A few weeks ago, I wrote a rant about holiday programming in the library for Storytime Underground. We’ve been posting rants about things that we are super passionate about since October 2013 when Cory wrote about privilege and imposter syndrome. It became obvious that there are big issues our audience is riled up about, just like we are, but that not everyone is willing or able speaking up. So, we felt we should share our opinions in the hopes that perhaps others would feel comfortable to do the same, or that their point of view might be reflected in our writings. Additionally, we hoped to get people thinking more deeply (and dare I say, intentionally!) about what they are doing and why. To not blindly follow those who speak the most or loudest, or the majority, because that is sometimes easier than blazing your own trail.
So, after a discussion began on the Storytime Underground Facebook page about holiday programs in the library which left me feeling quite impassioned, I decided to publicly speak up in the form of a rant on Storytime Underground. Because, if a thing is not asked to change, it never will. To say this rant rattled some cages might be an understatement.
School Library Journal saw the post and asked if I’d be interested in writing a similar opinion piece for them. Of course! This issue is important and I want it to spark discussion among as many people as possible, and it has. Not everyone has been very satisfied with my statements, which bothered many others much more than it did me. One of the first things my mother said to me after reading the comments was, “I don’t know how you do this” and, second, I recognize that many people are afraid of the unfamiliar, which can manifest in defensive anger. There’s nothing I can do about that but let it go. I was quite blunt in my assertions and that can rub people the wrong way, but if there is one thing I have learned from working in libraries (and from being a blonde woman, actually), it’s that you must be assertive if you are to be heard and taken seriously. Even then, sometimes people make untrue assumptions about you.
I have been glad to see responses from Jbrary, Rachel at Constructive Summer, Horn Book and the discussions on Twitter, the comments on the blog, and most of the comments on SLJ. It thrills me to no end to see my colleagues discuss what, in reality, is a small part of a very large issue (libraries as inclusive spaces for everyone), and I look forward to many more discussions on that larger issue.
I’m hopeful that we can make positive change in our field by continuing to challenge each others’ beliefs while keeping open minds as our own are challenged. Continue to speak up about issues, even if you might be on the unpopular side of things (especially then!), if for no other reason than to help people to acknowledge that there are always at least two sides to every issue. We owe it to ourselves, our profession and our communities to talk openly and fully about any issue. I, for one, am always up for a good debate (even when we’re in agreement)!
(Editor’s Note: For some unknown reason, the last two paragraphs were omitted when this piece was published. As of the evening of 12/26/14, they have been correctly inserted.
My apologies to Kendra. – MRV)
Our guest blogger today is Kendra Jones. Kendra is a toddler and parachute wrangling Children’s Librarian in the Pacific Northwest and Joint Chief of Storytime Underground (storytimeunderground.org). She can be found on twitter @klmpeace, lurking on the Storytime Underground Facebook page, and sporadically on her own blog: Read, Sing, Play (klmpeace.wordpress.com).
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.