CLASC New Book Forum and Discussion

On Thursday, October 20th, CLASC will be hosting a New Book Forum and Discussion at Sachem Public Library from 7:00pm – 9:00pm. The evening will begin with a discussion of The Emerald Atlas by debut novelist John Stephens. After the discussion, each NBF participant will have an opportunity to flash-talk a new book for young readers that has left a strong impression.

The Emerald Atlas is the first in a fantastical adventure series, but the book has an ending that is completely satisfying. Young orphans Kate, Michael and Emma are as likable as their evil nemesis, the Countess, is deplorable. The strength of the characterization was like an anchor for me in an ocean of action. Scrappy, small-for-her-age Emma may just be one of my favorite characters I’ve met this year. The book is also quite humorous, and after watching these interviews with the author, you’ll see why!

If you’re already buried under a pile of new books and Lit-Fest reading – and even if you’re not – I suggest listening to the audio book. I just finished the recording from Listening Library this morning and it was a marvelous production. The story is narrated by Jim Dale, the award-winning voice of the Harry Potter series, and is available on CD and as an electronic file from

If you’re able to attend the NBF, please RSVP to Marybeth at the Sachem Public Library. Arrive early, if you can, and stroll through Sachem’s beautiful outdoor space, Inside/Out, and see what should be a stunning show of fall foliage.

Book Club Kits at the Madison Public Library

My best friend lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and this Saturday we took a trip to the downtown branch with her baby girl to get the storytime schedule. I was struck by this great idea: a table full of book club kits for children and tweens. The sign reads:

Ever wish your friend could get their hands on the book you’re reading?? Borrow as many copies as you need for your friends or your Book Club. Great for the classroom, too!

A folder with supplementary material comes with each set of books. What a great way to get kids interested in forming a book club!

Another fun activity at the Madison Public Library is Donuts with Dad, a program offered once a month on Saturdays. The librarian I met reported that over a hundred people have shown up at this special time for fathers and their kids to enjoy stories, movies and snacks.

Later this year, the downtown branch will close for major renovations. I look forward to seeing the finished building and finding more great ideas at the Madison Public Library!

Suffolk Welcomes Thom Barthelmess this November

Thom Barthelmess will be presenting two programs for children’s services staff on November 15th, 2011: Nonfiction: It’s Not Just for Homework Anymore! at 10:00 am and Strong Collection Development Plan: Helping Children Help Themselves at 2:00 pm.

Thom Barthelmess is a lecturer and the Curator of the Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science in River Forest, IL. The Butler Children’s Literature Center opened in its new, permanent space on Sunday, September 11, 2011 with the Kinship Project, its inaugural exhibit. In the announcement of the event, Thom wrote:

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, we have curated a collection of books for children and teens that speaks to our human kinship, as our way of remembering and paying tribute.

Thom is pictured here reading Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, one of the 29 titles in the Kinship Project. Behind him is wallpaper featuring the artistry of…can you guess correctly!?

Before joining the teaching staff at Dominican University, Thom served as the youth services manager at the Austin Public Library and youth services coordinator and youth services supervisor at Spokane County Library District. Thom is a past president of the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) and has served as a member of the ALSC Board of Directors. Thom’s numerous other roles within ALSC include serving on the Newbery Award Selection Committee, Membership Committee, and chairing the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee. He is the current Chair of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards committee.

Besides reading and talking about books for young people, Thom enjoys following tennis, watching all the Oscar-nominated performances before the big night, and taking his dog Hobart on walks through Humboldt Park.

For more details about the programs on November 15th, or to sign up for one or both of these sessions, visit the SCLS calendar.

A Story Makes a Good Container – Snippets from “The Magic of Words”

“Talking to you is like talking to thousands,” Heather Forest told the audience at this morning’s workshop “The Magic of Words” at SCLS.

The audience she was referring to was – of course – librarians. Librarians are the people with “positional power,” the “public intellectuals.” After the audience recovered from this high praise, we opened our minds and imaginations to Heather’s thoughtful presentation.

Libraries played a large role in Heather’s early life. She read comics, which her parents considered frivolous. So the family made a deal: if Heather checked out one book from the library every week, she would be allowed to continue with her comics. Heather marched down to her public library and made her way to the mythology section. She only veered from that section when a librarian steered her to the 398.2’s; Heather’s been there ever since.

Heather hates the word illiterate. “Every child comes into the world pre-literate.” She went on to point out how children read faces, read their parents’ tone of voice, read the clouds. They are living in a world of communication before they ever learn to read or write.

Today the audience learned how to discover the bones of a story, and just as importantly, how to memorize them. Through a series of exercises, we went into our own special memories where information stored in stories is easily retrieved. Once we saw the “movie” of a story in our minds, it was there for us to recall with relative ease.

Many librarians left the workshop wanting more. Heather mentioned she is interested in conducting more in-depth workshops for libraries by zone, as she did in the Huntington zone this past winter. If your zone is interested, please contact Heather Forest.

Cancer Services Program – What Children’s Services Staff Should Know

Staff members from the Cancer Services Program (CSP) of Eastern and Western Suffolk County were at SCLS this morning to share information about their services. CSP wishes to reach out to uninsured or underinsured adults who work or reside in Suffolk County. Below is a summary of key information that may be useful to children’s services staff as they encounter parents and grandparents struggling with cancer-related health issues.

  • CSP provides services ranging from preventative screening, diagnosis, transportation, and child care to women over 40 and men over 50 who may have or wish to prevent colorectal, breast, or cervical cancer.
  • CSP provides referral services to people who have other types of cancer and adults who fall outside the women over 40/men over 50 age category.
  • CSP staff is interested in partnering with libraries, attending health fairs, and hosting informational programs for parents in the library.

For more information about the Cancer Services Program, visit the CSP’s website.

Homework Help

School is starting up and it won’t be long before kids are in your library looking for homework help. In a few weeks, WBLI will begin running an ad campaign that will direct thousands of listeners to to find the “word of the day.” That word will allow them to enter into a weekly drawing for $50 gift certificates to Friendly’s. What does that mean for librarians?

Now is the time to try the Brainfuse product!

If you haven’t logged in yet, I urge you to try it before the ad campaign begins on September 19th. You can try it two ways: you can pretend you are a student and ask a question, or you can simply tell the tutor you are a librarian testing out the product so you’re ready to show it to kids, teens, and parents. The tutor will gladly demonstrate the site for you. Remember, this is no bother to the tutors – they are getting paid and right now is a slow time of year for the service!

In addition to trying the service, please take advantage of the free promotional kit SCLS Youth Services has prepared. If your library does not have this kit yet, contact Tracy at SCLS. To assist you with promoting the service, and Homework Help talking points are available here.

Practice demonstrating the service to a patron today!