How authors and illustrators can touch us… beyond their work

How authors and illustrators can touch us… beyond their work

The few times I have reached out to authors that I like I have been surprised at how accommodating and communicative they are! Not that I have reason to think that wouldn’t be the case. I just wouldn’t think that responding on Twitter or via email to little ol’ me would on their radar… let alone a priority.

My daughter used to love the Nancy Tafuri books Have You Seen My Duckling? and Goodnight, My Duckling. We were curious about some of the animals included in some of the illustrations and reached out to her. She responded via email and gave us a list of the animals (with their scientific names!!) on each page.

Thank you so much for getting in touch with me about  Have You Seen My Duckling?

I am so happy your ‘Little One’ is enjoying my duck books!
I’m including a list of all the creatures from both books for your reference just in case another
question may arise…the crested bird is a Great Crested Grebe ~ (with artists liberty!)
Happy reading and enjoy your summer!
All my best,
Fluted Swallowtail,  (Papilio) – (through out)
Mallard with ducklings, (Anas platyrhynchos) – (through out)
Green Heron, – (Butorides virescens) 
Beaver, – (Castor fiber)
Painted Turtle,– (chrysemys picta) (through out)
Black Bullhead Catfish, – (Ameiurus melas)  
Large Mouth Bass, – (Micropterus salmoides)
Spotted Salamander, – (Ambystoma maculatum)
Crayfish, – (Procambarus clarkii)
Green Frog, – (Rana clamitans)
Stagnant Pond Snail, – (Lymnaea stagnalis)
(Beetle) Backswimmers, – (Notonectidae)
Great Crested Grebe with chicks, – (Podiceps cristatus)
Recently my daughter and I made the recipe for apple cake that Julie Paschkis includes in the back of her beautiful book Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love. We had so much fun and it was so delicious that I took a picture and sent it to her through social media. I told her that we followed her grandmother’s recipe just the way Alfonso did in the book, down to the 3 wishes.
2015-07-19 17.27.07-1
She promptly and kindly wrote back telling us she was so glad we made the cake and that she hopes all of our wishes come true. I was beaming and couldn’t wait to share what she said with my daughter.
Finally, several months ago I saw several people talking about Jackie Morris’  UK library card designs. I reached out just to tell her how fantastic I thought they were. After a few exchanges online she sent me a few of the cards in the mail FROM WALES and several post cards of her art work. It was a truly magical moment opening them up. Get ready for some pictures!
Here are the actual library cards:

2015-07-28 14.26.202015-07-28 14.26.322015-07-28 14.26.43Imagine pulling those out of your pocket every time you were checking out materials from the library!
And these are some of the post cards:
2015-07-28 14.26.55
2015-07-28 14.27.09 2015-07-28 14.27.25 2015-07-28 14.27.38 2015-07-28 14.27.52 2015-07-28 14.28.09 2015-07-28 14.28.24 2015-07-28 14.28.34 2015-07-28 14.29.14 2015-07-28 14.29.38 2015-07-28 14.29.53
And it was all wrapped in this beautiful paper and tied with a string.
2015-07-28 19.35.06
It was like getting my letter from Hogwarts. Pure magic. And if you haven’t seen this video of Jackie Morris reading and talking about her beautiful book Tell Me A Dragon, you must see it! She gives some wonderful insight to the world she created and her voice is like the smoothest cream… or maybe the softest velvet.

They do what they do because they want people to love stories, words, pictures, and reading. I know I wouldn’t get the same response from every single author. But I have only contacted the ones that make a particular impression on me, leave me wanting more, or questioning. Perhaps it is this quality that reaches out to me from their work that makes me feel compelled to to make it a two way street… to thank them for sharing their talents with the world.

These experiences will definitely make me encourage the youth patrons I come into contact with to reach out to the authors that mean something to them. If I feel the magic of these moments, imagine what a must happen to a budding, young impressionistic mind when they are touched in this way. I will always do whatever I can to encourage that love.

Play Land the Helicopter Game Made with @Scratch

Play Land the Helicopter Game Made with @Scratch

I just created a Land the Helicopter game using Scratch!

Press the green flag to let gravity lower the helicopter down on to the platform. Use the left, right, and up arrow keys to maneuver around the clouds. Hit one and the game is over. Land on the platform and you win! Press the green flag to begin again. Happy landings!

Please let me know if you find any bugs!

via Land the Helicopter Game! on Scratch.

Some Free Professional Development Resources For Librarians

Some Free Professional Development Resources For Librarians

I am so excited to see that the Colorado State Library is expanding their training website! I utilized some of their modules in a library customer service training I did. They are apparently going to be including Makerspace programming, potential funding opportunities, and resources.

The Tampa Bay Library Consortium also has a great website, Florida Library Webinars, with tons of free webinars. Anyone can view the archived content, but only Florida librarians are able to attend live webinars.

I also recently ran across this round up of free resources that Chris May and Don Boozer presented at the Ohio Library Council Chapter Conference that I found worth pinning and sharing!

Keep on learning!

via Colorado State Library Expands Online Training Site.

#TXLA16 Robotics presentation

#TXLA16 Robotics presentation

Just got word that my proposal for a session on robotics programming at the 2016 Texas Library Association Annual Conference  has been accepted! The session, Bleep! Blorp! Books! Robots in the Library:  How to Sustain a Robotics Program @ Your Library, is tentatively scheduled for Thursday of the conference, April 21st. Headed to Houston in the spring!! 😀

Public Librarians as STEM Educators?

Public Librarians as STEM Educators?

The Space Science Institution is a nonprofit organization that does R&D and education to make science accessible. They created an education branch called the National Center for Interactive Learning. One of the NCIL’s projects is called the STAR (Science-Technology Activities and Resources) Library Education Network. Also known as Star_Net, they have an online community where librarians can collaborate, they offer training, and give information about grants for libraries to produce STEM programming.

I am reading a report paper called The Accidental STEM Librarian: An Exploratory Interview with Eight Librarians from John Baek from Star_Net. As the title states, it is presented as a case study after an interview process with eight librarians on the state of STEM activities in libraries. Baek seems to be asking whether public librarians should be acting as STEM educators. He points to the fact that STEM topics are not part of our extended education and that many librarians admit to having STEM anxiety. He notes that librarians interviewed stated that they didn’t feel qualified to be “teaching” science since they are not scientists. And, most importantly, these hesitations can come across to our patrons. If we aren’t enjoying it, they won’t be either. These are all barriers to providing quality STEM programming in the public library setting.

Having worked with librarians to get them started on a robotics program in their public library, I can say that I have seen all of these issues. I am always suggesting that public libraries should find a hole in their community and figure out a way to fill it. Parents are wanting to find ways to get kids, especially girls, more interested in STEM activities and it is crucial that the future workforce have an understanding and interest in these areas. So this is an obvious hole at the moment! We can fill it… and many actively are! But should we be? I have asked myself this many times.

My initial reaction is… yes. We are not presenting ourselves as experts and we are merely trying to spark an interest. As we so often say, “We don’t know the answers but we know how to find them!” But it can be difficult to say, “Come see me talk about and demonstrate robotics!” when you have little to no training or experience on the subject… hence Baek’s use of the term “accidental STEM librarian”. Many STEM librarians I know suggest that when you run into something you don’t know the answer to admit to it and work with the patron to figure it out. This is a great example to children of curiosity and critical thinking which is exactly the point of providing STEM programming. But that can only get you so far… does it get us far enough?

Getting past the anxieties mentioned above takes a real interest in the topic. Someone who doesn’t have an interest or curiosity should not be dictated to run a STEM program. That means that if a public library is going to offer STEM programming, it will end up being driven by someone who has experience or an interest. If no one on staff has that interest, will the library simply not offer this to their community? It is pretty standard for public libraries to offer a storytime. It isn’t really an optional part of being a youth services librarian. At what point will STEM programming be as standard as storytime? And how will our education change to drive that?

There are many gaps in LIS education. You aren’t taught how to do a storytime even though, if you are a youth services librarian, it is a big and very public part of your job. If we were to try to educate ourselves on all of the possible topics that we have programs on, we would NEVER finish with our formal education. At what point does this need to be talked about in LIS programs?

Baek concludes that we can use typical librarian skills such as the reference interview to boost our confidence to provide this kind of inquiry-based programming.

In one sense STEM is no different than what the library has always done, which is provide learning opportunities that help them fuel new interests, support career development, and engage in lifelong learning. When seen from this broad mission of the public library, providing STEM is just business as usual.