Monthly Archives: February 2017

Response from Scholarship Recipient Jessica Fredrickson

Hello!  My name is Jessica Fredrickson.  I currently work part-time for Jefferson County Public Library while attending Emporia State University’s SLIM program.

You could say I have a rocky relationship with science.

It started back in kindergarten, when I was that kid who ate the salt crystal experiment.  In high school I was kicked out of biology for writing “Kiss the Dissector” on a lab apron and playing jump rope with pig intestines.  I took physics purely for the field trip to Elitch’s at the end of the semester.  You get the idea.

So when the call came for volunteers to take up STEAM programming at my library this year, I stepped forward a bit apprehensively.  Luckily for me, STEAM was a hot topic at the CATS Winter Workshop!  I attended two fabulous sessions on the subject.  The first was led by my fellow classmate Cydney Clink and recent ESU graduate Brittany Raines, both of whom are taking their High Plains Library community by a STEM storm.  Cydney shared helpful advice for building community partnerships, including:

  • Keep the conversations open and ongoing.
  • Be clear about mutual obligations.
  • Carefully consider the amount of preparation and time out your staff will be spending.
  • Once you start, the word will spread… so be strategic!

Brittany took us through the essential elements of a STEM program and provided several helpful suggestions and ideas.  I will always test my programs ahead of time and prepare materials for 10% more of my anticipated audience!  Best of all, we got to build our own balloon cars and slingshot rockets.  Talk about takeaways!

Another one of my classmates was kind enough to sacrifice her lunch break to show the gang of ESU SLIM students around the amazing Library 21c.  Here we are learning about the Maker in Residence Program…


After the impromptu tour and delicious lunch, it was time to sit down with STEAM again.  Kayci Barnett and Sharon Rice shared more tips for collaborating with your community and some wonderful resources for getting started with STEAM, including  We got to play with bottle rockets, Google Cardboard and more.  Most of all, I learned that STEAM programming is not about crafts, it’s not expensive… and it’s not scary!  “Remove the fear of failure,” they said.  “A non-reaction is still a result!”

Thanks to the amazing presenters and those who made my scholarship possible, I feel much more confident and prepared to help with STEAM programming this year.  I feel inspired!  The best part of CATS was connecting with youth service professionals all across the state.  As always, I am humbled by the work you do and the creative ways you find to serve your communities.

See you again next year!

The opinions expressed here are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.


Response from Scholarship Recipient Lisa Gills

It was an incredible day spent at the CATS Winter Workshop and I am very grateful to have attended as a scholarship recipient.  Thank you!!

I found the presentations engaging and thought-provoking.  While I enjoyed many of them, the three presentations that had the most impact for me were the following: 1) Fun is the Final Product.  It was important for me to learn the research behind the importance of process art versus product art for young children.  I occasionally include a craft during my story time and had gravitated toward product art in the past.  I now intend to add elements of both in my future planning. 2) Technology, Our Kids, Our Libraries offered well thought out tips and documented information on the need for those of us working in libraries to serve as media mentors, helping to support parents of children in their individual media practice decisions. It went well beyond just this topic and was very well prepared.  I liked that the two presenters were from different libraries and offered supportive information but exercised in different library settings. 3) Everything You Wanted to Know About Beginning Readers but Were Afraid to Ask: I wasn’t afraid to ask but I never imagined getting so much valuable information in such a short time as I received through this wonderful presentation.

I left with many new ideas and suggestions to pass on to my co-workers at the Lafayette Public Library.  It was even more meaningful for me to attend with my co-worker Dominique as we shared the excitement and discussed creative ideas from the day.  In addition to enjoying ourselves at the beautiful Library 21C, we often attended different presentations and then shared what we learned.  A great day!

Lisa Gills, Lafayette Public Library

Response from Scholarship Recipient Rachel Salazar

Being able to come together with colleges and fellow librarians is always a great way to finalizing thoughts or start new ones. Never visiting Library 21c, I was blown away by how beautiful the architecture and atmosphere was. Since the setting was right, we were able to start our day off good. I enjoyed the overall day, but one particular session stood out to me was Teen Librarian-ing for Introverts. My location has a lot of teens, and sometimes they can be difficult to deal with. Whitney Walker from High Plains Library District is an introvert herself. She broke down how an introvert handles situations, and how they need to re-energized. Walker opened my eyes to the reasoning for the types of behavior that I typically see with teens and how to handle the situation appropriately. She also recommended great program ideas for your location is you have a lot of introverted teens, or if you are an introvert how to deal with teens. I am an extrovert, and sometimes it is hard for me to think twice about what an introvert is dealing with.

Thank you,

Rachel Salazar

Response from Scholarship Recipient Jeanette Heath

I had a great time at the 2017 Winter CATs Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

It was a fun learning experience for me I learned to branch out my outreach pool to churches. What a great idea! Never thought about it before but they have lots of kids programs that we could co sponsor with them. I even found some great resources for grants that I never thought of before to help with our STREAM projects.

I am even going to check with the schools to see if we could do a credit system for having the teens do volunteering or write reviews on our books. To have an incentive that benefits them at school as well as at the library is a great way to get them involved more at the library. Food is great but this will also teach them that it is a time worthy possibility for them to work hard, be reliable and feel good about what they have accomplished.

I loved the Grey Havens presentation at the end of the seminar who knew that kids could have such minds that physics became reality without anyone even realizing it.

I am currently working on getting the schools to work with us on the credit system, working with churches, and I am checking out a grant currently to help with the STREAM programming. I am going to be contacting Grey Havens about how to get a fandom going at our library!

Thank you CATs there is so much that I learned and would like to do from the conference that it is hard to get it all down.

Jeanette Heath
Public Service Librarian

Red Feather Lakes Community Library/Red Feather Mountain Library District

Response from Scholarship Recipient Ellie O’Keefe

I work as Teen Librarian for Pueblo City-County Library District, and I was heartbroken at a recent meeting to see a report that included some staggering statistics about teen suicide. Our city’s teen suicide rate is twice that of the state-wide reported rate. In a survey used in our public high schools, one in two teens who report identifying as LGBTQ+ also report “having seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months.” Only 50.7% of these teens report that they have an adult to talk to. As a community, we are working on a mental health stigma reduction campaign, anti-bullying training and other efforts to help educate and protect our youth. This work takes time and money, though, and there are other things that we can do in the meantime to help these youth.
I’m sure everyone has seen the emphasis on #ownvoices and the call for more diversity in YA books. Included in this is the push for more LGBTQ+ representation. We have seen the reports that show the importance of seeing ourselves reflected in the books that we read, or at least seeing that representation on bookshelves. I was so excited to attend the opening session of CATS, where Robin Kurz, PhD, of Emporia State University spoke on “Librarian Censorship of GLBTQ Youth Titles.” A September 2016 School Library Journal article included the results of a survey it sent out regarding censorship, and to mixed reviews, noted that the amount of self-censorship reported by librarians had increased since their previous survey in 2008. Kurz designed and completed a study of over 500 public libraries in the United States that investigated whether the libraries’ collections included 26 award-winning YA titles that have LGBTQ+ representation. She explained that although she could not definitely point to self-censorship as the cause for the absence of certain titles, she did her best to control for other variables. She considered libraries’ budgets and the size of the population served. Even after considering these factors, she was not able to find a bell curve in her data. There simply were some libraries that held the books and some libraries that didn’t. Many libraries were noticeably missing an award-winning book with LGBTQ+ representation despite having that same author’s other books. Unfortunately, the only trend seemed to be that many of the books were not offered at many of the libraries included in the study.

The message of the presentation was simple: be aware of your collection. Make sure that your Collection Policy mentions awards lists and a variety of booklists; many of the books with LGBTQ+ representation are winning awards and making prominent booklists, so this inclusion can help protect your purchase decisions. Beyond making sure that these books are available, give them the attention that you give other note-worthy books. Include them in your displays and include them in reader’s advisory suggestions. Remember that libraries are meant to serve a wide variety of people, and this includes LGBTQ+ teens. They may ask for these books outright, or they may just want to know that they are an option. Either way, everyone benefits from having a broader array of experiences represented in our collections.

Ellie O’Keefe

Teen Librarian, PCCLD

Response from Scholarship Recipient Resa Mai

I very much enjoyed the session on Process Art, it gave me new insight on adult expectations vs children’s expectations.  And we need to remember that the toddler and preschool programs are for those exact patrons, the toddlers and preschoolers.  Anyone who has ever run a children’s program knows that one parent who will have issue with Process Art – Art for Arts sake.  The presenters acknowledged the “handsy” parents and provided a great tool to use when dealing with them.  It will be so empowering to offer those and all parents the opportunity to make their own creation, rather than impose their will on their child’s artwork. I love that we have the ability to redirect the parent without telling them No or embarrassing them.  That is a powerful tool.

Process Art – or Art for Art’s sake represents a paradigm shift in storytime crafts.  By putting out materials (paint, paper, glue, tissue paper…) and not giving an example, sample or directions, we encourage creativity and autonomy in the kids.  If the story is about frogs, perhaps the colors provided will be green and yellow and blue. The children then take what they heard and what they felt during storytime, then they create their own theme on paper.  This type of open ended creativity gives a child’s mind wings and freedom.  The presenters made the observation that a child given examples made by an adult is creating an impossible task.  Toddlers do not have the fine motor skills that an adult has, we should never expect them to recreate something an adult created.  Often with crafts that is exactly what we are doing. Rather than being liberated in the artistic opportunity, they are being given  unrealistic expectation and the child is caged with thoughts of “Don’t Mess Up”.  Of course they are going to mess up, let them.

The presenters also made the suggestion that we do not evaluate any of the crafts, not even to say something is “good” or “nice”.  By avoiding assigning judgement continues to allow kids to work through their own process.  And we have all embarrassed ourselves by commenting on a child’s art, only to find that what the child created was not what we saw.  Think “Billy I love that cloud you drew” only to have little Billy’s reply be “It’s not a cloud, it’s my bird Fluffy, cuz he ate too many marshmallows and now he is flying up to heaven”.  Yeah we have all had those conversations and they never end well.  In the Process Art session we are reminded to ask open ended questions, allowing the artist to tell us what they created.  An example of an open ended question would be to ask…”Would you like to tell me what you created?”  or “Can you tell me what you are working on there?”
Mostly what I took away from the Process Art session is that we need to empower our kids, giving them the materials and freedom to make their own expectations.  And modeling positive behaviors for parents.
Resa Mai, Clearview Library District


Response from Scholarship Recipient Dominique Burns

Hello! My name is Dominique and I am the Youth Services Librarian at the Lafayette Public Library here in Colorado. I had an incredible time at the CATS Winter Workshop and took away so many new ideas for my own library. Before I talk about how awesome the workshop was, I want to say thank you to everyone involved and for the scholarship to attend. The entire workshop was so much fun and it allowed me to connect with librarians from all over Colorado. Getting to attend the workshop with my coworker Lisa only added to the experience. We started our mini road trip with a coffee stop (of course!) and then talked library ideas all the way to Colorado Springs. The drive combined with the coffee added to our excitement!

Then we arrived at Library 21c and fell in love with it. We really liked how they organized their children’s area and we definitely took photos to share with our coworkers here in Lafayette.  We did attend the opening and closing sessions together, but decided to split up during the conference to cover more ground. I attended “Katniss for President! Creative Ways to Partner With Schools,” “STEAM Works,” and “Everything You Wanted to Know About Beginning Readers But Were Afraid to Ask.” Since this is just a short blog post, I’m only going to write about one of the sessions I attended. However, I will admit that I have pages and pages of notes from all the sessions, because they were all marvelous and so informative!

“Katniss for President! Creative Ways to Partner With Schools” was the first session I attended and I thought it was and is very applicable to my library. I loved that they took their programming to the schools and how creative they were with their outreach. Here are some of the takeaway points that really stood out to me from their session:

  • Librarians should visit schools all year long and not just for summer reading. This way you do not have to re-introduce yourself every year for summer reading.
  • If you have a large team, then define roles and have one point of contact for schools. This makes communicating easier for all involved.
  • Connect with staff at the schools in your community to create a long-term partnership between the school and the library.
  • Try connecting with the school’s English teacher and not just the librarian.
  • One event the speakers talked about that they do is during Tech Week.  They come in to the school and have a week long program with interactive and passive programming. They also bring in new technology for teens to explore.
  • Teen Read Week is another great way to have a presence at the schools in your community. You can set-up a table to give out free books or have enter to wins.
  • Try to visit schools in your area at least once a month.
  • Another program that the speakers did in their community was a take on “Silent Library” from MTV. They had teens perform challenges in the library without laughing or talking.
    • Sticky notes on Face Challenge (Put sticky notes on face)
    • Airplane Challenge (Make as many airplanes in 60 sec.)
    • Unicorn Marshmallow Challenge. (Pile marshmallows on forehead)
  • When you visit schools bring library cards, so that teens can sign-up for a card.
  • Bring a menu of items and services the library offers to give to teachers and students at the schools.
  • Another outreach method they use is recording videos or audio for morning announcements at schools. It is an easy way to share information with schools without having to physically be there.

I hope these takeaway points give you some new ideas for your own library if you weren’t at the conference. I definitely want to try the Silent Library Game at my next Teen Town Hall. I think the Unicorn Marshmallow Challenge will be a huge hit and get lots of laughs from the tweens and teens. I truly loved everything from the early morning mini road trip to learning about early readers and even getting to dance like Baby Groot!  The conference was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to attend next year.


Dominique Burns

Youth Services Librarian

Response from Scholarship Recipient Kirsten Dees

Fun is the Final Product:  Process Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Presenters Kristen Bodine and Katie O’Brian

This was my favorite session of the day.  The session began with the participants making their own art using liquid starch and tissue paper shapes.  It was a good ice breaker. I talked to other librarians as we made art.

The librarians introduced us to process art.  I had heard of process art before, but I wanted to know more.  It is all about the process not the product.  There are no instructions to follow, no sample,  The project is child focused and directed.  The goal of my new  program series is for the children to be creative, learn, and have fun.  This fits in perfectly.

At the beginning of this year I started a new program series called Kids Club for ages 4-7 that is once a week.  I was seeking new ideas for this program and decided that this session sounded interesting.  I plan on using the ideas that they shared for Kids Club.  Children love to paint.  They want to paint every week. I just needed more ideas on types of activities that they could do with the paint.  Some of the ideas I am going to use are:  play music while painting, coffee filter watercolors, circle art, yarn painting, and tissue paper painting.  They also provided a list of resources for more information.

Thank you for sharing all your wonderful ideas and information.

Kirsten Dees

Pueblo City County Library District

CATS Winter Workshop 2017 Presentation Now Posted


Thank you to everyone who came to the CATS Winter Workshop at Library 21c in Colorado Springs! For those that couldn’t make it or if you want to review a presentation again, the presentations we have received thus far are posted on our blog now at

Have a wonderful day and we hope to see you at the next CATS Meeting on April 14th 2017 at Durango Public Library in Durango Colorado!