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#DisabilityPrideMonth

CW: Ann Magill, designer of the Disability Pride flag, recently wrote, “It has recently come to my attention that, even with desaturated colors, this flag design can, when viewed online (especially while scrolling), create a strobe effect, and pose a risk for people with epilepsy, and migraine sufferers. I (and others) are currently working on a safe alternative.” A visual of the Disability Pride flag is included in this post. Did you know that July is National Disability Pride Month? Thursday marks the 31-year anniversary of the signing into law of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against disabled people and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as non-disabled people. But how accessible are our classrooms and school libraries? Are we keeping disabled patrons in mind as we plan public library programs, both in-person and virtual? Last summer, ALSC released a Virtual Storytime Services…

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BREATHE

It’s been a long, long week/month/year/decade, and May is stressful for all; public library staff are gearing up for Summer Reading (a wild time to work in a public library environment), while school staff are just trying to make it to the end of the school year (a wild time to work in a school environment). And of course, we’re still living in a pandemic; things are scary and uncertain in so many ways. With all this happening, it is no surprise that I often have to remind myself to breathe. How often do you actually pay attention to your breathing? The persistently ragged, near-panicky gasping that has become my pandemic breathing style doesn’t exactly lead to inner peace. To really help yourself achieve some level of calm, one needs to be mindful of their breathing, and so, in that spirit, here are some links I hope you find helpful…

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All Students Are Welcome: Culturally Responsive Libraries

In August 2019, the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) system in Albuquerque, New Mexico gave every K-8 classroom a collection of culturally responsive books for their classroom libraries. These books reflected the interests and the diversity of students and represented diverse authors and points of view. The underlying goal was to encourage the APS student population to feel seen, valued, and welcomed in schools, and to help students value the races and cultures of others. This was no small feat since the process involved tons of books—literally. APS is located in the largest city in New Mexico with a population of 560,000, spread across 1,200 square miles, including 144 schools with approximately 80,000 students. This makes APS amongst the fifty largest school districts in the United States. The two APS employees behind this massive undertaking were Rachel Altobelli (Director of Library Services and Instructional Materials) and Jessica Villalobos (Senior Director of…

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Getting it Right: the Importance of Names

In their recent book Your Name is a Song, author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrator Luis Uribe tell the story of a young girl who is saddened by her teacher’s (and classmates’) inability to pronounce her name correctly. Eventually, the girl’s mother helps her to see the musicality in her and others’ names, empowering the girl to speak up and stand up for the beauty of her own name, but one does hope the teacher in the book will do things differently going forward to create a more inclusive classroom community. As adults working with children, we should not put the young people we work with in such uncomfortable situations. As a whole, the librarian and teacher professions are overwhelmingly white. And while we all agree that the children in our classrooms and programs deserve to be seen, heard and respected, we may spend more time worrying about curriculum, or finger…

Programming Ideas

Virtual “Field Trips” to the Library

I like to start a school class visit to the public library where I work by walking up the stairs to the front door and stopping before entering to say, “When you go inside, be sure to look up!” The branch has very high ceilings, and there are two murals painted to mimic a cloudy blue sky, with seagulls flying around the light fixtures. Even the teachers and chaperoning parents get excited when they see the murals! My hope with this is that it sets the stage for the library to become something memorable, and a welcoming place they know they can turn to. With our system being closed to the public for almost a year, we have shifted to virtual class visits to connect with students and teachers. During these visits, I try to impart that same welcoming feeling, but have had to come up with some new pitches. …

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How to Avoid Being #ALALeftBehind

In the past, if you were one of those poor, unfortunate souls watching on social media as friends enjoyed an ALA conference in some exotic locale (not counting the times Midwinter was in Boston, Chicago, or Philadelphia), you may have lamented being #ALALeftBehind. As someone who suffers greatly from FOMO, I have felt the sting myself. How many books did I miss out on getting signed in the exhibits? How many conversations while waiting in an obscenely long line for coffee? How many amazing sessions? It can be pretty discouraging! Luckily, the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School/Public Library Cooperation is working to “create an online networking and resource space for the three Youth Divisions to engage around EDI-related topics” (quote taken from committee charge). So while we can’t send you signed books, and you will have to provide your own caffeinated beverage of choice, we will soon have an online…

Blogger AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee

The Ups and Downs of Transformation

I have always had the tendency to apply idioms and proverbial phrasing to the “bumps in the road” encountered while human-ing (I also make verbs out of lots of things).  It is one of the ways I’m able to persist in difficult times and have had to rely heavily on this during a year where words like “challenging,” “chaotic,” and “concerning” are all surface level descriptors of 2020, a truly transformative year.  Yes, I mean transformative.

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I Miss My Public Library Partner

I miss my public library counterpart. I don’t work with her every day, and I don’t see her very often, but in these Strange COVID Times, we need each other more than ever. I miss her because she offers me an additional library perspective on my students and their needs. I need her because she can do things in the public library that I just can’t do here. She needs me because this is where the kids are. With many public libraries offering only curbside pick-up and limited services and hours, school is where her patrons are. Library Zoom programs can only go so far. She and I typically offer our middle school families an evening Parent-Child book club. We run this program a few times a year and participation is a tradition for some families. We have great discussions and share pizza and snacks. We talk about the book…