Category Archives: library conference

MLA Conference Recap #4: More pictures from the day

Here are some more pictures from the MLA conference.  It was so nice to have the opportunity to meet other librarians and to get a chance to talk about the future of libraries.  I’m looking forward to next year’s conference!

Here’s me with a pig who loves libraries.  I met the pig at one of the exhibits…come to think of it, I didn’t bother to ask the his owner about the booth; I was more interested in getting a pigture, haha.

Ivy growing up a tree outside Stevens Hall:

And, finally, I would like to thank Rita from Baker & Taylor for stopping by to see us on Saturday and for giving me free books (yay!)  She also gave me this adorable bag, which I had a feeling Katniss would claim as her new hideout:

Do you have any plans for the long weekend?  Hope everyone has a happy and healthy Memorial Day!


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MLA Conference Recap #3: Story Slam

Beautiful lilac bushes growing near Stevens Hall.

You’ve probably heard of a Poetry Slam (a gathering where people are encouraged to get up and recite poetry) but have you heard of a Story Slam?  Last year, teens stood up and told true stories from their own lives at the Edythe Dyer Community Library.  Each night the winning storyteller walked away with $500 and the winner of the Grand Slam won $1,000, thanks to generous sponsorship from Katahdin Trust Company.

Leading up to the event, the library also provided a storytelling workshop to give the teens a chance to try out and refine their stories.  There was a strict five minute limit, and there was no inappropriate language allowed, but other than that the kids were free to choose whichever story they wanted to tell.

I thought that a Story Slam program would pair nicely with an interesting program that was mentioned during Buffy Hamilton’s speech:  Human Library.  This program looks for volunteers to act as a book.  Patrons are then able to “check out” a human book for an hour and then have a conversation with him or her.  Human books usually represent a demographic that are misunderstood and the program’s goal is to break down the walls of prejudice.  After talking about the idea with several EPL librarians, we agreed that it would be a great opportunity to pair seniors with teens and offer a multi-generational program.  Better yet, if the conversations were video taped, it would be a way to document the stories.  So many people (older and younger) have amazing stories that would be a real asset to the collection.

Without taking up a lot of space, or investing in a lot of expensive equipment, these programs would be an easy, affordable way to introduce participatory culture in the library.


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MLA Conference Recap #2: “Hooking Reluctant Readers”

My first afternoon session of the conference was “Hooking Reluctant Readers” with author Bruce Hale.  As a child, he was a self-professed TV addict who had little use for books.  Until  his TV broke (horror of horrors) and he was forced to find alternative forms of entertainment.  His father read Tarzan to him and introduced him to the wonderful, fantastic worlds found between the covers of a book.

Hale’s presentation was lively and informative.  He discussed some of his top picks for young reluctant readers, focusing on the categories of humor, fantasy, and mystery, among others.  He read selections from the books to us out loud and his storytelling skills definitely shone.  I did not have the opportunity to attend his storytelling workshop that morning, but I picked up a lot of tips just by watching him.  He used appropriate facial expressions, included gestures, and read with emotion to make the stories come to life.

His presentation got me thinking about the power of books at certain points in our lives.  I was never a reluctant reader, so I can’t relate to that experience, but during my youth I found books that seem to have been written just for me (I still find them every once in a while).

What about you?  Feel free to share about the book (or books) that changed your life in the comments.

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Tween Book Review: I, Emma Freke

On Sunday at the MLA conference, I had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Atkinson.  I was a little more than halfway through her tween book I, Emma Freke.  It was a wonderful (and rare) experience to be able to speak with the author of the book I was currently reading.  I plan to post later on about her workshop, entitled “Empowering Tweens through Story” but for now, I’ll just give you my thoughts about the book.

Emma Freke (pronounced “freak”) knows that she lives up to her last name.  She’s a tall, gangly 12 year old who towers over everyone in her grade. She also has bright red hair, which makes her even easier to spot in a crowd.  Any outgoing, sociable person might not be bothered by these traits, but for shy Emma, her unusual appearance is like the kiss of death.  She feels awkward and uncomfortable socially around people her own age.  Emma has never felt like she has belonged in her family (she even thinks that she might be adopted).  However, this is not the case, and she decides to take a journey halfway across the country to meet the other side of the family, which she greatly resembles.  It takes this independent adventure to inspire Emma to believe in herself.  She not only gains self-confidence during the family reunion, she also inspires her family to stand up for what is right.

I really enjoyed this realistic, humorous look at tween life.  I think tweens would enjoy the book because it so accurately captures the awkward “growing pains” of being twelve.  You think that you’re a freak (even if that’s not your last name) and you enter every social interaction with the fear that others will draw attention to what makes you different.  The book’s inclusion of non-traditional families (Emma’s friend is adopted, and she herself is being raised by a single mother) will spark conversations with tweens about what family means and stress the importance that the family structure is secondary to the love and support a family can provide.

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 lupines


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MLA Conference Recap #1: Making Stuff with your Patrons

Yesterday, I attended the MLA Conference in Orono.  I picked up a lot of good information to share on the blog this week.  This recap will focus on the first workshop I went to, called “Making Stuff with your Patrons.”  I took plenty of pictures and I plan to spread them out throughout the week so you can get an idea of how beautiful the UMaine campus is in late May.  Here’s a picture of the Mall (it was strange to see it so vacant):

The Future of Libraries:  Making Stuff with your Patrons

Technology is quickly becoming more of a presence in everyday life and with these changing times, many people wonder what the future will be like. Institutions that we once depended on may become a thing of the past if they don’t adapt to fit today’s society. For example, the United States Post Office is noticing a significant decrease in business due to the fact that mailing a letter (which costs 45 cents and may take at least a couple of days to arrive) cannot compete with a free email which arrives almost instantly. Similarly, libraries are faced with the challenge to remain current in a rapidly evolving world.

Information, which used to be found primarily in books, is now available to the masses online. With the growing popularity of ebooks, it seems clear to most that print books will become an obsolete concept that we will reminisce about to future generations. If this is the case, the library starts to look less like a central hub of information and more like a warehouse for dusty, outdated volumes.

In his talk entitled, “The Future of Libraries: Making Stuff with your Patrons” Michael Whittaker emphasized that thankfully, this is not the case. We need to change the way we think about libraries. The materials we provide to patrons are not the most important part of what we do, the patrons themselves are. By promoting “participatory culture” we can remain an influential presence in the community. How will we accomplish this? By creating makerspaces where patrons can create a variety of media: from videos and music to more traditional forms of expression such as drawing and writing. This adds a new dimension to the library experience because patrons are learning to create content as well as consume it.

Michael’s talk focused on the projects he and Justin Hoenke have worked on with teens at the Portland Public Library (PPL). For example, the PPL teamed up with the local writing organization, The Telling Room to present “Envisioning Your Own Video Game,” a program in which students got together to brainstorm ideas for their own video games. Not only did this allow teens to delve deeper into a subject they already enjoy, but by developing characters and a storyline, it also stressed the link between video games and literacy.

Participatory culture was certainly a buzz word at this year’s conference and it seems like a natural direction for the future of libraries. As Buffy Hamilton mentioned during her speech, we need to find a way to spread the spirit of the librarian. Technology can provide us with the ability to print our own books, record our own music, and film our own movies, but it’s useless without someone with a vision and the drive to create it. What better way to inspire curiosity and inquisitiveness in our patrons than to give them a voice by providing them with equipment and asking them to let their imaginations run wild? Who knows, in the future, you may go the library to create a book instead of checking one out.

If you’d like to know more about “The Future of Libraries:  Making Stuff with your Patrons” please click here.

If you would like to see Buffy Hamilton’s full powerpoint presentation entitled “Libraries, Participitory Culture, and Enchantment” please click here.


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2012 MLA Conference: Libraries United

Today I am attending the Maine Libraries Association conference in Orono.  I will have lots of great information to share when I get back, but for now, here’s a picture of the basket I put together for the basket raffle fundraiser (thank you, Mary, for your great contributions):

The theme for this basket is “Keeping in Touch.”

I’m looking forward to attending some great workshops, meeting Maine librarians, and getting a chance to wander around the UMaine campus on a beautiful spring day!

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Reading Round Up Award Winners 2012

I attended Reading Round Up in Augusta yesterday, and I would like to congratulate the winners of the Lupine Award and the recipient of the Katahdin Award for 2012.

Lupine Award winners:

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Ballons over Broadway:  the True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

Lost Trail:  Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness by Donn Fendler and Lynn Plourde; illustrations by Ben Bishop

Sammy in the Sky by Barbara Walsh;  paintings by Jamie Wyeth

I have only read one of these books (Small as an Elephant, my review can be found here) but the rest have been put on my tbr pile.  They all sound like wonderful, well-constructed stories.

This year’s Katahdin Award winner is Phillip Hoose.  This award is given to recognize an author or illustrator’s body of work.  Peter Hoose is the author of The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, Claudette Colvin:  Twice Toward Justice, and Hey Little Ant among others.  Peter sang “Hey Little Ant” to finish his speech, and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard the song (or read the book) before.  I loved it!  It definitely has storytime potential, although I don’t know if my version would live up to the one I heard today.

His new book, Moonbird:  A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 will be released in July 2012.

I really enjoyed listening to these authors and illustrators as they gave their acceptance speeches.  Many of them see librarians as the link between the content they create and the child who enjoys it.  I will definitely write more about the day in future posts, but I just wanted to say a quick “congratulations” to this year’s winners!


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