Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

Learning from the Mistakes We’ve Made

Image created on Canva Please note that for historically marginalized communities, discussions about mistakes in the workplace may be emotionally challenging, especially if their identity is harmed in some way.  I am of mixed race and I find these conversations can be especially rough when the mistakes that have been made are things that I have experienced from colleagues.  Learning from others can be beneficial, but your mental well-being is more important. Don’t be afraid of opting out of these discussions to protect your peace.  Intentionally inclusive programming has been on the forefront of my mind for the last few years, but even with intentionality, it’s easy to make mistakes. The thing about equity and inclusion is that the learning is ongoing.  You have to commit to it for a lifetime.  As library professionals, we have a responsibility to ensure what we do is in line with what we say—we…

Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

ALSC Institute – Overwhelmed by Underserved Communities: Participant Responses

Photo of Tammie Benham, Melody Leung, and Georgette Spratling presenting at the ALSC Institute in Kansas City

Members of our committee (Georgette Spratling, Melody Leung, Tammie Benham) presented at last month’s ALSC Institute! We showcased our toolkit for Getting Started with Underserved Communities Thank you to everyone who came to our workshops. We were able to learn about barriers our fellow library practitioners face when working with underserved communities as well as gauge where we all are in our practice.  Below is a summary of participant responses from our collective reflection. The questions asked align with an advocacy framework we presented to help empower library staff to work with underserved communities. If you have your own responses, we’d love to see them in the comments below!  What is the most overwhelming part about working with underserved communities?  What underserved communities do you want to work with? (Check out our toolkits for some examples or inspiration) Imagine a real or hypothetical program/outreach/initiative?  Are there barriers in your organization…

Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

EDI In Action: Intentionally Inclusive Book Selection

Selecting books for programs is an essential part of a librarian’s job, but how do we do it with inclusivity in mind?  We all have those books from our childhood that hold a special place in our hearts, but are those books we want to read in storytime? Should we put those titles on displays or booklists?  There are so many new books being published, it can be a bit overwhelming sifting through everything to find the good stuff rather than choosing our favorite go-to classics. When I think of selecting books for programs, I always think about Rudine Sims Bishop’s essay Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.  When a child reads a book about a person who looks or lives like them, they are reading a mirror–they are able to see themselves reflected in the book they are reading.  When a child reads about someone who looks or lives…

Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

New Americans Toolkit: Intentional Programming

Kids playing with play dough on the floor

The Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee have created a vibrant, dynamic toolkit for working with new Americans. We have released this toolkit in three parts, Professional and Community Resources, Recommended Read-alouds, and this final installment focused on Intentional Programming.  The focus of this toolkit is on serving children and their caregivers who are new to America. There are approximately 44 million people living in America who were born in different countries. People identifying as new Americans may fall into many categories, some of which may be: refugee, asylum seekers, migrants, or immigrants. As our understanding of different needs increases, libraries are recognizing an important role in supporting new American communities. These supports may include specialized resources, adapted programming, and community partnerships to support children and their caregivers.  Toolkit Preview What you will find in this new release: Materials for the Children’s Room including posters and toys…

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National Day of Racial Healing and ALSC

Libraries and Archives Celebrate the National Day of Racial Healing

Yesterday marked the sixth annual National Day of Racial Healing (NDORH). The ALA Libraries Respond page explains it as, “an opportunity for people, organizations and communities across the United States to call for racial healing, bring people together in their common humanity and take collective action to create a more just and equitable world.” ALA staff were asked to do some individual reflection on what drives our commitment to racial healing and equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice (EDISJ) in libraries. As I reflected, I thought of: growing up in The Bronx; visiting NYPL branches when I had no access to a computer or internet; and how rich The Bronx is in culture, art, and diversity. I reflected on how, via the public library, I had access to internet, materials, and just space to sit and think when I couldn’t do it anywhere else. Of course, I also reflected on…

Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

Overwhelmed by : Diversity Audits

overwhelmed by books

Serving marginalized and underserved communities is multi-pronged. One prong is through a literary perspective where collections reflect the communities we are trying to serve, whether they step foot into the library or not. Diversity audits. We know them; we respect the reasons for them. And the very thought of them is almost debilitating. A diversity audit is a count of titles to see what percentage of your collection is what. What percentage of your collection features white cis protagonists? What percentage of the collections features people who are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community or portrays body neutrality? Auditing your collection can provide great data to help you answer questions like, “What percentage of my collection features characters who are Native/ First Nation/ Indigenous?” A deeper audit may answer the question, “What percentage of my collection features characters who are native that aren’t historical?”  To collect this information, many libraries…

Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

Overwhelmed by: Outreach to Migrant Communities

Outreach to underserved communities is an overwhelming endeavor. Our committee does not want to make it look easy because it truly is not. However, we truly believe that all library staff can do this type of work with the right tools and support. This is why one of our focuses this year is to bridge the gap between tangible resources (like our existing toolkits) and how to get started. Melody Leung and Marika Jeffrey wrote an article in this summer’s issue of  Children and Libraries with some guiding questions to help evaluate your community, develop fruitful partnerships, and implement programs and outreach with specific communities in mind.  Guiding questions can be helpful but specific examples might help bring those concepts to life. Here is a specific example about reaching out to a migrant community: Getting Started  Four years ago, I started working in a rural community in Washington State. To…

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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…