Category Archives: Professional Development

Local Chapters: January Check-Up


Are you ready for some exciting news?!


We now have 26 local chapters in 24 states!


In the Facebook groups that have been shared with the joint chiefs, there are 316 members!






The joint chiefs are constantly in a huddle, jumping up and down about this! You are all amazing! We’re thrilled and excited about all the potential here.


I wanted to take a moment to give you all some back up and a little pep talk.


Are you looking for ideas about getting more members?

  • Try looking for listservs in your state and share the link there. Bonus points if you reach some people who haven’t even heard of Storytime Underground before!
  • Advertise it through the “big” Storytime Underground FB group. Write a post, share the link, and draw in some newbies!
  • Talk it up at your next staff meeting or at the next workshop or conference you attend. Often if you check with presenters before they begin a session, they’ll be happy to let you come up toward the end to share a message that would help the group.

Are your Facebook groups a little quiet?

Here are some prompts to help get things rolling:


  • Introduce yourselves here and tell us what your favorite part of storytime is.
  • Share a photo of your storytime space.
  • Tell us about your favorite new or newly discovered storytime read.
  • What do you love most about working with [insert age group here]?
  • Is there anything you struggle with during storytime?
  • Where are you with planning for summer reading?

Some ideas for meet-ups:

We cannot wait to hear about your meetings! When you select a date for your first get-together, please send us an email and we’ll do a round-up showing off all your progress!

Resolve to Rock 2016

Many of you participated in our 2015 invitation to Resolve to Rock and shared your professional goals for the year, and many more of you followed along in support.

Resolve to Rock meme image

At this time last year, I was seven months into my first librarian job, still discovering all the amazing YS librarians and blogs out there, and didn’t have a blog of my own.

So this  year, I am going to Resolve to Rock 2016 by letting go, slowing down, and making sure to take time to just be me. AND I invite you all to join me!

If you participated last year, how did your year go? You might want to write a reflection of what did and didn’t work. Maybe you want to share new (or the same!) goals for 2016. If you’ve never made (or shared) professional goals, consider thinking about a few things you want to focus on for the coming year.

Please feel free to use our rock image on your own blog posts as you consider these questions, and share your thoughts and links in the comments below! We’ll be collecting rocks all month (so if you’re going to Midwinter, no pressure!) and we will happily share a round-up at the end of January.

Rock on, you awesome librarians!

Get to know an…Early Learning Librarian



Arwen Ungar


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


My title is Early Learning Librarian, which is wonderful because that means I really get to focus on early literacy and be a champion for these types of programs and services in the library, the district and out in the community. My duties include facilitating and coordinating the programming and services for children aged 0 to 6.  I’m also a supervising librarian so I also do a lot of scheduling and administrative work.  I am lucky to have a passionate and innovative staff of Senior Library Assistants who put on more than 1300 children’s programs last year!   They make the supervision part pretty easy.  My library is part of a larger district so I also spend time with my peers in workgroups and meetings making decisions about technology and youth services.


An average day for me really depends on the day of the week. Some days I have two programs in the library and one out and some days I don’t have any programs and three meetings. In a typical work week, I have at least 3 meetings and I usually visit two outside locations such as transitional housing or school groups for storytime and library promotion. I facilitate three in-library storytimes including a bilingual storytime. I also work about 10 to 12 hours a week on the various reference desks–there are 5 floors so that keeps it interesting!


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


My move here was definitely intentional. In addition to the opportunity to work in a new, beautiful building that has one of the only early learning centers of its kind it also happened to be a 15 minute drive from my house.  My last job was in a basement and about an hour and a half from home with traffic.   At the time, it was the only job that I had applied for in a year so I really wanted it. Dream job, dream location!


What things give you the most joy in your position?


I love outreach!  It’s really reaffirming to go out into the community, talk up the library and then see the people you met come into the library for the first time. I also love stretching myself and getting out of my comfort zone by providing bilingual storytime. It’s scary but I know it is something that we need to be offering. Storytime in general is the most mentally demanding but also the most rewarding. I love the moment when a baby learns how to clap or wave goodbye or just gives me a huge smile when they see me. Having proud parents tell me about the milestones their kids have made since they last saw me is also fantastic.


What’s most challenging for you?


Bilingual storytime! It’s definitely difficult to do programming in another language. There is at least one moment in each storytime where I completely forget how to speak any language. But I breathe deeply and it passes.


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


I’ve only been at this job for about 8 months so I am very happy right now.  I think ultimately I would like to be a branch manager at a smaller branch in the system or somewhere nearby.


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


Take a job no matter what the title, no matter how far the commute is. My very first job after graduate school was a Library Assistant job for 5 hours a week and was located an hour and a half away from my house without traffic.  That job helped me to get a second part-time job which eventually became full-time. Apply for jobs where you have to fill out the paperwork and hand deliver applications because these jobs get fewer applications than jobs that you can submit online. You may have to swing working two part time jobs for a while which is not great but doable in the short term.


Try lots of things, volunteer, get an internship but don’t kill yourself. Don’t be disheartened by a lack of response to job applications. You will get an interview eventually. It took me about 10 months to get a full-time job after graduating but many in my cohort had jobs before they graduated.  Everyone is different! Remember to breathe and don’t forget to take time for yourself and your family!


Local Chapter Possibilities: Storytime Sharing Extravaganza!

Now that the news is out about local chapters (HOORAY!!), I wanted to share an example of something your local chapters could organize. Below is the invitation I sent out to contacts in my area for a regional storytime providers (and wannabees) meetup. We had the first one in September and it was so successful we decided to make it a regular thing.


If you’d like to see something like this in your area, contact your local chapter leader. Don’t see a chapter for your state? Maybe you’d like to be the leader!? Send us an email at storytimeunderground at gmail and let us know!


See how much fun we had?!


Here’s the invite. If you’re in the Puget Sound area, we’d love for you to join us!



Storytime Sharing Extravaganza!!


You’re Invited!



All storytime presenters and storytime presenter wannabees! Pass this on!



Friday, January 22nd, 3:30-5:30 at Moore Branch of Tacoma Public Library



Share, and learn, from other storytime providers in the Puget Sound area. Alex, from Pierce County, will share ways to effectively delivery early literacy tips in storytime. Bring something for an activity showcase (optional) and be prepared to have a lot of fun! Light refreshments will be provided.



Please let me know if you plan to attend. Send an email to with 1 to 3 of your favorite artists, albums, rhymes, or songs to use in storytime. I’ll compile suggestions for another take home list.

SU Local Chapters in All Their Glory!

The joint chiefs are ecstatic! We’re thrilled! We’re filled with joy and jubilation! You guys, today we are expanding Storytime Underground into the real world with…

Local Chapters!





SU is in love with peer to peer learning and raising up leaders. Here on the blog and in the Facebook group, we’ve encouraged you to share your ideas, ask questions, and learn from each other. SO MUCH powerful good has come from this so far, and now we’d like to take it a step further by calling on you all to meet!


In real life!


With coffee and alcohol and stuff!


We want you to meet your new best friend, to discover a song you didn’t know before, to rant and cry with people who understand. We want you to go out and have wild times or stay in and lounge.


We want you to have fun, learn, and connect with the people in your area who are already in touch with what SU is all about.


That’s what local chapters are about, but here’s what they’re not.


Chapters will not be affiliated with your state library organizations. Although we embrace any overlap that may occur, SU local chapters will not require membership of any kind. Instead, you’ll just communicate with your chapter leader to get into the loop for meetings.


We want you to learn from each other and network, but meetings do not have to be strictly professional. We will make some suggestions about the kinds of events you can throw, but your meetings can be as simple as going for a hike or meeting for a drink.


Still with me? Want to get involved?


Getting started is easy! Up top, you’ll find a new tab that says “SU local chapters.” Just send a message to the leader listed in your state for information about how your chapter will be communicating. Your leader will connect you with the group.


That’s it!


If you don’t see your state listed yet, don’t dismay. We’re adding people as we’re able to vet them and hope to have a chapter in most states eventually.


Now get together and party!


In January, the joint chiefs would love to see…

Guerrilla Storytimes!

Check out our shiny kit here.

Cue endless dance party!