Guest Blogger

First PLA Ever–What a Day!

Today did not disappoint at #pla2024, as I heard about innovative public library approaches to helping early and struggling readers, the importance of good communication skills in times of crisis, and ALA’s work to support us all in the fight against book challenges.

A session about how the San Francisco Public Library and Chicago Public Library are working to help new and struggling readers was truly awe inspiring: San Francisco developed a successful reading intervention program for struggling readers in grades 1-4 called FOG (Free Orton-Gillingham) Readers and Chicago PL, in consultation with many community partners developed “Jump Into Reading”, creating a collection of decodable readers and supplemental materials to assist staff and families grow fluent readers.

As a member of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom committee, we talk a lot about being prepared for book challenges and two sessions provided me with quite a bit to think about: How to Say the Hard Things: Lessons Learned in Years of Crisis had many takeaways but these two stuck with me: clarify what is being said and only respond to THAT and nothing more; and, don’t apologize when someone makes a materials complaint. You can acknowledge without being (or saying) sorry.

Challenging Times: Unite Against Book Bans and the ALA Policy Corp” was sobering particularly thinking about librarians working in places where book challenges are a regular occurrence, but regular or rare, it is something we all need to be prepared with a response. One panelist offered up the thought of putting a price tag on how much it costs in staff time to respond to a challenge, especially when there are so many more important things for library staff to do. Echoing what I heard in the “Saying Hard Things” session, the absolute importance of talking points or a script and knowledge of the collection development policy by staff can’t be emphasized enough.

It’s not all doom and gloom here in Columbus thanks to the Boulder Public Library’s Lodge–time to make some more friendship bracelets and meet some more attendees!


Judy Ehrenstein (she/her) is a Children’s Librarian. She is excited to be attending the PLA Conference and hearing about amazing programs and services. At the conference, you may see her snacking on trail mix. A favorite book she remembers fondly is The Girl Without a Name by Gunnel Beckman. She read this title as a child and the moving tale of friendship and compassion has stuck with her for years.


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, IV. Collection Knowledge and Management, and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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