I live in Portland, OR. If you have been following the news, you know that things have been very tense here with federal law enforcement actively shooting tear gas and impact munitions, as well as seizing people from the streets and holding them in unmarked vans or arresting them. It is a scary time as the pandemic continues and more information is shared about the dangers of tear gas, especially for women. Personally, I have been working on different ways to support this revolution.
While I have avoided protests in the area around the Justice Center out of concern for my safety, last weekend I participated in a youth-led protest called “Push for Peace.” It was organized and hosted by the PDX Black Youth Movement, which is “a Portland based Black youth led movement aiming to amplify and support voices within our Portland Black community.” The event invited all to roll, pedal, or ride for justice and police abolition. Masks were required, and it was inspiring to see young folks actively engaging in democracy and crying out for change. Library land is thinking about these situations too; ALA Council recently adopted a resolution “Condemning Police Violence against Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Protestors, and Journalists.”
One of the beautiful things about being a youth librarian is serving as a mentor and advocate for all youth, and I wonder how that has continued now that so many of our buildings are closed. How are you making an impact? How are you amplifying and supporting the voices of young people in your community? Have your methods changed? Knowing the value of information literacy and being limited in providing access to on site resources, how are you helping your youngest patrons find the best information that will allow them to identify their beliefs and passions during these divided times? I would love to hear how you and your library system are being creative in your continuing efforts to serve the community–please share! And don’t forget to use the myriad resources ALSC members have created to help, especially the ALSC Supporting Diverse Communities Toolkit.
As a library Assistant in Ithaca, NY, I create programming for families and their young children. For my online Family style storytime, I wrote an anti-racism, opening song called “We Don’t Need to Be the Same” to replace our usual “Shake Your Sillies Out” (which was scarier than you might think, lol ; ) the kids LOVED “Shake Your Sillies Out”, haha! We have sung that song for 11 years!) Our Youtube programs are unlisted, so people cannot comment, but as I’ve worked on our in-lobby and curbside pick up days, I have seen a few patrons with their little ones, who have given me very positive feedback, which makes me so happy, (and yup, a little relieved!) I’m going to keep it as our opening song for as long as I’m doing storytimes, because I think along with early literacy, celebrating diversity and learning how to be kind are the most important things for children.