AKLA Conference 2016 Articles By Sheila Degener

Thursday:  1 to 3 p.m. MAKE IT @ YOUR LIBRARY

Presented by Rebecca Webb and Amelia Swenby


Rebecca Webb was a dynamic speaker who showed us her Make It Spaces she had created at her library with a STREAM focus (Science, Technology, Reading and Writing, Engineering, Art and Math)  She not only gave us a lot of ideas but also several web sites that would help up come up with ideas.

Here are some of the links that she shared that I found to helpful:







She also described her efforts in making a Maker Space Faire.  She mentioned that it was important to contact local businesses (for donations) and presenters early.  It was important not to overlook promoting the event.  Finally it was important not to over structure the participants.  Over structuring their time with the presenters, she found, did not work.  Finally, when it is all over, she made sure to thank all the presenters for their time.

Some ideas that were mentioned in the meeting as good Maker Space ideas were:  decorating cookies, talk on composting and worms, arm knitting, making bags with newspapers, string figures (cat’s cradle), Zine making station, origami, letter writing day, squishy circuits, maki maki, puppets and  origami.

Overall, the session inspired me to set up a Maker Space in my library upon my return and I hope my article has inspired you to take a first step as well!


Friday:  From a Reluctant Reader to Author Mike De La Pena 4:15 to 5:15


Dinner with Author Matt de la Pena 5:30 – 7:00



I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Matt de la Pena speak.  I found his talk to be so inspirational.  He spoke about entry points and about how 1 booked changed his life.

One point Matt de la Pena made was the importance of buying books with an entry point.  He stated that students want to read something that is familiar with them and it can be the setting, the sports (basketball), the dialogue (urban dialogue vs. something more formal), etc.  He also spoke a lot about the importance of having diverse literature in one’s library.  He noted that one of the 1st books he read/connected with was House on Mango Street.  The protagonist in this story was a young Latina girl.  Matt said that the book has to engage the kid or he’ll never even pick up the book to begin with.

The other powerful moment was when he shared how reading 1 book changed the course of his life and his father’s.  When Matt de la Pena was attending university, a professor recommended he read the book, The Color Purple.  He almost put the book down but was curious as to why the professor personally recommend that he read the book.  As someone who only read 1 book in high school, he ended up reading the book in 2 days and felt a powerful connection with the characters and realized how deep of a connection one can have with a book.  The book inspired him to read other books and eventually get his masters in writing.  It literally changed the course of his life.  Likewise, his father was home, unemployed (after a 20 plus year working stint at the zoo) and one day he asked Matt if he could read the book that happened to be in his hand.  So Matt handed over the book, 100 Years of Solitude.  His dad had little to say about the book, just that it was good.  So the next week he gave his dad another book and every week he would return them and said they were “good” or  “bad”.  This late start in reading inspired his dad to eventually get his GED, attend university and he now teaches students in California.  Reading the book, 100 Years of Solitude,  literally changed the course of his life.   This was such a powerful story to me.  While I am always conscious to make good “matches” with my client, it never occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, the book that I am recommending to a child might possibly change the course of their life.  A powerful thought and a big responsibility but one I will certainly take home with me and remember forever.


1:30 Saturday  JUST WEED IT!  Ann M. Morgester Library Supervisor Curriculum and Instruction


As someone who is a reluctant weeder, this class was a breath of fresh air.  Permission to weed!  Permission to remove books, especially those that are near and dear to my heart but yet haven’t been checked out in over five years!  Ms. Morgester covered different points to consider when weeding.  Ms. Morgester stated that the goal of your collection is to make sure each and every book in your library is relevant to your student body, engaging and is current/accurate.  The only way to achieve this goal is eliminate those books which do not meet this criteria.  Here are several guidelines she shared with us.

First of all, if you have a book that hasn’t been checked out in five years, you seriously need to consider getting rid of it.  If is indeed an amazing book that has somehow gotten overlooked, try to make  a display or toss the book with the older cover and buy the same book with a more modern cover.

Ms. Morgester emphasized if we do not get rid of books that were not relevant or accurate for students, we were in fact blocking access to the “good ones” and students would have a hard time finding the books that were of interest to them due to all the other ones that they had to go through to find the “good ones”.

Leaving outdated books on your shelves also puts you in a funding predicament.  It is hard to say you “need” books when you shelves are full of books (even though most of the books on the shelves are outdated books).  Any nonfiction more than 10 years old needs to be tossed.  Some older biographies may stay but only if our interpretation of their historical impact hasn’t changed.  It is particularly important to make sure that books related to the curriculum stay current.

I really liked her visual of a garden…if you have one primrose and a bunch of dandelions in your garden you can barely see the primrose.  If you weed, then the primrose is easy to find and easy to enjoy.  Providing easy access to those books which are relevant, engaging and accurate is important part of a librarian’s job.  I’ve got to run now… I got a lot of weeding to do!

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