You Can Never Read Enough

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Hello, CLASC folks!

Today we want to talk about being a new librarian.

The other day your CLASC moderators were having tea, talking about children’s literature, CLASC and the joy of the limitless number of books we want to read. This was followed by the idea of embarrassment – the potential embarrassment of not having read enough when talking to colleagues that have 10, 20, or more years of experience. What happens when you’re new and someone mentions a great book that you haven’t read yet, or worse, haven’t even heard of? What if that someone is not a colleague but a patron? We debated the multitude of perspectives, pursuing the elusive answer like the gold at the end of the rainbow. Finally coming to a quorum of understanding, we wanted to share some of our hard-earned insights:

It can be embarrassing to not know all of the books, especially when you are speaking with a patron who expects you to be the expert. However, the goal is not to know them all, and never to have read them all (even if that its your heart’s desire), but to inspire yourself and others, again and again, to fall in love over and over, with the enchantment of children’s literature. Staying enthusiastic and curious about books, and enjoying the reader’s lifestyle, will lead to your accumulating a personal collection of known titles in time.

That said, we do want to read more; where to begin? Are there standard books that everyone should have read? Often the books that get mentioned to us are new and popular books, the ones that everyone is reading right now. These are found quite easily on lists of bestsellers, new arrivals and award winners. Respect the lists, but don’t let blinders narrow your scope so that you miss out-of-the-way titles. New librarians can bring obscure titles to light, after all, and serendipity is so important for book discovery. Keep your eyes open for books from other library systems or other centuries; ask people about personal favorites from childhood; get recommendations from the kid on the bus, take note of titles seen in shop windows. Make note of those titles and use your own enthusiasm to inspire others.

After all, you haven’t been working for 20 years. Bring your newness to the library as a complement to your colleagues’ expertise; be the breath of fresh air, the hope in the future, the enthusiastic voice that asks the bright flashing eyes that come in with their Summer Reading Club booklets: “What did you read this week?”

Vote for CLASC’s New Address!

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Hello, CLASC folks!

When we said we hoped for no glitches during our change of address… well, hmm. No glitches so far, but it turns out that the domain “” is already registered to someone else. So we now need to find a new and awesome address for CLASC, which is where you lovely creative folks come in:

Tell us what would be a great new address for CLASC! Something not too difficult to remember or type would be ideal😉 while also being closely related to “Canadian Libraries Are Serving Children.”

So far, we have:

-and for some reason, “” was also unregistered yet, so if we wanted to make unjustifiable claims on the right to represent all libraries in Canada, here is our chance… (*cackle*)

Let us know in the comments or by email what you think! We will postpone changing our address for about a month while we ponder on names and addresses.

Farewell to CLA CLASC…

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…and Hello to the new and improved CLASC!

Gotcha, CLASC folks. No, we are not disbanding – we are simply removing all CLA branding from CLASC, as per formal request by the CLA.

We will still be Canadian Libraries Are Serving Children, the virtual hub for all lovers of children’s literature and library services for children; we will no longer be a CLA Network, that is all. We might later become associated with CFAB-FCAB, depending on how things go as the Federation organizes itself.

The greatest change that will happen is that our address will change! We plan to remove the ‘cla’ from, our current address. Our email address will remain unchanged.

We’ll make the change sometime in the upcoming week. Here’s hoping for no glitches…

Teen Summer Adventure

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Hello, CLASC folks!

We have an exciting look behind the scenes from Anneka Homfeld, Surrey Libraries BC. Here about the amazing creation and development of the TEEN SUMMER ADVENTURE!!!

Thanks Anneka and Surrey Libraries for being our guest with this post.

“This summer my library created our own in house Teen Summer Adventure, something to keep teens engaged with the library and reading over the summer. We started discussing the project seriously in December—6 months before the program would start. On the one hand that seems like lots of time, on the other hand when we were talking about content creation, design and printing deadlines that timeline starts to look much shorter. For this reason, as well as the feedback we had gotten over the last few years about wanting more analog rather than or as well as digital content, we decided to go with a printed booklet as the main piece of the program rather than a website or combination therein.

We drew on the Teen Summer Challenge ideas pioneered by Pierce County as well as Kitchener Public Library and Vancouver Island Regional Libraries. As we engaged our Teen Library Councils and other teens in the communities it was decided that Challenge sounded too much like school and work and that they preferred the term adventure. The adventures themselves were a collaborative content creation process involving teens across our city and our teen library staff. We tried as much as possible to diversify the types of activities so there was something that everyone would be interested in. We tried to make sure almost all the adventures would not require spending money and that most would not require any kind of special equipment or technology as we have many low income families that might not have fancy phones or possibly not even a digital camera. So while we have some challenges that require taking pictures we tried to limit the total number of them.

I had the great joy of actually getting to help design the passport itself in coordination with our marketing department and with plenty of feedback and voting by teens on everything from our graphics to our font choices. We tried to make it really clean and simple graphically although there are little line drawings sprinkled throughout the booklet since one of the adventures is to colour the entire booklet! Each page has a number and the word ticket at the top. Each adventure on that page is worth that number of tickets. The tickets go into weekly prize draws and a Grand Prize draw at the end of the summer. Although we were not able to have our own website or many of the other digital ties ins that these libraries use we decided to have some adventures that required more extensive writing, a photo or something else that wouldn’t fit in the record that get emailed to our teen library email.

We were very unsure what would happen with this program as we have never done anything like it before. As we were printing them in house at the City Printer we ordered relatively conservative numbers figuring if we had to do an additional order part way through the summer that would be ok, we just needed to give them 2 weeks lead time. The bigger branches got about 100 passports and some of the smaller branches got as few as 50.

Two weeks in we had to order more passports. My branch which ordered 100 was down to 40 passports, a week later we are down to 15. Many of our smaller branches who were not sure they had very many teens who would be interested are in similar situations. It has blown all my expectations away. I am thrilled with the response we have had from staff, the enthusiasm with which they have promoted this brand new project and with the response from teens in our community.

Paper is not dead! Being able to put something physical in their hands really does make a difference and teens are far more excited and engaged about this project than I ever imagined possible.”

20th National Aboriginal Day on June 21st

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Hello, CLASC Folks!

Today we have a guest post from a new librarian about storytelling on Aboriginal day. Without further ado:

The 20th Canadian National Aboriginal Day is coming up.June 21st invites us to learn about Indigenous history as well as to learn of Indigenous perspectives and culture.  There will be Aboriginal events across the nation some of these events may be problematic. Libraries have book displays, of course: poetry, theatre, fiction, memoirs, history, Truth and Reconciliation…. The list goes on and on. Some libraries will have an Aboriginal day storytime or celebration, which leads to a very complicated question: if you are not First Nations and your library asks you to do a First Nations storytime, what are some ways to make it as appropriate as possible? Or is it ever appropriate?

One of my mentors and role models, the great Allison Taylor McBride, spoke of this when she came to a class at the University of British Columbia (LIBR 527 Services for Children, taught by Professor Judith Saltman), where she gave a wonderful storytime demonstration.

She said she does not do First Nations stories, for multiple reasons including: appropriation, a contemporary look at colonialism, and the nation’s attempt at transparency, honesty and Truth and Reconciliation. She does not feel comfortable presenting First Nations stories to any audience and would rather leave a vacuum to hopefully be filled by First Nations storytellers themselves.

Personally, when the library I work for asked me to do a storytime/storytelling for Aboriginal Day, I said yes. I’m new, I’m still casual(on-call), and I want to get in as many hours as I can. I hope, though, that I can walk the razor-thin line of acceptability to tell some beautiful stories (within carefully thought out perimeters) with respect, sincerity, and integrity, and do so in an appropriate manner.


Things I’ve been doing to prepare myself:

Not only did I complete the First Nations Concentration as part of my MLIS program, I’ve been following Debby Reese’s blog, American Indians In Children’s Literature (AICL), for a year and a half. When Michael Kusugak performed at the 2016 Surrey International Children’s Festival, I approached him and asked him (after I had the pleasure of watching him) if it was OK to use his stories, and what would be the most appropriate way to use his books. What he said rang true with the direction I was going in: have the book with you, make sure you introduce the people, and give credit to your sources. I’m focusing on books that are bilingual, and I’ll make a point of acknowledging the importance of the original language and the power of any story I retell, being part of a legal system where often maps and land titles are seen as things of paper while many stories have the power of law.

And of course, make it fun and entertaining.

As I said, razor-thin wire.


I would like to add that especially for those with strong storytelling affinities, their own enthusiasm for the story and the mood that strikes them during the act of telling to an attentive audience may lead them to tell the story as if they own it. Storytellers know the urge to infuse a good story with something of their own selves – add a flourish here, use a different word there, one that feels just right. This is a no no when telling First Nations stories. Be very clear to yourself as well as the audience that these stories do not belong to you. When I tell First Nations stories, I will always tell the audience up front that these are not my stories, and identify whose they are. I contact whomever I can, to ask for permission before telling any particular story, from the people who own it.

CLA 2016 Book of the Year Award for Childen

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Hello, CLASC folks:

To start off our new posts we’d like to remind you of the CLA Book of the Year Award for Children winner and runner-up titles for 2016.

The award-winning title is The Nest by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jon Klassen, published by HarperCollins Canada.

The jury chose two Honour titles:
MiNRS by Kevin Sylvester, published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, and
Young Man with Camera by Emil Sher, illustrated by David Wyman, published by Arthur A. Levine Books.

You can find the official press release from CLA here. Look out for book reviews for the titles!


CLASC on Orlando

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CLASC folks,

Before we start off our posts for the summer, we would like to take a moment to mark a terrible event.

CLASC mourns the unspeakable loss of so many lives in Orlando. The LGBTQ community — long oppressed and subject to violence — is marked by exemplary love, strength and resiliency in this tragedy. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

This incident has impacted all of us from Orlando to Canada , particularly the LGBTQ, Latino and Muslim communities, as well as individuals within intersections of these identities. We are reminded that this is not only a time of mourning, but also a time for reaching out and connecting with one other’s humanity.

CLASC stands with the Libraries, librarians, all the vital staff that make libraries possible, the patrons and the LGBTQ community during this difficult time.

Thank you.