Little Reminders Everywhere: Beware the Summer Slide!

This is a summer-related post and summer’s almost over (can I get an Amen, public children’s librarians?), so this is being written up very late in the game. I’ve talked about how hard summers are on me, so you’ll forgive me for my tardiness. Usually, I leave an early literacy tip behind the reference desk for about a month or so. However, since we are inundated with school-aged children all day in the summer-time, I decided to aim this literacy tip at an older crowd. It went up in July and won’t come down until school starts.

This literacy tip discusses the Summer Slide, which is what happens to children who don’t read during the summer. Their little child-brains eat up tons of knowledge during the school year, but, if they don’t read during July and August, they can lose vocabulary words and even fall back an entire grade level.

Like the Summer Reading plug I snuck in there?

Here’s a closer look at the illustration, which I stole/borrowed from here:

Stay tuned for next month’s early literacy tip, which I will hopefully post in a timely manner like a grown up.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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“You angry feminist types are always looking for crap to stir”: Code of Conduct Survey Trolls and Others

Capture

[The full and required-to-read comic here]

This is the third installment of responses to a survey I created concerning Code of Conduct violations at ALA conferences. The first post consisted of numerical findings, while the second shared the stories of respondents. But even all this is not the full story, as I received a good number of troll comments, many of which were clearly made to get a rise out of me (or anyone who read them). My first instinct was to delete or ignore them (Don’t feed the trolls! Don’t read the comments! Etc.). These, though, weren’t the standard “STFU, go make me a sandwich”-style trolls. This was something else altogether. Sometimes the comments were just plain rude. To be fair, some of the responses weren’t even troll-y, just dismissive or totally clueless. So, I decided to post them. It seemed important to respond and make their comments visible. These are, after all, our colleagues (or they’re pretending to be!). We must attend conferences with them. We must interact with them. It’s good to know what’s out there. Even if some of these comments were meant in jest, we have to think about why our fellow professionals find harassment funny.

In the previous CoC posts, I tried to refrain from adding my personal comments to the mix. Now, you’ll say that I have quite a bit to say.


Comment #1: “I have also acknowledged simple compliments for what they are and do not consider them to be harassment.” I think it’s important to note that sexual harassment (or general harassment) is quite different than a compliment. Note some of these “compliments” respondents talked about in the previous CoC post: “An inappropriate comment from two colleagues about the size of my breasts” and “comment about a male’s sexual organs, veiled as being a joke/compliment” and “he complimented my clothing and body and said it was nice to see a young, attractive woman at the conference.” An example of a compliment appropriate for a work conference would be, “That’s a nice hat” or “I enjoyed your poster session.” Anything that sexualizes the person, mentions intimate anatomy, or that would be inappropriate in your place of work is in bad form and generally unwelcome. I did not receive a single response that included someone complaining about a standard compliment, nor would I start a CoC survey because someone told me I had pretty hair. When you hear about a person’s experience with harassment, try not to go out of your way to insist that it was appropriate. Believe your colleagues.

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Code of Conduct Survey Results: Your Stories

Welcome to my second post regarding the results of my Code of Conduct surveyPreviously, I shared the cold-hard numbers, which are certainly helpful, but do not reflect the entire story of Code of Conduct violations at ALA Conferences. I left ample room for respondents to talk about their experiences. Here, I will share the stories and anecdotes that respondents were kind enough to include.

Before others tell their stories, I believe it would be polite and only right to share two of mine. I have been harassed several times at conferences, but two main stories compelled me to create the Code of Conduct survey. We all respond to different situations in our own ways. Verbal harassment never bothers me for long. It just rolls off my back. I think my tough NY exterior has desensitized me to certain kinds of behavior. However, unwanted touching bothers me beyond all belief. For me, personally, it is something that I just cannot accept from other professionals (or anyone, really). One incident happened at an after-conference party. Yes in a bar. Yes with drinks. A gentleman, who I had never met before that evening, kept trying to hold my hand. Repeatedly. I don’t think hand-holding is harassment at all. However, when someone pulls their hands away from yours, again and again, most people would understand that said person is not asking for physical contact. No matter how often I pulled away, he kept reaching for my hand, often times succeeding in holding it. It was odd, it was unwanted, and I did not like it. Getting away from this librarian was awkward. Did this ruin my conference? Did this make me feel unsafe? No. But I am entitled to my own physical space and the onus is not on me, entirely, to explain to those around me (librarians, no less) that I am not public property just because I’m at a bar.

The other incidence occurred on the conference floor at the Vegas conference, which I like to point out to people who say that harassment at conferences only happens around alcohol (as if a cocktail explains and permits harassment). I was handing out model releases for the Kyle Cassidy portrait project. I was choosing my words very carefully as I approached people as I didn’t want anyone to think that was hitting on them. I approached a male librarian with a model release in hand. After I gave my “do you want your portrait taken”-spiel, he was giving me an odd, confused look, so, I added, “I’m not hitting on you, I just think you’d be good for the project.” He grabbed my hand and said, “Oh, I’m hitting on you. I am hitting back.” He then proceeded to grab my hand and open-mouth kiss it. It was not a standard kiss on the hand. In fact, one of our library teens always kisses our hands and it’s very sweet, actually. This gentleman on the conference floor was not being sweet. It felt lech-y. It felt gross. My hand was covered in spit. I stood there, stunned, as he walked away, occasionally turning around to look back at me and smile. Another librarian had witnessed the scenario and asked if I was alright. She offered me some hand sanitizer. It was a very kind thing for her to do. I felt that she was acknowledging that the situation was inappropriate and I appreciated that she checked up on me.

So, those are my stories. I am consistently shocked at the behavior of some conference-goers. My job pays for my conference days as if they were actual work days. Therefore, conferences are work for many of us. I’d like to think that those who harass conference goers don’t harass their coworkers back home. I could be wrong. I think that certain people think it’s OK to harass at conferences because they won’t be found out or because they think that a conference allows a set of behaviors that are different from those allowed in a more conventional workplace. I can’t be sure of this theory, though.

Moving on, these are some of the stories respondents were kind enough to share with me. I will quote them word for word, only editing them for length.  I tried not to alter people’s grammar, spelling, phrasing, capitalization, etc. In cases where survey-users mentioned specific names or divisions/round tables, I left out that information, though, in some cases, it was quite tempting to let identifying information remain. Some specifics were left in if they did not appear to be too identifying of those involved.

I do not believe I have specifically witnessed any of the following incidences and therefore cannot confirm or deny any story.

Brace yourself. This is a long post.

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Crowded Classes, Busted Voices, Kid-less Adults: Storytime Ninjas explain it all

Hey, look! I was a featured Ninja on Storytime Underground!

Grab button for Storytime Underground

Click through to hear Michelle, Natasha and I talk about crowded storytimes, taking care of your voice, and what to do about child-less adults crashing your kids’ programs.

Thanks to the kind folks at Storytime Underground for letting me act like someone who knows what they’re talking about!

Have a question for a Storytime Ninja? Click here! Are you a super-smart Ninja who has all the answers? Click here to field some submitted questions.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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In honor of Harry Potter’s impending mid-life crisis and birthday, steal my quiz!

DANG, Harry Potter, you’re getting old as hell (but not as old as me, which is kinda depressing). We have an upcoming Harry Potter party at our library, and I’ve done nothing in preparation other than come up with this quiz. You’re welcome, other librarians I work with. For the party, I’ll be busting out my old fake fortune teller schtick, which I’ve done for a previous HP party (as Professor Trelawney) and a Diviners party (as some weirdo). I’m getting awfully good at making up crap fortunes: “Uh…you’re fighting with your parents a lot….uh….you’re about to lose your favorite pair of socks…uh…that gum you like is going to come back in style…” My skills are super impressive.

Anyway, if you’re looking to use a Harry Potter quiz with your kids/tweens/teens, feel free to steal mine! Answers at the bottom.

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Code of Conduct Survey Results: Just the Numbers

With very little comment, here are  the results of the Code of Conduct survey, which sought responses from ALA Conference attendees. I asked ten questions, referring to experiences with ALA Code of Conduct violations at conferences. The violations could occur before or after the dawn of the CoC. Responses were anonymous. I never saw anyone’s name or place of work or ALA division or any other identifying information (unless the person insisted on including it, which happened in some cases. I will not include these specifics in upcoming posts). According to Survey Monkey, I received 321 responses.

Many of the questions were taken directly from the Code of Conduct itself. Wording and phrases that some respondents described as “vague” were often cut-and-pasted from the CoC. For example, many survey-users asked for me to define “harassment”, but I deliberately used the wording from the actual CoC. I added very little embellishment or clarification. I admittedly botched questions 5+6, regarding the treatment of those who speak at ALA panels and the like. I was trying to cover every term and phrase that the CoC mentioned, but I should have approached the questions in a different manner. Sadly, once the first person answers your survey, Survey Monkey no longer allows you to edit your questions. My apologies. I did glean some good anecdotes from questions 5+6, but I won’t be sharing the statistics from those questions as they’re unhelpful and irrelevant.

For those who hadn’t seen the original survey, I will now post the questions (even my botched 5+6), followed by a series of charts (some by Survey Monkey, one by me as I try to pick out common themes in the user-submitted anecdotes).

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Sure, let’s close the libraries and just get everyone an Amazon Kindle Unlimited Subscription

I’ve been a librarian for over five years, and have fought like a maniac to keep libraries in NYC open. Money has been scarce in NY for a long time, and library budgets are only just starting to level out. My system had some very un-fun layoff scares (while some systems have had actual layoffs), stunted hours, lack of materials, and massive staff shortages. To combat this, my colleagues and I have stayed up all night reading, dressed up as zombies and lumbered over the Brooklyn Bridge, and took part in a number of other tactics to help keep NYC libraries open and staffed. I really believe in the power of libraries and how they can transform lives and communities, but hey, when someone has a super good idea on how to save us all some money, I’m all ears. The super-good-idea haver is one Tim Worstall and he’s really knocking it out of the park with his idea to just shut down those dusty, ghost-town book depositories we call libraries and replace them with unlimited Kindle subscriptions for everyone!

Tim Worstall, bringing the noise and the funk, concurrently.

Tim Worstall, bringing the noise and the funk, concurrently.

Says Worstall:

More titles, easier access and quite possibly a saving of public funds. Why wouldn’t we simply junk the physical libraries and purchase an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription for the entire country?

I can’t argue with logic, can you? I don’t know about everybody else, but I think it’s time to just start converting these libraries in fro-yo places and just getting on with it already.

Now, maybe I’m kinda a Ludite, so you might have to explain this to me, but Amazon Kindle subscriptions are more than just books, right? I mean, yeah, you can get e-books and audiobooks and stuff, but it does tons more, correct?

Like, for example, the Kindle sits your kids down teaches them how to code, right? In a sort of fun, accessible, hands-on manner? And helps those same kids to learn how to invest their money? And provides activities for kids with a variety of abilities? And makes sure that kids who need free meals have them during the summer?

And Amazon provides a safe place for kids to go after school, no? Just like a safe haven they can go to until their parents pick them up. I might be wrong, but while the kids are somehow safely ensconced inside the Kindle, Amazon employees provide them with a free computer and WiFi use and research/homework assistance. I think.

And it’s not just for adults. Where many organizations and search engines fail, Kindle is there for your specialized research needs.

And in the case of a natural disaster, where you might lose your belongings and your home and have no access to WiFi and other resources, Amazon totally has your back, right?

One of the nicer things that the Kindle subscription does is help you find jobs. Thanks, Amazon!

And, correct me if I’m wrong, but Amazon is extremely supportive of the homeless community.

And if you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon will totally lend you a free Kindle. No problem. Amazon understands that you don’t have money for a Kindle!

I mean, if this unlimited Kindle subscription can not only lend us books, but provide safe places for our kids, educate us, help close the digital divide, provide specialized research assistance, help us in natural disasters, find us jobs, help the homeless population AND lend us free Kindles, then, well damn. I, for one, welcome our Amazon overlords.

Thanks, Tim Worstall! You’re the Best-all.

Oh, and one more thing, just as a little reminder:

I was just joking this whole time. Libraries are so much more than books, while Kindles, which are pretty OK, are *only* books. Thanks for listening.

I was just joking this whole time. Libraries are so much more than books, while Kindles, which are pretty OK, are *only* books. Thanks for listening.

~Love and Kindles…Libraries, Ingrid

P.S. Feel free to add your own reasons why libraries can offer so much more than an e-book subscription ever could.

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Someone #NotAllMen-ed Our Library’s Anti-date Violence Poster

Yup. Someone took our poster about date violence and #NotAllMen-ed the hell out of it.

Uncool.

Uncool.

In light of this, I thought I’d share a helpful resource for anyone working with youth in NYC. It’s called Day One, and it exists to end dating abuse and domestic violence. These kinds of violence are serious issues, not just in NYC, but in the country at large.

Some national statistics:

  • In a study of young women seeking family planning services, 53% of young women reported experiencing physical or sexual partner violence.
  • Women aged 16-24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence, triple the national average.
  • A woman is more likely to be injured, raped or killed by a current or former partner than by any other person.
  • Girls reported that their dating partners were the ones who started the abuse 70% of the time; whereas boys reported their dating partners to be initiators of abuse only 27% of the time. The boys were much more likely to state that they initiated incidents. For boys reporting they had been subject to a partner’s use of physical violence, 17% percent reported that the reason for this violence was because they (i.e. the boys) had been making sexual advances toward the dating partner.

Check out some of Day One’s very helpful guides here.

And remember, gentlemen, if your only response to violence against women is “WELL WHAT ABOUT ME!?!?!?”, you need to reevaluate your priorities. You don’t need to be the center of every single discussion.

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~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Self Care for Teens: If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?

RuPaul's words of wisdom now reside over the YA reference desk.

RuPaul’s words of wisdom now reside over the YA reference desk.

If you are one of the seven people who read this blog, you know that I like to do a “hot topic” display at the YA reference desk. I’ve covered body image, racism, LGBTQ  pride, and other topics. This time around, I decided to talk about the concept of self care. In addition to the display, I finally decided to add a pathfinder and a BiblioCommons list as well. I don’t know why it took me so long to add these other options. They seem like a necessary and logical addition to the display.

Look, everyone! I’m learning how to make stuff better.

I feel like Self Care is a touchy subject in general, not only with teens. There’s a need to never show weakness or ever ask for help when we’re overwhelmed. Yet, the best way we can be good to others is to first take good care of ourselves. I did some research on Self Care and came up with this pathfinder:

Within the pathfinder, I included a definition of Self Care and why it’s important, the 12 Steps for Self Care (I’ve also seen them listed as 10 Steps, but I saw 12 more often), and ideas for how one can take better care of themselves:

If you’d like the actual word document (I know the screencap of it is kinda blurry), just hit me up on my contact page.

The flip-side has a list of relevant library books, which again, can be found in this BiblioCommons list.

For the actual display, I borrowed/stole heavily from Calming Manatee, Emm Roy, and Skeletor is Love. Along with the search term “Self Care” I also used “Positive Affirmations”. I made an extra effort to find images featuring POC. Take a look:

Full Maya Angelou quote here if you are interested.

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Survey: Documenting Code of Conduct Violations at ALA Conferences

My wallet a smidge lighter, my skin a tiny bit more sunburned, and my heart a whole bunch more inspired by my fellow librarians, I am back from the ALA conference in Vegas. I had a pretty great time: I went to the Stonewall Book Awards brunch (and sat next to Ken Setterington!), I got to introduce Sara Farizan in a panel, AND I got lots of work done with Kyle on his upcoming project.

Oh, and uh, yeah. I got sexually harassed. Twice. Once by a fellow librarian at the conference hall. I was touched without consent. I was told a couple of things that were pretty unsettling and kissed all over my hands in a super-sloppy-spitty manner. It was gross. The other time was by a non-librarian who was an attendee. It was also gross. It was just a comment, but it was bad enough that I would have reported it in my place of work.

This is not my first conference and this is not my first time being harassed.

I don’t think people know how wide-spread harassment is at conferences. When I relayed the story of the librarian touching me at the conference hall, most male librarians were shocked. Female librarians expressed sympathy and then usually shared similar (or worse!) stories with me. However, I am not naive enough to believe that those who identify as female are the only ones who are harassed, intimidated, threatened, or even physically attacked at conferences. Homophobia, racism, transphobia, and able-ism can also occur.

Being harassed can be a shock to the system. I consider myself a total loudmouth who is assertive and outspoken. However, when harassed or touched or mistreated, I can freeze. I can forget what to do. I might start nervously laughing (which might make me look like I’m enjoying my harasser’s attention!). I may look around to see if there are any witnesses. I might choose to just flee the area. I haven’t, however, reported my harassment. Not even once. It’s never that easy for me. I would have appreciated signs up in the conference hall telling me who to contact if something unsafe occurred. It may have jostled me out of my shock and into action.

I am a big fan of the Hollaback! project and wondered why librarians weren’t collectively documenting their experiences with harassment at conferences. While I appreciate the presence of the Code of Conduct (even though some people just don’t get why it exists), I am not convinced that it’s enough. We, as attendees, need an added layer of awareness.

In the spirit of Hollaback!, I have created this survey. If you have experienced or witnessed any Code of Conduct violations, I am asking you to take part. It’s only 10 questions (because I couldn’t afford the upgrade, sadly), but hopefully it will give us a better understanding of what can occur at ALA conferences. Answers will be kept anonymous. If you choose to include any personal information (which you don’t have to and probably shouldn’t), I promise not to share it with anybody: not on my blog, not with my coworkers, not with my partner, not with my cat. Nobody. Any anecdotes that I receive will have any and all identifying information removed. This includes names and specific event characteristics (I may mention what city it occurred in if it seems relevant, but I won’t include names of events or divisions).

will however share non-specific stories and anecdotes. I will share statistics and the like in an upcoming blog post should people actually take the time to fill it out. If you’re concerned about sharing something publicly, do whatever feels safe. Many results will be included in a public post on this blog. For your protection, it’s best to keep things vague. No names, nothing too specific.

I know this survey won’t be super scientific and there’s probably some components I should have included. I tried to leave lots of wiggle room in the survey so that every kind of story can be told. Still, if there’s something you’d like to express but can’t find a good place on the survey to do so, feel free to hit me up elsewhere.

I’m not out to shame ALA staff or council members with this survey. I am not out to combat the Code of Conduct because I think it’s extremely necessary and I’m glad it’s in place.  What I am out to do is raise some awareness among conference attendees. I want to get a better grip on what conference harassment and intimidation looks like.

Please fill out this survey and share it with other ALA conferences attendees, past and present. I’m not sure what the survey results are going to look like. Maybe no one will fill it out. Maybe we’ll find that conditions aren’t as bad as I thought. I haven’t the slightest idea, but I’ll let you know when I find out.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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