Thank You Memes-

You provide endless sources for inspiration and activities to have fun with!

Take the Harlem Shake phenomenon. I love seeing folks I have connections with spin their own take on a particular meme. 

I have loved the various Shakes I’ve seen come from fellow Ukraine volunteers, their classes,  and different community groups. This is one of my favorites. Libraries have done some great ones too!

Mostly I’m thinking of funny internet memes here, but I love the abstract idea of a meme and thinking about what ideas and behaviors we transmit to other people in our culture. How can we use this idea consciously? How can we transmit an idea or a particular behavior that we are passionate about?

And have fun with it! Capitalizing on what people are currently interested in is a great way to promote our important projects! Literacy! Take this awesome version of Gangnam Style to promote a read-a-thon:

The internet is agog with ideas and inspiration for easy ways to promote our passions. How about those flippant e-cards that float around the various social media websites? While someecardsterms of service prohibits advertising, promoting websites, and the like, it’s a cakewalk to create your own images for use.

  • I really like Open Clip Art Library for clipart with no restrictions
  • Set up your image in your photo-editing software, select the inverse space your image (I love the magnetic lasso for this!), and fill it in with a solid color of your choice
  • Add your text using the Gill Sans font
  • Boom, you’re done!

Not too shabby for 5 minutes in Photoshop!

Recently, A friend just posted a link to this current meme among Japanese youth where they take photos that appear to be releasing a huge ball of energy that sends their friends flying. Think jumping photos with a story. Here’s one of many examples:

Power level? It’s over 9,000!

Put a superhero with a book in their hands for the “power of reading” or maybe the gals would get behind “knowledge is drop-dead gorgeous”. I can just imagine bringing this meme to a tween or teen group to see what cool photos and captions they’d come up with for our libraries!

Memes don’t have to be just for youth services. Bacon brings in the adults. Zombies are good for both our older youth (zombie prom!) as well as adult audiences. Or host an event for both like a zombie walk or stage a “lock-in” and test survival skills for the zombie apocalypse! The only limit is your imagination…

If your social media feeds aren’t sparking your creative juices, head over to Know Your Meme and get the scoop on the latest around the internet as well as history on memes of yore. What’s inspiring you these days?


People and Poetry


“Do I dare / Disturb the universe?” from T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

One of my favorite things about getting American Libraries magazine over the years has been the superb posters for National Poetry Month. Great inspiration during my Peace Corps service, and fabulous conversation starters when people came over.

Having this month-long reminder reinvigorates my own reading into poetry. Like I’ll get inspired to go on what I call a “poetry cleanse” where I read a little bit of poetry each morning to start my day and, hopefully, get me to look around me with different eyes.

A recent John Green vblog succinctly sums up my thoughts, “that poetry is about trying to get us to pay attention.”

And sometimes we’re so busy that we forget to pay attention and think about things. Where is the poetry in our lives? What makes us pay attention?

I love bringing more awareness and appreciation to this oft passed-over form. It’s a great subject that works well across children’s, young adults, and adults service departments.

The poetry in children’s books is what initially brought me to youth services. That and wonderful colleague and mentor.

During a particularly harried day behind the circulation desk, the children’s librarian came to relieve me for my break and suggested that I find a book from the children’s room for company. I looked at some of the front-faced books on top of our picture book shelves and stopped on Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall’s I’m In Charge of Celebrations.

A sample of Parnall’s incredible illustrations for another Baylor book “The Way to Start a Day.”

I fell in love with this book and was introduced to the idea of children’s books like bits of poetry, their distillation of life into pungent bits. In this particular book, the young girl shares her days of celebrations. These are not regular decreed holidays (New Years is the first day of Spring, not the first day of dreary January), but more along the lines of those extraordinary moments we happen across in our everyday lives. For instance, her Time of Falling Stars celebration was “every time a streak of light goes shooting through the darkness” and she could “feel my heart shoot out of me.” And the illustrations: vibrant beautiful swaths of desert colors with a touch of the surreal as rocks meld into people that flow into sky – poetry for the eyes!

I returned from my break rejuvenated and ready to look at the world in a different light. The children’s librarian and I spoke about the power of these books, and how children appreciate and interpret these stories to make meaning in their own lives. Needless to say I was hooked, and thus began an immensely rich professional relationship between the children’s librarian and me.

Back to poetry. But this did connect; did you see? Seek out these books that might not be “normal” poetry. Introduce (or re-introduce as it were) adults both young and old to the wonders of the poetry in children’s books. Try out activities that aren’t so focused on having a formal poem format, but engage in observation and comparison in the world around us. Or listen and read poetry on unexpected subjects (Scieszka’s Science Verse anyone? Hilarious!).

There are so many incredible places to get inspired for activities and programs related to poetry. Here’s a few more ideas:

  • Scholastic, as usual, has some great resources, ideas, formats, and printables.
  • Pinterest query for poetry yields tons of fun ideas – I love the gumball poetry dispenser!
  • Host a festival or poetry slam, or hold a contest with a celebration for the big reveal! Get schools and social clubs involved. My town holds an annual haiku festival (I even got a honorable mention one year!) and it’s a wonderful time.

As Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet simply suggests on this year’s poster:

“Write about your sorrows, you wishes, your passing thoughts, your belief in anything beautiful.” 

Pay attention to life around you. Your heart will know what to do.

Thinking on Children’s Services

Waking up this morning, I had one of the many ‘morning songs’ I know stuck in my head. How can you not get energized starting out with this number:

(Thanks to King County Library for their AMAZING YouTube channel of resources!)

I was reminded of a recent experience I had utilizing this for filler while working in a primary classroom with many language learners. Children love song and rhythm, and we had a great time choosing different animals and noises. We had a request for owls, and I wondered if they would notice the difference in their sleeping habits. When we were finished, a student said, “But owls don’t get up in the morning!” Right you are! And we sang it the correct way for owls – “in the evening.”

These episodes of engagement, discovery, and critical thinking are what we strive for with our services as educators and library professionals. An integral role of public libraries is to provide opportunities for education and to foster life-long learning within our communities. Children’s library services are a significant approach we use to accomplish these important goals.

Public libraries play an essential role in improving and supporting childhood literacy skills. We expose children and their caregivers to a variety of print, audio visual, and digital resources. Our creative programs and engaging resources make a difference in the literacy learning and critical thinking of children.

Preschool programs foster positive early learning environments for young children and help them develop important skills to get them school-ready prior to entering kindergarten. We model literacy techniques and provide support for caregivers they can use outside of the library. Our positive engagement with caregivers to spend time in their children’s literacy development leads to greater future reading achievements.

Children’s library services create imaginative access points to materials and model methods to engage with information resources for this important community of users. The meaningful language opportunities children are provided in story times and other library programs are crucial to supporting their learning achievements.

Summer reading programs are a significant way public libraries fulfill a need while school is adjourned for the summer. These programs provide children with incentives to continue the practice of reading during the school break when reading skills often fall into decline.

We help children to explore the depth of their interests and the world while providing opportunities for discovery and learning in other arenas. Children’s library services facilitates these important educational opportunities and fosters the growth of these children into life-long learners within our communities.

I love my work ❤

Surprise! Peace Corps Recruiting Photo


You can see the picture of me and my awesome 8B class under “Teaching English in Ukraine”.

Just perusing my social media feed, minding my own business, when what do I spy? A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who also served in Ukraine posted a link to Peace Corps’ Fall 2013 volunteer opportunities, and it is using a photo of me and my awesome 8B class!

The photo was taken during a special lesson. I was chosen from my region’s volunteers to give a demonstration lesson with my counterpart during Deputy Director of Peace Corps’ Carrie Hessler-Radelet’s visit to Ukraine.

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