Monday, September 21, 2020

Banned Books Week Sept 27-Oct 3

Since we've learned to turn on a dime over the last few months, I hope its not too late to share these last minute ideas for celebrating and creating meaning for Banned Books Week

This ALSC blog post by Brooke Sheets,  a member of their ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee,  has some great ideas and resources that you can pull together quickly.

Community Fun: Flipgrid, Fanfare, and Friends: River Falls Celebrity Storytime

Today's guest post is from an intrepid trio from River Falls (WI) Public Library: Cole Zrostlik, Collaborative Consultant @ WRLS (formerly at the River Falls Public Library); Monica LaVold, Youth Services Librarian at the River Falls Public Library; and Johanna Barbey, 12½  -year-old. They share how they created a marvelous Celebrity Storytime

Right after the River Falls Public Library went into lock down, we started creating resource lists for our patrons. We wanted to help in the ways we knew how. Monica was live-streaming three storytimes a week, but we still needed to understand what our community members needed. We created and distributed an online survey and got a lot of responses (~300). People needed connection, they needed to feel like they were part of something outside of their homes, they needed a little fun.


With our endless energy and enthusiasm, we decided to try Flipgrid, a free web app, for community members to contribute to a collaborative online message board, River Falls Celebrity Storytime. Our very first celebrity was Mayor Dan, followed by some City and Library staff members; then River Falls-native and children’s book author Jaqueline West (author of the Elsewhere series) made a contribution! That was a great day. We got bold and invited more local celebrities-- we were super excited when special guest Senator Patty Schactner made a contribution, and almost lost it when we got Governor Tony Evers to read a story. (This didn’t happen by chance, by the way. We sent lots and lots of emails and really sold the idea to some really helpful PR folks.) 


What is Flipgrid? It might be easier to show you than to tell you, but Flipgrid is an app (mobile or desktop) originally created for classroom use. A question or theme can be proposed by an educator/moderator and anyone can respond or create a post in video form. No account is needed to view videos, a Flipgrid site can be password protected (although we chose not to), and, to record a message or response, all is needed is a Microsoft or Gmail account. We like it because it’s more private than Facebook (which is helpful when you are considering publisher guidelines), but it’s easy enough for a second-grader to use (although it takes a little practice for some users-- admins can easily post videos on behalf of users too). 


One of our biggest fans and Flipgrid supporters was Johanna Barbey, a 7th grader and potential future educator (although she could really do anything!). Here’s what Johanna had to say about Flipgrid: 

I use Flipgrid because it’s a really fun and enjoyable way to communicate with other people and share a message. You could record a video of yourself reading a book! I LOVE to read a lot and I enjoy reading to others. It’s also been nice to see and hear other people during this pandemic.


For us, Flipgrid was awesome for Celebrity Storytime, but it could also be great for an anytime book club, a teen hangout space, or a virtual preschool playgroup. Maybe you have an idea for using Flipgrid this winter? 


Check out the River Falls Celebrity Storytime Flipgrid here

Virtual Storytimes YSS COVID-19 series:

Creating Community Fun YSS COVID-19 series

Saturday, September 19, 2020

You Are Not Alone - Coping with Your New Library Life

Abby Johnson. Photo from ALSC blog
It is soooooo easy to feel frustrated, isolated and alone. I give huge props to the ALSC blog for hitting it out of the park with some very soul-searching posts about doing service in the time of COVID-19. Here are recent favorites:

  • I greatly respect Abby Johnson, a long-time blogger at Abby the Librarian and former youth librarian and current contributor to American Libraries magazine. In a recent ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) blog post, she shared some of her perspective on life in libraries during the time of COVID. This brief, supportive and perceptive post is worth the read.
  • Amy Steinbauer is a thoughtful blogger at ALSC who brings her experience and honesty to bear when she writes her posts. Her most recent one had encouraging words about those who work with children having very important internal PPE's (people skills, patience and ability to find enjoyment). You can read her hopeful post here.
  • Also from the ALSC blog, Liza Purdy looks at what life at her library is like and shares tips on how to re-think our work, especially when we are missing the pre-pandemic joys of working more directly with kids and families. To get a jolt of joy and can-do, read her encouraging post here.

Re-Opening Issues YSS COVID-19 series:

You Are not Alone – Coping with Your New Library Life  9/21/20

Decisions, Decisions – Thinking About Fall, School and Your Library  8/5/20 

Back to School Considerations and Tips for Libraries  8/15/20

We’re Re-opening – You’ve Got This!  7/15/20

We’re Re-opening – Should We Do In-Person Programming This Fall?  7/9/20

Digital Bytes – Unpleasant Convos (During a Pandemic) & Communication Tips (While Wearing a Mask)  7/7/20

We’re Re-opening – Wisconsin Public Libraries Reopening Guide  6/4/20

We’re Re-opening – Coping with Reluctant Patrons and Programming 6/3/20

We’re Re-Opening – Cleaning and Disinfecting Youth Areas  5/13/20

COVID-19 and Libraries: Your Questions Answered with Dr. Dipesh Navsaria (webinar) 5/19/20

Friday, September 18, 2020

Well-Being App for You and for Patrons

The Healthy Minds Program app is a free well-being tool for Apple or Android users from the folks who brought us the Kindness Curriculum. 

"With a combination of podcast-style lessons and both seated and active meditations, you’ll learn what the science says about the brain while developing skills to tap into these learnings for a healthier, happier you." 

The Healthy Minds Program App was developed by Healthy Minds Innovations, a non-profit affiliated with the Center for Healthy Minds at UW-Madison.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Throw It Thursday - Happy Constitution Day

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.

September 17th is Constitution Day. And with this year's presidential election, what better time to talk about government related materials? Government related texts can be very dry and boring, as I’m sure we all know. Informational texts on the subject don’t change much, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t weed them. In this day and age of technology everywhere you look, it is just as easy to look up basic information about the House of Representatives, Congress, the office of the President, and so on (whether or not people find accurate information is another matter entirely-and it doesn’t stop them from looking at what they think is good information, no matter how hard we try to make people understand they can’t trust everything they see on the internet) 

Even though most people get their information on the internet, we should still have books about important topics on our shelves. Some people still like to look at old fashioned books, and teachers especially, like to use them for school. One of the biggest challenges with this section, perhaps, is keeping it up-to-date. General books on government topics don’t tend to be used often, and how much do they really change? Answer: some not much, others more than you might expect. It is not a bad idea to go through your basic texts on the subject that are over 5 years old to see what they cover and check to see if anything major has changed in how the government operates since your items were published. If the book still contains current information and is not outdated, you could keep it, even if it hasn’t circ’ed recently (or you could throw it and find something new if it hasn’t circ’ed 😊). If you find that the information is outdated and things have changed since the test was written, it’s time to update those texts. And, of course, if the item has pictures that are old and crusty looking, just Throw-It!  

In addition to all of the general informational texts, you also have all of the books about a specific political person, party, or issue. These you can get rid of as soon as there is no longer interest (we weed them after 5 years of no activity). Or if you learn that a book is grossly falsified and have good sources and documentation to prove that, don’t feel bad about throwing it out! In my opinion, it is better to get rid of something that has outdated information (even if it is continuously checked out) than let our patrons continue checking it out and believing that is still how things happen. As those who love weeding say, “When in doubt, throw it out!” 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

WEMTA Virtual Conference: Registration Open, Request for Proposals and More!

YSS folks, many of you attended this conference in this past. And many YSSers have submitted and had proposals accepted presenting innovative ideas of service for our school colleagues. There's still plenty of time this year to propose programs - you may be lucky and be a picked to be a presenter!

And now a word from our friends and colleagues at WEMTA with the details!

The WEMTA (Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association) Conference brings together current, future and past educators to share knowledge of library, literacy and technology topics. Nine concurrent sessions over two days offer a wide variety of choices. Many sessions will be recorded and available for conference attendees to view asynchronously. 


We’re excited to announce attendee registration is OPEN for our virtual WEMTA Conference February 7th-8th 2021. Special student, retiree, bring your administrator pricing & presenter discounts. Early bird pricing ends November 7th.


Have an idea for a general session? Check out our proposal submission directions and how to submit your session/s (due September 30th). More information on our website including: Case to Attend, Schedule Overview, Registration Information and more. We look forward to seeing you at #WEMTA21!!! 


Renee Deschard & Malena Koplin, #WEMTA21 Conference Co-Chairs

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Registration Now (Nationally) Open for the CLEL Leadership Institute and Conference!

Guess what, everyone!  You're officially invited!  

To what, you ask?  You should take a gander at the following message...  

(As always, a big shout out to Tessa and Marge for sharing this amazing resource.)

**Note: original post has been edited to reflect the new registration cutoff date of September 23rd, per the CLEL website.**

Hi all,

We are opening up registration for the CLEL Leadership Institute and Conference nationally. Please feel free to register yourselves if you're interested and available, and send out this invitation to youth services folks in your state (students, volunteers, trustees, and partners are also welcome). Thanks so much! Beth

Register for the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy Leadership Institute and Annual Conference

Each year CLEL–Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy–hosts a unique conference focused on serving children birth-6 and their families in libraries. And this year will mark two firsts for this conference: it will be virtual, and it will include a Leadership Institute! All are welcome to these virtual experiences--we welcome out of state folks, students, volunteers, trustees, and partners!

The first of this 2-day event will be a Leadership Institute on October 8; this event is geared for staff that are already in leadership positions, as well as those who wish to lead from where they are, and those who are looking to move up into official leadership positions. The Leadership Institute will feature ALSC president Kirby McCurtis as its keynote speaker, plus thought-provoking breakout sessions and some important calls to action. The main conference will be on October 9, with Library Journal Mover and Shaker Janet Damon as the keynote speaker and plentiful breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics. Both days are excellent opportunities to network with colleagues from across the state and country, snag some great ideas to try, learn something new and deepen your knowledge, and have some fun!

View the full schedule for both days here.

Registration is now open; register for the Leadership Institute and/or the Conference online. Registration deadline is September 23.  

The fee to attend the Leadership Institute is $20; the main Conference is $25; and the fee to attend both days is $45.

Oh, and if you’re not already a CLEL member, please join this unique organization–it’s FREE! No need to live in Colorado to join--there are CLEL members in other states and even other countries!

If you have questions about the CLEL Leadership Institute or Conference, please contact Beth Crist,

Thanks; we hope to see you at the CLEL Leadership Institute and Conference!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Tips for Doing Teen Virtual Programming

Those clever bloggers at SLJ's Teen Librarian Toolbox always have great content. In the most recent post in the continuing series "Cindy Crushes Programming," Cindy Stutts provides 11 practical ways to consider your teen programming during the pandemic. Wise - and helpful - words!

One tip: "Do programs you care about within reason: This makes the work easier. I got back into Animal Crossing this year which made my life easier. I was able to do a whole series of programs around it. I add within reason because you want to make sure the teens are interested also."

To read all 11 tips, stop here.

Virtual & Offline Programming YSS COVID-19 series:

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Problem with Diversity Labeling

In a thoughtful post on publisher Lee and Low's The Open Book blog, librarian Alexandria Brown explores why labeling books as diverse reinforces white supremacy. She sheds light on this issue and also suggests the many other ways libraries can support and highlight books by BIPOC creators.

She writes: If you plan to use labels with the words “multicultural,” “diverse,” or “POC” on them, are you using those terms correctly? How narrowly will you define multicultural? Will you include books by white authors and/or about white characters? If not, why not? Whiteness is a racial affinity and cultural identity. Before you even get to the labeling stage, how will you determine whether or not a book is “multicultural,” “diverse,” or “POC?” Who will do the physical labor of creating the relevant criteria? Who will evaluate, pull, label, reshelve, and update the catalogue?"

You can read the entire post here.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Friday FAQs with Tessa - 9/11/20

Dear Library Staff Serving Youth, 

Happy Friday! Here is the latest installment of Friday FAQs for Youth Services. The slides used in the recording are attached as a PDF. Also, the FAQ Friday form is open for your input on the next episode. FAQ Fridays are published on the second Friday of each month; the next one comes out on Friday, October 9, 2020.

                FAQ Friday 9/11/2020 recording (7:06)

FAQ Friday form


For FAQ archives, visit the Youth Services Section blog 

Resources related to this week’s topics


  • Stress and Mental Health 

Resource list compiled by System Staff and the Division for Libraries and Technology (DPI) 

Stages of Compassion and Fatigue PDF and video from the Compassion Resilience Toolkit 

Ambiguous Loss from The Cardigan newsletter in the September 2020 issue 


  • Suggestions from the Shout-Outs

Puppy Pen Pals at the Rosemary Garfoot Public Library in Cross Plains 

Stretchly app


Have a warm and cozy weekend,


Tessa Michaelson Schmidt

Public Library Consultant – Youth Services and Inclusive Services

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Division for Libraries and Technology

(608) 267-5077

Wisconsin Resources YSS COVID-19 series:

Friday FAQs with Tessa Michaelson Schmidt