On how not to apologize when you’ve said something really extra stupid from someone who says stupid things all the time

Imagine I’m on a panel at ALA or a library conference of your choice. Imagine I’m partaking in spirited and humorous, but respectful banter. Imagine an exchange of ideas and a healthy debate. Imagine, suddenly, that I decide to bust out with a relevant quote from one of my favorite, though purposefully offensive, comedians. Pick something from Sarah Silverman or Amy Schumer. It doesn’t matter which joke. Pretend that while the quote is slightly relevant to the conversation at hand, it’s mostly just offensive, inappropriate, disrespectful and just plain rude. Now, imagine that some people in the audience get the reference and some don’t. Imagine I’ve upset people in the panel and the audience. Image that folks on Twitter and Facebook have gotten wind of my awful comment and want me to apologize.

Now, imagine that my apology for my actions goes something like this:

  • I immediately state that I cannot fix what I’ve done (instead of asking what I can do to fix it)
  • I talk about how I’m facing unpleasant consequences due to my actions
  • I mention that Schumer (or Silverman) has a huge following with tons of Google hits that refer to her jokes
  • I start blaming the internet for daring to discuss my misstep
  • I also blame old people who don’t get the Schumer reference
  • I once again talk about how my inappropriate behavior has made my life difficult
  • I THEN FINALLY SAY I’M SORRY
  • I restate how I have been victimized in order to garner sympathy

For this full back-story on this rant, click here. Don’t worry, it’s a Do Not Link-er.

If you insist on throwing around a word like “slut” at a conference, realize that you’re surrounded by a mostly female-identifying audience who may not appreciate your choice of words, regardless of whether or not you’re quoting someone else. Realize that not everyone is going to get the reference. Realize that it’s not their responsibility to recognize every pop culture reference ever uttered (Maybe they grew up in another country! Maybe they’re more of a reader than a TV watcher! Maybe they don’t like sketch comedy!). Realize that even if people recognize the quote, they still retain the right to be offended by what you said. Realize that you are a librarian. You are not a stand-up comedian. You may be naturally funny and edgy and extremely clever, but you are not starring in your own HBO comedy special. Conferences are just another workspace. Consider if you’d use that word in front of your boss or employees. When you say that you don’t feel safe, realize that unsafe for you is being called-out on your actions, while unsafe for other librarians is being touched without consent (happened to me in Philly! Thanks guy who tried, repeatedly, to hold my hand even though I kept pulling away!) or having to deal with sexism/homophobia/racism/threat of physical harm. Realize that the ALA Code of Conduct (which I realize probably does not cover Canadian conferences) exists to address this very sort of behavior because it has been a problem in the past (and realize that unsafe spaces continue to be a problem for conference participants). Realize that you are free to say whatever you please to whomever you please, but, in turn, people are free to voice their displeasure. Freedom of speech does not equal freedom from criticism.

More important than all of this, though, is that we all need to learn how to apologize to our peers. Believe me, I need to learn this too, because I say plenty of stupid things all the time. My foot is in my mouth for a good 80 percent of the day. I’ve got that extra abrasive blunt New Yorker thing that, while I try to keep it in check, ultimately can get the better of me sometimes. Often I have very good intentions, but say things that don’t reflect that at all. When I offend someone, my first instinct consists of protecting myself and my self-esteem while trying to explain away my behavior. When I say the wrong thing, I can proceed in two fashions: My first option is to sort of apologize, but then list every excuse possible to shift the blame on anyone and anything but myself. I can then mention how hard my life is now and talk about how I am a victim in this situation. OR: I can say that I was sorry. I can say what I did was wrong. I can say that I realize that I upset people and that I will do my very best to do better in the future. I can ask for forgiveness.

Saying that you’re sorry is not easy. Apologizing can be difficult and uncomfortable, especially if we feel like we’ve been misunderstood.

The world of librarianship is hectic and lively and chaotic, full of different perspectives and personalities and attitudes. We are going to upset each other, even if we don’t mean to. To better interact with each other, we can be mindful of the words we use. If it sounds like a slur or a gendered/racial insult, just skip it. Find another word. And when we screw up and say the wrong thing, which we will all do at some point, we can apologize thoughtfully and respectfully. We can see what we can learn from the situation and try to do better.

Next time I say something extra stupid, I promise to apologize in a way that will make you all proud.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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P.S. I just saw this public apology today, and though it contained some standard excuses, I thought it was pretty on the money.

FUND THIS KICKSTARTER!: Alexandria Still Burns: Librarians & the Fight for Knowledge

This is the Kickstarter you’ve been waiting for.

kyle

Please head over to Kyle Cassidy’s (of Slate’s This is What a Librarian Looks Like fame) Kickstarter page and consider funding his upcoming project. Kyle’s goal is to interview and photograph 100 librarians at the upcoming ALA conference in Las Vegas.

Watch the video. It will make you feel good about being a librarian.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Tweens and Zines: A Successful Program that I was Super Nervous About

Me before every teen program

I consider myself 3/4 children’s librarian and 1/4 teen/YA services. I feel like I could knock out a Toddler Time or a Babies and Books with absolutely no notice (sometimes I have nightmares that the toddlers come to my apartment at 3 AM demanding storytime, but, you know, I even nail it in my dreams) and I read tons of YA lit, so my teen-related Readers Advisory skills are pretty on point. I rarely, however, am asked to do teen programming. I am a creature of habit: The more practice I get, the more at ease I am. That’s why, every time I’m given a teen program, I like to have a total meltdown.

Last week, I was assigned a spot in our Teen Makerspace program.

panic

I decided to do a zine workshop. I think zines are one of the best DIY projects you can do with kids and teens. They can be about whatever you want. You can include poems or art or whatever you want. I brought in extra zines from my own collection both to serve as an example of what a zine can look like and as giveaways (zines are for sharing, right?), I practiced doing the whole turn one piece of paper into an 8-page zine thing (though most of the people who attended opted for the simple fold-down-the-middle and staple kind), I collected lots of collage materials (mostly old BUST magazines, comics, stickers from a generous Twitter buddy of mine, and pages from beat up design/fashion books I’ve collected for this very purpose), I offered Sharpies in a bajillion colors, and I stuck up fliers everywhere I could:

Part of the bottom got cut out. It’s also good to point out that I’m notoriously bad at making fliers. I feel like each one looks more awkward than the last.

Images shamelessly stolen from here, here, and here.

The only thing I needed now were some teens. Any teens.

My usual crew of teens was mysteriously absent from the library that day (or maybe not so mysteriously. It was very hot in the library and the city hasn’t turned on our A/C yet). I started seeking out teens throughout the day, but none of them seemed very interested in my program. With a pit in my stomach, I started setting up for the program just before 4 PM, when our library sadly looked very sparse in the teen area.

Suddenly, I located two tweens I kinda knew and begged them to come over to the program.

Tween: Are you lonely or something?

Me: Uh…yeah.

And then, you know how it goes. You get a couple of tweens working on a project, their friends walk by, see what you’re up to, and then they join in too. By the end of the program, I had a small, but very enthusiastic and talented group of ladies.

Here’s just a couple of pictures of what they came up with:

Sophia had already been working on this one. I lucked out by somehow finding a tween who already zined!

Sophia had already been working on this one. I lucked out by somehow finding a tween who already zined!

Isn't this a great title for a zine? Extra points for the feminist quote.

Isn’t this a great title for a zine? Extra points for the feminist quote.

Fancy ladies with Adventure Time comic bubbles! Genius.

Fancy ladies mashed-up with Adventure Time comic bubbles! Genius.

Solid last page.

Solid last page.

I was happy to get to gab with a bunch of tweens I sorta knew (but now know a bunch better) and one I had never even seen before. It’s nice to see the kind of comfortable, casual chit-chat that goes down when you provide some kids with some scissors and markers and glue sticks.

At the end of the program, they asked when we could all make zines again. That makes me a happy librarian.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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P.S. I wanted to include my Free Zines sign, because I put glitter on it:

P.P.S. The clearly VERY talented Sophia sketched this picture of me and Finn and Jake from Adventure Time. I’m a lucky woman:

It was amazing how quickly she drew this!

It was amazing how quickly she drew this!

Little Reminders Everywhere: You don’t need to finish every book, you know.

This is April’s early literacy tip and I’m finally blogging about it in early May. I stink.

So, I’ve been making a sign that we keep behind the reference desk that features a new early literacy tip every month.  The response has been great so far. It gives something for people to read while they’re waiting on line at the information desk. I notice people taking pictures of the sign, or slowing down to take a better look at it. We get lots of compliments.

Here’s April’s tip. It has glitter:

As usual, it’s inspired by things that I witnessed as a nanny and interactions I see every day at the library. I often see a nanny or parent insisting that a child read an entire book, even though the child is becoming upset/fussy/frustrated. At a very young age, there’s no reason to make a child sit perfectly still or finish every single book. Reading shouldn’t be a forced activity. You want your child to associate reading with fun and happiness, not with stress.

We all have our own rhythm to the way we read and experience books. Toddlers and Pre-K kids are no different. Some like to fly through books at top speed. Others take an awfully long time, paying close attention to illustrations and specific details. Some kids want to hear the book (or just one page!) over and over again. It’s not unusual for a child to dislike a certain page and want to skip it.

If a young child dislikes a book, it’s no big deal. Move onto something you’ll both like better. Or maybe just stop altogether and pick up at a later time. Reading should be fun, not a chore.

I always look for a second opinion when writing my early literacy tips, just so y’all know I’m not making stuff up. The folks over at Northwestern State University Child and Family Network have my back on this one. They have tons of tips on reading to infants and toddlers:

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Until next time, kids.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

#WeNeedDiverseBooks. We always did and we always will.

alice

When I was a just a tiny little kiddo, either my mom or my grandmother introduced me to Alice for the Very Young, which is sort of a Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with training wheels. Just one look at the cover and I was hooked for life. Alice was young and pale and blonde, just like me. I wanted to be just like her and, in some ways, I already felt like I was her. Alice remains my literary buddy to this day. In tough times, she is my rock and my safe space. I go to her when I am not OK. Decades after picking this book up for the first time, she’s still there when I feel lost or out-of-place or just plain sad.

This is my somewhat convoluted way of saying that it didn’t take much to get me hooked on reading. All I needed was a drawing of a girl that shared a couple of similar features with me, and I was in it for life. Not only did Alice help me gravitate towards “big kid” books (in droves!), but she showed me that little girls like me could be smart and brave and clever. If Alice could persevere in complicated situations, then so could I.

If you see it, you can be it. If you can’t see it…

Do you see what I’m saying here? It is *so* powerful to read a book and look at a character and say, “That could be me. I could do that.”

This is why I am delighted by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, which you can read all about here. As a white child with blonde hair, the truth is, I could see myself represented in a multitude of books and TV shows and movies and magazines. Popular culture has always included people like me (though, now that I’m plus-sized, I’m a little harder to find, but that’s a whole other deal). I’ve never really had to worry about whether or not I belong. It’s always sort of been implied.

However, when a parent at the library tells me that their multi-ethnic daughter is feeling bad about the way she looks, I find myself having to scrounge around in the stacks to find a picture book featuring a bi-racial child. Yes, these books exist, but not in large numbers.

When I’m searching for a middle-grade book with a black protagonist, the options shouldn’t be only historical fiction titles concerning slavery or civil rights. How about a modern day boy in a realistic setting? Or a fantasy book? Or sci-fi? How about some choices?

How come Park from Eleanor and Park is one of the few Asian protagonists in popular young adult literature? (Not to mention that his Eleanor is one of the very few fat girl-protagonists YA lit has to offer).

When I review books for the Rainbow List, why am I not totally inundated with titles? Why isn’t my mailbox completely overflowing with novels and picture books and comics and non-fiction? Why am I not faced with an insurmountable mountain of eligible books? Where are the queer protagonists for teens and, especially, children? And out of these Rainbow List titles, why is the T in LGBTQ hardly ever represented? Why am I meant to believe that Queer POC don’t exist? And why do most covers feature a white, middle- to upper-middle class cis-boy? Where are the female and female-identified characters?

Why does popular, mainstream culture want me to believe that the default human being is a white, straight, cis-gendered man that the rest of us are just supposed to magically identify with?

I encourage you to head on over to We Need Diverse Books‘s Tumblr, as well as the #weneeddiversebooks hashtag on Twitter. Partcipate, retweet, reblog. Let’s keep this stuff trending!

Before I go, I want to leave you with some of the fantastic pictures from the incredible people at Oakland Library (I’ve always considered them to be Brooklyn’s sister city, is that OK?). This isn’t a contest to see who can take the best pictures, but I have to say that Oakland is winning in the best way possible:

oakland2

oakland3

Check out their Twitter feed right now, because it’s rad.

What would a world with more diverse books mean to you or the patrons and young people you serve?

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Why will *you* be in ALA Vegas?

Remember those great Slate photos Kyle Cassidy took of all your favorite librarians? Well, Kyle was kind enough to let the ALA use them so that we could all talk about why we can’t wait for the upcoming conference in Vegas (or why we wish we could attend). Take a look! You’ll also get to see some pictures that didn’t end up in Slate, but are still pretty awesome.

Here’s me talking about the GLBT Round Table:

LibraryWardrobe_7_facebook

Mel Gooch is one of my favorite people. She once worked in Brooklyn but then left me and broke my heart forever.

This is Trevor talking about the GameRT:

Lalitha is radiant! I think she’s so great. She’s particularly psyched about an upcoming YALSA program:

Here’s Sarah:

And the fantastic Miss Leigh (who we will miss at Annual):

Erin is that tattooed librarian your parents warned you about and an Emerging Leader to boot!

This is our fearless leader Courtney! I was particularly fond of this picture and was surprised Slate didn’t use it:

So, what are you looking forward to at ALA Annual in Vegas? If you’re #alaleftbehind, what will you miss the most?

Oh, and instead of engaging in more “Hey, that librarian in that picture doesn’t look like me/reflect librarianship“-outrage, you could come get your picture taken by Kyle in Vegas! That’s right! Kyle will be there to capture the charm of even more librarians! All are welcome, I promise. Details to come, gorgeous.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Reading to Your Bunny for 20 Minutes a Day: In this case, the bunny is your child.

Do you ever rearrange your library collection because you realize that the books/materials in a certain area are getting trashed by the kids? Or because you can’t navigate around the stroller obstacle course that inevitably erects itself every day? Well, my boss ladies made a decision based on these instances. We completely shifted over the entire Easy Readers section so that the books didn’t end up mashed and bent-up all over the floor and so that we wouldn’t have to jump over 15 Bugaboo prams to access the books. Once the Easy Readers were housed in a new section, we were left with several empty, and somewhat unattractive, shelves. Of course, I’ve been trying to gussy them up, because that’s what I do. Like most sensible children’s librarians who aren’t stone-cold dead inside, I get all goosebumpy every time I read Rosemary Well‘s Read to Your Bunny. Dude. I don’t have kids and I don’t even want kids, but every time I use this book in storytime, I get all verklempt. It’s just so touching and sweet! I decided to make some decorations and literacy tips based on this book and the premise that you should read to your child for at least 20 minutes a day. Ms. Well’s site has some great resources and images for parents and educators to use (some of which I stole/acquired for this very display), but I should mention that her site is also full of dead links. Click at your own risk! First, I made some bunnies. Giant purple bunny heads, naturally. 2 After I climbed up onto these shelves, I realized that these bunnies should have had a sort of brightly-colored backdrop. The wall looks a little dingy. Now I know for next time. Of course, I had to include some lines from the book (a coworker helped me with the lettering on this. Lettering makes me nervous): It’s like a rule that all my lettering is crooked and ends up veering to one side. I also made up some laminated pieces that sit inside the empty bookshelves:  

To go up with the whole shebang, I created a double-sided handout explaining why  reading at least 20 minutes a day is important and how you can schedule those 20 minutes into your hectic day. I keep a stack of these tip-sheets at the reference desk and they seem to go pretty fast:
If you want the Word documents for these, hit me up at magpielibrarian at gmail.com. That way, you can correct my clearly questionable font choices or switch up whatever you’d like. Clearly, my mention of subways makes this handout extra Brooklyn-centric.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

Where does it go?: An interactive, transportation-themed flannel board

I am constantly trolling storytime blogs and Pinterest pages looking for unsuspecting librarians and teachers whose ideas I can steal. I’m a really devious person, everyone. I stole the idea for a flannel board transportation quiz from here. Then I changed it and threw glitter on it.

I will be using this flannel board with my Toddler Time class, as well as with any pre-school class visits I have. I want it to create a little dialogue with the kids and get them thinking about how different objects and ideas go together.

First, I’ll just post four settings on the flannel board: some clouds and a rainbow representing the sky, a street, some train tracks, and the ocean. Then, I will present each mode of transportation and ask the kids, “Where does it go?” Does the plane go in the sky, the street, the train tracks, or the water? Hopefully, together we will figure out that the plane goes in the sky, the car on the street, the train on the train tracks, and the boat on the water.

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I got most of my clip art from Sweet Clip Art and My Cute Graphics.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Four Cats in the Truck: A flannel board for all of us

We’ve had a bit of a break in programming where we’ve been lucky enough to have paid outside storytime performers instead of librarian-run classes. I enjoyed a little rest, but now it’s time to get pumped about upcoming toddler and baby classes. I’ve made some new flannel boards to dazzle the masses.

This one has elements everyone can get into: Trucks, ice cream, cats, and heart-shaped sequins. What more could we want? I made up a little song to the tune of “Ten in the Bed“:

There were four cats in the truck

and the pink one said,

“Move over, move over!”

So they all moved over and one fell out!

There were three cats in the truck…

There were two cats in the truck…

There was one cat in the truck and she sang,

“I have the whole truck to myself!

I have the whole truck to myself!

I have the whole truck to myself!”

I snagged the ice cream truck from here and the cats from My Cute Graphics. I glued some sequins on some of the cats’ noses because that’s how I roll. I fed the images through our laminator to make them more sturdy and stuck some velcro on the back. Here’s how it came out:

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~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Check out my interview in the GLBT News!

The glorious and radiant Tess Goldwasser interviewed me for the GLBT News, the news outlet for the GLBT Round Table. Click here to hear me talk about tiny deer, bathtub reading, and possibly fictional cats! While you’re there, subscribe to GLBT News (you can see the subscribe box on the right side of the page).

Check you later, party people.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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