This weekend I am transitioning from working as a Youth Services Consultant for Suffolk Libraries to my new role as the director at the Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library. It’s been a pleasure working directly with all the youth services librarians in the county, and I greatly appreciate the gift I received at our last meeting: a copy of my favorite book of 2011, Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku. It is signed by those who were at the meeting, and it brings a smile every time I look at it.

I will continue blogging about public libraries from my new perspective as an administrator. Many people have told me over the last few weeks that you can take the librarian out of the children’s room, but you can’t take the children’s room out of the director. I am sure that is true on many levels. I plan on remaining active in ALSC, YALSA, YSS, CLASC and YASD, and I am continuing to read children’s literature (right now I am reading Batchelder Award winner Soldier Bear for my next book club meeting.) I do, however, look forward to the new perspective serving as a director will offer me as the experience can only offer depth to my view of librarianship.

What should I rename this blog? Any suggestions are welcome! I will be thinking about it as I fill out my Civil Service exams this weekend.

SCLA/PLDA Civil Service Program Addresses Timely Topic

Wednesday morning’s workshop, How to Fill Out a Training & Experience Exam, at the Brentwood Public Library was a testimony to the power of open communication and collaboration. Everyone involved in putting together the joint program between the SCLA Civil Service Committee and PLDA should be commended for organizing an informative event.

Were you back at your library serving the library users of Suffolk County? No worries; here are the highlights:

We heard a pep talk and introduction from Lindenhurst Library Director Peter Ward. Peter understood that he was addressing future library leaders. “The positions that require these exams,” Peter said, “are the positions in the library where you will meet your full potential.” If Peter’s statement resonates with you, keep reading.

The program, he went on to explain, was primarily put together to address stories he’s heard of candidates losing points as a result of mistakes they made filling out the training and experience exams. He also referred to the natural cycle of library administrators retiring and librarians moving up the ranks. “Some of us are getting long in the tooth.” Peter joked. “If you hear someone go down, get your resume out.” This was met with laughs of course, but Peter went on to say with all seriousness that “there are going to be a lot of opportunities, but you have to be ready for them.”

Next Peter introduced Cheryl of Suffolk County’s Civil Service Department, who Peter referred to as a “stone cold killer.” If by that he means she is a professional who knows her stuff and is completely approachable, well then yes, she is! Remember Cheryl’s name when you call Civil Service. She’ll be glad to help you with your questions. Here are some of the actions she recommended:

  • Cheryl reminded us that reporting your experience on civil service exams is all about dividing what you do up into percentages. A good way to start this process is to make a list of what you do in a week and assign percentages.
  • Attending the computational review (which is usually offered on a Saturday morning after the scores are released) is key to understanding how the scoring was done and making improvements for the next time around.
  • Start early. The deadline is midnight on February 29th. Do not wait until the last minute in case you have questions or computer network issues.
  • Read the exam through before filling in any experience. This will help you match your experience to the right section.
  • Read the directions. : )

I’d wish you good luck, but that’s not what you need. You need plenty of time to thoroughly read the instructions, answer the questions, and to pick up the phone and call Civil Service if you have questions.

For those of you who have read this far I’ll close with a key piece of advice Cheryl shared with the group regarding reporting work experience:

“If you’re in doubt whether or not to include something, put it in.”

International Children’s Books

At Wednesday’s meeting of Children’s Department Managers at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Doris Gebel told us that part of her role as president of USBBY will be planning for 2013’s International Children’s Book Day. This event will be “hosted” by the United States and Ashley Bryan, recent winner of the Coretta Scott King Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, will be designing the poster. Doris also shared her concern that librarians, parents, and children may not gravitate to international books because the art or subject matter can be challenging to the sensibilities of our western culture. For example, a book like Duck, Death and Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch, translated by Catherine Chidgey, has been reviewed positively in four journals but is not making its way into many collections in Suffolk County. (We have this title in the SCLS office if you’d like to review it.)

Nonetheless, it’s a reality that if we do add these noteworthy titles, they may not fly off our shelves. (They might need a librarian like you to champion them!) If you find yourself forced to make a tough weeding decision over a book that was originally published in another country, please touch base with Doris at the Northport-East Northport library. She is looking into developing a deep collection of international books in her children’s department and may be able to accommodate a book that is not finding readers in your community.

Not sure how to find international books that your patrons may enjoy? Take a look at the recent SLJ article that highlights the Outstanding International Books of 2011.

After the meeting I opened my email and found the latest newsletter from Novelist featuring an interview with…can you guess? Doris Gebel! Take a look at the interview titled Best Practices: International Children’s Books.

Suffolk County Public Librarians!: Comment on this blog post by Friday and receive a free international book for your collection!

Tweens, young teens, and technology

Tessa Michaelson Schmidt has announced an exciting opportunity for those of us serving tweens and young teens in our libraries. Read on for details about how your library can be part of the 2012 Presidents’ Program at ALA in Anaheim (a joint affair between ALSC and YALSA.)

How are you handling the digital lives of tweens and young teens at your library? At the 2012 Presidents’ Program at ALA in Anaheim we will be talking about tweens and young teens and exploring their use of technology. What is the life of a tween or young teen like in this digital age? What are the particular challenges and opportunities they face online? What should libraries be doing? Show us in a video!

  • Videos should be 2-3 minutes in length and created by librarians, for librarians.  Show and tell us about an experience or project dealing with tweens and young teens and technology at your library.  What worked?  What didn’t?   What did you learn?
  • Post it on YouTube with the tag “youthprezprogram12”.
  • Email co-chairs Tessa Michaelson Schmidt and Sarah Couri at with the YouTube link and your contact information.
  • Deadline for submissions: Monday, April 30, 2012 at midnight.

All video entrants will be eligible to win a $100 Amazon gift card.   Selected videos will be shown at the 2012 ALSC and YALSA Joint Presidents’ Program in Anaheim! Speak up and speak out: how are you working with technologically active tweens and young teens?