Tag: pla blog

Full-text PLA2010 blog posts now at Librarified

PLA2010 ended a month ago and it simultaneously feels like it just happened and like it happened a million years ago. But now that the requisite 30 days has passed since I wrote my posts about the conference for the PLA blog, I can have the full text available here. So in case you missed them the first time around:

Writing for the PLA blog was a really neat experience; if you’re attending a conference and have the chance to be a volunteer blogger, I’d highly recommend it. It gave me the opportunity to take time during the conference to think about what I was hearing and doing, it gave me another chance to engage in discussion, and it was honestly just fun.

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Leave a Comment April 28, 2010

PLA Blog: tweeting at the conference

This post was originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

Everyone’s been doing such a lovely job of recapping sessions they attended, so I wanted to get a little meta on you guys and talk about how Twitter was used at PLA this year. For a little context, the way I was keeping up with PLA happenings on Twitter was partly though the people I already followed but mostly by monitoring tweets tagged with #pla10, so I did miss anything that people I didn’t know said about the conference that wasn’t tagged.

What worked
Twitter turned out to be great for getting snippets of sessions I didn’t attend. It was sometimes hard to decide which of two or three concurrent talks I wanted to go to, so it was nice afterward to be able to scroll back through recent tweets to see if anything particularly interesting (and necessarily pithy) had come out of the ones I missed. It was interesting, too, to see how many people quoted the same thought, and it was especially interesting to see what sessions Twitter users attended. There were, as you’d expect, a lot of tweets about the technology sessions, and there were a fair amount from the youth services sessions, but there were very few from the management track sessions. Make of that what you will.

What didn’t work as well
Unfortunately, the #pla10-tagged tweets seemed to mostly be people putting out ideas without much dialog happening around those ideas. That is, Twitter looked like a room full of people talking at and not with each other. I did see some short exchanges, and it’s possible that these follow-up conversations and elaborations happened in @-replies that didn’t get tagged (I know I had a few of those myself), but it didn’t seem like Twitter was being used much to build ideas or community.

My other main disappointment was that plans to have a tweet-up (an in-person meeting of Twitter users) weren’t well published and mostly fell through: one person said that only five people said they’d be there and then only two actually showed up–but I didn’t even hear about it until it was over. This missed opportunity to build community was especially sad since national conventions are such a great time to meet people you normally wouldn’t, or to finally meet people you’ve “known” online.

I’m really glad that I was twittering publicly at PLA, though. I’ve been using Twitter for almost two years now, but with a locked account and just among friends; it’s only in the last few months that I’ve created a public account and started socializing outside of my immediate circle. It added a depth and dimension and feeling of connection, both to content and to people, that I didn’t have at ALA. And from the experience I’ve gained more followers and started following some new people I wouldn’t have found without Twitter and hashtags and the conference. The complexity of what we say is somewhat limited by Twitter’s 140-characters-or-less format, but I’m looking forward to seeing more ideas and thoughts from new library friends in the coming months.

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Leave a Comment March 29, 2010

PLA Blog: volunteering and vendors: the exhibit hall

Portions of this post were originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

Yesterday I volunteered at the PLA Membership Booth between the first and second sessions of the day. It was a lot of fun and a nice way to just chat with people who came by. There was one librarian from Chicago who said she was so happy to see young people entering the profession who were passionate about the issues we stand for and we got into a great conversation about literacy and libraries.

I also answered a lot of questions and it just struck me as funny that I was playing reference librarian to a convention of librarians. Just like at the reference desk, most of the questions I fielded were directional and ready reference inquiries: the ALA Store is right over there under the giant hanging sign that says “ALA Bookstore.” Yes, I can look up where that publisher is and yes you can use the conference program to decide what session you’re going to and yes you may look at this map and yes you may take anything on this table and yes I know where the first aid station is and yes I’d be happy to pass along to the higher-ups that you’re loving this conference. Even we the information professionals need a little help sometimes!

I also spent a fair amount of time on Thursday and Friday cruising around the exhibit hall checking out the different vendors and publishers and other groups. Since I’m not in a position to buy anything for a library right now, I wasn’t of much interest to most of the vendors, but I did have a long and helpful conversation with the rep from Lifelong Education @ Desktop (LE@D). They provide online continuing education classes for cheap–and if you’re a resident of a member state like Indiana, you may even have the cost of your classes subsidized by your state library. The rep mentioned that most librarians seem to wind up in management almost on accident, so it’s important to develop your leadership skills all along your career so you’re prepared. She was very friendly and very helpful and I’m definitely going to keep their classes in mind after I’ve graduated.

One of the other long conversations I had in the exhibit hall was with the reps from Bluewater Productions–you may know them as the publishers of (among other things) the Female Force comics highlighting women in politics, Stephanie Meyer, and JK Rowling. Graphic novels and comics have so long been a “boy thing,” so I’m glad to see publishers opening up content to appeal to a wider audience. I wanted to know, though, if this was a women-driven initiative, so I asked the guys at the booth if they had female writers and illustrators and inkers (they do, and they’re recruiting more) and if any of the executives of Bluewater were women (half of them are). I picked up a couple of their comics and I’m looking forward to looking them over in more detail. I’m also interested in checking out Girl Comics, part of Marvel’s “Marvel Women” project; the first issue came out earlier this month.

My first conference was ALA Annual last year and I found the exhibit hall there with its roving throngs of librarians, massive vendor displays, and general warehouse proportions kind of overwhelming. The exhibit hall at PLA was a lot more manageable. I also really enjoyed being able to help and connect with librarians who visited the PLA booth–I’d highly recommend volunteering for that at the next conference you attend.

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1 Comment March 27, 2010

PLA Blog: serving pregnant or parenting teens

This post was originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

I’m not sure what it is, but I seem to really enjoy the early morning sessions. Today the first one I attended was “Pregnant/Parenting Teens: Promoting Library Services Among the Underserved” with Maryann Mori, the director of the Waukee Public Library in Waukee, Iowa. She addressed the needs of pregnant and parenting teens, what libraries already have for those teens, and what libraries can do to further their service to these patrons.

In some ways, the needs of pregnant and parenting teens are similar to a lot of public library patrons’ needs: they want help with their education, with finding a job, and with entertainment. But they also have more specific needs like learning parenting skills, being put in touch with other community organizations that can help them, and just having someone in their lives that they can trust. We can meet these needs with our usual materials and services that provide for the educational, informational, entertainment, and lifelong learning needs of all of our patrons, but we can also provide a friendly staff, contact names and addresses for community organizations, and storytimes that also teach parenting and reading skills–especially by using the Every Child Ready to Read framework.

With the principles of ECRR in mind, Maryann designed a four-session program that emphasizes the six aspects (print motivation, vocabulary, phonological awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge, and narrative skills) and also explains the general benefits of reading to your baby.

The first meeting is an introduction to ECRR and provides statistics about the benefits of reading to your baby. The second meeting focuses on children’s books, choosing books for your baby, and print motivation. The third meeting covers phonological awareness and vocabulary. The final meeting reviews the first three and touches on teen parents’ reading memories and provides encouragement for the future. Each session combines storytelling and songs and rhymes and fingerplays with parenting skills that include aspects of child development.

Maryann also spent a lot of time talking about partnering with other organizations in the community. Such a partnership might be something as simple as creating a bookmark with information about the classes and good books for babies in the stuff that gets sent home with moms when they leave the hospital, but it can be as much as going to shelters and group homes and correctional facilities to do the classes. There are so many other organizations you can partner with to make these programs a success including high schools, the local WIC agency, the crisis pregnancy center, churches, the department of health, even the grocery store (advertise in the formula aisle!).

Serving pregnant or parenting teens also exists at an interesting intersection of teen services and children’s services, so it can be an interesting collaboration between librarians or departments.

There are some barriers to library access that some of these teen patrons may have. They may be balancing school and work. They may be living in temporary housing. They may be totally dependent on welfare. They may not be strong readers. They may lack transportation. They may not know what good parenting looks like. They might not even be able to get a library card without a parent’s signature since they’re underage–and what if they’ve been kicked out? Does your library have a policy that would provide for them?

Despite these stumbling blocks, this is an important demographic to reach because as they see what’s available to them and their babies at the library, they’ll come back. And Maryann’s program works: she’s not only seen these teens come back for more library services, but they’re also more likely to graduate and more likely to start reading more themselves, and their children develop better reading and language skills through the program.

What does your library have now for pregnant or parenting teens? What more can we be doing to serve them?

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Leave a Comment March 26, 2010

PLA Blog: extreme resume makeover

This post was originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

Since I’ll be graduating in just six short weeks, I was a little disappointed to see that there wouldn’t be a job placement center this year at PLA. I checked out ALA’s site on finding a job, but I wanted something more personal and dialogue-driven, so I made sure to sign up for the resume review clinic yesterday.

I’m going to be totally honest here: the half-hour meeting I had with Miguel Figueroa, the director of ALA’s Office for Diversity and Spectrum, was hands-down the best resume review I’ve ever had. He was very detailed in his advice, explained the rationale behind his suggestions, and was attentive to my concerns and the thought process behind what I’d originally written. He didn’t just give me generic resume advice or assess how well my resume matched an accepted format; he read every word on my resume and told me what I could do to strengthen every single section. He also did a really good job of helping me identify my strengths and what the most impressive parts of each of my jobs and skill areas were and how to best communicate that.

I’m going to have to set aside a large chunk of time when I get home to completely overhaul the design and content of my resume, but I feel a lot more confident about being able to put my best foot forward. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more opportunities like this available here, and that the resume review clinic was only for a few hours on one day. It’s a great service and I’m really glad I was able to take advantage of it.

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Leave a Comment March 26, 2010

PLA Blog: queering the library

This post was originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

[Please note: throughout this post, I'll be using "queer" to refer very broadly to the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, and asexual/ally) community.]

The first session I attended today was Spanning the Generations: Serving the GLBTIQ Community of ALL Ages. Unfortunately two of the speakers, Nancy Silverrod and KR Roberto, were unable to make the event, but we were left in the capable hands of Allan Kleiman and Angie Manfredi. They talked about how libraries can–and should–serve members of the queer community and how queer patrons’ needs differ by their ages.

Allan told a story about reading what few materials on homosexuality were available to him growing up in secret at the library, always in the reading room and never by checking out the books. While he acknowledged that materials have improved drastically since then and that society as a whole has become more accepting of queer folk, he did tell us that people are still reluctant to ask for information on queer materials or queer resources, so our focus with adults should be making the library an openly welcoming place and making materials available without asking. We can do this by including books about queer characters in displays on other topics, by including queer authors in our book displays, by partnering with community organizations and participating as a library in pride parades, and by linking to queer resources on our library websites.

Angie addressed service to queer teens, tweens, young people, and their families. There’s been a sharp increase in the number of YA titles published recently about queer teens and the content has become much more accepting as well, but we still have a long way to go. One of the ways we can work to see more titles like these are to make sure our library buys these books (or nonfiction titles like GAY AMERICA: STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY) or at the very least thanking publishers who make these materials and things like GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER AND QUESTIONING TEEN LITERATURE: A GUIDE TO READING INTERESTS (part of the Genreflecting series that will be published at the end of the month). She also mentioned the Rainbow List as a good resource.

Angie also talked about how one of the most important things we can do for queer patrons is to make our library a safe place. Refuse to tolerate hate speech. Partner with your local gay-straight alliance–or create one. Be supportive of openly queer teen and tween patrons. And make use of GLSEN’s toolkits.

When serving children, Angie recommended doing both overt things and working to normalize queerness. One overt way we can support the queer community through our youth service is having a Rainbow Storytime that includes stories not only about queer families but also stories about differences, diversity, acceptance, bullying, and originality. We can also include books about queer people in history and in our culture in displays and storytime because just treating queer people like everyone else sends the message that queerness is a part of our society and has been and will be and that that’s totally fine. Supporting queer families should also be a focus in our service to young people.

Allan encouraged us all to support our queering efforts by tying it to our mission (queer patrons definitely fall into the “underserved populations” category) and making it integral to our library service. He finished up by talking more about partnering with local organizations in the queer community and by pointing to successful work in specific public libraries (especially the San Francisco Public Library’s blog, Queerest. Library. Ever.) to support and engage the queer community.

Angie has compiled a list of resources for serving queer youth at delicious.com/youth.lgbtqia to get you started, and Allan emphasized the importance of taking what we learn back to our libraries, so I tell you: go forth! Queer your library!

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Leave a Comment March 25, 2010

PLA Blog: a latecomer from Indiana

This post was originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

My name is Gretchen and I am not an audiobook person. Oh, I understand why our patrons like them–and why they can be such a boon to reluctant readers–but they’re just not my thing. I’m a very visual person and my mind tends to wander just listening to a story and then I realize I don’t know what’s going on and I have to go back and sometimes the voices don’t sound the way I think they should and I’d much rather just have the book in front of me.

But for my car trip today (I drove from Indianapolis to Chicago so I’d have a direct flight to Portland) I stopped by my local public library and checked out a copy of A MANGO-SHAPED SPACE by Wendy Mass after my young cousin recommended it to me. And while I had my usual trouble with staying focused and accepting different interpretations of lines of dialogue or the delivery of pauses, I did enjoy being able to make progress on a book while I was driving. I don’t think this experience is going to make me an audiobook person, but I do like them a little more now.

Normally when I fly I’m alone, so flights–especially longer ones–put me in a reflective mood. This evening I was thinking about this conference, of course, and what I’d like to get out of it. I’m in my final semester of my MLS at Indiana University, Indianapolis, and while I attended ALA last summer and a few regional conferences since then, I’m still pretty new to conferences and honestly, to librarianship. While I learned a lot at ALA and the conference experience was incredibly energizing and the entire thing was a pretty mind-blowing experience, it was also a fairly solitary experience. I didn’t know many people who were going and I didn’t meet as many new people as I wanted. But for PLA I know a lot more people who are here and I’m really looking forward to spending time with them–and to meeting lots of new people. In fact, I’ll be at the PLA membership booth (#2255) from 9:45-10:30 on Friday and I’d love it if you stopped by!

I’m also looking forward to blogging about the experience. You can follow me on Twitter (@librarified), too, if you’d like.

Seeing a real actual snow-topped mountain during our descent this evening was thrilling (I grew up amidst the flat cornfields of northern Indiana, so any sort of topological variation is exciting) and now, after months of anticipation, I am finally in Portland joining thousands of other librarians for learning and networking and having fun.

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Leave a Comment March 24, 2010


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