Archive for the ‘Conference Corner’ Category

KidLitCon 2015 – Part Three

Monday, October 19th, 2015

I’ve already posted about the first day of KidLitCon 2015 in Baltimore.

Since Baltimore is driving distance, I chose to drive rather than stay at the hotel, but my goodness it was quicker on Saturday (both directions) than it was on Friday!


Saturday began with a keynote speech from Tracey Baptiste, author of The Jumbies.

It never occurred to Tracey that she was writing horror — she thought she was writing a fairy tale! She loves the adventure and bravery found in fairy tales.

She took from the mythical characters — the Jumbies — that she’d grown up with in Trinidad.

She does believe that the majority of stories about a culture should be told from deep inside the culture. The more personal a story is, the more universal they seem to be.

Stories that come out of great need are stories we all need.

After Tracey’s talk came the most entertaining panel of the day — the Comic Book Panel


Moderator Miriam DesHarnais, fitting to the theme, had made pictures and word cards and arrows to use for the panel. She’s on the right in this picture. The other woman is Maggie Thrash, author of Honor Girl. The tall guy in back is Jay Hosler, author of Last of the Sandwalkers, and the other two men are Jorge Aguirre (on the left) and Rafael Rosado, authors of Giants Beware! and Dragons Beware!.

The panel was entertaining, including game-show-style questions. I’ll list a few gems.

Maggie said: Teens are brave. They like reading about people different from themselves.

Jay (a college biology professor) said: In kids, the desire to participate is huge. This is lost by the time they’re college students who don’t want to stand out. They don’t want to question authority.

Each author has someone in their books who says, “You can’t do things this way.” And the main character challenges that.

Maggie: Girls are told it’s not nice to excel.

Jay: It’s a glorious time to be a cartoonist. Put your stuff on the internet. Don’t wait. You’ll never be good enough in your head.

Galileo made the first comic: Stars next to the moon. Something happens when words and pictures are put together. More learning happens. It contextually motivates learning.

Rafael: Connections are made in between the panels.

Jorge: Between the panels, action happens in your head — so there’s more interaction between the book and the reader.

Maggie: Comics are so intimate. They bring you there. To see a body slump adds more empathy than to read about it. Also, you can linger more than over a movie.

And Jay says his next book involves this question: What do you do when your best friend turns out to be a parasite coming out of someone else’s head?

What indeed?

The next panel I attended was called “Intersectionality: The Next Step in Diverse Books”

The panel was to have included Zetta Elliott, but she wasn’t able to come, and her opening talk was read by Mary Fan. The other panelists were Mary Fan and twins Guinevere and Libertad Tomas.


Zetta Elliott pointed out that each person is at the intersection of multiple aspects of our identities.

When you’re reviewing a book, publicly locate yourself and notice your own positionality.

Guinevere Tomas: She used to wonder why marginalized characters had to die off. The sisters are black, but also Cuban. Why did one or the other identity have to be sacrificed? Then there are religious, gender, sexuality identities. She doesn’t want to leave part of her identity behind.

The Tomas Twins blog at Twinja Book Reviews. They’ve written a fantasy book called The Mark of Noba.

Libertad was looking at random YA Queer book lists — all are about cis white people.
Muslim lists — don’t reflect black and Latino.
Disabled lists — all white.
Latino lists — all have the same brown skin color.
When you’re at the intersection of many of these, you have to walk around with someone defining your identity for you.
She was so happy when she read a book with a main character who was like her.

Mary Fan: None of us fit into boxes. At the end of the day, we’re all “Us,” and the only “them” is ignorance.

How to keep up? Keep reading.

You have to be uncomfortable to change it.

When white people review books, they often don’t mention people of color or queer people. Libertad does want to know when marginalized people are represented. Tell if the books have diversity and if the diversity is on point.

Mary Fan gave a cynical definition of dystopia: “What if all the horrible things in the world also happened to white people?”

The next panel I attended, “Authentic Voices,” had a similar theme. It was led by Liz Burns and Pam Margolis.

In particular, they talked about books for the blind. Like anyone else, they’d like to see themselves in the books. Everyone would like to be the main character some time.

Pam looks at the author and asks questions like:
Why are they writing about this? Does it seem authentic? What’s their motive?

Do you know how to tell the publishers what you want? Buy books that have diversity.

The next panel I attended was “Middle Grade Madness.”


On the left in this picture is moderator Sam Musher, then Wendy Shang, Elisabeth Dahl, Carol Weston, Erica Perl, and Elissa Brent Weissman.

They were talking about writing for middle grade readers. They all appreciate the humor you need to put into the books, but also the importance of dealing with the characters’ emotions.

In middle grade: Who you’ll sit with in the cafeteria is more important than whom you’ll grow up and marry.

Erica: These kids have one foot in childhood and one foot out the door. They’re not in between; they’re both!

Carol: These kids go through things in such a big way. And a young reader who loves your books is totally in love and will read them over and over.

All agreed that there’s a playfulness to middle grade writing that is refreshing.

And the final panel of the day was “Connecting with Debut Authors,” led by Kathy MacMillan and Alyssa Susannah. Here’s Kathy:


Kathy has a debut novel coming out in January 2016, and talked about debut groups and how bloggers can find them.

Debut authors are “tender little souls, like soft shell crabs.” And the publishing process is long and slow and crazy-making. So please don’t tag a new author with your review unless you liked their book!

But debut authors will be especially appreciative of reviews — and that’s the best way you can support them.


That’s my wrap-up of KidLitCon 2015 in Baltimore. Of course, the panels and talks are only a small part of the experience. What’s beautiful about KidLitCon is the small setting, getting to meet authors, and especially the other bloggers whose work you’ve read and who have served on the Cybils and made their voices heard in various ways.

Most of all, Children’s Book Bloggers are *my people*! It was a huge treat to be among them again.

KidLitCon 2015 – Part Two

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

I’ve already told about my first morning at KidLitCon 2015 in Baltimore.

After lunch, I got to hear Carrie Mesrobian, author of Sex and Violence (really!) talk. And I was won over, and loved listening to her.

She teaches teens and writes about them. Both are extremely creative endeavors — but that’s all they have in common. As a teacher, she wants them to have everything good (though it’s impossible to save them). As a writer, she lets them suffer.

We teach ourselves about reality through story. All our lessons come in story form. The trouble with reality: It’s ubiquitous. But everyone’s ubiquitous reality is different.

Do we ever say, “strong male character”? What are our default assumptions?

Being outside the kingdom of white middleclassville makes some nervous. They either see it as terrifying or of no value.

Readers may get emotional cover talking about sexual violence of fictional characters. When we quarrel with fictional reality, the end result is loss.

After Carrie’s talk, there was a panel made up of people who have been on multiple award committees. They agreed that reading for awards changes how you read and makes you self-aware of your own prejudices. They also reminded us not to second-guess the committees. They are the only ones who have read all the eligible books in that much depth.

They also told us to be sure to suggest books to the various committees! (And Cybils nominations are open for one more day as I’m posting this!)

After this session, there was an Author signing and meet and greet. And we finished up the night with a Cybils birthday dinner and bowling. I got to bowl with author Jacqueline Jules and her husband.

Here is Anne Boles Levy, who began the Cybils, celebrating with us:


It was a wonderful first day of KidLitCon!

KidLitCon 2015, Part One

Monday, October 12th, 2015

I spent Friday and Saturday of this weekend at KidLitCon in Baltimore!

KidLitCon is a gathering of bloggers who focus on children’s books. The location rotates between the East Coast, the Midwest, and the West Coast. I’ve been to three previous KidLitCons. With it happening so close to me, I had to attend this year!

I went to a variety of interesting panels and author talks. I’ll list some gems I gathered in my notes.

One thing I liked from the panel on putting Science and Math into novels: They can use novels to show kids that failing is an important part of science.

Kids’ curiosity will never change, so they are interested in science.

In the Middle Grade Horror panel, it was fun to hear Dan Poblocki interact with Mary Downing Hahn, whose books he loved to read when he was in middle school.


This picture is of Mary Downing Hahn and Ronald L. Smith, who wrote Hoodoo.

Mary Downing Hahn thinks that scary books appeal to middle grade students because you get to have a scary adventure while safe in your own home.

The next panel I attended was moderated by my friend Susan Kusel (whom I first met at KidLitCon 09). It was about Visual Storytelling and featured some outstanding illustrators.


From left to right, at the table we have Kevin O’Malley (illustrator of many classic picture books), Minh Le (book blogger and author of an upcoming picture book), Shadra Strickland (author and illustrator of Sunday Shopping among others), Matt Phelan (author and illustrator of The Storm in the Barn and Bluffton), and Susan Kusel, who was on last year’s Caldecott committee.

(It’s always fun, when experiencing an illustrator panel, to imagine each illustrator as one of their own illustrations. It’s funny how easy that is to do!)

The conversation between the panelists was a lot of fun. They talked about the kind of paper they like, the different media they use, and things about the book illustrating process.

When Matt Phelan is given a manuscript to illustrate, he first figures out the visual tone, then matches the media to the story.


The illustrators together had a message to reviewers: Be open to different things. Realize that art doesn’t have to be ultrarealistic to be skilled. Be careful of over-valuing one style.

Recognize your own bias. Art is like music: It’s an emotional response.

Here are the panelists posing for a photo at the end:


Then we had lunch. I got to have lunch with some fellow Cybils panelists — and Minh Le from the picture book panel. But I took a picture of Susan Kusel in animated conversation with Kevin O’Malley. He saw me coming!


I complimented the picture he was doodling, and he gave it to me.


ALA Annual Conference: 2015 Odyssey Award Program

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

2015 Odyssey Award Presentation

Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production
For children or young adults published in the US
Chair: Dawn Rutherford
On the committee you develop “Odyssey ears” So tuned to production notes
463 audiobooks screened.
More than 340 hours of listening each.

Honor Books:

Tim Federle

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle, narrated by Tim Federle
Tim Federle lived in the Bay Area when he was a child.
Our job as adults is to take our childhood weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
His weaknesses:
–Had a lisp.
–Had a sense of humor that got him sent to the principal’s office every day.
–Was a boy who loved musical theater
Becomes a platform instead of a demerit.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry, narrated by Jayne Entwistle
Jayne Entwistle

Jayne Entwistle

Books are like oxygen to a deep sea diver (from Flavia DeLuce)
In the theater, instant feedback. No immediate response with audiobooks.
Alone with the book — favorite place to be.
Proves the back and forth conversation, if not as immediate, is still alive.
As an only child, she was practically raised by books.
With this book, the book led her, rather than the other way around.
They had to pause it often because she was laughing too hard.
When she moved to LA, she cried out, “If only I could be paid to read.”

A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd, narrated by Cassandra Morris
heard a clip

2015 Award

H.O.R.S.E., by Christopher Myers
Narrated by Dion Graham and Christopher Myers


Dion and Christopher:
They read the whole book.
Christopher Myers:
One of the things authors get from ALA is to get outside the studio and get to see the people you’re talking to.
But this book was a conversation. They got to speak and listen both.
The Odyssey Award is about the skill of listening.
The Supreme Court decision was about listening.

Dion Graham: It is a conversation. What we do is about finding ways of listening to each other.

Let’s keep talking, and let’s keep listening!

ALA Annual Conference: Reading the Art in Caldecott Books

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Reading the Art in Caldecott Award Books
What Makes a Picture Book Distinguished?

Gail Nordstrom
Coordinated Mock Newbery and Caldecott discussions
2002 Newbery committee, 2011 Caldecott committee
Heidi Hammond
School Librarian
Appointed to 2011 Caldecott committee

You must be a member of ALSC, and you must volunteer!
Wrote a book: Reading the Art in Caldecott Award Books: A Guide to the Illustrations

“Nothing happens accidentally in a picture book.” — K.T. Horning
The Adventures of Beekle, by Dan Santat
Notice: Dust jacket and book cover differ.
End papers have images — a variety of imaginary friends. Beekle’s purpose isn’t clear.
Color is important in Beekle. Full color in the imaginary world. Real world is dark and grim.
Playground is colored.
Beautifully balanced color in the tree.
Change of perspective. Detail, like tape on Beekle’s crown.
At the end, we learn Beekle’s purpose.

2014 Caldecott Medal: Locomotive
In this book, artistic expression as a whole.
Pen & Ink with water color — amazing detail.
Sense of speed. Tones give a sense of place and time.
There’s a second visual narrative in the illustrations.
Train has a diagonal line of energy. Great detail. Even bolts on the locomotive. Night scene. Coming right at you.
Font is used effectively.
Amazing end papers in this book.
Again dust jacket and boards have different images.

Elements of Art
Flora and the Flamingo: Color
Effective use of negative white space.
Line: Straight vertical line causes us to stop.
Molly Idle was an animator before illustrator — flaps add motion.
Diagonal line suggests movement.
Tree branches add balance
Color does evoke feeling and mood.
Creepy Carrots has a totally different feel.
Also minimal colors in One Cool Friend and use of white space.
Patterns used consistently.

This One Summer
Also minimal use of color. Indigo gives us a nostalgic feel.
Multiple images to suggest movement.
A variety of page and panel layouts.

Creative Spirits
Viva Frida — A new kind of art. Stop motion puppets, paint, photography, digital manipulation
Color is vibrant and intense.
Much texture
Begins with puppets and evolves into a dream world of acrylic paints.

The Right Word — collage and water color
Interesting shapes right from the start
Focus of each page is on a book cover
3D collage — lots of texture.
End papers goes from cluttered to ordered

The Noisy Paint Box
Expressionistic art — acrylic paint and paper collage.
Starts formal – art explodes with emotion later
Text becomes part of the illustrations

Dave the Potter
Light streams down on him.
Collage elements cut out of glossy photographs
Element of shape — roundness as he creates the bowl

Journey, by Aaron Becker
Different perspectives
Endpapers show different modes of transportation throughout the ages
Details of her room show her longing for travel

Me… Jane
Jane also makes a journey
Me… Jane is a circle story and first and last pictures reflect that.

Nana in the City
Vibrant colors
Spread before book begins lead to the city.
Grandma’s red accessories make her stand out.
Vignettes show action in quick sequence.
Page turn with boy marching right off the page.
They stand out from the crowd but blend in with the city.

Mr. Wuffles!
Water color and india ink
Layer upon layer to get the dimensionality of the cat.
Long thin panels with varying perspective
Mounted a camera to a broomstick to get a cat perspective
Color value change when we focus on the aliens. Different sense of space.
He worked with a linguist to develop a new language
Dust jacket and boards of books are totally different.

Sleep Like a Tiger.
Lots of pattern — acrylic paint on board, collage, digital manipulation.
Repeating motifs
Tiger is important
On moon, collage is the text of Tyger, by William Blake
Shape — rounded and comforting. Snail shape

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
Shape is very important here, and negative/positive space
Colors change subtly as they dig.
Visual vertical motion where they fall.

This is Not My Hat
All hand-lettered
Horizontal format
In the sea, but grounded with the tops of plants.
The images tell a very different story than the narrative.
Clear movement across the page toward the page turn
Has the unusual movement “backwards”
Opposing narrative — completely different from the narrative

A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Blue end papers match blue of Amos’s house. Red letters match red of balloon. Horizontal line carries action through.
Flourish at end of each line, different each page.
Vertical lines cause us to pause.
Woodblock printing causes texture.
The animals aren’t humorous, but have dignity.
Text balances the image.
Amos is touching almost every animal in the story.

Now groups talk about picture books.

ALA Annual Conference: YALSA Shark Tank Program Ideas

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

YALSA Shark Tank Program Ideas

This was a Young Adult Library Services Association program where members submitted ideas for programs, and “Sharks” critiqued them. (They were awfully nice sharks, but these were good ideas!) I didn’t stay to find out who won funding for their idea, but all had great potential!

Susan Del Rosario
Crystle Martin
K-Fai Steele
David ten Have

Program Ideas:
Pitch 12: Teens and Technology: Interactive 3D display
Virtual world of Minecraft brought to life in 3D.
Project: Have teens create 3D pieces for a display they curate.
Each piece printed on 3D printer and put into a display the teens curate.
Goals: Strengthening STEM skills and increasing engagement with the library
Outcomes: How many teens involved and what they learn.
Sharks: Using Minecraft to scale up to 3D modeling, etc. Takes their interest and builds on it.
Hope you’ll find some way to celebrate what they make.
One-on-one time and small groups to teach kids the software.
Want it to be super collaborative. Help them learn teamwork.
Seeing their pieces will be satisfying.

Jennifer Bishop from Maryland, Carroll County
Use subscription box model — crates exhibited on the public floor for exploration.
TABs will create videos on monthly crate unboxings.
Teens will learn new skills.
Ideas have teens come and innovate through play.
Open access exhibit model along with program model.
Will evaluate success based on surveys.
Plan to run for one year for around $1500.
Sharks: Encouraging teens themselves to promote on social media.
Have you thought about teens determining what is in the crates?
Part of survey will determine future crates.
Do librarians get to play with the crates, too? Staff is trained, too. Someone on each branch can assist.
How will the items survive? Need to get them into the hands of everyone. Teens have been very careful with them.
There will be sheets with some things you can do with each crate.
Encouraging other librarians: There are many resources out there to learn. A lot is trial and error. We can learn along with our teens. You don’t have to be an expert to start.

Katie McBride, Mill Valley Public Library, California.
Building History in 3D
Teach kids 3D modeling skills to build a historically accurate model of their town 100 years ago.
Time Walk project.
Use local history to get community engagement.
Building history in 3D will also impact the Mill Valley community.
Great example of how libraries can be curators.
Will engage students in the past and give them technological skills.
They’ll have groups of teens work on one building at a time.

Kristin Phelps, Whittier Middle School, Oklahoma
Make Your Library Space
They have a variety of borrowed tech toys. Do have access to experts.
Have teens decide what would best meet their learning goals.
Create a Makerspace environment.
Sharks: Use other people’s money as much as possible!
Teens loved the Littlebits. They tried things out before they decide what to purchase.
Has access to university professors, collaboration with university.
More important than tools is relationship with the teens.
Think about collaborative projects when building a makerspace.

Rika, Napa County Library, California
Incorporating Digital Literacy with College and Job Readiness
–Teens are entering the workforce without critical skills
–Youth unemployment is at an all-time high.
Talked and surveyed their teens in interests and what information they needed.
There was a felt need for what colleges and jobs are looking for.
Creating climbers — space in the library — symposium reaching out to community partners to supply this information.
Sharks: How does digital literacy fit into it?
Trying to show them how it links together. Where to go? Will try to have peer teaching, which builds leadership skills.

Shanna Miles, South Atlanta High School
American’s Next Top Maker
90% of kids are economically disadvantages.
10% of class of 2015 are the first in families to graduate from high school.
Many students have outside responsibilities.
Program involves creative competition.
Incentivize digital play in the library.
Students will apply, 6 best ideas will go to next round
Will have maker packs for the next level.
Categories: App development, music production, writing, game development
Final judging will be an assembly with the student body.
Prizes are opportunities toward entrepreneurship.

Sharks will consult on winners.

Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015


Notes from the Caldecott/Newbery/Wilder Banquet

Dan Santat Caldecott Winner
He’s 40, but he feels like a kid pretending to be an adult.
Still feels like he’s pretending to know what he’s doing.
11 years in publishing, over 60 books.
Santat is alphabetically next to Seuss, Sendak, and Silverstein.
Always wanted to believe hard work could mask any shortcomings.
Always worried he’d be discovered as an imposter.
Slow and steady career rise.
Navigated the process by reading reviews.
He reads every single review. To search for answers. What does it take to make a great book?
Had an opportunity to work at Google making google doodles. Would have provided financial security.
Was hoping his friends would tell him to keep it real and making books is what he’s meant to do.
Finally turned it down, because he knew he’d always wonder what he could have done.
Published 13 books in 2014. Terribly tired. Felt like he had nothing left to give. Learned he’s only human. Was angry at himself for being weak. Feeling that he’d peaked. And he couldn’t push himself any more.
He wants far more than he’s capable of. Keeps wanting to work harder.
Just before getting the call, he’d reminded himself he wasn’t good enough.
Maybe is a dangerous place to be.
Magic only happens in fairy tales and feel-good movies.
You just experienced the unimaginable becoming a reality.
After 10 years of working like a dog, he realizes this is a prize that can’t be earned, but he will always try to be worthy of it.
Let him feel he’s good enough. And not invisible.
Other authors and illustrators make it look effortless.
You are the stars in the sky.
Thank you for allowing me to shine with you.
Thanks his wife who supported the decision to decline the job offer from Google.
I’m still a kid pretending to be an adult. His agent tells him what he needs to hear.
Thank to bloggers — Betsy Bird, John Schu, Travis Jonker, Colby Sharp, Nerdy Book Club
A month before Beekle was published, he was worried about the ambiguity of the ending.
To his kids: “Beekle” was his kids’ word for Bicycle. How it feels to be loved unconditionally.
Despite our insecurities, it’s our nature to work our hardest.
You are my proof that I am able to produce something perfect in this world.

Kwame Alexander, The Crossover

When I was a child, I wanted to be a fireman and a doctor and a king.
Tonight I feel like a king.
Newbery trance is not kind to clarity and conciseness.
My first librarians were my parents.
Books lined the walls and floors of our home.
Librarian: All about joy and about books.

Honored to be in this room with so many pulchritudinous librarians.
“The most distinguished literature for children” — that sounds perfect.
Went to Key West to write the speech. Went to the Mel Fisher museum — a treasure hunter who found gold.
After 20+ rejections, he finally discovered gold.
About a family — not about his family but from his own familial experiences.
Editor: “Brightly shining yes in a sea of no.”
“How do you win the Newbery?”
Learn words, love words. “Your son intimidates the other children with his words.”

How do you win the Newbery? Be interesting.
Father always hosts a book fair the day after Thanksgiving.
Books are doors to a life of sustainability and success.
Was going to be a doctor.
— Took Organic Chemistry
— Took a course on poetry with Nikki Giovanni
“She smiles like your grandma used to do when you thought you said something profound, but you didn’t.”
“I can teach you to write poetry, but I can’t teach you to be interesting.”

Wrote his wife a poem a day for a year.
Poetry found him.
Use your words. Be interesting. Be eloquent.
His story of becoming a poet.
Living an authentic life, so you’ll have something authentic to write about.
You have to answer the call.
Write a poem that dances. That looks good.
Write a poem that is contagious!

Now that’s a speech!

Wilder Award: Donald Crews
Without his late wife, Ann Jonas, he wouldn’t have gotten on this journey.
They took the fork in the road.
He used to read to his grandma, Big Mama. She said he would go somewhere.
He developed a tendency to doodle in the margins more than work on the problem at hand.
Fork in the road: Applied to and was accepted to an Arts high school.
Teacher asked him about his plans — told him he would apply to Cooper Union.
Failure was impossible.
Fork in the road: Cooper Union.
Graphics teacher told him he didn’t have much talent, but he had the determination to figure out what to do.
Fork in the road: Ann Jonas followed him to Germany and they got married.
Included a book for children in his portfolio. — A to Z
First rejections were in German
Fork in the road: Freelance work.
Failure was impossible.
Fork in the road: Find something only you can do.
Fork in the road: Began to think about his picture books. Freight Train
First book as a full-time children’s book creator.
Parade has a cameo of himself.
Led to Big Mama’s, and now black people fundamental to the books.
Also encouraged Ann to try children’s books.
She supplied the courage to try to be successful artists in New York.
He unreservedly shares any honor with her.

Afterward, a highlight is going through the Receiving Line and getting to congratulate all the Award Winners in person.

ALA Annual Conference: All Hands on Tech

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

All Hands on Tech
Explore, Play and Imagine Interactive Tech Time in Kids’ Library Programming

Rachel Nard, Mary Beth Parks, Amy Tooley from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Children are growing up with a wide variety of tech that can support learning.
Not all tech is great. They did research.

Developed a plan, selected equipment, created app guidelines, integrated technology, evaluated the programs.

Build your case first. Look at community need.
Wanted to provide more than just access.
Wanted staff to communicate how they could support learning.
Wanted staff to be media mentors.
Began the project at locations where staff were comfortable with the technology.
Learned about best practices and research.

You can start small. It was scalable.
Developing a Plan
Looked at Fred Rogers Institute statement — was the basis for all their work.
Also used Littleelit as a resource.
Used ALSC resources related to digital media.
Set goals — wanted to create a tech team or a digital librarian position.
Wanted to have developmentally appropriate programs.
Identified outcomes and evaluation.
Researched equipment — selected iPads because of selected access.
Purchased an iPad, headphones, big grips for little hands, screen wipes.
Begin with a purchase, but start small.

Created App Selection Guidelines
Professional reviews
Recommendations/reputable sites
Cost & value
Use & accessibility

Approved App: Daisy the Dinosaur
Reviewed by SLJ. No ads. Free. User friendly. Easily integrated into existing programs. (Robotics program)
It’s a coding app.
Clean interface. Simple coding.

Unapproved App: Reading Rainbow
Peer recommendation. No ads. Fee-based beyond initial free download. User friendly. Easily integrated into existing programs. Ongoing pretty heavily fee-based.

Integrating technology: Programming
Created formal lesson plans for each program as they were starting out.
Very intentional about the use of iPads in the program.
Have used them in Early Literacy storytimes to many other programs.
Use them a lot during outreach.
After the program, check if the learning goals were met.

Program Exploration: Felt Board
Use in any way you’d use a physical felt board. You don’t have to cut out each piece.
Also works well for a storytelling app.
Always tells parents it’s not the app that helps the child learn, but the interaction with the parent that helps the child learn.
Always tell parents they need to be using apps with their child.

Make a Scene Farmyard (Free)
Good for a farm storytime. No gimmick or game, just putting animals in the farm.
Can be used during the storytime or give to families afterward. Always emphasize to parents what early literacy skills apps help.

Toca Robot Lab (school age)
STEM Super Science Program
With Pete’s Robot — ebook
Have used a Bee-bot — a basic, interactive robot
Toca Robot Lab has a maze to send the robot through.

Imagination Builders & Build and Play App
Works on drag and drop skills.

Gardening Thyme & Gro Garden App
Example: composting program and used Gro Garden app to explore how compost works.

Homeschool Explorations program & Leaf Snap app
Leaf Snap identifies leaves for you, with lots of info.

They’re trying to merge the creative with the analytical.

Summer Reading program and Word Girl app
Summer Reading Extravaganza and Code Fest
Had a technology tent with tech for all ages.
Hosted a CodeFest Jr. program
Used LittleBits.

Program Resource: Guided Access
Keeps the iPad locked on a single app.
Increases focus. Controls features. Password controlled. Timer function.

Program Evaluation
Based on evaluations, they did change some processes and accessories.
Phase 1: Did 470 programs reaching 10,597 children/caregivers.

Surveys throughout
Children’s Specialists Feedback

Planning for the future:
Ongoing professional development
Expanding use of technology
Seeking additional funding

Tips & Tricks:
Standardize passwords across all devices.
Choose iPad cases carefully.
Guided Access may be the key to your sanity.
Changed to Autobox cases. iPads are more durable than you’d think!
Managing devices takes longer than expected
Never underestimate the attraction of iPads for all ages.

Their website is

Evaluating programs made it easier to get funding.
They’re now using an app management system.

Literary Tastes

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Literary Tastes
(arrived late)

This was a session where various authors talked about their books. We were given signed copies of the books at the end.

Amy Belding Brown, Flight of the Sparrow

King Philip’s War
Found an account, and originally planned to just retell the Puritan woman’s story
Her individuality was cloaked in social hierarchy.
First war with Indians.
She studied colonial life and Puritans. Wanted her historical novel to be as richly detailed as possible.
She went overboard, because she loves research. Got to spend time in libraries!
Found good books about the Native Americans in the area.
Finally she writes a character.
Her writing process is very messy.
For her, the big part of the enjoyment is discovering the story and characters as she goes.
Didn’t like the character. Then read that her account may have been heavily edited.
So she put things in the novel that made Mary more likable. Gave her a native American friend, which got her thinking about the issue of justice.
Uses a circular process in her writing, alternating between research and writing.

Stuart Rojstaczer, The Mathematician’s Shiva
What happens when a famous woman mathematician dies.
His debut novel — but that’s not true, it’s his first published novel.
Wrote his first novel at 19 — then got a PhD in geophysics instead.
In his 40s, his daughter urged him to write a novel with her, a father-daughter experience. Wrote about a crazy college president. He also thought it was bad.
In his 50s, he started writing short stories and they were actually good. So he tried again. Based on an experience with a Hungarian mathematician when his daughter was 3.
She dies with the solution to a million-dollar problem reportedly solved.
His secret to writing — earplugs. He locks himself in an office until he has 800 words per day.
He loves libraries. His daughter works in the Library of Congress.
Got interested in libraries because they let him look in the 4th grade library when he was in Kindergarten.
Learned how to be an autodidact in college.
Math library at Stanford is where he wrote his PhD.
Almost all novelists are autodidacts.
Wrote a song, “The Library” Can find it on spotify under Stuart Rosh.
20% of book was written in libraries — where he started before he found his dingy office.
It’s been a book club choice because it’s at libraries.
Whatever it takes!

Jo Walton: My Real Children
Surreal for it to be listed as women’s fiction — It’s science fiction.
A woman with Alzheimer’s who remembers two different versions of her life.
It’s the close up story of one woman’s two lives.
Genre is a phenomenon. It’s the set of things a book is in conversation with.
SF & Fantasy are constantly in conversation with books across boundaries.
A bunch of crossovers with romance, comedy, etc
Genre is fun to play with.
SF likes to reach across boundaries.
It’s relatively recent that people outside SF have started joining the conversation inside.
Recent successful in-genre crossovers.
Was a crossover with women’s fiction.
Her character’s personal and romantic decision has changed the world.
Women’s Fiction is a reflection on the importance of women’s lives.
SF is historically a male-dominated genre, but this is changing.
Still often have the kick-ass woman protagonist — a woman in a male role.
Rethink the message if you only show the same roles.
SF is the genre of changed worlds.
SF isn’t often interested in women’s issues. — marriage, parenting, families, divorce, getting older.
SF seems to demand an adventure plot.
Are women’s lives only important if they look like men’s lives?
This book has two different versions of the last half of the 20th century.
When you write a crossover, the concern is that it won’t work in dialog in both genres. Getting a women’s fiction award has validated it.

Ashley Weaver: Murder at the Brightwell.
Winner of the 2015 Reading List Mystery Category
She’s also a librarian.
Her life of crime started early, and libraries have aided and abetted her all the way.
Loved mysteries all her life from Richard Scarry on!
Agatha Christie was her first murder, and from there there was no turning back.
Got her first job at a library. That was the year she wrote her first novel.
Got the character’s name in a dream.
Has an ideas file on her computer. If she likes them, they get their own document.
30s is her goto setting. — sophisticated, glamorous era.
Two types of writers: Outliners or pantsers. She’s a pantser.
Doesn’t know who the murderer will be until toward the end.
She got her good news when at the library.
2nd book is Death Wears a Mask.
She got to catalog her own book.
Looking forward to seeing where her life of crime takes her next.

ALA Annual Conference: Libraries and Book Collections as Essential Cultural Institutions

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Libraries and Book Collections as Essential Cultural Institutions:
A Historical and Forward-Looking Perspective

These are notes from a Saturday afternoon session at ALA Annual Conference.

How do we preserve what we have, and how do we move forward into the digital era?

Sasha Abremsky: The House of 20,000 Books
Truly interesting and informative account about his grandparents — an expert on Jewish and socialist history. A vision of stewardship

Scott German: Patience & Fortitude: Fight to save a public library
Efforts to gut the NYPL Like a nail-biting corporate thriller

Matthew Battles: Library: An Unquiet History
Polipsest: A History of the Written Word
Writing is constantly evolving.
Our brains have changed all the time, anyway.

Preserving and going forward:
Sasha: Approaching it from his grandparents’ library. His granddad amassed one of the best private libraries on modern Jewish history.
The importance of the library as the fabric of civilized life.
His grandfather got fascinated with the web of ideas behind socialism.
He started collecting anything printed, anything illuminated, and on it went.
Contacted more and more collectors. Included handwritten notes by Marx, Lenin, etc
Yiddish texts, books written in the 1500s.
Wasn’t just utilitarian. Was concerned about the texture of the page. Was interested in mistakes in the printing techniques. Fascinated by the minutaie of printing. They told him stories.
Where it was printed told him where there were centers of intellectual life.
The grade of paper told him about the intended audience.
Granddad collected books and grandma collected people. Conversations developed around the great ideas collected in those rooms.
The rooms had different intellectual trajectories with how they were laid out.
You gained an understanding of a world vision.
He took it for granted that his granddad would grab a book to prove a point.
All of that was the physical texture of the library.
A library is a place that nurtures conversations and a world view.
How do you preserve libraries as cultural institutions?
A library is inherently a public thing. In a house, it tells you about who that person is. Provides an opening point for an interesting conversation.
Online, there would have been no way to spark those conversations.
In the house the books were the social lubricant.
Online preserves things that would otherwise die, which is good.
Don’t forget the majesty of paper or vellum or parchment or cuneiform. They provide a public entry point to a conversation. And all those nonverbal clues to history.
Paper is still an important, vital, and wonderful part of knowledge.

Scott German heard that stacks were going to be destroyed at NYPL. Heard they’d be “removed” not “demolished.” He was there when they got $100,000 for renovation. of the 42nd Street building. 88 branch libraries. For centuries NYPL has been cash starved. They planned to sell branches to raise money.
In early 2012, the plan became controversial.
His book outlines the battle. The stacks are still there, but they are empty — books had been removed to make way for demolition.
What is the best way to preserve?
For government officials to regulate it before the trustees destroy it.
Librarians need to learn to manage trustees.
Trustees see librarians as serfs. Librarians weren’t consulted. The plan came from the mind of a real estate developer on the board.

Matthew Battles: Widener Library at Harvard. His job involved spending lots of time in the stacks. Part of the structural support of the building itself.

Layers of social history are written into the shelving of the books. LC system and also the Widener system. It was topical in nature. A proverbs class, Moliere class, war, Descartes, etc… They told the story of the institution and how the people from the past were in dialog with our own time.
Started working the same time the card catalog was being converted.
Forensic traces of history of the use of the collection on the cards.
He was seeing marks of previous disruption to the schemes.
They’d used printed bound catalogs before the card catalog.
Interested in the archaeology of the library.
Libraries have been many things materially, socially, culturally…
The library has never been one thing. Yet it’s also an archetype.
When we wonder about the future of the library, we do well to look to the past.
There were libraries before there were books, if we mean things that look like these.
Remember out history and it’s a road to a rich and diverse future.
Librarians preserve, but we also shape collections. Should we be selling that more?
Remember libraries don’t have the same meaning for everyone.
Ethics of librarians developed and evolve.

Sasha: When you catalog something, to an extent you depersonalize it.
One of the greatest joys of a library is the unpredictability.
The more you digitize, the less it becomes unpredictable.
Matthew: That depends on the way it’s done. Gave a story about a finding aid that was digitized that allowed you to discover more.

Guy asked a question who wrote a forthcoming book about public library. He talked with library users. Look at why people love public libraries.
Public discourse around the library is so vital.
We should cultivate a sense of ownership in the public.

Canada: Asking auditor general to declare libraries and holdings as cultural resources.
Relationships between writer, publisher, libraries, shift with every technological change.