Institute Education Programs

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Education Programs

ALSC is pleased to offer 32 Education Programs at 2024 ALSC National Institute. Please see the programs below, listed alphabetically by title. Full program descriptions are forthcoming. 

Beyond the Book: Supporting Developing Readers with Library Programs
Learn how the DC Public Library is serving developing readers, their teachers, and caretakers through engaging programs and staff professional development. Participants will learn about the implementation of Beyond the Book, DC Public Library's literacy program centered on developing readers in kindergarten through third grade. By highlighting vibrant stories on a seasonal basis that represent the wonders of children's literature, Beyond the Book aims to inspire children and families to discover the many resources the library offers. This program will highlight some of the professional development opportunities created for staff, and we will use a past Beyond the Book selection to share resources and complementary library programming. 
Presenters: Carmen Boston, DC Public Library; Tora Burns, DC Public Library; Allie Genia, DC Public Library

Building Connections and Generating Buy-In: How to Begin Outreach Work
Engaging in social-justice focused outreach work with underserved families is an important part of community-centered library service, but it is often difficult to begin outreach work or even advocate internally for it. This session will share information about, and provide opportunities to interact with, research-generated tools and approaches from Project VOICE for reaching out – to identify and build initial connections with underserved groups and community organizations – while also looking inward – to generate internal buy-in and assess their library’s capabilities for providing outreach.
Presenters: Kathleen Campana, Kent State University; Jacqueline “Jacquie” Kociubuk, University of Wisconsin-Madison; J. Elizabeth Mills, Research Consultant

Building the Mosaic with Multilayered, Diverse Representations
In the ever-evolving landscape of modern libraries, readers' advisory, programming ideas, and collection development have emerged as transformative forces of outreach and engagement. Using the Diverse BookFinder as a resource, this workshop will explore these core pillars of youth services and their dynamic interplay, offering insights, strategies, and best practices to elevate the library experience and meet the diverse needs of today's young patrons and their caregivers. Our presentation will introduce methods for quickly and effectively identifying diverse works of youth literature in a variety of genres and reading levels, all of which feature BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) characters and intersectional identities, and using these resources to enrich a collection and formal and informal interactions with patrons.
Presenters: Krista Aronson, Bates College; Ramona Caponegro, University of Alabama; Anne Sibley O'Brien, Author and Illustrator

Building Support and Community Through Podcasting
A podcast can create a vulnerable space to show caregivers that they are not alone with their parenting challenges and concerns. Child raising is filled with joy and wonder, but it can also be complicated and lonely. By sharing our own stories and experiences, our monthly podcast: “Your Family, Your Library” strives to create connections and foster relationships with parents, caregivers, and patrons. In addition to providing support and building connections, the podcasting format allows us to promote relevant library and community resources outside the walls of our physical building, allowing us to foster relationships with patrons who may not otherwise visit the library. Sharing our experiences and stories creates an honest and relatable forum. Presenters will walk attendees through the process, challenges, and successes they've encountered and the measured growth since the podcast's start in April 2023.
Presenters: Katie Fox, Skokie Public Library; Caitlin Savage, Skokie Public Library

Celebrate Autistic Joy in Your Library
Move beyond “autism acceptance” and let your library become a place of autistic joy. We’ll learn how to evaluate books with autistic representation to decide if they add diverse, loving representation to your collection. We’ll expand our programming options beyond sensory storytime and learn how to connect with autistic families. And we’ll discuss real, complex situations affecting autistic families in the library and brainstorm ways we can offer our support and radical acceptance.
Presenter: Chelsey Roos, Santa Clara County Library District

Climbing the Leadership Ladder: What You Need to Know Before the First Rung and How to Decide Where to Stop
What are your leadership and career aspirations? Come learn how your work changes when you move into management, how to effectively navigate the transition, and tips for determining both if management is the best path for you and where to stop on the ladder. This program is produced by the ALSC Managing Children's Services Committee. 
Presenters: Mary Fellows, Upper Hudson Library System; Lisa Mulvenna, Clinton-Macomb Public Library; Uma Nori, Thomas Ford Memorial Library

Conscious Kids Kits: Using Picture Books to Spark Conversations about Racial Equity with Children
Starting early in talking about race and inclusion in key to disrupting the systems that oppress and exclude. Research shows that ignoring race actually allows children to form false and often harmful assumptions about others, and that honest and age-appropriate discussions about racial equity can counteract these assumptions. Diverse picture books are a great way for children to see themselves and others in a joyful way, and an easy way for caregivers to talk about and celebrate our differences. Conscious Kids Book kits include a small selection of picture books on various topics related to racial equity and inclusive, as well as a tip sheet with talking points and resources to support deeper learning.
 Presenters: Iris Meinolf, Marin County Free Library; Rashida Skaar, Marin County Free Library; Clara McFadden, Marin County Free Library

Disrupting Your Library's Status Quo From the Youth Services Perspective
It can sometimes feel isolating fighting for change in the library; it’s important to remember you’re not alone! Disrupting the status quo and pushing for systematic change is needed in library spaces no matter your role. In this presentation we’ll share and discuss challenges we’ve met while working towards transformation in our library, and strategies we’ve used to overcome them. We’ll also discuss both the interpersonal and systemic inequities we’ve experienced, both within the library and in our community, that pushed us to fight for these changes. This is an opportunity to share challenges, strategies, and build community with others who work to push their libraries forward and adapt to be more responsive to our communities.
Presenters: Kate Fitzpatrick, Longmont Public Library; Claire Studholme, Longmont Public Library

Fostering Outdoor Appreciation Through Nature-Based Programming
From sensory awareness, early scientific thinking, creativity, and fine and gross motor skills building, to fostering a sense of respect, love, and care for the environment, there are many proven benefits for children in both messy play and outdoor play. For myriad reasons, families and caregivers may not have the space or the desire to provide these outdoor opportunities. Skokie Public Library hosts several programs that are rooted in nature and messy learning, including Nature Play, a weekly hands-on, outdoor play experience for toddlers and preschoolers, and STEAM Engines, a monthly program aimed at connecting kids ages 5-10 with science and the environment around them. Explore how libraries can bring the outside inside, and provide these important experiences through both targeted programming involving hands-on project learning, and simple sensory play. Examples of successful programming and literacy tie-ins will be discussed during the first half of the program, with opportunity for discussion, sharing, and hands-on examples and play in the latter half.
Presenter: Caitlin Savage, Skokie Public Library

Gender Inclusive Libraries: Welcoming Transgender and Nonbinary Children and Caregivers
Participants will learn about how gender identity forms at a young age and use this understanding to provide compassionate service to transgender and gender-nonconforming youth and their caregivers. This program will cover basic gender terminology and concepts, but will focus on strong customer service and how to appropriately handle issues around addressing and relating to customers, restroom access, and programming. There will also be an opportunity for participants to ask questions and bring up other issues they want to discuss.
Presenters: Pearl Bashakevitz, Denver Public Library; Lisa Dengerink, Denver Public Library

Helping Meet Community Needs: Insights from Fathers Served by Social Service Systems
Public libraries provide essential community resources providing access to information; linking individuals with government resources and community services; and providing programming to expand learning (Garmer, 2014). However, it is not widely understood how fathers from traditionally underserved populations perceive or use libraries to support their own needs or those of their children. As part of an IMLS-funded, multi-state project exploring public library services to young children and families and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Unifying Fathers to Families, Communities, and Systems study, we interviewed 12 fathers who experienced trauma, incarceration, or addiction treatment. As fathers of children between the ages of 4-17, they discussed how and in what ways they have attempted to engage (or re-engage) with their children in library and educational activities, perceptions of reading time, and the impact of technology and social media. Dedicated to positive co-parenting, they shared how libraries can better cater to fathers like them and support their efforts to meet their children’s educational and developmental needs. This program will share their insights and suggestions for libraries and social services to work together to support these dads and their families.
Presenters: Maria Cahill, University of Kentucky; Antonio Garcia, University of Kentucky; Amy Olson, State of Kentucky and University of Kentucky

How the Science of Reading is Having an Impact on Public Libraries
Recently, legislation has passed in over 33 states requiring schools to teach reading through a phonics-centric approach called the Science of Reading (SOR). This session will discuss how this change to teaching may affect public libraries. For example, how much do children's librarians need to know about SOR in order to accommodate young families? How does dyslexia connect to SOR? Will SOR, like former instructional approaches such as leveling, impact childrens' personal choice in selecting books? What are some of the ways libraries can positively align with SOR? In this session, children's services staff will come to understand the Science of Reading terminology and basics, be prepared to meet demands for new materials, such as decodable books, and discuss ways to continue to stand up for the library's story of fostering the love of reading in children. 
Presenters: Lu Benke, Linking Libraries and Literacy; Jim Erekson, University of Northern Colorado

Implementing an Inclusive Merchandising Strategy
School and public libraries have been actively seeking to determine the level of diversity in their collections through diversity audits and to improve the diversity levels through collection development over the last several years. It's now tie to take another big step and discover how to highlight all that great work by creating a plan for making your displays, book lists, readers' advisory, and book talks inclusive as the default. This program will provide a Five Step Strategy for Inclusive Merchandising that attendees can take back to their library and implement immediately. From where to start shifting mindsets to training staff to handle backlash to shouting your success -- this program will make sure attendees are covered with library-tested tools and tips!
Presenters: Mary Schreiber, Cuyahoga County Public Library; Mary Slater, Cuyahoga County Public Library

Intellectual Freedom Strategies for Success
Librarians and educators who work with youth throughout the United States are witnessing a rising number of demands to censor books and content for children and young adults alike. Whether it is working with one parent who doesn’t like a title for their own child, dealing with multiple challenges in a school district, or addressing new laws and proposed legislation, it has become difficult to provide young people with reliable access to information they want and need. This program will share best practices for managing censorship attempts at schools, libraries, and legislatures and identify where to seek support when needed.
Presenters: Joyce McIntosh, American Library Association; presenters forthcoming!

Let's Play! Engaging Programs for Babies Beyond Storytime
Unsure of how to engage your littlest patrons with more than storytime? Expand your programming repertoire with out-of-the-box, easy to implement play programs! From Baby Prom to beach parties, we’ll talk about what makes a program appropriate for babies and share some of our favorite ideas to inspire you.
Presenters: Kim Alberts, Akron-Summit County Public Library; Anne-Marie Savoie, Akron-Summit County Public Library

Libraries Supporting Students with Dyslexia
We all know the importance of libraries and the benefits children receive from having access to high quality reading material and information. But what about the students for whom books and other forms of written language are a struggle? The library is even more beneficial for them! Librarians from Hamlin Robinson School in Seattle, WA (where our mission is to ignite the “academic and creative potential of students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences…”) share how school and public libraries can best support children who may feel lost in a sea of words and print.
Presenters: Claire Elam, Hamlin Robinson School; Danielle Melilli, Hamlin Robinson School

Optimizing Services for All Babies and Their Families
This informative and upbeat session will be about understanding how 21st century babies are doing and what you can do to help them all learn and grow. Research about families with babies tells us that up to 40% of North American babies are socially marginalized due to poverty, racism, and all other forms of class-based exclusion and bigotry all of which negatively impacts their development. We also know that all parents and caregivers need and deserve responsive and empowering community supports such as those available at public libraries. We believe the key is to bring marginalized families of babies together with public library services in ways that meet families' needs using strength-based, trauma-responsive approaches. We begin by considering evidence from Zero to Three’s State of Babies 2023, as well as other critical research about babies, and then explore successful community initiatives aimed at the most vulnerable babies and their families. Finally, this interactive session offers attendees a suite of resources to tailor for their own early and family literacy work.
Presenters: Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen, Mother Goose on the Loose; Dr. Tess Prendergast, University of British Columbia

People, Paper, POP! How to Create a Readers' Advisory System that Works for Your Library
Readers’ Advisory (RA) for children has the same goal as RA for adults: matching readers with books. But RA for children is unique in that it can also be used to support positive relationships around books and reading between library staff and children – and help these children begin to self-identify as readers, which reading researchers and psychologists view as crucial to reading growth and development. Learn more about how the Tulsa City-County Library developed and launched a successful “Your Next Great Read for Kids” form-based Readers Advisory service in 2019 (and then reformulated it in 2022 and continues to update for new issues and different branch realities) for school-aged children, then use our “what matters most” principles – People, Paper, POP! – to conceive a system that will work best with your staff, your community, and your library’s goals. This entertaining and fast-paced session will help you determine what will work best for you so that your own Readers’ Advisory system will POP!
Presenters: Sarah Davis, Tulsa City-County Library; Laura Raphael, Tulsa City-County Library

Pride All Year: Rainbow Family Storytime
Come learn how a small group of staff proposed, planned, presented and expanded identity-supporting storytimes explicitly designed for queer families with young children. Rainbow Family Storytime provides joyful, community-building early-learning experiences for parents, caregivers, and children ages birth - 5 who fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella. Takeaways include best practices and resources to create your own Rainbow Family Storytimes or incorporate into storytimes you offer for any audience.
Presenters: Rebecca Chernay, Multnomah County Library; Alec Chunn, Multnomah County Library; Jen May, Multnomah County Library

Reaching Out to Bring Them In: Mutually Beneficial Community Connections
Library outreach drives community engagement and increases overall impact. Many libraries recognize the importance of outreach efforts but struggle to make community connections outside of schools. Learn how to connect with new community partners, who to connect with, and how to create successful collaborations that strengthen your community.
Presenters: Julie Moore, Clinton-Macomb Public Library; Lisa Mulvenna, Clinton-Macomb Public Library; Katie Perky, Clinton-Macomb Public Library

Relax. Breath. Read a Graphic Novel: Graphic Novels as a Format to Promote Mental and Emotional Well-being
Shazam! Want to be a superhero for your library? Want to help patrons find their own superpowers?! Activate your…Graphic Novels! Graphic novels can have healing qualities, and they have been used to teach mental health professionals as well as to treat patients. But, why is sequential art such a good medium to teach about and discuss mental health? The format makes complicated and sensitive information more accessible, and, through features such as externalization and text containers, it allows the reader to visualize and identify with characters and issues. Reading and creating graphic novels can also be used as a form of therapy. Learn about mental health graphic novel titles and how mental health comics can be used for young children in programming and as informational texts. Discover and practice techniques and activities to promote mental health and emotional well-being through mini-mental health breaks featuring tips for self care that can be replicated in library programming. So… Relax. Breathe. Read a graphic novel.
Presenters: Soline Holmes, Academy of the Sacred Heart; Alicia Schwarzenbach, Ascension Parish Library

School and Public Librarians Change the World! Cultivating Sustainable School and Public Library Programs and Partnerships with the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, the Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, "as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity" (UN Development Programme). School and public librarians serving children are in a unique position to champion the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in their communities. This presentation provides programming and partnership strategies for meaningful implementation of this global initiative within a school and public library. Presenters will provide real-word examples from implementation of the SDGs, offering ways that teacher-librarians and youth services librarians can partner to encourage social responsibility in children and teens, as well as promote community–building, equity, inclusivity, and sustainability. Participants will walk participants through a school year and provide tangible ideas for collaboration and implementation each month; gain a practical, hands-on toolkit they can immediately put into practice in their community; receive other takeways like a review of authentic books and materials for children and young adults, sample lesson plans, an advocacy tip sheet, and strategies to connect SDGs to state and national educational standards. Participants will also gain skills for advocating for community implementation to family members and community stakeholders, as well as how-to tips for soliciting administrator and city manager buy-in.
Presenters: Gwendolyn Nixon, University of Alabama; Steven Yates, University of Alabama; Jamie Naidoo, University of Alabama*

Should It Stay or Should It Go?
Do you feel like you're wasting time putting together programming no one attends? Has your library invested time and money into a program that would positively impact the community, but no one attends? Do you hate the phrase "that's how it's always been done!" but don't know how to get the ball rolling toward doing things differently? The presenters of this program have been there too and want to prepare attendees for the difficult conversation that come with a program overhaul - and show how to get past those program fails and re-frame them as success. Get the tools to objectively analyze existing programming, discuss program effectiveness with colleagues and stakeholders, and consider whether or not program resources can be better utilized - or cancelled altogether. 
Presenters: Dani DiAmico, Bay County Library System; Dena Moscheck, Bay County Library System

Standing in Solidarity: Equipping Public Libraries with Tools to Successfully Face Today's Book Challenges
Join this session to engage in a lively and interactive discussion that takes a fresh look at today's book challenges. The panel from the Johnson County, KS library system will share their experience of successfully defending a book challenge during Summer Reading. As a 14-branch system that serves a wide socioeconomic and ethnically diverse patron base, their Summer Reading booklist is intentionally created to meet, and extend beyond, the needs of this diverse community. Participants will walk away from this session with the knowledge necessary to create their own training resources for staff professional development that will equip them with the knowledge and policies related to defending the Freedom to Read and Intellectual Freedom. Participants will collaborate through role play, idea sharing, and round table discussions with their peers and panelists that represent an array of library experiences and roles.
Presenters: Melanie Fuemmeler, Johnson County Library System; Jennifer Reeves, Johnson County Library System

Teach, Don't Celebrate: Holidays in Storytimes
Holiday-themed storytimes were a touchy subject for a while, and many of us stopped doing them altogether. However, new research shows that learning about holidays promotes tolerance, and kids are capable of having in depths discussions about religion and beliefs, if one chooses to engage! In this session, attendees will learn the research, hear feedback from patrons in storytimes with holiday books, and have a discussion about our own fears and hopes for inclusive storytimes.
Presenter: Andrea Cleland, Loveland Public Library

The Science Behind Our Compassion Fatigue and Burnout
Literature shows the growing phenomena of compassion fatigue among professions outside of traditional “caregiving” roles. Libraries are increasingly recognizing compassion fatigue in their staff. However, libraries struggle to learn about where it originates. Vicarious trauma, overwhelming workloads, and burnout are three things that can contribute to library professionals struggling to care about their work and their patrons. What’s more, there are more tools out there than being told to practice self care. This session will break down how compassion fatigue shows up in libraries and the science behind it. Attendees will also explore what can be done to combat compassion fatigue in a variety of ways.
Presenters: Cydney Clink, Mesa County Libraries; Rose Marie Fraser, Mesa County Libraries

Thinking Beyond the Stacks: Creating a Summer Camp for Tweens!
After attending the 2022 ALSC Conference session, “Black Kids Camp Too; Don’t They?” the Kansas City Public Library’s Southeast Branch Children's Librarian started reflecting on her own childhood spent outdoors camping, swimming, biking, and hiking nature trails--and just having a great “wildness” experience. This led to the creation of the library’s first Tween Camp. The camp facilitated not only adventures into nature for neighborhood youth ages 8-11, it introduced them to the branch’s Digital Media Lab (KCDML). KCDML is a hands-on learning environment that uses storytelling, robotics, digital media, and other maker activities to engage youth ages 12-18. This 3-week STEAM camp, the first of its kind in the KCPL system, moved from inspiration to execution in nine months, and was designed to eliminate barriers to participation for youth and their families, including personal cost and the need to have their children engaged for the full day while parents worked. In this program, the camp creators will share their experiences in developing the camp, from planning, resourcing, and reaching the target audience and documentation of the process. They will share information about the fundamental principles with which they approach their work with teens and how they adapted that work to create a bridge to serve the younger demographic. Support materials that will enable participants to develop their own plans will be provided to attendees.
Presenters: Marcus Brown, Kansas City Public Library; Kiesha Collins, Kansas City Public Library

Towards Inclusive Early Literacy Services for Children in Informal Childcare
Did you know two-thirds of young children from working families are cared for daily by caregivers like grandparents, neighbors, or older siblings? Colorado’s Growing Readers Together initiative works with public library professionals to help them intentionally serve these informal childcare providers in their communities. Everyone at all levels of leadership can contribute to refining your library’s early literacy practices in order to better integrate informal care providers and the young children in their care into all of your children’s services, programs, and spaces. A vital piece of this process is learning together as a staff about informal caregivers, the role they play in our early childhood care and education systems, and how the library can meet their needs for access to language and literacy rich experiences and materials for young children. Join us to explore the training program Growing Readers Together designed to support development of library service to informal caregivers and see how you might be able to utilize our materials for your own training purposes.
Presenters: Kate Brunner, Colorado State Library; Melody Garcia, Westminster Public Library

Turning the Page on Trauma: Libraries as Safe Havens for Children and Caregivers
In a world where trauma affects the lives of countless children and caregivers, libraries are more than just repositories of books. They serve as sanctuaries of healing, hope, and empowerment. This program aims to shed light on the essential resources and successful programs available within libraries to support those affected by trauma. By providing access to recommended read-alouds, apps, materials, professional resources, and establishing partnerships with community services, libraries will continue the work to be safe spaces where children and caregivers find the support and strength they need to overcome trauma. This program will inspire libraries to continue their important work in this area, ensuring that they remain pillars of support and resilience in their communities.
Presenters: Georgette Spratling, North Miami Public Library; Gabby Stroller, Meridian Library District; Ewa Wojciechowska, New Castle Public Library

What's Cooking? Leveraging Partnerships to Bring Food Education to Your Community
What can you cook up in your community through community partnerships? This session features a librarian and a non-profit sharing their stories so that you can leave prepared to start, sustain, and troubleshoot problems that may emerge when you start offering partnership-based food education programs in your community. In 2020, Colorado's Meeker Regional Library started offering first virtual and then in-person children's cooking classes with the support of national non-profit The Charlie Cart. This session features their stories, complemented by evidence-based information you can use to leverage partnerships to cook up food education in your communities.
Presenters: Jacquelyn Chi, The Charlie Cart; Nadia Martinez, Broomfield Library; Kristina Selby, Meeker Regional Library District

WTF? Where's the Fat in Kidlit
Where are the fat bodies in kidlit? Where are the joyous, unique, and accurate representations of fat bodies in the books we read and share with our youngest readers? While YA has seen a blossoming of books by and about fat people, kidlit has lagged behind in everything from board books to adventure stories. This panel discussion featuring fat creators and led by a fat librarian will look at what's missing in the field, the challenges in place, and share books that get it right as well as help attendees learn about what they can do to be part of the change.
Moderator: Angie Manfredi; panelists forthcoming!

You Are Not Alone: Leveraging Community Advocates for Children to Unite Against Book Bans
ALA’s Policy Corp is actively advocating for Unite Against Book Bans in the book challenge crisis that libraries have experienced over the last few years. There are lessons to be learned as librarians working with children's services experience traumatic situations in isolation or with colleagues. Parts of a successful materials challenge defense lies in collaboration, communication and widespread community support. PC members will offer specific techniques and strategies for outreach to organizations within diverse populations of communities, crisis communication related to recent adverse state legislation and strengthening relationships with community children's advocates and elected officials; this program will also include a Q&A session. 
Presenters: Tiffeni Fontno, Peabody College; Amanda Kordeliski, Norman Public Schools; Sarah Vantrease, Sonoma County Library; moderator, Kent Oliver, American Library Association