Monthly Archives: July 2014

Read Aloud 15 Minutes

read aloudIt’s summer, so kids everywhere are participating in summer reading programs and hopefully reading  every day. Parents and librarians know that some kids have no problem meeting their reading goals while others are less eager to spend their time reading. One way parents can help encourage their children to read is by reading aloud together.

Many parents are probably already reading aloud to children who are still to young to read to themselves, but as librarians, we can’t take for granted that all parents know how important reading is to their child’s education. Also, once kids start reading independently, reading aloud is often dropped from the bedtime story routine, but reading aloud doesn’t have to end there. Reading aloud to older kids is a great way to encourage reading, especially among reluctant readers.

Read Aloud 15 Minutes is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2008 “to make reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes the new standard in child care.” While librarians are often well versed in the importance of reading, the Read Aloud site has great resources for helping you feel more prepared to convey the importance of reading to parents in your community:

The Read Aloud site also has many downloadable posters and handouts you can print out, such as a reading calendar to help track days of reading. July is “Seize the Summer” month, which encourages reading to stop the summer slide, so it pairs perfectly with the summer reading program you are already running. For more information, you can subscribe to the Read Aloud newsletter. To become more involved, you can also sign up become a campaign partner, with no financial commitment on your part.

Is your library already participating in the Read Aloud campaign? How do you encourage reading aloud at your library? Share your stories in the comments!

Hosting a Bring Your Own Device Day

Blake Patterson - Flicker: the iOS family pile (2012) used under CC BY 2.0:

Blake Patterson – Flicker: the iOS family pile (2012) used under CC BY 2.0.

With the proliferation of mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, and wearables), it can be daunting if not impossible to remain in touch with everything that’s out there. This can prove intimidating for front line library staff when patrons come in with questions related to their devices. While you don’t have to have prior knowledge of a device in order to assist a patron with one, passing familiarity with what’s out there can greatly bolster your confidence when doing so. One easy and fun way to learn about the doodads your patrons are using is to host a Bring Your Own Device Day program at your library.

There are a few different types of BYOD programs, but what I’m referring to here is basically just a tech-heavy share and tell session, where anyone who wishes to brings in their latest or favorite gizmo. Each person has the opportunity to demonstrate how they use their device and explain why they like it. Afterwards, attendees can visit with and learn more from one another. Mobile devices are very personal technology in ways that few other things are. As a result, people get enthusiastic about them and love to show them off. While they do so, it’s an opportunity not just for everyone attending to discover what’s out there, but also for library staff to get informed while engaging their patrons. Of course, a BYOD program can also turn into a forum for demonstrating library resources available on mobile, like OverDrive and Zinio.

DPLA Community Rep Program


I have written about the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) in a previous post. It brings the digital resources of hundreds of resources together in one interactive interface. DPLA is a small organization and has reached out to interested parties to help promote their work. The Community Rep is a DPLA program that seeks to promote DPLA both in the US and internationally. Each Community Rep has volunteered to work on DPLA promotional activities in their respective area. Some areas have multiple volunteers and other areas only have 1 for the whole state. I happen to be the only Community Rep in North Dakota. I am very excited to have this role since DPLA offers such great resources– all at the tips of your fingers.

Working on a report and need some visuals?–DPLA has millions of images including works of art, photos, cartoons, etc. from all over the country including the Minnesota Digital Library, Mountain West Digital Library and Montana Memory.

Would you like to see some news clips of Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at a a mass meeting? They have those and many other audio and video recordings.

Need to know how to survive the zombie apocalypse?–OK, it may not have anything on that particular topic but let’s face it— if you were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, you’re not going to have time to read. However, you can find text works like theses, government documents, books, pamphlets, etc. that address zombies and popular culture. Isn’t that a good enough reason to check it out?


Camp Wonderopolis

camp wonderopolisAre you having fun with all the science experiments you’re doing as part of your summer reading program? Are your kids begging for more? Have them check out Camp Wonderopolis! Camp Wonderopolis is an initiative of the National Center for Families Learning, and it is a free online science program for kids. All you need to sign up is an email address!

Camp Wonderopolis officially runs until July 27, but it is self-paced, so you can sign up to participate at any time. After July 27, you can access all the camping materials at Though all ages are welcome to participate in Camp Wonderopolis, it is specifically geared toward kids in grades 2-8, with each activity taking about 15 minutes to complete. If you have other questions, visit the FAQs.

There are six different themed areas of exploration:

  • Amusement Park
  • Observatory
  • Laboratory
  • Dig Site
  • Woods
  • Zoo

There’s also the Wonder Wall, where Campers can post about their projects.

Also be sure to check out the main Wonderopolis site throughout the rest of the year. For inspiration, they have a widget you can install on your site to get a “Wonder of the Day” and remind families to explore together. They also offer educator resources for teachers and librarians.

Has your science-filled summer reading program encouraged families to do more exploring and experimenting together? Do you have programming geared towards families? Share your stories in the comments!

Apprenticeship, Internship, and the Military Model

InternHow do you get good at something? You practice. You make mistakes. You get feedback. You try again. In the past, you learned by doing. You found an expert in a trade and apprenticed yourself. You learned by trial and error. The system of apprenticeship was first developed in the late Middle Ages by craft guilds. A master craftsman provided food, lodging, and expert training in the craft in exchange for labor.

The contemporary internship, in theory, is similar to an apprenticeship. However, modern internships are often unpaid; you are lucky if you actually learn job skills and are not stuck doing mundane tasks that do not teach the trade.

The traditional military model of learning a trade still works well. In the military, the recruit learns skills by observation, practice, and feedback. I remember my time in a U.S. Navy “A” school, which was split about half and half between the classroom and doing the actual work. You got immediate feedback from the supervisor if you did something wrong, and then you tried again. The military couldn’t fire you, so there was room for error, room to learn. Today’s work environment often does not tolerate mistakes. Make a mistake and you might be fired or asked to resign.

The current model of education is mostly classroom based, where teachers actively give and students passively receive. Basically it is about grades, not about experience. In the modern era, traditional apprenticeship job training has largely been replaced by vocational classes or college courses. The classroom model does not serve us well in every learning environment.  Maybe we should re-visit the apprenticeship model. Lessons from the past teach us that apprenticeships are mutually beneficial to the worker and the mentor or the organization.

“If you want success, figure out the price, and then pay it.”                     – Scott Adams, cartoonist

International Literacy Day

literacy dayInternational Literacy Day, first celebrated in 1966, is a day “to celebrate the power of literacy around the world.” It is celebrated on September 8. This year the International Reading Association has partnered with NASA to help students “Lift Off to Literacy.” You can sign up to receive a free kit of “creative, cross-curricular ideas” to help you “engage your students in an extra 60 seconds of literacy activities.” You could also win a prize from NASA! The kit is available for preschoolers through adults, so you can request whichever kit would be most suitable for your patrons. You can also print a poster to advertise International Literacy Day.

NASA has developed many other resources for educators. The Lunar and Planetary Institute, which we’ve blogged about previously, also has resources  you can use to incorporate space programming at your library.

Do you plan to participate in International Literacy Day? What kind of activities do you use to encourage literacy in your library? Share them in the comments!