Blog Archives

California State Library: Early Learning with Families 2.0

I’ve been a little AWOL from the Little eLit blog recently. Many thanks to Amy for keeping content fresh while I’ve been elsewhere! Here’s one of the projects I’m going to be working on, and the official announcement from Gerry Maginnity, the Acting State Librarian of California.

My part in ELF 2.0 will be to create a technology tooklit to help children’s librarians integrate new media and technology for children into library collections, services and programs (It will be free and available to the public once it’s done. The prototype should be ready by November.) This project will be the next iteration of an existing project, the original ELF, but like so many other initiatives, ELF needs to be re-worked to take into account the realities of modern information consumption, especially for families with young children. I’ll be doing a whole lot of talking at the California Library Association Conference in Long Beach in November, where I’ll be working with Dr. Josh Sparrow of the Brazelton Touchpoints CenterCarisa Kluver of Digital StorytimeShira Lee Katz of Common Sense Media, Francie Dillon, Sharon Krull, and a whole pile of library rockstars. We’ll also be putting on some webinars and in-person trainings around California.

There are two related technology for children pilot projects at the Mission Viejo  and Rancho Cucamonga Libraries in Southern California that will give me lots of learning to report on. Mission Viejo is home to Little eLit Think Tankers Genesis Hansen and Allison Tran, and Rancho is a 2013 IMLS Medal Winner.

Drs. Marianne Martens and Virginia Walter will be helping to provide some badly needed library-based research around the issue of children, technology and libraries. The amazing and inspiring Suzanne Flint at the California State Library will be wrangling us all, and Sam Eddington (incoming chair of the ALSC Education Committee) will be helping to facilitate the discussions.


Make some Noise! @LittleeLit presenting at CLA conference #CLAnoise


I have a LOT of presentations to prepare for! Looks like Genesis and I had a few proposals accepted at the California Library Association’s Annual Conference in Long Beach, CA, plus I’ll be doing some other work with the State Library while we’re there.

Here’s what and when:

Stand Out and Be Outstanding: Fearlessly Leading Your Library Career (November 4, 2013 at 10:15am)
Presenter names and affiliations: Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, Yemila Alvarez, San Francisco Public Library, Martha Camacho,Pasadena Public Library, Cen Campbell,, Dolly Goyal, San Mateo County Library, Genesis Hansen, Mission Viejo Public Library, Patrick “PC” Sweeney, San Mateo County Library

Children’s Services in the Digital Age: Technology Competencies (November 4, 2013 at 4:00pm)
Presenter names and affiliations: Cen Campbell, Children’s Librarian,, Elizabeth Gray, Yolo County Library, Genesis Hansen, Mission Viejo Public Library

Make Some Noise with High-Tech Services for Kids and Teens (November 5, 2013 at 11:45am)
Presenter names and affiliations: Cen Campbell,, Katrina Bergen, Dixon Public Library, Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Public Library

I made a mistake in my webinar and I can’t do take-backsies, but I can expand the issue a little here.

CLA-springfling-logo.2012I participated in a CLA Spring Fling webinar last week with the fabulous Eva Mitnick (LAPL) and the forward-thinking Elaine Meyers. The webinar was entitled Every Child Reading to Read 2 in Action; Eva talked about implementing ECRR2 at LAPL, Elaine discussed space, and my part was how ECRR2 now includes digital media.

At the end of my session someone asked if it would be appropriate to use an iPad when visiting preschools, and I said that since what we want to do most of all is model for parents and caregivers the best use of media with young children, perhaps we shouldn’t whip out the iPad at every preschool visit. (Not the exact wording, and when the archived version comes out I’ll go back and check). I cringe even admitting that I said that. Preschools teachers are caregivers! We need to be modeling for THEM how to use high quality children’s media with young children, though, to be honest, early childhood educators and their governing organizations are far ahead of libraryland when it comes to the theory, research and official stance taking on the use of digital media with young children. We need to be partnering more with early childhood educators (ie and not attacking them, like the shameful exchange that took place on the ALSC blog recently).

I do think that if you’re considering bringing an iPad with you to a preschool/school visit, you should communicate with the administration/teachers beforehand, because some schools DO have a very strict no-screen policy (like my son’s preschool!) I think I must have been wearing my mom hat and not my librarian hat when I responded to this question. I wish I could contact everyone who attended the webinar and further expand this conversation, but the best I can do is explain myself here, offer what the correct response should have been, and learn from this experience.

I don’t think that the use of an technology in storytime is always appropriate (like I wrote about here); we must alway use the best tools for the job. Sometimes an iPad is appropriate, sometimes it isn’t. Our job is to develop in ourselves the competencies to discern when and how to use which tools, and to communicate to our communities (families, caregivers, preschool teachers, administrators and other community stakeholders) the reasoning behind our inclusion or exclusion of technology in early literacy programs.


Every Child Ready to Read in the Digital Age

CLA-springfling-logo.2012I’m going to be presenting a webinar  with Eva Mitnick and Elaine Meyers for the California Library Association’s Spring Fling. My part of the panel will focus on incorporating apps and eBooks into ECRR programs. Looks like there might be some scholarships available to attend; check it out!

Every Child Reading to Read 2 in Action

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Noon-1:30pm PDT

Presenters: Cen Campbell, Children’s Librarian, Santa Clara County Library District; Elaine Meyers, Consultant; Eva Mitnick, Coordinator of Children’s Services, Los Angeles Public Library.

This workshop will provide participants with an introduction to the Every Child Ready to Read 2 (ECRR2) initiative and a guide to implementing it successfully in your library. Presenters will focus on staff training, community outreach, incorporating digital media in ECRR2, creating literacy spaces, and making the best use of ECRR2 materials. The webinar is presented by CLA’s Youth Services Interest Group.

About the presenters

Cen Campbell is a children’s librarian at the Santa Clara County Library District and the Mountain View Public Library, and a children’s digital services consultant at She has driven a bookmobile, managed branch libraries, developed innovative programs for babies, young children and teens, and now helps other libraries incorporate digital media into their early literacy programming. She attended the California State Library’s Eureka Leadership Institute in 2008 and now serves on the ALSC Children & Technology committee.

Elaine Meyers worked for over thirty years in public library administration and program coordination. Her primary responsibilities included youth services, programming, community partnerships, evaluation, staff development and training. Elaine is currently consulting with national organizations, state libraries, and a variety of public libraries and non-profits. She is a member of the Aurora Free Library Library Board and volunteer grant writer for the Aurora Free Library and Hazard Library in Cayuga County NY.

Eva Mitnick is Coordinator of Children’s Services at the Los Angeles Public Library, where she has worked since 1987. She has served on several CLA and ALA committees and is also an adjunct professor at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, teaching courses on library services to children. During 2011 and 2012, the Los Angeles Public Library conducted the first formal review of the implementation of ECRR2 in a project spearheaded by Mitnick.

Paige’s Page!

I am so happy to announce that Little eLit will be the home of Paige’s Page; regular app recommendations posted by Paige Bentley-Flannery. Paige is a Children’s/Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library in Oregon.  She is also the chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and is one of the most enthusiastic librarians I have ever met. Paige uses all sorts of apps in her programs for kids (not just book based apps) and has a real knack for making connections among literacy, art and the digital realm. Paige, Genesis and I presented a program together at CLA 2012 and we all agreed that we’d love to keep working together to create a community of knowledge that helps other librarians begin to incorporate digital media into kids programming in a way that supports literacy development. Show us the apps, Paige!

Age-Inappropriate Photo of Cen and Genesis at the Infopeople Booth at CLA

Yeah. This is how we roll.

For everyone who wonders who the charming ladies are who thought up Little eLit in the first place; here we are in all of our mad library science glory. On the right is the beautiful and brilliant Genesis Hansen, and on the left, the wicked and dastardly Cen Campbell. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have about digital programming and services for children in libraries, evil laughter and questionable science.

CLA Presentation Slides Up

For those of you who attended our presentation on Sunday, my slides are now posted thanks to the lovely and brainy Genesis Hansen.  Hers and Paige’s are coming soon, but we’re running into copyright/file size snafus. Take a look at our list of resources for Media Literacy and Review Sources for solid research and app recommendations.

Read, Interact, and Play in the Digital Age

Paige Bentley-Flannery, Deschutes Public Library; Cen Campbell, Mountain View Library & Santa Clara County Library District; Genesis Hansen, Newport Beach Public Library

Children’s librarians are experts in evaluating and selecting good quality media, and as libraries adopt emerging technologies, those same skills apply. There are thousands of eBooks and Apps for kids. How can libraries help parents provide their children with high quality digital media? How can we use our storytelling and collection development skills and apply them to the digital world? Discover ways to incorporate book apps with children’s books and share your ideas with librarians, teachers and patrons.

Paige, Genesis and me!

When in Doubt, go to the Board

Cheryl Gould, whom I met at the first Eureka! Leadership Institute, has recently been elected to the California Library Association’s Board of Directors. She specializes in mental model busting, she’s tons of fun and is very supportive of those of us who are trying to innovate in the library world.  So I sent her this email about what I’m trying to do with kids and technology in the hopes that she could bring some of it to the attention of the California Library Association.

Hi Cheryl!

Congrats on your illustrious election! Well done.

I have been working on an issue within public libraries that I think could use some help from above. The children’s publishing industry has been growing at an enormous rate (252%!!!!) and interactive media is becoming the standard for children’s digital content.

“Children’s and youth media are a prototype for what is happening in the publishing industry but also for what is happening at the moment socially.” Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Interactive media is the future of publishing, and libraries are NOT keeping up with this phenomenon. Sometimes it’s a matter of the hardware (iPads are expensive!), but more often I think it’s a matter of children’s librarians thinking that interactive or digital media for kids is not in their job description. It could also be a case of the large library content vendors not having a product for libraries that extends into the interactive realm (Sesame Street eBooks are ok, and Lerner has an “interactive” nonfiction product, but it’s not at the same level as what’s available commercially for mobile devices).

SLJ, Horn Book and Kirkus are all reviewing kid’s apps. The Cybils give a Book app award. There are committees (I’m serving on one!) and task forces at a national level (ALSC) specifically for dealing with children and technology in libraries. California’s children’s librarians should be MUCH more active in this publishing revolution than they are. There should be more digital programming for kids in libraries (Douglas County Libraries in Colorado started thinking about digital programming for kids in 2011! The Darien Library in Connecticut started circulating Early Literacy iPads in 2011 too!).

California is the home of Silicon Valley! Google! Apple! Why are we not more on board with this? I have developed a small pilot project with the Santa Clara County Library District and I hope to beging incorporating digital media into children’s programming at the Mountain View Public Library as well.

People live, work and read on their smart phones and tablets. They hand these devices to their kids, but most people really don’t know where to go to find good content. Just like with books, people want to know where to go to find out what is age appropriate, good quality and not overly commercial for their children. The library should be stepping into this role. It is SUCH an opportunity for us, and we are not taking advantage of it like we should be.

I see parents handing devices to their kids to play angry birds or zombie killing games. It breaks my heart. If those parents knew that they could be handing their child a book on their smart phone, don’t you think they’d be more likely to do it? (I was really saddened by this recently in a coffee shop- if you don’t look at any of the other links here, read this one)

Children’s publishing is changing. Drastically. And California’s libraries and children’s librarians should be changing drastically to keep up with it, or face obsolescence.

I recommend the following:

  1. We need to train our children’s librarians in this technology. This is the nature of the job now. Get with the program.
  2. We need to develop digital programming and services for kids in libraries.
  3. We need to work directly with app developers to figure out a way to share good quality interactive media for children in libraries.
  4. We need to get the hardware into libraries.

I’m willing to help out on any and all of these fronts. I’ve been toiling away in my own little communities, but it needs to be addressed from much higher up.

If you have a chance, bring this up in your new role on the CLA board. Let’s get this party started!

Cen Campbell

Little eLit goes Legit

I’m going to be presenting some fantastically interesting stuff soon. Confirmed dates are at CLA in San Jose on November 4th. Still awaiting details on Internet Librarian.

12:30 Poster Session

Growing a New Model for Digital Publishing for Children
Cen Campbell, Children’s Librarian and Editor at; Chiara McPhee, Co-Founder at readIMAGINE

Become part of a creative collaboration that brings together librarians, business school students, animators, authors and illustrators to develop a sustainable, affordable model for publishing and distributing digital stories in public and school libraries! The partnership will involve collaborative programming in a number of different library systems in California, the development of a distribution platform and original interactive story apps.

2:45 Session

Read, Interact, and Play in the Digital Age

Paige Bentley-Flannery, Deschutes Public Library; Cen Campbell, Mountain View Library & Santa Clara County Library District; Genesis Hansen, Newport Beach Public Library

Children’s librarians are experts in evaluating and selecting good quality media, and as libraries adopt emerging technologies, those same skills apply. There are thousands of eBooks and Apps for kids. How can libraries help parents provide their children with high quality digital media? How can we use our storytelling and collection development skills and apply them to the digital world? Discover ways to incorporate book apps with children’s books and share your ideas with librarians, teachers and patrons.

CLA Digital Literacy Presentation

Genesis Hansen (Web Services and Reference Coordinator at the Newport Beach Library)  and I will be presenting a little bit of Little eLit at the California Library Association’s annual conference in San Jose this November. We had initially proposed a program based on some of the work we’ve done in our respective libraries and with our own kids, but another librarian, Paige Bentley-Flannery, submitted a similar proposal.  Paige is the Children’s/Community Librarian at the Deschutes Public Library in Oregon and the chair of the Children’s Digital Content Task Force for ALSC. We’ll be attending her Meet Art! poster session at ALA next weekend and hatching some plans. Paige will be concentrating her efforts on kids aged 5-11, while Genesis and I will stick with 2-5 year olds.

Below is the proposal we originally submitted, but it’ll change now that we have a new friend to play with.

Early Literacy in the Digital Age: Apps, eBooks and iPads, oh my!

We take some of the basic precepts of librarianship: stewardship and dissemination of knowledge, collection development and creative innovation, and apply them to electronic literature and media for children aged 2-5.

Children’s services have traditionally included storytelling and reader’s advisory services.  Children’s librarians are experts in evaluating and selecting good quality media, and as libraries adopt emerging technologies, those same skills apply.  There are thousands of eBooks and Apps for kids.  How can libraries help parents provide their children with high quality digital media? How can we use our storytelling and collection development skills and apply them to the digital world?  

  • How to develop a circulating Early Literacy Tablet program at your library;
  • Collection development and programming for early literacy in the digital age;
  • Tips on finding and evaluating apps and eBooks for young children.

At the end of our program, participants will know how to:

  • explain what digital literacy is and why it’s important;
  • evaluate apps and eBooks for young children;
  • plan digital media programs for young children.

Paige’s proposal looked like this:

Digital Interaction: Read, Draw, Listen, and Play with Children’s Book Apps and eBooks.

My program will introduce ways to bring the digital world into libraries with engaging programs and creative ideas.

Program Description: Discover ways to incorporate book apps with children’s books and share your ideas with librarians, teachers and patrons. Create your own eBook lists and start a digital book club. Paige will also show you her favorite websites, blogs and book apps.

  • Create digital programs in and out of the library.
  • Explore children’s book apps and ways to introduce them to teachers, librarians and patrons.
  • Discover ways to incorporate children’s books with book apps.
  • Explore digital blogs, websites and more apps