Stealing Tim‘s Black Flag t-shirt is my favorite past-time, especially when I need to feel extra cozy and safe at work. I don’t listen to Black Flag because I’m angry enough on my own and I’m also a total poseur.
I had three programs this week, and I thought I’d share with you what I read. One class I had was Toddler Story and Play, a pretty laid back little class where I do a very short storytime (usually one or two books sandwiched between songs and rhymes) followed by a playtime. Later in the week, I had two separate class visits from some Pre-K students. Here’s what the kiddos heard:
Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
I’m sorry. I don’t do a class visit without Pete the Cat. Not happening. If I’m meeting a brand new group of kids, from Toddlers to 3rd graders, I’m busting out Pete the Cat. They love it. It’s a huge crowd pleaser and, because of this, I’ll never tire of it. Also, I force the kids to do jazz hands and no one doesn’t like doing jazz hands.
Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier
I love books about books! I love having students come to the library for the first time and busting out a bunch of fun stories about books and libraries. Anyway, this is a newish title that I’m really pleased with. It’s so clever! There’s color recognition and a book within a book within a book. Open This Little Book is a new favorite of mine.
It’s a Little Book by Lane Smith
Another book about a book. It’s especially good for talking to the little-uns about properly treating a book, without being didactic and obnoxious. It’s short and sweet. Someone complained, “Hey, that was a short book!” Kid, I told you the title was It’s a Little Book. There was full disclosure here and I apologize for nothing.
Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin
Kind of like Mouse Paint. But. You know. With monsters. I prefer the monsters.
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
One of the groups mentioned that they were doing a section on “foods and eating”. Of course, when the teacher showed up, she said, “Oh, that was the section we did several weeks ago, now we’re talking about Community Helpers.” Naturally. I could go into a whole rant here about how I had double checked about this whole to-do, but let’s just move on, shall we? Anyway, I proceeded to read them Dragons Love Tacos. I love asking about the kids’ favorite foods and then deadpan asking them, “Do you know what dragons love to eat? You don’t? Seriously?” I feel like the kids never quite get the last joke of the book, but overall they really dig it.
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
An oldy (ish), but a good reliable standby of mine (as are the rest of Yolen’s dinosaur books). The adults and the kids always seem to take to this book. I especially like when that one dinosaur sticks beans up his nose. That dinosaur cray.
So, that was my week in toddler and Pre-K picture books, peeps. What are your old faithfuls? What are your new favorites?
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
Michael Rosenblum’s article “What’s a Library?” received quite a response from librarians and library supporters. I and others blogged rebuttals and Mr. Rosenblum received a mess of angry tweets from the army that is Twitter librarians. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the kind of dialogue it inspired. It wasn’t always pretty, but I think it’s important for library advocates to know what we’re up against. Best of all, this whole fiasco compelled Natalie Binder and I to start a very promising new project called Libraries Changed My Life (seriously, check it out. It makes you feel good about the universe).
Oddly enough, though my initial reaction to Mr. Rosenblum’s article was hostile and negative, I’m feeling pretty good about the whole to-do now. I checked in with Mr. Rosenblum to see how he was feeling:
I’m going to go ahead an let myself feel good about this. I think we all learned a little something, and that’s what I’m choosing to take away from the “What’s a Library” debacle of 2013.
Keep fighting for libraries. Let yourself be heard.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
I feel like I’ve been discussing yesterday’s post for a thousand days. I’ve had so many great debates with Mr. Rosenblum and infinite wonderful, thought provoking discussions with librarians on Facebook and Twitter. It’s jumbled my brain and upset me and enraged me, but it’s also motivated me to do better for libraries and library patrons. Library advocacy is exhausting, especially when people like Mr. Rosenblum, who’ve never really visited a library, get to speak out and be heard. My patrons, however, are typically not the Rosenblums of the world. The Huffington Post isn’t knocking down their doors to hear their insights about the library world. Not all of them have internet access or computers (contrary to what Mr. Rosenblum believes). Their voices aren’t heard nearly as much as they should be.
One of the Twitter librarians that I’ve been having awesome conversations with is Natalie Binder. I know her as the host of #libchat on Twitter, so I already think she’s pretty great. Anyway, she mentioned that Planned Parenthood had a Tumblr called Planned Parenthood Saved Me. Natalie suggested that we start a Tumblr that simply compiled personal stories about how libraries have positively impacted people’s lives. We set up a Tumblr lickety split and it’s up and functional and wow! It’s called Libraries Changed My Life and it’s already received many great submissions.
Here’s what we’re looking for: Submissions from real life library patrons talking about positive interactions with libraries, librarians, and library workers. It could be as simple as “A librarian found me my favorite book” or something more life-changing like “The library helped me find a job”. Librarians are welcome to submit to Libraries Changed My Life, but we’re more interested in giving non-librarian patrons a voice.
Please come on over to our new site. It’s brand new, but I think it has a lot of potential. Pass it on to your friends.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
There are several things you can count on in this world: Every now and then, the New York Times will write a 10 years too late article about hipsters and Brooklyn; someone will start an essay about graphic novels with the phrase “Comics! They’re not just for kids anymore!”; and a rich white dude will pen a wishy washy article about the how libraries are dead. Seriously, the library has died so many times, I’d like a preferred customer punch card for attending its countless fake funerals. And yet, despite the library being all dead and stuff, I still go to work every morning, seeing patrons queueing up for computers and storytimes and ESOL classes and the next bestseller. According to the Center for an Urban Future, libraries “are become an increasingly critical part of the city’s human capital system,” “are more essential than ever”, and are “far from being obsolete.”
But, enough about facts and realities. The article in question, written by Michael Rosenblum, is an anecdotal testament to how he’s never been to the library that was near his house (“I never went inside. I never sat in its reading room. I never checked out a book. I never explored its stacks to go through old volumes of bound periodicals in some research project.”). He’s never used it, so he doesn’t understand the need for it (I don’t have a pacemaker, but that doesn’t stop me from realizing that some people need them). Rosenblum adores Google and Dictionary.com for all his information needs. I mean, they’re free, right? Says Rosenblum, “the web is…free (at least so far), and instant and much much easier to reference and find stuff than in the stacks (though less romantic, in a literary sense).”
Let’s talk about internet access (or the “web” as he calls it) being free. I’m on my computer right now. This computer set me back about 1000 bucks and on top of that, I pay for a wireless connection. 1000 plus dollars doesn’t quite ring as free to me, but this is an article written by a man who lives on top of the MoMA, so our idea of “free” might be vastly different. Now, on the other hand, if I wanted to bust this blog post out at the library, all I’d need is a library card. Which is free. I’d sign up for a computer (I could even access a nice Mac or a laptop at certain locations), which is free. WiFi? Also free. In the comments on his blog, Rosenblum laments that libraries are ”now a place where the poor can get online.”
First, I resent the insinuation that an institution that only serves the poor is somehow without value. Second, many people who don’t qualify as “poor” cannot afford the hundreds of dollars needed to buy a computer and maintain WiFi access. The library is for the poor, absolutely, but not just for the poor.
Moving on, let’s assume that a person has enough money to buy a computer and pay for internet access. Good for you, imaginary New Yorker that I made up. You have access to information. Google is always free, right? And always totally correct, no? Wrong. Google is fast and convenient, but it is not free nor is it always correct. Rosenblum and I had a little discussion on Twitter about Google being free, and it went like this:
I would love for this to be a regular feature on my blog, where I can tell you about the amazing work that librarians are doing for libraries, youth, and communities at large. Think of this as a Movers and Shakers award, but for like, rad people.
I first met Wick at Urban Librarians Unite’s Urban Librarians Conference (say that three times fast) and was immediately and totally in awe. I don’t tend to fangirl over other librarians because I’m too much of an egomaniac, but I was so impressed and inspired by all the work that Wick does. I haven’t mentioned yet it on this blog, but I’ve recently started volunteering for the Ali Forney Center, which provides a variety of services to homeless LGBTQ youth. Providing a welcoming library atmosphere for LGBTQ youth and patrons experiencing homelessness has been very much on my brain lately, so when I saw Wick’s list of accomplishments, I knew we had to be best friends whether he liked it or not. Wick’s a youngin in librarian years, but he’s gotten so much done: he’s received the Creating Change award from the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce for work organizing around LGBTQ issues in rural Missouri and Kansas; he’s the President of Empowering Queer Activists and Leaders (EQUAL), which provides activist and leadership training for queer and allied youth; in 2008 he was named the best activist in Missouri; and is a self-proclaimed riot grrrl. Oh, and this is all in addition to being a librarian. Do you feel inadequate yet? I do.
I found his talk at the UL Conference so freaking inspiring and motivating, I had to interview him so that you all could know how great he is and get some new ideas about the possibilities for better library/patron/community interactions.
By the by, I noticed that Wick uses a number of different pronouns when referring to himself. When asked about his preferred pronoun, he answered: “I like all of the pronouns and none of them. Really, I’m not too picky when it comes to that.” So, I’m using he and him, because I’m not very imaginative and this whole PGP thing is admittedly very new to me. But I’m trying. So I hope that’s OK with readers.
Isn’t advocacy season the pits? Isn’t being a public servant enough trouble without begging to keep your job and pleading to keep libraries open? Yeah. It sucks. But I do it because I believe in libraries and I want to stay employed. New York City needs its libraries now. Libraries are vital to NYC’s well-being. So, won’t you take a minute to vote for extended library hours?
The winner of the most votes (along with the two runners-up) will get John C. Liu, our City Comptroller, to testify on their behalf.
You don’t need to be a librarian or a NY-er to vote.
Comment and tell me that you voted and I will post a delightful reaction GIF in return. Oh, and share and tweet this post like the WIND. NYC libraries need all the help they can get.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
P.S. No seriously. CLICK HERE RIGHT NOW TO VOTE FOR EXTENDED LIBRARY HOURS IN NYC!
Welcome to I AM READING THIS SO HARD RIGHT NOW, where I get all gross and cutesy about a book I am totally crushing on. I won’t summarize the book for you, because that’s boring and I don’t like being bored. Instead, I give you an excerpt that I feel really sums up how rad I think the book is.
Today, I’m going to talk about Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle. If we’ve met, then I’ve already told you how crazy I am about this book. First of all, it’s OOoooh, on the LGBTQ tip (That’s a TLC reference, kids!), which is unusual when we’re dealing with kid’s middle grade chapter books (not that LGBTQ kid’s chapter books don’t exist. I’m very grateful for titles like Drama and The Popularity Papers). Our protagonist Nate (I don’t want kids, but I’d adopt Nate in a heartbeat. He’s the best), doesn’t identify as gay (yet). Rather, he calls himself “undecided”. Why does this make Better Nate than Ever an LGBTQ title? It absolutely speaks to the gay experience. Though kids are coming out of the closet earlier than ever these days, many kids end up grappling with labeling their sexual identities (some never end up labeling their sexuality or gender at all, which is absolutely a valid choice). Nate is one of these kids. He gets bullied at school and called anti-gay slurs. He unabashedly loves musicals. He finds solace in knowing that there are out gay men thriving in New York City. Now, none of these characteristics necessarily add up to “gay”, but with Nate, you’ve just got a feeling. I don’t know. You read it. You let me know if it speaks to the LGBTQ experience. It does for me.
As a proud and obnoxious New Yorker, I love Nate’s sense of wonder, fear, and hope when he experiences the city for the first time. Federle’s version of NYC is endearing and lovely and maybe just a little scary. But it’s full of promise. Everything might not be perfect now, but it’s going to get way better for Nate. His future looks pretty bright.
This is my absolute favorite part of this totally hilarious and heart-warming debut novel by Tim Federle. Thirteen year old Nate’s on the way to an oyster bar called Aw Shucks (get it?), when something catches his eye:
My ideal evenings include booze and crafts. Give me some vodka and some glitter and I’m pretty easy to get along with.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid