ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Closing Session with Natalie Portman at #ALAVirtual20

The Closing Session of ALA Virtual Conference 2020 featured Natalie Portman, who has a new picture book coming out called Natalie Portman’s Fables, being interviewed by librarian Betsy Bird. [Betsy made a funny slip when she was listing Natalie’s credentials and called her an “Archivist” when she meant to say “Activist.” Only a librarian! Natalie said that would be cool!] The main idea of the book, which includes three stories, is to rewrite beloved stories with more female characters. She noticed when she had a daughter after having a son that people had given her boy baby “classics” that all seemed to feature male characters. Then they gave her girl baby books with feminist slants — but does a toddler really need to be told she’ll encounter obstacles? She would change the pronouns in the stories she reads to have more female characters — and decided to write a book…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Stories Beyond U.S. Borders at #ALAVirtual20

Today I caught an On-demand virtual program and watched Stories from Beyond U.S. Borders: The Young Reader’s Window to the World. The four panelists were children’s and YA authors who all live in Southeast Asia. The speakers were:Hanna Alkaf, author of The Weight of Our Sky and the upcoming The Girl and the Ghost, who lives in MalaysiaRin Chupeco, author of several book including the recent Wicked As You Wish, who lives in the PhilippinesGail Villanueva, author of My Fate According to the Butterfly and the upcoming A Potful of Magic, who also lives in the PhilippinesRemy Lai, author of Pie in the Sky and the upcoming Fly on the Wall, who was born in Indonesia, grew up in Singapore, and now lives in Australia. Hanna Alkaf was the moderator, and she first asked about identity. She is Malay and Muslim, which puts her in the majority in Malaysia and…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Behind the Wires: American Concentration Camps Then and Now at #ALAVirtual20

Behind the Wires: American Concentration Camps Then and Now was a program offered by APALA, the Asian/Pacific American Library Association. The first speaker was Dr. Satsuki Ina, a survivor of the World War II concentration camps in America. She commented first that correcting descriptive language is important. The dictionary definition of a concentration camp is a place where large numbers of people are detained or confined under armed guard. She told her own story, with pictures of her parents, who were sent to the camps as newlyweds. Her brother was born in one camp, and she was born in a maximum security prison for dissidents. Her father had protested his incarceration, which made him a dissident. Dissidents were targeted for deportation, beaten, and separated from their families. Not until 1946 were they released with $25 and a train ticket. Dr. Ina has made a documentary film and promotes Healing Circles…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Reopening Libraries: Smart Strategies for a Healthy Restart at #ALAVirtual20

Today I attended a session of ALA Virtual Conference about reopening libraries with two speakers. The first speaker, George Coe, is head of Brodart, an important company for library supplies. The second speaker was Dana Hollins, an Industrial Hygienist. (Who knew this field existed? She’s a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association.) George Coe told about their experiences of shutting down and reopening at Brodart, but to me that didn’t really apply to the issues libraries face. They had to reconsider their workflow procedures to be able to apply social distancing. The most relevant information is that they have added helpful supplies to their inventory such as face masks and wipes. So now these can be ordered through a library supplier. They also made some book lists for libraries that are appropriate for the times. The talk by Dana Hollins, however, was very relevant. I didn’t realize that a…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Civic Duty? at #ALAVirtual20

Another session I attended today at ALA Virtual Conference was called Civic Duty? Libraries and the Disenfranchised. The speakers were Katharine Ellera, an international legal advisor on enfranchisement, Nicole Porter from The Sentencing Project, and Leslie Purdie, who works in a prison library. The presentation was packed with facts, which I couldn’t write down quickly enough. But I’ll give some highlights here: Disenfranchisement isn’t only about not having the legal right to vote. It’s also about barriers to voting. Many differrent groups around the world face barriers such as: people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, indigenous peoples, internally displaced persons, those with criminal convictions, women, ethnic minorities. In America, many states don’t even allow international observers, which is a huge red flag. There are undue obstacles for many segments of the population. A lot was said about the disenfranchisement of people convicted of a felony — in many states that’s…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Featured Speaker Sonia Manzano at #ALAVirtual20

It’s always good to hear “Maria” from Sesame Street! Sonia Manzano was talking about her new picture book with National Geographic Kids, A World Together. It’s a book about empathy, with photographs of kids from all over the world. Our world is surely interconnected. She mentioned the song they used to sing on Sesame Street about “Co-operation makes it happen….” Working together is the best way to go — but now it’s seen as a sign of weakness. Children mimic the behavior of denigrating co-operation. It’s more important than ever to show the value of co-operation. This is her first book working with photographs, so she reflected on the power of images. She remembered her own fascination with photos of Puerto Rico when she was a kid. Her parents were from there, but she’d never been. Photos bring depth. She hopes it helps kids not to be fearful of kids…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Are the Kids Okay? at #ALAVirtual20

I attended a session at ALA Virtual Conference today called Are the Kids Okay? How Librarians Can Use Literature to Help Kids Navigate Socioemotional Stress. The moderator was Kelly Jensen, and the panelists were three young adult authors who have all experienced mental illness and write about teens with mental illness. I. W. Gregorio has written None of the Above, and her new book is This Is My Brain in Love. Ashley Woodfolk has written The Beauty That Remains, and her new book is When You Were Everything, about a friendship break-up. Adib Khorram has wrtten Darius the Great Is Not Okay, and his new book is Darius the Great Deserves Better. The panelists were asked what influenced them to write books dealing with mental health. IG: She saw her 10-year-old daughter dealing with some of the same things she had. She wanted to write a story about anxiety and…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Herstory through Activism at #ALAVirtual20

Today I attended a session called Herstory through Activism: Women, Libraries, and Activism at ALA Virtual Conference. The moderator was Sherre Harrington, and panelists were Emily Drabinski, Dalena Hunter, and Teresa Y. Neely. The occasion is the 50th anniversary of ALA’s Feminist Task Force. Each panelist spoke separately, then they answered some questions together. They pointed out that workers in the library field are mostly women, but the leadership is mostly men. And libraries are racialized spaces — overwhelmingly white. Women of color who do work in libraries tend to be in the lower-paid positions. They talked abot the history of activism in libraries, and work of specific librarians to document African American history. They talked about how Black women experience a doubling of oppressions. And neither feminist organizations nor black liberation movements really saw them. Teresa Neely talked about the Cumbahee River Collective of 1974-1980. They articulated that if…