Recently, Kimberly White and I gave a presentation at’ the New England Library Association conference about our work with Skyping authors. You can view our Prezi. Basically, we wanted to make our 4th and 5th grade book club better, cooler, and use more technology.

Our first Skype session was actually with an illustrator – M. Sarah Klise. She illustrated the 43 Old Cemetery Road series. We used the first book, Dying to Meet You, in our book club at the library and also at the satellite program at the elementary schools. Each time we used this book, everyone loved it. We had some fun activities, great discussions, and showed this video about the two sisters. It worked perfectly.

We paid a small fee ($100/30 minutes session’ and paid for 2 sessions). Sarah showed us art work, talked about her process, and talked about ‘ book covers. She shared illustrations in progress, various stages of her work, and rejected illustrations. We bused in 50 kids for each session and had the best time. Skyping with an illustrator is different, but worth it.

To find an author willing to Skype – try either of these sites. Kate Messner (who’s done a lot of research about Skyping and is an author herself) or this one where you search by last name. If you don’t find a particular author in either place, check their webpage or contact them to inquire.’  Also, don’t forget about the list of YA authors by state on YALSA’s wiki.

Most authors will do a short session to classrooms or book clubs for free. It’s usually 10-20 minutes. If you’re looking for something more in depth, there’s usually a cost involved. Skyping with an author can be just like a class or library visit, without paying for the speaker’s travel costs. Often they have set presentations, but some simply open things up for questions-and-answers. Others combine the two approaches. Check with your author beforehand to make sure you both know the logistics of the day.

While gearing up for the presentation, Kimberly and I had a great brainstorming session on who else to Skype, if the author you want is busy or you’re looking for a different, non-authorial perspective. We came up with a few examples to get the ball rolling:

Gallagher Girls: Someone from the CIA or Spy Museum
Contaminated: A epidemiologist or someone from the CDC
Princess Diaries: Etiquette Expert
Want to Go Private?: FBI
Genius Files: Any novelty museum

‘ Have you had a great Skype experience? Let us know in the comments

I remember the day my husband came home and told me we had received orders from the Navy and we were moving to Okinawa. My immediate thought was not one of adventure or exotic travel, but “Aw, man. I’ll never get a job there!”

Okinawa, part of the Ryukyu Islands

The job prospects were slim. Though there are libraries on each of the bases, the jobs most available are Library Technician positions. Unfortunately, there is a hiring freeze for GS jobs preventing qualified applicants from stepping into full librarian positions. What was I to do until I got a job? How could I keep my newly minted librarian skills fresh? How could I do all this in a foreign country so far away from the library community I knew and respected? Enter Internet. Read More →

Welcome to the last day of Teens & Tech. I hope you enjoyed it. Sorry for the delay in getting this last post up. I was having, of all things, technology issues. Today’s topic was suggested by the Tech Integrator at my school, Allison Lundquist.


Thank you for all of the great suggestions. Here’s my problem. I’m totally blocked. I want to share awesome YouTube videos with my teachers, but YouTube is blocked. I want to create a Facebook page for my library, but Facebook is banned, too. Skype-An-Author? I’d love to, but Skype is verboten. How do I get around these filtering issues?

All Blocked Up

Dear ABU:

I feel your pain, I really do. Nothing is worse than seeing that SonicWall come up to stop you in your tracks.

Really this is an issue of intellectual freedom, the same as a book challenge. If we feel that a site has merit, we need to fight for it. The ALA office of Intellectual Freedom has a very useful page about filters and filtering.

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In January, my library held an author chat with Maggie Stiefvater, author of Shiver, Ballad and Lament, via Skype.’  My library is located in Southwest Missouri’ and authors typically opt for the much larger Kansas City or St. Louis on their tours.’  My teens have been begging for an author event, and Skype turned out to be the best budget friendly’ option.

I was lucky enough to come across an advance copy of Shiver last year and reviewed the book on my book blog before I attended ALA.’  Ms. Stiefvater’ ended up sitting at my table at the YA Author Coffee Klatch hosted by YALSA and we talked about the book and her writing.’  This was a great networking opportunity and it opened the door for our Skype event.’  I highly recommend the YA Author Coffee Klatch to every YALSA member!

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With budgets being frozen and cut, it can be hard to find the money to host a traditional author visit. Here are six tips to connect with authors – virtually and in person – for little to no money.

1. Piggyback: When you book an author, you don’t just have speaker fees. You also need to pay for travel, lodging, and other expenses. One way to cut costs is to piggy back on book tours. When Jeff Kinney came to our local Border’s, one of our elementary librarians contacted his publisher who put her in touch with his agent. She was able’  to schedule a school visit between his other engagements. While this visit was not exactly cheap, it was cheaper than it might have been.

2. Buy Local: Another way to avoid travel fees is to book a local author. YALSA has a wiki which lists YA authors by state. Local authors may be more willing to work with your budget constraints since it is a way for them to support their community.

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