on the bear hunt, instruct each participant that they are to be prepared to spot wild bears in the library. Once they are found, they must be captured and placed back in their cage. Instruct the children that they will need to put on their hats, their bug repellents, and their hiking boots. (All of which are make believe of course.) Once that task is completed they are to follow the safari leader to go find the bears. For each bear, describe the continent/countries where the bears live. For example, in North America where the Brown Bear lives, there are mountains, forests, lakes. Have the children pretend they are going up mountains, walking through a forest or going by a lake to see if bears are eating fish. Once Brown Bear is found it time to go someplace colder, the Arctic. Again, have children make believe that they are in the Arctic. Repeat the make believe for the Panda Bear hunt also.

End the story time with a paper plate bear face. Prepare in advance cut out bear ears in black, brown or white. Photocopy a coloring page of a bear's face, without the ears. Once children have collected two ears of the same color, a paper plate and a bear's face, they can begin their craft. With glue, place the two ears on the top of the plate. Next glue the face onto the center of the plate. Once these are in place, children may color the bears' faces. This craft should take no longer than fifteen minutes to complete.

Give this story time a try during your Summer Reading program. Consider it part of the "bear" necessities to making the program memorable for you and your patrons. Happy Bear hunting! Happy Reading!

P.S. Some additional titles to consider are:

Big Brown Bear’s Up and Down Day David McPhail

Little Polar Bear Hans De Beer

Polar Bear Nights Lauren Thompson

Little Panda Renata Liwska

Panda Whispers Mary Beth Owens

Monday, May 9, 2011

Virtual Library Legislative Day: A Quick Call to Support Libraries

Libraries should not be politicized for any reason. It should be one of the rare instances where the topic is truly bi-partisan. Republicans and Democrats alike should agree that a nation that is educated, able to freely obtain information and be independent should have libraries open to the public. It is the hallmark of a democratic society. Keeping this in mind, it should seem ironic that the very institution that promotes self-improvement, self-education and access to information is routinely targeted for budget cuts. If every politician believed in freedom of speech, they would not allow libraries to be the fall guy for the rest of government agencies. In fact they should be fighting tooth and nail to keep the library doors open.

An amendment to S. 493, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Reauthorization Act of 2011 was submitted by Senator Jim DeMint. This amendment would rescind all funds that are not obligated from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and send them back to the U.S Treasury. This would include funds to the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The slash in federal funds that libraries would face is $100 million for FY2011. That's a lot of money that would leave libraries across the U.S. to either cut programs like Summer Reading Club, database subscription, and other resources which help people find jobs. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Getting the attention of law makers does not necessarily mean a trip to D.C. (However, when given the opportunity, one should go to the nation's capital at least once. It is a worthwhile trip.)

The recession has hit many communities hard and libraries continue to be the anchor in the community with programs that help people to improve their lives and find government resources to help them in their time of need. Legislators who turn to the library as the first place to make cuts in the budgets are not getting the message that libraries bring stability to the community. This can not continue. Legislators of all political background should be educated in the important role libraries play in communities across the country. How can this be done if a trip to D.C. this week is out of the question? Using a cell phone or computer library advocates across the United States can participate in Virtual Library Legislative Day by contacting their representatives and Senator DeMint on May 10th or anytime during the week of May 9-13. At, a quick link to contacting Washington's lawmakers is available for anyone to use. If you have five minutes, that is enough time to get the message out. It's that simple.

The challenge is for every person who loves libraries to get involved in supporting libraries. After making the call or sending the email to your representative, invite family and friends to do the same. That extra call, or email might be the tipping point for Washington to wake up and respond positively to protecting library funding. A library is a terrible institution to lose. Don't let Congress take away funds that would help your library continue to thrive and help your community.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Considering the "CONS" of Using Social Media in Libraries

Social media has become the “greatest” thing since slice bread. Everyone is using it and if they are not using it, they are hearing about Facebook posts, bloggers worth reading, YouTube videos and one-liner tweets from their family and friends. The information highway has created a path to where no man has gone before. Could anyone have possibly envisioned cell phones used as a small pocket computer to gain access to emails, webpages and Facebook? Maybe technological gurus saw this coming, but not the average Joe. For the average person, who remembers computers with the black screens and green lettering, Web 2.0 is a dream beyond the wildest imagination. For Librarians, who are often accused of living in the Stone Age, social media has provided an opportunity to get the word out to the world about our passion: libraries. Now that technology has waved its magic wand to make almost anything possible, how should librarians use this tool? More importantly what are some of the traps to avoid when using such a powerful tool?

It has been said that if Facebook were a country it would rank third in population behind China and India. This is quite an impressive accomplishment. Libraries that are using Facebook as an instant marketing tool have found it to be a convenient and quick method to let “friends” know everything that is happening at the library. As an added bonus, libraries have a new way to build public support by asking patrons to “like” them on their Facebook page. Social media can become one of the best platforms for library advocacy. The many uses of social media can be as creative as the user. It never hurts to take a step back to evaluate the cons of jumping on the bandwagon of any new trend.

When first using Facebook, it seems so innocent to ask people be “friends” and “like” the library but at the same time it can be seen as a desperate attempt for recognition. As one patron put it, “It’s kinda like going back to junior high, having the insecurities of whether you are liked or not, and hoping to be a part of the “in” gang. “ Consider for a moment, what would happen if people “un-friend” or no longer “like” the library. This is almost akin to a public shunning, but only viral. The key to avoiding this situation is to keep the webpage active with updates and comments. When there is a negative comment about the library, whether it is about service or programming, address it immediately.

Bad publicity is only one thing to consider when using social media. Libraries must also consider other concerns such as copyright infringement, defamation laws and privacy issues. These issues can be dealt with effectively if the library have a clear vision of why, who, when and what information to use social media to promote the library. The ultimate reason why to using Web 2.0 should be a no-brainer for directors. It is as simple as promoting the Library’s brand to be visible and recognized. On the library staff there should be a designated social media position which would be able to maintain the web presence, when the profile/webpage will be updated and what will be promoted from the library. Examples of what libraries often mention on Facebook and Twitter are library contests, story time programs, and library mileages.

Copying, pasting, and manipulating data is easier than ever with social media. Friends frequently download a link to their Facebook page, creating an open invitation to not only visit the link but to share/post on their wall. There is the possibility that a library’s “friend” can post a link that would be considered inappropriate or claim that their post is “their work” when actually it is someone's intellectual property. With a clear vision and written policy libraries can inform “friends” what will be acceptable submissions and creative work is accepted as long as the creator has given consent to the library to post it on the wall.

At first, defamation issues seemed a little far fetch to have a concern about. However, think of what would happen if on a library’s teen Space Facebook wall, a young patron wrote something disparaging about another teen or adult that wasn’t true. Not only could this be considered cyber bullying, it can also be classified as libel. With the proper staff involvement these issue should not arise but if they do, it can be dealt with quickly by blocking patrons who abuse the opportunity to have their comments read on the library’s wall.

Privacy issues, such as posting pictures of young patrons who have participated in the library’s program, should be given serious consideration. The Internet has made everyone's lives an open book for anyone to see. Children are especially at risk because of their trusting nature. Child molesters often find their victims online. Common sense should be the foundation when deciding which pictures to post and for how long the pictures will be left on the page. Needless to say “tagging” teens or children in pictures is not a good idea. It is a prudent policy to not tag anyone in pictures. The only exception to that would be when a noted local official, or well known personality visits.

Even with the cons that were presented, there are many more pros that will cancel out the cons. The purpose of exploring the bad side of social media is not to discourage their use in libraries, but simply to be aware of the potential pitfalls. Social Media is wonderful to use and if libraries are not using it at this point, they are really doing more harm to themselves than good. It's to to get up to speed with the rest of the virtual world. Where do we go from here? Who knows for sure. There will be a day, and to be sure it is coming soon if it hasn’t already begun, when libraries will be going to where their patrons are in the virtual world. Imagine a school library visit where the librarian comes to the classroom without leaving the public library. The children could participate in a story time, go on a library tour and receive a digital library card to use the next time they bring mom and dad for an in person library visit. One thing is for certain, libraries must be ready for Web 3.0 and beyond in order to serve patrons in a meaningful way.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finding, Building and Gaining Support For Librareis

Some things never stay the same. That is a good thing. Same old, same old tends to go out of style quickly. This is especially true in a society that craves something new every five minutes. This is just a hunch, but it may have to do with the fact that computers and other technical advances become outdated the minute the buyer opens the box. Having said that, becoming too trendy is not a good thing when seeking longevity. If libraries are hoping for longevity and keeping up with the latest and greatest gadgets, it is important to aim for a happy balance.

Economic hard times often bring libraries to the forefront of a community. People with less cash in their pockets turn to their local library for information and entertainment. This is the one place in the community where every family can benefit from and enjoy. With recent libraries closings and libraries' hours of operation being cut, families must decide if it is worth it to fight to keep their libraries open or find an alternate place to fulfill their need for books, entertainment and education. It is up to librarians and library advocate to convince the families that fighting the good fight to keep libraries open is not only worth it but also necessary.

The first step to building support for libraries is to take the politics out of libraries and make it a universal need. Politicians, whether they are Independent, Republican or Democrat, should support libraries. There are no logical reasons why legislators would vote down funding for libraries. The idea of a free library is key to this country's ability to remain a free society. This include public, academic and school libraries. The American Library Association has created a link on their web page which provides a scorecard for how legislators voted on library issues. This is handy not only to find out the particulars of a vote but also to keep lawmakers accountable for their vote. If certain legislators consistently vote against libraries, it would be time to either educate them on the value of libraries or vote them out of office.

Secondly, it is important to educate voters on how libraries have evolved in order to continue providing relevant and reliable resources. If libraries continue to rely on the "past" as a reason to support the argument that libraries are essential. Then we are doomed as a profession. In many people's mind library is a dusty old place with books with fading yellow pages, old equipment and little old ladies with silver hair admonishing people to "Be Quiet." Those days are long over and it's time to set the record straight. Libraries can be technologically advanced when given the proper funding and support. Without this support, free WiFi, databases and card catalogs would not be available. Consider that in the State of Michigan, funding of libraries have been cut so drastically that it has literally taken Michigan libraries back fifty years. The reality becomes that it will be that much harder to hang on to remain reliable and relevant. For some libraries, they are barely hanging as it is. The cuts adds salt to the wounds.

Finally, be an active participant in Virtual Library Legislative Day on May 10, 2010. It's as easy as clicking onto the website From there anyone can find their legislators and contact them to let them know just how important libraries are to their communities. This can be done from your home and takes just five minutes. Once you have done your part, invite your family and friends to do the same. Legislators need to hear loud and clear that libraries are too important to just board up and abandon.

Libraries are not about keeping things the same. Rather, libraries about shaking things up and finding new ways to enrich the lives of patrons with the resources they need to make their lives better. Could their be any better reason to serve the community?

Monday, May 2, 2011

National Children's Book Week -- Going Digital!

In the article "Reaching the E-Teen" in Publisher's Weekly (February 21, 2011) Karen Springen explores how teens are adapting to e-readers. It may be surprising to learn that 80% of teens still prefer print copies of their favorite titles. In the age of texting, tagging and tweeting, one would think that e-readers would be the next big "thing" with teens. It's not. At least not for the moment. What is keeping teens from making that technological jump into the digital pool? The big five letter word that everyone wants more of but in a sagging economy, very few have a lot of it. MONEY.

With that said, will e-readers ever take off with teens or transitional generation? More than likely yes. More and more YA titles will become available in digital forms, not only that, as with all technology, there will be a time when the price of e-readers will go down and it will become more affordable. In a previous post, the suggestion that e-readers will be likely die off was met with strong comments to the effects that the post was not dealing with reality. The reality is this: as stated previously, if the e-reader is only going to allow for digital downloads from sites like, Overdrive and Amazon, then it will be the end of the e-reader. If however e-reader users will be able to use it socially or use the device for other uses like the iPad allows than there is a chance for survival. The Kobo e-reader's Reading Life allows users to post updates on what they are reading and share excerpts from the book with fellow Kobo users. Are we not that far long from conducting book discussions via e-readers? Not really. The technology is in place, now it has to bee tweaked.

Picture books have made their way to the iPad with much success. These books suffer the same fate as the Young Adult titles. While most parents believe it is a good idea to purchase new technology which will prepare their child for the school years to come, the thought of spending $499 dollars for one device makes it a luxury not a need for most households. Working with the iPad's digital picture book is a treat because the colors are indeed vibrant. However, the print version of the books are just as vibrant as the digital. Sharing the e-reader is difficult, but not impossible. Most librarians have found that the e-readers are easier to hold up when reading stories to a group. However, for one on one reading, it is not as easy as sharing a print copy. (On a side note, for disabled children, this device may be perfect for them in that it is easy to turn the page, and the bright colors attract their attention. This is a discussion for another day.) Perhaps, this is one of the many reasons why publishers will be offering all types of formats for the growing readers to choose from in the years to come.

In the future, National Children's book week will still be around to celebrate great children's literature and authors. However, it just may be that the book of tomorrow will be digital with the "feel" of a traditional book. That should take the guilt away from teens who feel its "sacrilegious" to read off of a e-reader, (see PW article mentioned above). Which ever way children read books in the future, the main objective will remain "every child a reader" This is why we celebrate this week. Reading is too important of a skill to take for granted. As for this librarian, this week's celebration will include sharing a new favorite with little ones. Carroll's The Boy and the Moon is a delightful read and at the moment not available in digitally. That's okay, I'm sure the children won't mind a bit!