Posted in Inclusivity, Partnerships

Memory Minders

With the work I do with the Library Memory Project, I always have an eye out for things related to providing programs and services to those living with dementia and their care partners. Recently, Public Libraries Online featured an article titled Memory Minders: Meaningful Engagement for those Impacted by Dementia. Now I just need to take a field trip to Ramsey County Library (MN) to check these out myself!

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Source: Alzheimer’s Speaks
Posted in Accessibility, Partnerships, Program, Teens

Take Summer Reading to the Streets

Program Description: Too often the best library programs never reach the kids most in need. We may be from Iowa, but we know that “if you build it, they will come” isn’t always true. So we found a way to go to them. Discover how the Cedar Rapids (IA) Public Library moved beyond its walls to reach children with barriers to traditional library access through strategic partnerships and volunteer support. Adapt this award-winning program to fit your community.


Jessica Link, Volunteer Coordinator , Cedar Rapids Public Library , Cedar Rapids , IA. Jessica coauthored an article in Public Libraries Magazine’s March/April 2016 issue about summer volunteer engagement.

Kevin Delecki, Programming Manager, Cedar Rapids Public Library, Cedar Rapids, IA

Handouts: Handout 1, Handout 2

My notes: 

The equation goes something like this. Partners have access to the kids + volunteers have the legs that bring the program to the kids + the library has the resources.

  • Created custom, personalized, tracking logs for each child and sheets were put into binders at the center. Extra logs in the binder if the center needed them.
  • Provided on-site checkout. Had a mini library at each center on a book cart.
  • Offered a weekly program.
  • It was about meeting the kids where they are at


Many returned from year one to participate again. Also utilized the Summer VISTA program It added a lot of diversity to the program.

Partner research (see handout 2): 

  • Are the right people at the right table?
  • Where is your target audience congregating?
  • Who is working with the kids you want to work with? For example, the food backpack program. Where do these kids go in summer?
  • Community data
    • Poverty mapping
    • Food desert mapping
    • School level – free & reduced lunch
    • Registered Section 8 HUD housing. You can search your community within the spreadsheet. Many partners have already done this work for funding so ask first!
  • Take a hard look at what your library is already doing well. Can you take what you do well and modify it for outreach? As they were modifying, they had to keep in mind that everything needed to fit in Rubbermaid containers!

Your Resources:

  • Who is your coordinator/champion that will run with it?
    • Volunteers
    • Stuff-space, staff, supplies, books

Lessons Learned: 

  • Flexibility and adaptability are key for all parties
  • Determine how you feel about lost materials. Communicate early and often to internal and external parties. Decided they didn’t really care if the books didn’t come back. Circulated 1000 books and three books didn’t come back. Kids also took home books to keep as part of the summer library program.
  • Meet with all levels of partners-from planning to training and everything in-between. Worked directly with summer staff at the YMCA at a granular day-to-day basis. Have conversations early on.
  • Share the load of work.
  • Streamline when possible – mail merge reading logs with kid’s names, duo-enrollment form (checkbox on YMCA summer camp form asking parents to enroll the child in summer library program). Also gave the data digitally for mail merge of personalized reading logs.
  • Talk about what you are going to do, do it, and talk about what you did.
  • Survey – had four questions and asked the kids one by one.

Advice for Librarians & Centers:

  • Get involved. Great investment in the library, the community, and the kids.
  • Steve Pemberton, PLA BIG IDEAS speaker, spoke about sneaking into the library. What if we sneak books to the kids? Make the library accessible to them. Bring the library to the kids.


  • Did you clear out your library stash? Secured a grant to buy 350-400 books for this program. Developed a core collection. Didn’t have to make a decision between who got the books – kids at the library or the centers.
  • Did you renew the books? Renewals depended on popularity. If they had a copy in the regular collection, they would bring that copy to the center so the child could finish reading the book.
  • Did you bring tech to the centers? Brought Launchpads (20#) and Google Nexus (10#)
  • How many centers did you partner with? The first year, they partnered with two different YMCAs. One camp was located at the YMCA and another was offered at the elementary school, but run by the YMCA.
  • What about prizes? Stepped away from the traditional prize model. Received a prize when they registered and at 600 minutes (a journal and a coupon for the Friends of the Library sale). When the kids completed the program, teens and younger got to pick a new book. Or teens could pick a coupon for the Friends of the Library sale.
  • Do the kids at the centers have to have a library card? Not necessarily. They would issue an express card which doesn’t require a parent signature and allows for e-resources and limited checkouts.

See Handout 1 for the PowerPoint used during this presentation.

Kevin Delecki and Jessica Link seemed very open to questions. Email addresses are linked above.

Posted in Early Literacy, Partnerships, Program, Staff Training

Talking is Teaching

Program title: Talking is Teaching: Opportunities for Increasing Early Brain and Language Development

Program description: Everyday interactions such as talking, reading, and singing strengthen early brain development. Libraries are uniquely positioned to support and equip parents and caregivers with tools to be their child’s first teachers. Too Small to Fail and the San Francisco Public Library will present opportunities and share materials on how to best engage families in language-rich activities so that more of America’s children are prepared for success – both in school and in life.

Presenters: Jane Park Woo, Deputy Director, Too Small to Fail, New York, NY
Maricela Leon Barrera, Early Learning Coordinator, San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA

Visit the conference website for more information or program handouts.

My notes:

This was the first concurrent program that I attended at PLA. Meaning, I had the choice of several other programs during that same time slot.

The speakers provided some research first focusing on the word gap and the importance of talking, reading, and singing. The most dramatic time for brain growth is ages 0-5.

Goals of Too Small to Fail (TSTF): Increase awareness and spark positive change in parents and communities to boost early brain and language development in children ages 0-5.

  • For parents and young children, make small moments big.
  • For communities, empower people and places to make these moments happen more often.

Too Small to Fail has free handouts in English/Spanish. All are open source.

Talking is Teaching is a campaign of Too Small to Fail that focuses on talk, read, and sing and has three main components to motivate behavior change:

1.Trusted messengers in community touch points
2.Environmental prompts & paid media
3.Tools to facilitate change

The program is powered by local and national sponsors

Meet families where they are – laundromats (Wash Time is Talk Time) — coordinated through the Coin Laundry Association (Who knew there was such a thing?), playgrounds (using conversation prompts), grocery stores, hospitals, and bus stops (ads).

Talking is Teaching is all open source and is available for co-branding. Letter for librarians, talking points to share with parents, resources for librarians.

Why did Too Small to Fail work with libraries?

  • A trusted partner in the community
  • Wide reach in every neighborhood
  • Amplify other early literacy initiatives

Why did San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) want to work with TSTF?

  • It was successful in the neighboring system, Oakland PL
  • Alignment with Every Child Ready to Read
  • Enhance early learning efforts
  • Partner in education
  • Graphics are inviting

Early Learning at San Francisco Public Library

  • Every Child Ready to Read Workshop (ECRR) – modeling storytime, key things to do while you read, and hand out talk, read, sing bags
  • Play to Learn areas in all branches
  • Storytimes in braille and ASL
  • Big SF Playdates – different centers to play in
  • Early Literacy Buffet for educators – each child care teacher was provided a bag as a trusted messenger to expand reach.

Wanted to bring in families on the margin. As an opener, they ask parents/caregivers, “How many of you talk to your kids?” Share with families about the building blocks of ECRR.


  1. Staff training from Talking is Teaching, including the why of the program
  2. Making it SFPL (local). Set up an Early Literacy Advisory Committee (note to self: ask for documentation)
  3. Reaching families

Provided Bags to Families

  • Available in Spanish and English, including a 2T shirt or baby blanket, 1 board book, 1 bilingual CD, informational notecards of milestones 0-2 and how to promote early literacy at home
  • Each librarian gets a sample bag to show people what they are talking about
  • Warm handoff of bag; make it as easy as possible to distribute to families: Opening prompt, a research tidbit, info about the campaign, invite to visit the library. Embedded message is that it is more than a bag
  • Backpack giveaways at food pantries
  • Swing Into Stories (at playgrounds)

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An example was given of Baltimore Co. Public Library’s Let’s Talk About campaign. Signage was everywhere, Let’s Talk About the Playground (in the playground), Let’s Talk about the Farm (by the play farm animals). Everything was branded.

What can you do?

1.DOWNLOAD free campaign materials:


2.DISPLAY “Talking is Teaching” posters

3.SHARE tip sheets, mini posters, and/or stickers with families

4.SPREAD the word with other librarians!


Posted in Conference, Partnerships, Program

Thursday sessions & other happenings

Today was another busy day.

Breakfast: Started the morning off by attending a breakfast hosted by Met some really great people from IL and TX. Got a few ideas from the TX person including strategies for more successful outreach.

Big Ideas: Today’s Big Ideas speaker was Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. I would have to say that this was probably my all-time favorite talk by an author. She talked about setting boundaries, saying no, living in the moment, and making time to live your passion. I am sure there was more but this was 11 long hours ago and this is what my brain is recalling at the moment! I do know that I was in awe at the ease in which she spoke in front of thousands of people. No notes and she didn’t hide behind a podium. She seemed so genuine. I would love to have coffee with her.

Exhibit Hall: I spent a good amount of time in the exhibit hall. I picked up a number of business cards of possible vendors for WLA.

Session: Talking is Teaching talked about how San Fransisco Public Library really got out into the community to talk to parents about the importance of talking and singing with their children. More on this later.

Lunch: Attended a luncheon sponsored by Innovative. Innovative is the ILS provider that our library system uses. I had a delicious chicken salad and made fast friends with the people sitting next to me. They were from New York, just outside of NYC. I told them all about what our libraries are doing with memory cafes and they were very interested. They shared with me about an app their library is using for their catalog and other services. Great opportunity to share ideas with colleagues.

Health & Literacy Center – So. Philly Branch Tour: See photo gallery.


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PLA Pavillion: Caught a portion of Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) Through Play. These pavilion talks are 20 minutes and are located within the exhibit hall, but the area is sectioned off so that the sound doesn’t interfere with the exhibits. This library talked about how every branch has a read and play area. The presenters said puppets are the cheapest and most wonderful way to make play possible in your library. All of their libraries have some form of puppet theater in them. Have a puppet making childcare training day. Showed off some items including click together foam mats which had coding type instructions on them. Encourages engagement of family members.

Session: Libraries Aren’t Neutral talked about offering civic engagement programming. More on this later.

Spark Talks: Five-minute talks by a variety of speakers (about 6) on all sorts of topics from how to get your inbox down to zero to left shark (soliciting programming ideas from all staff) to paperless holds.

Audio Publishers Association’s Dinner: Ok, this dinner I paid for. It was delicious! We heard from four authors, including Kate DiCamillo, and they all related their talks to the importance of the spoken word. It was so great hearing from the authors, two of which narrated their own books. We also left with a swag bag which included at least 10 copies of audiobooks.

A Million Books Bash: This was a celebration sponsored by Overdrive for reaching the million books mark. There was tons of food there but we had just come from dinner so didn’t partake in food, but we found dessert.


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Tomorrow is a busy day, but not as busy as today or yesterday! Phew.