Should You Attend a Virtual Conference? #ALAVirtual2020

Now that the 2020 ALSC National Institute will also be transitioning to a virtual conference this year, it seems like virtual conferences will be our new normal for awhile. How do you know if a virtual conference is right for you? Here are some pros and cons from my own ALA Virtual experience. Pro: You can spend the entire conference in your pajamas and no one will judge you. Con: No one can compliment your cool collection of children’s book-themed t-shirts. Pro: No airfare, hotel stay, or food budget means virtual conferences can be much more affordable, especially for those of us who have never been able to attend national conferences before. Con: Instead of seeing a new city, you only see your couch, and instead of enjoying some tasty conference dinners out and about, you’re stuck with what’s in your own fridge. Pro: Many of ALA’s session this year…


#alavirtual20 The difference is US.

A Virtual conference experience is different! That difference makes you stop and think okay, what usually makes a conference a great experience? Been looking at the difference and where the treasure lies – what makes it memorable and what makes it matter? When you’re in person by the time you get to the third day of a conference you’re making some careful decisions about how you’re going to use your legs and your brain. You’ve walked a few miles by now. You’ve saturated your neurons by now. Those doors on the hotel hallways aren’t opening quite as early as they were on the first two days. What are you looking for at this point in the conference? When I really think about it, at this point I’m looking for those moments when I sit down at table for lunch and I don’t know anyone else at that table. It takes…


Are You Violating Copyright? at #ALAVirtual2020

This year’s ALA conference has had a few sessions on aspects on our new COVID world. One, called “Trouble in Paradise: are you violating copyright by using social media read alouds?” featured four panelists, who gave their interpretations on copyright law for several scenarios. Most relevant for most of us, was this scenario: Can I post a read aloud or storytime to social media however I want, and then, if challenged, just say that I’m a librarian or educator and need to use it to support my students in a special circumstance? The firm answer from the panel was no. Special circumstances, be they a hurricane or a pandemic, do not exempt us from following copyright law. Here was some of their advice: Avoid posting on public channels that anyone can access. A private Youtube channel is better than a public Youtube channel. And even a private channel can still…

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Healing Reading Trauma at #alavirtual20

In the presentation Healing Reading Trauma: Rebuilding a Love of Reading Through Libraries for liberation (presented by the awesome Julie Stivers and Julia Torres), I learned the term “reading trauma.” What is reading trauma, you might ask? When a student has such a poor experience with their literacy education, that they come to feel shamed, stupid, and unrepresented in the world of books, then they’ve experienced reading trauma that can negatively affect not just their entire education, but their self-image as well. What causes reading trauma? According to Stivers and Torres, some of the causes include: High-stakes testing, which encourages students not to engage authentically with their education, but to instead “perform” a false form of scholarship that seeks to simply regurgitate the answers wanted by the test givers. A fixation on “classics,” most of which are written by dead, white, straight, cis-gendered men. Many of these classics both reinforce…

Guest Blogger

Soledad O’Brien loves libraries! #PLA2020

The award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien loves libraries and librarians! Some inspirational takeaways for me: She feels a strong sense of kinship with our industry—“we both woke up one day and realized ‘omg! we are in the social justice business!’ “ She shared many statistics showing the number of people who trust public libraries has actually gone up at a time when trust in other institutions is declining. When nobody in America seems to agree on anything, 90%! of people describe the library as a welcoming place. Libraries invest in knowledge, in serving all people where they are, which gives those people power—power that can never be taken away. Who defines representing people, all people, better than libraries? Nobody, she concludes. And finally, she feels that libraries are great unifiers in a divided world. The Big Ideas talks have been educational, inspiring, and a great way to start each conference day. As a…

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…

Children's Librarians are Experts

Fear of being left behind (foblb) #PLA2020

The good news is I’m here, which is more than I can say for last PLA. Snow was predicted (again!) for Chicago, so I hopped on a flight a day early on Monday night in hopes of actually getting here. Being early for a big (8,000 library peeps!) conference is a great idea. Saw the Nashville Public Library while it was still quiet-ish! an amazing storytime by…wait for it, 3! people who were not librarians but “performance artists.”There were lights, recordings, puppets, juggling, witty repartee and more. Lots of fun, and they’re doing it again tomorrow morning, 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30. Brian Hull, or the “Professor” manages Wishing Chair Productions and told a few of us librarians about the deep, strong tradition of puppets here in Nashville. He’s super excited about the String City shows coming up which are an extra you can order on the PLA app.

ALA Midwinter 2020

Mail Those Books and Swag Home #alamw2020

Midwinter is winding down, and many of us are now in possession of bags and bags full of free swag. Books, tote bags, books, pens, books, posters, books …   you get the idea. Instead of trying to squeeze all of your finds into your luggage, consider using the Post Office that’s right on the exhibit hall floor. That’s right. You heard me. There is a temporary U.S. Post Office right on the exhibit floor. I mail all that stuff home. No more struggling to lift that carry on bag into the overheard compartment.  No more repacking at the airport so my bags aren’t over the weight limit. It is so much easier than trying to haul them to plane, train, or automobile. And the added bonus is that I get a package in the mail a few days after I get home.  And there are always a few surprises in…