Wednesday, November 22, 2017

WLA YSS Sessions in Short: Fear Not: Coding for the Rest of Us

Fear Not: Coding for the Rest of Us

There were several sessions at WLA that gave me some superb program ideas, but none more so than “Fear Not: Coding for the Rest of Us,” presented by Andrea Stepanik and Gillian Dawson (Brown County Library, Green Bay). I’ve always been interested in coding; learning how computers work and how to create programs is incredibly empowering. Here’s the thing, though: growing up—even up until just a few years ago—I never thought coding was for me. I have never been good at math or science, and don’t you have to be some kind of genius to code? The idea of learning—much less, leading—a coding program seemed way too intimidating for me to ever consider a realistic possibility.

If you have ever felt like me, “Fear Not: Coding for the Rest of Us” is a perfect resource for you. Stepanik and Gillian began the session admitting that they were also completely self-taught and had never imagained they would be leading innovative coding programs. First, they introduced the different kinds of coding languages you can use in your programs from HTML to Scratch, and which languages are best to use with which ages.

Then, we got to learn about the toys. Oh, the coding toys! I can forsee much grant and supply money going toward these fun pieces of tech! Here are a few of my favorites that Stepanik and Gillian recommended using for your coding programs:

·         Code-a-Pillars are about $50.00 each and teach kids the basics of computational thinking with a fun (and noisy!) hands-on caterpillar that they code by manipulating and connecting pieces.

School Age-Teen
·         Lego Maze Coding. You just need Legos for this unplugged coding activity. Kids build Lego mazes, switch mazes with someone else, and then write the code that would allow a Lego figure to navigate the maze.
·         Coding Escape Rooms: Breakout Edu kits includes access to three computer science kits that make kids use code to get out of the room! Difficulty can be scaled up and down depending on difficulty.

Multiple Ages: Coding Board Games
·         Coding Farmers (ages 7 and up)
·         Code Master (ages 5 and up)
·         Littlecodr (4-8 years)
·         Robot Turtles (ages 4 and up)
·         Science Wiz Cool Circuits (ages 8 and up)

Then, there’s the granddaddy of them all: Arduino. Arduino reminded me of Raspberry Pi, but cooler. They combine circuitry and coding to teach kids through adults how computers work and how to create anything from a knock-code lock for your door to a self-watering system for your house plants. It is definitely the most complex and intense of the tech introduced in the session but I cannot wait to try it.

That was the biggest gain I got from the session: empowerment. I am excited to play with new tech and introduce it to my patrons. When you see your code working, it is incredibly empowering. Now that I’ve got my feet wet, I can’t wait to learn more! Since the session, I am proud to say that I have now lead my first coding class. And you know what? None of the kids laughed me out of the room or scoffed at me. They were so excited to learn and so engaged with the programs, they didn’t have time. In fact, most of them were more than happy to help me when I got stuck. The technology introduced at this session are more than just toys: they can be the tools that inspire your kids to imagine—and create—the future.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

They've got fines...they're multiplyin'...

Image result for fine forgiveness
We often hear patrons lamenting about fines or hear horror stories about folks who no longer use the library due to having--or even the possibility!--of fines.  While some libraries go fine-free, not all institutions have the ability to do so, due to budget constraints, concerns from the Board, what-have-you.

So, what can we do?

One easy thing to try is the incorporation of a Fine Forgiveness Program.  *cue "oohs" and "aahs"*

You could consider having a Read Off Your Fines program, where patrons could earn money off their fines for reading books and submitting reviews.  Increased circulation and happy patrons?  Yes, please!

Or how about a food drive for a local food pantry or soup kitchen?  Aram Public Library has one every November, entitled Food for Fines.  For every canned good item a patron brings in, they can earn $1 off their fines!

During February, we have a passive program called Show the Animals Some Love, where folks can bring in items for the local animal shelter and earn money off their fines.  (For giant bags of food or kitty litter, they can earn $1/lb.)

Image result for gollumPerhaps you'd like something more interactive?  What about instituting a fine forgiveness program during Summer Reading?  For example, our patrons receive Library Loot every time they turn in a reading record.  Each Loot is worth $1 and can be used for fines, printing, faxes, beverages, or the ongoing Friends book sale.  Library Loot became so popular at our library that we decided to utilize it throughout the year!  (And believe me, people horde those little scraps of paper like gold.  "My precious...")

Even patrons without fines might choose to join in the fun, so if someone wants to participate in one of the above programs, you could also give them the option to use their credit towards another patron's fines.  We actually just recently had a patron bring in canned food, who simply asked "Can you please use my fine forgiveness for someone who needs it?"  Yes, sir.  We certainly can. ^-^

In 2016, Chicago Public Library held a Welcome Home Amnesty program, where patrons could bring in overdue materials and the fines were completely waived.  Or, for those who had lost materials, they were simply charged the replacement fee, but any attached overdue fines were forgiven.

That same year, Grand Rapids Public Library offered fine forgiveness (up to $25) to any patron who recruited a new library card owner.

Another possibility: thank your users for their patronage and support without any requirements on their end!  Perhaps Fine Free Discharge for National Library Week on all materials, regardless of their due date?  Or, in a similar vein, Fine Free Discharge for the week after Summer Reading to thank folks for participating?

A few things to consider...

Be sure to make the rules/expectations clear.  For example, be sure to spell out that food given in the food drive must be in good condition and not past the Use By date. (People will try to bring in all sorts of surprises.)

Be sure to specify that the fine forgiveness is only good at your library.  Or--if the system agrees to collaborate on a particular effort--that system's libraries.

Decide on what the forgiveness can be used for and be very clear about it.  (example: "Fine Forgiveness is applicable for late charges.  It does not apply to lost or damaged materials.")

Be sure to run the idea up the flagpole, as it were, to make sure that everyone involved is on-board before offering the program.

Any other great ideas for Fine Forgiveness programs?  We'd love to hear them!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Scholastic Warehouse Booksale Time!!

It's booksale time at Scholastic Warehouses and they have great deals and inventory at some WI locations:

November 29-30     GREEN BAY
10 am -7pm      Best Western, 780 Armed Forces Drive

December 6-7      OSHKOSH     
1pm - 7pm (except Thu: 10 am - 7pm) Oshkosh Convention Center, 2 N, Main St

December 6-16     MILWAUKEE
10am-7pm weekdays; Sat: 8am -4pm; closed Sundays  Scholastic Warehouse 7501 N. 81st St

December 6-8      DEFOREST
3pm - 8pm except Thu & Fri 10am-7pm    Comfort Inn and Suites, 5025 Cty Rd V

It's a great way to pick up books for the kiddos to use as prizes! For more details stop by their registration page and select our state (to show all four sales)

From their website:
For the first time ever, you can buy one, get one free on thousands of books at our holiday 
warehouse sale.* And because everything is BOGO - including Build-a-Box - you'll get twice 
the books to refresh your school, home, and classroom libraries... and get gifts for everyone too!

Exclusively for librarians, teachers, school employees and volunteers, Book Fair chairpeople, 
and homeschool teachers. Don't forget to invite everyone who helped out at your book fair.

Find a location near you and get a coupon for $10 off your purchase of $100 or more when 
you register!

Tips & Additional Information
*Buy one item at full price, get the second of equal or lesser value for free (includes Build-a-Box). Limited exceptions may apply. Fill a Build-a-Box with books of your choice from a specially selected collection of clearance items. For each box you build, you pay only $24.95 plus tax. Only valid at participating warehouse locations and while supplies last. Selection may vary by sale location.

What to Expect
Many of our sales are located in fully functioning, working warehouses, which is not an ideal environment for children. If you plan to bring children, please keep them with you at all times. Like most warehouses, ours do not have extensive climate-control systems, so be sure to dress accordingly for the current season and note that some areas will not be accessible to shoppers.

What to Bring
Bring your SUPER SAVINGS PASS with you to the sale or let the cashier scan your pass from your mobile device or tablet. The SUPER SAVINGS PASS provides an additional savings of $10 off your purchase of $100 or more.

Preferred Methods of Payment
Credit cards, checks, purchase orders, and Scholastic Dollars™. Title I and grants are welcome! If using a Purchase Order, bring a copy of it with you. PO terms are net 45.  Tax-exempt schools must bring a copy of tax-exempt documentation.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

WLA YSS Sessions in Short: Using the Five Practices in School-Age and Teen Programming

Presenter: Kymberly Pelky

I attended a session at WLA that focused on taking the Five Practices from early literacy and applying them to programming for other age groups.  Kymberly talked about how this really isn’t a time for learning “new” ideas, but rather a way to rethink things we are already doing and consider how those early lit practices have value when used with older kids – and even adults.  While she was presenting, I started thinking about my own ideas of how I could use the Five Practices in programming with older kids. Most of these ideas are just things that build on things I am already doing or have considered. Generally, I am thinking about Tween and Teen programming here, although some of this would work with younger school aged kids as well.

Read: Book Clubs, Lunch Bunch – meeting to read a book together, Book talks – talking up books that might energize kids about reading
Sing: Music Programs – this could be a sort of “name that tune” game or maybe use some popular artists as a theme, Displays using poplar songs, create themed playlists
Talk: Popcorn and Pages – this is a program I do where we meet and kids get to do the book talks, general talking over crafts or games, building relationships
Play: Minute to Win it, Board or Card games, acting out scenes from books, or even scavenger hunts
Write: Poetry groups, Create displays, write blurbs for favorite books, Post-it note reviews

Think about other ways that including the Five Practices in programming might give you new ideas for programs at all sorts of age levels. I’d be excited to hear about your ideas.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Where is Marge? YSS Fun at WLA 2017

Marge Loch-Wouters, in her own words, October 19, 2017:

So this happened.  I was the YSS "secret game" at WLA17.  People got a picture of me and had to take a pix of me and the mini-me to win a prize.  And I thought my 772 students were just excited to see the prof!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Looking for a program as easy as pie?

'Tis the season for tasty pastries...  

Looking for a sweet program with minimal cost but maximum happiness?  Try this!

Inspired by a post from Karen Boardman (of the Public Library of Enid & Garfield County) on Storytime Underground's Facebook group, we held our first-ever all-ages DIY Make-and-Take Pie program at our library and, believe me, it won't be our last!

First things first, we needed a recipe.  To keep costs down while still embracing the season, we decided apple pies were the way to go.  After some trial and error, we went with good ol' Betty Crocker for all our pie-making needs.  We borrowed the filling fixings from this recipe and the crust from this one.

With our budget being somewhat limited--end of the year and all--and our meeting room having limited space--brother, can you spare some room?--we required registration beforehand.  Then, we promoted it EVERYWHERE: Facebook posts, Facebook events, our website, our in-house and electronic newsletters, the newsletters at the various schools around town, posters, and word-of-mouth.  Folks seemed genuinely excited by the program and we quickly learned that we'd need to offer a second session to accommodate the demand. (And, to be honest, we still had to turn some people away.)

Once we knew how many people we'd have each night, we set about collecting the necessary materials.  Our local Piggly Wiggly generously donated the majority of the apples, the staff provided some additional baking goodies, such as rolling pins, cookie cutters, and pie stamps, and the rest of the materials were able to be obtained from either the Dollar Tree or Aldi's.  All in all, we spent under $50!  For two nights worth of programming!

In terms of preparation, we lined the tables with paper (Hello, easy clean-up!) and pre-measured all the dry ingredients into gallon-size Ziploc bags.  Other than setting everything out, that was pretty much it!  The participants were responsible for mixing the crust, peeling and slicing the apples, and all the other bits and pieces involved with pie baking, including deciding how the top crust should look!  Everyone who attended left with a completed pie, as well as a handout with recipes, baking and/or freezing instructions, and suggestions on how they can gussy up this or future pies. 

Reports have come back that not only did they have a wonderful time, but the pies were mighty tasty, too!  Win-win.


Monday, November 13, 2017

What Youth Programs do YOU Want at WAPL?

The call for conference proposals for the WI Association of Public Librarians has gone out.

Do you have an area you wish you could attend a program on? Let your YSS board know (their contact info is to your right on the blog page).

Do you have an idea you would like to present on or put a panel together to present on? Then add it. Here is how:

The WAPL Conference Planning Committee invites program proposals for the Spring Conference, to be held May 2-4, 2018, at the Country Springs Hotel & Conference Center, Pewaukee.

Proposals for presentations, panels, workshops and business meetings are welcome.  Sessions will run either 45 or 60 minutes in length.  Every WLA unit has a special perspective to offer and we encourage you to be part of our 2018 WAPL Conference.  If you have a great program idea, don't wait to be asked to present it, submit a proposal yourself!  The more ideas and diversity of topics, the more rewarding this learning opportunity will be for all. 

Please use the Program Proposal Form to submit a program. 

Deadline for proposal submissions is: January 19, 2018.  You will be notified of the program's acceptance or rejection no later than February 2, 2018

Please contact us with any questions.  We're looking forward to an excellent conference!

Cathy Tuttrup
Brookfield Public Library
WAPL Conference Programming Chair

Friday, November 10, 2017

Families Learning Conference

I was recently fortunate enough to be sponsored to attend the Families Learning Conference in Arizona.  While the overall conference isn't specific to libraries, a lot of librarians attended and there were a few sessions focused on encouraging other organizations to work with libraries to promote family learning.

Below were a few of the highlights for me.

The New York Department of Youth and Community Development presented on their new "Circles of Support" framework.  I'm not sure how long this link will be live, but check it out here.  Basically they realized that they needed entire family engagement for their individual programs (youth services, workforce development, homeless youth, juvenile justice etc.) to be successful.  So they revamped all departments in order to create a larger department that works together for birth through senior life.
The three guiding principles of their new framework were Participation, Communication and Partnership.  Some key points under increasing family participation stood out as especially applicable to us:
  • Greet other families as they come through your doors
  • Conduct outreach– call families to invite them to events, post flyers and brochures in schools and around the community
  • Welcome and introduce new families at workshops, classes, or events
  • Provide new families with information about programs and agency events
  • Help staff with event logistics– set up a meeting room or training space, make copies
  • Take photos at events and during programs for websites and newsletters
  • Cook/bake food for events
  • Decorate or clean up at events and workshops
They offer a look at how to create a Family engagement road map here.
Another great session was on media mentorship and how we engage families in the digital age.  Some key points:
  • Parent media use is the STRONGEST predictor of child media habits.
  • The more you connect, the less you connect.  (Works both ways)
  • Children are learning from us parenting without presence, that we are "never done" with our work.
  • Families need: media mentors, including messages from us that encourage, empower and nudge without shaming, more descriptions of what they can do instead of what they are doing wrong..
  • Share these ideas with parents:  Spend more time mentoring with digital media and less time monitoring.  Don't worry so much about time spent on media, but focus instead on using it appropriately.
  • We owe our children a diverse and rich life experience, so focus on living well with media.
New AAP guidelines are the optimum.  Don't shame families who can't attain this:
  • No screens under 18 mos. unless video chatting.
  • 18-24 months introduce high quality digital activities you do together.
  • 2-5 years, 1 hour per day of high quality that you watch or play together. (Most families will find this unrealistic.)
  • Using media together improves learning (an easy nudge)
  • Think of a child's day-12 hours awake to include family time, eating, outdoor play, imaginative play, time to get bored.
Older children also act as media mentors.  Remember the closer to bedtime screens are used, the more sleep disruption and fatigue you will see.
Detroit Word Gap Initiative
This session was the closest to what SPARKS! is attempting in La Crosse.  Several agencies and organizations in Detroit worked together in two of Detroit's poorest neighborhoods to address the word and achievement gap.  Their plan was to intensively engage 150 families over two years.  They implemented that plan with:
  • A multimedia campaign in English and Spanish to raise awareness about the importance of words
  • Using focus groups (most families had never heard of the word gap and were immediately interested in improving their children's outlook.)
  • Engaging 100 local businesses to create book areas in each and hang posters/ engagement activities around literacy
  • Three key phrases "Words Build a Community" "Words are Songs" "Words are Love" were featured.
  • Local businesses created word rich play spaces.  Businesses had to apply, including two sentences on how they would maintain the program after two years.  Toys, books and shelves were provided for the initial 2 years.
  • They did text and Facebook pushes with literacy tips.  Find the FB page at Say and Play with Words for an idea of how they engaged families there.
Effective After School Literacy was pretty focused on school learning programs, but a couple of highlights
  • Low income families believe that they have an equal role in their child's learning AND are more willing to be trained as reading tutors for their children than any other measured category in the study.
  • Libraries are great at helping children love reading, but bad at helping families teach children to read or improving skills
  • To learn to read, children need to understand the rules of how print works, they need to understand how to manipulate sounds, how to connect letters to sounds, and how to read smoothly and accurately.  1 to 1 tutoring, teaching skills and involving parents is the only thing that works.
If you'd like to learn more about any of these sessions, please let me know!  Eventually slides should be available as well.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Graphic Design for Libraries Webinar

Wednesday, November 15
Presenter: Aaron Schmidt

Improve your graphic design skills and put them to work!  Schmidt will cover the basics of practical graphic design, show examples of good graphic design in libraries, and suggest tools that you can use to improve your library's signs, posters, brochures, websites, and more. 1 CE Credit

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

WLA YSS Sessions in Short: Plan Less, Program More

Subtitled "How to Collaborate with Regional Libraries to Bring Larger Scale Youth Programs to Your Communities," this lively program featured three librarians from nearby small libraries: Rebekah Palmer Osceola; Martha Kaempffer, St. Croix Falls; and Jerissa Koenig, Amery, appropriately dressed in character for the Harry Potter universe. The three shared their planning tips to create a Harry Potter Party at each of the three libraries.  By working together their planning time was radically decreased so more time could be spent on the program itself.

The events were held on different days and times which allowed the three to be at each library's programs. They each had areas of expertise to help with the planning (baking, STEM, etc) so the variety of activities they could offer was broad. After an initial meeting to start the planning, they used Google docs to continue. They shared supplies, activities, food serving equipment and used individual money on the food. 

By pooling their talents, energy, creative ideas and staffing with each other, each library could have an amazing large party. Here is the slidedeck for more info!