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