An incomplete list of things that have gone wrong in my Zoom storytimes: My internet went out I played a song too loudly on the ukulele, which led to Zoom automatically turning down my volume, which led to no one being able to hear me when I began to read the next book I completely forgot the chords to a song I have known for at least five years (see also: things that have gone wrong in my in-person storytimes) A child burst into tears over being muted after interrupting too many times A child drew all over the screen share when annotations were accidentally turned on A caregiver accidentally took over the screen-share (luckily only displaying emails and spreadsheets), while I went into a panic over getting control back We belatedly discovered our new event registration software allowed patrons to register for Zoom events with only a phone number,…
Recently, HBO adapted Roald Dahl’s 1983 novel The Witches into a film. This isn’t the first time the extremely popular novel has been adapted – it was first made into a film in 1990, and has also been turned into a radio play and an opera. It’s also a novel that’s built upon a framework of antisemitism. Dahl and Antisemitism A brief summary of The Witches, if, like me, you never read it as a child: a young boy discovers that his grandmother’s stories about witches are true. He stumbles upon a large gathering of them, lead by the Grand High Witch. So far, so fine. The problems begin when you examine the way Dahl describes these witches, and how they align with antisemitic stereotypes: The witches are described as powerful, extremely wealthy, and lurking in society, secretly passing as “normal” women. This is built upon the antisemitic, and completely…
According to the CDC, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys will experience sexual abuse at some point in childhood. A statistic like that takes your breath away. The last thing we want to think about when we’re helping a child find their next favorite book is whether they’ve experienced some form of sexual abuse or harassment. We can’t tell just by looking if the kids who come into our library have experienced abuse, but we can make sure we have the resources we need to help them.
Every time I get a chance to take in ideas from other library staff, be it at an in-person conference, virtual conference, webinar, book, or blog, I leave positively bustling with ideas. For about a day. Then the problems and doubts begin to set in. My manager says no. I don’t have the budget. We don’t have the space. I don’t know enough about this topic to do this. There are so many ways we need to improve.
In their “Collaborating to Create Welcoming Spaces for Children, Youth and Families” session, the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota shared a variety of ways they have transformed their spaces to incorporate play spaces for the whole family. One of the most stunning transformations they shared was one in an adult incarceration facility, where they added play experiences to the rooms used for video visitation.
In their session, “Help! My Child Is Learning How to Read: Supporting K-3rd Graders and their Families,” the Denver Public Library shared their strategies for making sure they were serving their K-3 population well as they developed into readers. Part of their mission was to make sure that staff were as able to serve this age group, as they are dedicated to serving pre-readers.
“I knew I wanted to have young people feel empowered,” said Michaela Goade, illustrator of the picture book, We Are Water Protectors, during the ALSC Institute session about the book.
I learned about the concept of a diversity audit from a School Library Journal article by Karen Jensen. In a diversity audit, you evaluate an existing collection or service provided by your library to get hard numbers on how diverse your collection or service truly is. This can cover anything from seeing what percentage of your board books feature non-white characters, to how many LGBTQ+ titles are written by Own Voices authors, or evaluating the performers you’ve hired over the last year to see if they are representing diverse cultures.