ALA Conference Report – Programs on Preschoolers

 Photo courtesy of Ana Elba Pavon

There were three presentations at the recent ALA Conference in Anaheim (June 22-25, 2012) that addressed library services to preschoolers.  All had thoughtful, innovative ideas presented in an interesting way.

“I Want a Truck Book! Reorganizing Your Picture Book Collection to Meet the Needs of Young Patrons and Their Caregivers” was really interesting and well-attended. This panel described how they reorganized their picture book collections by topic, to meet the needs of young children. They referred to the various sections as “glades,” meaning that the sections were like glades in a wonderful forest. They advised to limit yourself to nine broad sections, such as Transportation, Animals and Nature, Rhymes and Songs, Folktales, All About Me, Favorites/Classics, Celebrations, Concept Books,and Stories (meaning everything else).

The panelists represented a medium-sized library, a large library system, and a school library, and all were able to do this project over a few months. All described how the project began with weeding, and then choosing the broad topics, and then dividing the books into those groups. They emphasized that good signage was important, but that kids found books much more quickly.  And adults who wanted a specific book could use the catalog to find out what glade it was assigned to.

Check out the slides from the “I Want a Truck Book” presentation:  prepared by Gretchen Caserotti from the Darien Library. If we really want to organize the library for the benefit of our patron, this could be very beneficial.

The slides from fellow speakers Kathy Jarombek are also very helpful:

as are the slides from Tali Kaplan, who transformed a school library: .

“Exploring Rainbow Family Collections: a Core Collection of LGBTQ Picture Books and Recommended Resources for Programs and Services to LGBTQ Families” was conducted by K.T. Horning and Jamie Naidoo. They offered a list of picture books featuring gay and lesbian characters,that are recommended for all libraries.  Many of these books are beneficial to children who have a classmate with a gay or lesbian parent, not just for LGBTQ families. One thing they said really stood out to me about dealing with challenges to these books. If a patron asks where are the books that give the alternate perspective to these LGBTQ books, the answer is not to provide “anti-gay” books, but to show the overwhelming majority of picture books featuring heterosexual families. The list of recommended LGBTQ materials discussed at this workshop has not been posted by ALA yet, so in the meantime check out: .

“You Want Me to Circ What? Or How to Best Utilize Toys as a Literacy Tool in Programs and as a Fun Part of Your Lending Collection” was an early morning presentation I missed but wanted to find out more about. They described the importance of play and toys to early literacy, and showed how toys can be a vital part of storytimes and even as a type of material to circulate. The simpler the toy the better – wooden puzzles work well, or wall mounted puzzle boards. For an overview of what was covered, check out: .

Penny Peck, San Jose State Univ/SLIS

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