Blogger Kirby McCurtis

Let’s continue the conversation

It brought me such joy to hear from and see some of you at the first ever virtual ALSC Institute. I attended some amazing sessions and appreciated connecting via the forums and chats with participants. During the Friday session, ALSC staffer Elly and I hosted a networking discussion called “How You Doin’?” The conversations were rich, and I am left still imagining solutions on a few topics.

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Finishing out #ALSC20 with Muslim Representation, Institute Trivia, and Edible Book Hilarity

The awesome afternoon continued with a panel on Muslim Representation with educator and author Marian Hassan, teacher-librarian Ariana Sani Hussain, librarian Madeline Tyner from Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), and moderator Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez. Muslims are a huge percentage of the global population, and are located all over the world; they are also the most ethnically diverse faith community. The CCBC is a research and evaluation library, and one of its research studies is on diversity statistics in youth literature. The panelists noted that Muslims are most often portrayed in the media in a negative light, while Muslim youth are revered by Islamic adults. Hussain noted that YA and children’s books with Muslim representation are generally more positive than adult titles, but there are fewer titles in general, and many are not created by #OwnVoices. Representation provides windows, mirrors, sliding glass doors, and prisms. It builds positive identity and can be…

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ALSC 101 & Play-Based Engagement at #ALSC20

I popped into the ALSC 101 short session to get some background from experienced ALSC members, and to learn more about getting involved in committees. There are tons of awesome ways to get involved! Next I dove into Play-Based Community Engagement with Donna Zick, Caitlin Tormey, and Nate Halsan from Sacremento Public Library. They hold an annual Play-Summit and circulate play kits, so they decided focus library outreach and library areas on family-friendly play spaces. Their outreach areas are wide spaces to play, with comfortable floor seating, and informational tables off on the side. They also staff these spaces with staff members who are ready to get on the floor and play, too! They bring a range of activities for babies and toddlers. This type of outreach gives staff a lot of time to chat with and get to know families. The panel gave examples of awesome toys and play-exploration…

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#ALSC20 Awesome Afternoon with #OwnVoices

Authors Kacen Callender, Kyle Lukoff, and author-illustrator Christian Robinson kicked off the afternoon with a conversation about LGBTQIA #OwnVoices stories with moderator Ellie Krug. The panelists discussed how they approach the concept of “mattering” in their work. Lukoff said he doesn’t often outwardly state that, “we matter… because I know we do.” He starts with the assumption that these characters matter, that they know that they matter, and he tells their stories. Callender expressed how they received emotional wounds as a kid, how they still trying to heal; that’s one reason they write for children who are experiencing these, too. Robinson discussed his book “You Matter.” He said that book came out of a question, “what did I most want to tell children? … you matter because you are here, because you exist,” not because of anything a child does. The panelists also offered advice for librarians to help and…

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Saturday kickoff at #ALSC20

We jumped into the morning with a panel discussing “on the ground” experiences from librarians working in communities experiencing trauma. Beth Patin from Syracuse University was a school librarian when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. It was an overwhelming experience for the community; everything in that area was utterly destroyed. Patin was able to start rebuilding her library collection (even with a little computer lab!) inside of a trailer long before the school was rebuilt. The community immediately utilized those services. Anita Montoya from Hennepin County Library works in the area where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis this year. Their community was rocked with protests, and she said they worked hard to be there for the people. Some buildings were damaged, but she said that the community also tried hard to protect the library, too, because they knew the library was there for them. The library also provided constant…

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Virtual #ALSC20 – too many great things

I have to say, I am SO glad that all of the sessions are being recorded for us! It’s been hard to choose what to see, and I am thrilled I can go back later and catch the ones I missed while I was in a different session. This is a huge plus of attending a virtual conference! I picked up some amazing Global Citizens programming ideas from Hallie Jackson from Fairfax County Public library; I can’t wait until we have patrons back in the library, because I want to jump into those new ideas asap. The We Are Water Protectors general session gave some fabulously interesting background stories of the book about the peaceful stand of current Indigenous-led protests. I thought it was interesting, too, to learn that the book was originally conceived as a YA novel; author Carole Lindstrom realized that young people “get it,” and need to…

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Breakfast talk: Generational Love

For this first panel, we met four amazing authors: Minh Le, Siman Nuurali, Bao Phi, and Kao Kalia Yang. I loved hearing about their families’ storytelling traditions and how that led them to writing children’s literature. I feel Yang’s feeling of gratitude for making it so far through this year, and also for being able to hear these authors’ diverse experiences that shaped them and informed their writing later in life. I loved how Minh Le mentioned how his parents and grandparents “held the keys” to his cultural background through their stories, and how he was inspired by real-life heroes in his family history to create new heroic characters. Siman Nurali spoke of how she was influenced by her family’s storytelling, and she’s really proud that her children today also identify with those stories and know that Kenya is “home.” The generational storytelling continues! The panelists also related how they…

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#ALSC20, here we come!

I am so excited to be attending the 2020 ALSC Virtual Institute! I didn’t think it would be virtual when I attended my first ALSC event, but I am so glad it’s finally happening. I’ll be live-blogging here all day today and tomorrow my impressions and experiences. I have my coffee and my cohorts (a bird, cats, and bunnies) here for conference-ing at home, and we’re ready to learn and meet amazing children’s services people from around the country!