Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Monday, April 22, 2013


Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians across the U.S. This week’s Special Edition highlights the Library Program serving seniors at The Ballard Landmark. I learned about the volunteers who started this innovative program when I met Greg Bem last summer at the ALA conference.

Greg, Erin, Emily and Gina have stopped by Library Lions this week to tell us about the program.
In fall of 2010, four MLIS students at the iSchool at University of Washington responded to a call for help via a listserv at UW. The BallardLandmark Retirement and Senior Living Community in Seattle needed assistance with its library.
Four students responded to the request and founded the current library program: Greb Bem, Erin Boyington, Emily Small, and Gina Kessler.

Erin Boyington (photo taken at the Museum of Flight)

Emily Small

 Gina Kessler Lee

These students came together to conduct an assessment of the library collection and actively volunteer to restructure the collection, provided reader advisory services and technology instruction to the residents. The Landmark’s collection was small enough to allow for some significant library coordination from four students new to library work. After a quarter, the library had been transformed from sheer chaos to a carefully refined, regularly-weeded and regularly-developed information center. 


The Skinny: What inspired you to create the Ballard Landmark Senior Center program?

While we were asked to come forward from the depths of academia and participate in assisting with the Senior Center, we were given a relatively “open” space to work with. Many library science students often only rarely discover opportunities to gain practical library experience, and while the Landmark is certainly fairly limited in its scope as a library, it was a perfect jumping off pad for turning all of the theory of the classroom into practical adventures. We have learned a lot through working together to make the library more organized and user-friendly and doing outreach to the resident community. Inevitably, our relationship with residents in the Landmark inspired us to continue (and expand) our program.

Tell us about the Program
The program is run exclusively by MLIS students. Our new student volunteers are: Jessica Blanchard, Susan Fitch, Breean Kay, and Shannon Moller. Students of all backgrounds and at all stages in their graduate studies volunteer regularly, and at least one of us works at the Landmark for two hours every Saturday. Our drop-in hours are advertised to residents on their monthly activities calendar.
How the program “works” depends on which volunteer is present at the library and what the volunteer is comfortable with. Typically the program begins each week with the volunteer doing shelf-reading and basic organization of materials. There is a returns container that usually has a plethora of books for reshelving, and books have typically found strange places on the bookshelves. Magazines are weeded each week as well. The library is small, consisting of just a few hundred books, but it is a beloved resource for a few dedicated users.

After the initial review of the collection has been conducted, the volunteer then seeks out residents that need help. Whether help consists of learning an iPad application, recovering lost computer passwords, finding something new to read, or getting a book review, the volunteers at the library are happy to help. In addition to working within the library, the volunteers also help residents at the two computer workstations existing around the corner, where residents are often conducting research or checking e-mail.

Gina Kessler Lee with Cathy
The volunteers also help with computer set up and other basic technology needs of the residents. In addition, we have established relationships with the Seattle Public Library Mobile Services and the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library to make sure we can get books for seniors who are no longer able to get to the public library or who need large print or audiobooks (which does make up a small part of the Landmark’s collection). Last summer, we also successfully requested an acquisitions fund and were able to purchase additional books for the Landmark at the Friends of the Seattle Public Library book sale.

Our services provide small but important benefits for these seniors, from promoting reading at every age to enabling them to keep up with new technologies. Sometimes, they are just glad to have someone new to chat with. This spring, at the suggestion of one of the staff, we hope to organize a lesson on video chat through Gmail, Facetime, and Skype so that residents can communicate interactively with their families who live far away.

University House, a nearby senior living community, employs one MLIS student as a part-time librarian, but that librarian’s primary job is collection development. We have been trying to do programming and really emphasize personal interactions with the residents in addition to managing the collection. We would love to hear from librarians embedded in other assisted living facilities to find out what has worked for them.

Roars for the Library Program
“Great job! Many thanks!” - Betty, a resident

 “Thanks so much to your group for your help. The library is looking great. We love having you.”      - Landmark’s Director of Vitality
Residents are regularly thrilled to visit the volunteers each week and know that the library is actively being maintained and facilitated by students. It’s not uncommon for a volunteer to develop a friendship with returning residents each week. The residents regularly stop by for assistance and, in some cases, visit with the library volunteers to simply exchange stories and share information with one another. They have been especially grateful for readers advisory and computer and e-reader help we provide.

Bob and Cathy stopping by for books
When we attended the Landmark’s annual herring festival (Ballard has historically been populated by many Nordic immigrants) as a form of outreach, nearly everyone we spoke with was familiar with our work and had stories of how we had helped their friends, if not them directly. We have also implemented a suggestion box, which residents use to thank us for our work, make suggestions about the layout, and request that we add certain books to the collection.

Alki, the Washington Library Association Journal, published an article by Greg Bem about our work at the Landmark. Check out the article on page 23 of the March 2013 issue.

Library Laughs

Coming to the Landmark, you never know whom you’re going to meet! In one day, I might get a dance lesson (the resident came to us with a reference question about how to get on Ellen on TV with his dancing skills), find a new thriller for the resident who has a stuffed cat and an empty mini bottle of Wild Turkey attached to her walker, and discuss the latest celebrity drama with the residents who have come to read the latest issue of People.

Library Lion’s Roar: ONE LAST BIG ROAR

In the fall of 2011 the library volunteers started using LibraryThing  to develop a basic, online “catalog” of the library collection. While not as sophisticated as an ILS, LibraryThing has allowed volunteers to document the entire collection and prepare for a public release. It is our goal to ultimately make the LibraryThing collection available to the residents so they can search their collection using modern tools. The entire collection is recorded online, and it took many months to accomplish!
Janet - Congratulations to all of you on the accomplishment! We're Roaring for you and the whole volunteer team working on this innovative program!  

Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at jlcarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Amianne Bailey!

I met Amianne through her wonderful blog Red Reading Chair

and invited her to share about her experiences as a school librarian at Ruby Shaw Elementary. Take it away, Amianne!

Thanks, Janet. This is my fourth year as the librarian at Ruby Shaw Elementary in Mesquite, Texas. We are a K—6th grade campus with close to 800 students. Our library is on a flexible schedule and is considered the “heart” of our school. While research lessons and read-alouds are occurring, students come in for self-checkout at point of need, so it’s always busy! There is no “shushing” in the Shaw library—it’s a place where learning can be a little loud, chaotic, and lots of fun!


 I had our old circ desk ripped out because it was archaic and not kid-friendly for self-checkout, and our district’s carpentry department built this one for me. I’m kind of proud of it.
The Skinny:
My passion is getting kids (and teachers!) excited about reading. I love reading aloud to my students and feeling that magic take hold of them; I know it’s not me—it’s the power of the book. I love “making the match” between book and reader. Basically, I love showing kids how reading and learning can transform their lives!

A Mighty Roar!
To me, it’s all about access. Studies show that the playing field becomes considerably leveled when children have increased access to books. I view libraries as the “leveler” for so many of our kids who do not come for print-rich environments. When we provide access to great books, choice and time to read, and exposure through read-alouds, libraries can change the world!

Library Laughs I actually attended Shaw as a student from 3rd through 6th grade and was a library helper, so it has an extremely special place in my heart. I guess it was destiny that I become a librarian! My students find this picture hilarious.

Readers. The first one to correctly guess which one of these three girls is Amianne, will win a signed paperback copy of DRAGONSWOOD from Janet, the Library Lions post host. Left to right, is she girl 1, 2, or 3? Just make your guess in "comments" below to win. 
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
We are fortunate to have access to one of the largest digital library collections in the nation! Mesquite ISD has been on the cutting edge of introducing audio and e-books to our students. Rather than worrying about how this technology will impact our libraries, we embrace it and show our students the benefits of both physical and electronic books in our world. I am fortunate to work with such an amazing team of librarians!

Readers Roar  
We recently celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday!

And we used Face Time to share our writing with other 4th graders in our district!

Book Brag: What three books are hot this year? Why?
Press Here by Henri Tullet is one of the best read-alouds EVER! Who knew pressing dots could be such FUN?!

Postcards from Camp by Simms Taback won the Texas Bluebonnet award, and my students LOVED it when I read it aloud! It is the most requested book in the library right now.
Wonder by RJ Palacio has been the MUST-READ-ALOUD book that my teachers have been sharing with their classes. Most of the 4th—6th grade classes have read it and fallen in love with August. We are also signing pledge cards to “Choose Kind” in our school, families, and community.

Author! Author!
Two years ago, we had Marc Brown visit our school, and it was the BEST DAY of my librarian life. He graciously signed hundreds of books and did a fantastic presentation for the students about his own writing process. I will NEVER top that. Perfection. (These pictures were taken before our library makeover).


Library Lion’s Roar: ONE LAST BIG ROAR

My Red Reading Chair blog has been nominated by the Texas Association of School Librarians for the MVP award (Media and Virtual Presence). I will find out in April at the TLA conference if it “wins.” I am also presenting at TLA. My presentation is called “Putting a New Face on Your Library,” and I will talk about cost-effective ways to spice up the physical d├ęcor, atmosphere, and virtual image of your library.
These sweet faces represent why I have the best job in the world!

Let’s Link:

Thank you for showcasing the terrific library programs Shaw Elementary, Amianne. We love your Red Reading Chair blog and will be popping by to read it again soon!

Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at jlcarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.