Blogger Abby Johnson

Black Books Matter

This article from the Washington Post is haunting me this week: White Americans, your lack of imagination is killing us by filmmaker Kasi Lemmons. Please click through and read this powerful piece, which was brought to my attention by Nora Rawlins of Early Word. Lemmons writes “…when it comes to black life in America, there’s only one conclusion I can reach about some white people: You don’t care to put yourself in our shoes. The consequences of this lack of imagination for black Americans are deadly.” It’s haunting me because, white librarians, this is what we do. And we need to get better at it.

Call to Action

Tackling racism in children’s books #PLA2020

How did Nashville Public Library tackle racism in classic children’s literature? What they didn’t do… They did not take books like The Story of Little Black Sambo, Little House on the Prairie, Five Chinese Brothers and The Thanksgiving Story off the shelves and throw them in the trash, which was Lindsey Patrick’s (Regional Manager) first impulse. Acknowledging the issues that her lens as a white woman would bring to the work, she invited Klem-Mari Cajigas (the Family Literacy Coordinator and a Puerto Rican woman) to help her take some steps. They didn’t want to censor these and other problematic books, essentially shoving our racist and sexist history under the rug. And they knew that the crucial starting point was to listen to and respect the opinions of people from marginalized communities. They created a Racist Children’s Book Task Force with a diverse group of people from different library departments. There was…

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

“Hire for tomorrow, you’ll get through today” – hiring a stellar staff at #PLA2020

The staff of a library can make or break the patron experience. In an increasingly online world, patrons are searching for interaction and positive experiences at their library. How can you hire the best staff possible, and treat staff departures as an opportunity, not an emergency? Things to consider: This before hiring: Who is your customer and what do they need? You should hire for the person first, the position second. Remember that you’re hiring for the whole library, not just for one area. Depending on the person’s experience, their degree (or lack of a degree) is less important than their skill set. Reconsider your job titles! Do people who are applying to your jobs know what your job title describes? Do they connect with it? Recruit outside the normal channels: look at people who give exceptional customer service, like retail employees, theater workers, hospitality workers, etc. Another big takeaway was…

Call to Action

Don’t reimagine education, start over! #PLA2020

Dr. Bettina Love rocked the PLA audience this morning! So many takeaways as she traced the evolution of racism in education—from pulling indigenous children away from their families and insisting on assimilation to requiring English-only programs, to charter schools and “corporate reforms.” Meritocracy hurts all of our kids, but black and brown kids disproportionately. Dr. Love compared the “educational survival complex” with the prison complex. Her conclusion is that “education can’t save us, we have to save education.” She called in white people to move from being allies to becoming co-conspirators. The education system is too broken to reimagine; we need to spend our unearned white privilege and stand up like the abolitionists once did, boldly helping black and brown leaders start over with a system whose goal is wellness for staff and students. If we link anti-racism, wellness, joy and creativity, we can “freedom dream” a blueprint for education…

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Avoiding Burnout and Practicing Self-Care at #PLA2020

In a packed MCC Davidson Ballroom, librarians talked about the ways in which our profession can (and frequently does!) lead to burnout. After talking through the environmental, mental, and physical stressors of librarianship, we talked about ways to keep yourself sane at work. How can we practice self-care at work? When you’re feeling stressed and you’re at work, here are three simple techniques to quickly lower your stress levels. Lockbox Meditation – close your eyes and imagine your stress as a physical object. PIck it up and lock it in a box until you have the mental space to deal with it. Muscle Meditation – Lay flat on the floor. Close your eyes and tense and release your muscles, starting with the toes and working your way up. 4-7-8 Breath – Breathe in for 4 seconds.Hold the breath for 7 seconds, and then exhale entirely for 8. Daily deep abdominal…

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Build Community with an Inclusive Early Literacy Program at #PLA2020

#PLA2020 kicked off officially yesterday, but the first full day of sessions is today. What better way to kick off sessions than with Sunnyvale (CA) Public Library’s discussion on building inclusive Early Literacy Programs? Sunnyvale (CT) is home to many big tech firms, and the city has a population of 153,000 – and only one library! The tech companies bring in employees from around the world, so the library serves an extremely diverse community. The Mighty Beginnings program is for children ages birth to 24 months. The idea is a simple, cohesive program that can be easily replicated at home, and is available for free at the Library for parents who are home with their children. To promote the program to the children of working parents, they advertised it at local daycares and community centers. The Pacific Library Partnership provided the library with an Innovation Grant to fund the program….

Blogger Jonathan Dolce

Children, Pornography and Suicide

red octagon with hand raised palm up in stop gesture

Children, Pornography and Suicide I know that Children, Pornography and Suicide are terms you never want to hear in tandem.  As tough as it is, it is a reality.  Most of us work with children who are at-risk.  And as Chris Crutcher once said, “When you work with at-risk children, you are going to lose some.  I don’t like that answer”. The CDC reported in 2019 that: “the number of young people dying of suicide jumped…56% between 2007 and 2017“ That’s people aged 10-24 years of age, well within our realm of service. While we don’t want to think of any child as being capable of “looking up porn”, the reality is, it is ubiquitous.  We know how to lock our doors from strangers, and how to train children to recognize a multitude of dangers.  We understand that substance abuse claims over 70,000 children every year in the U.S.  But think…