Blogger Suzi Wackerbarth

how to write a blog post for librarians:

You might wonder how to write a blog post. Staring at the blank page (or screen) can be daunting. Writer’s block is a real thing, after all. And librarians, aren’t they all about shushing and stuff? Hard to please, cardigan wearing, and could I even? Well, it’s easier than your scary brain might be thinking right now. “Get comfortable in your wheelie chair and I’ll take you on a trip. A trolley trip, actually,” you write.

“My ideas often come from books I come across at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., where I work as a substitute on holidays. They have a wider collection, and I’m always finding treasures. Like the one I’m introducing today: By Trolley past Thimbledon Bridge. Published in 2015, it’s a book that was more than three decades in the making. Did you know Virginia Woolf wrote a book for children? No, me either. It has never been published. It could have had the exquisite illustrations in By Trolley…, but after over a decade, the Woolf estate pulled their permission to publish. The illustrator, Marvin Bileck had at least ten years of work!! What to do now?

"By Trolley Past Thimbledon Bridge" Illustrated by Marvin Bileck, Words by Ashley Bryan and Marvin Bileck
This is not a Virginia Woolf Book. But it could have been… (photo by Suzi Wackerbarth)

“You know that song from Toy Story? No, me either. But I know ‘Stand by me.’ And that, standing from a friend, is what happened next. Ashley Bryan, an old schoolmate of Bileck’s, would not let this project die. Friendship turned these abandoned illustrations into a book. Bryan lived nearby and knew of the hard work that had gone into the production of these illustrations. A noted Black writer and illustrator, Bryan primarily focused on African tales, proverbs and spirituals, with brash illustrations, so undertaking work on this book was unlike all his other projects. However, he and “Buddy” went way back. Back to art school at Cooper Union School of Art in the early 1940s. At the time of this project, (early 2000s?) they even lived on adjoining islands in Maine. Bryan couldn’t let these images go to waste. So “Buddy” and Bryan worked together on discovering the exact words necessary to flow with the exquisite pictures that had years and minutes and hours and seconds baked in.”

And this is where your blog post starts to fall apart. So many links to add! So many twists and turns in this story! Your mind wanders, and you begin to wonder if other picture you took, a picture of a Virginia Woolf book, fits anymore. You add it, just for fun.

The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf
This is a book by Virginia Woolf. No illustrations, though. (Photo by Suzi Wackerbarth)

You take another sip from your water bottle. You hear a voice in the hall, calling someone’s name, it sounds like your dad’s name. But that’s not right. Back to the blog post.

You write some more. “Another friendship came in handy, the one that Bryan had with renowned children’s editor, Jean Karl. She edited, among others, the Newbery Award Winners Dicey’s Song and E.L. Koningsburg‘s From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” Oh, this goes somewhere else! Earlier! Because, friends, Karl is the one who came up with the whimsical title, and the one who said the book would be a classic.

Your timer has gone off and you must drive to work.

You’re back. It’s another day, a different laptop. Something about internet drivers and updating? You have ordered a 50 foot ethernet cord from an online store that shall not be named. Early this morning, after physical therapy, you drove to work and got your work laptop. You continue writing and editing your post, looking for holes, looking for items that need links, or more information.

And that is how the sausage is made. An idea, some writing, and lots of looking for appropriate links. For instance, I couldn’t find a good website for some of the books, so I linked the authors, and sometimes, Wikipedia was the best I could do! (Horrors!)

Does any of this sound fun to you? Do you have a yearning to be the next Leonard Marcus and uncover literary history? Or maybe you have created a program that you think is exceptional, or at least that’s what your boss says. Whether you want to write regularly or just share a one off program, the ALSC blog could be a place for you! Here are the parameters:

  • Regular Bloggers: must be members of ALSC and contribute one post per month. Interested in joining the team of regular volunteer bloggers just submit an interest form!
  • Guest bloggers need not be ALSC members, but the post must be of interest to children’s librarians, be related to children’s librarianship, and align with the mission of the blog. If you are interested in submitting a guest post, please read and fill out our Guest Blogging Interest Form.

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