Spring Institute 2021 Virtual

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Spring Institute For Youth Services 2021 Education Sessions


Thursday, March 11, 2021 Sessions

12:15 – 1:15 PM   |   1:20 – 2:20 PM   |   3:00 – 4:00 PM

Friday, March 12, 2021 Sessions

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM   |   2:15 – 3:15 PM

Thursday | 12:15 – 1:15pm


Library To Go: And Where Do We Go From Here?

New "to go" services have become a staple during the pandemic, but they are also an opportunity to help libraries thrive as we move forward.

Focus: General

In the midst of the pandemic, libraries are finding creative ways to deliver services and programs to our communities. From ‘Grab & Go’ bags tailor-made to our members' interests to take-home crafts, to go services are providing real value through their ease of access and potential for reaching a wider audience. While many of us are looking forward to getting back to normal in 2021, these new services have made a case for sticking around. How will they fit in going forward? What will be worth keeping and what will we be happy to move beyond? Discover some examples of these to go services from our library, why they have value, and how they could be incorporated as we reimagine our traditional services

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Have 3-4 examples of to go services.
  • Be able to identify how to go services can make a positive impact.
  • Have 3-4 examples of how to go services could be combined with traditional events and readers advisory.


Thomas Moore, Capital Area District Libraries - Haslett

Thomas Moore has 13 years of library experience, including ten years as the Head of Adult Services for the Delta Township District Library. He has been serving as the Head Librarian of CADL's Haslett Branch since March 2020. He received his MLIS from Wayne State University.

Kate Newcombe, Capital Area District Libraries - Haslett

Kate Newcombe has worked in libraries for 20 years, including 12 in her current role as the Youth Services Librarian at the Capital Area District Libraries Haslett branch. She received her MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Fight the Power: Teen Programs in an Era of Wokeness

Learn how to implement a social justice-themed book club and how to host conversations surrounding civics for a teen audience.

Focus: Teen/Tween

Learn about the Ferndale Area District Library's successful implementation of two programs under the umbrella of social justice. These programs include a book club called Read Woke and a civics engagement program called Pizza & Politics. Both programs are partnered through area high schools and offer students a chance to have their voices heard. The students are strongly encouraged to express their ideas and concerns openly without fear of judgment. The conversations had between the students and adults leading the program(s) have been thought-provoking and inspiring, as it has fueled an interest in the teens to either read further on the topic or to become more involved in local politics.

 At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Define social justice.
  • Understand the importance of social justice.
  • Discover how to implement social justice programs.


Jasmine ParkerJasmine Parker, Ferndale Area District Library

Jasmine Parker obtained her BFA Degree in Theatre and her MLIS Degree in Library Information Science from Wayne State University. Her life's greatest joys are time spent with family, serving the community, and writing. She currently serves as a Youth Services Librarian for the Ferndale Area District Library, and as a Board Director for the Michigan Library Association. In her spare time, she loves working on her play Preying Wolves Pray which deals with mental health.

Mamas Matter - Maternal Wellness in the Library

Learn how to implement a baby and mama support group and facilitate a sacred space for women as they navigate motherhood.

Focus: Family

Maternal Wellness in the Library – the What, How, and Why? One recent study found that 1 in 7 women may experience PPD in the year after giving birth. With approximately 4 million live births occurring each year in the United States, this equates to almost 600,000 postpartum depression diagnoses, and at least 70% of mothers experience the "baby blues". These numbers are staggering, and many women don't know where to go for support. The library can and should be a sacred space for women entering into the tumultuous beginnings of motherhood. This session will explore how youth librarians can support mothers and their babies with community partnerships and support group programs in libraries.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Learn how to implement a mama support group in the librarian
  • Understand data on maternal wellness needs in the state of Michigan and beyond
  • Gain insight on forming meaningful partnerships with local organizations that can benefit mothers and their families.


Abby D'AddarioAbby D'Addario, Kent District Library

Abby D’Addario has been working in libraries for over a decade now, and is currently serving as manager in training of the Comstock Park and Plainfield branches of the Kent District Library. She has a passion for serving the youth in our communities, but ever since having children she has come to care deeply about KDL’s mama patrons and longs to provide sacred space for people to be truly seen and heard. Her happy place is on a mountain bike in the woods while listening to Run the Jewels.

Neighborhood Storytime: A Two-Library Collaboration

Storytime series and outreach collaboration between neighboring libraries, parks and recreation departments and communities.

Focus: Early Literacy

It started with "Hey, how fun would it be to do this program together?" and it turned into a 3 year (so far!) collaboration between the youth departments of Clarkston Independence District Library and Orion Township Public Library - neighboring libraries with a shared community of users.  This storytime series presented at local parks and beaches gives both libraries the opportunity to meet families in the community, teach patrons about our resources, and share ideas about current and future programs. We will explain how we came up with, developed and implemented our fun idea, creating a valued program by all involved - including families, the libraries and the librarians.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Understand the details that go into creating a collaborative program between parks and rec departments and libraries
  • be able to see how two libraries worked together to create a series of storytimes
  • be able to implement this program in their community if they so desire


Tracy BedfordTracy Bedford, Rochester Hills Public Library

Tracy Bedford recently became the School Outreach Librarian at the Rochester Hills Public Library. For the past six years, she was the Head of Youth Services at the Clarkston Independence District Library. Tracy has worked in libraries for over 20 years, and graduated from Wayne State University with an MLIS in 2013. Tracy's career focus includes fostering community connections and creating new outreach opportunities for all children of all ages, especially in underserved communities.


Ashley LehmanAshley Lehman, Orion Township Public Library

Ashley Lehman has been the Head of Youth Services at Orion Township Public Library for 3 years. She previously worked at Ferndale Area District Library and Troy Public Library. Ashley has worked in libraries for 9 years, and graduated from Wayne State University with an MLIS in 2013. Ashley’s work focuses on implementing early literacy initiatives and also enjoys creating community connections and new outreach opportunities.


Thursday | 1:20 – 2:20pm


Stuff Your Virtual Book Bag with MeL eBooks & More!

Join us as we explore how to create and fill a Virtual Book Bag using the Michigan eLibrary’s (MeL) eBooks, eJournals, and eResources.

Focus: General

Remote learning has become more of a norm and many students have spent the better part of the year learning at a distance. However, there are some tools that we will continue using even as students return to the classroom. Virtual Book Bags are one such tool, but are filled with more than just books! Join us as we explore how to create and fill a Virtual Book Bag using the Michigan eLibrary’s (MeL) eBooks, eJournals, and eResources. Tools and tips will be shared at this session on the value of creating and offering virtual book bags with families in your community, using MeL.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Have an understanding of and access to tools for creating and promoting a diverse virtual book bag that will meet a wide variety of audiences.
  • A deeper knowledge of MeL resources that can best engage diverse groups of remote users.
  • Attendees will leave with multiple virtual bag themes with diverse subject matter, across all ages.


Cathy Lancaster

Cathy Lancaster, Library of Michigan

Cathy Lancaster is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Library of Michigan. With over 17 years of public library experience, she coordinates the Ready to Read Michigan initiative, summer library programming, and continuing education for youth & teen services staff throughout the state.                                     


Ann Kaskinen

Ann Kaskinen, MCLS

Ann Kaskinen is the K-12 Michigan eLibrary Engagement Specialist.  Ann began her career teaching high school English, social studies, and public speaking. After earning a library degree from Central Michigan University, she worked for 16 years as a K-12 Library-Media Specialist. Ann also had experiences as an ISD consultant, teen librarian for a public library, and an internship working with government documents.

Liz Breed

Liz Breed, Library of Michigan

Liz Breed is the Michigan eLibrary Coordinator for the Library of Michigan. She has 22 years in public libraries where she's developed project management, marketing, and training skills. She recently earned her MicroMasters in Instructional Design and Technology. Combined with a unique appreciation for the human element in online learning, Liz creates environments where learners thrive.

Animal Crossing: Using Gaming Trends to Create Online Programming

Tips and Tricks on Hosting Animal Crossing Programs

Focus: Teen/Tween

Animal Crossing has taken the world by storm. Now the public can interact with Kent District Library staff by visiting their Animal Crossing islands every month. There are games, puzzles, and adventure to be had. Most importantly, patrons can interact with each other despite COVID limiting social opportunities elsewhere. How do we do it? Join in while Hannah describes how the program is going with some tips and tricks learned along the way.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Describe how Kent District Library noticed a gaming trend and adapted it for a library setting
  • Show how to run an Animal Crossing program for your library
  • Demonstrate how offering trendy gaming programs is beneficial for the library


Hannah LewisHannah Lewis, Kent District Library

Hannah Lewis currently works in youth services for Kent District Library. She manages a small team of staff animal crossing players and helps manage Kent District Library's Discord. She has a passion for graphic novels, gaming trends, and creating fun and creative programming for teen and millennial patrons.

Taking Early Literacy Virtual

Brighton District Library staff share their virtual early literacy programs and how to adapt traditional programming to a virtual world.

Focus: Early Lit

When COVID-19 hit the Brighton District Library took their early literacy programs virtual, including Alphabet Soup, Flannel Fridays, Baby Rhyme Time, and DIY Story Times. They aimed to expand early literacy programming beyond just storytime and strive to instill Every Child Ready to Read principles in all programming while targeting a wide range of patrons from birth to age 5 in a variety of ways. Their virtual programming includes recorded and live events as well as passive programming available 24/7 on our website.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Have ideas on how to grow their early literacy programming beyond storytimes.
  • Have tips and tricks on taking their early literacy programming virtual.


Stephanie WilliamsStephanie Williams, Brighton District Library

Stephanie Williams earned a B.A. in History from Oakland University and a MLIS from Wayne State University. She currently works as a Youth Services Librarian at the Brighton District Library in Brighton, MI. She is passionate about early literacy beginning from birth, providing innovative programs for youth, and building positive relationships with patrons.


Laurie WaltersLaurie Walters, Brighton District Library

Laurie Slagenwhite Walters earned a B.A. in English from King University and an MLIS from the University of South Carolina.  She has served as both a school librarian (in South Korea and Michigan) and a Youth Services librarian.  She is currently a Youth Services Librarian at the Brighton District Library, and her favorite parts of the job are collection development and readers’ advisory.

Margaret VergithMargaret Vergith, Brighton District Library

Margaret Vergith earned a B.S. in Physical Geography from Michigan State University. She is currently a Program Specialist and Media Relations Coordinator at the Brighton District Library in Brighton, MI. She has worked in the Youth Department for seventeen years and enjoys the connections made with children and families while using Every Child Ready to Read practices of Talk, Read, Sing, Write, and Play.

Thursday | 3:00 – 4:00pm


Method to Madness: Avoiding Bias and Diversifying Collections

The purpose of this presentation is to teach librarians a system that can be used to assess collections and improve diverse holdings.

Focus: General

Learning how to avoid the pitfalls of bias while navigating collection development will benefit all library staff members and the communities they serve. I will be teaching participants how to clinically look at their collections in order to diagnose and remedy the problems within. These flexible instructions can be reformatted for a variety of material types, genres, age ranges, etc. and can be compared across collections, library systems, and more. The instructions I provide will give participants valuable tools that they can use to consistently update and better their collection year after year.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Inform librarians on how to assess a collection with respect to diversity
  • Educate by providing information on where to find materials to diversify collections
  • Inspire librarians to continually review collections with a critical eye towards diversity


Sarah LeonardSarah Leonard, Walled Lake City Library

Sarah Leonard works at the Walled Lake City Library as the Assistant Director. Previously she was an Outreach Librarian and worked on a mobile bookmobile bus that was focused on providing early literacy services to the Rochester Hills community. Sarah graduated from Wayne State University where she was the vice president of FLID (Future Librarians for Inclusion and Diversity).

MiLibraryQuest: A Multi-Library Virtual Teen Challenge

MiLibraryQuest: how a collaborative group of libraries throughout Michigan created a series of state-wide virtual scavenger hunts for teens

Focus: Teen/Tween

In the early months of the COVID-19 related shift to virtual programming, a small group of 16 libraries, under the facilitation of the Library of Michigan, created a multi-library virtual scavenger hunt for teens: MiLibraryQuest. Designed to engage teens in a fun virtual activity, and to encourage the exploration of libraries' websites and services, what began with 16 libraries soon grew to encompass more than 92 Michigan library systems. Not only did MiLibraryQuest provide an activity for teens that would have been impossible without the collaboration of multiple libraries, but it also created a community of youth librarians committed to creating collaborative programming.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • learn how to use tools and resources to create their own multi-library virtual programs.
  • learn how to work together to build successful engagement across multiple libraries.
  • learn how to prepare for and mediate potential challenges teams may face.


Cindy PlaceCindi Place, Bellaire Public Library

Cindi Place was the school media specialist for Boyne City Public Schools for 20 years. In 2016, she moved to the public library realm as the Reference, Technology, and Adult Services Librarian. In this role, she provided various training opportunities on a variety of topics for teen and adult learners. She facilitated the Great Stories Club for Teens in 2017. In 2020, she joined Bellaire Public Library as the Library Director and enjoys working with teen patrons of BPL.

Jennifer PerrymanJennifer Perryman, Milan Public Library

Jennifer Perryman is the Youth Services Coordinator at Milan Public Library, facilitating all aspects of youth services, from programming and publicity to collection development and reference services for children, teens, and families. She has been a co-chairperson of the MiLibraryQuest committee since its inception in May 2020. She is currently working on new virtual programs for her patrons and collaborations with other libraries.

Lauren AquilinaLauren Aquilina, Commerce Township Community Library

Lauren Aquilina is a Teen Services Librarian at the Commerce Township Community Library as well as a resident of Commerce Township. She enjoys planning engaging and creative teen programming at the library, or more recently, at home and digitally.

Lindsay GojcajLindsay Gojcaj, Novi Public Library

Lindsay Gojcaj has an MLIS and works as an Information Services Librarian with a focus on tween and teen services at the Novi Public Library in Novi, MI. She facilitates the Teen Advisory Board, oversees the teen volunteer program, and organizes the youth, tween, and teen programming. She currently serves on the Library of Michigan’s Youth Services Advisory Council and is an active member of the Michigan Library Association and the Young Adult Library Services Association.

The Road to Decode: The Value of Decodable Books

Learn more about the tools and resources available to help parents and caregivers of struggling readers.

Focus: School Age

The presentation focuses on libraries' valuable role as a resource for their communities' literacy initiatives. Understand more about families of struggling readers, how resources like decodable tests help all children learn to read, and initiate change in your public library so fewer children struggle to read. While reading challenges can affect all ages, youth librarians may find the biggest impact of decodable texts on children ages 4-10.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Understand the benefits of decodable books and how they can help struggling readers.
  • Learn how to set up decodable book displays and how to assist parents in selecting appropriate books for struggling readers.
  • Know where to find resources to help struggling readers.


Sue McgonegalSue McGonegal, Teach My Kid to Read

Sue McGonegal is the parent of a child with dyslexia and is involved in various literacy organizations including Teach My Kid to Read.


Marion WaldmanMarion Waldman, Teach My Kid to Read

Marion Waldman started Teach My Kid to Read to enable literacy influences like librarians to empower parents and caregivers to help all children learn to read. After writing about literacy issues and learning differences, Ms. Waldman, in collaboration with Ms. Borkowsky, identified a strategy to address a gap in literacy education through the communities. She has worked for Appleton & Lange, Harper Collins, Cengage Delmar Learning and Elsevier, Inc.

Faith BorkowskyFaith Borkowsky, Teach My Kid to Read

Ms. Borkowsky is the founder of High Five Literacy and Academic Coaching with over thirty years of experience as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, regional literacy coach, administrator, & tutor. Ms. Borkowsky provides professional development for teachers & school districts, and parent workshops. Ms. Borkowsky is the author of the award-winning book, Failing Students or Failing Schools? A Parent’s Guide to Reading Instruction and Intervention and the "Only I Would Have Known" series.


Friday | 11:15am – 12:15pm


Using Critical Literacy to Decolonize Your Collections

Create an inclusive space for ALL patrons using principles of critical literacy to audit and decolonize youth collections.

Focus: General

In this presentation, my co-presenter will explain and show the impact of colonization on our Indigenous youth, particularly the impact of stereotypes and tropes regarding Indigenous people in children's literature. This leads into how youth librarians can use the principles of critical literacy to decolonize their collections and center children's literature that is inclusive and affirming of our Indigenous patrons. This will include a discussion of how to complete a diversity audit of the collections, what harmful tropes and stereotypes to guard against, and whether or not to remove certain items from the collection. The last 15 minutes would be for (hopefully robust) group discussion and questions.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • understand the harms perpetuated against Indigenous people through tropes and stereotypes found in youth literature.
  • understand critical literacy and how it can be used to create better, less harmful collections.
  • have the tools to conduct their own diversity audit of their collections.


Nisa KesslerNisa Kessler, Petoskey District Library

Nisa Kessler has always wanted to work with teens. She grew up in the foothills of Northern California but found her way to Northern Michigan when she married an Army man from Petoskey. She began her career teaching secondary education, specifically language arts, and found her way to the Petoskey District Library where she found her true calling as the Teen Services Librarian. She has been in the position for 5 1/2 years and has loved every minute of it!

Meredith KennedyMeredith Kennedy, Native North Tours & Storytelling LLC

Meredith Kennedy, P3 Parent Leader, Waganakising Odawa Eagle Clan and Scottish Stag Clan, mother of six multicultural children and small business owner. Meredith's career has focused on serving her tribal communities including 15 years in the areas of environmental, education, culture, mental health, and substance abuse. She considers serving her community the highest honor. Her legacy is to focus on the next Seven Generations growing up supporting each other with love, understanding and respect.

Wait, There's More? Role-Playing Beyond Dungeons and Dragons

Explore different role-playing games beyond D&D that are built for younger audiences and teach skills like teamwork and problem-solving.

Focus: Teen/Tween

Role-playing games (RPGs) are a fun and creative way of developing important skills such as teamwork and creative problem-solving. Dungeons and Dragons is the RPG libraries frequently use, but there are other formats of RPGs, several of which are better catered to players of all ages. While D&D is common, it has relatively advanced gameplay and involves a lot of strategy and math. Younger patrons have a vast amount of creativity but are often excluded from role-playing adventures. This presentation will focus on RPGs outside of D&D and how they can be catered to school-aged children, teens, and the benefits of role-playing games in younger populations. Some role-playing formats include "Cats of Catthulhu," "No Thank you, Evil," and more.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • have a better idea about role-playing options available outside of Dungeons and Dragons.
  • have more knowledge about the benefits of role-playing games for younger audiences and how to create/offer role-playing programs for younger patrons.
  • best methods to host a variety of role-playing games virtually.


Hannah Stoloff, Clinton-Macomb Public Library

Hannah is a Children's Librarian at the Clinton Macomb Public Library. They graduated from the University of Michigan with their LIS in May of 2020. They are passionate about creating inclusive collections and experiences for all ages and abilities in library services. In their spare time, they enjoy games with friends, crafting, shopping for book merch, and hanging out with animals.

A Is For Ag In The STEAM Equation

Learn how Ag can be applied within STEAM programming

Focus: Family

STEAM represents Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math but there is also an argument for incorporating Agriculture into the equation. Agriculture can be the A in STEAM offering a myriad of ideas, projects, and opportunities to learn. We can also use agriculture to bring the other subjects to life with practical applications.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Understand the STEAM equation with Agriculture incorporated across all topics
  • Have an enthusiastic interest in sharing agricultural DIY projects for all ages encouraging multi-generational participation
  • Share several resources to help library staff incorporate Ag themed ideas into their programming


Julia BarettaJulia Baretta, Branch District Library

Julia Baratta has worked in the library field for over 16 years in various capacities. She has a passion for children's literature and enjoys sharing books that connect children with her many interests including agriculture, needlework, and food.


Diversity In Action

Learn more about diversity-focused reading programs, like the Read Woke Challenge, as well as diversity audits for programs and performers.

Focus: General

This session will focus on highlighting reading programs and initiatives libraries can take to place a greater emphasis on diversity and representation. Capital Area District Libraries (CADL) and the Dearborn Public Library have both recently ran Read Woke Challenges, which was originally started by Cecily Lewis, SLJ's 2020 Librarian of the Year. The presenters will explain the logistics, book selection, potential funding, and other considerations when running similar programs. Additionally, CADL has undertaken a diversity audit for programs, book group selection, and performers. CADL staff will explain their approach to diversity audits.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • understand considerations to make when planning inclusive, diversity-focused reading challenges.
  • understand how diversity audits can positively impact representation in programs and performer selection.


Laura GeikenLaura Geiken, Dearborn Public Library

Laura currently works as the Teen Librarian at the Dearborn Public Library. Prior to becoming a librarian, Laura served in the Peace Corps in Panama for three years. Her library-related interests include community outreach, social justice, and service to immigrant populations.


Jolee Hamlin, Capital Area District LibrariesJolee Hamlin

Jolee Hamlin has over 25 years of library experience in academic, association, state, and public libraries. She has spent the last 15+ years at the Capital Area District Libraries, most recently as the Senior Associate Director of Public Service.         


Mari Garza

Marisela Garza, Capital Area District Libraries

Mari Garza has been a librarian with Capital Area District Libraries (CADL) for almost 13 years. She is a part of CADL's selection team, purchasing youth materials, planning the Summer Reading Challenge and assisting with programming. Mari is passionate about reading out loud with children of all ages but also enjoys reading historical fiction for kids and adults. Along with her colleagues in the collection development department, she helped plan CADL's Read Woke Challenge in the fall of 2020.


Friday | 2:15 – 3:15pm


Spotlight Session: Ornery Teenagers: How to Compassionately and Effectively Manage Their Problem Behaviors with Ryan Dowd

This training will teach you the neurological and evolutionary reasons that teenagers behave the way they do.

Focus: General

Does your library sometimes struggle with problem behavior from teens?  Do you want to reduce the conflict with them?  This training will teach you the neurological and evolutionary reasons that teenagers behave the way they do.  More importantly, it will show you practical tools for using this knowledge to help teens follow the rules with less conflict and drama.

At the end of this session attendees will...

  • understand how the brain develops in adolescence and how that influences behavior.
  • walk away with a three stage process for preventing conflict, managing conflict and stopping it from recurring.
  • learn how the concept of “bidirectional respect” is the key to managing teenage behavior.


Ryan DowdRyan Dowd, Homeless Training, LLC

Ryan Dowd has worked most of his career in homeless shelters. Currently, he works at the second largest homeless shelter in Illinois. He trains libraries around the country (and world) on how to work with difficult homeless patrons, using the same tools that homeless shelters employ. He is the author of the ALA book, “The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness.” He is married, with two children. His favorite book is Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.

Virtual Comic Book and AniManga Club

Find out how you can successfully run a virtual comic book or animanga club for youth and teens.

Focus: Teen/Tween

Find out how you can successfully run a virtual comic book or animanga club for youth and teens. We moved our existing youth comic book club online and launched a popular new virtual teen animanga club in the midst of the pandemic. We will share free online resources for streaming anime as well as reading manga and comic books and take a look at the activities that are included during our meetings.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • knowledgeable about free platforms to stream anime and of platforms to access comic and manga books.
  • understand how to keep participants engaged during virtual programs.
  • have a list of activities, titles of books, and anime titles to begin planning programs.


Nakenya Lewis YarbroughNakenya Lewis-Yarbrough, Belleville Area District Library

Nakenya Lewis-Yarbrough has a passion to foster awareness of diverse books written by own authors which allows youth to see a reflection of themselves in literature. She is a youth services librarian at Belleville Area District Library. You can find her on Facebook at the Amped Up Librarian https://www.facebook.com/theampeduplibrarian/ and on IG @theampeduplibrarian.

Noelle Douglas, Belleville Area District Library

Noelle Douglas is an aspiring comic book artist and animator currently working toward her degree in Computer Animation at Full Sail University. She is co-moderator of both the Animanga and Comic Book Club at the Belleville Area District Library. As a former art teacher and language learner, currently studying Japanese, she has a passion for teaching kids about the work that goes into making comics and the language and culture behind Japanese manga.

Straw Into Gold: Boosting Outreach in Tough Times

Learn about the activity box delivery program at Dearborn Heights City Libraries which served hundreds of families.

Focus: Family

Beginning in summer 2020 and continuing into the autumn, our library produced and distributed activity boxes for children. We wanted our program to cross boundaries and serve people who faced barriers to full participation. Remote registration meant that families could easily sign up and delivery service made the program accessible to families that lacked reliable transportation. In addition, our partnership with the school districts helped us overcome skepticism and motivated us to remove residency barriers. The boxes include art supplies, crafts, and science experiments, plus a community read title for each family. This presentation will outline our process and reveal what we’ve learned.

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • Realize that large budgets and layers of staffing are not necessary to serve patrons in wonderful ways.
  • Learn at least one way that policies and systems can be changed to benefit under-served populations.


Jennifer Wyatt-Greene and Jim MoirJennifer Wyatt-Greene, Dearborn Heights City Libraries

Jennifer Wyatt-Greene first realized her passion for libraries when she worked as an after-school page at the Taylor Community Library. In 2009, she became the Head of Circulation at the John F. Kennedy,  Jr. Library, one of the two branches of the Dearborn Heights City Libraries, while completing her MLIS from Wayne State University. She has worked for DHCL for eleven years, becoming the Teen Librarian for both branches in 2014.

Jim Moir, Dearborn Heights City Libraries

Jim Moir began his career in 1973 as a page at Dearborn Public Libraries. He served as a Librarian Intern at Wayne County Community College and was a faculty member and Campus Librarian at St. Petersburg College. Almost fifty years later, he's found new satisfaction working as the Youth Services Librarian at Dearborn Heights City Libraries. He received his MLS from Wayne State University and also holds a MA in Religion.

Reimagining Traditional Programming - Battle of the Books

How we took the roadblocks presented by the pandemic and came out on the other side with a more robust and welcoming traditional program.

Focus: School Age

The saying “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” applies to how many libraries continue to host long-standing, traditional programming like Battle of the Books-we definitely weren’t looking to do anything differently! Enter a global pandemic. What always worked about Battle had to be changed if we wanted to host anything at all. In this presentation, we will show you how being forced to reinvent a well-loved, long-standing program resulted in increased team participation, better retention, and fun & innovative activities that were highly successful. We will provide attendees with ideas to implement in other programming and introduce the concept that experimenting with change even when you don't think you need to can bring about surprising results

At the end of this session, attendees will...

  • think more positively about implementing change to current long-standing programming in order to make things even more successful
  • leave with 2-3 new ideas to update traditional program offerings
  • learn 2-3 new ways to incorporate virtual ideas into traditional programming


Ashley LehmanAshley Lehman, Orion Township Public Library

Ashley Lehman has been the Head of Youth Services at Orion Township Public Library for 3 years. She previously worked at Ferndale Area District Library and Troy Public Library. Ashley has worked in libraries for 9 years, and graduated from Wayne State University with an MLIS in 2013. Ashley’s work focuses on implementing early literacy initiatives and also enjoys creating community connections and new outreach opportunities.

Katie PerkeyKatie Perkey, Orion Township Public Library

Katie Perkey has been a Youth Services Librarian at Orion Township Public Library for the last two years. She previously worked in Northern Virginia as the Head of Teen Services, where she ran a nationally recognized After Hours Teen Center. Katie now focuses on early literacy and school-aged programming. She loves school outreach and connecting with children and families in the community.

James PughJames Pugh, Orion Township Public Library

James has worked in libraries for about 5 years in almost every department, from the circulation desk to tech services to library assistant. As the Youth Library Assistant, James provides outreach services to local PreK and elementary schools. James is passionate about his work and is excited to see how public libraries can engage their patrons moving forward. He is planning on obtaining his MMLIS degree from the University of Southern California in 2023.


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