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Town Hall Meetings: Direct Democracy in Action

Last week, my colleague Kim Carpenter and I attended a town hall meeting in our city to listen to Congressman Ted Deutch speak about issues that mattered to us on both a local and national scale.

Rep. Ted Deutch Town Hall Meeting

August 31, 2017: Town Hall Meeting with Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21) at the Mae Volen Senior Center, Boca Raton, FL (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Town hall meetings have a long-standing tradition in America. The earliest recorded town hall meeting occurred in 1633 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. A form of direct democracy, town hall meetings give constituents the chance to speak openly and directly to elected officials and political candidates about issues that matter to them and their community. And, elected officials use this informal public assembly as an opportunity to gauge how their constituents feel about issues and policies.

While they are called town hall meetings, these meetings are not only held in town halls, but also in a variety of other locations, such as schools, libraries, and municipal buildings. In recent years, many politicians have begun experimenting with digital town hall meetings, as well.

The town hall we attended was held at the Mae Volen Senior Center in Boca Raton, Florida. The room was packed with several hundred people who raised many issues, including concerns about climate change, the Dream Act, President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military and the need for research money for childhood cancer.  Rep. Deutch thanked the attendees for allowing him to hear first-hand what mattered to them and promised to take those concerns back to Washington.

Photo of Kimberly Carpenter and Amy Shaw with Rep. Ted Deutch

ProQuest editors Kimberly Carpenter (left) and Amy Shaw (right) enjoy meeting Rep. Ted Deutch after a town hall meeting (Credit: Kimberly Carpenter)

South Florida Congressman

Congressman Ted Deutch (D) represents the 22nd district of South Florida, which includes Palm Beach and Broward County. He is currently serving his fifth term in the 115th Congress and he’s also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives on the Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, and Ethics Committees. His priorities include environmental health, economic growth, and honor and dignity for veterans, among many others.

For more information about Ted Deutch, visit his website and learn all about his legislation, services, and student resources.

Bipartisan Efforts

In an increasingly politically polarized America, it was refreshing to hear Representative Deutch mention several bipartisan efforts in recent years, including the Climate Solutions Caucus, which he co-chairs with Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL). The purpose of this caucus is to find solutions to sea level rise and the effects of climate change. Membership of this caucus consists of equal representation by Republicans and Democrats.

Developing Civic-Minded Students

How to Prepare for a Town Hall Meeting

Infographic: 6 Tips on How to Prepare for a Town Hall Meeting (Credit: Amy Shaw and Kimberly Carpenter)

As students are the next generation of citizens and voters, teachers should consider engaging them in the political process by having them attend a town hall meeting in their community or participate in a mock town hall meeting. To get your students started, print out our Infographic with tips on how to prepare for a town hall meeting.

Teachers can also direct students to eLibrary’s Research Topic pages on civics issues. A good starting point that showcases many of eLibrary’s civics Research Topics pages is ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Civics (U.S.).  SIRS Issues Researcher also includes Leading Issues on Government Ethics in addition to issues currently being discussed in town hall meetings (e.g., climate change, heroin abuse, and minimum wage). Below, we have also included links to town hall resources and lesson plans.

Town Hall Resources

Call to Action: Use to find and call your Congressional representative.

Find Your Representative: This site from the U.S. House of Representatives matches your ZIP code to your congressional district, with links to your member’s website and contact page.

Town Hall Project: Identifies Congressional town halls nationwide.

United States Senate Directory: provides information about former and current senators.

Lesson Plans

Town Hall Meeting: Drama-Based Instruction

Lesson Plan: Civic Engagement and Ways for Students to Get Involved

Our Town: Teaching Alternative Energy Sources and Decision-Making Through a Town Hall Meeting

Takeaways

  • All the personal stories that people shared with the crowd and how Ted Deutch responded with compassion and understanding for each one. Individuals were directed to staff members who would specifically help them find answers.
  • The age range of people attending. From elementary school students who recited the pledge, college students who lined up to ask questions to retired veterans who publicly asked for help with nursing home care.

Tweet Us!

Have your students participated in a town hall meeting? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

Library Showdown: Cats Vs. Dogs

My coworker Jaclyn Rosansky and I collaborated on a post about 50 unusual things you can check out from libraries besides books. While researching that post, I learned about libraries that offer therapy dogs that university students can check out to relieve stress during final exams. For example, Countway Library of Medicine, an alliance of the Boston Medical Library and Harvard Medical School, lets students check out a Shih-Tzu named Cooper for 30-minute sessions.

BOW WOW!

Being that we are in the dogs days of summer and also because I am a dog lover and a fan of libraries, I wondered, aside from literature, what else could I find regarding libraries and dogs?

Lots, it turns out.

I found canine sculptures, a dog with its own library card, and much more. Reading therapy dogs seem to be especially popular with many libraries. Read on to learn about four libraries and their canine connections:

Knee_Hi

Knee-Hi, the Free Library of Philadelphia mascot (Photo used with permission by Sandra Horrocks, Vice President of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation)

Knee-Hi: According to Sandra Horrocks, Vice President of External Affairs at the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,  the charming little dog pictured above was posed in front of the library to be their mascot and also may have been used to promote Summer Reading. These days, therapy dogs can still be found at various branches of the Free Library. The Andorra Library has a Tail Waggin’ Tutor where kids can read to Charlie and the Whitman Library features PAWS for reading where kids can ready to Bella the Frech Bulldog. Ms. Horrocks also mentioned to me that they have a dog that goes to their Chestnut Hill Library branch for children who are reluctant readers and “they love reading to him!”

Ruff

Ruff, a plush puppet that can be checked out at Randall Library. (Photo used with permission by Christine Morrison, Youth Services Librarian, Randall Library, Stow, Massachusetts)

Ruff and M.U.T.T.S. Club: Youth Services Librarian Christine Morrison of Randall Library in Stow, Massachusetts, has a plush dog puppet named Ruff that can be checked out by patrons.  The library features a page on their website dedicated to Ruff’s adventures, including a visit to a farm to see goats, bumper cars at a fair and a trip inside a washing machine. Ms. Morrison also mentioned that the library has a M.U.T.T.S. Club for teens. The club, which is currently on summer vacation, offers teens an opportunity to help shelter animals in need and become involved in programs that promote animal welfare.

 

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Rufus at Kids Opening Day 2016 (Photo used with permission by Lisa Mauch, Content Specialist, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Ohio)

Rufus the Reading Dog: I learned about Rufus the Reading Dog from Lisa Mauch, Content Specialist at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Rufus is named after Rufus King II, the founding father of the library and has been keeping very busy as the library mascot for 10 years. You can view his photo page on Pinterest. Rufus isn’t the only dog at the library. On Fridays at 3 pm, the Main Library offers a Tales to Tails program in which children practice reading aloud to a certified therapy dog.

Read to a Dog Program

Child reading to a dog in Oshkosh Library’s Read to a Dog program. (Photo used with permission by Lisa Voss, Head of Library Development, Oshkosh Public Library, Oshkosh, Wisconsin)

Read to a Dog Program: Oshkosh Public Library in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, also offers a program in which trained therapy dogs are used to improve literacy skills in children. The dogs are trained through the Reading Education Assistance Dogs program, a division of Intermountain Therapy Animals. “Reading to a dog is a fun and effective way for children who struggle with reading to build both skills and confidence,” notes Lisa Voss, Head of Library Development at Oshkosh Library.

Vs. MEOW!

After all I had learned about dogs and libraries, I thought, what about cats? Sure enough, there are libraries with kitty connections, too. And, I’m not talking about World Cat. There are hundreds of libraries around the world that house cats, including, even, the spooky ghost cat, which I mentioned in a Halloween blog post. Below are four cat-loving libraries, past and present:

Calling Miss Gertrude: A search in ProQuest Historical Newspapers revealed a Hartford Courant story on January 25, 1959, about a library cat named Miss Gertrude Bronson. The cat was reported as being listed in the Waterbury, Connecticut, city directory as an assistant at the public library.

ProQuest Historical Newspaper article

Screencap of a ProQuest Historical Newspaper article from the January 25, 1959, edition of the Hartford Courant.

 

 

Stacks on a Book Cart

Stacks the library cat (Photo used with permission by Sara Zumwalt, Library Director, Litchfield Public Library District, Litchfield, Illinois)

Stacks the Library Cat: Litchfield Public Library District in Litchfield, Illinois, is home to a celebrity. The purrfectly named Stacks has been featured in Cat Fancy magazine, the Springfield Journal, and the Chicago Tribune. A long-haired domestic female cat, Stacks has been living at the library since 2009, when she was adopted from Adopt-a-Pet Shelter in Benld, Illinois. Sara Zumwalt, Library Director, considers Stacks to be a great asset to their library, with people coming in all the time to ask “where’s Stacks?”

 

 

 

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Trixie the Library Cat (Photo used with permission by Young Adult Services Coordinator Brittni Trytek, Independence Public Library, Independence, Kansas)

Trixie the Library Cat: Trixie, who lives at the Independence Public Library in Independence, Kansas, has much in common with Stacks. As with Stacks, Trixie arrived at her library home in 2009. Both cats are approximately eight years old and have been written about. Trixie, who was once featured in a magazine in Germany, is a social media star with a blog that details her younger years and also a Facebook page. According to Young Adult Services Coordinator Brittni Trytek, Trixie is well loved and very playful. She notes how some mornings, the custodian will find craft supplies (yarn, pom poms, and feathers) dragged from the third floor to the first floor.

Kitten Kuddle

Kitten Kuddle (Photo used with permission by Lisa Voss, Head of Library Development, Oshkosh Public Library, Oshkosh, Wisconsin)

Kitten Kuddle: Cats and dogs in the same library? Oh, yes. Not only does Oshkosh Public Library have a Read to a Dog program, but Head of Library Development Lisa Voss also let me know that they also partner with the Oshkosh Area Humane Society (OAHS) to offer a Kitten Kuddle event for teens. OAHS brings in five or six kittens to the library for kids to help socialize the animals by playing with them. The teens also make crafts that the OAHS sells as a fundraiser.

Take Our Poll

(If you can’t view the poll below in your browser, you can also view it on Playbuzz.)

 

Tweet Us!

Have you spied a cat or a dog in your library? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us a picture at #ProQuest!

New York Public Library Lion

Fortitude, one of the lion statues outside the Main Branch building of the New York Public Library by Ken Thomas [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

I Used ProQuest Products to Enrich My Summer Vacation — in Amsterdam!

One of the things I love about working for ProQuest is how much I learn and how I have been able to incorporate some of what I’ve learned into my personal life, including, most recently, my summer vacation.

Last summer, I blogged about the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), and while researching RAGBRAI, I learned how local libraries helped make lives easier for the cyclists.

Hearing the enthusiastic responses from the librarians in Iowa about the RAGBRAI summer cycling event inspired me to plan and partake in my own bicycle adventure.

From Inspiration to Reality

This summer, I took my son to Amsterdam, a city famous for cycling. There, we spent eight days biking around the city and getting in touch with our Dutch roots — our ancestors immigrated from Holland to New York, some 300 years ago, when it was called New Amsterdam. (And, yes, I even learned a bit about New Amsterdam via a ProQuest eLibrary Research Topic page called Dutch Colonies in America!)

House Boat Living

House Boat Interior

View from my bedroom window on our house boat on the Amstel River in Amsterdam. The boat had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, dining area and stocked kitchen. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Before our trip, I remembered something else I had learned at work. From ProQuest’s CultureGrams, I had read about how some Dutch people live in house boats (CultureGrams has a neat slideshow and video on house boats in the Netherlands.) So, for our grand adventure, my son and I decided to do as the Dutch do and stayed in our very own house boat. (And, it even came with bikes!)

I was told by an Amsterdammer (or Mokummer, the nickname for a person born in Amsterdam) that the weather in their city can be quite unpredictable and that you must always have these four things with you: an umbrella, a rain jacket, a sweatshirt (or sweater) and comfortable shoes that can handle getting wet. But I already knew all that from my ProQuest research.

That said, as prepared as we were, we still managed to get drenched one day while boating in Giethoorn, a charming village of thatched-roof homes near Amsterdam. (Giethoorn is mostly car-free as the locals get around by boat instead.)

We had gotten caught in a downpour like the ones we’ve experienced in our hometown in South Florida, only the weather in Holland was much colder. But, no worries, because some restaurants will give you nice, fluffy blankets to warm up in while you eat!

Cycling in Amsterdam

Every time we parked our bikes in the city, we took a picture of our bikes and the location so we wouldn’t forget where to find them. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

As for the cycling in Amsterdam, if you’ve never done it before, you are in for a shock at the sheer numbers of bicycles (more than 800,000)! Nearly everyone rides bikes there, no matter the weather or the season. I asked a local if she even biked in the winter and she said yes, through snow or rain.

With all those cyclists, it is important to be careful and always look in all directions and especially keep an eye out for mopeds, which also share the roads and paths (fietspaden) designated for bikes.

Babboe Cargo Bike

Cargo bikes are common in the Netherlands. Some have seat belts in them for hauling children. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Our biggest regret about Amsterdam is that our trip ended too quickly, but we will be sure to return. In the meantime, we really miss the food there, so we are making plans to try some of the Dutch recipes on CultureGrams.

RAGBRAI 2017

Oh, and coincidentally, this year’s RAGBRAI in Iowa opens on July 22nd in Orange City, Iowa, with the theme Dutch til’ Dawn, reflecting the city’s Dutch heritage.

More Pictures


Clockwise from left: Supermarket purchase, Unusual house boat on the Amstel River, Marsh land outside Giethoorn (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Epic Video

After our trip, I found this cool music video created by a Silicon Valley family that is moving to Amsterdam. Check it out here: http://www.sfgate.com/travel/article/family-leaves-SF-epic-video-11275244.php

What Inspires You?

Learning from librarians about a cycling adventure and reading about different cultures at work inspired me to take a trip of a lifetime. What have you learned in the classroom or at work that has enriched your life in some way? Tweet us at #ProQuest.

Four Ways to Facilitate Teaching About Immigration

Photo of an unaccompanied child who had crossed the border into the U.S.

South Texas Border – U.S. Customs and Border Protection provide assistance to unaccompanied children after they have crossed the border into the United States. Photo by Eddie Perez [Public Domain], via flickr

Teaching controversial political issues in the classroom is a challenging endeavor. Every day there is a hot button news story that may capture a students’ attention. This is an opportunity to teach the art of dialogue and develop critical thinking skills. One political hot button issue, in particular, has been receiving quite a bit of attention in the news lately – immigration.

Why Should Teachers Discuss Hot-Button Immigration Issues?

While discussing immigration in the classroom might be cause for discomfort among educators, it is an issue which should not be ignored. Immigration is a perennial issue which affects everyone. These days, it is especially relevant that teachers address the issue because of the changing demographics of the classroom. Some students’ personal lives may be directly affected by immigration policies — perhaps one or both of their parents are undocumented immigrants or maybe they are DREAMers. According to the Pew Research Center, there are approximately 3.9 million K-12 students (about 7.3% of the total) with at least one parent who is an undocumented immigrant in the U.S.

Additionally, teaching students about multiple sides of this issue helps them to learn to how to develop analytical and critical thinking skills to prepare them for participation in the broader society. But as with other controversial issues, teaching about immigration can be tricky.

To get you started, here are 4 key ways to introduce the topic of immigration to your classroom:

1. Develop a knowledge base and understanding of the issue.

In order to be prepared to discuss the topic in a balanced and nonjudgmental way, do your research ahead of time. You may want to consult with other teachers, outside experts or your media specialist for materials and information. In addition to developing a general knowledge base, drill down a bit deeper and familiarize yourself with state laws and policies that impact your students and local community. This can help in addressing the topic in a more sensitive manner that is tailored to your class.

While you are researching the topic, you may also want to jot down sensitive questions that might arise in the classroom so you are prepared to address them.

Delve into your library resources. If your school media center or local library has our ProQuest product, SIRS Issues Researcher, take a look at the Immigration Leading Issue for overviews, essential questions, timelines, and editorially-selected articles, which are perfectly geared for middle school and high school students.  Also, check out our latest Spotlight of the Month –which features a quote, content, and quiz on illegal immigration — and the list of teacher resources at the end of this post.

2. Don’t spotlight immigrant students during discussions.

If there are immigrants in your class, do not make them speak as representatives of their group during discussions on immigration. Spotlighting a student in such a way can embarrass them and also reinforce stereotypes about their background. The University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching recommends in its Guidelines for Discussing Difficult or Controversial Topics that teachers “[a]void assumptions about any member of the class or generalizations about social groups. Do not ask individuals to speak for their (perceived) social group.”

3. Help students to view an immigration issue from new perspectives.

Helping students view an immigration issue from a new perspective can not only help them hone their critical and analytical skills but can also teach them empathy. Professor Miguel Vasquez of Northern Arizona University, in his article Teaching Students to Consider Immigration with Empathy, suggests that teachers try incorporating “narratives, including stories, anecdotes, jokes, and myths, [to] help contextualize abstract and theoretical concepts, framing them within students’ life experiences.”

4. Use and teach appropriate terminology when discussing aspects of immigration.

Avoid using terminology that might be considered offensive or pejorative to some. For example, the Library of Congress recently replaced illegal alien with the terms noncitizens and unauthorized immigration. The New York Times’s style guide offers the following advice: “consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question or to focus on actions: who crossed the border illegally; who overstayed a visa; who is not authorized to work in this country.”

Teacher Resources:

This list includes educational resources and lesson plans on both immigration and how to be welcoming and inclusive to immigrant students:

The Best Practical Resources for Helping Teachers, Students & Families Respond to Immigration Challenges

Educating About Immigration: Lessons for Teachers

An Educator’s Guide to the Immigration Debate

How Teachers Can Help Immigrant Kids Feel Safe

Lesson Plan: Incredible Bridges: “Every Day We Get More Illegal” by Juan Felipe Herrera

The New Americans: Lesson Plan: Immigration Debate

Welcoming Immigrant Students Into the Classroom

What Are Sanctuary Cities and How Are They Bracing for Trump’s Immigration Crackdown? (with Lesson Plan)

Share with Us

Do you have thoughts about or experiences with teaching about controversial issues in immigration for your students? We’d love to hear them! Tweet us #ProQuest.

Challenge Your Students to This Women’s History Quiz!

How well do you know U.S. women’s history?

To celebrate Women’s History Month, take this Playbuzz quiz to see if you can pair up the correct state with an event in U.S. women’s history. Each question is based on facts taken from SIRS Issues Researcher timelines, including the one for our Women’s Rights Leading Issue.

(If you can’t view the matching game below, you can access it on PlayBuzz.)

What are you doing with your students to celebrate Women’s History Month?

Tweet us at #ProQuest or comment below!

Public Libraries Offer Services to Refugees

Edible Alphabet Students

Students of an English-as-a-Second-Language program called Edible Alphabet, offered by the Philadelphia Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center (photo used with permission by Liz Fitzgerald, Administrator, Culinary Literacy Center)

According to the U.S. State Department, America has accepted more than three million refugees since 1975. Last year, the U.S. welcomed 84,995 refugees from around the world. Currently, there has been a torrent of court filings over President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries. While courts have temporarily blocked Trump’s travel ban, the issue is far from being resolved and may even reach the U.S. Supreme Court. As an editor for SIRS Issues Researcher who works on the Immigration Leading Issue, I am following the multiple angles of this issue closely. Regardless of varying opinions on the current controversy, once refugees enter the United States legally, they often need assistance. I have always been impressed with the amazing services libraries offer the community. So I was curious as to what role libraries play in welcoming refugees who legally enter the United States.

Citizenship Corners

I have learned that libraries across the nation have often been a welcome spot for refugees and immigrants. Through a wealth of immigration services and programming, libraries play an important role in raising awareness about the naturalization process and the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship and in helping refugees and other newcomers to the U.S. participate in the broader society.

Since 2013, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has partnered with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help libraries assist refugees with immigration and citizenship information and resources. As a result of this partnership, hundreds of public libraries have set up areas known as “Citizenship Corners,” which include free brochures and immigration forms.

In addition, in 2015, the American Library Association’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table issued Guidelines for Outreach to Immigrant Populations. These guidelines for library services and programming offer ideas on how to help immigrants adjust to life in their new homeland while preserving their cultural and linguistic heritages.

Free Legal Help, Cooking Classes and More

Two such libraries that are helping immigrants and refugees are the Brooklyn Public Library and the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The Brooklyn Public Library offers programs for immigrants in many languages and includes citizenship classes and study groups, bilingual family arts and culture programs and courses to help immigrant businesses succeed. Additionally, the library’s immigration services include free immigration legal help with the Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC). IJC Fellows hold office hours at select branches to help immigrants file applications for citizenship and green cards as well as offer other legal support.

In addition to offering a myriad of immigration and naturalization resources, events and classes, the Free Library of Philadelphia also offers a unique six-week course via their Culinary Literacy Center called Edible Alphabet. The program uses food as a way to unite people from different cultural backgrounds and helps immigrants learn English through cooking lessons. According to Liz Fitzgerald, the Administrator of the Culinary Literacy Center, the meals they prepare include a smoothie, carrot coriander soup, panzanella, pancakes, pasta primavera, and chana masala. The library partners with a non-profit organization called the Nationalities Service Center (NSC), which has been helping immigrants and refugees in the Greater Philadelphia area since the 1920s.

Tell Us Your Story

Does your library offer services to refugees? If so, drop us a line in the comments section below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

12 Winter Things You Can Borrow From Libraries

Happy Holidays!

Need some ideas to spruce up your holiday? Our infographic below lists a sampling of 12 wintertime items you can borrow from libraries besides books.

Library Winter Things Infographic

12 Winter Things You Can Check Out at Libraries (Infographic) via Piktochart

 

Services for the Homeless at Libraries

Atrium, San Francisco Public Library

Atrium in the San Francisco Public Library [Photo courtesy of Katherine Jardine, Public Relations Officer, San Francisco Public Library]

One of the SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issues my colleague Amy and I work on at ProQuest is Homelessness. Learning about the different challenges the homeless face on a daily basis, we wanted to know more about what is being done to help them. After some initial research, we came across the San Francisco Public Library and Leah Esguerra who was hired there as the nation’s first library social worker helping homeless patrons. Here’s what we learned from our conversation with Leah Esguerra and an infographic highlighting the different services offered for homeless patrons at some libraries.

Typical Work Day

Leah Esguerra has been a social worker at San Francisco Public Library for almost eight years (she contracts out from the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team) and described to us how her work has evolved and changed over time. Today, she has a team of eight people, 7 are outreach workers known as Health and Safety Associates (HASAs). The HASAs are employees who have dealt with homelessness at some point in their lives. The goal is for the HASAs to link homeless patrons with outreach and resources they can use on their own. She supervises the outreach workers, who work in four shifts.

They have a visible place in the library, known as The Spot where patrons can check in and up with the HASAs. In addition to working with the outreach workers, Esguerra does walkthroughs and acts as a consultant for staff in dealing with situations that arise with patrons. She answers questions about social services, behavioral issues, and mental health. Some days, she sees as many as 15-30 people.

The library also works to establish community partnerships with Veteran’s Affairs, Lava Mae  (a service providing mobile showers for the homeless) and others.

The Role of Health and Safety Associates (HASAs)

The HASAs do outreach in the bathrooms to find people who are inappropriately using the bathrooms (for example, sleeping in the stalls or bathing) and use their own experience as formerly homeless to help and to tell them about places they can go to for help. The HASAs provide inspiration and patrons are drawn to them because of relatable experiences.

Some of the original HASAs have moved on, continuing to grow in their line of work. One is in civil service and another is now a senior case manager.

Biggest Challenges

Challenges include the housing crisis in the Bay area. Esguerra’s original position 8 years ago was tied to finding housing. She would link homeless patrons with single room occupancies. Now, finding housing is a tougher issue. Finding housing is possible, but it often takes more than a year. They went from 400 to 30+ available rooms. She also said she has little access to these rooms and the rooms are not solely for library use. Another challenge presented itself with displacement among the elderly.

Rewards of the Job

People will come back to Esguerra after many years and thank her for her help. They tell her they are working and still have a house or that she’s helped them deal with mental health issues. She gets calls during the holidays from people she’s helped as well.

Esguerra said the HASAs are seen a safety net too. Staff will first call the HASAs if homeless patrons are causing a disturbance instead of calling security.

Best Practices for Homeless Outreach Programs

It is essential for libraries to have social services and/or social workers. Libraries without the means available to hire a social worker can partner with universities or create other partnerships with community organizations. Social service programs in libraries are great for both staff and patrons. Esguerra told us how the homeless have said the library is their sanctuary. She and her team at the library consider themselves ambassadors. They make the homeless feel included in the community. Having HASAs work at the library brings a different face of homelessness to the staff. The HASAs work very hard and are really good at what they do. They humanize the homeless and raise the level of compassion and understanding.

“Libraries are the community living room.” — Leah Esguerra

Esguerra says other libraries who are interested in starting a social services program should definitely give it a try. She said there are many ways to accomplish it.

Today, the movement is international. The San Francisco Public Library has inspired libraries and institutions elsewhere around the world – including Korea, Japan, and Australia – to implement their own social service programs.

Libraries and Homelessness [Infographic]

#FridayFunDay: Take Our Librarian Quiz!

It’s #FridayFunDay! Take this fun quiz to find out what librarian you most resemble.

 (If you can’t see the quiz below in your browser, click on Playbuzz.)

Libraries and Halloween STEAM

Libraries across the country are celebrating Halloween with spooky stories, devilish decorations, and clever costumes. Some are even adding an educational twist to the festivities through the use of enriching Halloween STEAM activities.

A handsome young scientist delighted with gooey green slime.

A handsome young scientist delighted with gooey green slime. [Photo Courtesy of Children’s Librarian Jennifer Boyce, Fairview Branch, Santa Monica Public Library]

What is STEAM?

STEAM is an acronym that stands for the integration of an A for the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning. STEAM activities help equip kids with essential 21st-century skills that will help prepare them for the job market. The creative arts component — the “A” — in STEAM activities can engage students and spark interest in science and technology. STEAM is especially useful for helping students develop skills that are necessary to prepare for creative industries, including digital games, software, design, and marketing. However, research reveals the importance for all employees, not just those in creative industries, to demonstrate creativity in the workforce.

Libraries to Inspire You

Are you working on a STEAM Halloween project and need a little inspiration? The libraries below caught our attention for adding STEAM to their Halloween.

Champaign Public Library:

Today (October 26), middle school and high school kids will be creating 3D pumpkins from 3:00 to 5:00 at the main library. Sarah Butt, the library associate we contacted at the Champaign Public Library in Champaign, Illinois, explained that she created a pumpkin template in a program called Sculptris. The kids are then able to use the tools and create faces for their pumpkins. Once they are finished, the files can be printed on the 3D printer and ready for the kids from the middle school next door to pick up.

Sculptris Pumpkin Template at Champaign Public Library [Photo Courtesy of Sarah Butt, Library Associate]

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STEAM 3D Printed Pumpkin at Champaign Public Library [Photo Courtesy of Sarah Butt, Library Associate]

Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL):

SMPL (Yes, the very same library we blogged about that has a summer beach library!) is also holding STEAM events at their Ocean Park and Fairview branches.

Ewok Launcher (marshmallow launcher)

Ewok Launcher (marshmallow launcher) [Photo courtesy of Youth Librarian Julia Casas, Ocean Park branch, Santa Monica Public Library]

Also today, in connection with Star Wars Reads, SMPL’s Ocean Park branch is holding a Star Wars STEAM program from 3:30 to 4:30 for kids and teens. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes at the event.

Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite STEAM activity

Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite STEAM Activity [Photo courtesy of Youth Librarian Julia Casas, Ocean Park branch, Santa Monica Public Library]

Youth librarian Julia Casas, who is coordinating the event, has planned several activity stations that will give kids the chance to explore science concepts at their own pace. Among the activities are an “Ewok Launcher” (marshmallow launcher), which helps kids to learn about force, motion and gravity, and a “Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite” (lego minifigs trapped inside a baking soda mixture), which explores chemical reactions.

Children’s librarian Jennifer Boyce let us know that on October 31, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., the Fairview Branch will be featuring a program, “STEAM Craft: Glow-in-the-Dark Slime,” for children ages four and up. According to Ms. Boyce, the program will explore science concepts (in this case, chemistry) in a “fun, unstructured way.” Fairview’s Halloween STEAM event is part of their monthly STEAM programs, which in the past have included events such as a DIY Girls Club that focused on creative electronics and a “Build with Minecraft” program.

North Mankato Taylor Library:

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2016 Halloween STEAM event [Photo courtesy of Children’s Librarian Michelle Zimmermann, North Mankato Taylor Library]

Children’s librarian Michelle Zimmermann of North Mankato Taylor Library in North Mankato, Minnesota, hosted a spooky science lab for their Halloween STEAM event, which was held on October 20th. The event, for ages eight to 12, was part of a monthly program, STEAM Rollers.

The mad scientists — some of whom had an evil laugh down perfectly — learned how sound is made with vibrations by making eerie sound devices with plastic cups, yarn, paper clips and water. They also made slime to learn about chemical and physical properties and examined how using different ratios changed the composition of the material they were making. The third activity involved making pumpkin lava lamps and dealt with the concepts of polar and non polar molecules. Kids also learned about how oil and water don’t mix. According to Ms. Zimmermann, the lava lamps seemed to make the biggest impression on the young scientists.

 


More Halloween STEAM Activities

Still looking for inspiration? Below are five spooktacular links you can use to incorporate STEAM into your Halloween event:

Special Guest Post

And be sure to check back tomorrow for another wicked STEAM/STEM post with featured blogger Dawn Treude. The Library Assistant in Youth Services will explore the Halloween activities at the Scottsdale Public Library. She will be discussing how to create science-based projects by using everyday items with a spooky theme.

Tweet Us!

If you’ve implemented a Halloween STEAM activity in your classroom or library, let us know what you’re doing in the comments section below or tweet us at #ProQuest.