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.

Emergent Literacy Coaching Part I

This workshop was presented by Elaine Czarnecki and Dr. Gilda Martinez in order to update Children Services Librarians on the current research on how to get children prepared for school and started reading and how librarians can incorporate this information into their best practices.

Some of the main points:
Literacy is so very important, and it is so necessary to start reading to children even before they begin walking and talking. The pre-school years are especially critical to reading and language development. Adults having conversations with and talking to their children is one of the main ways in which language is acquired.

The following are skills are listed as part of the Voluntary State Curriculum that all kids should know:
  • Vocabulary and Language Development: Children need to be able to gain meaning by listening and speak clearly and convey ideas effectively. Adults can assist in developing this skill by reading to their children and pointing out characters and objects, as well as having conversations with their kids (whether they can talk or not).
  • Phonological Awareness and Sensitivity: It is very important for children to also be able to recognize the different sounds in words so that they can link them to certain letters, which will assist them in developing their vocabularies as well as writing. Adults can assist in developing this by teaching their children rhymes and poetry, songs, and games, and reading books that focus on different sounds.
  • Print Motivation: Children learn what they see. So, if they see their parents are reading and writing, they are more likely to do so themselves. In addition, it is important to have things to read around the house, to give books often, and bring kids to the library to develop these skills. Also, it is essential that parents give kids many opportunities to use their writing skills in differing ways and to give the kids praise for making efforts.
  • Letter Recognition: Preschool children start to recognize letters and learn the alphabet song. It is necessary for parents to start reading alphabet books with their kids and having foam or magnetic letters for them to start using. Also, examining shapes, symbols, and letters in reading help children to develop this skill.
  • Knowledge of Narrative or Story Structure: It is necessary for children to understand the structure of stories. This can be developed by having kids structure their own stories or participate in the re-telling of their favorite stories
  • Comrprehension and Responding to Text: Many testing mechanisms require that children have this skill. To develop this, parents should talk to children about the basic concepts of stories, the events, encourage them to predict outcomes, and create connections between the events and the characters.

The overall goal of these skills is to have children prepared for school. Librarians can use these development practices in their story times, as well as their book groups. Moreover, they can also encourage parents to use these and practice at home. It makes it much easier for parents to incorporate these things if someone has modeled the behavior for them.

The presenters also provided a wonderful resource online where you can get more information on the emergent literacy skills. It is

Click on Emergent Literacy under the Projects heading

For Children Services Librarians and people who work with children in general developing these skill sets is a must!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Leading From Any Position I

Staff Name: Tracy Carroll
Workshop: Leading from Any Position I
Library System: Western Maryland Regional Library
Date(s): 4/8/09 & 4/9/09

Summary: This was a great workshop and I would recommend it to all staff. It was a very eye-opening experience. I've gone through other leadership workshop when I worked in my previous job, but they were all "business" focused. Kind of like this is what a "good leader" would do instead of this is how a "good leader" should interact. This was more about how we can relate to others and still lead and targeted problem-solving.

The one concept that we spent most of the first day on was about Enneagrams. If you ever taken Myers-Briggs, it's similar to that, but different. Once I looked at the different personality types and how different they are it gave me a new perspective on how to talk to people and how to motivate them considering what my personality type is. I'm the "Enthusiast", I need to be happy and plan fun things, contribute to the world and avoid pain. Who doesn't already know that about me?! It was funny to talk to other people who think the same way, here all this time I thought I was crazy!

The second day was focused more on problem solving. It taught a new concept for me of a disciplined model. It was a different approach to problem solving for me because it was more direct and exact, like staying focused on the task at hand and not getting distracted. I'm going to do better with that because sometimes I feel like I have 10 fires that I'm managing every day and I instead need to delegate more. Easier said than done, but at least now I recognize the challenge and know how to deal with it better.

Overall, it was an excellent seminar. Normally when I go to seminar I spend time thinking about what I could be doing at work, but this seminar I can honestly say that I was engaged and learning. It was a good learning experience for me.

Aha!s to Share: I know that everyone is different, but learning about the Ennegrams really helped me to understand others and how I should interact with them. Setting Groundrules was another concept that I think well help to get the most out of a meeting.

Questions to ask yourself:

1. Am I delegating what can be delegated?
2. Am I enabling people by not delegating or not explaining for their understanding?

Quotes that made an impression: Understanding the different states of consciousness - "Unconscious Incompetence", "Conscious Incompetence", "Conscious Competence", & "Unconscious Competence". That was a light-bulb moment for me and recognizing the difference between them and that some people are at different levels of change.

Friday, April 17, 2009

6 Free Webinars from Nonprofit Technology Conference 2009

From the Wild Apricot blog,

On April 27 and 28, 2009, NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) will be partnering up with ReadyTalk to offer six sessions from this year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (2009 NTC) in the form of free webinars. You’ll be able to hear the presentations, see the slides, and chat your questions to the speakers. (If you’re new to NTEN, you’ll just need to set up a new visitor login to register for the webinars.) Effectively, we’re talking here about two full days of high-quality — free! — professional development for your nonprofit's staff and volunteers:

Google Media: Google Grants, Blogger, YouTube, Maps
10:30am - 12:00pm (US/Pacific)
Learn how to use YouTube, Google Maps/Earth, Google Grants, and Blogger to promote your organization and cause on a limited budget.

Online Organizing for Community Organizers (and vice versa)
1:30pm - 3:00pm (US/Pacific)
This session explores the differences between community and online organizing, resulting in a road map for community organizations starting to use online organizing tools.

DIY Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
3:30pm - 5:00pm (US/Pacific)
Gain an understanding of SEO and how it applies to your website; how, where, and why to do keyword research; and an SEO “roadmap” to take away with you.

Unleashing the Ultimate Cool Factor: Case Studies of Conferences Energized Through Social Media
9:29am - 12:00pm (US/Mountain)
Takeaways from this session will include ideas and tools for building buzz, engaging your audience, and reaching beyond the conference to enable the long tail.

Confessions of a Social Media Campaigner
1:30pm - 3:00pm (US/Pacific)
Panelists from different nonprofits will share what they’ve learned in executing some of the most successful social media campaigns, as well as what has not worked and why.

What nonprofits can learn from the presidential campaigns’ (and other nonprofits’) 2008 online efforts
3:30pm - 5:00pm (US/Pacific)
MyBarackObama, Ron Paul Money Bombs, the rise of the small donor… this session looks at how the tactics of political campaigns can be adapted by non-profits in their work.

For more information, or to register for any of these webinars, please visit

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

GIS and Digitization -

I attended two very different workshops too close together but here’s the kernel

GIS for librarians. Geographic Information Systems allows one to geo-reference data – that is, add location information. We all know the library created maps like and*q . My interest was in creating a map, using a historic base map and adding the locations I wanted or the layers of information.

It was a very busy day, and it was clear early that other people in the class wanted to do the more conventional type, using census data on a standard map of the county or state. I need to try to implement the method that was mentioned to use the historic map as the base and add points, lines and polygons on it, and labels. Look for an amazing map of the C&O Canal to appear on Whilbr shortly.

What other librarians in the region may find of interest was the free mapping software that was introduced:

GRASS – Geographic Resources Analytics Support System
Google Earth – free educational license – apply

The Business and Government Information Center at the Washington County Free Library has ArcInfo which is the gold standard for mapping software.

The Digitization for Preservation and Access conference held at the National Archives in Washington DC was power packed with important people from the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, National and Maryland Archives, so a lowly public librarian thoroughly enjoyed herself. Lots of discussion about whether we digitize photographs and manuscripts to preserve them, or for access (the answer of course is both), and discussion about how and with what. The afternoon session with the practitioners was most useful – librarians from Princeton Library, the Michigan Archives, and the University of Denver described the large task ahead of them to digitize their holdings – the Princeton Librarian said he had accomplished .00011% of his task.

Without a doubt the prize for the most exciting webpage displaying historical materials – . As soon as we come up with the funding and Tracy finds the time and realizes the importance of Whilbr, look for being able to create your very own posters and movies from Western Maryland historical material !

Monday, April 13, 2009

REFolution Conference in Hershey PA

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the REFolution Conference sponsored by PALINET, now called Lyrasis.

The pre-conference was a QuestionPoint user's group meeting. It was certainly nice to be able to put faces with names of the QuestionPoint staff. It was also nice to hear how other states like PA and NJ are utilizing the service. MD is certainly ahead of the curve as far as marketing and training.

One of the more useful breakout sessions I attended was entitled The READ Scale: Using Qualitative Data to Record Levels of Effort and Expertise in Answering Reference Questions. Instead of hash marks which we all do to keep track of Reference statistics, the READ scale measures the quality as well as quantity. The
R - Reference
E - Effort
A - Assessment
D - Data
scale is a six point sliding scale that asks librarians to assign a number based on effort, knowledge, skill, and teachable moment instead of a hash mark.

Lynn Berard of Carnegie Mellon University and Bella Karr Gerlich of Dominican University developed the scale in order to more accurately measure what reference librarians are really doing.

The system seems pretty easy to implement, but employee buy-in is critical to make it work. If done properly a library will be able to accurately access how hard its librarians are really working and when are the busiest times of the day. For more information on this link here: THE READ SCALE

The other session that I also found particularly interesting was Meeting User Needs Through New Reference Service Models. This presentation focused on things like Reference desk design, signage, and handheld devices. Something as simple as having the patron sitting at the Reference desk to have a one-on-one interaction can make a difference. I also particularly like the idea of dual monitors so the patron can see on her own monitor what the librarian is doing.

Penn State library did a study on handheld devices that can be seen here. If your library is interested in purchasing this kind of device you should check this out.

Overall I found it a worthwhile conference, but like so many of the larger library conferences it was academically oriented and I would really like to see a conference geared toward public libraries and their unique needs.

Leading From Any Position I

Staff Name: Jennifer Spriggs

Workshop: Leading from Any Position I, Columbia Hilton

Library System: Western Maryland Regional Library

Date: April 8th and 9th

Summary: I attended this workshop with three other library staff members from Western Maryland - Tracy Carroll (WMRL), Frances Lockley (WCFL/WMRL), and Krista McKenzie (REGAR), which was facilitated by Becky Schreiber and John Shannon. I think that the overall goal of the workshop was to empower the library staff attending the session. During the two days we looked at the five disciplines of a learning organization, the 9 enneagram styles and how they apply to leading learning organizations, delegating, and creative problem solving.

Aha!s to share:

By creating groundrules for a work team you can perform more efficiently and effectively. Use the following questions to help move group towards a decision: Are we ready to make a decision? What do we need to make a decision? What decision have we made? What actions are required? Who is going to do them and by when?

Questions to ask yourself: From my position, what can I do to create a learning library?

Quotes that made an impression:

"Delegation is to continually develop people who report to you to the extent that they can eventually perform the tasks better than you."

"Where you focus your attention your energy will follow."

Websites to share: Wiki:

Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5 - I'd highly recommend this workshop to anyone in any position at a library!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Monday @ Computers in Libraries

Monday at Computers in Libraries ~ Web Design & Development Track!

It’s always exciting to go to CIL as there is always something new to learn and this year was no exception. Sometimes being the lone tech person in the department it can be at times challenging to find out what’s new because I tend to be busy with “work”. But I always love new challenges and there is a lot of stuff out there that I’d love to get my hands into if I had an extra 20 hours in the week to “play” with the latest gadgets and gizmos.

The one session that I enjoy tremendously is the 40 Cool Tools for Library Webmasters. These are the items that I’m going to take a “serious” look at:
  • FancyZoom (It’s takes code and drops it on the picture for you to be able to Zoom in and out on the picture. Jill would love it but, shhhh, don’t tell her about it because she’ll want me to add it today and it may be a little more complicated than what it looks on her platform.)
  • UniForm (looks nice, but I usually hate generated code because you have to clean it up sometimes and I have enough trouble looking through my own code. So it’s a definite, I’ll look to see what it can do to know whether or not I like it.)
  • EasyPHP (I’m always looking to learn a new language and this may help me get motivated to learn it more. PHP and mySQL, I could build the next Content Management system using free code.)
  • Texter (a totally geeking thing to do, but when all you do is copy code all day, it would be nice to have something like this. I keep Notepad pinned to my “START” because I use it so much to clean up code, how geeky is that!)
  • ColorWizard (color coordinated web colors, how cool is that? It could also help me to pick out my outfits to know what colors go together. Cool even if you’re not a programmer!)
  • Personal Fonts (I think this is totally cool, although speaking as a programmer it’s not going to do much to add it to a website or anything, but I could definitely use it in Photoshop. My other thought that it was dangerous and could lead to forgery, etc., etc. Only a geek would think of something like this.)
  • More Pie (I don’t think it will measure up to Crystal Reports, but it’s definitely worth a look.)
  • (What’s not to love about it, it’s a fun “code” website, I’m sure there is lots of good stuff there.)

Another interesting concept that was presented had to do with Mobile apps. I have an iPod touch so the internet for me works like it does on my computer. But I realize that for users with regular mobile phones, not all websites will work well unless there is a “mobile” version of it. There’s a nice Open Source app that will make it easy to do, so it’s definitely something that I’ll need to do for my websites, but it will take some consensus about what needs to be there since less is more and sometimes it’s hard to get my “Librarian” friends to see that “less is more”. I still love them though, even if they love information! :-)

I have to say that all of the sessions were interesting but there was one in particular that I found myself asking the question, “why am I here?” Ugh, it was dreadfully boring, and I wasn’t the only one who felt it, there were actually people getting up and walking out. I felt bad for the commentator because evidently he didn’t know that he was that boring. It wasn’t that he didn’t have anything to say, it was just like a flashback of when you were in school listening to the professor go on and on and you just felt like, ugh, is it over yet? I won’t mention what the session was, but if you were there, you know what session I’m talking about!

Well, that’s my summary of my session at Computers in Library 2009! I was dreadfully sick that day; I hope that I didn’t pass along my “cooties” to anyone else while I was there. I tried to not sit too close to anyone and it helped that enrollment was down so there were quite a few empty seats around. When I finally got home later that evening, my temperature was 100.1, but despite the illness, it was definitely a learning experience!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tuesday @ Computers in Libraries

I attended sessions of the "Next Gen Catalogs" track. To start the day, Marshall Breeding, Director of Innovative Technology for Vanderbilt University, spoke about the Global Library Automation Scene.
  • First thought -- when are we going to create a "Director of Innovation" position?!
  • First chuckle -- In reference to his annual reports (published every April) in LJ (Library Journal) about library automation, "2007 saw the demise of the traditional OPAC" oh, if only that were so, Marshall!
  • Breeding thinks consortia are cool - more libraries are taking advantage of the opportunity to share resources
  • ISIS is the most popular platform in the rest of the world (this is a technology developed and distributed by UNESCO)
  • Changing ILS (Integrated Library Systems) requires a lot of current pain or a load of benefits for user interaction
  • The successful pitch is one that enables significant transformation toward a new vision of the library (I liked that!)
  • Libraries find themselves needing/wanting a series of dis-integrated products: RFID, link resolvers, federated search, self-check, etc...
  • What does an integrated library system look like?

Session 2: Library Automation Highlights
Speakers Stephen Abram - VP Innovation for SirsiDynix
Phil Green - Chief Tech Officer for Inmagic
Neil Block - VP of Worldwide sales for Innovative Interfaces

These guys talked about their products--what is new, exciting, etc...

Stephen Abram - much of his time was spent defending against open source
  • He talked about new SchoolRooms product and touted research that SD has done one how k-12 students learn (tracking eye movement on web pages
  • Said that servers are the second largest polluters after automobiles (huh) as a stick to get us all moving to SaaS where our data is stored on a server farm. He said this would net us 50% in annual savings...I think this savings is only realized if you can downsize your IT department and would also depend on how often you need to buy a new server, but I could be wrong.
  • Talked a bit about their new web interface, Enterprise, which has faceted search - a clever bit of programming that creates three-letter combinations of search words and then searches the material database for these three letter combinations - the idea is that the chances of the search returning what you want, no matter your spelling, are better.
  • Abrams spent most of his time mentioning all the cool stuff that folks have done with API like getting YouTube video reviews linked in to their catalog. All great stuff, but none of it 'out of the box' from SD - all of it (I'm pretty sure) from the SD API user community.
  • If I hadn't known that he was with SirsiDynix I would't have recognized anything he was talking about in terms of what I see on my servers... but good for him for being in the clouds
Phil Green - Inmagic
  • company deals primarily with special libraries
  • content-centric socialization combining book smarts with street smarts
Neil Block
  • New product is named Encore (what is it with "E" products this season?)
  • Looks like a terrific interface and will work with any competitors products as a front end overlay. We could have Unicorn in the background (and Marina) and Encore as our public interface.
  • relevancy ranking
  • powerful "did you mean" searching
  • metadata clouds
  • integrated federated searching
  • 2.0 tagging, reviews and rankings
  • integrated program registration and databases (so that if I search for Gatsby - I'll get all the Big Read programs, the book, and Literature database options returned on my search results!)
  • harvests digital archives - like WILBR
  • hold option and holdings are on the results page
  • 160 libraries are using it now, like Scottsdale Public Library
Session 3: Library Website and Library Catalog - One Stop!
Presented by Howard County's Amy DeGroff (Director of Information Technology) and Danny Bouman (Web designer)
  • Using the LibX browser tool bar on all public and staff computers and offering it for download
  • They (Danny) has built a content management system that you can see on their newly redesigned web site
  • media wall
  • mass mailer functionality
  • easy staff interface (much like the one that Tracy has built for WCFL )
  • form creation and management using technology from
  • Google analytics so that they know what pages are being visited (like Tracy set up for WCFL)
  • New and Hot items - SQL script runs every night that takes their new items (6 mo. worth) and goes to Amazon to pull cover image and sales rank -- the CMS then shows items that are new and hot on Amazon that the library owns! neato
  • It's very can read about their process with the CMS and their migration to Koha (open source software) at their blog where Amy said they would be releasing the code for their CMS today! Wow - very cool. Love open source...
Long way to go, but interesting topics and I got to see the cherry blossoms blooming around the mall in DC thanks to a wrong turn.