Monthly Archives: November 2017

State Library Adopts Paw Patrol Pups

In September, the Uinta County Library held a hugely successful Paw Patrol program, teaming up with the local police and fire departments. Attendees numbered 393 at the main library in Evanston and more than 100 people at each of the two branches. As it turned out, the library had too much of a good thing — they received a double order of the costumes and offered the extras out for sale to other libraries.

The Wyoming State Library snapped those puppies right up so that Marshall, Skye, and Chase (L to R in photo above) can make appearances at libraries around the state. Interested in borrowing the Paw Patrol costumes from the WSL? Contact Robyn Hinds at or (307) 777-7282.


Makerspaces and Libraries: READY, FIRE, AIM

By Doug Johnson
Blue Skunk Blog

At a recent meeting, a school library professor expressed her concern to me about the profession’s enthusiasm for putting makerspaces into school libraries. While she personally saw the value of the kinds of learning opportunities makerspaces are supposed to offer, she asked:

If school administrators see the makerspace as a trivial extra, might that association be applied to the library as a whole?

It’s a good question and one all of us need to be asking.

Unfortunately when a sexy innovation like makerspaces makes its appearance on the education stage, too many schools take the READY, FIRE, AIM approach to planning. My friend Joyce Valenza called out this problem in a recent blog post “Makerspaces: On Scanning the Road & Gently Easing the Brakes” (October 3, 2017). She asks:

Making is important. Informal learning is important. Tinkering is important. Connected learning is important. STEAM is important. Invention is important. Access is important. Project-based learning, problem-based learning and constructionism are important. Student choice and creativity are important.

But should a formal makerspace need to be a part of every school library?

And she wonders if makerspace planning in schools always takes in the specific needs, goals, and resources of the building in which the makerspace is being placed (and worries that good programming in the library might be eliminated by makerspace real estate.)

In her EdSurge article “What Should I Buy For My New Makerspace?, Laura Fleming writes:

Every makerspace needs to have its own unique vision, and that vision should be written down in the form of a mission statement. That statement will help you convey to others what your makerspace is trying to achieve and to help people better understand your space, but it will also help you be able to better select products that are appropriate and meaningful to your particular makerspace.

She then articulates a 5 step framework for selecting the right products for the makerspace. (If I can quibble, I would change selecting “product” to selecting “activity.” Product implies that makerspaces must only contain commercial equipment.)

Riffing on Joyce and Laura, here are some questions I might ask when implementing a makerspace in a school:

  1. Has my school articulated the “why” for its makerspace? Do teachers, administrators, and parents understand the purpose behind creating this very different learning enviroment? Is it in alignment with the school’s mission?
  2. Is there a suitable location for the makerspace? Is the space being considered currently being used for a valuable purpose? Can the makerspace be portable?
  3. How will the efficacy of the makerspace be evaluated?
  4. How will the makerspace support curricular outcomes?
  5. Who has responsibility for managing the makerspace, selecting activities, scheduling the space, maintaining the equipment, supervising the activities?
  6. How can it be assured all students have access to the learning experiences afforded by the makerspace? Will only identified students or students with teacher who are enthusiastic about the philosophy behind making get to use the space?
  7. Who will determine whether the true spirit of making – creativity, problem-solving, self-direction, etc – is being nurtured? Who will monitor to make sure the 3D printer is not being used as an expensive photocopier or the graphics program just a digital coloring book or the programming devices not just a exercise in following instructions?

Great results are nearly always the result of good planning and hard work. Interesting correlation. Resources — money, time, energy, space, PD — are too scarce to waste on a half-baked trend that does not benefit kids.

Reposted from the Blue Skunk Blog under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Mark Your Calendar for the Legislative Reception

Pencil it in now, and make plans to attend: the 2018 Wyoming Library Association Legislative Reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. on February 22, 2018 at the Wyoming State Library, 2800 Central Ave. in Cheyenne. Library directors, employees, trustees, and volunteers are encouraged to be there. It’s a great opportunity to thank your Wyoming senators, representatives, and elected officials for their support of libraries and to offer them an evening of home-cooked food. The event will be preceded by a legislative update at 5 p.m. from WLA lobbyists Mary Lynne Shickich and Susan Stubson.

Our Library Development Office is currently planning training sessions in conjunction with the reception earlier that day and on Friday morning, February 23. Details coming soon.

Teen Literacies Toolkit from YALSA

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has made a Teen Literacies Toolkit available as an online PDF. In this toolkit, they use the “fake news” phenomenon as an approach to addressing multiple literacies. The kit re-examines and discusses culturally-inclusive literacies strategies library staff can use with teens to help them make sense of their world and build a robust set of skills as they prepare to enter college or start careers. This resource was created by the Literacies Toolkit Resource Retreat Participants and was released in August, 2017.

Learn more and download the toolkit.

Literacy Begins at Teton County’s Family Place

Submitted by Valerie Maginnis
Teton County Library Director

Literacy begins at birth in Teton County, Wyoming.  Thanks to generous funding from the Teton County Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library, Teton County Library is the first Family Place Library in Wyoming. The Family Place Library provides an opportunity to expand the library’s traditional role of providing youth library services beyond storytime and summer reading programs by building on the knowledge that early learning, good health, parental involvement and supportive communities play a critical role in a young child’s growth and development. The free Family Place program at Teton County Library will provide all-encompassing, community-based education and family support for children, from birth to 3 years old, living in northwestern Wyoming.

Mary Flamino, Youth Services Manager, and Eva Dahlgren, Alta Branch Manager, attended the Family Place Training Institute at the Middle County Public Library in the spring of 2017. Both Mary and Eva returned to Teton County, eager to launch the program in Jackson and Alta, beginning with weekly Baby Time activities in the fall of 2017.

The Family Place Library network of libraries includes more than 500 sites nationwide, in 32 states. The Family Place Libraries concept originated at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, NY, in 1979. Family Place creates a partnership between libraries and communities to connect parents and caregivers to the resources and services they need during the first years of their child’s development. The hallmark of Family Place is a five-week series of workshops to bring together children, age 0-3, and their parents in an informal early childhood setting filled with toys, art, activities and books.The workshops encourage parents to play with their children while meeting other parents and caregivers. Professionals from health and social service agencies, as well as, child nutritionists, speech therapists and family therapists informally chat with participants and answer child-rearing questions.

Teton County Library will begin offering the Parent-Child Workshop series in the spring of 2018. Another key component of the Family Place program is reimagining the library’s youth area to offer more welcoming spaces for families of young children. Added features include: toy collections, real-play items, books, and a parenting collection.

For information about Teton County Library’s Family Place program, contact Valerie Maginnis, Library Director, at

Working in a Wyoming Prison Library

L to R: Brian Greene, Hayley Speiser, April Williams, Thomas Ivie

WSL Librarians Thomas Ivie and Brian Greene recently visited the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins. The prison regularly goes through accreditation through the American Correctional Association, and as part of the accreditation, they need access to a credentialed librarian holding an MLS or equivalent degree. Thomas Ivie serves in this capacity for the state correctional facilities. Using LSTA funds, the Wyoming State Library provides a $2,000 annual stipend to the Penitientiary library and to the other 12 institution libraries to support collections.

By Thomas Ivie

We met with Hayley Speiser, April Williams, and Beth Strong who run the library services at the prison. The first thing that we noticed was that there is not a physical library for the inmates to go to, even though they have 1,600-1,700 items in their collection at any given time. Instead, library services are brought to the inmate living pods by way of two large carts of books. The carts are checked out to the pods and are rotated to the other living pods regularly. The exception to this is the segregation unit. Segregation’s library materials are delivered to their cells individually by a dedicated librarian (currently April Williams) who checks out the items to the individual instead of the pod. April is passionate about providing services to the segregation unit.  Each pod has a paper catalog of the titles the library has in the collection. Inmates can request those books (and titles the library does not have) by filling out a request form.  For titles that the library does not have in the collection, the library requests by interlibrary loan through the Carbon County Library, and the requesting inmate pays any fees.

These librarians face many obstacles and challenges on a daily basis. Quite often, they are tested by inmates who can be very unscrupulous — testing boundaries, and making attempts to intimidate or be manipulative. The library is only allowed to have paperback books, as hardcover could be used as a weapon. Paperback books do not stand up near as well and break down much easier. The librarians have to inspect the books much closer than a public library would. They look for notes stashed or written in books, contraband, and damage. These librarians go through security checkpoints and numerous locked doors just to get to their workplace. Wyoming has five correctional facilities, and the State Penitentiary houses the male offenders who are considered to be the greatest security risk.

In the same way any other library serves its patrons, the prison aims to meet the needs of theirs. They work to build the collection to relate to the interests of their population. There is a good demand for Louis L’Amour and C.J. Box. They’ve also seen a new demand for fantasy books. The prison library is working to meet the demand for art and how-to books as well. They can always use donations of paperback books, though content must not include gangs, extreme violence, and sexual activities.  Hayley Speiser instituted a program where inmates can pick out a children’s book and be recorded reading it. They then mail the recording home so their children can have a story read to them by their father. This program is extremely important as it not only promotes literacy but also provides sometimes the only interaction that child might experience with their father while incarcerated. In spite of the many challenges the librarians at the Wyoming State Penitentiary face on a daily and hourly basis, they remain dedicated to providing literary, educational, legal, and recreational library services to the population there. For sure, this work environment isn’t for everyone. Our hats go off to these librarians.

Grant Opportunities

Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grants
DEADLINE: March 31, 2018
The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, which fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression in our diverse culture, offers mini-grants to provide creative, innovative programs that support or extend the Common Core Standards in PreK-12 education. Public schools, public libraries, and public preschool programs such as Head Start are eligible. Approximately 60 grants of up to $500 each will be awarded.

White House Conference on Library and Information Services Taskforce (WHCLIST) Award
DEADLINE: April 2, 2018
Granted to a non-librarian participant in National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) on May 7-8, 2018. The winner receives a stipend of $300 and two free nights at the NLLD hotel. The recipient should be a library supporter (trustee, friend, general supporter) and not a professional librarian, and a first-time attendee of NLLD.

Wyoming Arts Council Rural Arts Access Grant
DEADLINE: Project must take place by June 30, 2018
Application due a minimum of four weeks before project start date

This grant is specifically designed to provide project funding for geographically isolated and rural areas with a population of less than 3,000. An organization is eligible to receive up to $750 in this grant category. No cash match is required.

ThinkWY – Wyoming Humanities Grants
Wyoming Humanities funds projects that are humanities-focused, built around a public event, and that have a humanities scholar in a central role. The humanities encompass the study of all forms of human cultural expression: history, arts, literature, philosophy, religion, laws, cultural studies, and languages. Mini Grants of up to $2,000 and Opportunity Grants of up to $750 are available. Wyoming Humanities is not currently accepting applications for major grants.

Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program
The D.U.C. Library Program has thousands of free art books available for distribution to public and school libraries in underserved communities. Participating libraries may order books from the D.U.C. catalog once annually. Branch libraries may participate independently or through their main library. All items received from the D.U.C. must be cataloged in the library’s holdings and made available to all patrons.


Promoting Healthy Communities Initiative Launched

From the American Library Association

Access to current and reliable health information is imperative for the well-being of all Americans, and public libraries are frequently a go-to resource as people navigate complex issues of health care, insurance, aging and more.

A new nationwide initiative from the Public Library Association (PLA) and National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) will increase public library workers’ knowledge and skills related to consumer health services.

Throughout the nine-month Promoting Healthy Communities initiative, PLA and NNLM will assess health information needs among public librarians and share free resources and professional development opportunities that will help public library staff better serve their patrons’ consumer health needs. In early 2018, the initiative will unveil a new website for public libraries that gives them easy access to training, tools and resources for consumer health information, health literacy programming and more.

The initiative will increase the capacity of public libraries to provide quality health reference services by holding training programs and webinars, publishing articles and podcasts about successful library programs, and helping dozens of library staff gain the Certified Health Information Specialization credential.

NNLM offers a wealth of resources to public libraries, including “program in a box” kits that libraries can use to engage their communities on specific health copies, such as health outreach, nutrition and food labels, and health insurance; funding opportunities and awards available to public libraries; and microlearning videos to inform library staff about NNLM resources. Wyoming is served by the NNLM’s MidContinental Region office.

The American Library Association (ALA) and NNLM recently unveiled a free Health Literacy Toolkit with customizable tools to raise awareness of how libraries support health literacy in their communities, including key messages, program ideas and downloadable marketing materials.

‘Once Upon a Murder’ at the Lander Library

A fairy tale crew

“Servant girls” Audie Cunningham (L), Young Adult Librarian, and Anita Marple (R), Lander Branch Manager.

Fremont County Library – Lander held its 3rd Annual Murder Mystery night. “Once Upon a Murder,” on Friday, October 27 in the library’s Carnegie Room. It was a timeless tale of treachery and treason in a kingdom far, far away. Library staff report that it proved to be a hoot!

“We already have people asking about next year’s event,” said Tasha Reeves, Librarian Assistant. “The first year we did ‘Murder at the Deadwood Saloon,’ and last year was ‘Murder Among the Mateys.’ Each year gets wilder and crazier than the last!”

The event has been successful for the library. This year’s murder mystery drew 45 participants and 11 guests. “We’ve had more than 50 signups every year,” Tasha said. “It brings folks to the library that don’t normally come our way. One of the most recurring comments that I’ve heard is that participants met others from the community that they never knew and have remained friends.”

The Beast, Grandma, Hamlet, and Red Riding Hood

The Beast

Prince Charming

Hansel and Rapunzel