ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Matthew Cordell – Featured Speaker at #ALAVirtual20

The last session I attended today at ALA Virtual Conference was author Matthew Cordell talking about writing his first picture book biography, Hello, Neighbor about Fred Rogers. I have the book sitting in my house ready to review (positively), and it was fun to get a peek behind the scenes. He played the opening song for us, and we were all transported back to our childhoods. He talked about the things he loved about the show as a child: Special guests, how people make things, Trolley, the Neighborhood of Make Believe. In 2008, he became a father. When his daughter watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he noticed new things to love about it: Calm, quiet moments, crafts, feeding fish, showing warmth and wonder, music everywhere, appreciating the arts, love and admiration for children, and inclusion and diversity. When he did a little research, he found out that was Fred Rogers’ true…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Serving the Transgender Community – It’s More than Just Bathrooms! at #ALAVirtual20

I attended a panel presentation at ALA Virtual Conference 2020 about libraries serving the transgender community. Here are some of the ideas I took away from the session: How can we make libraries a more welcoming place for LGBTQ people? Use gender neutral terms.Wear a pin with your own pronouns. (Little things like that show you are approachable.)Don’t ask invasive questions.Be intentional about being welcoming.Actively build connections with local organizations such as PFLAG, Pride, and more. They can help you bring in speakers, and then they will see the library as a resource.Don’t silence trans stories.Put Trans stories on book displays. Let people know they are there and available.Go over institutional policies that are obstacles. Getting a library card — is it easy to change your name and gender? Are your only options for gender binary?Do your own research — you don’t have to make the LGBTQ people you know…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Sophia Thakur – #ALAVirtual20 Featured Speaker

Listening to Sophia Thakur speak for ALA’s Virtual Conference was an inspirational event for me, despite the woodchipper running outside my window here at home. Sophia Thakur is a performance poet from the United Kingdom. She’s got a lovely voice and a beautiful accent, and much of this session was her performing her poetry, some even with musical accompaniment. But she was especially inspiring for this youth services librarian listener as she talked about giving young people a voice through writing and reflecting the experiences of young people. The whole talk was poetic and lovely. I’ll list some beautiful quotes I was able to jot down: Libraries are sacred places. After fasting, it’s a full plate.They are tools for escape.They remind us the world is bigger than our own.The escape she found at the library enriched her reality.Books deposit the option to re-exist.Libraries are big maternity wards.She holds mirrors up…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Misty Copeland – #ALAVirtual20 Opening Session

The featured speaker for ALA Virtual Conference’s Opening Session was Misty Copeland, who was the first African American female principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. She was talking about her new book, Bunheads, about her own experience starting in ballet at the “late age” of 13. The ballet studio where she began was a “little group of misfits” — not people of privilege, and not necessarily like people you usually see on the stage. She wants children to see that diversity and that everyone can be involved in ballet. When she was a child, she was extremely introverted and didn’t really speak. Writing was how she expressed herself before movement came into her life. Speaking in front of people was a bigger transition than writing, but she does appreciate having a platform. As an introverted child, she spent much time in the library, and it was a safe haven…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Tracie D. Hall on Justice #alavirtual20

ALA Virtual Conference kicked off today with an inspirational talk from Tracie D. Hall, Executive Director of ALA, talking before the featured speaker Misty Copeland. As usual at ALA conferences, both speakers got me excited and energized about being a librarian. I can’t give you pictures of being there among hundreds of other librarians, of people waiting to be let into the Exhibit Hall. Me at my computer isn’t a terribly inspiring image. But I can tell you some highlights from their talks, beginning with Tracy Hall. Right from the outset, she encouraged us as librarians to let our legacy be Justice. Libraries play a pivotal role in bringing justice. She came to libraries after working in a homeless shelter. When she would bring folks from the shelter to the library, they would say, “I can’t believe this is free!” The right and access to resources leads to enfranchisement. She…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Virtual Conference Obstacles #alavirtual20

There were a few obstacles to attending a virtual conference that made me laugh at myself. I have to say that I wasn’t planning to go to the physical conference, so I hadn’t been paying much attention to virtual conference plans. Then last week I opened an email at 12:45 that said registration for the virtual conference closed at noon Central time – 15 minutes after I started reading the email. But it also said that the registration fee was drastically reduced for ALA members thanks to generous donations from sponsors. (Plus no hotel or flights!) I didn’t have time to think about it – I registered right away! But today there have been a couple of bumps in the road. I looked at the schedule and saw the opening session was at 10:00. So I made sure I could get into the livestream about 15 minutes early. Oddly, a…

ALA Midwinter 2017

Kwame Alexander at #alamw17

(I love Lisa Nowlain’s take on Kwame Alexander’s talk, by the way.  Mine feels much more inappropriately prosaic, but here it is.) I always love hearing Kwame Alexander talk.  His speeches are also poetry. He began by saying that we need to feel that we aren’t going backwards.  As Langston Hughes said, “But I don’t care, I’m still here!” What should we do? Remember:  We are the army! He read a poem using book titles.  Librarians, fire your cannons!  Books have a job to do and words plant seeds. He told about his work with kids in Ghana.  Books connect us to each other.  Books don’t segregate.  We do. What should we do? Remember.  Recognize.  Resist. You have to sing somewhere.  Words connect us all.  You’ll feel empowered if you lift your voice, wheher people listen or not. We’ve been here before.  This is just one more river to cross. …