Scholarship Report: Heather Acerro – ALA Midwinter Meeting

Event:  American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting — Seattle, WA — January 25-29, 2019

Attendee: Heather Acerro – Head of Youth Services, Rochester Public Library

What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

My biggest takeaways from attending ALA Midwinter and participating on the 2019 Randolph Caldecott Committee are the skills and colleagues that I gained through this experience.  In terms of the Caldecott Committee–which involved preparing for meetings, reviewing picture books throughout the year, writing and presenting about picture book art, and participating at in-person meetings at midwinter–my skills in evaluating and discussing art and picture books have increased considerably. I developed a unique methodology based on the preparation materials and the discussions with colleagues.  During the past two years, I have had the opportunity to share my collection selection and evaluation methods with Rochester Community & Technical College literature classes.  Now, after my attendance at ALA Midwinter meetings, I feel that I have much more to share with literature students. I have also gained a wonderful group of fourteen peers who passion for and ideas around youth services work and literature will continue to benefit me and Rochester Public Library for years to come.

What’s one (1) idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

Each year ALA hosts an “online pajama party” to encourage children to watch the live webcast of the Youth Media Awards press conference.  After attending the Youth Media Awards Press Conference, meeting with colleagues in the exhibit hall, and discussing the activities around this big event, I would like to work with area teachers to host Mock Award programs throughout the year and then celebrate by participating in the pajama party. (

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would highly recommend participating on an award or booklist committee and attending ALA Midwinter for in-person book discussions.  It is valuable to not only learn book evaluation skills, but also how to respectfully and productively have discussions with colleagues.  These discussion skills do not only apply to books, but can be used for discussing any topic that requires careful listening, thoughtfulness, and clear articulation.

Scholarship Report: Heather Acerro – ALA Conference 2018

Event: American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference – New Orleans, LA – June 20-26, 2018

Attendee: Heather Acerro – Head of Youth Services, Rochester Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

As the Head of Youth Services at Rochester Public Library, ALA annual is a wonderful opportunity to both make new connections and re-connect with leaders from organizations throughout the country.  I am developing my leadership skills as Chair of the Melcher and Bound to Stay Bound Scholarships Committee.  Attendance at ALA Annual allows me to connect with fellow chairs for advice, guidance, and support.  By actively participating in ALA and attending ALA Annual, I am better equipped to stay on top of trends in the field of youth librarianship.  Many sessions at this conference focused on racial equity, which is an important topic for our community.  Attending sessions and hearing speakers on this topic further validates the work that we are doing at RPL, as well as provided me insight on new resources.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was “Let’s Talk About Race with Kids: Library Programs and Activities that support Parents, Caregivers, and Educators in Talking to Young People About Race.”  This program provided ideas for do-able activities and programs that I could easily use at RPL.  The most useful suggestion was working with community partners to create workshops for parents.  I learned best practices, that will prove valuable in all the work that we do, such as: acknowledge and push through discomfort; don’t rely on a community of color to do all the work, co-facilitate; allow people to reflect and answer – silence is okay; put your heart into the work; don’t try to do this work alone; and research white fragility.  Additional resources are available at:

What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

As a member of the 2019 Caldecott Committee, I found ALA Annual to be an invaluable conference to attend.  I had the opportunity to meet with my entire committee for the first time and we reviewed our joint process and discussed standard guidelines.  K.T. Horning provided a presentation about evaluating picture books that was enlightening and will help guide my work moving forward.  The Caldecott work is time intensive and intimidating, but my biggest take away from ALA Annual was that with a strong committee, this is completely possible and will have a wonderful result.

Scholarship Report: Courtney Wyant – ALA Conference 2018

Event: American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference – New Orleans, LA – June 20-26, 2018

Attendee: Courtney Wyant – Adult Services Librarian, Austin Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

ALA Conference 2018 was an amazing experience for myself to attend.  I feel the ALA conference was very relevant to my work as an Adult Services Librarian in a Public Library setting.  The first workshop I attend was the “Libraries Transforming Communities: Dialogue and Deliberation” this was a very useful pre-conference that helped me to build a program using the Conversation Café Model.  This program will be very important in starting a program for adults in my community.  I would also like to use it to find more partnership in my community to work with.  The overall idea of a Conversation Café is to pick a topic of discussion and use it to bring in opinions from each participant in a neutral and respective manner.  Then as those conversations deepen on issues you could build upon that with book clubs, film clubs and special events on that topic.  Overall the whole conference was very accurate and relevant to my job with information on civic engagement and social justice challenges that every community faces in America.  It was so refreshing to see librarians in the field coming up with program ideas and resources to meet the challenges of racism and sexual biases in their communities.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

The “Public Libraries: Leading Communities in Family Engagement” was very useful since I would like to start to offer family friendly programs.  Family programming is very important for a community because it helps to create relationships throughout the community.  The 4 R’s of family program involve the library to Reach Out: Libraries reach out to families to promote the programs, collections, and services that are vital in a knowledge economy; Raise Up: Libraries elevate family views and voices in how library programs and services are developed and carried out; Reinforce: Libraries guide and model the specific actions that family members can take to support learning, reaffirming families’ important roles and strengthening feelings of efficacy; Relate: Libraries offer opportunities for families to build peer-to-peer relationships, social networks and parent-child relationships; Reimagine: Libraries are expanding their community partnerships; combining resources and extending their range; improving children’s and families’ well-being; and linking to new learning opportunities.  The library is an important place to build family programming because nationally we are the best organizations to provided equitable learning opportunities for families living in poverty.  Some great program ideas discussed were: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and partnership with school systems helped to uniform reading for children before school begins, Petite Picasso Programs art for children and families, Digital Learning Night for all members of the family, Multi-language story times, and Home School connection groups.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Yes, I would recommend attending ALA.  As a participant I learned about many ways to develop my professional role in my library and to better serve my patrons and wider community.  I had many workshops that included a range of discussion about the changing role of the library and the library can stay relevant while reflecting societal trends.  The biggest take away for me was the focus on mental health, inequality, & human rights that librarians face every day to help their patrons.  The informal conversations with my peers were also amazing to see the types of libraries they serve and idea sharing while networking.  The most inspiring person I met was a librarian in the Conversation Café workshop that works for a library that is located on the border of Arizona and Mexico where tensions have risen and trying to have a conversation with her community is so sensitive that sometimes leads to violence.  The best part of attending ALA was utilizing this community of librarians to creatively resolve library issues that are affecting us all.

ALA Announces 2018 Youth Media Award Winners

The American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books, video and audio books for children and young adults—including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, and Newbery awards—at its Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature was awarded to 
“Hello, Universe” written by Erin Entrada Kelly. The book is published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

The most distinguished American picture book for children receives the Randolph Caldecott Medal. “Wolf in the Snow,” illustrated and written by Matthew Cordell, is the 2018  winner. The book was published by Feiwel and Friends, an Imprint of Macmillan.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognize African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. “Piecing Me Together,” written by Renée Watson, is the King Author Award winner. The book is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

“Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets,” illustrated by Ekua Holmes, is the King Illustrator Award winner. The book is written by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderly and Marjory Wentworth and published by Candlewick Press.

A full list of the award winners can be found on the ALA website

Applications Open for Media Literacy @ Your Library

The American Library Association (ALA), in collaboration with the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University, invites public libraries to apply for Media Literacy @ Your Library, a pilot program that will train library workers to help their adult patrons become better news consumers. ALA and the Center for News Literacy will work with teams from five public libraries to adapt existing media literacy training materials to serve the needs of public librarians and the communities they serve.

The cohort teams will attend an in-person training and use their skills to conduct related adult public programs in their communities. Team members will also provide feedback on the training and serve as advisers to, and beta testers for, the development of a corresponding web-based curriculum for the library field.


Read the guidelines for Media Literacy @ Your Library or apply online to be part of the cohort. Applications must be received by Sept. 11, 2017.

Selected libraries will receive:

  • An intensive six-month experience that will include training and support for a three-person library team to develop and implement media literacy programming for adult patrons.
  • $1,500 for program-related expenses, such as travel, promotion and public programming costs.
  • In-person media literacy workshop training, to be held on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago.
  • Two nights’ hotel lodging and some meals at the in-person workshop for three library representatives. (Note that travel costs to Chicago are at the library’s expense or must be paid from the $1,500 stipend.)
  • Communications support, access to a community of practice, and technical and programming support.


Net Neutrality Under Attack: How the FCC’s vote is likely to affect libraries

This is excerpted from a blog post to American Libraries that can be found in its entirety here.  

 May 18, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted today to begin dissolving Obama-era regulations regarding net neutrality, and reactions from the library community are not positive.

“I see it as a trend that is going to take us backward in time,” says Mike Robinson, professor of library science and head of the systems department at the Consortium Library of the University of Alaska Anchorage. “The internet is supposed to represent a democratization of access to information, and libraries are part of that democratization movement. Getting rid of net neutrality undermines that.”

The American Library Association (ALA) agrees, releasing a May 18 statement from ALA President Julie B. Todaro. “Net neutrality is critical to ensuring open and nondiscriminatory access to information for all, and today’s actions by the FCC endanger that,” the statement reads. “We are at risk of maximizing profits for commercial [internet service providers] and large content providers, while degrading internet access and choice for libraries and ultimately all consumers.”

Specifically, the FCC voted to review rules passed in 2015—rules that prevent internet providers from charging extra to deliver specific content more quickly and from blocking or slowing web sites. Under those rules, broadband services are classified as a utility-like service, similar to electricity or water.

Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai holds that the 2015 rules have not only caused the telecommunications industry to reduce investment in broadband access but have also given regulators excessive control over the internet. He and his fellow Republican on the FCC, Mike O’Rielly, voted for the rules’ review, while Democrat Mignon Clyburn voted against it.

The public will now be able to comment on the FCC’s proposal. When the comment period ends later this year, the agency will create a specific order and vote on it.


More information on the FCC proposal can be found here. Instructions for commenting on it can be found here.

Take Action for Libraries

The Day We Fight Back image 2014-02-11

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) joins organizations and companies across the country by participating in The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance. At the 2014 Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia, PA, the ALA council passed a resolution supporting the USA FREEDOM Act (S.1599/H.R.3361) in Congress. The FREEDOM Act is a bicameral, bipartisan bill that seeks to end the bulk collection of telephone and internet metadata.

You can take part in this day of action by calling and/or emailing your legislators in support of the USA FREEDOM Act. If you visit ALA’s District Dispatch, you’ll be prompted with a banner that allows you to email and/or call your elected officials along with talking points. You can also use ALA’s Legislative Action Center for talking points.

For more information on this day of action and ways to participate, visit The Day We Fight Back homepage.

Scott to serve as ALA Councilor

SELCO Assistant Director, Michael Scott, has been elected to the position of ALA Chapter Councilor.  In this new role, Michael will also serve on the Board of the Minnesota Library Association (MLA).  

Minnesota is entitled to one councilor as a member of the Council of the American Library Association (ALA).  There are 53 Chapter Councilors, representing the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The Chapter Councilors join 134 other elected individuals and together they serve as the governing body of ALA and determine all policies. Two meetings are required each year, one at the annual conference of the Association and one not less than three months prior to annual conference.  Chapter councilors serve a three-year term.

Congratulations, Michael!

Video and Handouts from Making a Difference for Libraries in DC

Didn’t have an opportunity to tune into the ALA Washington Office webinar “Make a Difference for Libraries in D.C. (Really, It’s Possible)” held on September 17, 2013? You’re in luck! The video and handouts from the program presented by Stephanie Vance, “Advocacy Guru” and longtime friend of libraries. The link to everything you need can be found here.  A link directly to the video is below.

Once again, Vance does a nice job of giving an overview of the issues at hand which currently revolve around the potential government shutdown. However, she also gives some practical advocacy tips that can be helpful no matter the political climate. A good way to spend about 50 minutes of your day.