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.
Have you noticed a change in how the kids and families you serve are reading in the COVID era? Two years into the pandemic, we’ve had an intense educational disruption. Some kids were in remote learning for months. Others have been going back and forth between in-person and remote, or in-person and almost nothing. Some families have moved to homeschooling. Some kids have had parents and caregivers on hand to help them through the chaos. Others haven’t. Has all this added up to changes in what and how our kids are reading?
It’s February, and for many libraries that means planning for Summer Reading is in full swing. Summer Reading is a linchpin event in a lot of communities, and a fantastic free program that brings a lot of families a lot of joy. But for some families, even a free program like Summer Reading may be difficult to fully access.
Close your eyes and throw a dart in the children’s section, and you’ll probably hit a book that has fat-phobia. It may have a snide comment about a fat character – or a book with no fat characters at all. I’m not sure which one is worse. It’s practically a tradition in children’s literature to depict fatness as synonymous with gluttony, with ugliness, with stupidity, or with evil. In Harry Potter, you have major and minor fat villains: Dudley, Umbridge, Crabbe and Goyle. Stuart Gibb’s best-selling Funjungle series features a b-side villain referred to as “Large Marge” throughout the series, who is regularly derided as idiotic and incompetent. And if we started talking about fatness and Roald Dahl, we’d be here all day. Where does this fatphobia come from, and why do we put up with it?
My library is currently undergoing a top-to-bottom renovation, and it’s gotten me thinking: if money were no object, what would your dream library look like? Do you have one specific creative project you’d love to do? Or have you been yearning for a completely new youth space? Here are my top four library design dreams.
Gratitude feels a little hard to come by this year. Maybe it’s just me. Normally at this time, I’d be prepping for programs to put on during Thanksgiving break. But programs around the holiday can be tricky. COVID restrictions might have changed how your library is able to program (it has for my system), and you might be short-staffed (from vacations, illness, or disaster service work). And that’s not even to mention the racism and colonialism involved in the holiday’s history. For these reasons, here are some programs (passive, with low staff involvement, and the ability to socially-distance) that you can do to celebrate thankfulness and gratitude.
When I was a kid, way back in the late nineteen hundreds, I loved horror as a genre. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was my jam (I loved the pictures. Today they are nightmare fuel). I read Peg Kehret’s Horror at the Haunted House over and over. Christopher Pike? Check. Goosebumps? Absolutely. Kids have always loved scary stories, but in recent years, middle grade horror has really taken off as a genre. Why does this genre appeal to kids, and what are some ways for the library to support young scare-lovers?