I'm a member of the Indiana Library Federation (ILF), and this week I attended the 2011 Children's and Young People's Divison (CYPD) Conference in Indianapolis. This year's theme was "Free Your Mind." It was my first CYPD experience, and I am so glad I attended! It was great to catch up with friends and former classmates and meet youth librarians from all around the state. I learned a lot and left feeling inspired! Here are some of the highlights from the sessions I attended.
General Session with Alexis O'Neill: "Children's Authors - Among the Disinvited"
Author Alexis O'Neill shared stories about authors who were invited to visit schools and then disinvited. The lengthy list of authors who have had this happen to them surprised me. O'Neill discussed what librarians can do to support authors and defend intellectual freedom. Some tips I took away from this session: Be familiar with the author's work and prepare for challenges. Have a contract or agreement in advance. Have a procedure for challenges to author visits. Authors and librarians can be best friends - work together!
Breakout Session I: "Spontaneous Programming: Free Yourself from Tradition and Meet Your Patrons on THEIR Time"
Librarians shared their successes and challenges with offering spontaneous programming whenever they found a large number of kids mulling about the library. Some tips I took away from this session: Plan ahead and have materials ready so that they can be pulled out whenever you need them. Engage patrons who are waiting for computer time with quick crafts or games. Try simple programs like duct tape crafts, cup stacking, Spoons, artist trading cards, hydro bracelets, etc. Work to get all staff members to buy-in to the idea of spontaneous programming and cut ties with previous programming schedules.
Breakout Session 2: Opening Doors with Graphic Novels
This session focused on the different types of graphic novels, publishers of graphic novels, and resources for learning about upcoming titles. While I learned quite a bit about graphic novels during library school, I came away from this session with a lot of new knowledge and insight. It was interesting to learn about the different publishers and which books are marketed to kids, tweens, teens, and adults. Most of us have heard of manga, but we were also introduced to manwha, shojo, shonen, seinen, josei, yaoi, and hentai. Knowing about these will definitely help when providing readers' advisory to fans of graphic novels! We were shown a lot of websites to use for discovering new graphic novel titles, but I think the most useful website to me will be ICV2. It provides publisher neutral reviews and previews and will be a great resource for keeping up with trends and industry news.
General Session with Alex Sanchez: "Can librarians help inspire young people? More than you imagined!"
I didn't take any notes during Alex Sanchez's presentation because I was so engaged in his speech! He shared about his struggle to accept his Mexican heritage and his sexuality. He grew up to write the stories he wished he could have read as a teen. Sanchez shared numerous e-mails and letters from teen readers who were inspired by his books and emphasized the importance of teachers and librarians in helping young people find books they identify with. It was such an inspiring and hopeful talk - there weren't many dry eyes in the audience!
General Session with Doug Archer: "Tales from the Trenches: Blume, Rowling, Myracle, Gaiman and Tango Make Five"
Peace Studies Librarian and past chair of the ALA and ILF intellectual freedom committees Doug Archer presented stories of authors challenged and banned in many different communities. He stressed the importance of cultural sensitivity and reminded us that "censors are people too." He discussed the top reasons that books are challenged and highlighted some of the most challenged works from recent years. He also reminded us that classics can become controversial again for any number of reasons and provided tips for building bridges to the community and media when the library is faced with book challenges.
Breakout Session 3: "Teen Book Clubs: The Freedom to Read"
A librarian shared how she successfully created a partnership with a local public high school to form a teen book club. She outlined the steps she took to get permission, the prep work involved, and the key people she remained in contact with throughout the planning process. She also gave tips on where to acquire multiple copies of the books, how to run the meetings, and what to do if things don't go exactly as planned. We're thinking about starting up a teen book club at my library soon, and I came away from this session with a lot of great ideas!
Breakout Session 4: "Free and Easy LEUs"
I recently received my librarian certification from the Indiana State Library, so I attended this session in order to learn about free continuing education classes and professional development opportunities in our state. We are required to earn a certain number of library education units (LEUs), so I wanted to make sure I understood all the steps involved in the process of earning those LEUs! We learned about online classes paid for by the state library and offered through LYRASIS and Webjunction. Some are synchronous and some are self-paced, but they are all free to Indiana librarians. We also learned who to contact if we want a state library regional coordinator to come provide training at our libraries and how to create classes in-house and get them approved for LEUs. All in all, this was a very useful session for this new librarian!
General Session with Valerie Marsh
Sadly, E. Lockhart was unable to make it to Indiana to speak at our conference because of Hurricane Irene. Luckily, a local author and storyteller, Valerie Marsh, was able to fill in at the last minute. She was an engaging presenter, and she provided several examples of storytime activities for children.
Breakout Session 5: "eReader Extravaganza"
I wasn't sure if I should attend this session since I already know quite a bit about eReaders and Overdrive digital media, but I figured that it couldn't hurt. While a lot of it was review for me, I did learn a few new things. First we discussed the different eBook formats and several different vendors such as Overdrive, BWI, Disney Digital, and TumbleBooks. We learned about things to consider when choosing vendors such as circulation models, payment structures, and available titles. I was really interested in hearing about one library's experience with circulating eReader devices such as the Nook, Sony Reader, and Kindle. A librarian described the successes and challenges they've faced over the past couple of years and described their eReader checkout policies in procedures in great detail. There were also several eReader devices available for us to play with if we wanted to.
All in all, it was a great couple of days, and I look forward to next year's conference!