An Incomplete and Brief History of Protests, Riots, and Uprisings: A YA Display

The streets of NY have been full of protesters since the disappointing and disgusting decision not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner, an unarmed New Yorker. Protests have also sprung up all over the world around the murder of Garner, as well as those of Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, and far too many others. This is a time for many of us to feel sad, angry, heartbroken, and helpless.

I, myself, have attended a protest that started in Union Square and ended up at the Rockefeller tree lighting. I was relieved to see such a huge crowd of supporters, but utterly dismayed to see tourists and Christmas tree enthusiasts yelling at us, starting fights with us, and, even worse, being completely apathetic to our presence. I left angry and sad and scared.

I should really attend more protests. I feel so strongly about this, and yet, I’ve only been to one.

Crowds of citizens protesting the deaths of unarmed Black men and women are a reality of life in New York City and the world at large. The library would be remiss to not comment on the demonstrations or the killings. It’s just not always clear to me how to tackle the subject.

I’ve made displays about other sensitive topics: body image, racism, LGBTQ pride, and self-care, but this one seems harder to bring up. And who am I to bring up the topic anyway? What am I trying to say, exactly? Do I think the teens aren’t talking about it? Maybe they just don’t want to talk about it around me. 

My attempt may be awkward, but, here it is.

I made a display called An Incomplete and Brief History of Protests, Riots, and Uprisings. I wanted to show that protests are not a new phenomenon. They are not just an American institution. They are led by and for the interests of men and women, queer people and straight people, those who are Black or white, young and old. It’s been happening since before the dawn of this country.

I see a lot of apathy concerning protests: “Why? What is the point? What does it accomplish?” And yet: The Storming of the Bastille, though only a few prisoners were released, brought about an entire revolution. The Boston Tea Party accomplished the same. The Salt March opened up the world’s eyes to Indian, not British, interests. The Great March on Washington gave the world the “I Have a Dream” speech. The Woman’s Suffrage Parade raised $14,000 (in 1913 dollars!) and women were afforded the right to vote only seven years later. Walls were brought down. Rights were granted. The world was made to listen to voices that were being silenced. There were real, tangible results to these protests.

Now, looking at this display I’m wondering if I should have made a bigger statement, huge signs that say #BlackLivesMatter or #ICantBreathe. Certainly, in (mostly) liberal Brooklyn, they wouldn’t be out of place. I don’t know. Maybe I chickened out. I suppose I didn’t want it to look like I was telling the teens what to think. I simply wanted to provide access to this history and let them figure out what they needed to themselves.

In any case, here is the display, along with some visuals I made if you want to steal them to make something bigger and badder and better. They are yours if you want them.

This was put up in the Young Adult section. I hope it starts some dialogue, even if I’m not there to hear it.

The Woman’s Suffrage March of 1913 and the Tiananmen Square protests.

The Salt March, the Storming of the Bastille, and the Soweto Uprising.

The Great March on Washington. On the top, cut out, is the Berlin Wall protests.

Stonewall Riots and the Boston Tea Party.

And now, the visuals I made (using my old friend, PicMonkey). The text is mercilessly and shamelessly cut-and-pasted and Frankensteined from all over the place. I tried to make these historical events accessible and clear to teen readers.

history

china

 

Tiananmen

Continue reading

An updated Staff Picks display featuring lots of cartoon cats and galaxy prints

Previously, I had made a Staff Picks display where all the Youth Wing librarians posted their favorite middle grade titlesWe had all picked several books that we put on display under little cartoon librarians I created In addition, I offered a little hand-out for the patrons which included all the staff favorites.

This time, we went a little more casual. Instead of several picks per librarian, everyone gets one spot. If you see your spot empty, give yourself a pat on the back for picking something that caught someone’s eye, and replace the title. In addition to middle grade titles, we included YA books as well.

First, I made new cartoons of all the staff (most of us new since the last time I tried this!), using Wee World and PicMonkey.

Here’s me:

Note the half-hearted smattering of pink glitter all over the floor.

This is actually pretty close to what my hair looks like now! Note the half-hearted smattering of pink glitter all over the floor. If anyone can find me mint green cowboy boots, I’d be happy forever.

And the rest of the staff (you can see that most of us are pretty into cats):

emmaname

Emma says she doesn’t like cats, and yet, she asked for Hello Kitty, which is kind of a girl who thinks she’s a cat or something. It’s complicated.

tatiananame rakishaname lisaname leighname Jasonname benname

I laminated all these pieces, along with letters spelling out S-T-A-F-F P-I-C-K-S. Here’s an example of one letter I made:

Yes, apparently I'm super into putting galaxy print on everything, thus putting me at least 2 years behind the trend.

Yes, apparently I’m super into putting galaxy print on everything, thus putting me at least 2 years behind the trend.

Continue reading

Upcoming Presentation on LGBTQ Lit!: Why I’ve been kinda quiet lately

I aim to post about once a week on here, but I’ve been busy with a presentation I’m pretty excited/terrified about. It’s for the Ontario Library Association, and it’s called “No Stereotypes Allowed: Building LGBTQ Collections for Kids and Teens“. Here, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned in my years in the Rainbow List and as a Rainbow List/Stonewall Book Award enthusiast/wannabe. I hope to help you and your library build a better and more inclusive collection. Consider it a crash course in the best that LGBTQ literature has to offer.

There’s still time to register! Click here!

When it’s done, maybe I can blog more often. Maybe.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

(ETA 12/4/2014: The presentation has been moved to April 2nd, 2015. More time for me to make it extra awesome. Stay tuned!)

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Librarian Wardrobe ♥ Libraries Changed My Life ♥

Little Pink Mouse: Where is that sucker, anyway?: A Flannel Board

I used to be very resistant to using flannel boards in my programs. I was always afraid that the kids would rush to the flannel board, begging to rip off pieces and generally causing havoc. It hasn’t turned out that way, though, and I find myself having a least one new flannel board ready for each program.

I got the idea for this one from Storytime Underground, though I changed the rhyme up a tiny bit to fit the natural cadence of my voice.

The basic chant is “Little Pink Mouse, Little Pink Mouse, are you hiding in the _____ house?” I ask this question to the kids and adults, lifting the house off to reveal what’s underneath. I go through three houses, which all have something other than the mouse hiding underneath, and say, “Is that the little pink mouse?” The kids tell me that it isn’t, and then name the actual object. Finally, the last house has the mouse underneath.

All of the pictures are printed out on a color printer. I then run them through the laminator to make them nice and sturdy. Each house has a velcro piece affixed to the top and bottom of the back portion. Each object (cat, dinosaur, letter A, pink mouse), has just one velcro circle on the back. I made sure the objects were small enough to fit under each house.

It starts off like this:

IMG_20141016_114223039 (1)

Little pink mouse, little pink mouse, are you hiding in the orange house?

Nope.

Little pink mouse, little pink mouse, are you hiding in the red house?

It would appear not.

Little pink mouse, little pink mouse, are you hiding in the green house?

Actually, just the letter A. Sorry ’bout it.

Soooooo, what’s behind the blue house?

Little pink mouse, little pink mouse, are you hiding in the blue house?

Yay! Finally! Good job, everyone!

I’ve used this several times in Toddler Time to great success. Toddler Time at my library is too busy to let the kids physically handle the flannel board pieces, so they just make guesses and watch me move the objects around the board. We also have a much more informal program at the library on Saturdays, called Story and Play. During the play portion, I let the kids come up to the board and move the pieces around, letting them name the different objects and colors. That has been pretty fun, too. Soon enough, I’ll swap out the cat, dinosaur, and letter A for different animals, letters, and shapes.

And hey, we’ve been identifying colors, animals, letters, and patterns, so it’s a great activity for growing toddler brains.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Librarian Wardrobe ♥ Libraries Changed My Life ♥

We had a Halloween Toddler Dance Party and it was exhausting

Last year, my coworker Leigh and I threw a Toddler Valentine’s Day Dance party. It was a very successful program (well-attended despite the blizzard and full of happy patrons), so my new coworker/partner-in-crime Emma and I decided that a Halloween Dance Party would be a good idea.

Last time, I spent months creating decorations (some complicated tissue paper garlands that I swear nobody even noticed). This time, we went way more low-key. Emma and I offered three basic features in our party:

  1. A dance floor: The most preparation I did for the event was creating a family-friendly playlist. Think light on the Raffi and heavy on the Ray Charles. I feel like props help when you’re getting kids and adults to dance, so I had a big box of multi-colored scarves. They were a hit.
  2. A photobooth: The pumpkin backdrop was created by our coworker Leigh. It was self-run by parents and caregivers. They took pictures of their own children or asked another patron to take group photos.
  3. Toddler bowling: Emma and gussied up some individual toilet paper rolls to look like ghosts. We wrapped them in white construction paper, and then glued on black eyes and mouths. The tp rolls served as pins, and we let the toddlers try to knock them down with a ball.

Here’s Emma and me with the backdrop:

Emma always looks super cheerful in pictures.

Emma always looks super cheerful in pictures.

Those little glitter doo-dads in my hair are plastic spiders.

Those little glitter doo-dads in my hair are plastic spiders.

The toddlers dug the toddler bowling, though Emma said toddler bowling quickly turned into toddler building blocks, which is also fine. Stacking up ghost-y toilet paper rolls and knocking them down is a perfect age-appropriate activity.


I hung out on the dance floor where I pretended I could dance for a full 45 minutes. I saw a lot of nannies and parents simply fixing their cellphone cameras on their children and yelling, “DANCE!” while the child awkwardly stood there, not knowing what to do. I encouraged the grown-ups to put down their phones and lead by example. I kept saying, “Hold your child’s hand and dance with them! It doesn’t matter if you can’t dance! They don’t know that!” This was, mostly, to no avail. For the most part, the kids danced if their accompanying adult did. Otherwise, there was a lot of kids sitting next to adults on the floor. I eventually decided to let it go (I literally sang that song in my head) and figured that whoever wanted to dance would and that I should stop pestering people. I had a nice, albeit small, crew of toddler-sized dance machines. It was fun.

We had over 60 people in attendance, some in costumes, some not. A good time was had, even though my feet hurt at the end of it. Some parents signed waivers for their pictures to be posted on our library’s family page on Facebook. Click here to see some cute Brooklyn kids being cute.

Wanna steal my playlist of kid-friendly tunes that’s semi-guaranteed to get booties of all ages moving? Here it is:

FYI, the Labyrinth song has the line, “Slap that baby, make him free”. Does this matter to you? Don’t use that song, then. Labyrinth is kind of nostalgic for people my age, so I included it. It gets everyone jumping.

The most popular song was the Harry Belefonte one, though no one seemed to get the Beetlejuice association.

I also added some other songs that I didn’t put on my 8tracks playlist:

  1. We are the Dinosaurs: Obligatory and always a crowd-pleaser
  2. Shake Dem Halloween Bones: It was so-so received. Kind of a Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes situation.
  3. Monster Mash: Hello. It’s a Halloween party.
  4. Brush your teeth: Classic

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Librarian Wardrobe ♥ Libraries Changed My Life ♥

Look! We made a Halloween/vampire display in the teen section!

OK. Emma (aka Miss Print) did. But I helped!

namethatvampiredetail

Does anyone get this reference? How old AM I, anyway?

                 Does anyone get this reference? How old AM I, anyway?

Click on through to see the whole to-do!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Librarian Wardrobe ♥ Libraries Changed My Life ♥

Beyond ALA’s Code of Conduct: What can we do to combat harassment at ALA Conferences?

This post has been a long time coming. I apologize for its tardiness, but the ideas percolating in my head regarding the results of my ALA Code of Conduct survey have been numerous and various and hard to pin down. And clearly, a couple of issues have come to light since I’ve started compiling numbers and stories. Several librarians whom I respect and admire have voiced their support (monetarily and otherwise) for the Ada Initiative, which, among other things, promotes anti-harassment policies for conferences. In addition, the circumstances surrounding #teamharpy cannot be ignored. I imagine that however Joe Murphy’s legal proceedings play out, it will shape how the library world, which claims to be in favor of free speech and freedom of information, deals with people who speak out against harassment. For whatever it is worth, I would like to state that I fully support the Ada Initiative and #teamharpy (speaking of which, please consider signing the petition asking Joe Murphy to drop his lawsuit). I have no illusions of grandeur that my opinion is some major win for either party, but we all have to add our voices of encouragement and approval.

After collecting over 300 survey results, I have been considering what ALA’s next steps should be. I believe I’ve learned something from reading the survey responses and I wanted to voice some concrete plans-of-attack for dealing with conference harassment. I will also share the ideas and concerns that survey respondents contributed.

Thus, this is how I think we should proceed to make our industry safer for conference attendees.

  • Realize that harassment at ALA conferences is a real concern and a major problem. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t witnessed it. It doesn’t matter if it’s never happened to you. Your colleagues are telling you that it’s a reality. If you are inclined to not believe your colleagues, consider finding a new profession where you do not exist in a constant state of mistrust. I often witness colleagues touting the idea that people are willy-nilly apt to make false accusations against their coworkers/peers for attention. I’m not sure where this idea started. Though my CoC survey dealt with harassment as a whole, I often recall the notion that a man is 32 times more likely to be struck by lightning than he is to be falsely accused of rape. Some of our peers are living in a fantasy world where people are out to make false accusations for attention or some sort of Movers and Shakers-type status. The ALA will not be able to move forward on these issues until we admit that there’s a problem.
  • In a similar vein to the above, let’s not dismiss ALA’s harassment problems because we think it’s just as bad or worse everywhere else. In a previous post, a commenter stated, “I wonder what percentage of reporting there is of sexual harassment in general. I suspect that there are just basically a lot of people, no matter where they are, who do not report sexual harassment.” To muse that it’s just horrible for women everywhere so we can’t expect much more from ALA is a terrible argument. Though harassment is felt by people of all genders, let’s never forget that librarianship is largely made up of a female workforce. The fact that women make up the majority of librarianship yet we’re still subject to this kind of nonsense is despicable. There is zero excuse to give up this fight.
  • Survey respondents discussed who should spearhead a task force that would deal with ALA harassment issues. The Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship, SRRT’s Feminist Task Force and ACRL’S Women’s and Gender Studies Section were all mentioned as groups with the potential to take on this role. I, however, believe that there should be a separate task force specifically designated with overseeing this matter. First, women are not the only ones who face harassment, threats, unwanted touches, etc. Though common sense would bring you to the very same conclusion, the survey revealed that ALA attendees who identify themselves as persons of color, queer/genderqueer, trans*, and/or differently abled/disabled also faced harassment. Additionally, I am vehemently opposed to the idea that harassment is the problem of women (and/or the harassed) alone and that we must be the ones who organize and deliberate how best to not be harassed/threatened/demeaned/etc. ALA is still such a massive and complicated mystery to me, and I don’t always understand its politics, but I maintain that a CoC and harassment prevention task force should be created. It should reflect various factions of the ALA community, from the GLBTRT to the Black Caucus and beyond.
  • Nearly 23% of survey respondents believed that reporting harassment should be easier. Searching for the term “code of conduct” on the ALA website gets you a myriad unhelpful search results. “Harassment” garners similar links. The best I could find was a variety of phone numbers and email addresses at the bottom of pages regarding the Philadelphia and Vegas conferences.  The Philadelphia information is much more helpful, with concrete contact information. The Vegas page simply lets the reader know that contact information is forthcoming. Information regarding what you should do if you are harassed should not be this hard to find. Who should I call? What should I do? Where should I go? This information should be readily available and easy-to-access on the website and in conference signage. Speaking of signage…
  • A good portion of survey respondents mentioned the need for anti-harassment signage. One even mentioned the campaign of Emerald City Comic Con, which included this poster: 

Continue reading

JP Porcaro: Better Know a Candidate for ALA Presidency

As a whole, I find ALA politics confusing, convoluted, sometimes pretentious, and generally not geared towards librarians such as myself. I see a lot of friendly smiles and hear a lot of generally nice sentiments bandied about, but I never really understood what any of this had to do with me and the kind of work I’m interested in.

That’s why I’m excited that JP Porcaro, who is running for ALA President, has agreed to be interviewed on my blog. I’ll get the interview up some time in November and I’ll use my own questions, along with those that readers (that’s you guys!) submit. I promise to keep the conversation frank, bullshit-free, and void of unnecessary platitudes.

If you have any questions for JP, hit me up at magpielibrarian@gmail.com. Please put “Questions for JP” in the subject area. If you want your question/questions to be asked anonymously, please explicitly state so. Full disclosure, JP and I are buddies, but I aim to keep the interview fair and unbiased. As long as your question pertains to librarianship and ALA issues, I promise to ask it.

I feel like this is a huge opportunity for those of us who feel a little out of place and/or overwhelmed when it comes to ALA elections and offices. I want this to be a real-talk platform for all ALA members, where we can find out who exactly is representing us and librarianship as a whole. Are there issues that you feel the ALA is ignoring? I vow to let your voice be heard.

And, hey, if any other ALA candidates want to be interviewed here, in the same manner, you know where to find me.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Librarian Wardrobe ♥ Libraries Changed My Life ♥

Making a Mess in our MakerSpace: Fireworks in a Jar and a Poor Man’s Lava Lamp

We do a MakerSpace session every week with our school-aged library kids. For whatever reason, this is not a program I typically lead, so I always get a little nervous when it’s my turn. I wanted to do something STEM-y and science experiment-y as opposed to artsy and craftsy, so I started searching for inexpensive and easy-to-execute science experiments. After some searching and clicking, I found a website called I Can Teach My Child, run by a former teacher and current mom. Two projects seemed doable: Fireworks in a Jar and a Lava Lamp experiment. I like that Jenae, who runs the site, breaks down not only how to do the experiment but also the science behind it.

I had a fairly small group, thankfully, because these experiments have the potential to get messy and out of hand. Thanks to Emma from Miss Print for taking pictures! She is the best workplace buddy.

First, we tried the Fireworks in a Jar experiment, which used a jar (I knew I saved Classico jars for a reason!), water, oil, and food coloring. We talked about how water and oil don’t mix, how the oil will rise to the top, and the food coloring will sink to the bottom. Jenae says it much more eloquently:

Food coloring dissolves in water but not in oil.   Because the oil is less dense than the water, it will float at the top.  The colored droplets will begin to sink because they are heavier than the oil.  Once they sink into the water, they will begin dissolving into the water (which looks like a tiny explosion).

Here’s how we did it:

We put a plop of Canola oil on a plate and added a couple of drops of food coloring:



Then we used a plastic fork to scramble the dye and oil, noting that the dye doesn’t really mix in the oil, it just breaks down into smaller pieces:
Then we carefully poured the dye-oil mixture into the jar of water: 
And watched what happened!

Continue reading

An Interview with Scott Bonner, Ferguson Librarian

 

I am not a smart enough person, or eloquent enough, to talk about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. I’m not even going to try. I will say that, as I’ve watched events unfold, I’ve been struck at how the community, and in some ways, the country, has come together to support the citizens of Ferguson. When I saw how the Ferguson Library became not only a safe space, but a source of real positivity and support, it made me want to be a better librarian. Not only did Ferguson library workers step up their game, but so did teachers and volunteers of all sorts. I wanted to know how, despite so much strife and conflict, the library seamlessly became a hub of strength and solace. I contacted Scott Bonner, a librarian at the Ferguson Library. He was nice enough to answer some questions.

(Note, this interview took place over a fairly long stretch of time, because Scott’s obviously very busy. Please excuse any weird time continuity issues).

Ingrid Abrams: On a typical day, what is your library like? 

Scott Bonner: We are a small library, in an old suburb of St. Louis.  I am the only full time librarian.  All other employees are part-time library assistants, with one part-time administrative assistant.  As a result of not having reference staff or a Children’s Librarian or a Programming Librarian, we do not get a lot of reference work, and have far less activity involving kids than I would like.  I only started July 1st, so I’ve got plans to improve those areas, but I haven’t been able to move on them yet.  What we do get is steady traffic from the community.  Our public access computers are full pretty much all day.  We have good circulation.  The atmosphere is quiet and businesslike, with the occasional person talking way too loud on a cellphone.  My day is often filled with administrative duties like signing vendor checks, contacting various service providers to get things done, making introductory contacts with community organizations, and troubleshooting technology.  I am guessing it’s normal activity for a small library with limited staff and a new director, and a very good thing.

IA: Since the recent turmoil in your community, how has your library changed? Are the expectations of the patrons different? What are you offering that you’ve never offered before?

SB: This last week has been radically different, and just the kind of change that I want to see.  Suddenly the library is full and overfull.  Everyone knows we’re here.  Regular library traffic continued, thanks in part to me trying to contain the big program to areas away from the front desk and computers.  But, obviously, we’ve had an explosion of activity everywhere else, and it’s not like we’re big enough to have a sense of “everywhere else”.  Everything is in sight of everything, after all.  Lots of kids, lots of people who’ve never been to the library before, lots of noise, lots of camera crews blocking doorways and aisles.  I think we did the best job we could of partitioning school from library, but it was not anything like a normal day.  It was a good deal better than a normal day.

This last week, we made an ad-hoc school!  I offered the library’s space, and put out metaphorical fires, and played taskmaster to the press, and the teachers and volunteers made an actual, working school.  We spread across two locations, the Ferguson Library and the First Baptist Church up the street.  We had 200 students across locations at our peak — before we established the second location, we had 150 at the library alone on Wednesday, and wasn’t that a crazy day!  We had educational organizations from across St. Louis clamoring to help, including SpringboardSTL, St. Louis Science Center, MO Dept of Conservation, and many more.
Sad to say I have no credit for this photo. Contact me if it's yours.

Sad to say I have no credit for this photo. Contact me if it’s yours. I’ll credit you.

Continue reading