We’ve Moved! (and added some awesome)

Hello there, friends! I hope you will allow me to redirect your attention to our NEW site, http://storytimeunderground.org. This new site will be the location for all the Storytime Underground content you’ve come to love, like Ask a Ninja and Coolest Thing, as well as recaps of Guerrilla Storytimes–including from the Guerrilla Storytimes happening at ALA in Vegas later this week!

You’ll also want to head over to our new site to see the grand reveal of a new, exciting professional development initiative we’ve been working on. No spoilers here! Head on over to check it all out for yourself.

**Please note: Due to high traffic, the new site may not load on your first attempt. Please wait a few minutes, then try again.**

Once you’re at the new site, please bookmark it, add it to your RSS feed, subscribe…whatever you need to do to make sure you keep getting Storytime Underground content that will now appear at storytimeunderground.org.


Peace out, yo.

We'll Be Back with date 2

For the next 10 days, it’ll be radio silence here at the Storytime Underground website. Not for vacation purposes–no, no, no. Suffice it to say that we’ve got some things up our sleeves. Mark your calendars for June 23, when we’ll be back with bells on and the grand unveiling of [REDACTED]. In the mean time, keep on keeping on over at the Facebook group.

TL;DR Advocacy – Pop Up Library

We know that you are doing amazing things in your library and community and we want to hear about it! TL;DR is a fancy way of saying “Too Long;Didn’t Read” because no one has time to read every single detail of your life.

Tell us your advocacy story in 149 words or less and we’ll put it up for the world to see. This is a great opportunity to refine your next elevator pitch, and to inspire others to step up their advocacy game.

TLDR Advocacy

Today’s Boots on the Ground post comes from Shawna Lomonaco. She is a Youth and Fmaily Services Library Assistant II for a small library system in Virginia. She’s passionate about early literacy, hates giving other adults hugs (except on birthdays), and has a preteen at home who takes more pictures than the paparazzi.

Shawna and her fabulous British coworker Tom

Shawna and her fabulous British coworker Tom at a recent Pop Up Library

Our city has a small population, but is the largest in our area in terms of land. With only three branches, this has presented a challenge in meeting all of our community’s needs.  Something wonderful we have started this year is a Pop-Up Library.

Our Pop-Up Library is exactly how it sounds. We pack a mini library and “Pop-Up” throughout the community. We stuff our van with books, tables, chairs, laptop, Ipad, and activities for children including chalk and bubbles. We set up at different scheduled locations, such as farmer’s markets, festivals, and even grocery stores.

Our target audience is anyone and everyone! This has proven to be a great way to reach our rural areas. I enjoy seeing children get excited about the library, but what I really love about our Pop-Up Library is that it reminds adults that we still exist and are as awesome as ever!

The Coolest Things Happening IN VEGAS

YOU GUYS. It has been 1 year since we launched the first Guerrilla Storytime at ALA 2013. We will sure as hell be facilitating some in Vegas (see schedule below) but we are ALSO doing some other awesome stuff, and there is some other really, really cool stuff you don’t want to miss (with annotations by yours truly).


Our stuff:

Margaritaville Meetup

Thursday at 9:30 at the Flamingo Hotel

Guerrilla Storytimes in the Uncommons: 

Friday at 1
Saturday at 9
Sunday at 11:30
Monday at 3

Conversation Starter: Storytime: Not Just Reading Out Loud:

Saturday at 8:00
Convention Center

Ignite Session: Play, Baby, Play! (Kendra and Brooke):

Saturday at 11:30
Convention Center
N239/241 (Yep! Same room)

Conversation Starter: We Make Every Day: How you’re (most likely) already doing the Makerspace thing (Amy):

Monday at 1:30

Other Cool Stuff That Mostly Conflicts With Even More Cool Stuff:


Boba Fett at the Circ Desk: Library Leadership Lessons from The Empire Strikes Back, Sat@8:30 I KNOW THIS IS DURING OUR CONVERSATION STARTER BUT YOU GUYS. Bryce might skip our panel for this one.

Creating Fun, Accessible Programming for Youth with Disabilities, Sat@10:30

What, no Tchotskes? Creating an Experience-Based Summer Reading Program, Sat@10:30


More than Fun in the Sun! Building Collaborative Relationships and Using Real Data to Increase Summer Learning, Sat@1

Dynamic Duos: Collaboration Between School and Public Library Systems, Sat@4:30


Children’s Librarians In The Lead: Managing Change, Inspiring Innovation & Empowering the Next Generation Sun@ 10:30 SERIOUSLY THIS PANEL IS ALL STAR

So Long, Drive-By Storytimes; Hello, Focus and Impact! Sun@10:30

Conversation Starter: Change Does Not Suck, Sun@4 GO TO THIS ANGIE AND KATE AND DOLLY ARE ON THIS PANEL


ALSC Membership Meeting, Mon@10:30


Conversation Starter: What I Really Want to Do is Direct: First-Time Library Directors Discuss Their Experiences Mon@4 THIS IS ANOTHER ALL-STAR PANEL



Kirby did a brills job of highlighting how to do ALA right by night, and INALJ also posted a guide to socializing. For my money, ULU Dance Party and Mango are the two can’t-miss baller times.

Did I miss something? Leave it in the comments!

We’ll see you in VEGAAAASSSS!


This is Bruno Mars. Just FYI.

Ask a Storytime Ninja: Spanking in Storytime

The first question for our June Ninjas is a hard one, for sure. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, especially if you’ve ever had to deal with a similar situation.

Ask a Storytime Ninja badge


Ever have a care taker SPANK a kid during Story Time?!? Any advice on how to handle it? I really couldn’t believe it, and the kid wasn’t even being all that bad – just a little squirmy. The caretaker had already interrupted the entire group several times by loudly chastising this kid for not sitting still, so when the spanking happened I just quietly suggested to the little boy that I knew he could do good listening and maybe he’d like to move his carpet square a little closer so he could see better. I didn’t want to give more attention to the caretaker’s bad behavior, but I was so shocked I wasn’t sure what to do!

After asking for some clarification: 

The adult who spanked the child in my Story Time was his grandmother. It was one firm swat to the seat with a strict command to “sit down!”. She was very frustrated with him for being wiggly. I agree, no spanking is ever appropriate, but this incident is really not something something I would call DCFS over. They have been coming to my Preschool Story Time all year and although I have seen her be upset by his behavior in the past, I have never seen her snap like this.

Were the offender a nanny/babysitter I would definitely let the family know, or if the spanking was severe there would be no question of what to do. This was a good-old-fashioned-spank that rocked me more than it did the kid being spanked.  I didn’t know what to do with the rest of the kids looking on in utter shock or what to do to with the kid – who was no longer wiggly. Do you just move on with the program? Distract and divert?


Lisa says:

I would stop what I’m doing and put on a song that everyone knows so they could do the movements themselves. I would ask to speak to the grandmother outside of the storytime space alone. I would tell her that if she feels her grandson’s behavior is not appropriate for storytime she can feel free to leave the room and take a break and return when she felt he was ready. I would then inform her that there are clear state standards for abuse and she should be aware of them.

I reviewed my Department of Children & Families state standards to answer your question. In my community spanking is considered a form of abuse. If this happened in my storytime there would be multiple calls to the state about this incident. Just so you are aware: School officials are legally mandated to report child abuse and neglect, and we as children’s librarians fit into that category: any other person who, in the performance of his or her duties, has regular contact with students and who provides services to or on behalf of students enrolled in (i) a public elementary, middle or high school, pursuant to a contract with the local or regional board of education”. In my state we must report within 12 hours of the incident. 

Julie says:
I dread having to ever face a situation like this– I come from a personal history of abuse and domestic violence so this kind of thing is very triggering for me, and if faced with it, it would take a lot for me to maintain my composure (which I would). Unfortunately, I do think it matters if this caregiver is a parent or someone else. We cannot dictate to parents how to discipline, and sadly “spanking” is still considered by many people to be innocuous. How severe was the spanking? was it a quick swat? In MY opinion, NO spanking is okay, but sadly this is often not the common view. I would definitely inform my manager about the incident, and at the moment of crisis I would address it as an issue of causing a disturbance for the other program participants. I would say that kind of discipline is disruptive in the library, and say if you would like alternative approaches to toddler/preschool discipline, we have materials available.

If this continued to happen, I would again talk to my manager. I would strongly suggest calling the police/DCFS, but would ultimately leave the decision up to people above me.

I will definitely stress that toddlers roaming around, not paying attention, etc, is perfectly normal and does NOT bother me one bit. I only am concerned if I feel a child isn’t safe. I might also talk with the caregiver privately and try to suggest different discipline strategies for toddlers.

Kim says:

Honestly, I probably wouldn’t do anything at that moment. I would just move on with my storytime. I’m going to echo the sentiment of the other ninjas and say that while I don’t condone spanking, unfortunately a lot of people do. However, if the spanking becomes a repeat occurrence, then I would have a conversation with my supervisor/director and/or the grandmother.

In the asker’s clarification, they talk about what they would do: “Were the offender a nanny/babysitter I would definitely let the family know, or if the spanking was severe there would be no question of what to do.” I echo their sentiments and would handle it exactly the same way. Based on the description of the spanking, I don’t think it warrants a report to DCFS.

I would definitely address the storytime crowd as a whole at the beginning of the next session and say something like:

“I understand that your children have off days. We all do. If you need to, it’s perfectly okay to just step out of the room together for a minute or even until next week and try again.”

Tracking the Conversation on Giving Credit

Last Thursday, I wrote a little post on making sure you credit the folks who have inspired your library work, or whose library work you have borrowed from. That post has spurred a substantial conversation–a great thing, if you ask me, as our profession could benefit from more critical, respectful conversation on hard topics that affect us all.

Since this particular conversation started here on the Storytime Underground, I want to set up a post that will link to all the pieces that are contributing to the conversation. I’ll keep updating this list, so if you know of a piece that should be linked, let me know in the comments.

Happy critical reading!

1. “How to Not Be An Asshole: Or, Citing Your Colleagues’ Work” by Amy Koester on the Storytime Underground (June 5) — The post that got this discussion rolling

2. “Avoiding Additional Asshat-tery” by Marge Loch-Wouters on Tiny Tips for Library Fun (June 5) — The first response, opening the discussion for considering the scaffolding inherent in library creation

3. “Further Considerations on Citing Your Colleagues, and the Detrimental Effects of ‘We'” by Amy Koester on the Storytime Underground (June 5) — My response to Marge’s response, aiming to unpack the potential damage of the “we did it together” statement

4. “I v. We” by Marge Loch-Wouters on Tiny Tips for Library Fun (June 6) — Marge’s clarification of her original point: that citing colleagues is integral, but we need to recognize that nothing is created in a vacuum

5. “School Carnival: A Library Outreach Report” by S. Bryce Kozla on Bryce Don’t Play (June 6) — At the end of her post, Bryce weighs in on the discussion, including her rationale for using Creative Commons licensing for her work and personal examples of when her work has been used both academically responsibly and not

6. “Inspiration, Citation, and Collaboration: Giving Credit Where Credit is Due” by Molly Wetta on Wrapped Up in Books (June 8) — Molly shares her personal experience with her work being used by another library without citation, finishing up with a reminder that claiming your work is not bragging, it’s part of a culture of responsible sharing

Further Considerations on Citing Your Colleagues, and the Detrimental Effects of “We”

This morning, I posted here on Storytime Underground a piece about the importance of citing your colleagues’ work, and how to make sure you always give them credit. Take a moment to read it if you haven’t yet; there’s a “10 Things I Hate About You” gif at the bottom as a reward for making it all the way through.

Now, I love discussion, so I was pleased as punch when fellow librarian and friend Marge posted a response on her own blog. Now go take a look at that one.

Marge ends her post with the question: “What do you think?” So here we go.

I would like to respond to Marge’s response from the perspective that, actually, focusing on the “we” of a collaborative team effort isn’t covering all of your bases; it’s usually not academically responsible, and it’s often detrimental to individuals and the profession–even when it’s used with the best of intentions. And I’ve got a few arguments as to why.

First, I’d like to assert that there are multiple contexts in which we all have the opportunity to share programs, successes, and accomplishments, and they all require consideration as to how to talk about these feats.

Let’s take the perspective of a department manager:

Scenario One: The manager is going out into the community to discuss the great things the library can offer. The purpose of this meeting is to give a general overview of the library’s excellence; too much detail will possibly weigh down the advocacy. Verdict: “we” is okay; the manager is conveying the sum total accomplishments of a group.

Scenario Two: The manager is going to a meeting of the library administrators or board of trustees to give a report about what’s been happening in children’s services. Verdict: “we” is NOT okay; there are key decision-makers in this type of meeting, folks who can have immediate impact over the career trajectory of individual employees, and thus should have a full understanding of the specific accomplishments of those individuals. Credit for specific projects needs to be given to the project owner.

Scenario Three: The manager has a public platform from which to share program (etc.) information–a blog, a column in a journal, a conference presentation, a keynote, a teaching opportunity–and details a specific program, or a list of specific programs. Verdict: “we” is NOT okay; when you have a public platform associated with your career, that platform is, by default, an academic medium. As such, it is subject to standards about voice of the author and crediting intellectual property holders. When you say “we” in an academic context, it is implied that you as an individual are the mind behind the statement unless that “we” is immediately followed by the names of all contributors. Saying “we” without naming specific contributors is academically dishonest.

As a rule of thumb, “we” is generally acceptable, but only when it is immediately followed by naming the contributing parties.

(image from glitters123)

(image from glitters123)

I am a huge fan of the collaboration in this profession, and I recognize that many, many excellent services are the product of a melding of many minds. But “we” doesn’t cut it, because again, the person saying “we” is going to automatically be given the credit; it’s how the English language works. It is imperative that any “we” statements are immediately specified by the names of the contributors in order to give full and equal credit for collaborations. So when Blossom says on her conference panel that “We saved the day!” she needs to immediately say: “It was a collaborative effort between Bubbles, Buttercup, and myself.” Relatedly, when Splinter tells Channel 3 reporter April O’Neil that “My team saved the city,” that means diddly squat in terms of attributing accomplishments unless those team members are explicitly named.

There are a lot of unintended potential effects of a “we” mentality, and they are damaging to the individuals who make up that we.

When you say “we,” it devalues the individual strengths, skills, and accomplishments of your team members. It can be a huge drain to staff empowerment and morale to only feel like you’re an unnamed piece of a larger machine.

When you say “we,” you’re keeping your teammates from the potential opportunities that their accomplishments might bring them. If Ms. Frizzle’s name is never attached to her ideas about transformational field trips, she will never have the chance to get tapped to author an article, present a training, or contribute to a webinar on the topic in which she has seen great success. The worst case scenario for Ms. Frizzle is that her principal gets paid to present trainings on the Friz’s Field Trip Philosophy while she never has that chance.

When you say “we,” you’re reducing your teammates’ opportunities for advancement. Every smart HR team knows to do a Google search and talk to supervisors of candidates they’re thinking of hiring, whether for in-house promotion or a whole new job. If you, the one with the platform to talk about ideas, don’t name the names of your contributors when you talk about collaborative accomplishments, those contributors are left without a paper trail to speak for their excellent work. That’s a huge detriment in a competitive workforce.

The idea that because we’re a collaborative field we need to just go with the team mentality is misleading, and potentially very, very damaging.

Our culture often teaches us to prioritize the group above the individual. In the library world, for example, when a voice speaks up about sexually aggressive behavior at conferences, the disproportionate number of white people in the profession, or the disproportionate number of white men in positions of authority, the discussion is ultimately shut down by the assertion that “We need to stick together!” But all that does is preserve the status quo.

With regard to giving individuals credit for their work, that’s akin to implying to, or outright telling, professionals that their individual professional wellbeing isn’t that important in the scheme of things so long as we’re Doing! Great! Together! Like the library profession is utopian or something, as opposed to what it is: often patriarchal, frequently dismissive of the contributions of youth services folks, and bestowing of preferential treatment upon those with the biggest platform for spouting opinions. In fact, when librarianship is unabashedly excellent, the major reason is because of those individuals who passionately share their ideas outward.

If we keep saying “we” without qualifying it, we’re not promoting ideas and progress on a large scale. If we keep saying “we” without qualifying it, nothing will change. And there’s plenty that needs to change, my friends.

Excellent librarians are responsible for great changes every day, and I want them all to get full credit for their work.


How to Not Be An Asshole: Or, Citing Your Colleagues’ Work

This here is a collaborative profession, y’all, a fact about which we at the Storytime Underground are THRILLED every day. There wouldn’t be a Storytime Underground, or a Guerrilla Storytime movement, without your willingness to talk about your ideas and successes. The stuff you all freely share–on your blogs, on Facebook, on listservs, at conferences–why, it’s inspiring. Sharing is what helps us all keep things fresh, interesting, and as beneficial as possible for the folks we serve at the library.

When you don't cite your colleagues' ideas, we're judging. Do the right thing and give credit where credit is due. (image from absolutelyluvvie)

When you don’t cite your colleagues’ ideas…yikes. Do the right thing and give credit where credit is due. (image from absolutelyluvvie)

And yet, sometimes, in the midst of all that feel-good energy that comes from the sharing for the benefit of all, we neglect to do that most responsible of librarian duties: cite our sources.

Consider this post, then, firstly as a reminder that it is important to cite your colleagues. They do great inspiring work, after all, and they absolutely, 100% deserve the credit and recognition for that work. As do you, for the work you do.

You can also consider this post a how-to for doing right by your colleagues. A how-to for giving credit where credit is due and not being as asshole, as it were.

1) When you see something on another blog (or conference presentation, or webinar) that you’d like to try, make sure you note where you got your original idea.

Keep these inspiration links in a Google Doc or on Evernote, because chances are, if you have your own blog, newsletter, etc., you’re going to want to write about your awesome iteration of the idea. Any write-up you do is incomplete–and, frankly, misleading–if you don’t include your inspiration source material. I’m not talking about etymology of a program concept here; there’s no need to trace every single step back to the original idea person. Cite where you got your inspiration, and you’re covered.

2) Your colleagues’ ideas are not your ideas.

That is to say, if you are in a position to be a mouthpiece for the excellent work happening at your library or by your colleagues–be that in a meeting, in a conference presentation, in an online course, on a blog, etc.–don’t just state your colleagues’ ideas like they’re your own. Cite them! Drop their names! Give them mad props for their badass librarian skills. Not only will you be doing the right thing, you’ll also demonstrate that you’re all about supporting the folks doing great work in the profession.

3) When you use program photos and other image content from blogs in your own blog posts or presentation slides, include the blogger’s name and a full link back to their blog.

It’s polite. It’s academically responsible. And it’s also giving your readers/attendees a direct link back to your source material. If it inspired you, it’ll probably inspire them, and you want to make sure they can get to the goods.

You’ve got some straightforward tips for being on the responsible side of citing the colleagues who influence you, but you may be wondering: what happens if you’re on the other side of the equation?

What to do if you realize your work hasn’t been cited by a colleague:

If your intellectual property isn’t being credited to you, you should be all means contact the person failing to give credit. But contact that person in private–face to face if you work directly with them, via email if you don’t. And be respectful. Sometimes a lack of credit is due to a lost link, or a hurried wrap-up to a blog post process. And while none of you fine readers will ever encounter these obstacles in your own need-to-cite-scenarios again, when they do happen, it’s usually neither personal nor intentional.

And if you’ve talked to the person, and they continue to take credit for your ideas (either explicitly or tacitly)? If you work with them, I’d seriously consider talking to your supervisor about how to proceed. It’s not being a tattletale, it’s about YOU getting appropriate credit for YOUR work. If you don’t work with them? Start a blog and write up all your awesomeness as soon as possible. Timestamps don’t lie.

It's never asshole day when you credit the colleagues who inspire you. (image from gifmethat)

It’s never asshole day when you credit the colleagues who inspire you. (image from gifmethat)

The Coolest Thing I saw on the Often Sexist Internet (This Week)

The Internet is a place full of wonder, cat videos, and some of the best social justice work being done today.

(Looking to follow more social activists on Twitter? Might I suggest Feminista Jones and Suey Park?)

It is also a place full of some of the worst scum of humanity, and profound, stultifying misogyny (and racism!!!).

You know what else is fully of misogyny? Y’all know what I’m going to say, right?

If you said LIBRARIANSHIP, you won. . . . a career where men are disproportionately in positions of power, and heinous male behavior is shrugged off at conferences because the perpetrators are special snowflake liBROrians (Shout out to Jesse Dangerously for the portmanteau).

Lisa Rabey (@pnkrcklibrarian) has not been quiet about this issue. She just published an article in American Libraries about sexism in tech, and you should FOR SURE go check it out ASAP. There’s no direct link so you have to flip through the current issue, but it won’t kill you.

In The Library With The Lead pipe recently published an article by Hugh Rundle about asking ourselves who we’re empowering, and how, and why. It’s long, but it has a lot to chew on. I would love for you guys who read it to talk in the comments about who YOU’RE empowering, and how.

We all know people who live in our neighborhoods aren’t using our services. Are they disinterested, or do they feel unwelcome?

So, what about Storytime?? Melissa wrote about how walking like animals can help kids develop strong shoulder muscles, which in turn helps them be ready to write. Say what?! So smart.

Pop Goes the Page always features some INTENSE interactive storytime play. I am especially enamored of this mini magic show on the go, which would be great for outreaches.

SPEAKING OF INTERACTIVE PLAY. Little known (super widely known) fact about moi: I am obsessed with Elephant and Piggie. Like, Margaret Willison (@MrsFridayNext) recently said she identifies with Ruby Olivery (of the e. lockhart books) to a worrisome degree. Oh how I wish that were true. I identify with Gerald. There is some truly excellent interactive play happening to the tune of I Broke My Trunk, over at A Librarian Less Ordinary.

Stay Tuned Tomorrow, as our week of SO MUCH CONTENT continues with a rant by Amy about how not to be an asshole, and cite your colleagues.

baby book

I went looking for an Elephant and Piggy GIF and found THIS INSTEAD (thanks Obama?)

Ask a Storytime Ninja: Meet the June Ninjas

Meet your June Ninjas!

Do you have a question for any or all of these lovely ladies?  Submit it here.

Kim Alberts

Kim Alberts

Kim Alberts is a Youth Services and Emerging Technologies Librarian at the Hudson Library & Historical Society in Hudson, Ohio. She has worked in different types of libraries, from rural to urban, since 2008. Currently, she works alongside an awesome children’s and teen staff of 7 and does everything from Lapsit Storytime to Anime Club. Kim is a baby and toddler time guru, though she loves and has done storytime for all ages. She would be lost without her Rabbit in the Hat puppet.

Find Kim:
Blog: literarylibrariankim.blogspot.com
Twitter: @librarylady2u.
Tumblr: http://literarylibrariankim.tumblr.com/


Julie Jergens

Julie Jergens

Julie Jurgens has been working in libraries since 2006. Before that she worked in the field of early childhood education for six years. Her current job title is School Services Coordinator, but at a previous library she spent four years as the primary story time provider for kids birth-2nd grade. Capturing and holding the attention of rambunctious toddlers, antsy preschoolers and disinterested parents is her specialty. She also loves to refresh and revitalize stale programs, such as spinning Toddler Time into Mini Movers and revamping Preschool Storytime into Beginning Readers Storytime. You can find her at himissjulie.com, @himissjulie, and tumblr.com/himissjulie.


Lisa as Comic Book Girl

Lisa as Comic Book Girl

Lisa Shaia has been a programming ninja for babies-teens over the past ten years. She currently works solo in her department, but in a previous position was in a supervisor role for a children’s department of five. She blogs at thriveafterthree.com, and has just published a book with the American Library Association called After-School Clubs for Kids and is extremely psyched about it. She setup a twitter account and is still learning and figuring it out over @thrivethursday.

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