Illinois Library Association Conference Recap

Illinois Library Association Conference:  Kickstarting! Connections, Creativity and Community

The Illinois Library Conference was held this past October 14th-16th in Springfield. I really enjoyed the trip and even had some free time to do a Haunted Lincoln walking tour and visit the illustrious Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and National Museum. I was simply awed at the greatness that was our 16th President and such historic surroundings as our old State Capital building and Lincoln’s Law firm. One of my favorite discoveries was this incredible used book shop called Prairie Archives. Their website doesn’t do this place justice as it was wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor full of old books, including everything from the classics to history to contemporary fiction to old magazines. It is a treasure trove for people like me who enjoy scouring and digging through stuff for a unique and memorable find. I did take home a special set of books and it was indeed a memorable find for me.

Here I am, speaking to the ILA crowd about how to make early literacy Read to the Rhythm!

Exhibits opened on Wednesday. As part of the iREAD Committee, I also worked our exhibit booth. It was a blast! I am honored to be chosen for this Committee full of interesting and creative people. Being able to interact with so many librarians and share this great summer reading initiative was so worthwhile. If you haven’t seen pictures from the conference, visit our Facebook page and you can see all the fun your library can experience from iREAD.  A first for the iREAD committee this year was a presentation of showcase ideas, programs and crafts. I spoke about how the 2015 theme of Read to the Rhythm could be incorporated into early childhood and literacy storytimes and more. Check out our presentation online!

The Youth Services Breakfast with Don Tate was such fun. He is one impressive artist with a background no one could guess.  I am so happy to support the cause he has taken on called #weneeddiversebooks to encourage more diversity in publishing and writing.  I just loved his presentation and am so happy to have discovered his talent.


Evaluating Makerspaces on Tuesday, October 14th
This program presented by RAILS offered best practice and evaluation tips and ideas to effectively evaluate your makerspace. What I found most important was the point made to not get stuck in outcome based evaluation systems, and how to achieve those new ways of analyzation. Makersapces are intended for spurring creativity and critical thinking which can be tough to actualize with a figure. Using team base inquiry and theory based evaluation all while asking the question of, “What’s the point” gives more meaning to the data collection. Also helpful was how the type of Makerspace was categorized into Digital Creation, Analog Creation, Tinkering Studio and Participatory types of mediums. It helped me understand that not all Makerspaces have to be done using a computer or 3D printer, but that the idea is to create or ‘make’.

Babypalooza: Kickstarting Connections with Families on Tuesday, October 14th
Three libraries presented their versions of Baby and early literacy events. The basis of the Babyfest program is to create an event just for young families offering resources and services specific to their needs. They can be as elaborate as including storytimes, crafts, raffle drawings, and freebies from sponsoring partners. One library showed how to use Sign Language in storytimes which I found very helpful! It reminded me that just a few signs can add a new dimension to a traditional babytime class.

Hola! Czesc! Hello! Connecting Families through Bilingual Programs on Tuesday, October 14th
This panel of librarians working in diverse bilingual communities offered their program ideas and tips to help bring in patrons to the library. One idea I really liked was to have a guest storyteller, in addition to the librarian, at a family storytime. The guest storyteller would perform the story in their native language. It is a great way to encourage family and friends to attend a program together, and share their culture with others. While I have done Dia de los Ninos programs at my current library, making it a year round initiative was another great idea from this panel.

Volunteers Galore! on Wednesday, October 15th
One of the libraries’ presentation gave a really great example of their young friends program. What I liked about their program was that it involved children of all ages and their parents. The turnout at their meetings is impressive and they offer the program year round. It sounded like a success and one I think could be easily replicated.


ALA Annual Convention 2013 in Chicago!

This was my first time attending the ALA Annual Conference and while overwhelming at times, it was so much fun!  I am so glad to have had the opportunity to go and hope to have tons of ideas from the sessions.

It was also Madness on Michigan Ave. and Metra as I walked with the hundreds of people attending the Bulls rally at Grant Park…but so exciting!

My focus on sessions was centered on youth services. I got to talk with librarians of all types of libraries and from across the country and even met one from England and another from Canada!  It is comforting to know we all deal with the same situations and also interesting to hear how others deal with the good and bad.

Friday, June 28th

Breaking Out:  Veronica Roth and Debut Authors from the Class of 2k13 Discuss Their Upcoming Books

Friday, I went to a great author panel of debut young adult authors which included Veronica Roth of Divergent fame.  I got to meet and sit with Mindy McGinnis, who wrote Not a Drop to Drink about a post-apocalyptic world in which water is scarce in cities.  I also talked briefly with author Jennifer McGowan who wrote the historical fiction novel, Maid of Secrets and Tamera Wissinger who wrote a novel in verse called Gone Fishing.  They were a high energy and engaging panel of speakers.  These authors have also garnered several good and excellent reviews from Publishers Weekly and four starred Kirkus reviews. The Junior Library Guild also picked two Class of 2k13 books for its spring catalogue.

Additional authors in the panel were:

  • K.A. Barson, 45 POUNDS, MORE OR LESS (YA Contemporary)
  • Caela Carter, ME, HIM THEM AND IT (YA Contemporary)
  • Debra Driza MILA 2.0 (YA Sci/fi)
  • Geoffrey Girard PROJECT CAIN (YA Techno-thriller)
  • Polly Holyoke THE NEPTUNE PROJECT (MG Sci/fi)
  • Lydia Kang CONTROL (YA Sci/fi)
  • Stephanie Kuehn CHARM & STRANGE (YA Literary Thriller)
  • Demitria Lunetta IN THE AFTER (YA Post-Apocalyptic)
  • Nicole McInnes BRIANNA ON THE BRINK (YA Contemporary)
  • Kate Karyus Quinn ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE (YA Literary Horror)
  • Tara Sullivan GOLDEN BOY (MG Contemporary)
  • Cristin Terrill ALL OUR YESTERDAYS (YA Sci/fi)

Opening General Session 

The opening session included speeches from ALA President Maureen Sullivan.  She gave several awards and talked briefly about the focus of the conference.  Following was Mayor Rahm Emanuel who spoke about the importance of libraries to children and the education system.  Finally, speaker Steven Levitt talked about the ideas he presents in his books, Think Like a Freak and Freakanomics.

Following the General Session was the opening of the Exhibit Floor.  I found myself at the beginning of the entrance and involuntarily participated in what some of us dubbed, “The Running of the Librarians.”  It was simply spectacular to see all the big publishers, their booths, freebies and ARCS along with the smaller presses and vendors.  Great exhibits overall a ton of fun. I had so much swag!!

Saturday, June 29th

I attended 3 sessions this day as well as walked more of the exhibit floor.  I also stopped into the Association for Library Service to Children 101 meeting.

What Hot in STEAM Education:  How Using ECRR2 Supports Literacy, Common Core and School Success. 

This session was a mix of librarians from schools and public libraries.  The  majority was a conversation from Dr. Judy Cheatham, VP of Literacy Services for Reading is Fundamental.  She was excellent and gave a very interesting presentation about the gaps in education systems and literacy, gave statistics on demographics and reviewed the many individual factors that encompass reading skills.  Her presentation definitely has motivated me to learn more about how we as public and youth librarians can help children gain better literacy skills to supplement their schooling.  I also liked her inclusion of the A in STEAM–the arts!  We often are so focused on the analytical side of STEAM education, but often let the importance of creative play and artistic expression go awry.  Additional presenters talked briefly about how they implement early literacy and STEAM programs for very young children in their library.   Read more about Reading is Fundamental.

Arts 2.0:  Libraries, Arts, and Technology

An excellent program presented by Heather Moorefield-Lang, an education and social sciences librarian at Virginia Tech Libraries.  She shows us how different forms of art including IPad apps and websites can be used in conjunction with creativity.  She covered collaborative art, music, readers theatre, improv and the visual arts, then pointed out how STEAM education can be used together with any of these artistic techniques.  During the presentation I found myself thinking of ways we already offer children participatory artistic expression and ways to improve programming to incorporate more of these elements. Some free websites to check out include:

Tuesday, July 2nd

I attended the closing general session where ALA President Maureen Sullivan introduced the 2013-14 ALA President Barbara K. Stripling and introduced new Division Presidents.  The keynote speaker was Octavia Spencer, best known for her role in the move The Help.  She was great!  I got to briefly meet her after and received a signed copy of her new book for children called Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit which comes out in October.

NIU 33rd Annual Children’s Literature Conference

I attended the NIU 33rd Annual Children’s Literature Conference on Friday, March 15th.  This was my first time attending this conference and it was a great place to have face-to-face time with the authors.  I really enjoyed meeting the authors.  The theme this year was “Make ’em Laugh: Motivating Readers with Humor.”

Carolyn Crimi, author of books such as Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Dear Tabby, and Pugs in a Bug.  She spoke on the importance of bringing humor into the classroom and teaching.  Her blog is  Henry is adorable and Pugs in a Bug is perfect for a preschool age storytime.

David Lubar, author of over 30 books including Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, and the Weenies short story series.  His books Hidden Talents and Flip were both chosen as ALA Best Books for Young Adults Awards.  His website is  Love his funny stories.  His short stories are great for reluctant readers and his chapter books are great for kids who may want something different than sports.

Tom Angleberger is the NY Times bestselling author of the Origami Yoda series.  He even showed the group how to make an Origami Yoda.  Other books include Fake Mustache and Horton Halfpott.  His website is  His books are great for beginning readers and any kid that likes Star Wars will love these.

Lisa Yee won the Sid Fleishman Humor Award in 2005 for her debut novel Millicent Min, Girl Genius, which was also selected for the IRA/CBC Children’s Choice List.  Visit her website at  Her books are perfect for girls who may want to read about realistic fiction and are not into fantasy or romance.  Boys may like Millicent too even though the main character is a girl, because the humor is fun.

I attended two breakout sessions.  The local author panel featured Sallie Wolf, Jenny Meyerhoff and Allan Woodrow.  All three spoke about getting their start as writers and about their upcoming publications.  The Literature and the Common Core presentation made good points about how nonfiction picture books can be used during storytimes and classroom lessons.