Have you ever wanted to play the ukulele in storytime, but felt like you couldn’t possibly be good enough? There are many fantastic librarians who are expert ukulele players, but I often find learning from great players intimidating. If you’re overwhelmed, I (definitely a beginner) can help. A few years ago, I decided I was going to start playing the ukulele in storytime, despite the fact that I did not know how to play the ukulele and am generally unmusical. It has always been a little baffling to me that I am paid to sing to children, given that I was once told by a choir teacher to “maybe just mouth the words at the performance.” Despite all these obstacles, I actually do play the ukulele at storytime, and no one has ever complained. Let me reassure you that if I can do it, anyone can do it. Here are some…
Making your programs more inclusive of autistic families (and families with other sensory needs or disabilities) doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. There are small, simple changes that you can make in an hour or less today that will help autistic families feel welcome and supported at your library programs (not just storytime). Here are four ways to get started.
October is AAC Awareness Month! AAC stands for “augmentative and alternative communication,” and it’s often used to refer to a tool that can help someone communicate without speech, like a picture board or a tablet with a communication application. It can be as simple as a white board, or as high tech as a computer that can detect the user’s eye movements and translate them to speech. Someone who is non-speaking, or has difficulty speaking, can use their AAC to communicate with others. Let’s learn a little bit about AAC devices and how you can support AAC-users in the library.
Thrillers have been surging again in YA literature for the last few years. The popularity of thrillers ebbs and flows in YA (raise your hand if you devoured I Know What You Did Last Summer in the 90’s like I did), but Kate McManus’ One of Us Is Lying brought this genre to the top again in a big way, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Thrillers are also a perennial favorite among the middle grade crowd. What’s the appeal behind this genre, and what can we offer young thrill-seekers?
I love doing STEAM programs, but I have never been a science person. Don’t get me wrong – I like certain elements of science. But like anyone, I have my strengths and my weaknesses, and explaining elementary level physics or chemistry is definitely not a strength of mine. I’m also not a great instruction follower, and science experiments often have very specific instructions. Paper circuits? I have no idea why the battery only works one way despite having read an explanation approximately one thousand times. Growing crystals? I’m too impatient for that kind of work. Simple machines? To me, they are Deeply Complicated machines. There are many places online to find great STEAM projects planned by experts, but if you’d like some so-simple-they-cannot-go-wrong STEAM projects, I’m here for you.
The public might think of libraries as calm and gentle, but library workers know the truth: library work can cause trauma. Most of us have had at least one experience – if not many experiences – that broke our hearts, wore us out, or left us feeling alone and unsupported. A groundbreaking new study from Urban Libraries Unite has sought to dig deep into that trauma and explain why it’s happening. They also propose four changes to help mitigate library staff trauma and make sure that library staff do not feel alone in their experiences.
Try this when you’ve got a spare ten minutes: open up your library’s catalog and search for “autism.” Imagine that you are autistic (if you aren’t), and you’re looking for books about people like you. What kind of books do you see? How easy is it for you to find positive autistic representation in your library?
April is Autism Acceptance Month! Over the last decade, libraries have done a lot of work to better support autistic families. Many libraries have started sensory storytimes and programs. Some allow autistic families to visit the library before official open hours to provide a less overstimulating experience. Other libraries have converted extra space into entire sensory rooms. However, a lot of misinformation about autism continues to circulate, and it affects how libraries serve their communities. Let’s bust some autism myths together.