Posted in PLA Conference, Planning, Program

Take this one-question survey for PLA!

Want to help guide the educational programming choices for the PLA 2020 Conference, Feb. 25-29, 2020 in Nashville? Please take this one question survey to let the programming committee know which three issues you’d most like to see addressed in the programming. The survey closes at 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, Jan. 23. 

Posted in Conference, Program

Appy Hour

internet-3113279_640I attended the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries conference in Pewaukee, WI May 2-4.

Appy Hour was a panel presentation with website extensions, websites, and app recommendations. Here’s the list I jotted down:

Website Extensions:

  • PrintFriendly Chrome Extension. Print without graphics (like ads).
  • Tab Resize – split-screen layout
  • FireShot – screenshot, like the Microsoft Snipping Tool


  • – shortened URL and QR code generator
  • – convert your photo into a PDF or JPG
  • – media bias and fact check
  • – for creating social media
  • Skitch – adding highlights or arrows to images quickly
  • – reading log and timer. like Instagram but for books. Share quick quotes, pictures, and reviews
  • – free ebooks
  • TotalBooxcom – pay for only how much you read
  • – ebook sales, book world news
  • – takes three ingredients and your leftovers and helps you put a meal together. (also an app)


  • Leio – keep track of your reading progress and habits (
  • BigOven – takes three ingredients and your leftovers and helps you put a meal together.
  • Paprika – paid app to organize your recipes, add to shopping list and sync across devices
  • Waze – social GPS. People can mark if there are accidents or slowdowns in real time.
  • GasBuddy – find and report the lowest prices for gas.
  • Dark Sky Weather – $3.99 one time fee. Totally worth it according to the presenter.
  • Kinsa – thermometer app
  • Lux Light Meter – measures brightness
  • Knitt – keeps track of rows
  • NY Times Crossword – free mini puzzle every day
  • CPR Tempo – provides beat for performing CPR
  • WhatsApp – texting service between phones and is a replacement for regular SMS text messages
  • Adobe Photoshop Express – simple photoshop editing
  • Propeller – inhaler monitor tracker for asthma and COPD. App is free, device is paid.
  • I Am Sober-Sobriety Counter – encourages you to stay sober
  • WattPad – writing of fanfic/original works. Teens love it. Upload content and get feedback on it
Posted in Outreach, PLA Conference, Planning, Program

MakMo: The LA County Library’s MakerMobiles

I’m almost done blogging about PLA 2018! Here you will learn about LA County Library’s MakerMobiles.

Program Description: Want to offer STEM programming but don’t have room for a makerspace? Thinking about how your library can go mobile? Learn about LA County Library’s new MakMo makermobiles, which offer STEM and maker programming to 87 libraries and a service area spanning 3,000 square miles. Session highlights include detailed descriptions of the vehicle and equipment, lessons learned rolling out this new mobile, service, and sample maker programs to take back to your own library.


Leticia Polizzi, Adult Services Manager
Palos Verdes Library District, Palos Verdes, CA

Jesse Walker-Lanz, Adult & Digital Services Administrator
County of Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA


PPT – MakMo, FactSheet – MakMo

My Notes:

Budget: The start-up budget total was $250,000 including vehicle, equipment and staffing.

Team: Get your procurement team/purchasing department on board right away

Vehicle: Patrons don’t go on the vehicles. Staff only go on to get materials. Maker activities happen outside of the vehicle.

Staffing: a library staff member drives the vehicle and doesn’t need a special license.

Equipment: kids can make stuff and take it home (make dos). Have Ozobots, 3D printing (very popular), circuits – Little Bits and Snap Circuits, robotics – Lego Mindstorms and Cubelets, building – KEVA planks (also great for de-stressing during exam week). See the factsheet for more equipment.

Community promotion: Created promo material to say the MakMo was coming. Also went to library grand openings with MakMo. See promo and schedule.




Posted in Early Literacy, Program

ECRR: Keeping Adults Engaged

I attended an Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) mini-session, which was 20 minutes long.

Saroj Ghoting, Early Childhood Literacy Consultant ECRR Storytime Challenge: Encouraging Adult Engagement
Children can take their cues from their caring adults. Facilitating interactions between the children and their adults not only can make storytime more fun and engaging, but also lays a foundation for building literacy and learning together. Get some ideas, share your ideas, in this whirlwind session.

I am always game for hearing Saroj Ghoting, Early Childhood Literacy Consultant, speak. This session primarily focused on how to get adults engaged during storytime (and off of their phones). We want to keep adults engaged during storytime so that they will keep doing early literacy interaction at home.

A lot of the time, one of the main reasons parents come to storytime is to talk to other parents. A big way they learn about parenting is parent-to-parent.

  • Give the adults a role to play (not, Let’s do this together.). Every 2nd or 3rd item, think of ways to make it more interactive.
  • Nametags: give to children and then give them to the adults. If you don’t give name tags to anyone, okay, but if you are giving them to the kids, then give them to the adults, too. If you give the adults a name tag, it gives them the impression that they are part of it.
  • Sing, talk, read, write, play to the tune of Skip to My Lou.
  • How to make things you are already doing more interactive? Using the book Too Noisy! Give parents a part to play, “too noisy.”
  • Jump, Frog, Jump!: have kids jump, parents say “How did the frog get away?” a repetitive phrase
  • The Cow Loves Cookies: Parents say: “But the cow loves…. ” and the kids say: “Cookies!”
  • While turning pages, parents say “flip,” kids say “swish.” You don’t need to do it with every book.
  • Round: spot things in the room that around round
  • Hickory Dickory Dock: children as mice and parents as clock. Saroj said, “It’s hard to be on your phone and be a clock at the same time.” LOL 🙂
  • Yoga: Stories, Songs, and Stretches: Creating Playful Storytimes with Yoga and Movement by Katie Scherrer. Incorporate yoga into storytime. Many adults like yoga
  • Crafts: not one per child, one per person! Let the adults work on their own and they can make a perfect one. 🙂 Children and adults can have interaction with the craft/activity.
  • Boxes: use a box and pictures from discarded books as the sides of the box. These boxes can be used as conversation starters. I remember Saroj saying the person she learned this about has now gotten these down to a science and has made them so they are collapsible for storage. See image below.
  • Play a matching game with sounds. Rhyming kitten and mitten. See image below.
  • Think experiences. Experiences pull people together. Create a ride the train experience. Set up chairs, collect tickets, modeling talk around the experience. See image below.
  • Do It Yourself/Do It Together Storytime (Phoenix, AZ). Cards have suggestions. Check out
  • Sneak things in here and there and over time your storytimes will be more engaging
  • Audience comment: Offer a family evening storytime. Have people arrive 30 minutes before closing so they can pick up material and check it out. Then they stay for the story time after hours. People love after-hours events!
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 Accessibility, Inclusivity, Program, Staff Training

Moving from Compliance to Inclusion

Presented by: Cristen Williams, Library Service Manager for Customer Experience
Arlington Public Library, Arlington, Texas

Program Description: What started as a simple task of making our buildings more accessible became a movement within our library to change the way we see patrons with disabilities. From accessibility projects to programming, we will discuss how our library system identified areas in our service model that needed to change and worked together as a team to make our libraries more inclusive for all patrons with disabilities.

  • Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities-is an organization of citizen volunteers dedicated to helping Arlington become fully accessible for all people with disabilities. Their charge began with secret shopping the libraries.
  • handicap-2059210_640Secret shopped the libraries-The libraries were provided with suggestions for easy fixes that included things like moving the step stools from under roll under stations and placing a sign nearby that says “Place stool here.”  It took the staff and patron some time to get the hang of it, but now the stools get put in their proper place. It was also noted that the lines for handicap accessible parking needed to be re-painted. All changes made to the libraries were paid for by the city (Arlington, TX).
  • Confirmed that library staff are knowledgeable about programs and services

Following the secret shopper experience, a customer service committee was created to evaluate current services, with a focus on technology for the buildings and to create specialized programming for people with disabilities. As they were plugging away on this committee work, they realized that they were developing programs based on what they thought their community needed rather than asking patrons what they wanted.

The committee decided to take a step back and start with some community conversations. They met with 55 groups and over 200 individuals and asked what they wanted from their library. What they learned during these community conversations led them to a change in focus. Listening to what the community had to say, they realized that they could integrate elements into existing programs:

  • For children’s programs, like the Touch-A-Truck program where emergency vehicles are available for kids to climb in and touch. To make this event more accessible, it was suggested that they add one hour without sirens and lights; they offered a summer reading program for those with visual impairments; held Robotics and STEM club for kids on the autism spectrum; and offered a special needs storytime, which is geared toward kids with special needs but is open to all.
  • For adults, they started offering job coaching at independent living centers, held a vision fair, and offered seminars to parents and caregivers
  • Staff training. Staff would ask, “Why are you making us do this?” Explained compliance – what we have to do vs. what do we want to do. Explain to staff why you are making changes. Current training includes ableist language awareness. Ableist language is any word or phrase that intentionally or inadvertently targets an individual with a disability. Examples of ableist language include “crazy,” “insane,” “blind,” and “deaf.”
  • Volunteers included persons with disabilities. Volunteers logged 652 hours in 2017.

What can you do?

  • Discover. Ways to see your library through different eyes
  • Question. Talk to your community to find out what is needed
  • Adapt. facilities, equipment, programs, and services (and attitude!)

For more information, visit the PLA Conference page for this session: Program handout available here.