Archive for the ‘Librarians Help’ Category

Fun with Math for Parents and Preschoolers

Friday, September 20th, 2013

This last Saturday I got to do an Every Child Ready to Read Workshop (sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association), but I confess I made some changes.

The workshop, as prepared, was “Fun with Science and Math for Parents and Preschoolers.” The workshop I did? Well, I confess I left out the science and added lots of math activities.

Some friends on my Facebook page asked for details, and I thought it might be helpful for other librarians to know the adjustments I made. So I’ll just give the basic outline of the program. Imagine nice slides that came with the Every Child Ready to Read workshop.

As they came in, I gave every parent-child group a piece of paper and a box of crayons. I told them to write their child’s name in large letters so everyone could see. Some parents did this and some had their children do it. I let them keep the crayons and paper just in case the kids got restless during the talking-to-the-parents part.

We began with the welcome song, where we sing to each child. For example, if I were the child, it goes like this: “Sondy’s here today. Sondy’s here today. Everybody clap their hands. Sondy’s here today.” And we go all around the room. (I use this particular welcome song in all my programs because kids respond so well to their name. In this one, the addition of a writing activity with their parents and holding up the sign is perfect.)

What follows is a bit of an intro about Every Child Ready to Read. To warm up the audience, I mix it up by reading a book, and this time I chose Let’s Count Goats, with words by Mem Fox, and goats by Jan Thomas.

But the meat of ECRR2 is the five easy practices. These five easy practices, done often with your child, will help your child get ready to learn to read when they start school. What’s more, they’re fun. What’s more, they are also practices that will help your child learn math concepts. The beauty of them is that they use teachable moments and can be tailored to fit your child’s level.

The five easy practices are Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing.

I have a lot of material on Talking about math as you go through your day.

Here are some examples of some questions you can talk about during the day:

How many toys are on the floor? (A great way to suggest cleaning up: see who can guess how many toys are on the floor.)

How many cars are going by? When riding in the car you can extend this by counting cars you pass and subtracting cars that pass you.

Look! Can you find a “3”? (Play “I spy” with numbers.)

How many spoons do we need? (Setting the table is a math activity.)

Can you find a matching sock? (So is sorting laundry.)

I spy something shaped like a circle! (Identifying shapes is a math activity as well as a predecessor to learning the alphabet.)

How many jelly beans do you want?

After that question, I talk about how when my boys were little, before they had much of a numerical concept, I’d ask them how many candies they wanted. They learn quickly that way! This is a great lead in to reading the book How Many Jelly Beans? By Andrea Menotti and Yancey Labat.

Also under Talking about math, I mention that counting, measuring, sorting, and comparing are all math activities. I pass out a handful of foam shapes to each family and tell them to decide how to sort them. They usually choose by either color or shape. They help the child sort them. Then they should count how many shapes in each group and write down the numbers. The families did great with this.

On the third slide for Talking, I have a link to www.bedtimemath.org, and this time I was able to bring their new book for checkout! We read an example problem from the website. I talked about how I did this with my own younger son. The magic words that my son learned could extend bedtime forever were “Just one more math problem, Mommy, please!” I could not resist that plea!

And bedtime, which is indeed a lovely time for reading to your child, is also a cozy time for talking with your child. The problems on bedtimemath.org and in their book are nice problems you can talk about a little bit and work out an answer together. They come at three different levels, so you don’t have to stop when your child is small.

The next of the five easy practices is Singing.

Singing slows down language, so it helps kids learn the sounds in words. It also helps them learn numbers by putting them to music. At this point, we sing “Ten Little Beasties” (same tune as Ten Little Indians), first clapping with each number, and then trying to hold up the number of fingers as we sing. Then we do “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” with motions.

The centerpiece of the five easy practices, the most obvious one, is Reading.

Of course reading to your child will help them get ready to read! But did you know it will also help them get ready for math? I bring a cart full of books with mathematical concepts to the program. And at this point I read one of them. I like to use Quack and Count, by Keith Baker, because it also introduces the concept of addition, and it’s a fun story. The group this week spontaneously added a “Quack, Quack!” at the end of every page.

The fourth of the five easy practices is writing.

Here I talk about all the reasons to write numbers in life. Any time you write a list, you’re modeling this. Even if you don’t use numbers, if you write your grocery list in groups, that’s still a mathematical skill of sorting.
For a little activity here, I ask the parents to help the children count how many letters are in their name and write down the number on the paper next to their name.

The fifth of the five easy practices is playing.

For reading, dramatic play is so good. For math, I use this opportunity to put in a plug for board games. Candyland’s a great start, and you can’t beat Monopoly Jr for beginning addition and counting.

But playing is also at a much less formal level. Any measuring, counting, sorting, and comparing can be playing. At this point, we have all the families get in line in order of the number of letters in the children’s names from the front of the room to the back. This time, we went from BJ to Alexandra.

For another playing activity, we did a Venn diagram. I brought in a bucket of cars and trucks. I put two yarn circles on the floor. One circle was for red things. One circle was for cars. I put them on the ground so they overlapped. We figured out together where the different objects went. (“Is it red? Is it a car?”) I definitely should have used red yarn for the “red things” circle. But the kids had fun with it, anyway.

On another “Playing” slide, when it works, I show this clip from the Fred Rogers center.

This time, for some reason the link wouldn’t work. But it shows a family making beaded bracelets and necklaces using repeating patterns. Then we get the same idea reading the book Pattern Fish, by Trudy Harris.

Finally, we summarize the five easy practices. For a closing take-home activity, I pass out foam rectangles and half-sheets of paper. They can staple the paper inside the foam to make a counting book. They are welcome to decorate the outside with patterns using the foam sticky shapes. (We probably don’t have to have a craft at the end, since the program does go long, but I had the materials, and it’s a nice take-home reminder….)

So there you have it! Some simple ways to incorporate Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing… about Math!

I’ve done this program twice, and we’ve had a lot of fun both times. The parents get lots of ideas, and we all have fun together. It does run long, a whole hour, but the kids stay engaged, so I must be doing something right.

Any ideas and tips you have from using the Every Child Ready to Read Workshops? Or just ideas for Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing about Math with Preschoolers?

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Show Me the Awesome: Math at the Library

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

This month I’m excited about Show Me the Awesome: 30 Days of Self-Promotion, hosted by Liz Burns, Kelly Jensen, and Sophie Brookover. The Awesome artwork is by John LeMasney.

The idea is wonderful: Librarians talking about the awesome things they are doing.

Now, I’ve long believed that Librarians, as a whole, are tremendously undervalued. I have a sporadic series on my blog I call Librarians Help, trying to spread the word about the good we do. Read all the 30 Days of Awesome posts! If you’re a librarian yourself, you’ll get some great ideas. If you’re not, you’ll learn about some truly awesome things librarians are doing.

Mind you, I signed up to post in this series before I moved to a new home. Surely, a full month after moving, I’d be all settled in my new place, right? (Cue hysterical laughter here.)

I also signed up before booktalking season began. Today, for the first time in four years, I went to a local elementary school and talked with all seven grade levels about our Summer Reading Program and whet their appetites for some of my favorite books. I remembered how exhausting it is, but I had forgotten just how awesome it is to see all their faces listening to you tell about the books, and getting feedback that they are now determined to read some of the books you shared. I took a nap when I got home tonight, but I’m in a great mood. Getting kids excited about reading is such a mood booster!

But for my Awesome post, I already had in mind something I wanted to talk about: Math in the Library.

Before I got my MLS, my first Master’s degree was in Math. I taught college-level math for 10 years. And though I love math, the teaching job never felt like a calling, the way librarianship does. Part of what I love about the library? We don’t have to test anyone! No, at the library, we’re all about learning, and we assist learning for people who want to learn.

What’s more, I’ve always believed there’s no need whatsoever to “make” Math fun. Math *IS* fun! And we get to show that to kids!

So, what are some awesome ways recently I’ve gotten to show people how much fun Math is at the library?

Fresh in my mind, this morning I booktalked You Can Count on Monsters, by Richard Evan Schwartz, Great Estimations, by Bruce Goldstone, and Just a Second, by Steve Jenkins. But let me tell you about some programs.

First, I took Every Child Ready to Read‘s program, “Fun with Science and Math for Parents and Children,” and I changed it to “Fun with Math for Parents and Children.”

We did have fun! We emphasized the practices parents can use to build a foundation for reading in their children: Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing. And we talked about how you can apply those things to Math as well. I outlined some things I did in an earlier post. I am hoping that some of these parents are all the more eager to count with their children as they go about their days, to talk about math, and to play games with their kids. I made sure to introduce them to bedtimemath.org, and I hope some of the parents are starting a bedtime tradition of math problems at bedtime.

See how we can take a totally different focus than a teacher has to in the classroom? I can give the parents ideas of ways to have fun, and they can choose the ones they go with. (For example, when picking up toys, ask your kids how many toys they think are on the floor? Count as you pick them up, and it will go faster!) Did you know that setting the table or matching socks are early math activities?

My other Awesome Math program that I’m excited about is called Colors and Codes. In this program, I show the kids my crazy Prime Factorization knitting projects and Prime Factorization t-shirt, to give them the idea that you can use colors to represent numbers. Then, if you use numbers 1 to 26 for the letters A to Z, you can use colors to represent letters. Which means that colors can be used to write messages.

I start with showing them prime factorization color codes and move on to other bases. Base 6 and Base 5 work well for the 26 letters, but I also show them Binary (Base 2). I show them they can also use shapes. With binary, they can use practically anything: sounds, lights, dots & dashes…. Then I have lots of foam shapes available, and let them make craft projects. They can devise their own codes using these ideas and decide what they want to say.

The program uses very sophisticated mathematical concepts — and it’s totally fun! If they don’t quite get it, well, they can make a pretty picture, and I bet later some of the ideas will come together for them. (I did give them all a hand-out to color themselves.)

Oh, and one more low-key but totally fun program I do at our branch is “Brain Games at the Library.” Playing games builds logic skills and mathematical thinking. But see how there’s no pressure, no testing, and only fun? For the Brain Games program, we give them gently used books as prizes. It’s fun to watch the kids thinking they’re getting away with something when they take a pile of books home from their wins!

All this is to say that I’m so happy I still get to teach Math! Only now I get to show people how much fun it is!

Librarians Help! Showing how Awesome Math is!

Librarians Help! – Library Snapshot Day

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Yesterday was Library Snapshot Day in Virginia. Later, when they’ve compiled the data, they’ll post statistics like how many people were served. Last year, for example, 412,969 items were checked out from Virginia libraries in just one day.

We had a busy day, since of course it was tax day. On top of that, the kids in the public schools were off for the day for a teacher work day. We had a Puppet Workshop that was well-attended. Kids got to use art supplies to make puppets and then try out our puppet theater.

My co-worker Jackie Butler was the one who cleverly took these lovely pictures that didn’t show anyone’s face. Those who think libraries are dying or aren’t necessary to the community need to take a look at a typical day!

Yesterday, I also learned that ALA’s “The State of America’s Libraries 2013” has been published and is available on the internet. Click through! It’s fascinating! Again, libraries are alive and well and thriving. And librarians are still a valuable part of libraries. 53% of the Americans surveyed in this research project used a library in the last year, and 50% of those asked a librarian for help. I told you! Librarians Help!

And finally, I read a wonderful post by author Jo Knowles about why libraries are important. Who has a personal stake in the survival of libraries? We all do.

Librarians Help!

Librarians Help! – More Math!

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

This was a crazy week for me for programs. I don’t know what I was thinking (Well, besides the fact that it was Spring Break), but I scheduled a program every day I worked this week except Monday. What’s more, two of them were programs I was creating and had to figure out what I was going to do and say ahead of time. So, let’s just say I was a little stressed.

And it went great! The week is done! I can relax and enjoy Easter! And my month of April only has a few programs, so I can even focus my energies on moving.

But I want to talk about today’s program, because it was cool that I got to do it, and super that it actually worked.

It was an Every Child Ready to Read workshop. The workshop as prepared by the Every Child Ready to Read folks was called “Fun with Science and Math for Parents and Children.” Okay, I changed it. I called it “Fun with Math for Parents and Children.” (Because Math is more fun than Science! Don’t tell!) Of course, that meant I had to fill in with more math activities. But that was fun to do!

All of the Every Child Ready to Read workshops focus on five easy practices for parents to do with their children — Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing. Not only are those activities good for learning pre-reading skills, they’re also good for learning early math concepts.

We did some counting together; the parents did some counting with the kids. I read them How Many Jelly Beans?, Quack and Count and Pattern Fish. (All of the books I read got checked out after the program, too.) I passed out some foam shapes and the parents and kids sorted and counted them. I also passed around a small tub of shapes, and they all guessed how many. Then we counted them together — there were 77. We counted how many letters in each child’s name and then lined up in order of the number of letters. We sang “Ten Little Beasties” and “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.” I showed them the awesome site that is BedtimeMath.org. And they finished up by making their own little counting book with a foam cover and paper inside. They could decorate it with shapes in patterns, or just with pretty shapes.

The comment that really made me happy was the mother who said she “learned a lot.” Another mother said it was so nice to have a program a little different from a storytime. Yet another said she thought the balance between activities and talking was just right. That one brought me a big sigh of relief! I had worried about whether the kids would be able to tolerate all I was going to say to the adults. But it worked! It really worked!

My plans are to do another Every Child Ready to Read workshop next month — this time “Fun with Letters for Parents and Children.” Then I’ll take a break until after the Summer Reading Program and do more next Fall.

But our first one was a big success! And I’m especially happy that a group of parents will think of the library when they think of their children getting ready for school and ready to learn to read. And ready to do Math!

Librarians Help!

Librarians Help – With Critical Thinking!

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Yesterday, we had a Math program at the library. Today, a program for exercising critical thinking. Both were all about having fun.

I have to laugh about today’s program, though. I’ve done the same thing in the past and called it “Board Game Bash.” Those times, I got about four kids to come and play board games.

Today’s program was during Spring Break, which I’m sure really helped. But it also helped that I called it “Brain Games at the Library” and I offered prizes — gently used books from donations made to the library and from advance reader copies that I had. But I suspect that parents in this area were a lot more interested in a program that promised to build their children’s brain power.

And it wasn’t a false promise! We had more than 20 kids show up and play! The big hit of the day was Labyrinth. I’m finding the perfect game for this kind of program is one that’s simple to explain and has an intriguing visual element. In Labyrinth, you slide a piece into the board, changing the maze and knocking another piece out. The path constantly changes, and you try to collect treasures from the card and so navigate through the maze to the treasure you want to collect.

Make 7, which is like Connect 4, but in which you try to add the value of your pieces up to 7, was also easy to understand and popular. Yikerz, with powerful magnets that you try to place without popping them together caused some tension and fun. Some kids played Rollit, some played Pass the Pigs, and some played Mastermind. And this time I did get some kids to try my three-way chess set from Poland.

Where’d we get the games? Well, I confess, for a very long time I’ve had a weakness for buying games. And now with my kids no longer at home, this is a great way to spread the fun around.

I still adamantly believe that playing games with your kids is one of the best possible ways to learn math skills and critical thinking skills. And the library is the perfect place for that as well, since the library is where you learn for the FUN of it!

I also loved that every time they won a game, the kids grabbed a book from the book box. Books that are prizes are all the more valuable!

We’ll be doing more of these programs, probably once a month through the summer. It’s easy for me to run, since I only need the time to set up and run the program, but don’t have to plan what to say. And I walk away smiling, just like the kids do!

Librarians Help!

Librarians Help – With Math!

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Today I had my Colors and Codes program that I mentioned last week.

Now, I spent ten years of my life teaching college math, but doing math programs at the library is so much more fun!

Why? Well, the biggie is I don’t have to grade them, so it makes the whole thing much more light-hearted. I’m showing them things about math that I think are really cool, and they get to think about ways to do it themselves. And it’s all just for fun. At the library, we teach people things they want to know! If they don’t want to know them, they don’t need to come. It’s that simple!

Here’s what I did. I showed the kids my prime factorization sweater (wore it of course), and we worked out how it works. (That was fun!) I told them if colors can represent numbers, they can also represent letters. Just use 1 to 26 for A to Z. So you can write messages this way. I showed them a prime factorization code, then showed them other bases and how you can make codes with them. We wrapped it up by getting out sticky foam shapes and they could put a coded message or just a pretty pattern around a picture frame or on a bookmark or a door hanger.

The highlight for me, I think, was when a girl was working on coloring in the prime factorization chart on the hand-out. She was stuck on 24. I asked her what it equaled, and she said 12 x 2. So we looked at 12, and then the light went on and we talked about how you could do figure it out different ways, but you always got three 2s and one 3.

Now, I’m going to write some notes to myself while the program’s fresh in my mind. It went well; the kids had fun. But I want to do it again this summer, and hope it will go even better.

1. I’ll set the age level higher. I do think I lost a few kids this time. I think I’ll set it at 10 or 11 years old rather than 8. You want the kids to be fully comfortable with multiplying. Now that I think about it, when I did this program a few years ago at Herndon Fortnightly Library, I think the age limit was 10.

2. We’ll do some coloring on the prime factorization chart before I move on. This group did work out with me how it works. I didn’t want to get bogged down, but I think some coloring would help them understand it better.

3. I’ll have them figure out the numbers for their name in every code I go over. For example, my name, Sondy, in a base 10 code is 1915140425. (S is the 19th letter, O is the 15th, and so on.) In a prime factorization code, it’s 19 1 3 5 1 2 7 1 2 2 1 5 5 1. (19 x 1, 3 x 5 x 1, 2 x 7 x 1, 2 x 2 x 1, 5 x 5 x 1) In a Base 6 code, it’s 3123220441. In a Base 5 code, it’s 34 30 24 4 100. In Binary, it’s 10011 1111 1110 100 11001. Taking the time to do that would mean they’d get what I was having them do when they went to use the foam sticky pieces.

4. We’d do some coloring on the other charts before we moved to the foam shapes. Then I’d have them do their name with the colors they picked.

5. I’d show them exactly how I did my name on the bookmarks, one using colors and one using shapes.

Did I mention everyone did have a good time? But I think I’ll do a little more hands-on, using their names, before I move to the craft next time.

But it was a great trial run!

And don’t forget! Librarians help! We get to show kids how much FUN Math is! And we don’t even have to test them on it!

Librarians Help – And We’re Valued, Too!

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Today Pew Research Center released a study on Library Services in the Digital Age. The information is detailed, interesting, and up-to-date.

Recently, my own library system is talking about no longer requiring librarians or managers to have a Master of Library Science. They seem to think patrons will be asking less and less questions. That certainly doesn’t match my experience, but it meant I found this part of the report particularly gratifying:

Librarians to help people find information they need

Overall, 80% of Americans say that it is “very important” to the community for libraries to have librarians available to help people find information they need. Some 16% consider having librarians at libraries “somewhat important,” while 2% say this is “not too important” and 1% say it is “not at all important.”

Blacks (89%) are significantly more likely than whites (78%) to consider librarians “very important,” and women (84%) are more likely to say this than men (77%). Those living in households making less than $30,000 per year are also more likely to consider librarians very important compared to those living in households earning more than $75,000. Looking at responses based on device ownership, we find that those who own technological devices such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones are just as likely as non-users to consider librarians “very important” to the community.

Our focus groups considered librarians to be very important to libraries in general, and many had very positive memories of interactions with librarians from their childhoods. Even when they suggested automating certain services for the sake of convenience, our focus groups overwhelmingly saw a future with librarians as an integral part of libraries.

This was from Part 4, “What people want from their libraries.”

I recently began reading a book, which shall remain nameless, about mobile technology, that went on and on about how libraries are dying a slow death. This research does not support that theory.

The fact is, our library system cut hours in 2010 due to budget cuts, but recently brought many of those hours back because of popular demand. People do like having a knowledgeable person available to help them.

It’s nice seeing someone doing legitimate detailed research on Libraries in the Digital Age. If more authors and speakers would consult the research, perhaps they wouldn’t make such foolish prophecies. Libraries aren’t dying any time soon, and it’s nice to have confirmed that people value Librarians’ Help.

Bedtime Math!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

I’m so excited! Today, thanks to a note in the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) newsletter, I found out about Bedtime Math.

Why do I think Bedtime Math is so awesome? Because that’s totally what I did with my younger son.

My first Master’s degree was in Math, and I was a college math instructor for ten years. College students in general ed math classes are generally not excited about math. So when we started doing math problems with my excited son at bedtime — I’m not sure how it started — my son quickly learned those magic words I absolutely COULD NOT resist — “Just one more math problem, Mommy, please!” He could extend bedtime forever with those magic words.

I don’t remember how it got started, but I do know that we were in the thick of this when he was 5 years old. His brother turned 12 years old in March. I turned 36 in June. Sometime in there, I told him that when he turned 6, then his age plus his age would equal his brother’s age. But, even better, his age TIMES his age would equal my age. His next question was pretty natural, “What’s TIMES?”

One week later, his brother asked him a problem I never would have tried: “What’s 16 times 4?” Timmy (the 5-year-old) figured it out *in his head.* Without knowing times tables. So that was the context of “One more math problem, Mommy, please.” I’d give him progressively harder addition problems — and then it got to be progressively harder multiplication problems. All done in his head, at bedtime. For fun.

Of course, it all starts with counting. I remember with my older son, just counting as high as he could go in the car while running errands. It’s fun when they really realize how it works and that they could go on and on forever. He was also the one who kept making up words for “numbers bigger than infinity.” I couldn’t quite convince him that didn’t work.

(Now my younger son, a Freshman at the College of William & Mary, recently spent his free time devising an algorithm to choose a completely random book from all the volumes in the campus library. That’s my boy!)

In my current job as a librarian, I was thinking about all the counting and math we did when my kids were small. And then thinking about the Every Child Ready to Read workshops, where we encourage parents to read, talk, write, sing, and play with their kids. I’m going to do the workshop “Fun With Science and Math for Parents and Children” — only I think I’m going to take out the Science and just focus on Math.

See, the thing is, I don’t believe for a second you have to “make” Math fun. I think math *IS* fun, and children naturally think so, too. Can I communicate that to parents?

I’m also planning to do a program with older kids about using math to make coded messages with colors or shapes. It uses ideas from my Prime Factorization Sweater and my Coded Blessing Blanket. I did the program a few years ago, a little afraid I’d lose the kids, and they totally loved it.

All this is to say: Bedtime Math! YES! I can present this as an idea for parents who need help thinking of problems to talk about with their kids, who might not think them up as easily as I did. (I also taught my kids the chain rule in calculus because I wanted to teach it to someone who would get it right. But I don’t think I’ll recommend that to parents.)

I still say, as a librarian, part of my job is the FUN side of learning. At libraries, we help people find information to teach themselves. But in the children’s department, a huge part of our job is helping parents make learning a natural and fun part of their family life. We don’t have to test them! We don’t have to follow the book or the curriculum! We can show them ways to think about the concepts that are just plain fun!

I’m going to be looking for more articles about early learning of mathematics. I think it can fit in nicely with Early Literacy Skills that we emphasize so much. But mostly I’m jazzed. Other Moms are going to hear those magic words: “Just one more math problem, Mommy, please!”

Librarians Help – Tech Games

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

I’m going to make an exception to my never during work time blogging rule, because they’re asking us to use our blog to reflect on our experience with the Tech Games.

So far, I’ve learned a little bit new, but not a lot.

Some of the most valuable ones can’t be done from a work computer, and I think that policy really needs to change for us to respond better to the needs of library patrons.

But the library is trying! I do love it that the library I work for is trying to get staff to do several technological activities as “Tech Games.” My big wish? That they were talking about new tools we could use at work like Pinterest or the new Riffle. Or even Goodreads, which completely relates to libraries.

And I do hope that librarians feel responsible to be tech-savvy. I love this post about apps that a fellow member of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee put up at Little eLit. Here’s a mini-manifesto she included:

She and I agreed that the long-term studies that will support the inclusion of digital media in literacy programming for kids is at least a decade off. Does that mean that we AREN’T going to begin to develop best practices around using this new format with kids? NO! Tablet technology is pervasive and parents are using it anyway. Abstinence-only education doesn’t work. Telling parents that they shouldn’t use technology with their less-than-five-year old child is not an acceptable course of action for professionals who pride themselves on evaluating, curating and recommending high quality media for children.

When people think about where to get quality recommendations of media for children, I hope they will think of librarians, whether they are looking for books or movies or apps.

Today I was weeding out ratty copies in the children’s area, and I heard a mom trying to find a book her daughter would read. I cautiously asked if she’d like some help, and found out she loved Harry Potter and other magical series. When I mentioned the Mysterious Benedict Society, she said she’d read them all many times, so I asked if she knew about the prequel (which I’d just spotted on the New shelves). She hadn’t, and I think I won her confidence with that book, because she went away with a Robin McKinley book, a Diane Duane, and a Philip Reeve book as well. I made sure she wouldn’t feel bad if she didn’t like the first book — then she’d know not to read on. But if she did like the first book, this was another series that would keep her busy for awhile.

So, yeah, I’m afraid no matter how much I assert that I’d like to be an expert with Apps, I still get all happy and excited when I help a kid find Books. But things like the Tech Games help me learn how to find sources of good recommendations. What Librarians ARE good at is looking things up.

Librarians Help – Tech Tools

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

My library’s doing “Tech Games” — a series of 20 activities designed to teach staff members how to do various things on the internet. One of them is making a blog.

Now, I definitely want to participate. But I do make a point of doing all my blogging on my own time, to reinforce that I do not speak for the library where I work, and neither does the library control what I can say. So I’m writing this on my off time, but will link to this post about blogging.

I am pleased that my library is finally doing Tech Games. The county I worked for before Fairfax did the same thing years ago. It’s highly appropriate for libraries because we want libraries to be places where people come to get information. Since the internet is also about information, it’s a good fit. So it’s best if librarians are knowledgeable about tech tools and know how to use them. The point of Tech Games is to help us learn about any we haven’t used yet.

And the best way is to learn by doing.

And, yes, we can help you download free books to check out on your device, but we can also help in many other areas.

When you think of people who can help you with technology, do you think of librarians? I hope so!

Librarians Help!

In the comments, please mention ways you’ve been helped by a librarian, or a way you, as a librarian, have been able to help someone.