Guest Blogger

How is your library providing a safe space for children and their caregivers?

How is your library providing a safe space for children and their caregivers

Some kids and parents from marginalized communities, particularly those who are undocumented, see libraries as an extension of the government and therefore are reluctant to ask for help regarding issues related to opposing government policies. These vulnerable communities are among those that need the services and resources of the library the most. What are the best ways to communicate that libraries are safe spaces?

While many libraries are required to stay politically neutral, we can still use our resources to convey a message of support to the communities we serve. An artist is offering “You are Safe Here” posters (in English and Spanish) for free and they would be great additions to any youth services space. Consider creating displays that feature diverse characters and authors, as well as social justice and civil rights topics. The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Feel Like You’re at Risk? is a resource list which may be helpful to you and people in your community. Perhaps even leaving print-outs of relevant sections if you know they would be useful to local patrons, removing the burden and fear in their having to ask, and further communicating your allyship.

How are you responding to the needs of your local communities? Please tell us in the comments.

We would also like to take a moment to reiterate the importance for diversity and inclusion in youth services at all levels. To that end, we are in the process of collecting responses to a survey to gain a better understanding of the current ALSC membership as well as other youth services providers outside the membership. It is our hope that by discovering barriers we can work to break them down to create a more inclusive, diverse membership, and eventually, profession. This work feels more urgent than ever, and we hope that you participate. The survey will be live until Tuesday, December 20th, and can be accessed here:

Keep the conversation going here and on social media using #LibrariesRespond and @WeAreALSC.


 Zareen Jaffery and Kendra Jones are Co-Chairs of the Diversity within ALSC Task Force.



  1. Mary

    I read stories at a local Muslim school. When I went after election day, the kids started talking about Trump. I assured them that other grown-ups and I would take care of them. I also took cookies to the staff, and told them to get library staff if they are ever harassed at one of our system’s locations.

    In the library, a Mexican mother opened up to me about the bullying her kids have faced at school since the election. I advised her to talk to teachers and the principal, and gave her the name of a local non-profit that provides legal aid to our Latino community. I also hugged her, and gave her the extension of one of our librarians. This colleague is a Spanish-speaking immigrant herself, so I knew the mother could get comfort and help in her native language.

    1. Natalie

      Mary, I really like what you’re doing. I think it’s important to communicate that bullying will not be tolerated in the library, while also providing direction to outside resources. Giving reassurance that libraries are safe spaces is critical, and meeting those communities where they are helps build trust and a sense of belonging for those communities as well. Great post!

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