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.

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)

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 11.37.07 AM

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 Accessibility, Cultural Compentency, Inclusivity, Program, Staff Training

PLA 2018 Highlights – a webinar

PLA 2018 Conference Highlights (webinar recording)
Thursday, April 12 at 10 a.m. CST

PLA 2018 Highlights initial screen for webinarWisconsin was well represented at the Public Library Association Conference in Philadelphia. Several of us will be sharing some of our experiences and we’d love for you to join us.

You’ll hear from Jean Anderson, Continuing Education Consultant for the South Central Library System, Cindy Fesemyer, Director of the Columbus Public Library; Leah Fritsche, Director of the Deerfield Public Library; Heidi Cox, Director of the E.D. Locke Public Library in McFarland; Erin Williams Hart, Adult Services Librarian for the Sun Prairie Public Library, and Angela Meyers, Coordinator of Youth and Inclusive Services for Bridges Library System and the PLA Liaison to WLA.

Posted in Accessibility, Cultural Compentency, Inclusivity, Program, Staff Training

PLA in a Nutshell

With the WAPL – PLA Chapter Liaison position, I was asked to present at the Wisconsin Library Association Board Meeting on April 6, 2018, about my PLA experience.

Here’s my re-cap:

WAPL – PLA Chapter Liaison Report, April 2018

My name is Angela Meyers and I am the Coordinator of Youth and Inclusive Services for the Bridges Library System. I applied for the PLA Liaison position because I love attending our own state conference and could only imagine what a nationwide conference would be like. I was so excited to learn that I was selected as the WAPL – PLA Chapter Liaison for the next two years.

The PLA Liaison position is fairly new; I was given some guidelines but also the freedom to make it my own. From what I gathered, the position involves a lot of information gathering and dissemination. I decided to blog about my experience at Diary of a PLA Liaison: (click on the follow me button on the right hand side of the blog to sign up for e-mail notifications).

The trip to Philadelphia was good, albeit a little stressful with the Nor’easter on its way. Fortunately I arrived on Tuesday, the day the snow was just starting to fall and missed the flight cancellations that affected travellers across the country. I shared a hotel room with Jean Anderson, from SCLS, which was not only a huge cost savings but also fun.

Approximately 6,000 people attended the PLA Conference in Philadelphia. The conference started on Tuesday with pre-conference offerings and ran through early Saturday afternoon. There was always something to do including the choice between 100 concurrent sessions.

Wednesday kicked off by attending Book Buzz to learn about the newest adult titles dropping soon, then off to a luncheon sponsored by Ebsco. I attended the Opening Session with former U.S. Deputy Attorney General and Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and finished up the workday with the Exhibit Hall Grand Opening. One of the requests for the PLA Liaison was to talk to vendors about exhibiting at the WLA Conference. I talked to a lot of vendors and have since sent any business cards I collected to Brigitte at the WLA office. I finished the day by attending a dine-around with a local Philadelphia librarian and then I went to the Library Journal Author Party.

Thursday started with an early breakfast sponsored by The table conversation was great and I plan to follow-up with a librarian from Texas about a few outreach ideas he shared. The first BIG IDEAS program kicked off with author Elizabeth Gilbert. This was phenomenal. I hit up the exhibit hall during the no conflict time and then I went to my first concurrent program called Talking is Teaching which was very much about the importance of partnerships and branding. Following this session, I attended a luncheon sponsored by Innovative. I went on a library tour of the South Philadelphia Health and Literacy Center branch. Upon my return to the convention center, I caught a portion of a talk at the PLA Pavilion on Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) Through Play. I attended Libraries Aren’t Neutral, which was a session about offering civic engagement programs for your community. PLA offers something called Spark Talks, which is an hour long program comprised of five-minute talks. Following the Spark Talk, I attended the Audiobook Publisher Association’s Dinner and the Overdrive Billion Books Bash.

Friday started with the second BIG IDEAS speaker and author Steve Pemberton. Steve talks about visiting the library often as a young foster child and how reading helped him escape into another world. He reminded the audience members that the work that we do matters and that we do have impact on children’s lives. Following the BIG IDEAS talk, I attended ECRR Storytime Challenge: Encouraging Adult Engagement presented by early literacy expert Saroj Ghoting. Following this was a How To session on Hosting a LGBTQ Club. Next on my schedule was to attend a session titled Take Summer Reading to the Streets: Partnering to Reach Children with Barriers to Library Access. I had my first Philly Cheesesteak at the Reading Terminal Market. Yum! Following lunch, I found floor only seating for a PLA Pavilion talk on How to Supercharge Your Library Staff. Following this I attended MakMo, a LA County program on their maker mobiles. I also attended the session Inquiry Based STEM Programming. The day was running long and my energy was running low but I managed to attend the Spark Talks II, one hour of rapid fire talks on various subjects. Afterwards, I dropped in on the PLA All Conference Reception.

Saturday was the final day in Philly. I was sad that my time at the conference was coming to an end but also was looking forward to going home. The day started off with the final BIG IDEAS speaker and author, Tim Wu, who spoke about net neutrality in terms that I actually understood. The first session I attended was titled Moving from Compliance to Inclusion Within the Library. This session detailed a library’s accessibility journey. And finally, the last concurrent session I attended was called How to Start Training Your Staff to be More Culturally Competent. The closing session was by comedian, actor, and writer Hasan Minhaj. Blog posts are in the works for all sessions I attended. Stay tuned.

Attending the PLA Conference in Philadelphia was a wonderful professional and personal experience for me. I was always hesitant to go to a national conference due to anxieties of traveling alone but this trip helped me overcome some of my worries. I hope to attend PLA in Nashville in 2020.The Virtual Conference sessions were just released to all PLA attendees and I plan on blogging about a few of those sessions as well. To read more about the above experiences, be sure to check out my blog, Diary of a PLA Liaison. And if you are attending WAPL in May, be sure to swing by the PLA Posthaste! session at 1:45pm on Thursday.