Friday, October 9, 2009


I recently attended a workshop presented by OCLC. Some of the talk was promotion of the various WorldCat entities, not relevant to me. What was relevant was a talk by Michael Edson, Director, Web and New Media Strategy, Smithsonian Institution, Office of the CIO entitled Relevance, Existence, and the Smithsonian Commons.

The Smithsonian is the world largest museum and research complex. And yet on an issue they have spent much effort - the oceans, a 2 person website called gets many times more hits. What is wrong with their site? Why do people not start their research there?

So the Smithsonian has been working through issues like how their task should be to:
Empower citizen-scholars!
Solve big complex problems!
Interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships!
Create innovative informal education
Use their resources for the public good in the midst of unceasing change

It seems to me this is the role of libraries too, and I would like to think, of Whilbr. Ok - Whilbr doesn't solve big complex problems but could empower citizen scholars, assist in interdiscplinary collaboration (as in C&O Canal project) and be part of innovative informal education.

Micheal used this image for the new model - collaboration and innovation

And I started thinking of the need for Whilbr in particular and libraries in general to move from the left image to the right. Hard to do, control is lost, possibly quality is lost but a common space where ideas are more freely exchanged seems relevant. Can we foster learning and collaborative knowledge creation? For Whilbr,
what can I do with this content once I find it? How can I interact with my fellow-visitors to the website?

More from Michael's talk can be found at

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Introduction to Photoshop CS2-Online Class

Course Name: Introduction to Photoshop CS2-Online Class offered by Hagerstown Community College Center for Continuing Education

Course Description: The Introduction to Adobe Photoshop CS2 online class provided hands on, project-oriented lessons filled with detailed step-by-step instructions. In the introduction to the Photoshop environment I discovered tools that I had not used as of yet. Specifically, I learned two more ways to straighten and crop pictures. The lessons revealed how to edit photographs to remove red-eye, to get rid of dust and scratches, and correct image exposure. I’m amazed by the variety in the Photoshop’s brush engine and I’m overwhelmed by all the choices provided by Photoshop’s tools and procedures.

Course Mechanics: Two lessons became available every week for six weeks. After all twelve lessons were released there was a two week grace period to complete the lessons and take the final exam. This gave me an extra two weeks-a total of eight weeks to complete the course. I was able to print all the lessons and assignments-a very helpful reference. I will use these again to strengthen my skills in Photoshop and to better comprehend the procedures and options that Photoshop has to offer. After each lesson I took a brief multiple-choice quiz. Each lesson was accompanied by an assignment. The assignments helped me to better comprehend the steps and tools utilized.

Course Benefits: You do not have to be present when each lesson is released. This is very convenient. You can get online and do the lessons, assignments, quizzes, and test -24/7. The Continuing Education course is worth 24 hours. However, I worked an average of 3 ½ to 4 hours per lesson (not 2). I still need to go back and review all the tools and steps in order to grasp all the techniques. Having a printed copy is an excellent resource.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Webinar-Building the Digital Branch for the 21st Century

As budgets may force us to move more services online, consider this Webjunction webinar.
Building the Digital Branch for the 21st Century

"When was the last time your website was redesigned - three years ago? Last century? Join presenter David Lee King for Building the Digital Branch: Guidelines to Transform Your Website for the 21st Century, a webinar brought to you in special collaboration with WebJunction-Kansas and ALA TechSource. David explores and expands on the process his web team used at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library to transform their outdated website into a 21st century digital branch. David covers the differences between a website and a digital branch, and describes the redesign process - everything from the introductory planning stages of overhauling their website to the process of actually "doing stuff" at the new digital branch. Finally, planning for the future is discussed."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Simplified Code of Conduct

I liked the code of conduct used at Imaginon as presented by Michele Gorman.

Respect Yourself.
Respect Others
Respect the Space.

what else do you need?

"This Ain't Your Mama's Library"

This program was sponsored by WMRL and presented by the funny and knowledgable teen guru Michele Gorman

Some important tidbits from the program:

Adolescent Brain Research:
Adolescent brains are not as developed as we might believe. Emotion often overtakes rationality. When teens misbeahve in the library- a banning for life policy may not be appropriate. Michelle's library uses a progressive dicispline policy where the punishment is determined by the offense.

The 7 Developmental Needs of Teens (As documented by Michelle Gorman, 2009)
1. Physical Activity
2. Competence and Achievement
3. Self-Definition
4. Creative Expression
5. Positive Social Interaction with Peers and Adults
6. Structure and Clear Limits
7. meaningful Participation

Many application systems require statistical support for assertions, but it is also just as important to maintain ancedotal records to support them with actual real life stories if they are so warranted.

Keep in Mind the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents. It is so important that we recognize these needs and try to structure our programming efforts to meet them. To look at 40 Developmental Assets go here

According to Michelle there are a couple ways you can go about creating positive relationships with teens:
1. Make the first impression a positive one
2. Keep your cool
3. Remember that this is not personal
4. Lighten up
5. Remember what it was like to be a teen

Get to know what graphic novels and manga are and why you should have them in your library. Many teens are really into these literary works and would love to see more of them in our librarues, and more programming with them in general.

Also, get to know what the different Annual Awards for Young Adult Books and Authors are. You can access them via the American Libraries Association Website and for teens especially, the YALSA division

Don't be afraid to get into the 6R (Reduce, reuse, reclaim, redesign, recycle, renew) Movement. It is amazing what you can make out of soda can tabs or duct tape.

Overall, take a moment to realize why you love being a YA Librarian or serving YA's and keep in mind that you were a teen once, too. Most of the opinions people have about teens, teens have about them.

"Celebrating Summer with Some New and Award Winning Books"

This presentation was given by Carolyn Cook, Mount St. Mary's University Assistant Professor of Education and Michelle Foreman, Shippensburg University Assistant Professor/Librarian

If you are interested in some good recommended reads for your young patrons, just check out the past winners of the following awards:

  • The Pennsylvania Center for the Book's "The Baker's Dozen"
  • Theordore Seuss Geisel Award-author and illustrator of best beginning reader book
  • Randolph Caldecott Medal honors the finest children's illustrator for the year
  • Coretta Scott King Award is given to the best African American children's writers and illustrators
  • John Steptoe Award for New Talent is given to a new talent in writing or illustrating
  • John Newberry Medal honors the year's best children's book
  • Robert F. Siebert Informational Book Award is given to the author of an outstanding nonfiction book
  • Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature honors writers of excellent young adult books
  • Pura Belpre Award honors the best latina/latino writers every two years
  • Mildred L. Batchelder Award recognizes publishers of foreign books for children
  • Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award honors a poet who published an excellent book of children's poetry

Most of the winners can be accessed via the American Libraries Association Website at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Ideas

This past week, I attended the Children's Services Division Meeting of the Maryland Library Association. I just wanted to share with you some of the wonderful up and coming programs, as well ideas and programs that are being done around the state. These meetings are every month at different library branches and are well worth the time. This group is also responsible for the Blue Crab Award for literature. Feel free to go to the MLA website and check it all out!

Up and coming:
Kids Are Customers is taking place on Thursday, October 15th at the Best Western in Westminster. There were be lots of different sessions on homeschooling, challenge materials, online book groups, book clubs, mutlicultural programming, music programming, and much, much more. The fee for registration has been reduced. It promises to be an educational event!

Look for a Blue Crab/CSD page on Facebook. Soon there will be a page up to get the word out there.

Program Ideas:
  • Manga drawing
  • Teen Team Reading where teams of teens compete to see which team can read the most pages in a set amount of time
  • Lego programs
  • "Discover Your..." sessions discovering/exploring different topics
  • Stuffed Animal Slumber Party
  • Yoga for Tots
  • Anime drawing
  • Creating Duck-tape wallets
  • Musical instruments from around the world
  • Chess clubs
  • Teen Activities Blog
  • Teen Summer Reading Club Blog of Book Reviews
  • Wacky Water Fun Fests with Water Games
  • Measured reading collections online
  • Bookmark Contests with prizes for each age group
  • Art Show for the community put together by kids
  • Mall story-times
  • Percy Jackson Parties
  • Fancy Nancy Parties

All kinds of fun things are going on around the state! Feel free to share what you are doing or even use some of these ideas on the list.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

ALA Scholarship Bash

On Saturday night, Nora and I were fortunate to attend the ALA Scholarship Bash which was held at the Art Institute of Chicago. The bash started at 7:00 p.m. and I can tell you that the two of us arrived back at our hotel shortly before 11:00. It was such a wonderful event and the museum was only open that evening for ALA attendees. If you remember our morning fiasco with missing the kickoff breakfast for the empowerment conference... our lunch was store made yogurt and fruit at a little coffee shop in the Hyatt conference area, so by the time we arrived at the Art Institute we were starving. They had at least 3 areas set up for food service. We gravitated to the outdoor area and joined a very friendly librarian from Phoenix (who ordered teen books for the Phoenix Public Library System- Nora did get her email for tips) for finger foods, sandwiches and drinks. Wandering the art exhibits was amazing. But don't point too close to the paintings or alarms go off, trust me, they do.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ALA Empowerment Conference, 2009

When my copy of American Libraries arrived and I scanned the information about the upcoming ALA conference in Chicago, the Empowerment Conference caught my eye. Sponsored by the Library Support Staff division of ALA, of which I have been a member for the last several years, the "mini conference" for support staff who supervise others appealed to me immediately. As both a Branch Manager at our Main Library Branch and the Circulation Supervisor for our Library System, I felt this could directly affect my day to day activities both in my branch and in my duties system-wide. I mentioned the Empowerment Conference to our Public Services Coordinator, Lisa McKenney, and she invited any Branch Manager who was interested in attending ALA this summer to let her know how the experience would benefit them and the Library System.

Nora Drake also responded to her inquiry and the two of us were selected to attend the conference. We arrived in Chicago Friday afternoon and were on our way to McCormick Place early the next morning, sans breakfast. After criss crossing the complex we finally arrived the Welcome Breakfast and conference kickoff at the HYATT REGENCY McCormick ( geesh!) only to find nothing left but coffee and crumbs of the breakfast. We did get to hear most of Prof. Gini's keynote address about "Lincoln's ten critical tasks of leadership"

The first session I attended was "Leadership = Vision + Communication + Empowerment: an overview with Alexis Sarkisian, who is a Library Marketing consultant. She discussed communication models and explained how leaders need to make sure that the message you are sending out is understood. It is the "senders" responsibility to get feedback from the "receivers" to elminate misunderstandings and assumptions. You don't "push" a message out, it is your responsibilty to be sure it is being sent in a way that people can understand or "hear" your message. She makes the point that leaders have vision and while leaders can be managers, not all managers are leaders.

The second session was Leadership for Library Support Staff lead by Kevin Dudeney from Austrailia. It was interesting in itself to learn a little about the Australian system, they take a 2 year required course to become Library Technicians. He began by talking about how we manage stuff, but lead people. He developed this course himself and focuses on the 5 practices of exemplary leadership:
  1. Model the way - earn the right and respect to lead, people follow the person, then the plan.
  2. Inspire a shared vision - express enthusiasm for the vision and it will spread to the team.
  3. Challenge the process - step into the unknown and look for opportunities to innovate.
  4. Enable others to act - make it possible for others to do good work.
  5. Encourage the heart - show appreciation of the teams contributions, teams can become tired, frustrated and disenchanted.
We saw his list of the differences between leaders and managers, a long list I might add, that most of us furioulsy scribbled away to copy since there were no handouts for this session. There was a discussion of the different types of power, such as legitimate power; reward power; coercive power; expert power; charismatic power; referent power; and information power.

After scrounging up some lunch and a chance encounter with Joe outside the building, Nora and I attended "Leading from any position: opportunities to contribute to your Library's success" with Maureen Sullivan who happens to be from Maryland. She also mentioned the communication issue, i.e. "What I think I said may not be what you heard" and the notion that even leaders need to know how to be effective followers. She focused on resonant leadership and how that is based on the relationship between the leader and those who work with them. Resonant leadership depends upon emotional intelligence which can be intuitive or developed. Emotional intelligence is based on the competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. She points out that we must listen to the negative but don't focus on it. Focus on the people who are doing what needs to be done. Don't let negativity hold the organization back.

And we're just gettin' warm!

ALA in Chicago

What fun and what a great city! Oh, but this is the learning journal...

I had a very good first ALA experience in Chicago, I went to lots of interesting programs, spent time perusing the vendors, and met interesting library folks from all over the country. Although I have to say, the vastness of ALA was a bit over-much for my introverted self and it was a challenge to strike up conversations when I just wanted a bit of quiet between one program and the next. Nonetheless, Chicago was packed with librarians and it was fun to walk down the street and guess whether someone was or wasn't...

Friday July 10 Pre-conference: Customer Service from the Best
This was a great program from the training manager at Trump Properties in Atlantic City. She has done a lot of training for NJ Libraries and it was surprising how many parallels there were between casinos and libraries (still looking for an exciting library version of a comped drink ticket - somehow forgiving fines doesn't seem as glamorous.)
  • ACT Customer Service
  • Acknowledge - smile be pro-active, friendly verbal greeting
  • Connect - Use names when you can, give info, solve problems, listen!
  • Thank - invite a return visit, express appreciation, share info about upcoming programs, give a fond farewell
Aha! Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill.
Start a volunteer greeter program
If there is a negative experience at any point on someones library visit, other staff have to work twice as hard to make the overall experience better. If you can't do good customer service for the customers - do it for your fellow staff!
Saturday, July 11

Redesigning Tech Services (OCLC presentation)

Redesigning Technical Services Workflows, Saturday morning, July 11, 2009:

NISO OCLC study looking at metadata standards - how do we leverage and collaborate to get better metadata and have everyone do less work in publishing and libraries (Not so much my cup of tea so I can't recall who this presenter was - interesting but not as engaging as the next two speakers for me.)

Arlene Klair, Adaptive Cataloging & Database Mgmt Group Leader, University of Maryland Libraries

  • UMUC has directed their attention to streamlining their processing and copy cataloging sot that catalogers can spend their time on cataloging special collections
  • Shelf-ready processing with their main book vendor - UMUC can do it cheaper but they cannot do it faster
  • They use Connexion for batch loading (as does WC)
  • They download full-records and take them without fussing so much
  • They've started using 100% cataloging option from OCLC called Promptcat which catches any records that aren't up to standards and OCLC finishes the record based on their profile (at least this is what I understood - need to look into this further.)
  • They use a commercial service called Bibliographic Notification to upgrade bibs (especially CIP) lag is somewhere between 2 and 3 months.

Rick Anderson, Associate Director for Scholarly Resources and Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

Rick acknowledged that anyone who had heard him speak before would find his remarks repetitive, but thought it was all worth hearing again.

There are 4 areas where “Technical Services needs retooling.”

  1. Books
  2. Serials
  3. Cataloging
  4. Collection Development
  • Consolidation — put serial and monograph staff into one organizational unit
  • Simplification [of processes] — use shelf-ready, don’t examine every book, duplicate call numbers don’t cause the patron to fail in retrieving the right book
  • Simplification — drop check-in, binding, and claiming for print journals and focus on doing things that get the patron access when the patron needs it
  • Their orders are shipped to OCLC to be cataloged and sent to them shelf ready - "they will do it well enough" there aren't enough problems to warrant inspecting each item
  • Simplification — Catalog is not about completeness it is about Connection. He suggested looking at the catalog logs to see if known item searches are the most frequent type of search
  • Subject headings should be thought of as opportunities for keyword searches - suggested not worrying too much about punctuation or beauty
  • Set up processed for the bulk of items not the exceptions
  • “Patrons know; librarians guess.” use ILL as a selection tool - suggested looking at circ rates, 50% of librarian selected items didn't circ Pay extra shipping to get books from Amazon overnighted. Also purchased an Espresso Book Machine to do print on demand

Champagne Dreams on a Beer Budget: Cost Conscious library space designs
(All three presentations are available through the above link.)

Norfolk Public libraries have done a phenomenal job of improving every library branch. Each has a kidzone and 30 Internet terminals, new carpet, paint. $123.605 per branch
Terrific customer service to give the same treatment to every branch - rich and poor alike.

Brooklyn Public - new Teen center in a storefront staffed by a youth counselor. Computers and magazines but no other collection - down the street from the library so there are runners. Interesting idea. Met someone the next week at RWA who was from this system and when I commented on what a neat idea it was she grimaced mildly and did a tiny eye roll - I guess innovation always looks different from the outside than from the inside! :)

Library 2.0 buildings: Creating Zones with Heart

was packed and I got there too late to get a good seat - the usual thoughtful and visual presentation - don't put up nasty signs or make it clear that the director is the only valued member of the community by putting up a parking sign reserving their space - lots of slides.

Here is one presenter's blog posting pre-ALA regarding the program
And an article about the panel discussion in LJ

Sunday July 12

2.0)verload: What a small, understaffed library really needs by Michael Porter of WebJunction
  • Meebo - staff of 7 at Freemont Library in CO has chat on their site
  • Twitter - can be another tool for pushing library programing
  • Someone mentioned KGB - text a question paid service (why isn't library land doing this - can Question Point provide this service with AskUsNow?) Gates grant to publicize it?
  • Flickr - put it all out there...
Re-purpose everything you do so that web page announcements also go to the newspaper, twitter, flickr and vice versa. There was a lot more to this, but that is enough for now. Basically there was no solution to overload but there was the strong suggestion that we need to be where our users are.

With Respect and Dignity: Serving homeless people in library communities
  • Michael Santangelo, OLOS presenter, said that ALA will have a toolkit on this topic coming out soon (Dec 09?)
  • There is also an OLOS listserv on poor and homeless patrons
  • OLOS can help find resources and connect folks who are looking at similar problems but Michael emphasized that no two situations are the same - based on environment, community, administrative attitudes, etc...
  • Suggested getting buy-in from whole staff and networking with other institutions
  • Start from a place of professionalism - we didn't create the problem
  • know your library's policies and be sure that they are applied across the board - bad body odor and too much perfume should both be addressed same for strollers and suitcases
  • Document the advocacy process (programs, pictures, etc.) so that you can determine what works and what doesn't
  • Preventative librarianship - local social services, programming with govt agencies on filling out paperwork, handling debt, foreclosure and landlord issue assistance and legal resources, etc.
  • Again there is more - really neat librarian from Lexington, Kentucky, Ruthie Maslin, has done some tremendous programming - she surveyed her potentially homeless folks and asked what they wanted in the way of library services - it was all very reasonable and doable. Seeking input instead of assuming
  • LPL issues library cards with limits on # of items - individuals can use the shelter address
  • She listed 5 steps to success:
  1. involve all staff
  2. involve customers you hope to connect with
  3. set achievable goals
  4. measures of success
  5. budget for it
Catalog Use and Usability Studies: What do they show and how should this affect our decision making?

OCLC Report titled Online Catalogs: What users and librarians want
Presented by Karen Calhoun and Janet Hawk - presentation available on Slideshare
  • Users expect catalog to look and work like popular web sites (summaries, abstracts, TOC, google search)
  • users want context - excerpts from books, music and video clips and ideally full-text
  • Delivery is as important or more important than discovery
  • How do we delivery books? More links to online full-text
  • Improved search relevancy is important
  • Evidence based cataloging
  • Digital online accessible materials are important to users - especially global users (Can a public library justify spending $ on traffic that doesn't pay taxes? Can we afford not to have that traffic?)
  • Cornell does 80% of their cataloging as fastcat in acquisitions - accepting the full-record with few if any changes. They accept that fast and conveniently available are essential to quality library experience
  • Align resources with effort - media and digital collections
  • Consortial cataloging could be a good option for getting the regular stuff out of the way and focusing on special collections
WOW - lots of ideas!

Monday was taken up with packing and taking a boat tour of Chicago architecture (it was my director's idea - honest!). A very worthwhile trip. Thanks WMRL!

Friday, July 24, 2009

ALA/YALSA: Creating and Building an Effective Committee

As a new committee chairperson this year for YALSA, I got to be a part of training about building and belonging to effective committees. I thought there were several tips and suggestions worth passing on from the session.

Committees can sometimes not work well. It is a good idea to approach committee meetings like board meetings with an overview at the beginning of each meeting, focus for discussions, agendas, calendars, and evaluations of committee meetings.

Six Elements of Committee Effectiveness:
  • There should be a written committee description and/or charge
  • You need to have an effective committee chair.
  • Members should be thoughtfully appointed.
  • It should have accountability to the board.
  • The meetings should be well-run.

Sample Format: Committee Meeting Agenda

I. Call to Order

II. Roll Call

III. Approval of the Minutes of Last Meeting

IV. Members' Reports

V. Old Business

VI. New Business

VII. Announcements

VIII. Adjournment

How to Get Things Done

  • Write things down
  • Set alarms or block things off on the schedule
  • Clarify your projects/seek clarification

Successfully Managing Others

  • The role of a manager is different than that of a leader
  • A Poor Manager is often seen as a bureaucrat
  • By default a manager often becomes the leader as well
  • You must create a shared vision, get feedback, provide ample timeframes, invite discussion and set expectations for communication with deadlines
  • Set expectations early
  • Must use and accept input of committee members to create a shared vision.
  • Be sure to say thank you!

Develop Buy In

  • Pay attention to what people are saying-take their input and use it.
  • It's in how you manage communication
  • Listen and don't shut people out or shout over them or insert yourself
  • Operate with enthusiasm and energy
  • Send Thank you notes!

Implement Your Vision

  • Set time limits and stay on task
  • Take an organized approach
  • State your expectations up front
  • Share open work
  • Let people know if they missed a deadline
  • Take nothing for granted
  • Send reminders
  • Keep things straightforward
  • As a chair, you still need to be a team player because you are also a member!

If you are in a committee hopefully, some of these tips might help!

ALA Annual: YA Coffee Klatch

During Annual, I had the great pleasure of attending the YA Coffee Klatch. This might just sound like a casual morning session, which it is, but it is a casual morning session with about 30 different YA authors that rotate to your table and you get to talk to!

Featured authors at this event were: Libba Bray, Jim Benton, Elizabeth C. Bunce, Stephen G. Bloom, Michael Buckley, Janet Lee Carey, Sarah Dessen, Simone Elkeles, Margarita Engle, Garret Freymann-Weyr, Lorie Ann Grover, Julie Halpern, Silas House, James Kennedy, Stephanie Kuehnert, Margo Lanagan, E. Lockhart, David Lubar, Melina Marchetta, Lisa McMann, Christopher Myers, Kimberly Pauley, Richard Peck, Sara Ryan, S. L. Rottman, Lisa Schroeder, Yasmin Shiraz, Andrew Smith, Jeri Smith-Ready, Kristina Springer, Maggie Stiefvater, Pamela Todd, Todd Tucker, Jacqueline Woodson, Patricia Wrede.

Due to timing, I did not get talk to all of these authors, but I did get to talk to a few and here are some things I learned:

Andrew Smith is the author of Ghost Medicine has been commissioned to write four more books. His most recent book involves two brothers during the Vietnam War taking a roadtrip. It is told from 5 differing perspectives.

Jamie Kennedy is the writer of The Order of Odd Fish which is a comedy/fantasy that is a cross between Roald Dahl and Monty Python. It deals a lot with dubious/impossible knowledge. The basic plot is the child has been born to destroy the world and they hide her away until she becomes 13 and realizes that unless she stops this, the prophecy will come true.

David Lubar is probably most known for Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie and his Hidden Talents series. He will be releasing a new book in August called My Rotten Life. He also has 4 short story collections with 35 stories each and does school visits.

Todd Tucker is the 2009 Alex Award Winner for his first novel Over and Under which is a "boy book" about two 14 year old boys in 1979 in a factory town haboring two fugitives. it contains some autobiographical elements. For example in real life and in this book his mom ran a secret shelter for abused and battered women. He has four other books about 20th Century American History.

Kimberly Pauley wrote It Sucks to Be Me, a humorus vampire story with no vampire slayers as characters. The plot is that the parents are vampires and upon her birthday the main character has to decide whether or not she wants to be a vampire before time runs out. The new Sucks to Be Me sequel will be released in August of 2010.

Margarita Engle wrote The Surrender Tree, The Poet Slave, and Tropical Secrets. She writes primarily historical fiction with the topic of german/jewish refugees in the 1950's that were turned away from New York and sent to Cuba. Cuban volunteers taught the refugees Spanish and provided safe habors and showed the kindness of strangers. The Surrender Tree is being re-released as a bilingual book.

Pamela Todd has wrote The Blind Faith Hotel with environmental themes and characters with relationships to the natural world. In this novel, the reader will see a family in crisis with issues such as home, freedom, and belonging, as well as approaches to sibling relationships.

Sara Ryan has brought The Rules for Hearts to us. It has to do with that transitional summer between high school and college with a bohemian environment, a shakespear environment, and librarian all playing a part. Currently, she is working on a graphic novel called The Empress of the World where a boy helps his mom run estate sales and falls in love with a girl who's mom is a hoarder. There is a website showing the beginnings of this novel. It deals with addressing the objects of significance in our lives and how writers can give value to objects by writing stories about them. The website has various stories about different objects found at flea markets and rummage sales. Do these stories change an object's value? Read the stories and find out!

And the last author I had the chance to meet was:

Yasmin Shiraz wrote Retaliation, which is inspired by a true story dealing with girls and violence. A documentary about this issue is being released in September by Follett called "Can She Be Saved?" She is also working on a new book called The Hive which is about teen HIV infection in the high school setting.

There was a lot of information all at once, but well worth it!

ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, July 10th-14th, 2009

I was privileged to attend the ALA Conference in Chicago with my co-worker, Maryland Appel. We are both from the Allegany County Library System. We arrived on the afternoon of July 10th, after driving to Pittsburgh from Cumberland, and left Chicago to return home on the morning of July 14th. I say it was a privilege because I attended the Empowerment Conference sessions, and feel it was a benefit to me particularly since it was geared to library support staff, like branch managers. I became a branch manager in January, and feel that the sessions on personnel management and encouragement were the most help to me. On our first day there, Saturday, we intended to attend the Welcoming Breakfast and Empowerment Kickoff Breakfast which featured Al Gini. His session was on "Lincoln's Ten Critical Tasks of Leadership". Unfortunately, because we received the wrong directions from several of the security staff at McCormick Place, we arrived after the session began, but we were able to sit in for part of it. The second session I attended on Saturday was "Feeling Good, Becoming Healthier, Increased Energy and More". The speaker was Jill S. Popovich, a physical therapist. During that session Ms. Popovich shared easy effective ways that library staff could improve their posture while working, stretch obscure muscles that we all use every day but not enough, and increase our energy while at work. As a consultant, she visited many libraries to observe the normal working day of library staff and developed her own program for assisting staff. The next session I attended was, "Leadership for Library Staff." The speaker was Kevin Dudeney. He had many good points in his presentation, including, "Stuff can be managed but people must be lead", supported with the following main topics: Model the way for your staff, Inspire a shared vision, Challenge the process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. All of these were supported with more information and examples of leadership among staff, including being visible and and the differences between being a leader and a manager.
There was lots of food for thought, and I hope I can put into practice some of his suggestions. The next session I attended was, "Leading From Any Position: Opportunities to Contribute to Your Librarie's Success". The speaker was Maureen Sullivan. While I was familiar with the Leading From Any Position term, I had not been to any workshops about it. Basically, Maureen discussed desirable leadership qualities, and gave some guidelines for empowering staff with confidence to become leaders based on; emotional intelligence, self awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills as a leader. After that session, Maryland and I went to the exhibit hall for a short period of time prior to returning to our hotel to freshen up before we had to be back at McCormick Place to take the shuttle to the ALA/Proquest Scholarship Bash which was outstanding. More later!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Michele Gorman Workshop Survey

For those of you who will be attending the August 28th Michele Gorman survey, please take a few moments to complete the survey by clicking on the link below. Thank you for your feedback!
Click Here to take survey

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

YALSA: Power Up With Print

This workshop was called "Power Up with Print" and was sponsored and hosted by YALSA and Southern MD Regional Libraries on Monday, June 22.

The workshop was presented by Jamie Watson.

Strategic Planning, Vision, and Mission: One of the first things we discussed is the need for teen services and in particular those librarians serving teens to determine or know what their libraries' mission, vision, and strategic plans for teen services. We all thought about, dictated, and shared our mission/vision. This is something I had thought about, but had never thought about and wrote. This is what I personally come up, but everyone's is different depending upon the library, position, and services offered:

"My personal mission/vision is to ensure that every teen that walks through the library dooes will be treated with respect and will have their information and reading needs asked about and fulfilled in the best and most courteous way possible. My mission is to encourage and embolden teens to develop and share their love of reading and writing, and for those who fo have these, foster a newfound passion for something they can relate to and/or believ in. And, it is important for me to provide a safe, social outlet as a way to seek out help, and mentoring in the community." As Jamie noted, it is very important to have your "elevator speech" ready when someone has a question about what you do whether it is a parent, teacher, stranger, or even possible community partner.

We went on to contemplate the things we felt that we are strong in in teen services and where we have weaknesses. Jamie noted that it important to find out each others' strengths and weaknesses so that we can help others and in turn be helped when we need it.

In the afternoon, we examined the 50 Best Young Adult Books and the 50 Best of the 21st century. What would be your 50 best Young Adult books? What criteria would you use to create the list?

In addition, we discussed the Printz award books and the criteria. We also held a discussion on whether or not we agreed with those who have won the award in the past and why or why not. Jamie is on this coming year's Printz committee. Suggestions for books to be concerned can be submitted via the YALSA website.

Then Jamie posed two intriguing questions to us. 1) If you could only have 10 books in your teen section, what would they be? 2) When you have a reluctant reader who comes in and gives you no clues about anything he/she may be interested in, what is your one go to book? Please feel free to comment and share your suggestions!

Lastly, we had a discussion about teen library programming in which we all shared things that we are currently featuring or have featured for teens. Some of the neat ideas featured were:
classic board game nights
Teen Idols
American Guitar Hero Contest
Teen and Tween nights once a month
Mother/Daughter yoga
Mother/Daughter Book Clubs

Jamie also shared with us some very notable technology statistics that she found throught the Pew Research Internet Project:
  • 97% of teens play video games
  • 75% of teens have cell phones
  • 75% of online teens have created content for the internet

Lots of information was also shared about YALSA. To get more information about their organization or booklists go to

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

WebJunction Courses: Analyzing the Market / Competitive Factors in Strategic Marketing

[Posted on behalf of M.F., WMRL Public Relations Coordinator. Courses mentioned were accessed through WebJunction.]

1. Analyzing the Market
I learned the 4 elements of analyzing the market: scanning the environment; how market segmentation assist in developing products and marketing strategies; tools for marketing planning; and quantitative and qualitative forecasting options.

2. Competitive Factors in Strategic Marketing
I learned how to develop and present a marketing plan, including consideration of market data and your competitor's capabilities (in our case - the Internet), how to analyze market share and potential growth, and sales forecasting.

Gale PowerSearch 2.0 & InfoTrac Collections / Gale Virtual Reference Library

[Posted on behalf of M.F., WMRL Public Relations Coordinator]

1. Gale PowerSearch 2.0 & InfoTrac Collections:

You can create your own user account and take advantage of their new tools.
You can save searches and marked items over multiple sessions. You can email bookmarked URLs to co-workers. You can get "search alerts" which is an email when new content is added to the site for that search.

2. Gale Virtual Reference Library:

Allows full flexibility with our collection. We own content forever, allows unlimted usage, is accessible by multiple users, the content is availablae in html and PDF formates, and it is translatable into 8 different languages.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Library Journal Design Institute “Going Green” - Keynote - May 8, 2009

On May 8 I had the opportunity to attend Library Journal's Design Institute at the Arlington County Central Library in Northern Virginia. The day-long conference was fantastic. Below are my notes from the morning keynote address. If I find a moment I'll also post separately my notes from the panel discussions.

Keynote address by Steven Carr – Director of Innovation and Service Design Manger, Plaza Library & Arlington Shop

He was the first librarian to be certified as a LEED professional.
LEED began as a non-profit in 1993. LEED is a building certification system from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED 3.0 launched a few weeks ago. The built environment uses 72% of energy each day. 40% of raw materials each year goes into new construction. We have a great opportunity to save the environment and save money. Buy in from the beginning. As of April 2009, 15,000 projects registered. 2500 certified. Three largest segments for green building – office, education, and health care. Accounts for 85% of non-residential construction. There’s a heightened demand for LEED residential construction. Sustainable materials have improved considerably. Ultimately there will be 3 LEED categories for accreditation– building design and construction (health care, retail, and schools), a green interior design certification, and green building operation and maintenance. LEED is trying to be consistent across all platforms. Credits are now weighted. The more you can bring to saving energy, the more credits you get. The process is regionalized - different if you’re in Arizona or Virginia. Certification levels – gold, silver, etc.. GSA did study of federal buildings – found 7 things. Could save half a billion dollars in DC area if every federal building did the following:

1) Adjust temp between 74 and 78 degrees.
2) Replace filters
3) Reduce number of copiers and printers. 1 copier for every 25 staffers.
4) Replace CRT monitors with LCD
5) Upgrade the ambient task lighting.
6) Improving access to daylight. Reflective tile on ceiling can bounce light into room from windows.
7) Update windows.

Steven referred to the LEED project scorecard. Some things:
Energy & Atmosphere:
• Do you build in town, or on the edge of town and make people use cars?
• Use landscaping that doesn’t need water.
• Air, temperature quality, etc.
• If a staffmember can modify their own personal environment, sick leave goes down substantially.

Sustainable sites:
• You can use wood, but use locally available source.
• When building demolished, separate and recycle materials.
• Use material made in certain distance from building – not shipped from the other side of the world.
• More points now for innovation and regional priorities.
• Extra credit for using a LEED accredited professional on your project.
He described how workflows at Arlington Permitting building were drastically improved as a result of implementing LEED. LEED is really about making people happy first. That’s what’s most important. It’s also good for the planet. LEED certified building baseline saves 29% energy.

Possibilities of the building – are you building something that is so specific that it could only serve that purpose, or could it be modified into something else (that’s a good thing if it can). If architects pressure you to create large boxy rooms, that’s why. These can be reused for a different purpose in the future.

In Arlington development has been clustered near the metro stations, and along bus routes.
Soon a coffee shop put into lobby of library. Economic development trying to get a kinko’s/copier place in building as well. LEED is more than putting a pretty plaque on the building.

Even if you don’t get LEED certified, there are so many things that you can do to improve any building. LEED system is consensus based and market driven.

Benefits of LEED certification: – once registered, you have access to what all the points mean, and can submit questions. Case studies, suggestions – lots of resources become available. Process is 2 phase – design and built phases. Feedback at both phases as documentation is submitted.
• Cost $450 for member of green building council. Design review is $.025 for square foot – as of end of 2009. Will go up in 2010. Cost a little more for existing buildings.

What if your library is in a rural location where mass transit not available? Depending on the situation there are different ways to do it. Lots of libraries offer bike racks and some even offer showers for bikers, at least for staff. Does your library offer reserved spots for people with hybrid vehicles? Spots for people who carpool? One county puts a dashboard on their web site showing energy output of each building each month and each competes to be lower than others – so there’s an incentive to reduce energy costs.

The upfront costs for LEED certification have a 3 year payback. Invest up front and save money in the long term. Cost is about the same now for green and non-green construction. Carpet tile, etc. all pay off.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

MLA Session: A Box Full of Tales

This session was sponsored by the Children's Services Division of the Maryland Library Association and presented by author and Children's Services person, Kathy MacMillan and is based on her book, A Box Full of Tales: Easy Ways to Share Library Resources Using Story Boxes (ALA Editions, 2008, ISBN 0838909604. The book shares ways to set up Story Boxes and includes 50 ready to go themes to help take the guess work out of establishing such a program.

Here are some important info/notes Kathy gaves us at the program:

Why Story Boxes?
Story Boxes...
  • save time
  • give you new persepctives
  • bridge the gap between staff members
  • provide thematic unity for your programs
  • set a programming standard for your system
  • increase your program quality
  • are perfect for training and cross-training
  • change and grow with your needs

When starting the program think about:

  • Who will participate?
  • How many weeks the Story Box cycle with encompass?
  • How many Story Boxes you will need?
  • Who will create the Story Boxes?
  • How will you rotate them?
  • How will you get buy-in from staff?

Story Boxes include books, music, flannel boards, games, and fingerplays for a specific theme and age group. The box is loaded with the necessary materials and instructions and then rotated around to library story-times for use. These are especially handy for subs and when a group is scheduled at last minute.

Right now, BCPL does something very similar with Teen Programs in a box. I think this idea could work for any age group and programming i.e. Storytime, Homeschoolers, Teens, Reading Clubs, etc.

Most importantly, it is necessary to have buy in from the group using them and that everyone using them be responsible for the set-up and upkeep. Many heads are better than one. And, it is okay to update and change the boxes as time goes by.

Some examples of themes are:

Sounds All Around

Eric Carle

Hop, Skip, and Jump

At the Zoo

For more information check out Kathy's book or contact her at

MLA Session: What's New in Young Adult Literature?

This session was sponsored by PSD/TIG divisions/interest group of the Maryland Library Association and by YALSA.

The presentation was given by Jennifer Rothschild of Prince George's County Memorial Library System. And, I must say, it was extremely well-attended! (Not everyone was able to fit in the room!) She began the presentation talking about YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association and the benefits of becoming a member, which I can say are numerous. It is an organization that is incredibly welcoming and resourceful. However, you don't have to be a member of the organization to access the resources. Jennifer went on to discuss this year's award winning books. YALSA gives 6 different media awards, and if you are looking for book recommendations, then this is the place you should look! This is YALSA's webpage where you can gather information about YALSA: And, here are links to the award and book recommendation lists: (access point for all awards & lists) (Best Books for YAs) (Graphic Novels) (Teens’ Top 10) (Printz Award) (Edwards Award)

Then Jennifer discussed some of the emerging trends in young adult literature and book talked some recommended titles. The trends that Jennifer listed are as follows:
Vampires, Zombies, and other Supernatural Horrors
Fairy Tales
Greek Mythology
Updated Classics
Rich Mean Girls
Urban Life
Culture Clash Identity Crises
Kid Spies

And she noted that a future trend teens are leaning toward is Angels! So be prepared! :)

If you would like to contact Jennifer with questions about her presentation. Here is her contact info: Jennifer Rothschild

For more info about what books she recommended for each trend or the booklists she talked about, you can access her presentation slides and booklists at the following links: Slides Booklist

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MLA Session: You Can Take It With You: Library Leaders with a Passion for Youth Services

This session was sponsored by the Eastern Shore Regional Library and the Library Management Division of MLA.

Panel Members Included:

Audra Caplan, Director, Harford County Public Library, Jim Fish,
Director, Baltimore County Public Library, Kathleen Reif, Director, St.
Mary’s County Public Library, Irene Briggs, Associate Director for
Public Services, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System,
Rachel Vilmar, Eastern Shore Regional Library

The panel members were asked a series of questions about how to develop leadership skills, how to evolve into leadership positions, and once you get there, how not to leave your passion for youth services behind.

The panel members gave some excellent advice for attendees who would like to be in leadership positions, but want to still be active in youth services. They noted that one of the best ways to carry their youth services passion into leadership is by becoming an advocate for it, not only within the library and the library system, but within the community as well. Serving on committees concerning youth and youth services in the community can help to build partnerships and strengthen or establish needed services.

However, they did note that you will have to give up some of your Youth Library duties/activities such as storytimes, everyday programming, etc. because it is impossible to be everywhere at once.

One of the ways the panel members suggested for developing leadership skills, as well as becoming a leader was to get involved. They handed out several resources for becoming involved in both leadership activities and youth services.

One was become more involved in the Maryland Library Association (MLA) by joining the Children's Services Division (CSD), serving on the Blue Crab Award Committee, working with the Teen Interest Group or becoming a participating member of the Library Management Division. Any of this committees would help to enhance both your knowledge about library issues and your leadership skills. For more information

Another way to develop those leadership skills is by applying for and attending the Maryland Library Leadership Institute which is supoprted by the Maryland State Department of Education Division of Library Development and Services (DLDS). It is presented by Becky Schreiber and John Shannon to help librarians identify and develop their skills, as well as create a positive and support network of peers. A small taste of their leadership seminars can be experienced by attending the two day Leading from Any Position I and II workshops sponsored by DLDS in the fall and spring. For more information:

Third, being involved in the Nationwide and Statewide initiatives of the Summer Reading Program, the Birth to Five-Emergent Literacy program, and the marketing campaign, It's Never Too Early assists in providing valuable information and resources about youth issues and services. The Youth Services Specialist for Maryland is Stephanie Shauck. For more information about these initiatives, please contact Stephanie at

Lastly, getting involved on the national level is an excellent way to interwine both of your goals. The Association of Library Services to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA, is always looking for new members. If you are passionate about Children's Services, this is an organization you should be a part of. The resources that it provides are endlesss. For more information:

If teen advocacy is your focus, then you'll want to become a member of the Young Adult Library Services Association or YALSa, also a division of ALA. YALSA provides an amazing and informative network of resources and people to help guide and educate new and continuing teen services members. For more information:

There are many ways to become active members of both of these national groups including posting on the blogs, serving on a committee, voting in elections, participating in discussion groups, becoming involved in service campaigns, taking online courses, and presenting at a divisional or national conference.

The main point that I took away from this panel was that to become a leader, you need to be involved and you need to be passionate about being involved. And, one you take on a leadership role, the passion just grows from there!

MLA Session: Of Mice and Moles: Blue Crab Award Author Talk

This session was sponsored by the Children's Services Division of MLA.

A CSD Blue Crab Committee Member introduced the award itself. Here are the criteria for the selection of the Blue Crab Award Winner as listed on the Blue Crab website:

The committee will consider the following criteria in judging whether a book is deserving of the award or inclusion on the honor list:
Appropriateness for target age group.
Overall child appeal.
Appropriateness of text to support the needs of beginning readers:
Sentence structure
Legibility of font
Appropriate spacing of text and use of white space
Number of words per sentence
Appropriateness of vocabulary
Presentation of information, including accuracy, clarity, and organization.
Literary merit.
Quality of illustrations and how they support or extend the text.
Visual appeal, including text, layout, and graphic style or design.
Delineation of characters and setting
Appropriateness of support matter (glossary, pronunciation key, etc)
The "total package" or overall spirit of the book.

Not every one of these criteria will apply to every book, but each award-winning and notable book should be found excellent in all aspects pertinent to it. Text and illustrations will be given equal weight.

She also talked about ways in which interested persons could get involved with either upcoming Blue Crab committees or CSD. For more information on either, feel free to visit

2008's Transitional Fiction Winner, Mr. Wong Herbert Lee, was the presenter for this session. He received the award for Abracadabra! Magic with Mouse and Mole.

Throughout the presentation he showed the various stages of the books in the Mouse and Mole series. As both author and illustrator, he was able to share the illustration techniques of his books. For each cover of his Mouse and Mole series, he revealed that a different artistic technique was used.

He showed how the text placement was juxtaposed with the simplistic, yet beautiful illustrations that he created, as well as the editing process involved in creating the final product. Mr. Yee also showed how he begins his stories, with scanned images of his pre-editied stories on legal pad and notebook paper.

In addition, Mr. Yee shared some of his beginning and transitional book favorites.

Lastly, Mr. Yee showed allowed us to examine the formulas that he uses for the repetitive vocabulary and new vocabulary in his books.

It is really amazing to see how his books have come to fruition over a period of time. If you have not read his Mice and Mole series or do not have them in your library, perhaps it would be a good time to get them, as Mr. Yee informed us that there are at least two more books in the works!

Friday, May 22, 2009

MLA - All the other programs...

Staff Name: Carrie Willson-Plymire
Program: MLA Conference 2009

Session #1: Moving Reference Beyond the Desk

Frederick County's C. Burr Artz Library has implemented mobile technology to allow librarians to meet patrons "at their point of need." They formed a committee, got a grant from LSTA, and purchased Vocera one button voice communicators and Q1 mobile personal computers. About 21 hours a week folks staff the main library answering questions. The mobile librarian volunteers are cross trained in every department and do everything they can for patrons in the stacks, at the catalog, etc. Their grant expired this spring and they are working on rolling out the service to branches and training more staff (I think I have that right.) Only staff who are interested are trained so as to only have helpful librarians roving. Clever idea that.

Aha! Moment: Trained in every department. One of my greatest dislikes from a customer service point of view is sending people to another desk to have their question answered. I don't like being passed around when I am a customer, I just want an answer... Let's provide that level of service to our customers as often as we can.

Session #2: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: Ergonomics at the Library.

Nothing earth-shattering to this presentation, but very timely as we think about designing a new library and continually re-work our processes in tech services. Work smarter and safer, not harder. One of the presenters was from IWIF a company does workers comp insurance for many MD libraries. There is also good info to be had at OSHA and from Oklahoma State. Anne Wheeler a librarian from DNR presented specifically on ergonomics in the library and shared a lot of good information - always push book carts, take books off the shelf with both hands, etc...

Aha! moment: The workflow in Washington County's Tech Services dept needs to be changed asap - it's too much shelving and reshelving. Lots to think about...

Session #3: The Case of the Millennials' Mysterious Searching Habits

Lucy Holman, director of the U. of Baltimore Library presented research that she has done observing the search habits of millenials. Very interesting presentation and terrific info which she also presented at an ARLD poster session. If you are intersted in a more thorough description check out this blog from another conference attendee "spinstah."

Aha! moment: more of a question really - Are millenials really the only ones who have short attention spans, don't really understand how search works, and will settle for the first 5 results not necessarily the 5 best results? Is this more a sympton of searching in the millenium? Did I say that right?

Session #4: Now! That's what I call customer service

Julie Strange and Cathay Crosby from Maryland Ask Us Now! presented. Again I will point you to spinstah's blog for a more in-depth description of this session. Basically a good, well-presented review of quality customer service in general and as it applies to chat and email reference.

Aha! moment: Loved Julie's description (though not original to her, as she freely admitted) of rules. Rules are important to organizations, but it is more important to good customer service to be clear about which rules are hard and fast and which are guidelines. At Nordstom the only rule is "Use your best judgement." If you don't trust someone you don't hire them. Julie advocated that it be made clear which rules are "red" - cannot be broken, which are "yellow" - check with a supervisor, and which are "green" - more of a guideline. As someone who doesn't like rules too much I really appreciate this. It's important to be really clear with our supervisors and with those we supervise which rules are which color...

Great Conference -- if anyone wants to talk more about any of the programs I attended, I'd be more than happy to. - Carrie

MLA Conference

The MLA conference created a nice opportunity to attend the following sessions: The General Session: Paul Holdengraber, NYPL, shared his insights about how he found a niche in extremely competitive market The opening sessions are very crowded - so - one must get there early.

The two children's/YA author sessions featured Wong Herbert Yee for the Blue Crab Award (an award given by the CSD Division of MLA) and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (sponsored by Palinet and OCLC.) Both were quite interesting. Wong talked about the production of his book and Naylor talked about how her work was based on her real life.

The star of the presentation sessions was What's New in Young Adult Literature because Jennifer Rothschild, PG Co., had lots of handouts from YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) of ALA. She tlked a lot about YALSA's actvities as well as publications.

Partner Perfect: Connecting Libraries and Schools Through Career and Technology Education presented the Carroll Co. group. Nice presentation. However, we in Wash Co have been doing that with our Career Technology School for years. I may ask our group if they would like to present at next year's conference. My last session was with the Talk About Teens: Teen Interest Group with Stefan Freed. Stefan was ahead of the time with the "teen interest" growth because he was one of the first (if not the first) to really pay attention to that population and share that interest with the rest of us in meetings and the PSD sub-group, Teen Interest Group. He was also instrumental in first bringing Patrick Jones to Maryland.

Visiting vendors was interesting - not a huge amount specifically for Children's/YA but I came away with a box of free books. Frances was embarrased with how "bold" I was with asking for things! She was a delight to travel with and we even stopped in Cambridge for the local fried chicken, soft shell crabs and biscuits!

MLA - Knowledge Before the Need

Staff Name: Carrie Willson-Plymire
Program: MLA Preconference - Knowledge Before the Need
Presenter: Andrew Sanderbeck

Summary: A very thought provoking and entertaining workshop designed to "help supervisors, managers and team leaders grow their management and leadership skills." It was promised that we would, "get the 'Knowledge before the Need' by learning ways to help [us] better manage ourselves and others." Andrew was very engaging. Using style inventories, role-play activities, discussion, and funny video clips, we looked at ways to improve our management styles and identified strategies to employ when we returned to work.

Aha! moment #1: Andrew's main message was to make the most of every day. His first question was, "What would you change, minor or major, if you knew you only had 6 months to live?" We threw things out and discussed that question a bit - then he asked, "What makes you think you don't?" Don't have just 6 months to live, that is. Bottom line for him--make the most of every day and do whatever gives you joy. The necessary corollary there is that we should make work fun. :)

Aha! moment #2: We did yet another work style inventory, but I love these. This was a behavioral style evaluation based on "Relationship Strategies" by Tony Alessandra. It's always useful to me to get validation of strengths and weaknesses. And at least for this week, I've been more conscious of those weaknesses and am getting a bit more done (I think!)

All in all it was a very entertaining and useful workshop.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Libraries are Lifelines. Leave Them Alone.

This article was written by author Ken Davis, who was also a speaker at the MLA Conference in Ocean City. As you will see, he is a staunch supporter of the public library.

Staff: Donna Orris (aka Etta Place) Library Associate
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland, ILL and Reference

Libraries Are Lifelines. Leave Them Alone.

Michael Bloomberg may be the ultimate IT Guy. Okay, maybe that’s still Bill Gates. But the point is, Michael Bloomberg took Information and Technology and made himself an empire with Bloomberg News. Then he became King of New York –or at least Mayor, and a very good one at that, as far as I am concerned. So why would a man who built his world around IT want to cripple New York’s IT lifeline—the public library?

In case you haven’t heard, New York City’s public library systems –three separate library systems in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens—are once again under siege, on the chopping block, threatened with draconian cuts in the face of New York City’s Great Recession. (The cuts were outlined in an article in LibraryJournal–

Library cuts in down times remind me of the classic line fromCasablanca: “Round up the usual suspects.” The public library is always suspect Number One when it comes to municipal budget cuts. And as librarians everywhere know, this is not a fact in New York City alone.

Underlying this reality are two simple facts. First, libraries do not have a vocal, powerful constituency. Unlike the police, teachers and fireman, they don’t have a potent union or benevolent association. There is no “Library Lobby” doling out campaign contributions. But far worse, libraries tend to be viewed by all too many people in power as a luxury.

In many of these minds, the public library is stuck with anantiquated image of stern ladies shushing noisy kids, retirees borrowing the latest bestsellers and –more recently—homeless folk camping out in a heated corner. They are all clichés. And dumb ones at that.

I was in the bustling Mid-Manhatttan Library on Fifth Avenue recently. They had a line that the hot new Top Shop –along with all the mostly empty retailers on the street—would envy. Sure, some people were there to borrow books for free. But the public library, in case you haven’t been in one lately, is so much more than that—especially in these down times.

The public library is not just about borrowed books. It is about information –the great currency of our time. And the library has, by default, become the bridge in the digital divide because it offers free access to computers. Can you imagine in this digital day looking for a job, submitting a résumé or a college application, or searching for housing without your computer? For millions of people, the library is their laptop.

And it’s not just true in New York City. In Vermont, where the digital divide may be even greater due to economic disparity, the libraries are filled with people who need access to computers and are willing to wait for a turn. They have no choice.

Then there is education. The library is the crucial backstop to the educational system, far beyond the fundamental notion of being a “homework helper” for a school kid with a science project. From learning to read, or speak English, to having a decent place to do schoolwork or doing graduate research, the library is still a cornerstone of an educated, enlightened America.

For many people, the public library is also the visible face of the government. I’ve never been in City Hall, but I am in the library all the time. It is one functioning arm of the government that delivers a service efficiently, usually free of charge, and often with a smile and an offer of more help. Yes, librarians are NICE! Besides, when was the last time you saw a librarian being led away in handcuffs for taking bribes, fixing contracts or fudging the books?

And speaking of books. Book do change people. They can change society. Ask Harriet Beecher Stowe or Rachel Carson for starters. I could wax poetic about the importance that the public library played in my life. I’ll stop short and say that when I was growing up, the Mt. Vernon public library was as significant to me as church and school. Maybe even more.

If education and information are going to provide the means as America digs itself out the great big hole we are in, the public library is handing out the shovels. Cut or kill the libraries and you yank away a shovel.

So please, Mayor IT Guy. And Mayors anywhere else, for that matter. Leave the libraries alone. Believe me. They are not a luxury, but a lifeline.

Making the "Lions Roar"

Staff Name: Jennifer Spriggs
Workshop: General Session Paul Holdengraber - MLA 2009
Library System: Western Maryland Regional Library
Date: May 14, 2009
Summary: Paul Holdengraber of the New York Public Library opened the 2009 MLA conference with a bang by sharing his creation of and experiences with the "Live from the NYPL" event series. Hired by the NYPL to "oxygenate the library" with public programs, Holdengraber established the "Live" event series which now attracts sold-out audiences with the average age being 41. Referencing the two famous lions sitting at the entrance to the building, Holdengraber wanted to "make the lions roar" with his event series.
Instead of lecturing to the crowd, Holdengraber mimicked the cognitive theater model used in his programs and chatted with Elizabeth Cromwell and Darrell Batson in easy chairs at the front of the room. He shared his philosophy behind the live series and also some of the most memorable personalities and moments that have taken place. He wants to give the audience what they didn't know they wanted, noting the obvious challenges of creating a moment of focus, resonance and wonder in an age of distraction. He gave some practical tips to the audience, most notably to collect emails and to migrate printed stuff to email.

Aha! to share: Collect emails as much as possible - a free way to build a marketing list. Get 1 or 2 big name stars at beginning of event series. Be persistent - keep trying to get the speakers you want.
Questions to ask yourself: "How do you manage to be attentive in an age of distractions?"
Quotes that made an impression: "People need a place to learn from each other and meet each other." "If I know where imagination came from I would go there more often" "Give library staff the power to fail." "Give the license to do." "Having interests makes you interesting."
Websites to share:
Rating: Five Star

Friday, May 15, 2009

MLA Emerging Leader Award 2009

Congratulations to the much deserving Jennifer Spriggs.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What is Reference Now: Print, Database or Web Resource?

This training was presented by Helen Blumberg and Bob Burke and sponsored by the Maryland State Resource Center.

First, we looked at how libraries were traditionally viewed in the past and how the conteporary view of libraries has changed from a paper and pencil type to a more technologically oriented type of library.

Then we discussed what our roles as librarians and information specialists are in that we are to help our customers. We branched out on this topic and questioned how technology affects these roles. Think about how technological affects your roles in your library everyday.

The group was given the task to "Write down at least two suggestions or ideas that might help us ensure that our public libraries remain relevant and responsive to users." This is a good question to ask oneself!

In addition to talking about how technology impacts our work, we also looked into the interview process of people coming in with reference questions and how we would guide them to the research, as well as what the appropriate medium would be using model reference behavior.

Next we discussed the pros and cons of print sources. What do you think some of these might be?

Pros-Autjortative, well-organized, objective

Cons-Not always current, not helpful to remote customers, text heavy

Task II that we were given was to "Write down at least 3 special features of electronic databases not available in print resources." What do you think these might be?

Task III was "Does the Web have any disadvantages? List 3." What disadvantages are on your lists?

After completing these tasks, we talked about what we can use to evaluate web resources and compared and contrasted Print vs. Database resources.

Task IV: "If you didn't have Google, what would your favorite website be, and why?" This is an excellent question. We refer to Google so often, but never usually give a thought to what we would do if we didn't have it. If you have some database suggestions, please feel free to post them as a reply!

Lastly, how can we stay current on these resources and share them with colleagues. Some suggestions were:
  • Staff meetings
  • Workshops
  • Social Bookmarking through Delicious
  • Subject guides on library homepages
  • Email

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tunes, Tots, and Tweens

This was a session sponsored by the Children Services Division of the Maryland Library Association on April 20. It featured two presenters: Joe Stover, Charles County Library; and Elizabeth Rafferty, Baltimore County Public Library.

Joe Stover began the program sharing his favorite fingerplays and CD's. He also booktalked several books that are his storytime favorites and showed how he uses the books, songs, and fingerplays in his storytimes.

To get copies of these, I would suggest contacting Joe himself at

The second portion of the program presented by Elizabeth Rafferty focused on tween brain development and possible tween programming.

Liz presented us with several core values essential to serving teens. In a nutshell, they were:

  1. Respect the Unique Needs of Tweens- One important point that she made was that babies and toddlers make noise during programming and their time in the library and we don't kick them out, why should we do that to tweens? And, they are still kids struggling between being kids and being adults, and we need to recognize that they are still not fully developed.
  2. Equal Access- Tweens deserve access to the library and its materials just as much as everyone else.
  3. Youth Participation-Give them the opportunity to give input and to participate in decision making.
  4. Collaboration-Everyone needs to be focused on good customer service to tweens, not just one staff member. All customers should be treated equally!

I think one of the most interesting things that she talked about was that tweens tend to react over-emotionally to harsh criticism and words. So instead of approaching kids negatively, it would be more suitable to approach them positively and include them in the discussion rather than talking down to them. One example that was given was when a group of tweens were having loud, unruly conversations in the library. Instead of yelling at them, the librarian asked to meet with them. She had a list of rules printed out for each of them, and they were able to discuss the rules in a group dynamic and give their input on them.

Liz also presented us with many program in a box ideas. And, we even completed one of them. To see more of them go to

Also to see more about the 40 Developmental Assets for Middle Childhood (8-12) go to:

Or, you can contact Liz at

Emergent Literacy Coaching Part II: Peer Coaching for Professional Growth

This is the second half of the workshop presented by Elaine Czarnecki and Dr. Gilda Martinez, also featuring Buff Kahn, the CCPL Lead Coach.

In this second half, the facilitators discussed peer conferencing, which is something we all need if we want to improve and grow and how to give parents tips on incoporating these skill sets into their daily lives and routines.

Peer Coaching
Peer coaching usually takes the following form, although it can be changed and adapted to meet individual needs.
  • Observe one another's storytimes
  • Self-reflect (in writing) on what went well and on what could use some improvement
  • Meet to share feedback and reflect with the peer who observed you
  • Discuss and review materials

Learning from one another is extremely important and essential to creating a learning organization!

Peer coaching is an excellent way to get help and improve upon your services in a supportive enviroment. These observations are not official; they don't have strings tied to them. They are simply for the benefit of the partners who get observed and who do the observing.

Effective coaches are

  • willing to reflect on their own practices as well as their peers'.
  • aware that not everything goes perfectly and that sometimes things unravel.
  • able to share their observations in a positive and constructive manner that supports and empowers their peers.
  • respectful, supportive, reflective, and trustworthy.
  • committed to coaching on a variety of levels and performances. This is not a one time deal!

Parent Tips

Most parents are not aware of all of the research on the skill sets that their children need to be prepared for school. It is essential that we provide this information to them in the form of tips during their visits to the library. When using one of the best practices, as explained in the previous post, you can insert a brief snippet or explanation as to why you are doing something the way you are and what benefit or skill it gives the children.

Or, the tip can be given at the end of the storytime verbally or by way of a handout. One way suggested was to put it on a chalkboard or dry erase board. This works especially for those who don't feel comfortable inserting these things in the flow of a story time.

Here is one of the examples I wrote to share in story time:

"Notice how I asked the children if they knew the meaning of the word "grumpy" and then defined it for them. Research shows that it is important to define new words for kids to help build their vocabulary and to assist them in identifying and associating them with the pictures represented in various books. What's great about this is that you can work on this same skill at home by defining words that you use in everyday conversation."

Again, it may interupt the natural flow of your story time, so if you don't feel comfortable presenting this information during, you can always do so afterwards in the aforementioned ways.