The 28th Annual Youth Services Forum, “Keepin’ It Fresh,” sponsored by the NJ Library Association, NJ State Library and NJ Association of School Librarians, was held on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters, Manalapan. Keynote speaker Cheryl B. Filipak, author of “Saving Streak: A SeaWorld Rescue Story” shared her book with the over 130 children’s and teen librarians and youth services library staff in attendance as she explained that she wrote it to help bring awareness of the manatee species and how their critical habitats are being threatened. She also provided handouts for her keynote. Then the audience attended one of three workshops during two breakout sessions. Handouts or slides from the sessions are included here if they were provided by the speakers.
In the Design on a Dime workshop, Sabrina and Susan Starts, Youth Services Assistant and Youth Services Supervisor from the Pennsauken Free Public Library, presented new and creative ways for youth services library staff to decorate their Youth Services Department using materials the library already has, like Post-It Notes, Legos, etc. They provided useful tips on how to get your YS Department noticed with attractive displays, signs, and eye-catching graphics, all without breaking the library’s budget. (Handout)
Alia Shields, Youth Services librarian at the Cherry Hill Public Library, shared tips on Cooking Up Culinary Literacy @ the Public Library in her session. She demonstrated how cooking programs at libraries can help kids develop motor skills and encourage science and math learning, especially around nutrition. Attendees were given information on how to create their own mobile kitchen station, run culinary literacy classes for kids and develop community partnerships to promote these cooking programs. (Handout)
In the session entitled Buzzwords You Need to Know: Executive Function, Hoboken Public Library Children’s Librarian Beth Vredenburg explained that Executive Function is an umbrella term for neurologically based life skills needed for self-control and regulation. She shared studies and research on how educators are creating learning activities that help kids gain these important skills. She offered ideas on how librarians can and should adapt and create these programs for their library’s children. (Handout)
Retired children’s librarian Carol Simon Levin presented a different way to offer storytimes using S.T.E.A.M in herS.T.E.A.M. Storytime Surprise session. This storytime model allows librarians to use the Every Child Ready to Read 2 format for early literacy and combine that with the interest and excitement that STEAM brings, with emphasis on the arts and mathematics, not just science. She stressed how this format emphasizes process during craft and play times and shared examples of successful programs for children ages 3-10 years-old. (CarolSimonLevin.blogspot.com)
East Brunswick Public Library staff members, children’s librarian Suzanne Klein, and Aaron Pickett, Head of Youth Services presented information about Summer Teen Volunteers @ the Library: TLC (Teen Library Connection) in their workshop. They said that TLC has had several iterations throughout the years and went through yet another transformation during the 2018 summer season. Klein shared the different tasks the teen volunteers have performed for the library over the years, the trials and tribulations of creating this program, and provided tips on what worked, what didn’t, and what is in the pipeline.
Pham Condello, Managing Librarian of Youth Services at Old Bridge Public Library, presented an intriguing and informative session called: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Why It’s Ok to Leave Your Job and Change it Up. She spoke from personal experience about working at a many libraries and offered advice on what it takes to move between library departments. She offered tips to make a successful change, including strategies for actually applying for a new job and adjusting once you’ve gotten it.
After lunch, everyone listened to a variety of five-minute Spark Talks on some of the trendy topics of the day. These included:
- Jeff Cupo, Youth Services Librarian, Montville Township Public Library – Teen Advisory Board (TAB) Summits
- Martha Cannon, Youth Services Librarian, Camden County Library System, Haddon Township Branch – Maker Labs
- Sandi Cronce, Head of Youth Services, Willingboro Public Library – Summer Lunch Programs (handout)
- Mary Ecklund – Children’s Librarian, Cape May County Library – Operation Clean Slate (handout)
- Aaron Pickett, Head of Youth Services, East Brunswick Public Library – Maker Kits
Afterward people asked questions and shared their own suggestions and ideas. Many people seemed to be inspired by what they’d heard and their imaginations were “sparked” to come up with other new, great ideas for their own libraries.