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Call for Proposals

Logo for PLA 2020 in Nashville, Feb. 25-29
PLA 2020 Nashville February 25-29
The Public Library Association (PLA) is now accepting proposals for educational sessions to be presented at its biennial conference, to be held Feb. 25-29, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. The PLA 2020 Conference will highlight innovative work and ideas that address the core challenges facing public libraries and their communities today.

Most educational programs will be 60-minute sessions that follow the format of a panel discussion, case study presentation, peer-to-peer dialogue, or skill-building workshop. PLA will also present a limited number of in-depth preconference sessions that may be a half-day or full-day in duration.

For the 2020 Conference, PLA is especially interested in proposals and speakers representing diverse perspectives, with a commitment to representation of groups that have been historically marginalized or excluded due to race, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, ability, economic background, and age. All participating speakers will be expected to register for and attend the conference; respond to PLA information requests in a timely manner; and submit final versions of all session handouts electronically prior to conference.

Prospective presenters are strongly encouraged to preview the form and review the recommendations before submitting a proposal. The proposal submission portal will close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, Apr. 26, 2019.

Get Started!
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Free Webinar: Starting Small with Project Outcome


Are you interested in learning about Project Outcome?  Project Outcome is a free toolkit designed to help public libraries understand and share the impact of essential library services and programs.

I’ve read up on Project Outcome, but I feel like I could use some additional motivation to get started. That’s why I’ve signed up to attend Starting Small with Project Outcome, a free webinar on Tuesday, February 5. You can sign up too!

Register here to attend the free webinar (and receive the archive link after!).

P.S. Are you using Project Outcome at your library? Please share!

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PLA’s Spring Leadership Academy

Are you a PLA member (or willing to join, if accepted) with at least 5 years of work experience — of increasing responsibility — in public libraries? Apply today to participate in PLA’s Spring 2019 Leadership Academy, taking place Mar. 25-29 in Chicago, Ill. The application deadline is less than a week away! Applications are due by Monday, Oct. 22.

For details, visit Leadership Academy

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Free For All Trailer

Yay! The trailer for the upcoming library documentary, Free For All, is now available. The project will be completed in 2019.

Free for All is a multi-platform documentary project exploring the history, spirit and challenges of the free public library. With public libraries around the nation facing drastic budget cuts and even closures, Free for All investigates why so many Americans love their libraries and assesses the high stakes for democracy if public libraries become extinct. (Source:

The filmmakers encourage you to share the trailer on social media using the hashtag #freeforallfilm.


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ALA Connect

itts-ala-connect-logo-horizontal-webI recently looked into this new thing ALA is offering called ALA Connect. It’s an online community where you can discuss library topics within groups and networks. I filled out my profile yesterday and I was super excited to share that I was a member of three professional associations: American Library Association, Public Library Association, and the Wisconsin Library Association.

I am currently set to receive a daily email digest of posts from folks in various communities including ALA Members, Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) and PLA. For instance, one of the posts read: “Looking for keynote recommendations for 2019 state library conference.” This is a super sweet way to tap the collective brain. I much prefer this online community with a daily digest over a flood of listserv messages. Well done, ALA.  If you are an ALA member, be sure to “connect.”

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I went to a session on outreach at the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries (WAPL) Conference on May 4, 2018. One of the panelists spoke about their bookbike. This was from Eau Claire Public Library.

They take 75-100 books out at a time. They bring out some of their newest books on the bookbike so it’s like a lucky day collection for those checking out from the bookbike. They also try customizing their bookbike collection for the event they are attending. E.g. bring strawberry recipe/canning books to the farmers market on the bookbike during strawberry season.

Advice: think about where you are going to stash your bookbike collection in your library. Keep giveaways light and small.

Ran the bookbike purchase past risk management and they had two rules:

  1. Always go with two people
  2. Be back to the library before dark

Training is provided for staff including bike safety, hooking up the bike trailer, and circulation and setting up new library cards.

Bookbike has a handle so staff can roll it into indoor events.

The goal of the bookbike is about making connections, not about circulation. Going out with the bookbike is very casual and there is a lot of conversation.

If patrons don’t have a card the library staff will look them up in the ILS.

A few events the bookbike goes to include:

  • National Night Out
  • Farmers market 2x weekly
  • Block parties
  • Earth Day events
  • Concert series 1x weekly

If it rains, the bookbike doesn’t go out.

They recently got a trailer for the bookbike do they can take the bookbike out further distances and also go out to indoor events even if it’s raining.

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Inquiry-Based STEM Programming

Program description: Transform your STEM programming with new approaches that encourage youth driven and connected learning. Using hands-on examples we’ll show you how to embed inquiry-based learning techniques into your programs. We’ll look at how you can align your STEM offerings with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and STEM pathways. Lastly, we’ll discuss outcomes and evaluating programs.


Renee Neumeier, Young Adult Services Supervisor
Evanston Public Library, Evanston, IL

Katie LaMantia, Teen Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library, Schaumburg, IL

Janet Piehl, Youth Services Librarian
Wilmette Public Library, Wilmette, IL

Tyler Works, Youth Services Assistant Department Head
Indian Prairie Library, Darien, IL

Check out this Tinker blog that several of the presenters co-founded and co-facilitate.

Handouts: Handout, Slides


My Notes:

Tinker: 20-60 staff get together and spend time with tinker tools. It’s hands-on with tinker tools and they bring in guest speakers.

Inquiry-based learning is wonder > explore > reflect/discuss. Instead of having the teacher in front of the classroom, the student is the center. The teacher is more of a facilitator and you and the student are learning together.

Why inquiry-based learning?

  • Gets kids excited about learning something new
  • Works for all ages and abilities – very approachable for everyone to use

The Next Generation Science Standards: what students do, know and think. Students don’t just decide they want to be an engineer or scientist, they need to do it or see themselves doing it.

Why should you do this in libraries? 

  • Connect with skills
  • Youth build on what they learned in school in a more relaxed setting
  • Reach kids with different backgrounds and learning styles. Meet them where they are at
  • Make learning connections to books
  • Libraries are not bound to a curriculum
  • Easier program planning
  • Librarians are good at asking questions. Questions are the driving force of inquiry-based programming

Program Model

  1. Wonder: the driving question
  2. Exploring: hands-on learning process. The library staff’s job is to facilitate
  3. Discuss/reflect: share what you’ve learned during this process

Talk Moves 

  • Can you say more about that?
  • What makes you think that?
  • What’s another way to do that?
  • Explain your thinking to me

Goals of Talk Moves

  • Share, expand, and clarify individual thinking
  • Meaningful, active listening
  • Deepen reasoning – ask, how did you arrive at that conclusion?
  • Think with others, push it a little bit further

Program Model in Action

Example: Icee Challenge (see Handout)

Wonder: How can we prevent brain freezes?

  • Showed a PBS video on brain freezes
  • Had a discussion on how we can prevent brain freezes
  • Come up with the faster you eat, the faster you’ll get a brain freeze. Led them to want to design a new cup/receptacle

Explore: Construct a better cup to prevent Icee from melting quickly.

  • Cleaned out supply cabinet for supplies
  • Library worked as the facilitator and used talk moves

Reflect: Share your design. What worked best?

  • If staff had planned this like a regular STEM program, they would have done a ton of research ahead of time. With inquiry-based STEM programming, there is much less pressure to plan. More about facilitating the creative process.

Evaluations and Outcomes

  • Program objectives are what learners can get out of it. All ties into real life stuff kids are interested in. e.g. Icee headaches
  • Helps kids with critical thinking skills
  • You don’t have to be an expert in this!
  • Continuum of service: you are re-enforcing what they are already learning in school
  • Take it out of your building, use it with kindergartners through 8th graders