ALSConnect, June 2007, vol. 5, no. 2

***Attn: This is an ARCHIVE page. Web sites and e-mail addresses referenced on this page may no longer be in service.***

Officially Speaking

Much Ado about Lucky

We always expect the ALSC awards to be national news at the time they are announced. We have a long tradition of a Tuesday morning appearance on NBC's Today, and we always expect to see at least a brief article in the national and local media soon after the announcements are made.

Even so, it's not often that a story about the Newbery Medal winner appears on the front page of the New York Times, as happened in February of this year. A Times reporter got wind of the fact that school librarians were discussing The Higher Power of Lucky on a professional electronic discussion list, and that a few of them were uncomfortable with author Susan Patron's use of the word "scrotum" on page one of the book. This was somehow translated in the mind of the Times reporter into the notion that the book was being banned by librarians around the country.

The fact of the matter is that all but one of the librarians quoted in the New York Times had already added The Higher Power of Lucky to their elementary school library collections, a fact documented the following week by Associated Press reporter Hillel Italie. One librarian in a conservative community was still trying to decide whether to add it to her elementary school library collection, but her reluctance had nothing to do with the author's use of a single word. The Times reporter had made it sound as though these librarians were leading a nationwide movement to ban the book, something that was not only untrue but was completely irresponsible reporting on the part of the Times.

This episode demonstrates how few people outside the profession of children's librarianship understand the selection process we use. Most of the children's librarians I know love to read and discuss children's books. For many of us, it's the reason we chose our profession to begin with. Because of our passion for children's literature, our book selection process often involves a great deal of discussion with professional colleagues. Not only do we discuss the book itself, but we also talk about what we are going to do with the book once we purchase it. Is it better placed in a children's collection or a young adult collection? Will we recommend it as a read-aloud? Will we suggest it to reluctant readers? Will it fly off the shelf on its own, or is it going to require some booktalking? And what will be the best way to booktalk it?

Blogs and discussion lists devoted to children's books have made it possible for us to discuss books and selection issues with other librarians from around the country. They provide a great way for us to get an even broader cross section of views and dissenting opinions. But they also make it possible for others to listen in on discussions that a generation ago would have only happened face-to-face. One can see how these sorts of discussions might easily get misconstrued so that a single librarian expressing discomfort with a single word in the latest Newbery Medal book is all of a sudden portrayed as leading a movement to ban the book.

Occasionally, children's librarians do need to discuss books that they don't personally admire, which they'd have difficulty recommending to anyone. They need to hear from their peers who do admire the book and to discuss strategies they can use if the book is ever challenged by a parent, community member, colleague, or administrator. These sorts of discussions are an important part of professional development. I'd much rather see them happen than for these same fearful librarians to remain silent as they quietly choose not to add a book to their collections out of fear of a challenge.

I am the director of a library that runs an Intellectual Freedom Service for Wisconsin teachers and youth librarians. We have found over the years that the teachers and librarians we work with are at different levels in their understanding of intellectual freedom issues. Of course, we wish that everyone emerged from an education program or library school with a firm grasp of the First Amendment, but that's not always the case. We have to meet them where they are and go from there. We always welcome discussion of the tough issues with them and often have to encourage them to step outside their own comfort zones to gain an understanding of the difference between personal beliefs and professional responsibilities.

In the best of all worlds, no children's librarian would be driven by fear when selecting books for children's collections. But the fact is, some are, and they should be able to discuss these fears freely in a professional forum without being ridiculed and skewered by the New York Times or their fellow librarians.— Kathleen T. Horning, ALSC President

The Other Awards

For many ALSC members, mention the word "awards" and they think Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder. They think of the excitement of the Midwinter Meeting press conference and the Annual Conference banquet. But there's another set of awards that should be equally exciting to ALSC members because they benefit and honor ALSC members.

Some awards are for public and school libraries. Ask Betty Ranck and Lauren Miller of Athens County (Ohio) Public Libraries, the 2007 recipients of the Maureen Hayes Award, how they feel about being selected. The award was established in 2005 with funding from Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing to honor Maureen Hayes, the director of Library Services for Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and honors an ALSC member library by funding up to $4,000 for a visit from an author or illustrator who will speak to children who have not had the opportunity to hear a nationally known author or illustrator. Our 2007 winners will be able to host an event in honor of a recently deceased librarian and colleague, Debby Sullivan, an avid reader who loved sharing books with kids.

Another award for public libraries is the ALSC/BWI Summer Reading Program Grant. Santa Clara (Calif.) City Library is the 2007 recipient for their summer reading club theme, Get a Clue @ your library®. The program will make special efforts to include children who are part of Santa Clara County's Vision Impaired Program, by providing materials and technology that will allow the children to fully participate in events. The $3,000 grant will provide financial assistance for the library to develop the program.

If you're at Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., you might want to ask Rachel Martin Gould (Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library, Watertown, Mass.), Cheryl Gooch (Gullett Elementary School, Austin, Tex.), Sally Miculek (Austin [Tex.] Public Library), or Suzanne Myers Harold (Multnomah County [Ore.] Library) about their awards. They are all 2007 winners of the Penguin Young Readers Group Award and, as first-time conference attendees, each received a $600 grant to help pay for attendance at Annual.

Diane Williamson, Abbotts Hill (Ga.) Elementary School, is headed to Washington, D.C., too. Her unique and outstanding Kindergarten Overnighters' Club program won her this year's ALSC/Tandem Library Books Literature Program Award. This grant awards $1,000 to its recipient to help defray the costs of attending Annual Conference.

Charmette Kuhn-Kendrick, North Columbus (Ga.) Branch Library, will be traveling to Gainesville, Fla., next year. She is the 2007 recipient of the Bechtel Fellowship. This award gives a qualified children's librarian an opportunity to spend a month reading and studying at the Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature at the University of Florida, which boasts a collection of 85,000 volumes of children's books, published mostly before 1950. Kuhn-Kendrick will study "The Goblins Will Get Ya: A Survey of Horror in Children's Literature from the 19th and Early 20th Centuries."

Finally, if you get the chance to speak with Caroline Ward about her award when you see her in D.C., please take time to listen. As the winner of ALSC's 2007 Distinguished Service Award, she is a model of service for all ALSC members. This award honors an individual member who has made significant contributions to, and had an impact on, library service to children and ALSC. Caroline's ALSC resume ranges from service on countless committees and task forces to the board of directors, and as ALSC president. She is also winner of ALA's Grolier Foundation Award. As Jean Gaffney, chair of the award's selection committee stated, "no task is too large or too small for her and she undertakes them all with an unparalleled cheerfulness."

To Caroline, Charmette, Diane, Rachel, Cheryl, Sally, Suzanne, Betty, Lauren, and the librarians at the Santa Clara Public Library: Congratulations! To the rest: spread the word about these awards; try for one yourself. They are ALSC's way to recognize and honor all the special work we do.— Jane Marino, ALSC Vice President/President-Elect

Bright Ideas

Sharing Stories

On the morning of November 3, 2006, just after reading and right before lunch, the 115 Artemus Elementary School students in grades K–6 gathered in the gymnasium to meet award-winning children's book author Eric Kimmel, who began the presentation by sharing his story, I Took My Frog to the Library. The story received giggles and wiggles from the students. It was evident in their faces that their imaginations were working at warp speed as they wondered what would happen if they took their favorite pet to the library. After discussing how he came up with the idea for that book and sharing the process of how the book was prepared for publication, Kimmel settled into the role of storyteller and told several stories to the students concluding with Anasi and the Moss Covered Rock. The students enthusiastically participated in the telling of that story.

This author visit was a first on several levels. It was the first time that Artemus, a small Kentucky town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, had hosted a children's author of such national acclaim. It also was the first time that Kimmel had visited Kentucky.

I had the opportunity to escort Kimmel from the airport to Artemus, which gave him the chance to explore Kentucky from one end of the state to the other. The crisp fall day and colorful leaves enticed an occasional venture off the highway to enjoy the rolling pastures of horse farms, the craft stores of Berea, and dinner at the Boone Tavern. There was no need for books on tape during this journey. Kimmel filled the car with stories!

Along with the firsts noted above, this enjoyable visit was made possible by the first Maureen Hayes Author Visit Award, granted to Diana Mills, Artemus School librarian, and me.— Jennifer Smith, Learning Resource Collection Librarian, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights

For information on applying for the Hayes Award, visit and click on "Awards & Scholarships" and "Professional Awards."

The Garden Team

The Library Garden Project was initiated in 2005 as a joint effort of the Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library (a branch of the Blackwater Regional Library in Franklin, Va.), the City of Franklin Public Works Department, and the Boys and Girls Club (B&GC). The library was to contribute the garden site, resources, and guidance. The Public Works Department prepared the site by supplying a raised bed, topsoil, and compost. The B&GC members were to supply the manpower to plant and maintain the garden. It was determined that the benefits of a long-term project with countless hands-on possibilities would leave a lasting impression on the children involved.

Planning began with the club children voting on what to plant and how to arrange the garden, and deciding on garden accessories they would like to have. Forty members of B&GC signed up to be on the Garden Team. In April, children planted tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, roses, strawberries, and pumpkins in a raised bed made by the Public Works employees. While planting, the children compared seed sizes, studied how deep to plant, and noted length of time until germination. A journal was kept to note progress and problems that arose. The first sprouts appeared in May and the children began to battle weeds in the garden. A load of mulch was spread and weekly visits by the Garden Team kept the weeds at bay. The first produce from the garden was picked in late June at which time the club members tasted tomatoes and cucumbers grown by their own hands.

Teen B&GC members built rustic trellises for the cucumbers and pole beans to climb on. The construction of the trellises was a gratifying experience for the teens and the library staff. Tools were used for the first time by some of the teens and the project was enthusiastically tackled. The younger children were able to learn some woodworking skills as they built and decoratively painted bird houses to hang around the garden.

To further accessorize their garden, the children made decorative stepping stones and placed them around rose bushes. Public Works employees constructed an arbor that will someday be covered with vines.

Spring 2006 found the children to be more experienced gardeners. The Public Works Department once again prepared the garden plot. The Garden Team was delighted to find that the strawberries planted a year earlier were full of berries ready to eat. The rose bushes were full of blooms and gladiolus bulbs had sprouted. The team discussed what was successful and what was not and determined what they would like to plant for their second season. They decided to plant a "pizza garden" so their harvest could be used to make a pizza. Thyme, oregano, basil, and tomatoes were planted. Cucumbers and lettuce were planted so there could be salad with the pizza.

Teen B&GC members expanded their woodworking skills by constructing a garden bench. They carefully measured and assembled bench parts and exhibited excellent teamwork in the process.

The Library Garden Project has turned into an outdoor classroom where children can study plants, weather, insects, birds, and more. The library has expanded its collection of gardening books and plans to continue developing the garden. It is a wonderful collaborative effort between the library, the City of Franklin, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Friends of the Library.— Diana Devore, Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library, Blackwater Regional Library, Franklin, Va.

Family Reading

Every Family Reads, Multnomah County (Ore.) Library's new reading program, encourages families with children in grades K–5 to read together by uniting them around the works of a children's author each spring. The 2007 program featured Newbery Medal winner Avi, author of such acclaimed titles as The End of the Beginning, The Mayor of Central Park, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and Crispin: The Cross of Lead.

To participate, families visited any neighborhood library beginning March 1 and signed a pledge to read together (or listen to audiobooks or visit the library together) during March and April. At signup, families received a complimentary Avi book to keep for their home libraries.

Many library events supported the program, including read-ins, craftmaking, and puppet theater. Barnes & Noble bookstores hosted Avi book discussion groups for children and families. The Central Library Collins Gallery featured "Exploring the Life of an Author: Avi" from March 23 through May 13. This original exhibit showcased Avi photographs, journals, and artwork, as well as an authentic Newbery Medal. Every Family Reads participants who read at least two Avi books between March 1 and April 30 were entered to win a $1,000 shopping spree from a local book vendor to build their family libraries.

Young readers had several opportunities to meet the author. The Every Family Reads planning committee chose twelve public elementary schools to participate in the full program, which included complimentary books and transportation to see Avi at a special school day presentation. Students, parents, educators, and fans of children's literature met the author at a public evening event—the Tenth Annual Children's Author Lecture on April 10. More details about the lecture are at

Early reports from the project in March predicted great community support. One parent said, "my daughter's fourth grade class got their books Tuesday and by Thursday night she finished it. She took her reading pledge pretty seriously as we even had to skip American Idol in order to do our family reading time."

Visit the Every Family Reads Web site ( for a list of Avi's books, an author biography, and discussion questions. Every Family Reads was made possible by The Library Foundation, and the generous support of PGE Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust. Multnomah County Library's Youth Services Coordinator Ellen Fader ( can answer further questions.— Katie O'Dell and Ellen Fader, Multnomah County (Ore.) Library

ALSC Voices

Stephanie Bange
Children's Librarian
Wilmington-Stroop Branch, Dayton (Ohio) Metro Library
ALSC Membership: ten "glorious" years

Where did you attend library school?
Louisiana State University

What attracted you to library service to children?
I sort of fell into it. Originally I planned to be a high school media specialist. I segued from schools to public libraries, which I found a more comfortable fit. My branch manager learned that I loved working with kids and asked me to take over the preschool storytimes at the main library. (At that time, the library system I worked in did not have a position of children's librarian.) I began doing storytelling at schools and community events on behalf of the library and I hosted an author visit with Robert Kraus at the main library. These events sealed it! I moved to a library system that had children's librarian positions.

Why did you join ALSC?
I have always felt that one of the pieces of the puzzle to become the "consummate children's librarian" included being involved with this particular group of professionals who share the same passion for children's literature and service to children that I hold.

What to you is the biggest reward of being a children's librarian?
The small, everyday, simple rewards—hugs and drawings from storytime kids, school-age kids (and teens!) returning for more reading suggestions, and parents seeking my reading advice for their kids.

What is your favorite job responsibility?
This is a toughie to answer. There are so many things I enjoy. Perhaps a safe choice is looking over new children's materials as they come into the branch and mentally matching them up with regular library patrons. I serve as chair of DML's Bibliography Committee, so I'm always scoping out the new stuff!

What is the greatest challenge your library faces, particularly in the children's services department?
Like many libraries across the country, budget allocations have been cut. Although DML is well-positioned in the community and we are receiving more in the way of local funds, we must continue to make money stretch as far as it will. Creative finance is one subject I wish I had been taught in library school!

What is the most popular children's program/event at your library?
Puppet shows really pack in the crowds. I am a member of DML's children's Puppet Committee. We seek out or write scripts that we produce locally. These puppet shows, which include puppets and a recorded tape of the script, are available for booking by all branches; scripts are available on our computer network. We often take them out "on the road" when requested!

What are you currently working on at your library?
There are three biggies that are occupying my time and energy: gearing up for our children's summer reading program "Arrrre You Reading?" (a pirates theme), planning our Harry Potter party, and determining when and how to implement our second Kids! @ your library® campaign here in the Dayton Metro area.

Who is your favorite children's author?
This is always the hardest question for me! I very often default to "the last one I read." I adore Kevin Henkes, Tomie dePaola, Marc Brown, Eric Carle, and Bill Martin Jr. These men have done so much for early literacy with early grade-school children—giving us their wonderful books that make it easy to motivate kids to read. Ask me this next week and I'll probably have a different answer!

What are your hobbies?
First and foremost, I'm a collector. I collect dolls from around the world (and have since I was seven years old!), dolls from books (since I became a librarian in 1979), eggs, stamps, sea shells, toys from around the world, Caldecott and Newbery books, children's books from around the world, and netsuke (Japanese miniature sculpture). I'm sure that I've missed a few, but you get the idea. I love to travel and then scrapbook the trip, garden (I'm an Ohio State University Master Gardener!), and read children's books. I'm active in my church and try to stay active in the lives of my two daughters and husband! Whew!

What three words best describe you?
My kids describe me as "crazy," "insane," and "hyperactive." I"d prefer to use hardworking, outgoing, and enthusiastic.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Kids! Campaign Update

The ALSC Kids! @ your library® campaign online tool kit has the following new additions:

  • With permission from the author, ALSC has posted online Dianne de Las Casas's story theater script, " The Chicken and the Librarian." It is free to download and use for your library, school, or community events. For more information about de Las Casas, visit her Web site at The tool kit offers several more fun activities that libraries can host, including a book mark contest, mad libs game, and scavenger hunts for three different age levels.
  • Wondering how you can use Grammy-winning musician Bill Harley's song "At Your Library" in your library? Check out our "Top Ten Ways to Use Bill's Song in your library and community!" The list includes great suggestions for using the song, such as when classes visit your library; as the "hold" music on your library's phone system; or as part of a play, video, or computer presentation about your library and its services. You may even come up with a few novel ideas of your own. Beware: the song is quite catchy. Have a listen on our Web site. You'll be humming it all day!

To check out these new resources, visit and click on "Tool Kit" or "Campaign Theme Song."

Are you looking for ways to use the campaign materials in your library? The Kids! Campaign Task Force has developed a Kids! @ your library® Best Practices Wiki. We encourage those librarians already using the campaign to share their successes. Visit the wiki at!_@_your_library_Best_Practices_Wiki.

Posters Are Back!

Inspire library patrons—young and old—to become "award-winning readers" who seek out ALA's award-winning books for children and young adults. ALA Graphics has created two colorful, undated posters. The "Be an Award-Winning Reader" children's poster features descriptions and medal images for the following awards: Batchelder, Belpré, Caldecott, Geisel, Coretta Scott King, Newbery, Schneider Family Book, Sibert, and Wilder. The young-adult version of the poster highlights the Alex, Belpré, Edwards, Coretta Scott King, Newbery, Schneider Family Book, Sibert, and Printz awards. These 22" x 28" posters have been updated for long-term use as they do not feature winners from a particular year.

Posters celebrating the 2007 award winners also are available from ALA Graphics in a convenient 8.5" x 11" size that is perfect for shelf displays, display cases, at the ends of stacks, or for placement in a standard-sized frame for a quick and easy book display.

For more information on all award posters, visit and click on "ALA Award Posters & Seals" on the left-hand "Browse Catalog" menu.

Media Awards

ALSC members are welcome to suggest titles and names for the upcoming media awards. Send recommendations with full bibliographic information to the committee chair listed below. For more information about each award, visit and click on "Awards & Scholarships."

Prime Time

Created by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) in 1991, Prime Time Family Reading Time® is an award-winning reading, discussion, and storytelling series based on illustrated children's books. National expansion of this project is made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is a cooperative endeavor with ALA's Public Programs Office.

Prime Time is designed specifically for underserved families with children ages six to ten. Pre-reading activities are also available for preschool children ages three to four. The program helps low-income, low-literate families bond around the act of reading and talking about books. It models and encourages family reading and discussion of humanities topics, and aids parents and children in selecting books and becoming active public library users.

Prime Time has added nineteen sites to its national roster by working with five state-level organizations to present Prime Time at three to four libraries in each state.

Prime Time librarians, scholars, storytellers, and participants across the nation share their success stories and news through Prime Time News and Views e-newsletter. For further information about this initiative, visit To subscribe to News and Views, enter your e-mail address in the "Sign Up for Prime Time E-mail News & Views" box, or simply reply to Miranda Restovic at

Important News

This issue marks the final print run of ALSConnect . Beginning with the September 2007 issue, ALSConnect will be available as an online newsletter only and will be housed in the Members Only section of ALSC's Web site.

ALSConnect online will remain a quarterly newsletter and continue to provide the same member news, best practice articles, and event announcements you have come to expect. The design of our online ALSConnect allows for easy reading, with each section of the newsletter (Officially Speaking, Bright Ideas, etc.) appearing on its own page and a printer-friendly version that puts the entire issue on one page without graphics for those who prefer to print the issue out. All back issues will continue to be archived online in full text.

ALSC members will be notified via an e-mail announcement as each new issue of ALSConnect becomes available online. Every ALSC member with a working e-mail address will receive this notification regardless of his or her chosen ALA communication preference because ALSConnect , an official division newsletter, falls under the "Official Communication Only" portion of ALA's communication preferences. The e-mail address used to send each member's notification will be the address that is in the ALA membership database. Contact ALA Customer Service if you need to update your e-mail address in ALA's membership database.

Booklist Forum

Please join Booklist at ALA Annual Conference for an evening with the first recipient of the Michael L. Printz award and the first Printz Honor Book authors: Walter Dean Myers, David Almond, Ellen Wittlinger, and Laurie Halse Anderson. The forum, which commemorates YALSA's fiftieth anniversary, will be held on Friday, June 22, 2007, at 8 p.m.

Grants Available

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation offers mini-grants of $500 to school and public libraries for programs that encourage literacy and creativity in children. Programs relating to the work of Keats are welcome, but not required. An application form is available at The submission deadline is September 15, 2007.

New from PLA

Encourage parents to read to their preschool children by sending them home with Nursery Rhymes, Songs & Fingerplays, a collection of rhyming verses for children. The colorful, twenty-page booklet, developed by the West Bloomfield Township (Mich.) Public Library, is available for purchase from PLA in packets of fifty at the ALA Online Store (


In August 2006, hundreds of thousands of children set a reading world record in support of early education through Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign. We invite libraries everywhere to join Jumpstart in breaking that world record on September 20, 2007. The campaign will be nationally supported by ALA/ALSC and engages children and families in a fun event that tangibly supports reading efforts. This year's record-breaking book will be The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.

Jumpstart and ALSC have created materials, activities, and lesson plans to aid libraries in their outreach to families with young children. Please visit to learn more about the campaign, register your participation, get books, and download an event kit.

New Writing Program

Unleash imaginations everywhere! Houghton Mifflin Books for Children along with master storyteller and artist Chris Van Allsburg are sponsoring a story writing program for children in grades 2–8 focusing on the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. The program is designed to encourage and inspire children to write creatively, using the captivating illustrations from Van Allsburg's fantastical book. The ten grand prize winners, who will be chosen at random, will receive a set of all sixteen of Van Allsburg's award-winning books for themselves and for their library. The program will kick off with the start of the 2007–2008 school year. If your library would like to participate and you would like to receive more information and materials about the program, please contact Children'

Booth Volunteers

ALSC is seeking members to staff the ALSC membership counter that will be part of the ALA Pavilion on the exhibit floor at Annual Conference. Exhibits are open Saturday through Monday, June 23–25, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday, June 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please contact Carol Durusau, Membership Committee,, to sign up for a shift.

New from ALA/ALSC

The Newbery and Caldecott Awards: A Guide to the Medal and Honor Books, 2007 edition, provides annotations for all the medal and honor books since the inception of each award. It is a great resource for quick reference, collection and curriculum development, and readers' advisory. In this year's essay, Barbara Elleman presents an exciting account of the origin and early history of the Newbery Medal, a fascinating look at the early winners through a contemporary lens. The guidebook is available from the ALA Online Store (

Mother Goose in Spanish

At the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, librarians have partnered with the Maryland Committee for Children and are offering "Buena Casa, Buena Brasa," a Mother Goose on the Loose early literacy program in Spanish. The program has been running weekly since November and is drawing new families into the library. If you are interested in doing a similar program and have questions, please feel free to contact Betsy Diamant-Cohen ( or Ellen Riordan ( at Enoch Pratt.

Member News

Marilyn Sobotincic, children's librarian, Medina County (Ohio) District Library, was a finalist in The Plain Dealer's "The Best Local Jobs" contest. More than 1,000 readers in the Greater Cleveland area sent short essays to the newspaper, explaining why they loved their jobs. Sobotincic's piece was chosen in the top ten and printed with her photo and a brief bio in an issue of The Plain Dealer. She also was awarded a cash prize. Congratulations, Marilyn!