Thursday, June 8, 2023

Play Make Learn Conference Registration Open


Hello colleagues!

I wanted to remind everyone that registration for Play Make Learn 2023, hosted in Madison, WI on July 20-21 (with pre-conference sessions taking place on July 19th) is open! We have a lot of librarians attending this year, and the conference is more practitioner-focused than ever; please share with your networks and encourage them to register and attend. Play Make Learn is positioning itself as one of the most innovative playful learning and creative pedagogy conferences in the Midwest; you won’t want to miss this opportunity.


Additionally, we are incredibly proud to announce our two keynote speakers, Dr. Margaret Huettl and Dr. Kishonna Gray! I’ve included bio information about Dr. Huettl and Dr. Gray, below, but suffice to say, they are brilliant researchers and speakers, and are gamechangers in multiple sectors of study.


There is also information below about our (new this year!) compelling pre-conference sessions; I want to highlight “Exploring A New Digital Tool for Documentation & Observational Assessment for Hands-on, experiential learning”, being offered by Madison Public Library’s own Rebecca Millerjohn. Register today!

2023 Play Make Learn Conference Keynote Announcement
Margaret Huettl and Kishonna Gray


The Play Make Learn (PML) Conference promotes high-quality learning opportunities for educators, researchers, developers, designers, foundation leaders, policy makers, museum and library professionals, and school leaders who are dedicated to promoting making, gaming, and playful learning. We aim to engage our audience in cutting-edge learning science ideas and experiences; communicate state-of-the-art design, education, and research; demonstrate new and upcoming games and technology; and network to spark new projects in the following themes: playful learning, games for learning and positive social impact, making and makerspaces, STEAM education, arts integration in formal and informal spaces, and research/practitioner partnerships.  

The 2023 conference will feature keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, and playful experiences for all! Details will be added to the website as they are confirmed.

When: July 20-21, 2023

Where: Memorial Union | 800 Langdon St. | Madison, WI


Thanks to our generous sponsors, we are able to provide scholarships for a limited number of people in need of financial support. Complete the scholarship application here.



Chris Baker

Public Library Consultant, Library Services Team 

Department of Public Instruction 

(608) 264-6709

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Brochures for Growing WI Readers - Out-of-Date

Jeni Schomber shares this important information for all WI public libraries.

Good Morning All,

I recently received an email from a public library asking about the Growing Wisconsin Readers 2013-2016 initiative and brochures. In that conversation it was discovered that the QR Code on the brochure now leads to a psychic website. The brochure also has out of date information on the front listing Tony Evers as State Superintendent and the Growing Wisconsin Readers website is no longer operational.


While the literacy content is still both valid and valuable, in order to avoid misinformation and confusion, DPI recommends that you recycle/dispose of all Growing Wisconsin Reader brochures and other printed materials.


Thank you, and please let me know if you have any questions.


Jeni Schomber 

Public Library Consultant 

Library Services Team 

Division for Libraries and Technology 

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction 


Choosing a "Feature" for the Children's Room

Often, when a big remodel or new building is planned, the youth staff gets a chance to select a special "feature" that becomes a signature piece in the new youth area. It's sometimes tough to decide what that special feature should be.

A recent ALSC blog post from Emily Mroczek-Bayci writes: "A lot of libraries around me received renovations, and it’s always fun to check out what big ticket library purchases a library adds. In fact I’m pretty sure every library worker finds themselves lurking around local libraries while on vacation to “check it out”. Some items I see are totally unique while others are becoming more common. Here are some “big ticket items” that are surfacing in more libraries around the country."

Check out her pictures of these items here and start dreaming! [Big Ticket Library Purchases. Mrozek-Bayci, Emily. ALSC blog. May 23, 2023.]

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Being Aware of the Aug 5 "Brave Storytimes" at Public Libraries

Kelly Jensen, writer and former public librarian, has been keeping an eye on the "storytimes" being offered by Brave Books and Kirk Cameron. On August 5, Cameron is calling on supporters to hold storytimes at public libraries in order to “pray, sing, and read BRAVE Books and other books of virtue.”

This Book Riot post is a deep dive into what public libraries need to know and consider if they are approached to host this type of event.

Jensen writes: "If you’re a public library worker, now is the time to prepare for what could be either an onslaught or a big nothing burger. In hoping for the latter, preparing for the former will ensure that your library is indeed in a strong position to defend the choices it makes in the interest of its purpose, its staff, and its users. This includes reviewing your policies around meeting rooms and meeting with your legal representation on what requirements you can and cannot make of those requesting rooms (specifically around security — someone like Cameron, via his profile, is a public safety concern but also, knowing that increased law enforcement at the public library is antithetical to the tenants of librarianship and is an impediment for the use of the facility by marginalized individuals, what do you do?)."

Check it out here. [Brave Books, Kirk Cameron Plan Public Library Events August 5- Libraries Need to Prepare. Jensen, Kelly. Book Riot blog. June 5, 2023.]

Monday, June 5, 2023

CCBC Featured in Publishers Weekly

Last week saw the publication, in both the print and digital version of Publishers Weekly, of a fascinating article about the CCBC and their services entitled, "The Cooperative Children's Book Center Changes with the Times" (May 19, 2023 digital edition; May 23, 2023 print edition).

Along with many fascinating pieces of information, the CCBC shared the following comparison stats:

"Of the nearly 3,500 books received by the CCBC in 2022, 18% were by Asian authors and 11% were about Asian characters; 13% were by Black authors and 14% were about Black characters; 11% were by Latinx authors and 7% were about Latinx characters; 1.5% were by Indigenous authors and 1.7% were about Indigenous characters; and 0.4% were by Pacific Islander authors and 0.4% were about Pacific Islander characters.

In comparison, in 2012, the CCBC received 3,600 books. Of those, 2% were by Black authors and 3% featured Black characters; 2% were by Asian and Pacific Islanders authors and 2% featured Asian and Pacific Islander characters; 1.6% were by Latinx authors and 1.5% featured Latinx characters; and 0.2% were by Indigenous authors and 0.6% featured Indigenous characters."

It's exciting to see the continuing emphasis on authors of color and characters of color being published. We Need Diverse Books and the voices of other advocates throughout the country (and including the CCBC have helped create more authentic books that kids can see themselves in.

Congratulations to the CCBC!

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

Once or twice a month on weekends, YSS posts round-ups of ads that are sent to us or that we come across. If you have a position opening up and would like to see it on the YSS blog, please forward the job ad link/descriptions to the YSS blog at the email address listed in the header above the day's blog post.

Here are early June listings:

Youth Services Librarian  Amery, WI (full-time)

The Amery Area Public Library seeks an energetic librarian to lead its programming and services to children and  young adults. 

With a service area population of about 10,000, the library is located within a renovated multipurpose facility. It is part  of the MORE consortium of libraries and a member of the IFLS library system. The Amery Area Public Library has  strong community support, and it is committed to offering high quality programs and services to the community. The city of Amery is situated on 3 lakes and the Apple River. The surrounding area is home to excellent year-round  recreational opportunities, from swimming and fishing to snowmobiling, ATV riding, hiking, cross country skiing and  much more. We are proud of our excellent school system and state-of-the-art medical center. Amery is home to the  Northern Lakes Center for the Arts, a community theater group and a variety of art studios. We are located just an  hour from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. 

Responsibilities: The Youth Services Librarian reports to the Library Director and is responsible for the library's  program of service to children and young adults. Essential duties include managing the children's and young adult  collections, planning and implementing programs that benefit children from birth to age 18, promoting youth services  to the community, and participating in the day-to-day operations of the library. 

Qualifications: Bachelor's degree or equivalent preferred. Library coursework in children's and young adult literature  and in programs and services for children and young adults and 1-2 years of public library experience preferred.  

Compensation: Starting salary range is $37-$42,000 with excellent benefits. 

Please submit your resume, cover letter, and list of three professional references via email to or mail to: Heather Wiarda, Director, Amery Area Public Library, 104 Maple Street West,  Suite B, Amery, WI 54001. A detailed job description is available at

First preference will be given to applications received by June 15th, 2023.

Youth Services Manager, Community (Salem WI) Library (full-time)

The Community Library is looking for a professional and enthusiastic person to supervise our Youth Services department. This is a full-time position requiring 40 hours per week including some evening and weekend hours. Flexibility in scheduling is required. The Community Library is comprised of two buildings serving four western Kenosha County municipalities. This position will require travel to all branches as well as various area organizations.


Required Qualifications

The ideal candidate will possess an American Library Association accredited Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, three years of professional librarian experience including working with children, teens and parents. Any equivalent combination of experience and training will be considered. The candidate must be technology-savvy and comfortable with both current technologies and learning new ones. Supervisory experience is preferred.


Duties and Responsibilities

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: supervising staff, collection development, children’s and teen programming, reference and reader’s advisory, outreach, and the creation of promotional materials. Successful applicants will be comfortable with independent decision making, embrace responsibility, and have enthusiasm for lifelong learning.  We are looking for someone who is a team player, who seeks ways to improve his or her value to the library and the library’s value to the community, and who desires to be an active participant in this organization.


Benefits and Salary

Benefits include health insurance, retirement plan and paid holiday, vacation and sick time. Salary starts at $52,707.20.


Starting Date

June 2023


How to Apply

Send a completed employment application, a cover letter and resume to LeeAnn Briese, Director, Community Library, 24615 89th Street, Salem, WI 53168 or to

Please see our website at for a job description and employment application.


Deadline: Open until position is filled.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Fun Friday- Tweens and Teens Inexpensive Phone Grip (aka PopSocket) Program

Jamie Mercer is the Head of Youth Services at W.J. Niederkorn (Port Washington) Library and shares some extra fun with easy and/or FREE programming ideas/tips.

Happy Friday! 

Today, I am here to share a fun programming idea for tweens and teens!  It can be difficult when you wear many hats to create programs specifically for these target age groups.  Here is one I have found that is quick and that has been a great success for me a number of times over the years. 

Many tweens today have phones (along with teens), or if they don’t have a phone, many have a tablet.  And this is where PopSockets come in!  PopSockets have been around a while, and while we aren’t specifically using a PopSocket for this program, the idea is similar.   

Introducing the phone grip!  Tweens and teens alike love this program because not only will a phone grip (or two) work nicely to create a stand or act as an earbud holder (so they don’t get tangled), but they also get to put their own personal design and signature on the phone grip.  

I have run this program at several libraries over the years and the kids always enjoy it.  First, I order some phone grips (seriously search ‘phone grip’) on a wholesale website  The site may not seem like the type of site you would usually order supplies from, but I am here to tell you, it is a legitimate site (I preface this by letting you know I have only used the site to buy phone grips for my phone grip program and each time have left ample time before the program for shipping).  I then order a package of 1.5 inch round labels that are compatible with inkjet or laser printers.  Lastly, I order 1.5 inch clear round mailing wafers. 

Before the program, I print off some designs on the round labels (for kids who may not feel like creating their own design).  I then set out the phone grips and round labels.  After everyone is happy with their design, they can peel off the label and apply it to the phone grip.  The finishing touch is placing the clear wafer over the top (making it semi-waterproof). 

Typically, the cost for the phone grip program breaks down like this: 

        Phone Grips- 50 grip @ $0.26 = $13.00

       1.5 Round Labels (300)             = $12.00 

       1.5 Clear Wafers (500)              = $13.00 

                                                         = $38.00 Total 

The program doesn’t take that long, so it could even be a passive activity.  Or you could make it a longer event, maybe have a movie and throw some snacks out after school or a day the school district has a break.  

As a librarian, it is a fun program that is low prep and can be done with limited time.  From the patron perspective, I have always had positive feedback from kids and their families. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Connecting Kids and Books

Badgerlink Bulletin blog recently highlighted the very robust Book Connections, the public library interface from content provider TeachingBooks that focuses on enriching everyone's connection to children's and young adult books.

They write: "Engage and inspire readers with Book Connections resources that can be used both with patrons and behind the scenes. In a recent webinar, TeachingBooks Implementation & Training Specialist, Mary Ellen Graf highlighted ways to implement resources in youth services library programming as well as new tools to complement work on enhancing diversity in public library collections. Additional features of Book Connections were highlighted, including Collection Analysis and Diverse Books Toolkits, ready-to-use resources for your book clubs and story timeshomework help features, and more."

To read the whole post with loads of link to content and webinars, click here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Are We Too Centered in Our Storytimes?

Lindsey Krabbenhoft at Jbrary recently wrote a thought-provoking post about how emotionally invested we can become in "our" storytime and how that can really negatively affect the quality of our service.

Lindsey writes: "I’ve been reflecting the past few months on the special place storytime holds in my heart. This reflection has coincided with my journey to have a healthier balance between work and home life. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with being emotionally invested in my work. But I also think it’s helpful to check this investment against my own ego from time to time.

I came up with the following model as a way to help me see if my philosophy and my practice are in alignment. I started to ask myself: Who is the center of my storytimes? What information am I sharing and why? What is guiding my decision making when planning? To help me answer these questions I’ve framed storytime as The Great Connector. When I view storytime through this lens it helps me focus on the following three connections."  

Those connections include connecting families to the library; to each other and to the storytime presenter.  Lindsey seeks balance among all three.

You can read her fascinating analysis here. [I'm Not the Center of Storytime and That's OK. Krabbenhoft, Lindsey. Jbrary. May 23, 2023.]

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

We Are Kids Lit Summer Reading List 2023

Hot off the presses, the We Are Kid Lit Collective has just published its wonderfully diverse booklist for the summer!

They write: "Are you looking for a curated summer reading list that celebrates diversity, inclusivity, and intersecting identities? The We Are Kid Lit Collective selects books by and about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color), with attention to their intersecting identities. Chosen books are thoroughly selected, discussed and vetted by two or more members so that they can be free of microaggressions, stereotypes, or vestiges of imperialism. 2023 We Are Kid Lit Collective members: Sam Bloom, Edith Campbell, Sujei Lugo Vazquez and Lyn Miller-Lachmann"

DIvided into picture book, early readers, Click here to access this summer reading list.