A Visit to Giovanni’s Room: A Sponsored Post!

I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker online because if I’m going to screw up a blog post, I want to keep all the credit for myself! Plagiarism’s for dorks!

That’s right kids! This is a sponsored blog post. The nice folks over at Grammarly know that a) plagiarism is played out and b) Mama needs a new pair of shoes. I’m Mama in this case.

While I was attending ALA’s Midwinter conference in Philadelphia, I learned that the GLBT Round Table, of which I am a Director-at-Large, had recognized Ed Hermance, the owner and operator of the iconic bookstore Giovanni’s Room, for his contributions to the LGBTQ community. I had never been to Giovanni’s Room before, so I decided to check it out.

GR_historical_marker_photo_with_flagFirst of all, it’s a big store. In NYC, stores as big as this one usually belong to mega-chains, not independent owners.  Everyone at Giovanni’s Room was incredibly nice, but that was pretty much the case everywhere in Philadelphia. Before I entered the bookstore, I swore to myself that I was taking a break from LGBTQ literature. I know that sounds harsh, but while I did love my time on the Rainbow List (and I look forward to my upcoming term), I felt like I was getting burnt out on LGBTQ fiction.

That was, of course, until I saw the awesome selection of books available at Giovanni’s Room. It was great to see all the Rainbow List and Stonewall Book Awards titles out on display, but also really refreshing to take a look at some books I had never heard of before.

The covers alone made me want these books. But I restrained myself. For a while.

The covers alone made me want these books. But I restrained myself. For a while.

I ended up picking up two books from Giovanni’s Room and I’ve enjoyed every second of them.

First, I picked up a yellowed-and-curling-paged activity book called “Brittany Lynn’s Summer Fun Activity Special”. Copyright 1999, sons! I was still unironically highlighting my hair at that point! Anyway, I don’t think Giovanni’s Room has any more copies, so you’ll have to live vicariously through Miss Ingrid. I saw a couple of other copies on eBay, but that’s it.



I bet you’re wondering what this activity book is all about. Brittany Lynn’s here to break it down for you:

I can’t bring myself to write in and cut up this little treasure quite yet, but Brittany and I have many good times ahead, I can tell:

Oh, Brittany. You *get* me.

Oh, Brittany. You *get* me.

Next, I decided to get myself a graphic novel:

I think I've finally found my preferred superhero.

I think I’ve finally found my preferred superhero.

Behold, Glamazonia by Justin Hall! She’s not one of those boring do-gooder, goody-two-shoes superheros. Glamazonia gets shit done!

Aren’t you just in love?

If you’re ever in Philadelphia, skip that cheese steak crap and head over to Giovanni’s Room. Word has it that the store will close if a buyer doesn’t step up and save it (Mr. Hermance is retiring). I hope it doesn’t come to that, but just to be safe, head on over and buy a bunch of stuff right now.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Rainbow List-ing and it Feels so Good: My first go-round on an ALA book committee

As soon as I became aware that the GLBT Round Table and the Rainbow List existed, I knew I wanted to be involved. I have always wanted to be a good ally and advocate for LBGTQ patrons of the library (and out of the library, naturally, but the library is my home). I have known that LGBTQ kids, teens, and families have been shamefully underrepresented in literature. It’s not as if a multitude of LBGTQ characters in children’s and YA books will fix anyone’s life or experience, but I’ve always believed in the healing power of literature. All children need to see themselves reflected in the books they read. This includes children of a variety of races, ethnicities, financial backgrounds, physical/mental abilities, geographic locations, religious affiliations, sexual and gender identities, and a number of other factors that I’m not clever enough to think of at this point. When a child (or teen, but I think it’s especially important in a person’s early years) reads about a character that speaks to their experiences, it can instill a love of reading and a sense of belonging in the world. We’re all looking for a witness. We all crave someone to validate our experiences and to say, “Yes. You went through this and you are not the only one.” Books can be so life-affirming.

This is why I am a proud Rainbow List member. I want LGBTQ kids and teens (and the children of LGBTQ-identified parents) to have the opportunity to see themselves in the books they read. I want to recognize and promote the authors who make this possible.

I know lots of librarians want to be involved with the Printz, Newbery, Caldecott or Alex Awards and that’s totally valid. The awards committees seem (I say “seem”, I’ve never been on one) very exciting and they’re certainly prestigious and impressive. However, there’s so much to be said for committees like Rainbow List. The Rainbow List is not an award. We’re a list of quality books for kids and young adults (birth to 18 years). The titles must contain authentic and significant LGBTQ content. The Rainbow List can include as many titles as the members would like, but it also includes a Top Ten list that features the best titles of the year. The Rainbow List, and other lists like it, are a tremendous resource for librarians, teachers, parents and readers of all ages. If you’re a youth services librarian, the Rainbow List is a valuable resource for collection development purposes. It’s not always apparent which books are LGBTQ-oriented and it can be difficult to locate them. The good folks of the Rainbow List find these titles for you, read them, and let you know which ones are worth including in your collection. I have cut-and-pasted entire Rainbow Lists into Baker and Taylor for ordering purposes, and this was way before I was involved with the list or the Round Table.

On Sunday, January 26th, the Rainbow List committee members made our final decisions concerning this year’s titles.

Are we not adorable?

Are we not adorable?

Here’s our committee with our Top Ten picks. That’s me on the left with the pink hair. I’m holding Kate Bornstein‘s My New Gender Workbook and The Culling by Steven dos Santos. Christine, right next to me, is holding Pantomime by Laura Lam and Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle (the latter being one of the few exceptional submissions for young readers. Most of our submissions were YA books). Anna, in the scarf, is holding Sara Farizan’s If You Could Be Mine and Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (it pained me to not hold either of these titles. I really love them both. They hit me right in the gut. I should say that I’m honored to being holding Kate Bornstein and Steve dos Santos’s books. No doubt). Erin, who has the gorgeous curly hair, is holding Freak Boy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (give this one to your hardcore Ellen Hopkins fans) and Leap by Z Egloff. Seated on the floor is my girl Naomi and she’s holding Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington and Alaya Dawn Johnson‘s The Summer Prince.

Though they are not Top Ten selections, I’d like to bring some attention to some of my other favorites: Tyler Buckspan, Giraffe People, Rapture Practice, Archenemy (great for your not-so-advanced teen readers), If I Lie, The Waiting Tree, Calling Dr. Laura, and Blue is the Warmest Color, all of which I think would make worthwhile additions to your collection.

If you work in a library that serves teens and children, I would like to insist that the above titles are essential for your patrons. If you don’t think you have LGBTQ library users, you are wrong, I assure you. Also, these are great titles for expanding the horizons of all your readers, including those who identify as straight. A book that represents an unfamiliar voice can truly broaden one’s understanding of the world.

I highly recommend serving on the Rainbow List (Or any ALA book committee. I also think that the Amelia Bloomer book list looks like the jam and I can’t wait to work with them in the future). Here are a couple of reasons to get involved:

  • Not to sound like a hipsterbrarian, but I read Better Nate than Ever before most people did. Being on the Rainbow List gets tons of ARCs/galleys delivered right to your door. Receiving all those books and getting that smug “I read it before you did” look on your face is truly priceless.
  • I got so many nice emails, tweets, and Facebook messages from authors thanking me for getting them on this list. Seriously, it makes you feel so good.
  • There’s not a much better feeling than participating in a committee that helps bring underrepresented voices to libraries everywhere.

Not convinced? Non-award committee meetings are open to anyone at ALA. Come on in. See what we do. See if it’s something you’d enjoy. We usually have chocolate.

Want to volunteer to be on the Rainbow List? You need to be a GLBT Round Table member, as well as a member of ALA. Click here to get involved.

I am serving one more year on the Rainbow List until I have to take a break. Here’s what I’d like to see in upcoming Rainbow List submissions:

  • More books including and representing People of Color. Books about middle-class white boys are great and needed, but we’re failing a good deal of the population here.
  • Picture books! Come on now! Todd Parr can’t be the only one knocking out books like this. More! More!
  • More books for young readers. Hopefully Better Nate than Ever has opened the door for more LGBTQ children’s chapter books.
  • More books featuring women.
  • More books with trans* characters.
  • More books that acknowledge that gender is a spectrum.

I hope you read through our list and order some titles for your library. Put these books on hold. Trot over to your local bookstore and purchase these titles. Go on Twitter and tell these authors that you appreciate them.

I love you, Rainbow List.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Little Reminders Everywhere: Again! Again!: The benefits of re-reading

Each month, my goal is to make and display a sign with an early literacy tip on it. I prop this sucker up right behind the children’s desk. This is my second and it’s based on something I feel pretty strongly about:

Often at my library, I’ll see a child pick up a book, eagerly asking their mother/father/nanny/babysitter/whoever to read it to them. My blood boils when I hear a reply like this: “But we have that book at home!” or “We read that all the time!”

So? Who cares? Read it again!

Not only do I think it’s discouraging to a child to hear that they can’t read a book they’re interested in, but there are many benefits to re-reading (or re-hearing/re-listening to) a story. Any children’s librarian worth her cardigan knows that kids learn through repetition. Re-reading is a great way to learn new words and increase self-confidence. If your child loves a book, that’s a wonderful thing! You want them to love to read and be read to. So you have to read Pete the Cat over and over again. Big deal. You’ll live. It’s a small price to pay for raising a child who loves to read.

So quit complaining and just read it again, already.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2013

I’m so excited about my top five blog posts of 2013, I can hardly contain myself! 

Let’s take a look back on the year that was on this tiny, sparkly, hole-in-the-wall blog.

My fifth most read post of 2013 is Cats (and Librarians) Against Cat Calls, where I tried to combat sexual harassment in the library. I love making library displays and I’m glad that you like to look at them.

cats against catcalling

I like images like the upper one, because it helps to break down the difference between compliments and harassment.

Though I wrote it in 2012, Please Don’t Say This to a Librarian is my fourth most popular post. I’m glad you still like it or love to hate it! Read with caution, as comments from “Zach” may send you into a lady-rage tailspin. It looks like sexual harassment will always be a hot topic on this blog.

Zack, where've you been? You never write. You never call.

Zach, where’ve you been? You never write. You never call.

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Codes of Conduct, Freedom of Speech, and Male Privilege: Writing the kind of blog post I hate writing

I didn’t want to write another blog post this year. It’s been a bad year, to put it mildly, and I wanted some time to regroup before I started writing again. It was going to be a new blog in a new year, full of good, positive things.

I despise the kind of blog that is simply a series of reactions to the ideas of others rather than a place where at least I’m pretending to possess an ounce of original thought. I do not want to be the kind of writer that participates in an endless whirlpool of reactions and debates regarding other librarians.

But then.

My Twitter feed was all in an uproar this morning regarding a blog post by Will Manley, a librarian that I’m not familiar with, but that’s not saying much as I tend to haunt the blogs of youth services or LGBTQ-friendly librarians. In any case, librarians were livid. I was trying to not read it, instead attempting to sort of read around the outrage. I know, I know. I could have gotten off of Twitter and learned to basket weave or something, but I didn’t. I read this post by Mr. Manley. And then, like a real jerk who should absolutely know better, I read the comments.


Mr. Manley feels that ALA’s Code of Conduct will inhibit free speech and free thought at ALA conferences. Yet, I find ALA’s expectations of us as librarians to be pretty much predictable:

We recognize a shared
responsibility to create and hold that environment for the benefit of all.
 Some behaviors are, therefore, specifically prohibited:

  • Harassment or intimidation based on race, religion, language, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, appearance,  or other group status.

  • Sexual harassment or intimidation, including unwelcome sexual attention, stalking (physical or virtual), or unsolicited physical contact.

  • Yelling at or threatening speakers (verbally or physically).

This is just a portion of the CoC, but you get the point: Don’t be a dick. Don’t sexually harass people. Don’t touch people unless they make it explicit that they want to be touched. Don’t use racial slurs. Don’t intimidate people. Don’t be a jerk.

I find myself offended by authority figures pretty much on the regs, yet nothing about what ALA is asking of us is beyond what I’d expect. Yet, Mr. Manley is very concerned. He’s afraid that this will stunt intellectual and creative conversation. He’s afraid someone will call him out for saying bad things about Neo-Nazis. He’s afraid that the ALA is going to put Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, and Howard Stern behind bars.

Now, look, I’m a Jewish girl with a foul mouth, so I love Sarah Silverman. Give the Jew Girl Toys is my favorite holiday song, hands down. If she read from her book at ALA, it would be amazing and I’d be totally down for it. Otherwise, do I really want a Silverman-wannabe on the exhibition floor hurling racial slurs at librarians? Do I want Howard Stern making pointed comments about women’s body parts? I don’t. Call me an enemy of free speech. I don’t care. I am not down with harassment based on race. I am not down with sexual harassment. Going to ALA conferences is part of my job. My place of work pays me for my work day and I’d like to go to work without being harassed or bullied. I don’t want to be called racially charged names at my job. I don’t want to be intimidated or touched or stalked at my job. OK, I don’t want these things happening to me, period, but if they occur during work hours, you best believe I’m reporting you. And you best believe I am going to make sure you face the consequences. I want the freedom to remain unharassed and unmolested. This trumps your desire to make edgy jokes. Trust me, though, Manley supporters, you’re not as revolutionary as you think are. You’re not pushing the envelope. You are no Sarah Silverman.

If people are so terribly worried that rules concerning harassment and stalking will curb their ability to express themselves, I’m concerned about what exactly they’re trying to express.

I’m not saying that white men can’t get harassed or bullied, but I’m curious if it’s as widespread as it is with People of Color, the LGBTQ community, and women. Has Mr. Manley been afraid of going to his job? Interacting with certain co-workers? Opening his email? Walking alone at a conference? Has he regularly feared for his safety? I have. And I’m more concerned for my safety and well-being than I am about whether or not I can bust out with homophobic slurs at a panel.

The comments got considerably ugly, with one man named Messina calling everyone a pussy. At first Mr. Manley applauded this show of bravado and supposed edginess, but eventually withdrew his enthusiasm.

At first Mr. Manley said this Eagles quote paired with a gendered insult made his day, but he later deleted his own comment. Before he did so, I wanted to talk to him about it:

Mr. Manley’s major concerns have nothing to do with providing a safe place for women, but more about whether we’d treat the Eagles well at ALA Midwinter.

The Eagles suck, just so you know. They’ve been irrelevant for a thousand years. So, I’d be against it, just for the record.

After my comments about the Eagles being irrelevant, their number one fan, commenter Messina expressed his outrage:

OK, I might have also hinted that out of touch librarians were irrelevant as well. I'm not sorry.

OK, I might have also hinted that out of touch librarians were irrelevant as well. I’m not sorry.

And the above screen capture really reflects what Manley’s post boils down to: Sharing privilege. Messina, and to an extent Manley, have had the privilege of being safe at conferences. The idea of letting the rest of us make a go at obtaining a similar environment is just infuriating. Their idea of harassment and bullying is the idea that they can’t say whatever they want without consequence. For many women, POC, and LGBTQ folks, harassment is more than experiencing annoyance when a pink-haired Jewish librarian calls you irrelevant. It’s fearing for your job, your safety, your physical autonomy, and your dignity. If me calling you a silly little name on the internet is the worst harassment you’ve seen in your life, consider yourself very lucky.

I didn’t want to write this blog post, but I’m sickened to tears with this kind of nonsense and I’m bored with the echo chamber that contains sentiments of misogyny. I expect so much more from librarians. We’re well-educated and many of us work with the public, so I’d hope we’d be more sensitive to the needs of different kinds of people. I thought we’d be more aware of the privilege we have (and believe me, as a white woman, I have plenty. I’m learning how to be responsible with it all the time. I know I screw up. We have to want to learn to be better, though). White male librarians: When it comes to issues of harassment and safe spaces, your first reaction should not be, “BUT WHAT ABOUT ME? WHAT ABOUT ME?Librarians are in the business of information. You have the ability to learn why a Code of Conduct can be so vital to the women, and others, in this profession.

For more on this topic, please refer to the Librarian in Black’s post (I’ve linked to this before. Still relevant) and Coral Hess’s post, found here.

Come on 2014, I swear! Only posts about flannel boards and the Rainbow List and my favorite kinds of glitter! From here on out! I promise!

Who am I kidding? Honestly.

Love and Libraries, Ingrid

P.S. At the time I wrote this, Mr. Manley’s blog still existed. He took it down, so this links to an EverNote version. Sorry for any confusion.

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Making the Library a Friendlier Place. Well, at least trying.

Making the library safe for all kinds of kids and teens is something that’s on my mind quite a bit. You may have realized by now that I’m super into signage and displays. I have no delusions that signs will create this magical library utopia, where homophobia, sexism, and racism take a massive hike, but it’s a start and hopefully it’s helping to facilitate an atmosphere of tolerance.

I saw this sign on Tumblr and thought I could recreate it. For the background, I used pages from old Time Life Science books that I snagged from Tim. I banged out the letters on our die-cut machine. The letters are glued to circles I made with a giant hole punch. Here’s the result. I’ve tacked it up behind the YA/Teen reference desk:


The picture isn't crooked. My photography is.

The picture isn’t crooked. My photography is.

We want to add some other posters, but I think we’ll ending up buying instead of DIY-ing. I’m thinking about something like this or this.

How do you promote tolerance at your library?

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Little Reminders Everywhere: Our New Literacy Tip of the Month Sign

Recently, I whipped up this little sign. It’s got blue iridescent glitter! I have this tacked up on the door that’s behind me during Toddler Time and Babies and Books. It’s my way of letting caregivers know that librarians are are on a serious early literacy mission. I’m also including this message on take-home sheets that I give to parents and nannies.

A sign with the same message is also up at the reference desk so that non-storytime goers can see it. I plan to change up the literacy tip every month.

What do you do to remind patrons that storytime is serious developmental business?

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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I’m Crafty and I May or May Not be Your Type: Shranky Danks Forevah

At my place of work, we’ve been talking about projects we can bust out during our Teen MakerSpace/DIY program. We remembered that we have a toaster oven and have been thinking about using it in different crafts. Shrinky Dinks came to mind, so I thought I’d do a test drive at my apartment.

You might remember Shrinky Dinks from when you were a kid, that is, if you’re as ancient as I am. You colored in little pieces of plastic, your mom bopped them in the oven, and they came out smaller but sturdier. They probably looked something like this:

I had Smurf ones, too, and they were the jam.

I had Smurf ones, too, and they were the jam.

You can buy plain sheets of Shrinky Dinks at craft stores. The good thing about the plain sheets is that you can decorate them however you want, instead of being stuck with Smurfs and Rainbow Brite (who are rad. Don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think my teens are interested in those). I got mine at Michael’s crafts, which I understand is a regional chain that not everyone has access to. They didn’t have a great selection. I really wanted white sheets, but they just had clear.

It’s good to have lots of paint markers and Sharpies and acrylic paint. Any kind of marker that is too watery will just bleed everywhere (you’ll see that go down in some of my finished pins). I started by making some pins based off ones I’ve seen on Etsy. You have to draw your design super giant because they shrink down super small (Shrinky Dink is NOT just a clever name):

Riot not Diet is my mantra, and the mermaid pin is for my coworker, Leigh. Don't get attached to it, I end up wrecking it.

Riot not Diet is my mantra, and the mermaid pin is for my coworker, Leigh. Don’t get attached to it, I end up wrecking it.

This one goes out to all the Chatty Charlies on the F train:

The above sentiment is ripped of from this Etsy seller. Please go buy one of their pins and assuage my guilt.

Tim asked for specifically this:

This one combines my love of cats and feminism and pastel colors:

Here’s where I wish I had the white sheets and not the clear ones. You can see straight through the middle of the symbol.

Everything was ready for the oven. Theses things don’t bake for long. I just followed the instructions on the Shrinky Dinks and it was pretty easy. Sometimes they curl when they come out of the oven. In that case, I just take a spoon and press them back down until they’re flat.

Here’s what came out:

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Oy with the Jokes Already: A totally jokey YA display with a totally broken color printer

I’ve done a couple of “hot topic” displays in the Young Adult/Teen section: one on Gay Pride Month, a Banned Books Week display, one about Body Image, and one about Cat Calls and Street Harassment. I started to do a display concerning bullying, but the topic got me really upset and I’ll have to save it for another time. I’m too emotionally raw lately. I decided to switch it up a bit, as they say, and just do a dumb book joke display. Our color printer is running out of ink, so it only prints things in shades of blue. So, despite my best intentions to make a happy looking display, it’s downright gloomy. I had to throw out pictures of the Hulk because he looked like Violet Beauregarde on steroids (Get it? Because he was giant and blue? Nevermind).

This is what I came up with. I think some of the jokes will go straight over the kids’ and teens’ heads, but hopefully a hardcore book nerd will get a fraction of a laugh. Enjoy!

The view from behind the reference desk.

The view from behind the reference desk.

The view from in front of the reference desk.

The view from in front of the reference desk.

And now, some shots of the individual images:

Sorry if Wrecking Ball is stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Sorry if Wrecking Ball is stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

A nod to Whovians or whatever you call them.

A nod to Whovians or whatever you call them.

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Your Library Needs These Books: 2014 Rainbow List Nominees Announced

In case you’ve been wondering why my blog posts have become fewer and fewer, it’s because I’ve been Rainbow List-ing like a boss. Now, you can see what our committee has been up to here, as we’ve announced our 2014 nominees.

I did a meme thing.

I did a meme thing.

A librarian in ALATT mentioned that these titles are very difficult to locate in public libraries, and she’s right. If you’re a librarian with any buying power or control over collection development, please consider adding these titles. Even if you think your community doesn’t have LGBTQ* citizens (which, you know, isn’t even possible), you need these titles. Don’t let your collection be the one that totally lacks in diversity! It’s embarrassing. Don’t be that library. The members of the Rainbow List have made it easy for you by selecting some of the best LGBTQ* titles of the year.

I’ve talked about some of the titles I’ve read thus far, if you’re looking for some more information about some of the nominees:

♥ If You Could be Mine, by Sarah Farizan

♥ The Culling  by Steven Dos Santos

♥ Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

♥ Pantomime by Laura Lam

♥ Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington

Malinda Lo talks quite a bit about diversity in Young Adult literature, so I thought I’d point out the diversity in our Rainbow List nominees. While all of these titles promote diversity simply by having a significant amount of LGBTQ* content, I thought I’d single out some of the works that feature prominent characters who are People of Color (POC) (Be aware, I have not read all the nominated books yet):

♥ Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark ♥  If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan ♥ The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson ♥ Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan ♥ Archenemy by Paul Hobin ♥ Proxy by Alex London ♥ The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger ♥

Again, this is not a complete list. I’m reading as fast as I can! That said, I’d love to see less titles about middle-class, white, gay boys and more nominees that include lesbian, bisexual, trans*, genderqueer, and intersex characters, as well as more protagonists who are people of color.

I hope our list of nominees is helpful to you, and I can’t wait to see who makes the final cut. Get reading, librarians!

Any questions? Fire away.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid