ALSConnect, September 2004, vol. 2, no. 3

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

Officially Speaking

Fueling the ALSC Engine

So let’s talk about appointments! As an ALSC committee member for lo these many years I’ve relished working with far-flung colleagues on association business. In my early days ALSC leadership seemed remote, relatively unimportant, and definitely of another generation. Our committees were where the action was! We became kindred spirits, huddled in stuffy conference rooms fomenting revolution while planning programs. We were also developing the networks and collegial bonds that today bring us together at conferences with the same ritual shrieks of joy we observed, snickering, in our ALSC elders back in the day. I hope new members are having a similar experience and that you’re realizing that each committee offers a different opportunity for professional development.

Last year as president-elect I gained an entirely new perspective on ALSC committee work. Reading the chairs’ reports; touching base with members, priority consultants, and chairs via e-mail or at conference; following committee list discussions and acquiring the board-eye view of the whole association emphasized that our committees are the engine that drives the association. The work that you all do while maintaining your day jobs is amazing!

The committee appointment process has consumed me for some months now. I appreciate the volunteers who stepped up to fill vacancies and those who enthusiastically agreed to serve on such process committees as Planning and Budget and Membership. I appreciate the members who cheerfully write, “Put me where I can do the best job for ALSC.” I appreciated members’ patience as I wrestled with the spring appointments, a process that lingered well into summer. I also appreciated the personal notes accompanying some forms and the courteous replies from people who’ve accepted.

Frankly, most members are lured by the evaluation committees. The yearlong trickle of requests for those appointments is swelling as the fall cycle looms. Now I’m faced, as is every president, with the awesome responsibility of balancing hearts’ desires with association needs.

I recognize that it’s the passion for children’s books and media infusing our very being as children’s librarians that inspires these requests. What would Solomon do? Alas, I am not Solomon. Should I appoint members who’ve served previously on various evaluation committees and long to repeat the experience? Or do brand new children’s librarians, fresh to ALSC and their careers, deserve this exhilarating opportunity? Can I resist appointing members whose distinguished service over the years on committees that provide organizational support, professional development, and advocacy for the division to these perceived plums? Of course this could also be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play fairy godmother to personal friends and colleagues!

Achieving the right mix on these highly sought-after opportunities is my challenge. I’ll be considering experience and expertise, as well as diversity in age, gender, race, ethnicity, and even geography. Elected members or those continuing for a second year need to be factored into the equation. It’s an interesting dilemma and exciting challenge. Most of all, it’s an ethical responsibility that I’m taking very seriously. For every member who receives an appointment there are a score of qualified applicants.

When the appointments are completed, I’ll pass unfulfilled applications on to the vice president/president-elect Ellen Fader for her consideration. Every ALSC year brings new opportunities for members who are eager to become involved or stay involved. So keep those volunteer forms coming and continue to think big and broadly about ALSC opportunities and responsibilities!— Gretchen Wronka, ALSC President

Council News

Major actions of ALA Council at the Orlando conference included:

BARC:Because of steadily increasing expenses and flat or declining revenue, the following recommendations were made to the executive board: (1) increase conference registration beginning with Annual Conference 2005; and (2) ask Membership Committee to develop proposals for a dues increase.

  • Core Values adopted: Access, Confidentiality and Privacy, Democracy, Diversity, Education and Lifelong Learning, Intellectual Freedom, Preservation, The Public Good, Professionalism, Service, Social Responsibility.
  • Task Force on Library School Closing: A report was given with suggestions for action.
  • Intellectual Freedom Committee: Revisions to a number of existing intellectual freedom policies and Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights have been made in preparation of the seventh edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual.
  • Task Force on Rural School, Tribal, and Public Libraries: Recommended that a standing committee be established called Committee on Rural and Tribal Library Services.
  • Membership Committee: Resolution passed that the quorum for ALA membership meetings be set at seventy-five members to match that of ALA Council meetings.

A topic of discussion at this conference’s youth division councilors’ caucus was the inclusion of more youth members on ALA committees and youth representation on the ALA Executive Committee. I encourage you to consider having your name placed on the ballot for Council and help us keep youth issues on the front burner of Council. To have youth candidates elected to Council, we encourage all of the youth division members to vote in the ALA elections.

To see a complete list of action items from the 2004 Annual Conference Council meetings, please visit the Council section of the ALA Web site (, click on “Our Association,” then click “Governance,” then click “Council,” and then click “Council Actions.”— Kathy Toon, ALSC Councilor

Bright Ideas

Enter the Zone

With a bold statement against book banning, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) opened the “Free Speech Zone. Created by artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese specifically for BPL, the public art exhibit provides a designated area for free speech. The artists transformed BPL’s balcony display cases into two sets of illuminated triptychs. Each triptych includes two backlit portraits of blindfolded individuals from the library’s community, representing the diversity of those impacted by censorship. Two middle window cases contain LED displays with a scrolling collage of passages from books that have been censored. Excerpts from recently challenged books, such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Heather Has Two Mommies, alternate with those from landmark censorship cases, such as Ulysses and Naked Lunch. The work was on view free to the public from May 6 through June 26 at the Central Library.

Interested in working with the artists or showing “Free Speech Zone” at your library? Contact: Ligorano/Reese, 67 Devoe St., Brooklyn, NY 11211; fax and phone: (718) 782-9255; e-mail:

Storytime Sizzles

Austin Public Library presented special storytimes at local fire stations during National Library Week (NLW). “Sound the Alarm . . . It’s Storytime” provided an opportunity to partner with fire station staff, encouraging the community to visit the station and bringing library programs to underserved areas of Austin. In addition to enjoying related stories and finger rhymes, the kids learned fire safety tips from the firefighters and were able to tour the trucks and station. Each attending family received a free paperback book.

Join the List

To stay informed, 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.

ALSC offers numerous special interest electronic discussion lists. To learn more about all of ALSC’s electronic discussion lists, visit and click on the discussion lists graphic near the bottom of the home page.

On the Web

Looking for online resources to complement your parent education collection? The National Center for Learning Disabilities’ (NCLD) Web site provides printable fact sheets on conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, information and auditory processing disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The Web site also offers information on learning disabilities advocacy and includes a list of organizations working on behalf of those with learning disabilities. For more information, visit

ALSC Voices

ALSC Profile

Kemie Nix
Children’s Literature for Children

Peachtree City, Georgia
ALSC Membership: twenty-five years

Tell us about Children’s Literature for Children.

Twenty-five years ago, I founded a nonprofit organization with the redundant but descriptive title, Children’s Literature for Children, with the goal of bringing good books to children in need of them. Over the years, our organization, which started in Atlanta’s inner-city, has blossomed with two of our outreach programs expanding exponentially. Reader-to-Reader asks people with children’s books to share with children without books—potential readers. I have a good friend, Judy Grimes, who wanted to do something in children’s hospitals in memory of her late daughter. We founded Reader-to-Patient, which contributes collections of children’s books of quality (which includes funny books, of course) to children’s hospitals and trains volunteers to read them aloud to young patients.

Reader-to-Reader, which has volunteers in diverse places, including Scotland, which sends books to an orphanage for Dalit children in India, has established both community and school libraries in Puerto Rico, other islands of the Caribbean, Belize, India, Zanzibar, South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya. Reader-to-Patient is at four children’s hospitals in the United States and three in Kenya. Children in hospitals, especially those in developing countries, often have little respite from medical procedures. Reading stories aloud to them can allow them to live in their imaginations for a bit.

I am presently serving as director of Reader-to-Reader: Africa, and I work out of my home office. I have also been the children’s book editor of Parents’ Choice from its inception. Same office.

Why did you join ALSC?

I joined because my friend Therese Bigelow told me that I needed to join and she was absolutely right!

On which ALSC committees have you served?

I served on the 1994 and 2000 Newbery Committees. I was also on the Notable Children’s Books Committee from 1996 to 1998. I have the honor of being on the future 2006 Caldecott Committee.

Which committee did you enjoy the most?

Ah, that’s a hard one as I have been grateful to serve on each of these committees. The level of discourse with professionals in the field has enriched my life beyond measure.

Which Newbery/Caldecott Banquet stands out in your memory?

I have attended many Newbery/Caldecott Banquets over the years. My happiest ones were the 1994 banquet when Lois Lowry won for The Giver and the 2000 banquet when Christopher Paul Curtis won for Bud, Not Buddy, because I served on the committees that chose those wonderful books.

My fondest memory, however, is when Louis Sachar won the Newbery in 1999 for Holes. Although I see him infrequently, we are friends, and I have always appreciated his original mind. At the banquet, I was just back from Africa and hadn’t had a chance to congratulate him in person, so I sent a note up to the head table via a waiter. I happened to end up at a table of ALSC luminaries where I was happily eavesdropping when Louis showed up at my elbow. I jumped up to talk to him when one of the luminaries said, “That looks like Louis Sachar!” I was so proud!

What is the biggest change you see in ALSC since you have joined?

Although there is always room for improvement, I believe there has been steady, noticeable progress in diversity and inclusiveness.

What service or resource would you like to see ALSC offer which we currently do not?

I wish there was a stated recommendation as to how public libraries should dispose of discarded children’s books. In some places, including the Atlanta–Fulton County Public Library System, weeded children’s books are frequently destroyed. Rules from somewhere, I don’t know where, decree this wasteful practice. Children’s Literature for Children has shipped more children’s books to Africa than any other organization, but we can’t ship all discarded books to third world countries. We aren’t large enough.

Collectively, however, members of ALSC could implement some sort of plan to share discarded books with children who have no books. For example, give the books to scout troops, service organizations, or any group who pledges to send the books to countries that need them. I certainly have plenty of addresses of schools and communities who want books.

What are you currently working on?

I am working as a facilitator looking for groups with access to children’s books (practically every group in the United States) who are willing to make the effort to send one big, gray mail bag of books overseas. Granted the bags are dirty and unwieldy, but it’s not hard.

I am also processing the review copies that I receive to send to schools and communities in Africa—my permanent occupation.

Who is your favorite children’s author and/or what is your favorite children’s book and why?

What? Choose one and hurt the feelings of Lloyd or Ashley or Nina or Christopher or Katherine? Or any other wonderful writer? I don’t think so.

My favorite book, even from childhood, has always been the one that speaks most deeply to me at a given point in my life—and if it can also make me laugh—that’s my favorite! (It’s frequently the one I’m reading right now.)

What three words best describe you?

Parent, friend, teacher.

What are your hobbies?

Books, more books, birds, animals, and teaching children of every race and religion. I’ve taught many!

Orlando Postscript

Each year four deserving children’s librarians receive the chance to attend ALA Annual Conference for the first time through the Penguin Young Readers Group Award. In the following section, three of this year’s winners share their Orlando experience.

How inspiring it was to attend the ALA Annual Conference! I left Orlando with both renewed pride in our profession and enthusiasm to begin my ninth year as a school librarian. My son and I (he’ll begin his MLS at University of North Carolina in the fall) took advantage of many sessions with diverse content—from marketing one’s library services to African American cultural messengers. I enjoyed the Swap and Shop, and the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet was truly an over-the-top experience— wonderful food, outstanding company, and fabulous authors and literature. Thanks to ALSC and Penguin for a wonderful time! I’m already envious of next year’s scholarship recipients.— Kathy Clair, Shepherd Middle School, Ottawa, Illinois

Attending the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando has been the professional highlight of my year. As a first-time attendee, I was in awe of the scope and magnitude of this event. With over 20,000 participants, there was an incredible opportunity to meet and network with librarians from across the country. Everyone was friendly and eager to share ideas. I found the workshops to be insightful, and particularly enjoyed the presentation on Native American literature. The featured speakers were impressive, from the sincerity and sensitivity of Mitch Albom to the knowledge and seriousness of Richard Clark to the cynicism and hilarity of Carl Hiaason. All left a lasting impression. Without doubt, one of the focal points for me was attending the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet. I will always remember hearing the winners read their speeches, and will remain inspired by this special and significant event.

I left Orlando feeling invigorated and eager to become more involved. I am thankful to the ALSC award committee and Penguin for making this a memorable experience, and I am proud to be part of such an impressive association!— Kimberly DeStefano, John J. Daly Elementary School, Port Washington, New York

One of the questions I was asked during my first interview for a librarian position was, “Why are you a member of ALA?” My unsophisticated yet fervent answer was, “Because I want to attend the conference!” Thanks to ALSC, the Penguin Young Readers Group, and the West Babylon Public Library, the door was opened for me to participate in the Orlando Annual Conference and take advantage of its unlimited opportunities.

Choosing from the notable list of programs proved to be a challenge! I particularly enjoyed the ALSC preconference, “Great Beginnings,” and the ALSC President’s Program, “Myths and Realities: Kids and Technology in the Public Library.” “Storytelling 101” and “Talk about Books” were great opportunities to share new and classic stories. And, the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet was nothing short of magnificent!

Meeting other librarians with diverse backgrounds and perspectives was a highlight of the conference. All were delighted to strike up conversations, share experiences, and give a “newbie” attendee direction about getting the most out of Annual Conference as well as valuable insight about growing in the profession. The encouragement I received is inspiring. I returned to my library energized and excited to employ new ideas. I returned with greater confidence to use my abilities to contribute to librarianship locally and nationally. I am thrilled to now use this experience to further develop my own abilities to benefit my patrons, my library, and the profession.— Nicole Sparling, West Babylon Public Library, New York

A Distinguished Winner

Virginia A. Walter , 2004 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, was honored during the ALSC Membership Meeting on Monday, June 28, during the ALA Annual Conference. She delivered the following acceptance remarks:

Thank you so much for this honor. It is one that I never expected to receive. I feel humbled to receive a distinction that so many members of our association deserve as much as I. We are, after all, an association of activists and advocates, united by a passion to connect children with books and information, to strengthen library services for children, and to support children’s librarians in the important work they do. It’s all about putting children first.

I am proud to be one of a long line of librarians who have struggled to put children first, working tirelessly for more than one hundred years to develop library policies and practices in the best interests of children. And I am proud to labor now as a library educator, teaching the next generation of librarians who will take our places in the queue. All of us in this room have been stewards of a fine legacy, nurturing some lasting values that we pass on to the librarians who are just entering the profession. In my book, Children and Libraries: Getting It Right, I codified those values as the “five laws of children’s librarianship,” based on the original five laws of librarianship developed by Ranganathan in 1931. They are:

  • libraries serve the reading interests and information needs of all children, directly and through service to parents and other adults who are involved in the lives of children;
  • children’s librarians provide the right book or information for the right child at the right time in the right place;
  • children’s librarians are advocates for children’s access to books, information, information technology, and ideas;
  • children’s librarians promote children’s literacy in all media; and
  • children’s librarians honor their traditions and create the future.

I thank you again for this unexpected recognition. And the children thank you for the work you do on their behalf, day after day, in public and school libraries everywhere.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Write Now!

Do you have a scholarly paper or grant project results you’d like published? Does your library administer a unique program that the library world should know about? ALSC’s journal Children and Libraries begins its third volume year in 2005 and welcomes your submissions. Any topics of interest and import to children’s librarians are welcome. For more information on submitting articles for consideration, please contact Editor Sharon Korbeck at or visit and click on “Publications & Products.”

Member Notes

Jeanette Larson, Austin Public Library, has written Bringing Mysteries Alive for Children and Young Adults (Linworth, 2004). This book presents an introduction and a guide to using the various types of mysteries, including true crime, detective stories, ghosts and gothics, suspense, and more. It includes patterns to use with programs and a history of the genre specifically related to children’s mysteries. It also provides a guide to organizations and suppliers offering mystery-related materials and lists of award-winning mystery books for children.

ALSC member Veronica L. C. Stevenson-Moudamane, The Danbury (Conn.) Library, was one of two American librarians to receive ALA’s Fellowship of the Americas Award to attend IFLA in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this past August. She also wrote and received an LSTA grant totaling $15,600 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for The Danbury Library to partner with EvenStart of Danbury to provide early literacy development services for Danbury-based teen mothers and their

Scholarship Winners

ALSC is pleased to announce its 2004 scholarship recipients:

Frederic G. Melcher Scholarship: Lauren Anduri, Lafayette, Calif., attending San Jose State University, and Carolann MacMaster, Ludlow, Mass., attending Texas Woman’s University.

Bound to Stay Bound Books Scholarship: Anita Coley, Brooklyn, N.Y., attending Pratt Institute; Corinne Hatcher, Ann Arbor, Mich., attending University of Illinois at Urbana; Jeanette Moore, Elko, Nev., attending University of North Texas; and Virginia Rassaei, El Paso, Texas, attending University of North Texas.

ALSC scholarships provide financial assistance to students who intend to pursue an MLS or advanced degree and who plan to work in the area of library service to children.

Save the Date!

Thirty-first Annual National Library Legislative Day, May 3–4, 2005
Tell senators and representatives about the great programs and activities taking place @ your library®!

May 3
Legislative Briefing Day, Holiday Inn on the Hill, 415 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., 20001; phone: (202) 638-1616 or 1-800-638-1116.

May 4
National Library Legislative Day, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
Walk the halls of Capitol Hill and bring important messages from the library community to members of Congress. A congressional reception, from 5–7 p.m., will follow your Hill visits.

For more information, visit

2005 Arbuthnot Site

Drexel University in Philadelphia was chosen by the 2005 Arbuthnot Committee as the site of Richard Jackson’s 2005 Arbuthnot Lecture. More information about the lecture will be posted, as it becomes available, at, click on “Awards & Scholarships” and “Literary & Related Awards.”

Media Awards

ALSC members are welcome to suggest titles for the 2005 media awards and for the 2006 Belpré Award. Please send recommendations with full bibliographic information to the appropriate committee chair listed below. Visit and click on “Awards & Scholarships” and “Literary & Related Awards” for more details.

Scholarships Increased

ALSC is very pleased to announce that Robert Sibert, president of Bound to Stay Bound Books (BTSB), has increased the BTSB scholarship monetary awards. Beginning with 2004, each of the four winners will receive a one-time amount of $6,500. The scholarship is awarded annually to students who plan to enter ALA-accredited programs, obtain a master’s degree in library science, and specialize in library service to children.

Nominate Now

ALSC is seeking nominations and applications for its professional grants and awards:

  • ALSC/BWI Summer Reading Program Grant
  • ALSC/Sagebrush Education Resources Literature Program Grant
  • Penguin Young Readers Group Award
  • Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship
  • Distinguished Service Award

ALSC boasts many accomplished and outstanding members, working on behalf of children, literacy, and exemplary library services for youth across the country. Our professional awards recognize those hardworking and creative individuals. Have someone in mind? Please consider nominating a colleague or applying yourself. For more information about each award and to download award applications, visit the ALSC Web site at and click on “Awards & Scholarships” and “Professional Awards.” To request a form by mail, send a postcard to ALSC, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611; or e-mail: The deadline for all professional award applications is December 1, 2004.

Getting Together

Send Your Stories

The AASL/ALSC/YALSA Joint Task Force on School/Public Library Partnerships held its second meeting at Annual Conference in Orlando. We would like to thank everyone who responded to our electronic discussion list requests for your input. We will continue collecting your stories and would like to solicit:

  • information on existing school and public library cooperative programs, their funding source, and the name and contact information of the point person;
  • cautionary tales, such as programs or experiments that did not succeed and why;
  • references to articles and Web sites that pertain to this subject;
  • your favorite letter, project, flyer, and so on that you believe is worthy of replication in a best practices manual; and
  • information on any upcoming activities that you have planned that have yet to be implemented (such as summer reading).

Please send relevant information to Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library, 205 N.E. Russell, Portland, OR 97212. Or, e-mail material to her at

In order to compile a complete list by Midwinter Meeting, please send material by November 15, 2004. We plan to share results at a 2005 ALA Annual Conference program.— Kate Todd, co-convenor, Public Library/School Partnership Discussion Group

Poetry in Motion

The room rocked with chanting, laughter, and Amen’s as an audience of more than two hundred enjoyed the first ALSC Poetry Blast, cohosted by ALSC past-president Barbara Genco and poet and writer Marilyn Singer in Orlando. With his quick, wry delivery, Douglas Florian started off the poetry reading. Subsequent poets included Helen Frost speaking for fifth graders, Kristine O’Connell George sharing a school librarian poem, Nikki Grimes on China and death, Lee Bennett Hopkins reading word/book poems, Paul Janeczko with true history poems, Dan Kirk on guitar, picture book poet George Ella Lyon, the theatrical Brit Tony Mitton, Walter Dean Myers presenting Harlem voices, Science Verse parodist Jon Scieszka, cohost Marilyn Singer with water poems, rapping Charles R. Smith Jr., body-part poet Allan Wolf, and a contemplative Jane Yolen. ALSC looks forward to the second annual Poetry Blast in Chicago next summer and hopes the event will become a long-standing, annual celebration.— Sylvia M. Vardell, Professor, SLIS, Texas Woman’s University

Summer Reading

ALSC members Carole Fiore, State Library and Archives of Florida; Pat Muller, The Library of Virginia; Patricia Froehlich, Colorado State Library; Susan Pannebaker, State Library of Pennsylvania; and Bonnie Kunzel, State Library of New Jersey, were all featured speakers at the ASCLA/State Youth Consultants program, “Summer Reading Repertory—Your Starring Role in a Great Season” during ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. Summer learning loss is a serious issue that has been researched and discussed for almost a century. During the summer months while children are away from the classroom, they experience a loss of knowledge. Research documenting this loss makes a great case for the importance of and need for summer reading programs, which can help counter summer learning loss.

Program speaker Ron Fairchild, Center for Summer Reading at Johns Hopkins University, presented valuable research on the positive effect of summer enrichment and reading programs on student learning. The center’s Web site provides information on research related to summer learning loss and effective interventions to help thwart it. Visit


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