Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guess What's Coming in April...

The gauntlet has been thrown down, and we're taking on the challenge...the A to Z Challenge, that is! The premise of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is to post something every day in April except for Sundays. By doing this, we will have 26 blog posts - one for each letter of the alphabet. Each day's post will be themed to that letter. So get ready for 26 days worth of A to Z Youth Services mania!

For more info on the challenge, check out

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Teens Have a Voice...They Just Need a Platform!

When I recently found out that the Escondido City Council was once again discussing closing the East Valley Branch Library it broke my heart. This is my home base - where I started out my career as a professional librarian and the location that has grown and flourished over the last four years under my tutelage despite crippling staff layoffs and budget cuts. This is also where I run the majority of my programs and where my biggest tween/teen following is based.

I broke the news to my Crafty C.A.T.S. (Community Action Teen Service) volunteer group first, and their response was both immediate and impassioned.

"What?!? They can't do that! Where will I go after school?"

"I walk here and there's no way I can get a ride across town because my parents both work."

"We have to do something! Can we stand outside and hand out fliers?"

As I listened to them vent their outrage and confusion and plot ways to save their branch, someone piped up...

"When is the next City Council meeting? We should all get up and speak about why they can't shut this library down!"

They took this idea and ran with it...all the way to City Council. If you think teens don't care about the work that you do or that they're not willing to stand up for what they believe in you're wrong, and I have the video to prove it! (click on March 23, 2011, select Item 14, and forward to 4:11:33)

We'll have to see what impact (if any) their stories have on City Council's decision, but no matter what happens I'm SO proud of these young women for having the courage and tenacity to face their fears of public speaking and have their voices heard!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Community Partnerships

I've worked downtown at the Central Library for almost two years and I am learning more and more about what it means to be homeless. Although I know every library has it's share of homeless patrons and issues with homelessness, I don't remember at my last branch being confronted with as many homeless families. They have unique needs and unfortunately in San Diego we do not have a permanent homeless shelter. We do have transitional living facilities, and I see the agencies that run these places as perfect community partners. We have similar goals, notably exemplary  customer service and helping people who come to us get what they need (information, an listening ear, directions, internet, food, a warm bed, et al), and we are facing similar economic strains. If we pool our resources, the community will be better served, and the way our organizations are viewed and relied upon might change as well.

Every Friday I do storytimes at the preschool in St. Vincent de Paul Village. The challenges these children present me with each week are complex and yet, I feel like I am a better Librarian because I serve them. I know that a few storytimes are not going to make the education gap dissapear immediately, and that dancing and singing with Ms. Kirby is not going to take away the stress and trauma of living on the streets or in a car, but I believe it's a start. These kids keep me on my toes, and I am a constantly asking colleagues for advice, tips/tricks, and their favorite activities/stories/flannel to help keep my "friends" engaged and excited about reading (if you have any send them my way). I have established a partnership with St. Vincent's and the teachers at the preschool, and it benefits all involved.

Through my Cuddle Up & Read grant project with teen moms, I learned about The Salvation Army's Door of Hope program for homeless mothers with children. A new facet of this program has been introduced by San Diego Charger Ryan Mathews and his mom. Read more here: Trish & Ryan Mathews Door of Hope Chest. Check out the video (seriously, this guy looks so much like my brother it's CRAZY) and contact a future community partner today!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy (belated) Teen Tech Week!

Teen Tech Week 2011 has come and gone, but it's already time to start planning for next year!

Did you try a new program or event this year that your teens loved?

Are you too tech-phobic to even think about participating?

Share your fears, failures, and feats!

YALSA has already opened up voting for next year's TTW theme. The choices are...

"ESC @ your library"
"FYI @ your library"
"Geek Out @ your library"

Your teens can vote at YALSA's website by taking a short quiz on their digital habits. Encourage your teens to vote for your favorite!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's like being on the cover of Rolling Stone...if I were a rock star!

That would be the equivalent of the pride and accomplishment that I feel being on the cover of Library Journal as one of their 50 2011 Movers & Shakers! I'm so honored to be included amongst this group of innovative, talented, and passionate librarians from around the world, and I want to thank my nominators and the LJ staff who made this possible. I strive to continue to contribute to the field of librarianship as well as to my pressure! :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kirby and I put together a workshop featuring speaker Saroj Ghoting, who presented The Fun and Facts of Early Literacy: Communicating with Parents through Storytime. This is a part of our Eureka projects and was funded through an LSTA grant (which we just find out we each received funding!) and SAB grant from the Serra Colaborative for San Diego County. We had 50 people in attendance and it was overall a great success!

For some time now, I have been trying to teach parents and other caregivers about Early Literacy Skills. I often felt like I was stumbling along repeating the same information over and over again. This workshop demonstrated to me, new ways to share Early Literacy Skills with parents. In the handouts section on Ms. Ghoting's website there is a handout that gives storytime leaders tips to share with parents.

One of the tips that Ms. Ghoting mentioned in her presentation was sharing only 3 early literacy tips during the storytime. One to introduce the skill, one that relates to a book or activity during storytime, and the last tip as a conclusion and suggestion to parents what they can do to continue working on this skill. Previously I had been trying to share all my information with parents in one stortyime, which was hard and information overload. This new plan makes it much easier and highlights the information I am sharing.

Another tip that Saroj shared was taking a box (preferably cubed and sized for small hands) and placing pictures on the sides of the box that rhyme. So you could have dog, frog, truck, duck, cat, and bat on the sides. The child rolls the box and then must choose what other picture rhymes with the picture showing. I am working on creating one, once I have made it I will post a picture.

The most important tip I learned was to make storytimes fun, even when trying to incorporate more educational elements. Encourage parents to make reading and learning fun. We can teach parents that kids can learn without using flashcards!

~ Posted by Anna

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Librarian Spotlight

Resident blogger Kirby got some love this week over at Youth Services Corner, an awesome blog for all things YA. Check out the profile here! Youth Services Corner.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Can't Get Enough of the Monkeys

Pretty much every story I read about monkeys, no matter what the age level, is a hit with kids. During baby lapsit storytimes Hug by Jez Alborough provides the perfect opportunity to snuggle. Any rendition of 5 Little Monkeys has toddlers and preschoolers jumping up and down with excitement, and it's a great one to try with flannel. I even have a monkey hand puppet that was my storytime mascot for a while. Today, I had the chance to check out Walter Dean Myers' newest picture book called Looking for the Easy Life. Four monkey friends follow Oswego Pete, who is "one slick monkey" in search of the Easy Life. Hilarious adventure ensues, and the dialect and witty side comments had me literally laughing out loud. Although it is probably too long for any of my storytimes, this book is a great one to share and begs to be read out loud!