University of Wisconsin–Madison

Power Up 2017 – Full Conference Schedule

Thursday, March 30th

8:15: Coffee and light refreshments

8:45: Opening Remarks

9:00-10:00: Keynote Address by Gretchen Caserotti


Pyle Center, Room 325/326

Gretchen Caserotti is the library director at Meridian Library District in the fast-growing suburb of Boise, ID. Formerly the head of children & teen services then the assistant director for public services at Darien Library (CT), she developed a national reputation for innovative and technology-driven projects and was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2010. She began her career as a children’s librarian at New York Public Library. Her interest in design and usability principles was developed while she completed the MLIS program at Pratt Institute in New York City.

10:15 – 11:15: Concurrent Sessions

Building Partnerships, Harnessing Strengths in Your Community

Room 309

Partnerships are effective ways of maximizing the resources in your community to better serve youth. But how do you create and sustain them? What can they really do for you? Join Elizabeth McChesney, Director of City Wide Children and Family Services for Chicago Public Library System and Bryan Wunar, Director of Community Initiatives at the Museum of Science and Industry as they demonstrate their high-impact partnership and explain how you can find and develop partnerships in your own community. This will be accomplished through the lens of their nationally award-winning work to reposition summer reading into summer learning. Participants will also take part in a family literacy and STEM activity as part of this interactive session.


Elizabeth McChesney, Director of City Wide Children and Family Services, Chicago Public Library System (IL)

Bryan Wunar, Director of Community Initiatives, Museum of Science and Industry (IL)


People First: Considering how Managing Your Collections Affects Everyone

Presentation Slides | Handout | Discussion Handout

Room DE 335

Managing collections is often as much about managing people as it is about managing “stuff.” Resources like MUSTIE guidelines and librarian reviews of forthcoming titles are everywhere, but how do you handle that staff member who refuses to purchase a certain format (when it’s not an official policy) or encourage a staff to weed? How can you explain to the administration, or even your patrons, why you’re weeding brand-new looking items, much less an entire format? If you’re the only person in your department and in charge of collections, how do you get it all done without working overtime? Have you had a great idea for a collection change or new addition, but forgotten to include circulation and technical services in the process and now have items sitting in limbo because they raised considerations you hadn’t thought of? We have! Add in movements like the We Need Diverse Books campaign and suddenly the job of developing and managing a collection, whether for one branch, one library, or an entire system, seems overwhelming. In this session, we’ll explore the challenges of balancing collection development and management within the day to day staffing and general operations of your library building. We also want to share our experiences managing collections of different sizes, with a team of staff— or not— and create conversation with attendees on how to address the unique situations and challenges they’re encountering in their work.


Amy Commers is the Youth Services Librarian for the City of South St. Paul Public Library in Minnesota. Prior to that she was the Youth Services Librarian at the Ames Public Library in Ames, Iowa. Amy is a 2006 University of Wisconsin-Madison SLIS graduate.

Lora Siebert is the Head of Youth Services at the Prairie Trails Public Library District in Burbank, Illinois. Prior to that she was the Preschool Services Coordinator at the Orland Park Public Library, also in Illinois. Lora received her Master’s in Library and Information Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Reflective Leadership

Presentation Slides

Room 325/326

There is so much to do as youth services librarians and leaders, and it can be easy to spend all of our time DOING.  Planning and executing programs, partnering with other organizations, building relationships with children and families, developing our collections to be the best they can be, changing our space to accommodate needs, keeping up with trends and new media, wrangling the desk schedule….  It is all important, but we can be even more effective when we can figure out ways to step back and reflect and move forward intentionally.  When we build time in for reflection as a regular part of our work, rather than as something we do once every few years as part of a long-range planning process, we can be more nimble and responsive, and it helps to sustain us for the important work we have to do.

In this interactive session, we will examine elements of Reflective Leadership, along with some concrete ways to put it into practice for ourselves and our organizations.  Drawing on the tools of Implementation Science (used by Birth to Three and medical providers), we will take some time to look at where we are and what we need to establish for ourselves in order to create space and opportunities to reflect on our work in ways that sustain and inspire us.

Presenter: Leah Langby is the Library Development and Youth Services Coordinator for the Indianhead Federated Library System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  She helps provide resources and services for the 53 libraries in her system, concentrating on serving youth and on making libraries inclusive.

11:15 – 11:30: Break

11:30 – 12:30: Concurrent Sessions

Moving On Up? Determining if Management is for You

Presentation Slides | Handout

Room 309

Moving from the service desk to management may seem like the natural next step in your library career, but it’s important to know what you’d be getting yourself into before making the leap. After all, there’s more to advancement than just a new title and a pay raise! In this session, participants will hear from Alea Perez (a second year Youth Services manager) about what it’s like to transition to a management position, including what types of challenges you can expect to face. While some aspects will be specific to small library Youth Services settings, most discussion will be applicable for almost all management positions.

Topics that will be covered include: how different facets of personality affect management (introversion vs extroversion, dealing with change, interpersonal skills); organizational skills and how they come into play for budgeting, scheduling, coaching, and documenting; and the change in job focus that comes with moving from a service librarian to manager. Participants will also learn about what questions to ask and what research to do before accepting a management position, in order to make sure it’s a mutually beneficial fit. Walk away with sample budgeting templates, organizational tools, and a better grasp on whether or not management is the best next step for you!

Presenter: Alea Perez is a Youth Services manager at the Westmont Public Library, located in Westmont, IL. She has worked in youth and young adult services positions for 7.5 years in both IL and AZ. She currently serves as a YA reviewer for SLJ and is a member of YALSA’s GGNFT committee.


The Benefits of Finding your Programming Style

Presentation Slides

Room 325/326

From sensory storytimes and baby bounces to teen gaming and anime clubs, youth services librarians are doing more programs than ever, for a wider range of ages. Often we find ourselves balancing programming demands with other duties such as collection development, reference desk hours, and outreach, all while dealing with shrinking budgets. As managers and leaders, how can we efficiently plan and offer exceptional programming on a consistent basis? How do we find the balance between what our community wants and what we are effectively able to provide? And how can we do this in addition to planning yearly summer programs, running storytimes, and making sure we have a collection that also meets our patrons’ needs?

We believe we all have a unique programming style. In this presentation, we will discuss how to determine your programming style and how to use that style to more effectively and efficiently plan library programming. We’ll also examine the importance of understanding your community’s needs and interests and adapting your programming style to best serve your community. The essentials of balancing your staff members’ own programming styles with your own strengths and getting library board members and directors on board will also be discussed.


Jenni Frencham, Youth Services Director, Columbus Public Library, Columbus, WI

Katie Kiekhaefer, Head of Youth Services, Whitefish Bay Public Library, Whitefish Bay, WI


Reading and Talking: Developing Leadership Through Book Discussion and Evaluation


Room DE 335

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center has been holding book discussion and evaluation sessions since 1981, using guidelines created by Director Emerita Ginny Moore Kruse and current director, K.T. Horning. The informal setting promotes honest, open communication, fostering an atmosphere that encourages critical thinking and models exemplary facilitation skills.

Across the country, librarians use this model to establish new book discussion and evaluation groups with teachers, school and public library staff, and students. In this way, they develop in others the ability to listen and speak openly, honestly, and considerately, skills needed for effective leadership.

K.T. Horning and Sharon Grover will offer examples of the ways in which this model of book discussion and evaluation afforded them opportunities to not only develop their own leadership skills but also to extend those opportunities to other colleagues and even to teens. K.T. will share her experiences working and teaching at the CCBC, Madison Public Library, the Madison Metropolitan School District, and the American Library Association. Sharon Grover will detail the origin and development of Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens, and her work with middle and high school student reading groups.


Sharon Grover is a youth services consultant, recently retired from the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, WI. She is a founding member and first editor of Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens ( and a longtime advocate for book discussion with both adults and teens.

K.T. Horning is Director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the author of From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books (HarperCollins, 2010).

12:30 – 1:45 – Lunch

Pyle Center, Alumni Lounge (1st Floor)

1:45 – 2:45: Concurrent Sessions

#Squadgoals: Leading a Multigenerational Team to Success

Room 309

 Our presentation will address managing and leading a multigenerational youth services team. Whether one is a “rising star” entering management early in their career, or is moving into a leadership position with years of valuable front-line experience under their belt, we all deal with generalizations and stereotypes attached to age and generation. Stereotypes about generation can cause early career leaders to feel imposter syndrome and lack of confidence, while later career managers can feel that their work and professional values are being attacked and dismissed. Perceptions about generational differences sometimes create barriers to change, especially during transitional times in an organization when forward momentum is the most necessary and also the most fragile. In this presentation, we propose that while generational differences exist, they are not automatic barriers to successful teamwork, and with conscious effort we can dismantle misconceptions and build empathy. Attendees will come away with increased knowledge of the Baby Boomer, Gen X, and Millennial generations, and will learn how to leverage each generation’s strengths for the good of the organization. We will break down stereotypes and empower attendees with knowledge that will help them utilize and showcase differences in work and communication styles to make their youth services team stronger and more effective.


Allison Tran is the Senior Librarian for Children’s Services, Mission Viejo Library (CA). Allison is an irrepressible book recommender who will never be satisfied until all children become lifelong learners. A participant in California’s Eureka! Leadership program, Allison is passionate about building a bright future for libraries and is actively involved in ALSC and YALSA. In her free time, she runs half-marathons.

Jennifer Weeks is the Library Services Manager, Santa Clara County Library District (CA). Jennifer, a children’s librarian in public libraries for over 15 years, helps children thrive by connecting them with good books and relevant information. In the quest to provide excellent public service, she builds strong teams with diverse skills, knowledge and enthusiasm by coordinating talents and fostering collaboration. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys reading, but also hiking and baking anything chocolate!


Channeling Passion into Leadership


Room DE 335

If there’s one thing youth services library staff have in abundance, it’s passion. We care deeply about the books we share, we promote literacy and learning at every opportunity, and we strive to always do better for the communities we serve. While our passion and seemingly boundless enthusiasm shine through our work–think of the jubilation we bring to storytimes and school tours!–it may be less obvious how we can channel that passion into leadership in our jobs. This session will explore real-library strategies for harnessing our passion and knowledge to build and transform projects, from engaging more families in storytime to developing a multi-week teaching artist program. We will discuss ways to move beyond the mindset of “that will never work here” and “we already tried that” to invigorate ongoing initiatives. We will also talk about utilizing passion to connect more deeply with colleagues and community partners, forming more cohesive and collaborative teams in the process. “Supervisor” and “manager” are just terms used in job titles–with passion, a youth services staffer can truly lead from anywhere. Participants will leave the session with actionable ideas to tap into our own passion in order to amplify our impact within our libraries and our careers.

Presenter: Amy Koester is the Youth & Family Program Supervisor at Skokie Public Library (IL). Her passion for youth librarianship has led to her blogging as the Show Me Librarian; co-founding Storytime Underground; and developing STEAM and media mentorship initiatives for various library groups and associations.


Unconventional Outreach on a Dime: Beyond the Bookmobile

Room 325/326

As we surge full throttle into the Information Age of the 21st century, Youth Service outreach to our communities will look much different from the past. From iPads on the Go to Booktalks in the Classroom, Unconventional Outreach on a Dime will show you how to increase your library’s youth services footprint  in the community with minimal expenditures. At this session, Youth Service  Librarians will learn how to use their current community resources and cultivate more resources  to create varied outreach programs that are irresistible to their distinct communities. Attendees will learn from each other as well as the presenter as we build a sample outreach program to our patrons using a patron-motivated programming model. From roadblocks, funding and library policies to time constraints, space limitations and unresponsive teens, Unconventional Outreach on a Dime will allow Youth Services Librarians to discover new ways to reach the youth of their communities.

Presenter: After teaching Technology Education for 5 years and working in a Childrens department for 6 years, Alicia Woodland is currently filling her cubicle with underused stress balls. Aside from talking about  YA services, Alicia welcomes conversations on her key fandoms Doctor Who, Narnia, Cristela and Star Trek.


2:45 – 3:00: Break

3-4:00: Concurrent Sessions

Leading Change in Innovative Programming for Youth

Presentation slides | Handout 1 | Handout 2

Room 325/326

Too often public libraries become set in a routine, offering the same programs to the same audiences every year. With an almost entirely new team in the Programming Department, Fresno County Public Library is embracing a rare opportunity to break from tradition, take risks, challenge assumptions, and chart new territory in programming for children and teens. FCPL is whittling accepted practices to the bare bones to salvage what is relevant to young customers while seeking new directions and embracing change, using a revised strategic plan and enhanced understanding of community needs as guides. Steps to consider on this quest for innovation include creating a programming mission statement, building a strong team, letting go of legacies, measuring risks, attaining buy-in from branch staff and customers, seeking funding, evaluating success, and embracing collaborations. Creative brainstorming, encouraging mistakes, removing barriers, and sustaining new programs are additional aspects to explore. A sample of practical team exercises and hands-on brainstorming activities will help bridge the gap between theory and practice. Through these practices, youth services teams can move beyond maintaining relevancy to becoming leaders of change in our communities, creating exciting programs for existing customers while attracting new audiences as well.

Presenter: Krista Riggs supervises the Programming and Marketing Departments at Fresno County Public Library (CA), leading county-wide programs for all ages across 37 library branches. Previously, she served as a children’s librarian for 10 years and as a cluster supervisor over six library branches. She holds an MLS from Indiana University, Bloomington.


Discover Your Powers: The Secret Origins of a Super Youth Services Librarian

Room 309

Creativity! Flexibility! Innovation! Drive! These are the primary superpowers of an amazing Youth Services Librarian. Exceptional leaders need to possess these powers to influence and fortify their libraries. This session will be a crash course that examines:

  • Trust filled, healthy organizations
  • personal and authentic leadership
  • community engagement
  • self-care.

Based on years of learning, reading, application, and implementation, this fearless duo will guide participants in crafting their own superhero origin story that balances reflective practice towards outward thinking. Totally amazing Super Youth Services Librarians use their powers to encourage exceptional customer service, implement cutting edge innovation and promote a culture of recognition.

Capes are not required to combat the sinister forces that prevent you from discovering your leadership powers.


Shawn Brommer, Youth Services and Outreach Consultant, South Central Library System (WI)

Kevin King, Head of Branch and IT Services, Kalamazoo Public Library (MI)


4:15  Reception at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), located on the UW-Madison campus about a 15 minute walk from the Pyle Center. Tour at 4:30. The reception will end at 5:30, but the CCBC is open until 7:00 if you’d like to explore! Light refreshments and a cash bar will be available!

Walking directions from the Pyle Center to the CCBC

Location Information:
Cooperative Children’s Book Center
School of Education
University of Wisconsin-Madison
401 Teacher Education
225 N. Mills Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53706
Phone: 608-263-3720

Dinner on your own.


Friday, March 31st

8:30: Coffee and light refreshments available

9-10:00: Concurrent Sessions

Addressing the Need for Confrontation

Room 325/326

There are two types of managers: one thrives on confrontation, the other fears it.  Both are driven by insecurity, and by a failure to see the big picture of their department’s role in the library, and in the community.

In my thirteen years as a youth services manager, I have come across the intimidated manager more often than the aggressive one; therefore while I understand the session is forty-five minutes, I would likely spend slightly more than half of that time discussing the need for professional, mature, explicit staff confrontation; how to plan for it, how to feel about it, what to expect from it, and how to achieve those ends, with the intimidated manager in mind.  (Both types will be addressed, however.)

This would include the following points:

  • How to deal with your discomfort
  • How to plan for your meeting with the employee
  • How to set expectations for the future
  • How to know your expectations are realistic
  • How to focus on the outcome you desire

Presenter: Renee Wallace, Head of Youth Services, Clark Co. Public Library (KY)


Leadership for Unofficial Leaders


Room 309

Many libraries contain youth services staff that, while not in traditional management roles, possess high-quality leadership skills. How can library managers support and foster the growth of these staff? How can these staff engage in leadership activities to strengthen their own skills, both within and outside their libraries? Effective management practices show that engaged staff are more motivated, increase output, stay with their organization longer, and do better work. When it comes to those non-manager leaders, finding ways to engage in leadership opportunities can be a critical way to find fulfillment and satisfaction in their work. This presentation will provide managers with ideas, information, and strategies for supporting the leaders in their departments or libraries, as well as encourage leadership skills and activities in those staff not in traditional management roles. We will focus on non-management pathways to leadership, such as professional library association involvement, committee work, and more. We will address ways staff can create opportunities for leadership within their current positions, and ways managers can provide in-library opportunities for staff to expand and grow in their leadership skills. Finally, we will address leader burnout, and strategies for ensuring that managers and non-managers alike do not succumb to burnout early in their careers. Throughout the presentation, we will welcome open discussion and sharing in order to harness the collective wisdom and experience of the group and best support the growth of attendees.


Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser, Youth Services Manager, George Latimer Central Library, St. Paul Public Library (MN)

Brooke Newberry, Early Literacy Librarian, La Crosse Public Library (WI)


Reaching Under-served Populations at Small Libraries

Presentation Slides | Handout 1 | Handout 2

Room DE 335

With funding and staffing constant issues for small libraries, how can small libraries create the programs needed to reach under-served populations?  Through creative approaches to implementation and collaboration, libraries can identify niches where their impact can maximize library budgets and staff time.  We’ll review programs that are currently in place and explore how they may work in other communities.

One of the examples to be discussed will include the creation of a World Languages Collection focused on Hispanic populations in conjunction with volunteers that have helped facilitate brochure translations, program presentation, and acquiring a book collection in an effort to acclimatize a growing and underserved population in a fairly homogenous population.

A second example will be focused on the development of a collaboration and outreach to a local domestic abuse shelter focused on providing an in-house book collection, and creating a link between the library and shelter residents as they transition out of shelter to further serve their recovery.

Both of these examples have been funded through grants and donations at the local level with the intention of reducing childhood trauma, neglect, and building a stronger community based on the literacy of its youth.  We will examine how to identify youth and family populations that may be invisible within the community services and how to create a plan to reach them.  By the time the session is over, participants will have identified possible partners in creating their own collaboration to meet their community’s needs.

Presenter:  Lara Lakari, Children’s Services Librarian, Marinette County Libraries (Stephenson Public Library), Wisconsin

10:00 – 10:15: Break

10:15-11:15: Concurrent Sessions

Launching Your Youth Council: Models and Best Practices for Teen Leadership


Room DE 335

Are you interested in engaging teens and young adults in real work around policy, practice, or service at your library? Are you looking for a more authentic way to empower youth and put their ideas into action? Join us for this interactive workshop to discuss program models, best practices, and practical tools for taking your teen leadership programming to the next level.  The session will begin with a case study of the BKLYN Library Youth Council, a new initiative at Brooklyn Public Library, which is part of a city-wide initiative to engage 20,000 teens in youth leadership councils across NYC. We will look at best practices for youth development with a specific focus on youth councils, then discuss how to turn this theory into practice, and examine youth council models that can be used to meet the needs and interests of youth in your community.

Presenter: Erin Shaw, Coordinator, Youth Education Initiatives. Brooklyn Public Library. Erin has worked with youth for over 12 years and coordinated leadership programming for six years with teens from diverse backgrounds and communities. She presented at an NYC panel on youth councils in 2016. Erin holds an MA in Educational Leadership, with a focus on the arts and youth development.


Start Anywhere! Find Your Leadership Path

Handout 1 | Handout 2 | Handout 3

Room 325/326

So you want to “power up” your leadership potential, but you aren’t sure what path to take?

How do you find the motivation to take the first steps? What questions can you ask yourself to clarify your leadership goals? What qualities might become part of your leadership skill set? Where do you look for specific learning opportunities?

Well, you’re in luck! There are as many different paths to leadership as there are youth services leaders! Join us for a time of reflection and conversation about the many different strategies you might pursue to develop your own leadership skills.

We’ll share our own experiences with some of those strategies, from three different points in our careers: an experienced manager, a new supervisor, and a forward-thinking librarian. We’ll incorporate advice from colleagues in our national networks, to share multiple points of view beyond our own to inspire your thinking. We will also give you exercises and opportunities to explore your own leadership goals and leave with ideas about how to put your personal leadership plan into action.

Come explore how, with your goals in mind, you can think flexibly about future opportunities, acknowledge relevant learning from past experiences, and look for growth right where you are.


Lori Romero holds a Master’s Degree in Literacy Education and over twenty years’ experience teaching reading. She coordinates the Child and Family Library Services team for the Arapahoe Libraries in Colorado. She has presented at PLA and the ALSC Institute, and has served on the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy Steering Committee.

Kristen Bodine is a children’s librarian at the Louisville Public Library who’s explored leadership opportunities through the Colorado Association of Libraries Leadership Institute and ALA’s Emerging Leaders program. She’s presented trainings on storytime and music and movement programs throughout Colorado, including the CLEL conference and the Colorado Association of Libraries conference.

Melissa Depper supervises the new Storytime Specialists team for the Arapahoe Libraries, where she has been involved in storytime training and mentoring for 10 years. She has chaired the CLEL Steering Committee, leads library workshops and trainings, and has presented at the Colorado Association of Libraries conference and the ALSC Institute.


Managing Media Mentors

Presentation Slides

Room 309

What does managing a youth services department look like in the digital age? What does youth services staff, in their roles as media mentors, need to engage families and support their media and literacy needs? Large and small, urban, suburban and rural, libraries are all evolving in the ways they support families. Join Claudia Haines and Darrell Robertson for the ins and outs of how to manage collections, equipment, and staff in ways that help media mentors be successful, innovative, and intentional. We’ll look at what youth services staff need, whether a staff of 1 or 100, in order to provide access to the highest quality media (traditional and digital), offer media advisory, and lead programming for our communities’ families.  The session will include a rich discussion about professional competencies, collection development, digital media evaluation, assessing community needs, as well as professional development and staff buy-in. Diverse examples of media mentorship and managing media mentors across the country, from Alaska to Maryland, will be included.


Claudia Haines is the Youth Services Librarian at the Homer Public Library (Alaska). She trains other librarians as media mentors and serves on both local and national committees that support families and literacy. She is co-author of the book, Becoming a Media Mentor (2016) and blogs at

Darrell Robertson is the Branch Manager at the North Carroll Branch Library of Carroll County Public Library.  While working as a Children’s Services Supervisor, Darrell recognized the need for librarians to serve as media mentors and has been actively encouraging other librarians to take an active role in media mentorship.

11:15 – 11:30: Break

11:30 – 12:30 Closing Address by Deborah Taylor

Pyle Center, Room 325/326

Deborah Taylor is currently Coordinator of School and Student Services for the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Ms. Taylor chaired the 2015 American Library Association Sibert Award for Outstanding Informational Books for Children and served as a member of the 2012 Sibert Award Committee She has chaired and served on many ALA committees, including the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee, the Michael L. Printz Award Committee, and the Newbery Awards Committee.  She was named the 2015 recipient of the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Ms. Taylor chairs a bi-annual Young Adult literature conference, “Books for the Beast”, which brings together adults and teens to discuss and celebrate the best in youth materials.  Ms. Taylor is an adjunct professor teaching young adult literature at the University of Maryland, College of Information Studies and has taught children’s literature at Towson University.