Category Archives: Professional Development

Announcing: a virtual Guerrilla Storytime for Social Justice

By now, I hope you have read our Storytime for Social Justice Kit and started thinking about the Social Justice Blog challenge. Today we are thrilled to announce our next virtual Guerrilla Storytime to go alone with our Social Justice Challenge. On Friday, January 6, we will be posting Guerrilla Storytime for Social Justice questions all day long on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #StorytimeJusticeWarrior.




Follow along, share your answers with our community, and learn a great new resource or tip to help you with your own Storytime for Social Justice challenge. Not sure what a question means or why it is an issue? Just ask!


After the event, we’ll be posting a roundup of all the questions here, so check back to make sure you don’t miss anything great!


Storytime for Social Justice Blog Challenge

You may recall our Resolve to Rock blog challenge from the last couple years in which we challenged librarians to blog about their professional goals for the new year.


This year, we have a new blog challenge for you: the Storytime for Social Justice Challenge.*


Image by the amazing Rebecca at Hafuboti

As youth librarians we have a lot of influence and a large captive audience of small children, and now more than ever it is vital that we do our part to make the world a better place. We offer services to make our communities — ALL members of our communities, from those we see to the marginalized faces that don’t use the library, — feel represented, welcomed, and appreciated.


Take a moment to think about what you can do to help teach empathy and inclusiveness in your programming, your displays, your space, your services. Check out Julie’s post for some inspiration and examples, take a look at our new Storytime for Social Justice  kit, and then tell us what YOU are committed to doing for your community!



Write a post on your own blog using this image**, share with the hashtag #StorytimeJusticeWarrior, and
post a link in the comments here.  If you don’t have a blog, we are happy to host guest posts! Get in touch via email at storytimeunderground (at) gmail (.) com and we will share your post on this site.


Once you’ve written a post and made a commitment to social justice, I encourage you to print it out and post it by your desk, or in your planner. Maybe make it the background on your computer. Whatever will help keep these ideas in the forefront of your mind. Because supporting Storytime for Social Justice is great, but only if you actually do it.


*Wondering why social justice belongs in Storytime Underground? Just a reminder that Storytime Underground is NOT neutral. We were built on social justice, and we continue to serve that purpose. If you don’t like it, you do not have to participate, but this is NOT and has never been a place for only storytime ideas.


** Our blog challenge image was lovingly created by Rebecca at Hafuboti. Thanks Rebecca!!

Twitter Starter Kit


Libraryland loves Twitter and so can you now that we’re here to demystify this social media stumper.



What’s This Twitter Thing?:

I think it’s easiest to explain Twitter by talking about how it’s different from Facebook. Many people use Facebook to connect with the people they don’t see every day and provide updates, photos, and videos to help them stay in touch or help others get to know them. Facebook has become a shortcut to conversation topics when making friends. People you’ve only met once may know what your wedding looked like if they can search your name and access your profile. You can create a fairly detailed archive of your life, your interests, big events, small moments, and those little thoughts that pop into your head.


Twitter doesn’t offer as many tools and it’s not as deliberate. It’s not meant to act as an archive for your life or to give detailed information to people trying to get to know you. It’s brief, casual, spontaneous, and not as easy to search or navigate. It’s a place where you share the clever thought you had, the strange thing that just happened, the touching moment you can’t help but share. You can add photos to your tweets or you can provide links to videos, but you’ll notice that Twitter feeds don’t always display a whole photo and the only way to make something similar to an album is to create a list of your tweets that include photos and group them that way (which would be time consuming).


Twitter is really great for connecting with your contacts over one brief idea, but not great for building relationships or connections from scratch. If Facebook is a staff meeting where you can hash out plans or an interview where you can dig for details, Twitter is the chance encounter in the break room where you bump into someone you know and bond over the fact that you like the same yogurt before your five minutes is up and you have to go back to your desk.


It’s powerful for getting answers to simple questions, commiserating over similar experiences, or laughing with each other over a good joke. There’s lots of helpful chatter for librarians, but you’ll also see lots of personal tweets, too, and both are fun ways to network.


How do I use hashtags and mentions?

Hashtags are those phrases that you see following a number sign like #saturdaylibrarian or #blacklivesmatter. Hashtags link social media posts to a common, searchable phrase. So, for instance, if you wanted to see the global impact of the Yes All Women movement, a way that you could do that is by googling the hashtag #yesallwomen, or searching individual social media platforms for it like Twitter and Facebook.

Mentions are a way for you to start a public conversation or attract a person’s interest to a thread or post. All you do is type in @ and the person’s username to get their attention. You can do this mid conversation with someone else, too. For instance, if you start talking about your idea of the perfect book to use for your first storytime with a group, you could also mention someone else as a way to ask for their ideas, too.


Basic etiquette:

Be respectful when you’re considering joining a Twitter conversation between other people. For the most part, if users want a private conversation, they’re doing so through direct messages and that means they won’t  mind if you want to jump in on a public conversation. However, you don’t want to be that person who jumps into a conversation just to derail it with counter-arguments and debating.


Companies, non-profits, authors, and others with a brand or product to sell are big users of Twitter, so be aware that if you’re using hot terms in your tweet, those parties may come across it. For instance, if you’re describing a book you don’t like, just be aware that if you mention the title or author’s name, even without mentioning them directly, they are probably going to see it when they are searching for those hot terms that pertain to them.


This means you should also be careful in the way you respond to other users’ tweets. If someone is complaining about a product, but isn’t mentioning the name or tagging the company, it’s probably because they don’t want the attention of that company. Try not to respond using the name of the product or company, either. Doing that could draw a company’s attention to the tweet and that may not be welcome.


You don’t want every tweet to be sad, negative, or a complaint. As episodic as Twitter is, people will start to remember if you never have anything constructive or positive to say and they’ll unfollow you. Twitter can be a great place to find support, but it’s important to be supportive of others, too.


You can choose to curse or not curse. This is a personal choice and depends entirely on your beliefs in how social media should be used. Some may want to always appear professional for those employers who like to search social media, but others will use it as a way to just be themselves and accurately display their personality.


How to maximize the experience as a library professional:

Ask specific, quick questions and get answers from experts you know and trust.


Share an idea or link to blog posts and websites to discuss issues.


Re-tweet things that really spark your interest and add a comment about why or what you’re planning. You can also re-tweet as a way to signal boost for important causes.


Tag other Twitter users when you use their ideas and tell them how it went.


Share a library success story and consider using the hashtag #ilovemylibraryjob or #librarylife to add to an ongoing conversation about the nature of our work.


Live tweet presentations at conferences using the conference hashtag. This allows everyone to see your notes and it may spark some interest among peers who are unable to attend.


Now get started by following some Tweeps:






































Get to Know a… Youth Services Consultant



This week we’re introducing Katie Anderson, youth services consultant for Oregon State Library. Take it away, Katie!



Katie Anderson


Your title, duties, and what an average day might look like for you.


I’m the youth services consultant at the Oregon State Library. My work is focused on the three library youth services best practices identified by the Oregon State Library as a result of a statewide community analysis. Our three best practices are early literacy training, summer reading, and outreach to underserved populations.


I coordinate statewide summer reading activities, follow and share information about statewide early learning and summer learning initiatives that libraries should be aware of, foster the development of partnerships at the state and local level to better meet the needs of underserved youth and families, and administer the only state funds public libraries in Oregon receive. Oregon public libraries may only use state funding on early literacy and summer reading activities.


I also get to work on a lot of fun special projects. Several years ago I facilitated a statewide early literacy training project and last year I got to work with Oregon Public Broadcasting on Celebrating 100 Years of Beverly Cleary.
What attracted you to your current position? Was it an intentional move, a gut feeling, a happy accident, or a matter of convenience?


One of my grad school professors did a lot of unique work throughout his career. I asked him how he got those jobs. Essentially he said networking and saying yes. He developed good relationships with library staff all over the world. Over the years some of them were asked if they knew anyone who could do unique library and information infrastructure work. They would recommend my professor and he almost always said yes, even when he didn’t think was qualified and wasn’t sure what would be required.


This stuck with me so when I was strongly encouraged to apply for my job by a couple people I said yes. I didn’t know what state libraries do, I didn’t know the job “youth services consultant” existed, and I wasn’t sure what any type of consultant actually did. All my jobs, even in high school, were working directly with kids. Working with kids was what I enjoyed most about all my past jobs so I decided I’d stay in this desk job for two years. It’s been ten years! Little did I know this would be the dream job I never even knew to dream about. I love it!
What things give you the most joy in your position?


Helping library staff. When a librarian tells me I made their job easier or some bit of information I gave them helped them get a grant it’s like getting hug from a kid after storytime. I also love showing off the great work Oregon libraries do to state agencies, like the Oregon Department of Education, and statewide organizations, like the Oregon Afterschool Network. Too often these people are surprised by what the learn libraries are doing and how libraries support student success.

What’s most challenging for you?


Two things I thought I’d never have to do as a librarian—TV/radio interviews and complex math. I only get asked to do interviews on TV or radio a couple times a year and I always try to find someone else to do it because I’m terrible at it! Once a year I have to calculate how much state funding each legally established public library is eligible to apply for based on a $1 per child, 20% distributed based on square miles and 80% distributed based on population formula. Lots of Oregon libraries have service areas that don’t follow city or county boundaries so you have to create estimates based on voter registration and call county GIS departments. I’m not good at math (fortunately excel does that for me!), but I am good at logic puzzles which is necessary to figure out boundaries and a few other oddities so it’s a good challenge!

Pretend I’m an MLIS student, eager to figure out how to get your job. What’s the advice that you would give me?


Join your state’s library association and get a leadership position in the youth services division. Identify staff at other libraries you would want to learn from and pick their brains, perhaps even figure out some project to work on together. Subscribe to the ALSC and YALSA listservs and identify some other ways that work for you to follow trends and research in library youth services (like following this blog!). Follow what’s going on in education, early childhood, and afterschool/summer learning in your state—what initiatives is your state’s department of education focused on, what legislation is your afterschool network advocating for, what laws have changed for childcare providers and think about how these things impacting your patrons and the organizations you partner with and what your library can do to help.


Get to Know A… School Services Librarian



Rachel Reinwald


Please describe your position. Your title, duties, an average day in your work life.


I am a youth services librarian but am in charge of the school services. So I do the regular storytimes, desk work, ordering and RA, etc… but also teacher-y stuff. For school services, I do teacher resource bags, handle the teacher school cards, research and present CE workshops for teachers, team teach, host school field trips, create a teacher newsletter, etc. For YS services, I do baby storytime for 3-15 months, family storytime, 2-K, and 4-K storytime. I did the Kid Coders program for 4th-6th grade, Appy Hour for teachers, and Battle of the Books for 4th-8th graders. So, there is a lot of lesson planning, tech geekery, and research.


What attracted you to your current position? Was it an intentional move, a gut feeling, a happy accident, or a matter of convenience?


I was looking for school services positions because I just got off the teaching track. I like working with students and helping them research and learn, but I didn’t like all the school drama and bureaucracy. I like to get stuff done. My aunt teaches 1st grade in the area and she told me about it because she worked with my predecessor. It’s nice to have an insider giving you advice, like,  “[name] did this last year and this is what the teachers thought of it, so you should do this.”


What things give you the most joy in your position?


I love working with teachers and students in the schools. It’s nice to form a great relationship with them and then be able to give them supplemental materials and team teach with them right when they get into a unit. They’re like, “You read my mind! I would love a text features lesson on landform books!” (Sounds intriguing, right?) I also love baby storytime. I want to eat them up. I also like geeking out and doing readers’ advisory. The kid usually has a stack of 10 books and is slowly backing away from me while I jump up and down.


What’s most challenging for you?


I get things done pretty fast, so I don’t like waiting around on big projects that have to go through multiple people. It makes me jumpy. I usually multi-task to distract myself from the waiting. Like, waiting for your song handouts to get back from graphics? Make nametags.


If this is not your last career move, where would you like to go from here?


Eventually, I would like to be a department head. I am an INFJ (go Meier’s Briggs!) and sometimes it frustrates me when I see good things a library can be and they’re not trying to be there yet. I have a strong vision of libraries and I want to help people make the most of the library so the community can benefit. People shouldn’t just go to the library to get a book, it should become part of the community itself. I also want to get more involved in professional development. I love it. I do CPDU workshops for our local teachers, I host SU’s local Chicago social chapter, I present at conferences, I’m writing lesson plans for the Library of Congress. I’m trying to convince RAILS and ISLMA to do cool professional development with me. It’s fun. It’s like teaching, but without all the parent phone calls.


Pretend I’m a brand new library professional, eager to figure out how to get your job. What’s the advice you’d give me?


You have to work on your own professional development. I am a school services librarian but I do all youth services tasks. It helps that I have a couple of teaching certificates, so I have the education background to know lesson planning, curriculum development, all the many standards, etc…  so that I know what teachers are talking about and they are confident that I understand them. Make a feed of library blogs that help you. Do the Storytime Underground University if you do storytimes (which I’m assuming you do, because you are reading this blog). Go to conferences. Submit conference proposals. And resubmit them. Meet people at conferences or Storytime Underground Local Chapters (wink wink Chicago). Take webinars.

If you are doing school services, there is a great site, that has free webinars on education topics (early literacy, team teaching, leadership, Common Core, Next Gen, etc…) and they give CEs for educators. I’m a geek, so I do a lot of research and tinker around with lesson plans.

Read a lot. You don’t have to, and obviously can’t, read every book in the library, but the more you do, the more you’ll get a feel for the different genres, reading levels, appeals and what’s popular to recommend to kids (I love Novelist’s Appeals Chart). Ask to write reviews and/or articles for professional journals. Right now, I’m in Library Sparks and Booklist (come on School Library Journal!).

Keep a blog for yourself on what you do. You want to share your abilities with others so they can hire you and learn from you, but you also want to reflect and learn from your past programs and other library activities. It helps make you better at your job. You could also take my ALSC Online Course, It’s Mutual: School & Public Library Collaboration J.