ALSConnect, March 2007, vol. 5, no. 1

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Officially Speaking

Policies Evolve

Back in June of 2005, then-President Gretchen Wronka devoted her ALSConnect column to discussing the issue of conflict of interest, as it pertained to ALSC’s book award committees. Now, nearly two years later, it is time to turn to the topic again.

For years, ALSC has had a written conflict of interest policy that must be read and signed by everyone serving on an ALSC award committee. The intent of this policy has always been to protect the integrity of the awards. Unlike some other well-known awards, the Newbery and Caldecott awards have generally been refreshingly free from misdeeds and politicking. We want to keep it that way. And because of the necessary secrecy surrounding the award selection process, we must strive to avoid even an appearance of a conflict of interest, since the process by its nature is not open and transparent. There is always a great deal of interest in what goes on behind those closed doors.

During the past year and a half, we’ve had a half dozen potential conflicts of interest come to our attention concerning current or potential award committee members. The ALSC Executive Committee has had to deal with each one on a case by case basis, and, in some instances, committee members were asked to resign halfway through their year of service, something they did graciously but with a great deal of regret. This is always an unhappy situation for all involved, in addition to being disruptive to the award process overall. It’s definitely something we want to avoid.

The board discussed some of the individual cases in executive session at the 2006 Annual Conference. We all agreed that the existing conflict of interest policy was too vague, and that it needed to be clarified. Ideally, the policy would help potential committee members recognize possible conflicts and encourage full disclosure on their part, so that we could deal with these issues prior to an appointment or nomination.

For the past nine months, the board has been working on drafting a new policy that spells out situations, which pose an obvious conflict. These include: (1) being the author or illustrator of an eligible book; (2) serving in an advisory capacity to an author or illustrator of an eligible book (beyond typical library reference service), or serving as an advisor to a U.S. trade publisher; (3) having a close family or personal relationship with an author or illustrator of an eligible book; (4) working as an employee of a U.S. trade publisher, or having a close family member who is employed by a U.S. trade publisher; and (5) directly owning equity that represents more than a 5 percent stake in a U.S. trade publisher, or having a close family member who directly owns such equity.

All of these were once covered under a single line: “[a]ll candidates for nomination or appointment have an affirmative duty to notify the nominating committee or the appointing officer of any circumstance or event which would disqualify him/her under this policy or which would otherwise affect, or give the appearance of tending to affect, his/her ability to carry out assigned responsibilities fairly and without self-interest of any kind.”

You can see why we needed some clarification!

In addition to the conflict of interest policy, the board also discussed issues related to award committees and confidentiality. Specifically, several ALSC members had expressed concerns about award committee members and blogging, citing instances where they felt confidentiality had been breached. Knowing that the number of committee-member blogs is likely to expand greatly over the next few years, we decided to look at this issue in more depth so we could offer some guidance and clarification.

All award committee members are expected to maintain a high degree of confidentiality regarding the committee’s work, including the titles of books under consideration, specifics about the discussions, and information about balloting. Committee members have always been allowed, and even encouraged, to express their own opinions about books.

After a lengthy discussion about blogging, and other types of social networking Web sites and software, the board decided that electronic discussion of eligible books by individual committee members was comparable to any other type of oral or written communication, so long as there was no discussion about ALSC award committee work, or about the status of eligible books in relationship to these awards. This is a reiteration of a confidentiality policy that has long been in place. We just needed to apply the existing policy to emerging forms of technology.

I’m sure that when Frederic Melcher created the Newbery Medal in the 1920s, he never imagined a world in which people everywhere would be able to read and respond within minutes to the comments of a solitary librarian writing about a great new book. But I think he would have enjoyed living in such a world, where people were so eager to learn about and promote outstanding books for children that they’d use all the latest technology to do so. He was wise to entrust librarians with figuring out all the details and overseeing the process of conferring the awards.

ALSC and the awards continue to evolve with changing times. These revised policies may not cover every possible situation that is likely to arise in the next decade, but we hope they will clarify the issues for ALSC members and uphold the integrity of our awards.

You can read the full Policy for Service on Awards Committees at T. Horning, ALSC President

Council News

The following resolutions and reports were discussed during the 2007 ALA Midwinter Council meetings. For the complete list of council actions, visit the ALA Web site.

The ALA Nominating Committee reported that only 20 percent of all members approached agreed to run for Council. There is concern about the lack of diverse and front-line staff representation on Council. Few ALSC members will appear on the spring ballot. We need ALSC voices and votes on Council.

Figures from ALA’s Allied Professional Association (APA) show that nationally librarian salaries range from $22,000–$253,500 annually. The ALA-APA Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing “a minimum salary for professional librarians of not less than $40,000 per year.”

Council voted honorary memberships for David Cohen, Alice Hagemeyer, Anita Schiller, and Alphonse Trezza for their outstanding contributions to librarianship.

At Council II, three resolutions were introduced and debated. Two were defeated by a large majority vote: “Resolution to Advocate Ending Funding for the Iraq War” and “Resolution on Impeachment of President George W. Bush.”

A third resolution called for ALA to “suspend all affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America National Council until such time as the Boy Scouts of America ends its exclusionary policy on the basis of a person’s religious beliefs or sexual orientation . . . ” Admitting that the problem might be cosmetic, some Councilors were concerned that the BSA was listed on an ALSC Web page maintained by the Liaison with National Organizations Serving Children and Youth Committee. As ALSC Councilor, I explained that ALSC has an informal relationship with the BSA. Questions were raised about the meaning of the word “affiliation” in this resolution and about ALSC’s use of the term “liaison.” The resolution was deferred until Annual Conference.

Council passed a resolution from the ALA Legislation Committee encouraging Congress to “amend the Copyright Act to facilitate the use of ‘orphan works’ if the user has made a reasonably diligent, good faith search to locate the owner of the work, but was unable to find the owner.”— Linda A. Perkins, ALSC Councilor

Legislation News

Coming up next month is National Library Legislative Day, May 1–2, in Washington, D.C. In the halls of Congress, librarians, trustees, students, and other advocates will tell their local representatives about the difference that libraries make in communities across the country. To find out if a delegation from your state is participating, contact your state library. More information about the event is at

The AASL, ALSC, and YALSA Legislation Committees are sponsoring “ Libraries + Lobbying = Success” on Saturday, June 23, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., at Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. Speakers include Kathleen Reif, director of St. Mary’s County Library, Leonardtown, Maryland; Maria Salvadore, consultant, Washington, D.C; and Emily Sheketoff, executive director, ALA Washington Office (ALA-WO). This panel of experts will share their diverse perspectives on the value of lobbying.

Another exciting Annual Conference event is “ Library Day on the Hill,” on Tuesday, June 26, from noon to 6 p.m. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to show the value of libraries to the members of Congress. The day will include a hearing on the importance of all types of libraries, and displays around the halls of Congress, organized by ALA-WO, informing passers-by about each type of library and the services they provide. For more information, visit and click on “Special Events.”

As children’s services specialists, we recognize that working with and on behalf of children and families is the foundation upon which public library service is built. If you’d like to do even more to make a difference and you are interested in broadening your role in the political arena, consider volunteering to serve on the Legislation Committee. It’s fun—you’ll really like it!— Bessie Condos, Legislation Committee Chair

ALSC Supporters

Thank-you to all our latest contributors to the Friends of ALSC. To learn how you can contribute, see the invitation packet enclosed with this newsletter or visit and click on “Support ALSC” at the top right of the page.

Silver Circle

Thom Barthelmess
Elizabeth P. Gordon
Leslie Molnar
Kathleen Odean

Notables’ Circle

Joan L. Atkinson
Therese Bigelow
Floyd C. Dickman
Adele Fasick
Carole Fiore
Barbara Genco
Marilyn Hollinshead
Paula Holmes
Ron Jobe
Linda Kapusta
Susan Veltfort

Friends’ Circle

Marilyn Ackerman
Rita Auerbach
Kathleen Behrendt
Nancy Bujold
Margaret A. Chang
Suzanne E. Gibbs
Sharon McQueen
Sue McCleaf Nespeca
Lynne R. Pickens
Rhonda K. Puntney
Elizabeth Sahagian
Janet Stone

Bright Ideas

Saturday Science

“Saturday Science” at Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library Branch, Blackwater Regional Library (Franklin, Va.) began in 2004. The monthly program was initiated to give school-age children a chance to explore science topics in hands-on situations.

Year One Successes

Art in Nature” employed activity stations where participants could hone their observation skills by finding symmetry and patterns in nature, and by discussing the importance of recycling. Leaf prints, rubbings, and spatter painting were used to make positive and negative images of leaves. After discussing symmetry and looking at photos of butterflies in books, participants enjoyed a craft project. Butterfly-shaped paper was folded exactly down the center and a piece of string dipped in paint was placed between the halves. The string was carefully pulled out, thus demonstrating the symmetry of color on butterfly wings. Snakes exemplified patterns found in nature as children observed a real snake’s skin and looked at photos of snakes.

Local wildlife care experts Margaret and Waverley Traylor, who were recommended by the local animal control office, presented an exciting and informative program on bats. Children observed a live baby brown bat, which was the highlight of the program, and made a bat craft.

Members of the 4H Astronomy Club set up a telescope with a sun filter so participants could look for sunspots. Two telescopes were directed at the moon. Even in daylight, craters were quite visible. Participants created “star catchers” and decorated a model of Saturn with glitter paints.

Fun with Chemistry” was led by four men from Hercules Incorporated/Eastman Chemical Company. Children tested substances to determine if they were acids or bases, changed the color of a solution by blowing into it, and made miniature rockets. They practiced predicting, observing, testing, and adjusting hypotheses.

Participants in the “ mini-gardens” program discussed the various ways plants grow (seeds, bulbs, cuttings, etc.), observed and compared plant seeds, planted a miniature garden, and created and decorated imaginative dish gardens.

The Fun Continues

Year one’s success inspired staff to invest in another year of new and exciting topics. “ Ocean in Motion” started off the year with a presentation by staff from the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center on conservation, the food chain, and water habitats. Children were invited to observe and touch hermit crabs, snails, starfish, and other sea creatures.

Other year two topics were “ Birds,” with a homing pigeon demonstration; “ Rivers,” featuring a model canoe craft project; “ Living and Working in Space,” presented by a NASA educator; “ Static Electricity,” which made the kids’ hair stand on end (literally, by touching a Van de Graaff generator); and “ Insects, Bees, and Honey,” complete with an observation hive buzzing with bees at work.

At this writing, Saturday Science is still going strong and participation has greatly increased. It has become a family program and its benefits have been many and varied. Children have the opportunity to explore diverse science topics, and their curiosity and willingness to try things have made the programs enjoyable for the adult presenters. The series has given the library and community opportunities to work together. The Boys and Girls Club has had members at every program. They incorporated Saturday Science into their educational programs. An unexpected benefit has been the number of men involved in the program. The majority of local elementary school teachers are women, so it has been exciting to have men from various scientific professions interact with the children. Local presenters gain a bit of recognition and the children get a chance to see adults they know in a new light. In the beginning, the library had to hunt for presenters but by year two people approached the library to volunteer for sessions.— Diana Devore and Connie Henderson, Blackwater Regional Library, Franklin, Va.

Paws to Read

The Ouachita Parish (La.) Public Library won the 2006 ALSC/BWI Summer Reading Program Grant.

Ouachita Parish Public Library used statewide themes for both youth reading programs this past summer—“Paws to Read” for children and “TSI: Teen Scene Investigation” for teens. Both youth programs and “River Reads” for adult readers were kicked off, along with the library’s ninetieth birthday celebration, at Summerfest, a huge event involving the library, its Friends group, local authors, vendors, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, musicians, therapy and dancing dogs, and more.

Paws to Read was publicized through school visits, flyers, calendars, television and radio PSA’s, and the newsletter of a local organization providing information and assistance to families of children with disabilities.

Highlights of Paws to Read included storytimes with animal themes for children from birth through age twelve, including evening and signed storytimes; special programs designed especially for pre-adolescents; and craft workshops. Special events featured Farmer Minor and Daisy, the famous pot belly pig (, Harvey Rabbit and Friends (puppet show), and our local theatre’s Young Troupe performing Stuart Little . The immensely popular therapy dog program, in which children practice their reading skills by reading aloud to specially trained dogs, was expanded this summer.

TSI programs focused on mysteries, police work, and similar topics. Craft workshops included duct tape art, fingerprint art, and origami.

Participation in summer reading programs numbered 2,266 children and 187 teens. Both programs included prizes as incentives to boost participation. Paws to Read events attracted 12,388 children, while 500 teens attended TSI events.

Two disappointing aspects of our summer program were that, despite all of our efforts, this year’s enrollment was less than last year’s, and we were unable to attract any children with hearing disabilities to our signed storytimes. However, we did establish beneficial ties to organizations within our community, and hopefully, as we continue to strengthen those ties, we will eventually be able to reach audiences that are not currently library users.

Creation of a television PSA, the sign interpreter, and incentives were funded through the ALSC/BWI grant. ALSC and BWI deserve kudos for their support of children’s librarians and the children we serve.— Martha Jordan, Ouachita Parish (La.) Public Library

ALSC Voices

ALSC Profile

Roberto Zapata
Children’s Librarian
Houston Public Library
ALSC membership: one year

Where did you attend library school?
I attended library school at the University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science as part of their Knowledge River program.

What attracted you to children’s services?
I was hooked when I first helped out the children’s librarian at a neighborhood library I worked at. The look on the children’s faces as they participated in storytime drew me in.

Why did you join ALSC?
To be able to better network with other children’s librarians and advocates across the country.

What to you is the biggest reward of being a children’s librarian?
Knowing that you are making a difference in the life of someone.

What is your favorite job responsibility?
Conducting the children’s playgroup. Conducting outreach to schools and organizations is a close second.

What is the most popular children’s program/event at your library?
The most popular children’s program at the library is by far the Toddler Playgroup. The playgroup begins with an interactive storytime session with stories, rhymes, finger plays, and songs. It is then followed by a learning activity and playtime.

What are you currently working on at your library?
I am currently planning the Día de los niños programs for the branch.

What is your favorite children’s book?
My favorite book is Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I use it a lot during storytime because it captures children’s imaginations. Plus, I love the big, fat caterpillar illustration.

What are your hobbies?
Working, working, and working. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with friends and family.

Congratulations to Roberto, our ALSC-sponsored Emerging Leader. ALA President Leslie Burger’s Emerging Leaders 2007 initiative—to select and train one hundred new librarians to get a jumpstart in leadership—kicked off with a day-long session during the Midwinter Meeting in Seattle in January.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Día Hits Target

Target is the official 2007 national sponsor of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), known as Día, the annual celebration held April 30 to spread “bookjoy” by linking children of all languages and cultures with books.

ALSC and Target are providing mini-grants of $5,000 plus a suite of Día-themed promotional materials to eight model public library systems. Selected library systems/libraries have been designated as “Día 2007 Super Sites.” Grant funds support efforts to purchase culturally relevant books for permanent collections or giveaways, and/or to fund Día programs. Super Sites also receive a display banner, bookplates, bookmarks, and bilingual brochures featuring recommended children’s books and tips for parents on reading to/with their children.

“Día Super Site libraries have a proven track record for producing outstanding Día celebrations in their communities,” said ALSC President Kathleen T. Horning. “What makes these Super Site celebrations stand out is the libraries’ commitment to tying the celebration to literacy and culture. ALSC was also impressed with the libraries’ level of cooperation with other community groups and schools.”

Día 2007 Super Sites include El Paso (Tex.) Public Library, Hennepin County (Minn.) Library, Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County (N.C.), Queens (N.Y.) Public Library, Riverside County (Calif.) Library System, Broward County (Fla.) Library System, Providence (R.I.) Public Library, and Phoenix (Ariz.) Public Library.

“Target recognizes that reading is a foundation for lifelong learning, so we’re excited to be a part of this year’s Día festivities,” said Laysha Ward, vice president, community relations, Target. “Together with ALSC and the Super Site libraries, we are committed to supporting this cultural celebration and keeping children engaged in reading year round.”

In addition to sponsoring Super Sites, ALSC and Target offered complimentary brochures and bookmarks to libraries nationwide in return for registering their Día events. The registry and corresponding map help those interested locate Día celebrations in their communities; visit to register or search for events.

Minneapolis-based Target gives back more than $2 million a week to its local communities through grants and special programs. Since opening its first store in 1962, Target has partnered with nonprofit organizations, guests, and team members to help meet community needs.

Campaign Update

Kids! @ your library® continues to expand with new resources including free, downloadable print public service announcements (PSAs), additional games and activities for children, and an informational Web page geared directly to parents.

The high-resolution PSAs are available in various sizes to share with newspapers, schools, and partner organizations.

The games section now includes activities for children in grades K–1, 2–3, and 4–5. Word games, mazes, and scavenger hunts all have library themes!

All tool kit materials are free to download at

The Web page for parents ( provides links to award-winning books for kids, great Web sites for surfers of all ages, and information that supports reading and lifelong learning. Feel free to add a link to our family page from your library Web site.

If you already are using any part of the Kids! campaign, please take a few minutes to complete the evaluation form at Your feedback will help us to grow the campaign and continue providing relevant and practical tools.

Wikis Take Off

Three new wikis are available to assist children’s librarians in their work. The Every Child Ready to Read @ your library® (ECRR) Wiki ( supports the ECRR program and was created by ALSC and the Public Library Association in response to requests for better communication among those implementing ECRR and in order to make new and current program users aware of best practices and innovative ideas that have been developed by others. All are welcome to contribute.

The ALSC Wiki ( provides members and others interested in library service to children a place to share ideas and best practices, network with colleagues, discuss issues, trends, and opportunities, and communicate ALSC committee happenings and events. It provides space for ALSC committees to establish their own wikis, such as the ChildTech Wiki (, which addresses technology issues and research within the realm of library service to children, maintained by the Children & Technology Committee.

Visit and contribute to our wikis and help establish them as strong resources for information sharing and communication.

Member Notes

Congratulations to Effie Lee Morris, San Francisco. She was honored by the California Librarians Black Caucus (CLBC) at their Legacy Program, which took place during the California Library Association conference last November. During the program, Ms. Morris’s career was celebrated and she was described as a living legend.

Jeanette Larson, Austin, Texas, is writing the Listening Librarian column for AudioFile magazine. The bimonthly column features news and ideas for librarians and educators. Larson welcomes information about events, programs, and ways that librarians are using audiobooks. Send to

Four ALSC members have won Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) awards. Betsy Hearne, University of Illinois GSLIS, Champaign, won the Teaching Excellence in the Field of Library and Information Science Education award. Denise Agosto, Drexel University, Philadelphia, won a Research Grant. Melissa Gross and Don Latham, Florida State University, Tallahassee, won an OCLC–ALISE Library and Information Science Research Grant.

Martha Seif Simpson, Stratford (Conn.) Library Association, has coauthored with Lucretia Duwel Bringing Classes into the Public Library: A Handbook for Librarians (McFarland). The guide addresses planning and implementation, and offers suggestions for both elementary and secondary school visits.

Congratulations to Carol Finch, Burton Barr Central Library, Phoenix; Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, Conn.; and Cynthia K. Richey, Mt. Lebanon Public Library, Pittsburgh. They were three of twenty-five winners of the 2006 New York Times Librarian Awards. The program honors librarians who have provided outstanding public service and have had a strong and positive impact on their nominators.

ALSC National Institute

Salt Lake City (SLC) is the site for ALSC’s next National Institute in September 2008. Centrally located within the western half of the country, SLC is easily accessible by air with direct flights daily from 104 cities. The city is home to one of the world’s largest family history libraries and the SLC Public Library was named Thompson Gale/Library Journal’s Library of the Year for 2006. SLC provides a nice blend of urban life and the beautiful outdoors and we look forward to hosting the institute in this tourist-friendly town! We hope you will make plans to join us there. More information about the 2008 National Institute will be coming this fall.

2008 Arbuthnot Lecture

David Macaulay, Caldecott Medalist and renowned author/illustrator, will deliver the 2008 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture.

“Macaulay’s work celebrates human endeavor and ingenuity. His books encourage readers to consider the construction of everything from buildings to stories, and to constantly look at the world around us,” said Arbuthnot Committee Chair Deborah Stevenson.

Macaulay first came to fame in children’s literature with his now-legendary Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction (Houghton, 1973). His body of work is astonishingly varied, from his postmodern picture book Black and White (Houghton, 1990) to the satiric fiction of Motel of the Mysteries (Houghton, 1979) and the deceptive simplicity of Shortcut (Houghton, 1999).

Applications to host the 2008 Arbuthnot Lecture are available at Look for a link to the form under “Breaking News.” Or, contact The application deadline is May 1.

Join the List

To stay informed about ALSC activities and issues, subscribe to the ALSC electronic discussion list. Send the following message to subscribe ALSC-L [firstname] [lastname]. Leave the subject area blank.

Change of address? Be sure to subscribe under your new e-mail address and unsubscribe from your old address. To unsubscribe, send the following message to unsubscribe ALSC-L. Leave the subject area blank.

To learn more about all of ALSC’s electronic discussion lists, visit and click on the discussion lists graphic near the top of the home page.

Summer Reading Study

Dominican University’s (River Forest, Ill.) GSLIS received a $290,224 Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant to examine the impact of public library summer reading programs on student achievement. Partners on the project include the Center for Summer Learning, Johns Hopkins University; Colorado State Library; and Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The three-year research project will study the impact of public library and school partnerships on the reading achievement of disadvantaged third and fourth grade students. It will seek to answer whether summer reading clubs offered by 95.2 percent of public libraries in the U.S. actually accomplish the goals of preventing summer learning loss and sustaining a love of reading in children. Carole Fiore, independent consultant and ALSC past president, will serve as project coordinator.

And the Winners Are . . .

Information about 2007 award-winning books, recordings, videos, computer software, libraries, and librarians is available on the ALSC Web site at; click on “Awards and Scholarships.”

2008 Nominations

The ALSC Nominating Committee is seeking members to fill positions on the 2008 ballot. If you are interested in serving in a leadership role or would like to recommend another qualified member, fill out the ALSC Nominee Suggestion Form (available from the ALSC office or at; click on “ALSC Forms”) or e-mail your suggestions to Nominating Committee Chair Gretchen Wronka, at

Join the Middies

Richie Partington, Sebastopol, Calif., has set up an online book discussion group focused on literature for students in the middle grades (sixth through eighth), mainly eleven- to fourteen-year olds. To join in on the discussion, visit

Getting Together

D.C. Happenings

ALSC and the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) will host the joint preconference, “ The Underserved 20 Percent: Children, Teens, and Adults with Disabilities,” on Friday, June 22, in Washington, D.C. Keynote speaker Harriet McBryde Johnson is a leading disabilities rights activist, lawyer, and author of Too Late to Die Young and Accidents of Nature.

Sessions during the full-day event include a panel discussion on “What People with Disabilities Want from Their Library” and a program highlighting best practices from public libraries in the U.S. Breakout sessions will include discussion of specific topics in serving children and young adults with disabilities, technology, and portrayal of people with disabilities in literature. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit a disabilities resource fair and meet vendors throughout the day. A reception immediately follows the preconference. To register, visit and click on “Events & Conferences.”

Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, is the keynote speaker for the Charlemae Rollins President’s Program, Monday, June 25, 8 a.m.

Edelman’s work as an advocate for children across America resonates deeply with librarians and others who are serving the nation’s children through libraries and literacy initiatives. Her understanding of the depth, breadth, and scope of the challenges facing youth in America, and her knowledge of how things can and should be different, can put the work youth-serving librarians do and the things they see in a larger context, one that is critical to understanding the role librarians can play in serving youth, especially children and teens in poverty.