My jet lag is still in full gear as I’ve just returned from New Zealand where I joined Executive Director Aimee Strittmatter in representing ALSC at the International Board on Books for Young People‘s (IBBY) 35th Congress in Auckland. Congress delegates came together from dozens of countries and whether they hailed from Iceland, India, Indonesia, or Iran they were impressed to hear what we had to tell them about ALSC.
My visit began with two days of visiting school and public libraries across this region of New Zealand’s North Island and included meeting Benjamin, the library cat at the gorgeous Devonport Library, getting quite literally lost in the largest collection of children’s literature in the Southern Hemisphere at the National Library of New Zealand, and having a blast at the only public library building in the world just for young people. When we arrived there at the Tupu Youth Library there was a ping pong tournament underway right in the middle of the library and the librarians shared how the kids used the collection to research the official rules of the game and how the young kids delighted in informing the older kids when they were not following them to the letter. At every stop, the respect given to the Māori culture was wonderful and to see the language integrated everywhere, from collections to crafts, was remarkable. Aimee and I were also able to spend time with the leadership of Auckland Libraries, sharing best practices, research, devotion to kids, and tons of laughs. Take a look at many more photos from these visits and insights into these library spaces and how they’re used using #ALSCtour on Twitter.
IBBY is an important organization and ALSC officially collaborates with its section in the states, USBBY. Several member-leaders have even served as both ALSC and USBBY presidents, including the current USBBY prez, Therese Bigelow.
A highlight of the congress was ALSC’s poster session on “Fostering Cultural Understanding and Empowering Families Through Día” when we had the opportunity to formally brag about all of the incredible work ALSC members are doing to put Diversity in Action in our communities. The hundreds of attendees learned about Día’s recent 20th anniversary celebrations across the United States and on Capitol Hill and the many impactful activities and outcomes that are part of this initiative.
Sharing books from other lands with kids is vital, as Dr. Annette Y. Goldsmith discussed in her recent ALSC Blog post, “Kids Need Translations” and ALSC’s work in this area was exceptionally well represented in Auckland as part of the “Translation in a Multilingual World” conference track, especially in the presentation “How American children are introduced to translated books: Awards, book lists, and other resources,” which was written by Linda Pavonetti from Oakland University and presented by Marion Rocco of Magellan International School in Austin, Texas, who served on the 2014 Batchelder Award committee together. The info they shared was illuminating for the group and in turn it was fascinating to hear about how decisions are made in other countries for what titles to translate into “minority languages,” as a speaker from a university in Japan termed them. As I mentioned earlier, I was really struck by how much New Zealand is very much bilingual, with everything from street signs to wine lists to words of welcome woven into the carpet at the airport being in both English and Māori. The conversation with fellow attendees was fascinating with publishers talking about publishing Roald Dahl in Scots and librarians discussing what to do when library patrons want to read Harry Potter in Hawaiian.
The exploration of Kiwi authors such as Joy Cowley, Witi Ihimaera, and the late Margaret Mahy was a great reminder of important names for kids around the world to know, and the U.S. was represented on the author front brilliantly by Newbery Medalist and Wilder Award winner Katherine Paterson and graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier whose work has been repeatedly included on ALSC’s Notable Children’s Books lists.
This trip was an incredible opportunity for ALSC to reach out and spread the word to the world about the work our members do every day and to share knowledge and enthusiasm for creating a better future for children through libraries. I know the benefits will last far, far longer than the jet lag!
*Traditional Māori greeting