Thursday, July 27, 2017

Guest Post: Power Up Conference Highlights

Guest Author: Susie Menk, Youth Librarian, Manitowoc Public Library

Power Up: A Leadership Conference for Youth Services Managers & Staff
March 30 - 31, 2017  Madison, WI

Keynote speaker - Gretchen Caserotti
Gretchen was an engaging speaker who had an air of experience that was easy to recognize.  My favorite quote from her presentation comes from John Quincy Adams - “If your actions lead your people to do more, dream more, act more, you are a leader.”  Leadership is more of influencing others to be and do their best than it is power.  Three points that Gretchen emphasized were that 1) no one is going to do it for you, 2) you have to execute and 3) you set the tone/mood/stage for your library or department.
Reflective Leadership - This workshop, led by Leah Langby, explored steps and processes to use when planning programming or services for youth services.  The four stages included exploration (is it a fit for us?), installation (develop, prepare and plan for change), initial implementation (try it out, make adjustments) and full implementation (how things are done).   Part of smart planning is doing pre- and post—discussions of the project.  Having a willingness and openness in communication to make decisions about programs will help develop stronger programs that work.  Leah’s workshop focused on the concern that rather than just jumping from one new idea or program to the next, if we take time to analyze and discuss new programs we will be better able to develop programs in the future.

Moving on Up? - This workshop, presented by Alea Perez, focused on how to empower staff to make the most of their individual talents and strengths.  What I got most out of this presentation was being flexible, making sure you and your staff have time to work alone and RECHARGE, seeing conflict as a challenge to overcome, and staying positive.  Asking questions of your staff and yourself as to how can we make this department better or how can we make this work better for each staff member.
Leading Change in Innovative Programming for Youth - This workshop was led by Krista Riggs and I appreciated her concept of changing not by fighting the old, but building up the new.  One of the key steps to building up the new is visioning what it will look like.  If you know where you want to go or what you hope to accomplish it helps you figure out the steps to get there.  One key point she emphasized was how open and non-threatening brainstorming needs to be.  It’s important that staff feel comfortable asking questions, sharing ideas and expressing opinions.  It’s also a good idea to invite outside people into your brainstorming sessions.

Addressing the Need for Confrontation - Renee Wallace did an outstanding job with this topic.  She recommended a book entitled “Effective Difficult Conversations”, which I hope to read soon.  She had excellent suggestions for preparing and handling difficult conversations.  Make sure to establish goals—what are the expectations and why it needs to be that way.  Renee also strongly suggested have a witness for difficult conversations so there would be no questions about what happened.  After the matter has been dealt with, be sure to go over future expectations and what the future will look like.  Document every time you need to have a difficult conversation.

Launching Your Youth Council:  Models and Best Practices for Teen Leadership - Erin Shaw led this interactive discussion of Teen engagement in libraries.  Her biggest tip was to actively recruit teens.  Don’t wait for them to come to you, you must go out and find them.  One of the neatest program ideas I heard at this presentation was teens hosting a talent show for kids.  Teens got to set up the AV equipment, stage and even put together a budget for prizes.  It looked like a great idea, low cost and easy to implement.  Another simple idea was teens making buttons and selling them at the service desk to fund their programs.  Another point Erin made was getting buy-in from other staff members.  Invite them to TAB meetings and get their ideas for programming.  If you can build positive relations between teens and staff that will go a long way to making teens feel welcome in the library which will lead to more teen involvement.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Wisconsin Science Festival Call for Participation

We are the statewide coordinators for the Wisconsin Science Festival, and we are messaging librarians throughout Wisconsin to grow participation in 2017. Now in its 7th year, the Festival is a free, statewide event aimed at engaging citizens with the science, engineering, and technology all around them.
To those of you who have already submitted an event this year (or in years past), thank you for your participation! The Festival wouldn’t happen without you.
If you have not participated before, please join us! Each year, the number of participating libraries has grown, and our goal is to extend invitations to as many libraries in Wisconsin as possible:
  • Check out the list below of past Festival events organized by Wisconsin libraries
  • Learn more about the Festival at our website:
  • Consider hosting an event:
  • Forward this message to anyone else that might be’s not just for libraries!
If you have any questions, our team is also happy to have a conversation with you at any time about the Festival, how it works, and what we can do for you. Feel free to email or call us directly.
We look forward to working with you!

The Wisconsin Science Festival
Statewide Program Coordinators
Shauna Baranczyk
(608) 316-4391
Wes Marner
(608) 316-4716
Sam Mulrooney
(608) 316-4390
2016 Wisconsin Science Festival Library Events
Creepy Crawly Cuisine: Eating Insects Around the World
Brown County Library
Stinkbug paté, deep-fried tarantula, “pork sausage with crunchy heads”...Enjoy true facts about how people from various cultures eat bugs accidentally and on purpose, and watch a PowerPoint slideshow that may make your skin crawl. This 30-40 minute presentation features a variety of nonfiction books, with connections made to geography, biology and nutrition. A food prep demonstration with live mealworms will be featured. The presentation can be combined with a library tour and/or time to browse and check out library materials. Option: Ask about getting Brown County Library cards for your group before you visit.
Juno and Curiosity: Exploring in Extreme Environments on Jupiter and Mars
Oshkosh Public Library
Using a program learned through training with NASA staff members, we explore the terrain of Mars and Jupiter to learn about extreme atmospheric conditions scientists must contend with when designing spacecraft that will travel to and gather information from Mars or Jupiter. Participants (in groups of 2-4) then use materials given to them to design and construct a rover, space probe, or other spacecraft to explore Mars or Jupiter. Teams also have an opportunity to share their design and its features with other program participants. Finally, projects will then be displayed in the library for several weeks.
Weather Science
Marathon County Public Library
Children in grades K-5 can join us at the library to learn about weather with some wacky and wild experiments! Explore how clouds work, make a hurricane, and more.  This event is geared towards children K-5 and is free and open to the public.
Banana Autopsy
Marathon County Public Library
Join us in learning about how forensic science learns about the time and manner of death by performing a banana autopsy. Teens will autopsy a banana "victim," record and report their findings. Participants will be using cutting and sewing tools.
Hands On Science
Pewaukee Public Library
Catapults, magnets, Keva Planks, slime, and more will be available for kids and their adults to experiment with during Hands On Science at the Pewaukee Public Library. Come prepared to engage your curiosity and discover the world around you!
Radical Reptiles and Amazing Amphibians
Pewaukee Public Library
Come and meet some terrific cold-blooded animals and people who know all about them at the Pewaukee Public Library. Our friends from the Madison Area Herpetological Society will be here with live animals to teach us about their unique qualities. Learn more about the intriguing creatures that share our world!
Stargazing with the Pewaukee Astronomy Club
Pewaukee Public Library
Curious about the night sky? Our friends from the Pewaukee Astronomy Club will set up their telescopes outside the Library so you can take a better look at the wonders of the universe. If the weather doesn't cooperate, they will offer an informative presentation with slides taken by the telescope in the Harken Observatory located in the library building. If you've always wondered what is up there, this is a great chance to learn more! Dress warmly, we will be outside, behind the library. Parking lot lights may be turned off for better visibility.
KidsLab: Imagine, Explore, Create!
Pauline Haass Public Library
Drop in to our library's KidsLab, a maker-style space for curious kids. Science-loving teen volunteers will be on hand to assist with exploring our STEAM-based activities. Try your hand at the following: snap circuits, squishy circuits, rock painting, circle art, CD weaving, cardboard construction totem poles, code-your-name beading, kinetic sand sculpture, stop-motion animation, KEVA plank building, marble run design, and more!

Monday, July 24, 2017

You Too Can Be a Mighty Coder and Coder Coach!

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed when a new type of program pops up that we feel we have no particular skills in. But, as youth librarians, we can't afford to only program in our skill and interest areas. That would only serve a portion of our community's kids. However, we youth librarians are famous for researching and dfiguring out how-to's to make sure kids have opportunities to discover and learn while having fun at our libraries.

Coding is an area that more and more libraries are offering popular programs for kids. And many of the people planning and hosting the programs would never claim any special coding geek-itutde. If you are feeling a bit of hesitation, try these great resources to help you feel mighty and wow your patrons!

Does Coding Feel Like the Scary Monster Under Your Bed?
In this blog post from IFLS' Keeping Up with Kids blog, Kathy Larson from Bloomer shares her experience of going from fear to fearlesslessness thanks to an amazing website.

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Coding Go Down
This slidedeck from the fall WLA 2016 conference by the WI Dept of Public Ed library team, has great info and resources as well as tips to help you feel mighty.

Wiscode Literati
Begun as an IMLS funded project by an iLead team in 2015, this site has a bunch of helpful ready-to-go programs to make you mighty.

Sowing Seeds Librarian
Emily Zorea at Brewer Public Library, Richland Center has blogged extensively about what she has learned and tried in coding. She gives readers confidence that you too can do coding programs! This post gathers her notes on the UW-Madison iSchool CE course on coding. You can also read about other programs she has tried by following her "coding" tag on the blog.

What great resources or programs on coding have YOU tried?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Who reads at bedtime?

Have any of you seen reports of this study from 2014 that states that children gain more when fathers (assuming a father is available) do the bedtime reading?

“When sharing a book with their child, they would often link events in the book to a child’s own experience. For example, when a ladder was discussed in the book, many fathers mentioned the last time they had used a ladder to climb up on the roof or use it for their work. Mothers did not do this. Mothers focused more on the details in the book and often asked children to label or count objects or identify colors.”

I think it's interesting that it has cropped back up--thanks Scary Mommy!) 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Guest Post: Summer Writing

Author: Sue Abrahamson, Children's Librarian, Waupaca Area Public Library

We all know the impact of the summer slide as it pertains to reading. Statistics show that math and writing suffer, too. In Waupaca, we are helping kids keep their writing skills sharp by offering a Secret Pen Pal Program. Not knowing what to expect we are blown away by the 160 children participating.

They sign up to be a secret pen pal. We give them a Library P. O. Box # and the number of a Library P. O. Box to write to. (Non-letter-writers are encouraged to draw pictures.)  We ask that they commit to sending their secret pen pal at least 3 letters over two months.

Staff has written postcards to all the kids from their vacations to add to the mail.  We did need to make a few phone calls to remind some families of their commitment. (Usually they were out of town.)  We will have a reveal party later this month so kids can find out who their Secret Pen Pal was this summer.

Parents have been excited to see their kids interested in writing and reading the letters.  They have asked us to continue it again next summer.  Email me at if you have questions or need more information.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Safe Spaces & Teen Services Workshops!

We're lucky to have library systems in our state that sponsor free and minimal cost professional development opportunities. Here's one such program coming up September 14, 2017 on Safe Spaces and Teen Services to be held at the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center, 3456 Craig Road in Eau Claire.

Workshop Schedule:

Safe Spaces Training, 9-11 am with Christopher Jorgenson (Women’s and LGBTQIA+ Center, UWEC): The basics on creating a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression.

Teen Services Workshop, 11:15-3:30 with Heather Booth (teen librarian, author, contributor to Teen Librarian Toolbox): Learn about teen brain development, and how that impacts our interactions with teens in readers advisory and programming contexts. There will be time for exchanging ideas and questions, and a focus on low-cost, low-time solutions.

(Don't worry, we'll break for lunch from 12:30-1:30. Lunch can be on your own or is available on site for $10)
Register for one workshop or both workshops; both will be fabulous!

Register by September 8:

Monday, July 17, 2017

Data on Kids in WI

Kris Adams Wendt, Public Library Consultant for Wisconsin Valley Library Service shares some great info with state youth consultants and we share it with YOU. Kris writes:

I ran across Wisconsin Council on Children and Families changes name to Kids Forward during my morning media scan and wondered how many around the YSANDSN table were aware of this organization and the work they do.

When you have a minute, I encourage you to poke around the Kids Forward website, paying particular attention to the WisKids Count page
      WisKids Count tracks, analyzes, synthesizes, and communicates data about the health and well-being of children and families in Wisconsin. WisKids Count is a part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count project which seeks to enrich local, state and national discussions concerning ways to secure better futures for all children.

      The Kids Count Data Center provides access to a wide range on data on indicators of child well-being in Wisconsin. Using the tools in the Data Center, you can easily create a profile of your county or school district. For more information on how to use the Kids Count Data Center, see our instructional presentation.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Performer Round Up

Every winter, I start dreaming about SLP and trying to figure out which programs, performers and collaborations will best serve my community.
It always seems a little hit or miss trying new performers out in our libraries.  This year, I am already thinking ahead to who we want next year so we can try to get our favorites when we want them.

Here are a few of our performer wins over the last year or so:

Our best paid event this year was definitely our Foam Fest.  Bob Dekle brought this event after he took it over from Games2U out of the Twin Cities.  Contact  This event was more expensive, but we were able to find a sponsorship and will definitely be repeating it.

Bruce the Bug Guy has always hit that sweet spot between educational, fun and gross!  We are hoping to book him next year.

Bubble Wonders was a live magic/ comedy/ bubble act and drew 200 people last summer for us.  He was engaging and fun and not overly expensive.

Koo Koo Kanga Roo has gotten a little too famous for us to afford, but always put on a super fun show.  I'd say they are best for Kindergarten through Second grade audience members, but parents love the jokes in their show too.  If you can swing it with help from your community or schools, definitely take advantage! 

Who are your favorites from this year or last?  Anyone new on the Wisconsin performer's circuit that we should all know about?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Guest Post: Sloppy Joes Down in RLPL’s Lunch Bunch Land

Author: Claire Parish, Public Services Director, Rice Lake Public Library

Serving food or even allowing people to eat can be a source of tension in the library world. Having kids and teens that come to the library all day without any food is something that we probably all see though, especially in the summer. Rice Lake Public Library staff took note of this a few years ago, and three summers ago implemented a program we now call Lunch Bunch to help alleviate this issue.

RLPL has allowed food for a long time, and we have snacks at all times that we put out year round in the afternoon, typically around the time school gets out.  So it was pretty easy for us to transition to serving lunches. The first year it was funded by the Friends of the Library, and was pretty small and low key. Word got out in the community though, and we had several organizations who were willing to get involved and provide more robust meals. The Elks Club received a grant available through their club to purchase supplies for hot lunch two times a week June - August and snacks throughout the year. We also partnered with the Boys and Girls Club lunch program, so that the other three days of the week we could serve a prepackaged cold lunch.  Partnering with the Boys and Girls Club led to us also offering breakfast five days a week, an added bonus!

This does take some staff time, especially with the hot lunch.  The food is brought in by members of the Elks Club and served by library staff.  This year, we are lucky to have a volunteer for a neighboring business serve one day, and I’m sure it would be easy to find a volunteer for the other day, but I actually love doing it!  It gives me a chance to chat with all of the kids coming through the line, get to know them better, and make sure that they feel welcome and safe at the library. The cold lunch days are definitely easier, we just set the bags out on our desk and kids can come up and grab them. The clean-up takes about 10 minutes and we (knock on wood!) really haven’t had any major messes left by anyone!

Not only has this program been wonderful in feeding the kiddos who stay with us all day, it has been a great way to form relationships with more of our patrons and create lasting partnerships with some key community organizations.  I’d be happy to answer any questions or provide more details about the program!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Flash Fiction 50 Word Story Challenge for Teens

Looking for a teen program that isn't a craft or a game? Have teens interested in writing? Want something that appeals to any gender? Try a Flash Fiction 50 Word Story Challenge.

Preparing for the program:
  • Create a 5x10 table in a document as a 50 word template and print multiple copies (more than you think you'll need).
  • Choose a wide variety of images for visual prompts and/or find or make some written prompts and print some for each table you'll have set-up.
  • Offer pens, pencils, and erasers. 
  • Offer snacks if you so choose or are able to offer them.

Guidelines for writers:
  • Exactly 50 words - no more, no less.
  • Titles don't count against the 50 words.
  • Prose, not poetry (but you can be flexible on this).
  • Choose your own subject or choose a story prompt.
  • Stories must follow a story format with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This was the quietest teen library program EVER! All the teens were furiously writing and hardly availed themselves of the snacks. They did drink plenty of cold water as it was a hot and humid day. After 45 minutes, most of them had finished writing; many had used three or more 50 word templates. At this point, we stopped writing and discussed how the format had affected the writing process, shared our stories, had some snacks, and talked about upcoming programs.