Read to Me Rendezvous 2017: Idaho Libraries Rocked!'s picture

Approximately 80 public and school library staff attended the Read to Me Rendezvous on November 2 – 3, 2017 in Boise. Because there are so many new faces in the Idaho library community, the Read to Me staff wanted to create an agenda that would benefit the wide-range of experience currently existing among those who serve children, especially pre- and beginning readers. We also wanted to bring public and school librarians together to find more ways to strengthen local partnerships which help advance third-grade reading proficiency.

This year's Rendezvous was particularly special, because Read to Me is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Created in 1997 by Idaho Commission for Library staff members Stephanie Bailey-White and Peggy McClendon, the goal of the Read to Me program was to support library staff in their efforts to help ensure more parents and caregivers acquire the skills and resources needed to help their children be ready to read. Much has been accomplished over the past twenty years, and ICfL staff took this opportunity to celebrate the success that has come from the hard work of many Idaho library staff and volunteers.

Rendezvous Highlights:

  • First Lady Lori Otter welcomed attendees, and shared her long-time love of libraries and literacy. She praised the work being done in Idaho libraries to advance reading proficiency, and spoke about the impact Read to Me programs have made with Idaho families. We have been so fortunate to have her support over the years!
  • Rod Gramer, Executive Director of Idaho Business for Education, welcomed attendees on Day 2, and provided an update on the Early Learning legislation that has been drafted. Stay tuned for news of whether that bill is introduced this year, and if passed, how libraries will be impacted.
  • Several sessions were offered throughout the two days. Presentation slides and handouts can be accessed at the link at the bottom of this blog.
    • Julie Patricia from the Ada Community Library presented a session on baby storytimes, or "lapsit" programs. Julie also graciously shared her actual storytime slides, containing hundreds of songs, rhymes, fingerplays and other activities that Idaho library staff can customize for their own storytimes. See link below for both.
    • Travis Porter and Brady Kissel from the Silverstone branch of the Meridian Library District presented a session on serving homeschooled children and families. Their great ideas are included at the link below.
    • Patrick Bodily from ICfL, and Megan Egbert from the Meridian Library District, demonstrated the importance of evaluating library programs and measuring outcomes. This is an area with which all libraries should become more familiar and comfortable. And ICfL's Kristina Taylor shared some great tips for writing grants, from basic ICfL applications to larger competitive grants. All three presentations can be accessed at the link below.
    • ICfL Youth Services Consultants Tammy Hawley-House and Staci Shaw facilitated an overview of early literacy and how to support the development of skills through library programming and storytimes. This presentation was a comprehensive overview, and if you're new to the library profession you should check out the presentation slides below.
    • Jane Zink from the Idaho Association for the
      Education of Young Children and Roger Sherman from the Idaho Children's Trust Fund led attendees through The Brain Architecture Game, a hands-on way to learn how both positive and traumatic experiences in early childhood affect the ability to learn and grow and develop resiliency. We received a lot of great feedback about how valuable this session was for the attendees!
    • Sesha Hammond, an Idaho librarian, closed out the day with an interactive session showing how early STEAM activities support beginning readers. Complete with centers, read-alouds, games, and demonstrations, Sesha shared ideas that can be used in the public library, the school library, and for out-of-school time programs.
  • There were two panel discussions featuring community partners. Each is listed at the link below, along with their contact information. Each one encouraged library staff to contact them about questions and partnership opportunities.
    • Serving Diverse Families: Johanna Jones, from the State
      Department of Education's Office of Indian Education; Asmaa Albukaie, from the Agency
      for New Americans; and Sam Byrd, from the Centro de Comunidad y Justicia (Community Justice Center) spoke about ways in which libraries can reach out to tribal families, New Americans, and the Latino community. This was a topic we wish we had alloted more time for, and we'll keep it in the forefront to explore further.
    • Summer and Out-of-School Partnerships: Angela Kraft from the State
      Department of Education's Child Nutrition Program, and Marie Hattaway from the Idaho
      Out-of-School Network spoke of ways to "Fuel the body, and fuel the mind" during out-of-school time. If your library is interested in offering meals or snacks (at no total cost to the library) please contact Angela. And be sure to check out the Idaho Out-of-School Network's website for great resources and partnership ideas.
  • Finally, attendees from public libraries and school libraries had some great discussions about ways to partner more effectively for summer reading. We hope to highlight these in more detail after the first of the new year, and perhaps host an online discussion to continue building those relationships. For the time-being, consider applying for the Bright Futures Outreach program "Strengthening School Partnerships." Applications open soon, and are due by March 21.

It was wonderful to see so many new faces, as well as welcome back many familiar ones. We covered A LOT of topics in a very short time, and our goal was to make every hour worthwhile for those who took time away from work and families to join us. Personally, I think one of the best components of the Read to Me Rendezvous was the opportunity to talk and work with so many fellow library people, and to glean new ideas to take back and try.

And the pot roast, of course.


Find presentations, handouts, contact information and more at (To be complete by November 15)