Show Me The Awesome

What a 30 Days it’s been!

I have enjoyed all the posts, and the range of posts. A little bit of everything.

I know I discovered new people, and new ideas; and I hope you did, also. Part of the reason for “show me the awesome” was so that we could share the awesome things that are done, every day, and to spread the word about those things, and those people.

Librarianship can be a thankless profession, and I look at “show me the awesome” as also “thank you for the awesome.” So, thank you — thank you for the people who took the time to post. Thank you to the people who took the time to read the posts. And thank you to the people who talked about the posts and what people were doing, who helped spread the word about the many, many wonderful things people are doing in library land.

And, a big thank you to School Library Journal for this article about #30Awesome, Librarian Bloggers Launch “Show Me The Awesome” Campaign: “Librarians Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, and Kelly Jensen were rooming together at the American Library Association (ALA) midwinter meeting in Seattle a few months ago when they began discussing a troublesome issue: the fact that librarians are not always adept at promoting their achievements, despite a widespread feeling that the field needs more recognition.

Kelly has a final write up at Stacked: “What started as a project we began as a means of letting people show off what it is they’re good at and what it is they’re passionate about grew beyond our expectations in the best possible way. The posts in this series highlight not only the smart, savvy, and talented individuals who make up this profession, but it highlights, too, just how wide-ranging librarianship is. There are beginners sharing their new ideas and there are seasoned pros talking about their favorite, most proud moments. These posts are for fresh out of library school grads and those who have been serving as librarians for a long time.”

Links to my weekly posts, which include links to and excerpts from each #30Awesome post:

A round up of Week One’s Show Me The Awesome.

A round up of Week Two’s Show Me The Awesome.

A round up of Week Three’s Show Me The Awesome.

A round up of Week Four’s Show Me The Awesome.

A round up of Week Five’s Show Me The Awesome.

If I missed a #30Awesome post, please let me know! And yes, it looks like we may be doing this again next year!


Being Awesome Together

What to write for Show Me The Awesome? Especially after having read so many terrific posts this past month, from all types of librarians and library staff working at all types of libraries! About interesting projects and the wonderful things people do, every day, as part of the regular, everyday business of being awesome.

As I looked over these posts, or thought back to particular projects I’ve worked on, I saw how often these projects are about more than one person. It’s not about “me”; it’s about partnerships and collaborations, group activities, building on what others have done, being inspired by our colleagues.

Look at Show Me The Awesome: it’s me. And Kelly Jensen. And Sophie Brookover. Working on this together meant we could each play to our strengths (Sophie’s organization spreadsheets are a thing of beauty). It gave us an opportunity to brainstorm our ideas of what 30 Awesome could be. Even just as a practical matter, it gives back-up: I’ll be at BEA this coming week, with limited Internet access, but Sophie will be around for promoting 30 Awesome.

Partnerships can be practical: being able to do more because of the strengths of each party. It also allows people to get outside their own isolated workplace. School librarians may often be the sole librarian for their school, or even their entire school system. Teen or children’s librarians may be the sole one doing that type of service in their library. Yet, that’s not a barrier to working together and creating together.

The great thing about social media is that it allows us to make connections and create partnerships, like Show Me The Awesome, without having to work together or live near each other. Sophie, Kelly, and I did all the planning and organizing online. Thanks to places like Twitter and Facebook we can meet; we can talk in chat and text; and create in shared documents. It’s not necessary to be in one place.

Meeting in real life does have tremendous value. It can be easier to brainstorm and create; it can be quicker to accomplish tasks. And, when you’ve met someone in person, it can be easier to understand their tone. What’s a joke, what’s serious. Sophie and I are both in New Jersey, so can connect in real life; Kelly and I meet up at the same conferences.

In looking at all the 30 Awesome posts, I like how we are not alone. And together, we are inspiring each other, and being inspired. Yes, we are awesome; and we’re letting each other know we are awesome; and we’re letting others in the library world know.




The image for Show Me The Awesome is courtesy of John LeMasney via

Show Me The Awesome Week 5

For those readers who are new to the blog or to Show Me The Awesome:

Show Me The Awesome: 30 Days of Self-Promotion is being co-hosted by Sophie Brookover, Kelly Jensen & myself for people in library land to share the things they’ve done. It can be about promoting something specific, or about how to promote, or why to promote.

The image for Show Me The Awesome is courtesy of John LeMasney via; and if you’re using the image with your post, please remember to give John credit.

We are using the hashtag #30awesome on Twitter and Tumblr.

This is now the final week of Show Me The Awesome!

Want a taste of what was said in Show Me The Awesome in prior weeks?

A round up of Week One’s Show Me The Awesome.

A round up of Week Two’s Show Me The Awesome.

A round up of Week Three’s Show Me The Awesome.

A round up of Week Four’s Show Me The Awesome.

Because I’m at BEA for the week, there may be some delays in adding this week’s contributors. Don’t worry, I’ll be tweeting the posts and will add them to here by next Sunday at the latest!

Next week, I’ll have a concluding post about Show Me The Awesome!

Strategic Planning at Books, Yarn, Ink and Other Pursuits (added 5/27): “I knew that one of my goals was to implement a new strategic plan. The last plan was woefully out of date–about ten years–and the library had gone through many changes since it was written, including automation. Needless to say, serving on a committee and being the person who is actually responsible for forming that committee are two different things. I believe that the public library should be an anchor in the community; to make sure that happens, we need key community members to help create a strategic plan. This means not only people involved with the library directly, like board members or wonderful patrons who use the library every day, but also people who may not step through our doors, but are in and out of doors throughout the city.”

Making a Digital Impact With Timeline JS at The Undercover Shelf (added 5/27): “My somewhat official title is Cataloging and Metadata Librarian. Yes, this means I work with the Dewey Decimal System and Library of Congress Subject Headings on a daily basis, but that’s only part of my job. Most librarians wear at least a few different hats (I prefer a cloche or a beanie), and so the other part of my job is working with uploading digital archival images (photographs, maps, books, architectural drawings, postcards, etc.) and metadata to my library’s website through CONTENTdm (which is a digital collection management system/software). Recently, I wanted to come up with a may to make this content more interactive and meaningful. Thankfully, I attended a conference where another librarian presented about Timeline JS, and a lightbulb went off for me: we had so many images already online that were perfect for this format! So I gave Timeline JS a try and found it to be really easy and fun to use.

Show Me The Awesome at The Unpretentious Librarian (added 5/27): “As many know, AWESOME libraries are all about collaboration and relationships. I was able to spend the past year developing and cultivating both. Through faculty book clubs, hosting meetings, frequent programming, mini technology projects, and more the library program thrived as a busy hub for the entire school in my debut year at a new position.”

Creating a Teen Blog for the Library at Reading Everywhere (added 5/27): “I recruited interested teens by reaching out to local schools and teen organizations, working with the City’s public information specialist to issue a press release that got picked up by local media, and marketing within the library. I hosted a brainstorming meeting to introduce the blogging project to the teens and solicit their input about its content, look, and feel. Over the next few months, I worked with the teens virtually to collect content for the blog, worked with a graphic designer (the amazing Elle Cardenas!) to develop a sharp, professional aesthetic that exudes youthful energy, and consulted with other departments in my organization to make sure the teen blog would support the mission and vision of my library and the City. One of the reasons my library didn’t have a regular teen volunteer program in the past was a lack of staff time and resources. Managing this blog does take up a good deal of my time, but I can do a lot of the work while multitasking– editing and scheduling blog posts while I’m on the Reference Desk, for example. So far, this project is working out really well for the library and the teens.

Shamelessly Self-Promote Yourself at PC Sweeney’s Blog (added 6/1): “[Y]ou are all doing awesome things and you need to promote it far more than you do already. Because the deal is, that by promoting yourselves and your work as a librarian to the world (and to the profession) you are actually helping librarianship as a whole. This is largely due to the fact that according the PEW Internet Research Center and OCLC the number one most effective technique for building library support is creating a relationship with your community as a librarian. Even if you disagree with that, you still help the profession with you self-promotion because we will all learn about the awesome things you’re doing and get better at our jobs. So, while I completely support this #30awesome project, I really hope that it is the the spark of a fire of the shameless promotion of librarians, libraries, and everything that we do. Now, go out and tell people that you’re awesome and why.

Being Awesome Together here at Tea Cozy (added 6/1): “In looking at all the 30 Awesome posts, I like how we are not alone. And together, we are inspiring each other, and being inspired. Yes, we are awesome; and we’re letting each other know we are awesome; and we’re letting others in the library world know.

Leaning in to Librarianship at Shhh! No Running In the Library (added 6/1): “I would suggest, from personal and observed experience, that many of these librarians would take greater time and interest in promoting their own work if they were encouraged by those they work for first. We (those of us active on Twitter or Tumblr or ThinkTank or whatever) can yell across the Internet as much as we like for but the only ones who will shout back have already taken up on the hashtag next to us. Now we’re just yelling in one another’s ears which no one appreciates. AT LAST TO MY POINT. While we must, MUST advocate for ourselves and our libraries, leaning in is not solely the responsibility of those who have been leaning away. We all must lean in. Lean in to your team, to your coworkers. Especially lean in to those you supervise.”

Diversity In Collection Development at Future Librarian Superhero (added 6/1): “I don’t care how homogeneous, remote, or just plain ‘white’ your community is–you should be thinking about diversity in your collections, AND in the books you present during storytime. One of the biggest parts of our mission as librarians is to provide access. Access to technology, to ideas, to education and, more broadly, access to the amazing world we live in. We provide windows into other lives, other ways of living. And we also have a responsibility to show kids how much the same life is–how much we all have in common. It’s our responsibility to reflect the diverse world back to our library users. Diversity in collection development is so much more than just books about Civil Rights, or “What it’s like to live in X country.” Those books are very very important. But if the only picture books we have that feature people of color are history books, historical fiction, or books about other countries we are doing a huge disservice to the people we serve.”

The No Library Whining Zone Experiment at The Librarian Kate (added 6/1): “Us librarians also complain about our libraries. That’s also a fact of life – and it’s hard not to complain when the news is not always in our favor. Budget cuts, lack of jobs for talented new grads, e-books, conference costs, awards and the deserving (or sometimes undeserving) – even our day-to-day struggles.  People complaint to vent, or to motivate themselves to get things done. Right after I returned from the ACRL conference and holiday with my family in Florida, I noticed that complaining reached critical mass.  It had moved from constructive discussion to whining – which is good for stress relief but not good in the long term when one kvetches about the same problems over and over with no productive solution in sight. That kind of environment makes it hard for those of us who want to have constructive dialogue difficult. With all this in mind (along with a refreshed and revived belief in my profession), I proposed the No Library Whining Zone, a social experiment to see if we could just shut out the negativity about libraries and librarianship for a mere 24 hours in social media.”

Show Me The Awesome at The Unpretentious Librarian (added 6/1): “ Here’s a glimpse of a menagerie of awesomeness in a middle school library. . . . With the collaboration of my IT coach, we hosted TechnoFridays during every faculty meeting. My principal allowed us 5-10 minutes during meetings to highlight new and innovative technology ideas. The response was overwhelming with teachers from all curricular areas trying new and exciting projects. One of my favorite AWESOME programs that came out of TechnoFriday was the Battle of the Math projects.

Awesome Never Retires at Library Currants (added 6/1): “Awesome is often in the eye of the beholder. The ordinary of librarianship involves sharing, promoting, training, educating, assisting, helping, encouraging, collaborating, communicating, connecting, organising, publishing and contributing amongst many other things. To many people in our communities these are indeed awesome skills. I have moved from full time work into retirement. What a wonderful preparation for retirement teacher-librarianship gave me. Many of my new friends think some of my skills are “awesome.” I am delighted these skills provide me with the tools for an active retirement. So to all those awesome librarians out there approaching retirement, never retire your “awesome”  the community needs you.

Math at the Library at Sonder Books (added 6/1): “Before I got my MLS, my first Master’s degree was in Math. I taught college-level math for 10 years. And though I love math, the teaching job never felt like a calling, the way librarianship does. Part of what I love about the library? We don’t have to test anyone! No, at the library, we’re all about learning, and we assist learning for people who want to learn. What’s more, I’ve always believed there’s no need whatsoever to “make” Math fun. Math *IS* fun! And we get to show that to kids! So, what are some awesome ways recently I’ve gotten to show people how much fun Math is at the library?”

Stepping Outside the SRP Box at Book Blather (added 6/1): “For my library, June 1st has always been the start date for SRP, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it didn’t work for my teens. Well, let me rephrase that. It didn’t work well for teens I saw during my school visits. I was spending my entire month of May getting the teens hyped at the schools and expecting them to keep that excitement for 2 – 4 weeks. When in reality, the hype for most only lasted, if lucky, until that evening. So, I did something kind of scary, and made my start date May 1st. You have no idea how many crazy looks I’ve gotten when I’ve said that. And it’s almost always followed by a WHY or ARE YOU SERIOUS? Yes to both, but I thought…what do I really have to lose? My program is online so it wouldn’t be adding any additional work to my co-workers since teens only have to go to staff members to claim prizes. It meant that I had to have the level prizes (candy/book/lock-in) ready to go on May 1st, but that was a piece of cake. (Programming still doesn’t start until June since I’m in the schools so much.) On the other hand, it would mean I could tell teens they could sign up when they went home; in some cases I would even be able to sign them up on the spot. For me, those small pros outweighed any cons I could thing of.  Plus, if I failed, I failed. It would mean I would just go back to June 1st next year. Nothing would have been wasted except a bit of my time.

Motivational Poster Time at Storytime Katie (added 6/1): “My last tips for increasing your storytime attendance all wound up sounding like motivational posters…so enjoy clicking the links to see what I’m talking about!

The Library In Awesome & Unexpected Places at Laura in the Library (added 6/1): “I discovered that as much as I enjoy facilitating programs that take place in the library, surrounded by our books and other media, I really really like popping up in funky or unorthodox places to bring library activities to the community at times outside of the regular library routine. I have two “pop-up” programs taking place this summer in my capacity as Assistant Director for a small public library in Wisconsin. One is a library table at our town’s Saturday farmers market. We provide supplies for a hands-on project that kids (and grown-ups!) can do, along with a bookmark with “related titles” of books and other media from our collection. Another activity (one that we’re trying for the first time in our community) is a partnership with our local swimming pool! Every week I’ll be at the pool under an umbrella (armed with a big floppy sunhat) for “Break with a Book” – a short (20 min.) story time that coincides with the afternoon adult swim time.

30 Awesome Things I’ve Done for #30Awesome at PC Sweeney (added 6/1): “So, I can’t let my last blog entry to go without my own example of self-promotion. There are links to most of the stuff for more information, otherwise there is a summary of what I’ve done below the title. So, here are 30 Things I’ve Done that I’m proud of for #30awesome.”

Who’s Awesome? I Am at Emily’s Notebook (added 6/1): “See, librarian bloggers from all over are overcoming their self-conscious tendencies to avoid shameless self-promotion, and have been posting about how awesome they are, and I LOVE IT. I mean, why shouldn’t we toot our own horns now and then??? Check out some of the posts celebrating the awesome people out there in LibraryLand and the awesome things they’re working on. As for me, I’ve never been shy about promoting myself and my organization. We do cool stuff. I do cool stuff. And you’ve probably heard it all before. So, in honor of this great #30awesome love fest,  let me boil my awesomeness down into the first 30 things I could think of that make me awesome. I’m sure the list could go on and on. . . .I have a vision for myself, my profession, and the world in general I lie about my age… adding 15 years to my age! I’m a librarian, and librarians are awesome.”

Why I Became the Meme Librarian at amandab! (added 6/1): “As our culture becomes more and more digital, as “internet culture” collides and assimilates with “mainstream culture,” there are so many things that will define our generation that won’t always exist. Sometimes, I feel like Yearbook Girl from Can’t Hardly Wait, trying to hold on to as many minute memories as I can before they’re gone. And yes, there’s a possibility that no one will ever care again about some Tumblr meme that lasted about two weeks before everyone forgot about it but it’s a piece of the puzzle. These memes are facets of what makes our generation who we are. How internet communities create, interact and react to things and each other says a lot about who we’ve become as humans. It leads to questions about the types of people that are attracted to certain social media outlets: who are they, what are they seeking, and why do they find it in this spot? The spread of a meme can still be mind-boggling to me at times. What makes something catch on and what does it say about its participants?”

Double or Nothing: Increasing Your Library’s Number of Twitter Followers at MissCybrarian (added 6/1): “The “awesome” in this post refers to the increased amount of followers on our library’s Twitter account.   I work in an academic library in a small, semi-rural area where bandwidth coverage can sometimes be less than reliable. So, Twitter didn’t really “hit” here until 1-2 years ago. But, between July 17, 2012 and February 13, 2013 we put in some extra effort and went from 209 to over 418  Twitter followers.  More importantly, the second “half” of our followers has a much larger proportion of students, staff, faculty, and university organizations than the second first half did, so we are reaching more of our target audience. Here’s how it happened.

The awesome in libraries and service-learning…and yes, the students see me in my jammies at Service Learning Llibrarian (added 6/1): “I was really frustrated with my information literacy course and needed to make some changes.  I had several faculty friends who taught service-learning courses, and it suddenly occurred to me…could I integrate service-learning in my own course?  Service-learning requires that service be integrated into the curriculum of the course to support the learning objectives (it isn’t a stand-alone day of volunteerism, for example).  Why can’t my students do research for a nonprofit as I teach them the process?  The research would be the service.  Wouldn’t this give their work more meaning?  My theory was that they would be much more motivated to turn in a research portfolio to a real, living organization that will actually put it to use, rather than just turning it in to me (who will grade it and then…what?  It gets recycled?).”

Learning Stuff is TOO Cool at Amy’s Library of ROCK (added 6/1): “The one thing I’m MOST proud about? Making reading look exciting. At some point somebody decided that reading isn’t cool. Well, sure, to some people it isn’t. But not to ALL people. And it’s not going to keep me from trying to CONVINCE the doubters that there’s something for them in books. A lot of my coworkers, though? Not so much. My original director discouraged us from using words like “learning” and even “reading” in our program fliers: “We don’t want to give the impression that the library is a BORING place,” she said. And Summer Reading Club. OH DEAR. We use the abbreviation “SRC” whenever possible, because OUR Summer Reading Club is about FUN! Really, we have an amazing summer program, unique experiences at a minimal price. But we may have the only “Summer Reading Club” in the world that doesn’t actually incorporate independent reading. No reading goals or time charts or book clubs or reviews. . . .  I’M a novel reader. But I know not everyone is. And it’s shocking how many people still insist that “reading” means “reading novels,” and if you don’t do that then it doesn’t count. My old director wanted to change perceptions about the library, that it was more than JUST books. I wanted to change perceptions about the books themselves. Books aren’t there just for the bookworms and the school-report-writers. There’s a book for everyone!

Show Me The Awesome Manga + Anime Group at (added 6/1): “When I landed my job as Children’s and Youth Librarian, part of my brief was to place a particular emphasis on engaging teens. Historically our library service hadn’t kicked too many goals in this area, but we’re not alone in that. It’s not always the case, but teens can be a tough demographic to get into libraries and using library services. However, I’m stoked to report I have finally had a break-through! Introducing… My libraries’ Manga + Anime Group, or MAG as we affectionately call it, is a common interest group for 12-17 year olds.

Show Me The Awesome at American Indians in Children’s Literature (added 6/1): “The storms, in their own way, mark what I try to do with American Indians in Children’s Literature, and with my lectures and publications. Storms uproot trees. They change the landscape. In significant ways, the landscape of children’s literature changes organically, as society changes. There are exceptions, of course, and that’s what is at the heart of my work. I’ve been working in children’s literature since the early 1990s. I started publishing American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) in 2006. It has steadily garnered a reputation as the place that teachers and librarians can go for help in learning how to discern the good from the bad in the ways that American Indians are portrayed in children’s books. People who sit on award committees and major authors, too, write to me. So do editors at the children’s literature review journals, and, editors at major publishing houses. . . . Years ago, illustrator James Ransome was asked (at a conference at the Cooperative Center for Children’s Books at the University of Wisconsin) why he hadn’t illustrated any books about American Indians. He replied that he ‘hadn’t held their babies.” I’ve written about his remark several times because it beautifully captures so much. Lot of people write about (or illustrate) American Indians without having held our babies. They end up giving us the superficial or the artificial. They mean well, but, we don’t need superficial or artificial, either. We need the awesomes. Yeah–I know–‘awesomes’ isn’t a legitimate word, but I’m using it anyway. We have some awesomes. I’ve written about them on AICL, but we need more awesomes. Lots more, so that we can change the landscape.”

Being On – “Text” 24/7 at Kate Nesi (added 6/2): “I received a text at 3:21am from an English teacher begging me to teach her students how to use Prezi and how to use video editing software today. What did I respond with? Absolutely. I will teach them, and if the library is booked, I’ll go to your classroom. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a desperate text for day-of help. Many of the teachers have my cell number so they can text me for help, answer questions, or quick support for lessons. I would love to implement a chat system like we did at another library, because it was far easier to provide services immediately than through email which staff may not always have open. Of course one could always use the phone, but it appears text is a little less intrusive while still getting the quick response you need. Texting is also available during after-hours when teachers are going a little crazy planning their next move and need extra help.”

Guest Post: Leigh Woznick Shows The Awesome

Today, I’m pleased to say that I have a guest post for Show Me The Awesome.

Give a warm welcome to Leigh Woznick!

Leigh Woznick:

I am a middle school librarian/media specialist, excited to participate in the “Show Me the Awesome” initiative by Kelly Jensen, Sophie Brookover, and Liz Burns. Thanks to designer John LeMasney for the graphic. Follow the posts on Twitter, Tumblr, Vine and Instagram with the hashtag #30awesome.

The posts so far have been impressive and inspiring.  Librarians are very good at sharing. With that in mind, I’d like to talk about professional development: the formal kind we can put on our resumes and the informal kind that looks to our families like reading or hanging out on Facebook or Twitter, instead of doing the dishes. I’m no expert, but I’ll happily share what I did this year to better myself.

Last week a student asked me to define the word “repertoire”, and I thought: how á propos for my post today. We each have a repertoire of knowledge and skills: books, authors, lessons, tools, resources.  The nature of the librarian is that while (to paraphrase Macklemore) we are…awesome, we still strive to learn and explore the next new thing, to continuously add to our repertoire.


Two major technology changes significantly affected my work this year. Our district adopted Google Apps for Education and we migrated to a new library automation system (Destiny). These two projects resulted in countless hours of meetings, trainings, teleconferences and tasks. I have been designated a district leader for both projects, teaching both programs to my (approx. 1500) students and serving as troubleshooter and mentor to staff across the district. If you’ve been through a transition to a new library system, you know what an enormous undertaking it is. I am coordinating the technical aspects of the transition and will help train the other librarians. But at least I had some formal training on Destiny. Google is a do-it-yourself kind of operation. I’d used Docs & Forms for years, but Google Sites was new to me. I set up my own site, adding user-friendly and appealing digital/video and embedded content that never worked well on our old system. It’s pretty intuitive and the help functions are good, so don’t be too impressed. Finally having the capability for ‘virtual’ instruction, such as with video demos, has been a boon — I had 93 classes last week alone and can’t physically be with every one. While frustrated with some of the limitations, I’m excited to see what new ways we can use it next year.

My district offers some pretty good free PD (some even count as CEUs).  I took a workshop on LGBT issues, worked on a Writing Across the Curriculum Committee, and attended curriculum meetings.  In the interests of sharing my repertoire, I also taught PD to staff: Google Apps, Easybib, and Engaging Readers. When offering PD to teachers, I recommend seeking approval for it to count as official PD, relate it to curriculum and supply reproducibles.  Also, snacks don’t hurt.


Professional organizations offer myriad PD, both formal and informal. I am a member of: NJASL, AASL, YALSA, ALA, LibraryLinkNJ, Mystery Writers of America, and NJEA. Reading their magazines, attending conferences and webinars and getting involved in listserv conversations result in great things. This year, I participated in or attended: NJASL and IRA’s Enthusiastic Reader contest, World Book Night,  The Horn Book Awards & Symposium, Edgar Awards, NY Comic Con, BookExpoAmerica, LibraryLinkNJ’s Handhelds in Libraries Unconference, Booklist webinars, Google Power Search training and SLJ’s SummerTeen virtual conference. OK, I’m a little nuts, I know. But all of these are chances to meet my peeps, hear what they are doing, track new trends, recruit authors for school visits and get free stuff! You never know when one of these connections will bear fruit.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch. I read “Ermahgerd: Memes in the Classroom?” by Patricia Bruder in the February issue of NJEA Review, herself inspired by Stephanie Richter’s Prezi. Galvanized, I created a web page with examples and links, and convinced a teacher looking for a creative writing project to try it out. It was a huge success, and her enthusiasm will entice other teachers to try it.  You can read more about my lesson in the August issue of School Librarian’s Workshop and do it yourself! We all build on each other’s knowledge.

At the NJASL Annual Fall Conference I learned from author/artist Robert Sabuda how to make simple pop-ups. I shared those techniques in an annual program I give for students who don’t go on the camping trip.  At past conferences, I heard about contests and programs such as Predict a Snow Day and Blind Date with a Book, and adapted the ideas into fun annual events for my students. I have presented at the conference myself a few times. This year, I offered a workshop on Stress-busters. Don’t be afraid to present something you’ve used or done in your library — someone else can learn from your experience — think of it as share and share alike.

Sometimes PD can help your personal advancement. I am my district’s representative for LibraryLinkNJ. I was appointed as a ‘virtual member’ to the Joint YALSA/AASL/ALSC Committee on School/Public Library Collaboration. I published two chapters for professional library publications for MacFarland (in press), one on middle school clubs & activities and the other on librarian stress, and just got another proposal accepted, on women using the Internet for philanthropy or social change. These projects all came through professional connections like LMNET.  They don’t make me any money, but do make me feel like I’m contributing and making a difference in my field.


Like lots of other librarians, I participate in listserv, Facebook, Twitter & blog discussions, and read YA & middle grade books to keep myself, if not on the cutting edge, at least up-to-date. Though my family teases me about being surgically attached to my iPhone and iPad, they are my direct conduit to what I need to know. The generosity of my fellow librarians is amazing. Librarians may be all over copyright and plagiarism when we’re teaching our students to write & cite, but we’re much more open source when it comes to ideas for how to reach & teach.  Many of us are overworked and understaffed and/or underfunded, so we are more than willing to help each other out.

Links and posts have recently led me to new tools, like Smore, an author visit from Paul Janeczko, a Therapy Dog lesson/program inspired by a program at my daughter’s college library, and videotaped focus group reflection on the research process modeled after this one by my idol, Buffy Hamilton. (Lesson learned: don’t do it all in one take!). Facebook connections helped make my BookFest a reality a couple of years ago — 35 presenters on one day!


Exhausted?  Me too! Full disclosure: my kids are (mostly) out of the house, and I have a library secretary who is a godsend.  I put in extra hours at work most days and spend a lot of my personal time networking.  AND I LOVE MY JOB!!!

Most of the PD I do is absolutely free, and those I do pay for are so much fun I can’t complain. They help me do my job better, make me look good and make me really, really happy. But it can get overwhelming. Our field expands and changes almost daily, and I sometimes feel like I can never reach the level of library luminaries like Buffy, or Joyce Valenza. I came to librarianship as a second career, and will never learn half of what they’ve forgotten.

One of the teachers I was working with last week helped me put it in perspective.  She was reflecting how much the library has changed in the 7 years I’ve been there, impressed with my knowledge of resources and technology (we did an Edmodo project together last year). She’s a friend, so I told her my feelings of inadequacy. “You don’t know what’s out there!” I whined. She said no matter how far behind I thought I was from the ideal, I am still light years ahead of what she and most of her colleagues knew. So whatever I had to offer was gold.

Remember that! It’s impossible to do it all, but if you soak as much as you can in, something will stick, and you’ll be able to use it. And to paraphrase John Green, Don’t Forget You Are Awesome.

Show Me The Awesome Week 4

For those readers who are new to the blog or to Show Me The Awesome:

Show Me The Awesome: 30 Days of Self-Promotion is being co-hosted by Sophie Brookover, Kelly Jensen & myself for people in library land to share the things they’ve done. It can be about promoting something specific, or about how to promote, or why to promote.

The image for Show Me The Awesome is courtesy of John LeMasney via; and if you’re using the image with your post, please remember to give John credit.

We are using the hashtag #30awesome on Twitter and Tumblr.

Want a taste of what was said in Show Me The Awesome in prior weeks?

A round up of Week One’s Show Me The Awesome.

A round up of Week Two’s Show Me The Awesome.

A round up of Week Three’s Show Me The Awesome.

I’ll have a Show Me The Awesome post like this one up every Sunday for the month of May. Every night, I’ll be editing this post to add that week’s contributors, with name of post, blog/Tumblr, and a short excerpt of the Awesome.

Leigh Woznick, Guest Post at Tea Cozy (added 5/20): “Like lots of other librarians, I participate in listserv, Facebook, Twitter & blog discussions, and read YA & middle grade books to keep myself, if not on the cutting edge, at least up-to-date. Though my family teases me about being surgically attached to my iPhone and iPad, they are my direct conduit to what I need to know. The generosity of my fellow librarians is amazing. Librarians may be all over copyright and plagiarism when we’re teaching our students to write & cite, but we’re much more open source when it comes to ideas for how to reach & teach.  Many of us are overworked and understaffed and/or underfunded, so we are more than willing to help each other out.

Unexpected Outcomes at Professor Nana aka Teri Lesesne (added 5/20): “Being in a library science department and teaching online courses in literature for children, tweens, and teens means I do not often have the chance to interact with students. So, when the opportunity presents itself, I leap at the chance. My colleague Rosemary Chance arranged for the two of us to do a continuing education program for undergraduate teacher education students. “Let the Heart of a Book Touch the Heart of a Child” became our theme since we spoke to the groups on Valentine’s Day. Basically, we booktalk some of the Notables (ALSC) winners for the year. After the booktalk, students are invited to take a free book with them to begin or build their future libraries.”

Beer & Books Talk for Central Oregon Beer Week at By The Barrel by the Bend Beer Librarian (added 5/20): “Now there are thousands of beer blogs out there and several great ones already here in Bend, so why another? What can I offer? As a librarian who has worked in several different capacities—tech support for library school and distance education, thesaurus construction and maintenance, serials and monographic cataloging, original and copy cataloging, and now reference work—I have a good idea of the world of recorded knowledge and the structures that support it. That is what I want to share with my community via book reviews, book talks, interviews with authors of beer books (I hope), reference and research assistance, and any other information or service that I can provide but have yet to think of. I consider my patrons to be all of Central Oregon’s beer geeks, aficionados, and lovers and those simply interested in some aspect of beer, the beer business, and the culture and material goods around beer.”

Difficult Patrons In Your Library at Angelina 41 (added 5/21): “You never know if interactions with patrons are going to be positive or negative, but the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you can only control yourself. People may scream at you, berate you, or become upset about what you’re telling them, but your reaction to it is within your control. When I feel an interaction turning sour, I set an intention to remain calm and to maintain the dignity of both the patron and myself. It doesn’t always work out as well as I’d like, but the main thing is that I keep trying to provide a positive experience for people who enter our doors.

Using My Platform Positively at Stacked (added 5/21): “When I spoke up about ARCs, suddenly I found this little blog about books and reading being responded to in other blogs, both those within librarianship and those outside of it. It was the post that riddled me with a lot of guilt, then frustration, sadness, then anger. I was mad and upset about how my words were read and twisted. It hurt how people responded to me in a personal manner — as if my career and personal life choices and decisions were things that factored in to what I had said in one single post. After sitting on what I’d put out there for a couple of weeks, and thinking about how my piece had spawned reaction, I realized something big. I had a platform. People were listening. Rather than rest on posting, though, I figured out that using this platform as a means to speak out was just the first step. I needed to use what I had in order to implement change. If something like ARCs could spur such heated discussion and rile up the sort of response it did, maybe I was on to something. So I put those thoughts and that post into action, suggesting a panel for the American Library Association’s conference on the topic. It was accepted, and now we’re in the process of organizing over 500 responses to our survey on how librarians, booksellers, and others use Advanced Reader’s Copies so we can talk about why they’re valuable and how they’re used in the book world.

StoryWalk ™ at Valley Storytime (added 5/21): “Basically,  StoryWalk ™ is this:  a picture book is posted along a walking path. As you walk, you read the story. It can be that simple– just the pages of a book along a path. Or you can ramp it up and create signboards with replicated pages, and add some activities to go along with the walk. That’s how we did it. And it is awesome. Nothing like seeing a bunch of kids (and adults)  jumping, running, skipping, and reading at the same time. But even more awesome, and what I wanted to share here, is the cooperation that happened in order for our   StoryWalk ™  to happen.

Finding My Voice at So Tomorrow (added 5/22): “I wanted to write about one of the things I do really well: preschool visits. I have to say that I absolutely love this age group and find their enthusiasm infectious.I can remember being so nervous to do any kind of visits when I first started out. The fear of a group of strangers was terrifying to me (even if those strangers only came up to my knees). It took a while before I realized that the trick to a successful group visit was to share my absolute favorite material, and nothing less and then my natural enthusiasm for those stories would shine through. Realizing that was my “lightbulb moment” and I have looked forward to having preK classes come in to my library ever since.

Children’s Librarians Can Do Anything at A Fuse #8 Production (added 5/22): “You must be willing to make a fool of yourself. Remember those days in library school where you had to conduct a mock toddler storytime for your peers, and you thought it was the most embarrassing thing you ever had to do?  Baby, you had no IDEA what you were in for!  Whether it’s an 18-month year old taking a bite out of your neck or a general flailing of the limbs in an effort to engage a baby, you are going to look silly. And if you can do it wearing blue fur, all the better. . . . Long story short, the best training ground for not just picture book authorship but ANY job is children’s librarianship.  I bet you could apply additional skills to additional problems.  It’s just that flexible.”

On The Radio Part 2 at Librarianship As A Subversive Activity (added 5/22): “Three times a year, Ameet and I go to lunch (sometimes at a bar) and brainstorm our show theme schedule for the next semester. We pull from library literature, pop culture representations, our current research, conversations with our Atlanta-area colleagues, other radio programs, and daily operations in our library. We try to never say “That’s crazy” to each other which has helped a few eccentric and exciting themes make it into the lineup. For instance, in the past six months, we done shows called “Alcohol Archives,” “Library Apocalypse,” “The Myth of the Archive,” and “Dogs in the Library.” After we’ve got twenty or so themes, we start grouping them into series, e.g. Cultural Production, Community, The Library & the Individual, The Future Is Now, or Shark-Infested Waters. A series has four or five episodes and the overall series theme informs and constrains each individual show to keep us on track. Shark-Infested Waters was a series about libraries and politics or the law, and contained the shows “The Lobbyist Librarian,” “Copyright & Catastrophe,” “The GSU Case,” and “Privatizing Libraries.”

Personalize It at Storytime Katie (added 5/23): “This is going to be a short and quick entry, because this is super simple to implement — personalize your storytimes. The more familiar you become to your storytime families and vice versa, the more important storytime becomes to them and the more parents will value your advice and tips. . . . Provide read-a-likes! I have a ridiculously scary memory, so I remember from week-to-week that Bella really loved “Hilda Must Be Dancing,” so I pulled out “Brontorina” for storytime a few weeks later. Guess what? Bella loved that one, too.

Iron Fist (aka Parent Management) at Bryce Don’t Play (added 5/23): “Like kids, parents will meet as high expectations as are set for them and will adapt their behavior to meet those expectations.  Unlike kids, parents are capable of thinking hypothetically and higher level reasoning. This is good, because they can more easily figure out acceptable activities based on rules; it can also be bad, if an adult is prone to rationalizing that rules don’t apply to them. Now before you get all defensive-rational, parents, I’m saying that all adults do this. It could be in the form of lots of things, from drinking and driving to using your neighbor’s WIFI signal to being so generous it’s a detriment to others (there’s a special place in Hell for people who let more than one car in front of them at a time at a previously red light that just turned green. Not that this just happened in front of me 2 hours ago so I’m completely still bitter about it, or anything.) Anyway, this all may be a catalyst for the bad behavior we see from parents on a regular basis in the Children’s Room.

Advocate or Vacate at Sam’s Lit Cafe 2.0 (added 5/25): “School librarians, or teacher librarians, or whatever the name du jour happens to be are not by nature “horn tooters.” We do our jobs quietly and just are. We do our best to make sure that our school looks good, our students are happy, and our teachers have what they need at zero-hundred hours on the clock of doom. If we receive thanks or our efforts are publicly lauded, we hang our heads and whisper a quiet “Oh, it was nothing.” Well, guess what? Our “Oh, it was nothings” are giving legislators and administrators around the country reasons each and every day to eliminate our positions. Because we have shied away from talking about our programs, our value to the schools we serve, and the many duties we juggle on a daily basis, we are viewed as expendable. . . . We matter. We know we do. We see it on a small scale every day. There is even hard data to prove it. Let’s just let our awesomeness shine and light our successes and the successes of our colleagues, let’s give our students and teachers something to be excited about. Now, go ahead,  you can do it. Show us YOUR awesome!

Dynamic Connections at Library Grits (added 5/25): “The main job I do is not about books, or research or inquiry. The job I do is about people, it is about helping people. It is about making a connection with people so they trust me enough to enable me to help them. My job is to make sure I am interrupted all day by people who need my skills, my expertise, my problem solving, my suggestions, my conversation, my smile and sometimes my hugs.”

Librarians as Catalyst in a STEM/History Collaborative Project at The Sassy Librarian (added 5/25): “Brace yourself, I’m going to compare librarians to eggs. On the surface, I realize that doesn’t make sense, but if you understand the chemistry of cooking, you’ll figure out where I’m going with this. I am a cook, who not only enjoys the physical act of making great food, but who also insists on understanding why and how dishes work. In baking, eggs play the key role of binder, allowing other ingredients to not only meld together, but also to physically hold them in place while the outside forces of friction (think your mixer paddle) or heat work a reaction. I think school librarians are like eggs.

Show Me The Awesome at The Hub: Campaign For Quality School Libraries In Australia (added 5/25): “Even if you don’t want to go public, take the time to reflect on what it is you do and how it matches up to your dreams and expectations when you first decided to enter the profession.  If there’s a disconnect, work out how to work back to what you wanted. Make a plan , share it, and share your successes. You know you’re awesome – time to let others know too.  Show them it’s more than circulating books.”


Show Me The Awesome Week 3

For those readers who are new to the blog or to Show Me The Awesome:

Show Me The Awesome: 30 Days of Self-Promotion is being co-hosted by Sophie Brookover, Kelly Jensen & myself for people in library land to share the things they’ve done. It can be about promoting something specific, or about how to promote, or why to promote.

The image for Show Me The Awesome is courtesy of John LeMasney via; and if you’re using the image with your post, please remember to give John credit.

We are using the hashtag #30awesome on Twitter and Tumblr.

Want a taste of what was said in Show Me The Awesome in prior weeks?

A round up of Week One’s Show Me The Awesome.

A round up of Week Two’s Show Me The Awesome.

I’ll have a Show Me The Awesome post like this one up every Sunday for the month of May. Every night, I’ll be editing this post to add that week’s contributors, with name of post, blog/Tumblr, and a short excerpt of the Awesome.

Staying Awesome On Hiatus at Beth Reads (added 5/13): “My family recently relocated for my husband’s job and for a number of reasons it’s not practical for me to look for a job right away. We had a deal that when he was finally done with school I could take a little break. I love being a librarian, and will go back probably sooner rather than later so I want to stay on top of things during my break.  Here is how I’m doing that: 1. Keeping up with my Professional Learning Network . . . 2. Blogging . . . 3. Webinars . . .  4. Chats and Conferences . . . 5. Reading.

Show Me The Awesome You Schools at Tiny Tips for Library Fun (added 5/13): “One of the things I’m proudest of in my career is my success building partnerships and working with public schools in my communities. I didn’t think too much about it until I started to tune into the fact that colleagues seemed to have far fewer happy collaboration stories than I did. Not only far fewer happy stories but also far more horror stories. Did I just always luck out and get jobs in great communities with uber-responsive schools? Hmmm. I don’t think so. My secret has been confidence, dogged persistence and patience. Each time I move into a community, I make appointments to meet individually with all the principals for a chat. I also meet with school media colleagues. If I have a question about the reading curriculum, I meet with the reading teachers. If I am wondering about a policy or subject being taught with third graders I reach out to those teachers. I drive wherever in the school district I need to go to be there rather than asking the staff to come find me.

And Other Duties as Assigned at Title and Statement of Responsibility (added 5/14): “Some days (or weeks, or months) it’s hard to feel like I’m accomplishing anything. There’s always so much to do, and it’s hard to feel that there’s progress when the tasks–even when they’re fun–are repetitive. As soon as I finish a book order, I start another book order. We are also doing some realignment at my library, which made me really think about what it is I actually do at work. So I’m taking a step back and listing my current job duties here–both because they may soon change, and because sometimes I need a reminder of how much I actually accomplish for my job. . . . I know they say libraries can’t be all things to all people, but when it comes down to ME, I want to do it all. And hey, that’s a lot of stuff that I juggle every day! I am proud of myself–and will bookmark this post for those days when it feels like nothing is getting done.”

5 Tips For Program Promotion at The Lupine Librarian (added 5/15): “Some of [your patrons’] ideas will be inspired and fantastic—ideas you never would have come up with on your own. Other ideas will be crazy (and, in most cases, not feasible for the library setting). If the ideas are doable, by all means, try to implement them! This will give your young patrons a greater sense of involvement and even a sense of ownership for the program. If the idea is way out there (reading on the roof of the library comes to mind), applaud the creativity of the idea and explain why it isn’t feasible at this time (or ever). Sometimes crazy ideas have a good idea at the center, so if you can remove the more outlandish aspects, there might be something great there. So, maybe reading on the roof is out, but reading on the front lawn might be an excellent plan.

On the Radio Part 1 at Librarianship As A Subversive Activity (added 5/15): “All that playing around on the radio was fun but fun is all it was. Not until 2009 did I say to Ameet Doshi, the head of the User Experience Department at the Georgia Tech Library, “We should get on the radio somehow; the library should be on the radio.” I meant just that we should record some public service announcements about the library — starting small — but he said “We should totally do a radio show.” So we did. It took six months from conception to the first broadcast but we did it: on January 24th, 2010, the first episode of Lost in the Stacks, the world’s one-and-only research-library rock’n’roll radio show, went out on 91.1FM, WREK Atlanta.

I Did a Research Project & It Was Good at Reeling and Writhing and Fainting in Coils (added 5/15): “In July 2012 I spent two weeks in Cairo, Egypt interviewing young, Egyptian artists about their information needs. It was my first romp into the world of information science research. As a student, I thought I would do more academic library-related research (instruction, assessment) but my limited world travel just kept asking to be a part of my professional research. Thus, Egypt and guessing my way through the research and publication process as I go. Here’s an brief (and truncated) overview of my research. . . . One of the painters told me, “We as artists and students, we didn’t really get the chance to study or research the right way. Like when you go to the library and you read, read, read…but we don’t have this here in Egypt. Studying by going to the library, that doesn’t really exist. Which is really bad.” ”

Change Is Good: Keep It Fresh at Storytime Katie (added 5/16): “Take breaks. I run four storytime “sessions” a year. (September-October. November Off. December-January. February Off. March-April. May Off. June-July. August Off.) Those months off give me time to recharge, to develop new initiatives — like Growing Readers, to create new storytime props & flannelboards, to focus my attention on weeding or creating Picture Book City. And like I said in Part One, be honest and transparent towards families about why you need a break. If you can’t take time off, see if someone else can cover for you for just two weeks. I truly believe you’ll feel re-energized when you come back to storytime.”

Immersive Play In the 21st Century Library at Books and Adventures (added 5/16): “So, how do we bring those missions of creativity, play, independent learning, and performance to life while remaining true to libraries’ heritage of literacy and reading? Let’s see if we can do it in six bullet points…Steal an idea; Tell a story; Provide a hands on activity; Provide a rich language activity; Share participants’ work!; .Always make them join, always make them borrow. . . . The six steps above can generate activities for all ages and sectors of the community.  They acknowledge the traditional association of libraries with literacy, but also take us into the 21st century – without necessarily spending lots of cash on digital technology. If you can run this kind of event in your library, and really press home the message that the basic parameters of what a library is don’t even mention the word ‘book’, we can begin to help the media and the wider populace to celebrate the awesomeness that is the public library – that generous, radical space which your community funds so that everyone, rich or poor, young or old, has free access to the world of human knowledge and culture.

Get Your Awesome On at Brown Paper Books (added 5/18): “I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of self-promotion, and perhaps with good reason, because they don’t want to be seen as narcissists. But self-promotion doesn’t have to be about endless navel-gazing. For me, self-promotion is about acting on and talking about my passions rather than talking about myself. Recently, I’ve converted my passion for books by writers of African descent into my own awesome,  Brown Paper Books, a blog for people to discover works by black writers and learn more about the tastes of black readers. I felt (and feel) that there isn’t enough publicity out there for black writers. The wonderfully inclusive magazine Black Issues Book Review is now out of print.  Borders, with its controversial African American fiction section, is gone. A number of black owned and focused bookstores have closed. As a result of these and other trends, I found myself having to look harder for books by authors of African descent that appeal to me as a reader. I figured that I was not the only one, so I started this blog.

Stop Calling It Self-Promotion at Fat Girl Reading (added 5/18): “Self-promotion is focused on self. It’s the first word, after all.  Self-promotion sounds like someone who is focused on talking only about you, you, you. It’s even has connotations that, gosh, if that person were any good – if what they were doing was any good – someone else would surely notice and then talk about and promote it without their interference. So a self-promoter? That must be someone who just wants to talk about their mediocre work because no one else will. Think, instead, of having a conversation – of talking to someone about what you do and why you love it. Think about your part in this conversation: how you’ll talk about what you did, the work you put into the project, the results you had in mind. Think about this moment, this conversation, as one of sharing. That sounds much better, doesn’t it?”

Talented Table View Library at The Librarian Is In (added 5/18): “Conveniently located by the commuter bus stop, shopping center, police station and adjacent sports club, Table View Library (TVL) is a huge boon to this ocean side suburb 20 minutes north of Cape Town, South Africa.  It’s in a lovely relaxed area, close to stunning white sand beaches with massive waves.  The enormous Rietvlei Nature Reserve with its flamingo and pelican flecked lagoons is just a short walk away. . . . Weekly storytimes are held in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa and during school holidays there are additional events for students – the Facebook site has loads of photos of kids having a grand time making and flying kites, creating pinwheels, playing outdoor games and practicing their football (soccer) skills in the fields outside.   Other pictures show the fun to be had at storytimes, craft events (many with a green theme – like making toys from plastic and cardboard, or presents for your folks from old shirts) and book club parties.”



Show Me The Awesome Week 2

Quick recap:

Show Me The Awesome: 30 Days of Self-Promotion is being co-hosted by Sophie Brookover, Kelly Jensen & myself for people in library land to share the things they’ve done. It can be about promoting something specific, or about how to promote, or why to promote.

The image for Show Me The Awesome is courtesy of John LeMasney via; and if you’re using the image with your post, please remember to give John credit.

We are using the hashtag #30awesome on Twitter and Tumblr.

Want a taste of what was said in Show Me The Awesome last week? Here is my post with snippets from last week’s contributors.

Going forward, I’ll have a Show Me The Awesome post like this one up every Sunday for the month of May. Every night, I’ll be editing this post to add that week’s contributors, with name of post, blog/Tumblr, and a short excerpt of the Awesome.

Trying to Find the Awesome In Me at Amy’s Library of Rock (added 5/6): “But maybe that’s why I NEED to find the Awesome in myself today, to make an effort to self-promote, whether as a librarian or as a person. It’s actually in my role as a librarian that I feel MOST confident. Even in the worst of my depression, someone would come to me with a reference or readers’ advisory question and I’d find them even more than they thought they were looking for, and I’d, for a moment, FEEL AWESOME. I KNOW I’m good at that! I’m good at asking the questions to find out what someone is TRYING to say that they want. I’m good at thinking up many possible ways to find the answers, and many possible answers, too. It’s not particularly fancy. It doesn’t get attention. A lot of people don’t even realize it’s a skill, and think anyone off the street can work a library desk. But, one person at a time, I build the patrons’ trust and satisfaction.”

Serving Teen Parents at Wendy on the Web (added 5/6): “At a school, the likelihood of getting all the mothers and babies into one room is slim, but I think there are lots of ways you can connect them to quality resources. You can find used copies of What to Expect When You’re Expecting in any thrift or secondhand store. I always pick up dollar copies to give to girls who kept out copy out. “You know this book costs $20,” said one student when I gave her one. I worried about all the other expenses she was about to encounter. And even at $20, it seems a good investment. . . . .Be happy for them.

Sunny Days at Circulating Ideas (added 5/7): “As a child,] I didn’t have the life experience to understand that one bad experience should not spoil countless good ones. The thing about being an adult is that now I do understand and in a professional sense, that is what I try to do with the podcast I created, Circulating Ideas: show off the good experiences we create in libraries, which far outnumber the things not going our way. The profession is filled with innovative people, and I want the show to be a platform for them to show off how awesome they are. When I promote the show, I’m also promoting those guests who have been on and will be on, paying it forward.”

My Gap Year(s) at Home Librarian (added 5/8): “If you’ve read my About Me page (or keep reading this sentence) you’ll know, among other things, that about two years ago I had a baby and quit my job. What you won’t know is how terrifying that prospect was and how difficult the decision was to make. I worried that no one would ever look past that gap in my work history or worse yet, would write off motherhood as a busy, but ultimately easy, job requiring no skill. Even in a profession dominated by women it can be hard for mothers to justify putting their family first. But what I wish I had known then, is how much better a librarian I am for having made that choice and actually staying home.”

Show Me The Awesome: on Oi! You! at Telegrams From Narnia (added 5/9): “I was part time at first, but managed to impress enough and wrangled myself a full-time position fairly quickly. How do I impress? A colleague once told me that I was getting a reputation for “throwing myself at the deep end”. And the thing is – I’m a really good swimmer. I volunteered for everything I could – stock work, story and rhymetimes, anything else that was on offer. My thirst for experience within the system was verging on limitless. Enthusiasm has always been a strong suit of mine. And I think it helps that I still have a very romanticized view of libraries. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing in the long run. It certainly gets me into some arguments!

Preschoolers Are Creatures of Habit at Storytime Katie (added 5/9): “I touched upon my library’s revolving door of staff members in this ALSC post, but I’ll recap here. Essentially, my library is super close to a library school. We’d hire a library student as an assistant, they would get their degree and then a full-time job, and then we’d hire another assistant. From when I started at my library in Fall of 2006 to when I took over storytime in Fall of 2009, six different librarians/library assistants had been in charge of storytime. My patrons needed some stability. And here’s how I fixed it.”

Show Me The Awesome at Telegrams From Narnia Part II (added 5/11): “When setting up these things, you run at the very high risk of having your own strong ideas of how things are going to run and therefore creating something which doesn’t allow for the wants and needs of those attending. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit of a control freak, so I ran at an even higher risk than anyone else. I had to make a big point of telling myself (and everyone else) “this is about the teenagers. It’s what they want.””


Show Me The Awesome

Like the logo?

Or, rather, LOVE the logo?

A big thanks to John LeMasney via for the terrific logo; and if you’re using the image with your 30 Days post, please remember to give John credit!

As you’ve figured out, it is May which means that it is the start of Show Me The Awesome: 30 Days of Self-Promotion.

Some quick reminders as the month starts:

My original post, explaining what Show Me The Awesome is all about. (And isn’t John’s logo so much better than mine? Shows you what real design is all about!)

Short version: Sophie Brookover, Kelly Jensen, and myself are asking people to show us their awesome! What great things are you doing?

30 Days of Self-Promotion is about sharing those great things with as many people as possible. It’s also about how we talk about what we do — self-promoting. So, Kelly and I will be sharing those links during the upcoming 30 Days. Participants will also be leaving links to their posts in the comments to this post.

Posts that are already up:

Exhibiting Awesome Outreach at Illustrated Librarian: “I have worked at several different types of libraries– public, a big 10 university, and now, a small liberal arts college for women. While the patrons are all slightly different at each institution, one thing remains consistent, the need for effective outreach. But not just any outreach but the kind that gets patrons excited and through the library’s doors. A good reason to give up some of their time and spend it with you. This is the challenging part because our patrons have lives and things are happening in those lives every single second. Competing with that noise is difficult but not impossible. One way I like to do outreach is through traveling exhibits. These are wicked fantastic.”

Reporting at Reading Rachel (added 5/1): “But the required report is a perfect opportunity to showcase yourself and your skills. It’s important to take full advantage of that opportunity, particularly if you work in a low-profile situation like mine. I work in a branch where I am the only staff person in the children’s room. Rarely do any of my supervisors enter my room or see me in action. If I don’t make them aware of all the awesome things I am doing, how else will they know? Reporting is one of the few chances I have had to interact directly with higher-ups beyond my direct supervisor–and it’s a great opportunity to help shape their impression of me and my work.”

Parents Are Busy at Storytime Katie (added 5/2): “This is Part One of a five part series about how I grew my storytime attendance. In the past three years since I took over storytime, I’ve increased our program attendance by 61% compared to the last successful season. (For the statistics nerds out there, I’m comparing Summer 2009 from before I took over to Winter 2012/2013.) And I promise that these are simple measures that almost every library can do, regardless of budget.”

New Kid on the Block by Marcus Ladd at Miami University Special Collections (blog and tumblr) (added 5/4): “I want to step away from our usual fare and talk instead about the challenges of establishing a voice for yourself and your library in new settings. Being the newest member of our library staff, self-promotion for me is as much showing my worth to my peers as to our patrons. My challenge is to promote myself in a way that convinces my new coworkers to make room for me and my work. In parallel to establishing my voice here, I am also working to find a voice for our library in online communities. Much like being a new hire to the department, joining a social media community requires a degree of self-promotion to show that you are able to contribute to the conversation. One of the key elements to a successful social media presence for an institution is a feeling of personability; social media should not be treated as a bullhorn for attention, but rather as an opportunity to build connections. Consequently, it is important for the library to feel like an individual when engaging other users, and I cannot help but see an association between finding my voice among my new peers and finding the library’s voice online.”

An Awesome First Year at Lee Library at Chatham Hall (added 5/4): “Listen- I sent out surveys, talked to students, put up a requests board and tried to stay in touch with what was new and popular.   I tried never to say no to a reasonable request.  I wasn’t afraid to change policies that students didn’t respond well to.  For instance, DVD’s were not easily accessible to students and weren’t generally interesting to them.  I’ve worked to increase that collection and brought it out onto the main floor.  We had basically no Young Adult literature in August, but since I’ve increased that collection and given it special shelving, its’ circulation has increased seven-fold.  The physical space is more fun, with more collaborative areas and hang-out space in response to student requests.  Our renovated library will have a coffee shop and more enclosed study rooms as well.  It’s critical to listen to what our students want because they are the primary users!

When we talk about it on Twitter, we’ll be using the hashtag #30Awesome.

I’m looking forward to 30 Awesome Days of Awesomeness!



30 Days of Awesome


Sophie Brookover, Kelly Jensen and myself were tossing around ideas one day — talking about how some people in libraryland are really great about promoting the great things they do, but what is the best way to get that promotion out beyond the like-minded people who already read that person’s blog, twitter, tumblr, etc.?

One thing led to another, as it does when talking, and the result is something we’re calling Show Me The Awesome: 30 Days of Self Promotion.

Here is the long explanation:

Our broad topic is self-promotion and we’re calling this adventure Show Me The Awesome: 30 Days of Self-Promotion. This is your opportunity to share with the broader library community what you’ve got going on that you’re especially proud of. What we’re looking for: briefly, your best foot forward! This can mean actual things you are doing in your library and community. It can also mean discussing the greater ideas of promotion and self-promotion and what they mean. How can we effectively promote ourselves and librarianship itself — both within the field and with those outside the field?

This idea grows out of the broader conversation in librarianship about gender, different areas of librarianship and how they are recognized and honored in our field as a whole. We want to recognize and celebrate ALL areas of librarianship as they are practiced now: urban, suburban, rural, big libraries & small, in children’s, YA, adult and technical services, in academia or museums, in schools and public libraries, on budgets ranging from shoestring to Kardashian (hey, we can dream!).

What are you doing that is interesting, unique, innovative, practical and helpful in your community? What do you wish more people knew about you & your library? What do you hope to bring to the profession in the next five years? Ten? Twenty?

We’re reaching out to a variety of library bloggers, both to share their thoughts on the topic and to cross-promote Show Me The Awesome beyond any one area of librarianship. We’re hoping that the academic library blog readers will find useful insights from and make great connections with the children’s librarian blogs, and vice-versa. Likewise, we’d like to open this up to anyone you may think could be interested, as well. If you have a suggestion for a librarian we should approach, please let us know and we will get in touch with them.

So. Are you interested? Sure you are! What’s involved, you ask?

  • It’s pretty simple: agree to write a post that you will publish in May. Sophie will be the grand organizer of what goes up when; so if you prefer a certain day or date, let her know on this form.

  • We will provide a banner (the one I have here is just a rough idea).

  • Include a link to the introductory explanation of what Show Me The Awesome will be about; we’ll provide the links. All three of us will be writing up intro posts, so you can link to one, or to both, if you’re a completist that way.

  • If you decide to tweet about this, we will be using the hashtag #30awesome

In addition to hosting the introductory posts, Liz and Kelly will publish daily posts linking to your individual posts, as well as a wrap-up post once the series concludes.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Let’s….be awesome! Together!

If you’re interested, here is the form to fill out. And here is Kelly’s post on 30 Days.