Monday, November 29, 2021

Book Challenges - Be Prepared

With ever more sophisticated non-localized group efforts to remove and ban books, it's always good to be prepared when requests to remove books come your way.

Some recent blog posts and an additional few thoughts can help guide you and prepare you.

Leah Langby at IFLS posted "Getting Prepped for Challenges" on the Keeping Up with Kids blog.  She writes: "A lot of folks in the library world live in dread of someone coming up to them with a  a request (or demand) that a library material be removed from the collection.  Even the thought of someone coming up with a question or concern about an item can be scary to contemplate.  However, as Megan Schliesman of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center pointed out in a recent conversation, this is something library workers should just be prepared to deal with in the course of their work.  People will have questions or concerns about items in the collection, and we need to be prepared to handle these conversations, and even see them as an opportunity to share information about the mission of the public library (to provide materials for everyone in the community).:

Check out the helpful resources she shares here.

In August, Anne Hamland, Public Services Consultant at WVLS (WI Valley Library Service) updated a resource she originally wrote in 2018 " Boost! Challenged Materials: Prepare Now." in the system blog. She writes: "Most libraries celebrate Banned Books Week  in September every year and talk about the importance of access and intellectual freedom at that time. Books that are challenged are featured in displays and programming. Unfortunately, book and library material challenges are not extinct. Challenges happen in many forms at nearly all libraries every year. It is important for library team members to review library policy on handling informal and formal complaints. Today could be the day a patron emails, calls, posts on social media or complains while you are at the desk. Be prepared."

Stop here to find the helpful suggestions and links she provides.

Kim Niesing at Youth Services Consultant at Monarch Library System has a few solid tips for us too:

  • "I strongly recommend library staff not comment on the content in question. They should not give their opinion on whether they agree or disagree with the content. Doing so often does not help the situation, and it is better to focus on emphasizing that formal challenges will go through your library's established policy/procedure and not be decided on by any one person's opinion.
    • If a patron is giving an informal complaint, front line library staff can calmly listen without engaging in a debate.  
    • If a patron wants to give a formal complaint, front line library staff should inform the patron of the library's reconsideration policy and give the patron any paperwork/forms the person needs to submit a formal complaint. Staff should not indicate whether they think the material in question will be removed, be relocated, or remain as is.  
    • Depending on the preference of your library director, front line library staff or more likely library managers may choose to inform the patron of the library's collection development policy and/or commitment to intellectual freedom, the ALA Library Bill of Rights, etc.  
  • As always, talk to your library director and follow the procedures they want for your library. This is an area where you want to be informed before the need arises! "

Finally, author Kate Messner recently shared on her blog an open letter to parents "
Books for All Kids (Not Just Yours): An Open Letter for Educators & Librarians to Share with Families" that also shares some great tips for educators and librarians. She writes: "When we remove books – or fail to order them in the first place, for fear of someone objecting – we’re doing a huge disservice to the readers in our care. We’re making sure that the young reader who’s never seen someone who looks like them on the cover of a novel never will. We’re making sure the reader who lives with an addict or misses a parent who’s incarcerated continues to feel invisible and alone. We’re removing the lifeline that books can provide for kids who are struggling. We’re turning off the light and leaving our readers alone in the dark."

Click here to read the post and open letter she shares.

Friday, November 26, 2021

New Storytime Website

Last month we shared a new Facebook group that was started to fill in the gap created when Storytime Underground closed up shop this past fall. 

The FB page's creator, Kate Reynolds, recently reached out to us to let us know that she and a team of youth librarians have created a website devoted to storytime called Storytime Solidarity (the same name as the FB group). The website is loaded with helpful resources including song and rhyme lyrics, thematic booklists to help you diversify your storytime, craft ideas and a resource page as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

We're Thankful...for YOU!

Pixabay Image

We want to take a moment to thank all our readers for your continued support and attention. This blog exists for WI Youth Services library staff who work with children, teens and families. Our bloggers - Katherine Schoofs, Ashley Borman, Susie Menk, the teen librarians coordinated by Taylor Wilcox, Brooke Newberry, Marge Loch-Wouters and our new weekly contributor Kim Niesing - work to bring you content that you can use.

So thanks for sticking with us. We appreciate you!

Please feel free to send info links to us at and we will share. And if you would like to become a weekly or monthly contributor to the blog, or want to write a post just once or here or there sharing an idea, opinion or how you run your WI youth services good, just let us know that same way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Pat Zietlow Miller Shares Her Love of Libraries

Did you miss the chance to hear this year's Notable Author, Pat Zietlow Miller, speak at the Awards & Honors Ceremony last week?  

Here she is, sharing how libraries--both public and school--made her a reader, a writer, and a thinker.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Say Hello to our New Blogger Kim Niesing!

Kim Niesing, YSS member and Monarch Library System's Youth Services Consultant and Database Management Librarian, is joining the Youth Services Shout-out blog writing team!

Kim has already been providing great content for the blog over the past few months. She shared her weekly email that she sends to her system's youth librarians with us and we passed it on.  Her generosity has resulted in many wonderful links and shared information being published in the YSS blog. I recently asked her if she would like to share content weekly on the blog by becoming one of our writers and she said yes!

Kim will be taking over the weekly Wednesday posts for us. Thanks Kim and a big welcome to the team! 

Watch for her first post on Wed, Dec 1 and on the following Wednesdays.

STEAM, Makering, Tinkering Professional Development Opportunity!

YSS member Nancy Aycock writes:

Hi all! 

We wanted to let you know about The Teacher Studio which has started for the new school year. If you're new to the group, The Teacher Studio is a learning community made up of educators interested in hands-on, making, tinkering, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)-based learning experiences. Each month, participants will make something together and share ideas for supporting maker-based learning experiences with their learners. The Teacher Studio is made up of school-based and out-of-school-based educators from libraries, museums, and after-school programs from a variety of content areas, grade levels, and experience levels with making. The Teacher Studio is a partnership between UW-Madison and the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. 


Our second meeting is at 4:30 - 6:00 pm on Tuesday, November 30, 2021—Online and at MetaSpace 511, the makerspace at the Mukwonago Community Library (511 Division Street, WI 53149, 262-363-6411 ext. 4111). If you are unable to make it to the library but would like to join us, email Peter Wardrip at to sign up and he will share the zoom link. We will have a hands-on STEAM activity and discussion along with snacks and a tour of the makerspace. Each month, if it's healthy and safe, we'll be rotating the in-person location so hopefully, we'll catch some of you around the state. 


To stay up to date on our future dates, you can keep an eye on this page: 


Feel free to reach out to Peter at or Nancy at if you have any questions. Feel free to forward this to others you think would be interested. We look forward to seeing you this year. 


Thank you from your hosts, 


Nancy Aycock, MetaSpace 511 Lead Innovator from the Mukwonago Community Library 


Peter Wardrip, School of Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Assistant Professor of STEAM Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 


Bill Pariso, VP of Education and Mike Cook, VP of Playlab from the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Youth Advocates and Leaders Inducted into Library Hall of Fame

On Thursday November 18, two strong youth advocates were inducted into the Wisconsin Library Heritage Hall of Fame at the Wisconsin Library Association annual conference in Green Bay.  

Alice Sturzl, a school librarian for four decades in the Laona School District, library trustee and active member of the Wisconsin Library Association has long been an advocate for youth services and mentor to many youth services librarians throughout the state. She was a great leader as well and paved the way for many youth librarians in WLA. You can read about her here at the Library Heritage Center site.

Carol Diehl, another strong school librarian and fearless advocate for Wisconsin's youth and youth libraries, a legislative lion and unstoppable force  was posthumously inducted on the same night. You can  read here about Carol's contributions at the WI Library Heritage Center site. 

Both of these women exemplify dedicated service and the power of mentors and mentoring. These women are important people in our Wisconsin youth library history and its truly special to see them so honored!

Below are Alice Sturzl's remarks from her acceptance speech. 

I am honored to be standing here before you, but I have to admit that I am humbled by this unexpected award that is being bestowed on me.

Congratulations to all of the award winners who are being recognized this evening, as well as to The Class Of 2021 Hall-Of-Fame Inductees.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank some special people who have been instrumental in getting me to this point in my professional life, and for supporting me in my professional endeavors:

  1. To my beloved husband Bruce for supporting me in the commitments that I chose to undertake, helping me to take care of those commitments, and for getting me to the commitments that I made.
  2. To Marla Sepnafski for nominating me, for helping me to always see the big picture with library system issues, and for making certain that I always had the information that I needed.
  3. To Kris Adams Wendt for nominating me, for keeping me in-the-loop on public-library issues, and for helping me enjoy a plate of crab rangoons during our discussions.
  4. To Heather Eldred for nominating me, leading me in to WLA by appointing me to The Committee On Organization during her presidency, and having faith in the abilities that I did not yet know I had.
  5. To Cindy Lemerande for teaching me about the local politics of public libraries as we worked in tandem in a combined school-public library in the small, and rural, community of Laona, Wisconsin. 
  6. To Larry Martin for his leadership during my WLA presidency, even though he left us at the mid-way point for The Democratic Party.
  7. To Bernie Bellin, Mike Gelhausen, and Kathy Pletcher for taking me under their wings when I was a fledging member on The WLA Board.
  8. And last, but certainly not the least, To The Wisconsin Library Association Foundation for setting up The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center and its component Hall Of Fame!  

I have always felt that I was put on this earth to help others by sharing my time, talent, and treasure with them.  That led me to The Field Of Education.  I originally planned to be a secondary math teacher, but the required three semesters of college calculus-and-trigonometry classes seemed like over-kill.  Many of the secondary schools were not even offering those subjects at that time; but, my, how things have changed in the last few years.  I decided to use math as a hobby, and instead pursue a career as a school librarian.  I knew that I could help students learn what I had learned, and teach them new things that would help them survive in the adult world.  I have watched former students become successful members of today’s society.  It is gratifying to know that I may have had a hand in helping them get to where they are today.    

My chosen profession has also been personally fulfilling, because I feel that I have had an impact on library-related matters.  While I may not have made the same impact others have made, I know that I have made an impact in my little corner of the world.  I am concerned about libraries of all types; since I have worked in school, public, and academic libraries.  I am also concerned about the staff, and trustees, who are a part of the workings of all libraries.  It is imperative for these people to work together to ensure their libraries take care of the needs of their patrons.  People do a library make; and we need to continue to work together to maintain the staffing, materials, and financial resources that our libraries must have to fulfill their purposes in society.

My contributions to the profession have been many, and varied.  I have been involved with, and advocated for, libraries on local, regional, and state levels most of my adult life.  Needless to say, all of my involvement has centered around the things that are important to me.  Yes, they are also important to all of us; or you would not be here tonight.   

The personal rewards that I have received have allowed me to “rise by helping others through committed and selfless service”.  “True greatness is not measurable by our position but by the strength and extent of our selfless service to others”.  I have made many friends throughout Wisconsin’s library community, and those friends have taught me a great deal about life, and living it to the best of my ability.  As a matter of fact, all of you have played a part in my journey by acting as mentors, supporters, and tutors to me.

I would be remiss, if I did not mention that many of those who supported me while we worked together for the common good of libraries have already been enshrined; and they are my heroes, so I am honored to now be included in that “circle”.  

I hereby accept --(do I have a choice?)-- my Induction In To The Wisconsin Library Hall Of Fame, but on your behalf.  All of you have contributed to this award as professional, and personal, friends; and I would not be where I am today without you.  Each one of you can reach for the sky, and stretch your arms far enough to stand where I am at some point in your future. 

Thank you!

Congratulations to both of these wonderful advocates and their families.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Registration for Power Up Pop Ups Conference Opens

The well-regarded 3rd biennial Power Up Pop-Ups: A (Mini) Leadership Conference for Youth Services Managers and Staff will be presented virtually. Scheduled to begin February 21 and continue through March 4, 2022, the previous day and a half in-person conference format has morphed to "Pop-ups" - daily sessions from noon-1:00pm featuring speakers from around the country as well as from WI. This format allows participants to stay connected virtually with a little info/learning each day without burning out. 

The University of Wisconsin Madison Information School and their team of youth services librarian consultants have put together an innovative format and line-up of speakers. The content ranges widely from diversity and social justice to suggestions to help you make the most of your skills as a leader and collaborator within your library, no matter what your position level is. 

The cost of the conference is based on a sliding fee scale. Stop here for information about the sessions and here for registration information.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Throw-It Thursday - Weeding to Reclassify a Collection

Ashley Borman, Technical Services Librarian at the Clintonville (WI) Public Library is back with her monthly column and has some great advice on making sure your collections are updated.

 WLA is this week and I am on a panel to talk about genrefying collections. So I’m going to extend my thoughts on weeding when you are making changes that require relabeling an entire collection to this blog, because it’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past few days. The Clintonville Public Library genrefied, or created “neighborhoods,” in our picture book section about 5 years ago. It was a long and sometimes difficult process, trying to figure out what to put where and how to do the labeling. But one of the more fun parts for me, was the MASSIVE weeding project we did beforehand. 

When you are planning to change and relabel an entire collection, it is completely necessary to weed beforehand. It is also necessary to be RUTHLESS. Your first step will be to do your normal weeding procedure. If you want to tweak your data in any way you can. Example: Our normal weeding of picture books used to be by running a report of 5 years with no circs. When we did this project, we changed our data set to 3 years of no circs (Note: It is much easier on you and your staff to get rid of more than you normally would-you will rebuild your collection before you know it). 

When you are finished with your regular weeding, it is time to go through your books one by one (you could also do this during your actual relabeling process and discard items at that time. When you are physically looking at each book, check its condition-if it looks crappy, Throw-It! Page through them and look under any dust jackets. I can’t tell you how many books we found with ripped/missing pages or food stains-we even found books with mold. EW! If it’s gross or incomplete-Throw-It! It should not still be on your shelf!

I hope to see some of you at WLA! If you aren’t able to make it and want to know more about genrefying collections, please feel free to reach out and contact me at

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Programming Idea Bonanza

From Teen Services Underground 11/11/21

So many great ideas are coming through the pipelines for great programs for teens and children that you can do virtually or in person. Here are just a few we saw recently!

  • Join WI's own Katherine Schoofs for a Passive and Drop-in Programs webinar (sponsored by the IFLS Library System) on Tuesday, December 9 at 2pm. Program description:  "Does the idea of coming up with a passive program make you feel like a disgruntled pelican? Do you have "ew, drop-ins" embroidered on a throw pillow? Let's turn those negative thoughts on their head with a passive program buffet! Help yourself to whatever elements you like! Tips on collaboration? Sure thing! Passive programs in the time of COVID? Help yourself! By the end of this webinar, you'll be positively bedeviled with ideas, etc." Those who know Aram Public Library's (Delevan) Katherine knows she brings humor, enthusiasm and great creativity to her workshops and webinars. Stop here to register! Thanks to Kim Niesing, Youth Services Consultant at Monarch Library System for the heads-up!
  • Teen Services Underground agent SandraRosa shares her journey with her teen advisory board through the pandemic. The TAB teens came up with some great ideas for passive and virtual programs. SandraRose describes the programs and shares plenty of links to the resources the teens created. Those programs are ready for YOU! Check out her post here.
  • On the same day as the above post, agent Jessica Hillbun Schwartz shared her very successful charades program they do in person. Her fun ideas might spark you to try this program. Read about it here!
  • And still Teen Services Underground keeps pumping out great ideas (they are on your feeds, yes? Agent Jess Gafkowitz shares a ton of grab-and-go DIY craft kit ideas to delight and engage your teens. Stop here to get the deets.