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…

ALA Midwinter 2020

Community at #alamw20

What a day! It may have rained all day– I didn’t step outside until 5 pm- and that was just for a donut run! (Keep track readers- I grabbed three today), but things were full steam ahead at the conference! I spent the day running through the convention center and getting my usual amount of lost, while still attending some cool presentations about stress management, ALSC leadership, and of course grabbing a million books. What stuck out to me today was all the community of ALA! Everywhere you looked were people hugging and screaming and being so happy to see each other again. I loved seeing that! Through my conference years, I have met lots of conference friends– and when you don’t bring coworkers or grad school friends with you– it’s nice to know that there is community everywhere. It makes the conference seem a bit less lonely and overwhelming!…

ALA Midwinter 2018

ALSC Membership Dinner at #alamw19

As a first time Midwinter attendee, it can be difficult to navigate the conference, so I was delighted to attend the ALSC membership dinner and connect with other librarians! It was easy to get involved: a few weeks ago, I signed up to share a meal with a small group of youth services librarians and was paired with four brilliant, talented professionals. Tonight, we met up, bonded over our love of children’s literature, and had some truly fantastic Indian food. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet new librarians, learn from my peers, and ask questions about ALSC.

ALA Annual 2018

The Inclusive Makerspace #WeNeedDiverseMakerspaces #alaac18

It’s been another jam-packed, amazing day at the 2018 ALA Conference! This afternoon I attended The Inclusive Makerspace #WeNeedDiverseBooks session led by Gina Seymour, a School Library Media Specialist. She offered some great advice on making your Makerspace or hands on learning activities accessible for a wide variety of youth, including those with disabilities or language barriers. Gina provided many simple tips with big impact, like providing triangular anti-roll crayons, instruction sheets with a visual cue for each step, and printing instructions in both English and Spanish. Other suggestions included labeling all craft materials used in making with not only a word but an image of what is inside. She emphasized how making can promote the 3 E’s: Equity, Education and Excitement. This session made me think of how my library could reassess our own maker-based activities and  programming so that everyone can be successful and feel welcome. Thinking of…


2018 Pura Belpre Award Celebracion

One of best sessions at each ALA Annual Conference #alaac18 is this Celebracion! Each author and illustrator gave insite into their work then we were treated to a performance by the folk group Vive Mi Terra from New Orleans.  Their  name — “Feel My Country” — is so apropos as we celebrate these latino titles and honor all children by celebrating mulicultural experiences. #alscleftbehind   This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group and IV. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials.