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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Racism is a giant, nebulous issue that I have no business talking about, but here’s a display

Hopefully, once my system hires some new Youth Services librarians, we’ll be able to staff the YA/teen reference desk more often. Until then, the YA section is at part of our library that’s not getting as much as love as it should (not that we’re not trying! We are. We accomplish great things all the time, we could just use the help of another librarian or two). In the place of a librarian, I like to leave little conversation-starters around, like my mini-personless booktalk or all my hot-topic displays.

I decided my next display would be about racism, ethnic/racial stereotypes, and cultural appropriation. As a 30-something white lady working in a library where my teens are mostly People of Color, I don’t know if I’m the best person to be starting this conversation. I also believe that this is a huge, unwieldy topic that’s hard to boil down to a bunch of Tumbr and Pinterest images.

But here it is.

It’s always good to start with Janelle Monae:

This image is from her Q.U.E.E.N. video.

Some commentary on people who claim to be "color-blind"

Some commentary on people who claim to be “color-blind”

From the #notyourasiansidekick hashtag on Twitter:

I used a couple of images from Kiyun Kim’s Racial Microagressions series: 

“You don’t act like a normal black person, ya know?”

And also the solid “racist butt” comic.

Here’s a great quote from Mindy Kaling:

Great quote from Mindy Kaling.

A little something about racist Halloween costumes and respecting personal space:

On making assumptions about people’s ethnicities:

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I AM READING THIS SO HARD RIGHT NOW: Dead City by James Ponti

Welcome to I AM READING THIS SO HARD RIGHT NOW, where I refuse to recap books for you because I’m pretending I’m busy doing other really important things (I’m probz just playing QuizUp on my phone, though). Recently, I’ve been catching up on books that I didn’t get to read during my last go-round on the Rainbow List. This means a mess of picture books, middle grade fiction, and non-LGBTQ YA fiction. I know I am very late to the game on this one, but I wanted to talk briefly about why I love Dead City by James Ponti:

  • Three, count ‘em, three kinds of zombies! I like a little variety when it comes to reanimated corpses. Some of Ponti’s zombies are brain-dead and kinda rotty-like while others are kinda like us. If you find yourself a bit bored with the slow, lolling brain-eaters, you’re in luck as far as Dead City is concerned. Some of these zombies are fast movers and super strong to boot.
  • Strong, smart female character alert! Molly, our heroine, and Natalie, her fellow zombie-expert, are tough and brilliant, like a little bit of Buffy and a little bit of Willow thrown into each character (if I make a BtVS reference, you know I’m pleased). They kick zombie ass, but are just as skilled in cracking codes and finding clues. At the same time, they’re not overly perfect, which is the kind of female protagonist that really grates on my nerves. Molly is brave, sure, but she has some real fears and weaknesses, and sometimes she screws up big time. Oh, and there’s one more female zombie hunter in the mix, but I don’t want to spoil who she is. But trust me, she’s amazing. If you insist on some male characters, have no fear. Ponti’s got your back with Grayson and Alex.
  • Molly, Natalie, Grayson, and Alex are total nerds, but they’re not nerds played for laughs, which is trend that’s really bothered me lately (Ahem, Big Bang Theory). I’m so tired of every smart kid/nerd being intensely unpopular, lonely, clutzy, or socially awkward. Nerds can have friends! Nerds can be comfortable in public settings! Nerds can rip the arms right off a zombie! It’s OK to be a smart kid!
  • It takes place in NYC, which I like, because I haven’t been to many other places. Dead City-verse zombies can’t really travel to the outer-boroughs because of their dependence on Manhattan schist. I really know nothing about Manhattan in general (I’ve always lived in Queens and Brooklyn), but apparently the island is built upon Manhattan Schist, Inwood Marble, and Fordham Gneiss. Holy crap, I accidentally learned something! 

This book has been out since 2012, so, look, I know I’m way behind here. But if you skipped this title for whatever reason, give it a look-see. It’s fast-moving and fun without being vapid or insubstantial. The second book in the series, Blue Moon, is already out.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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A job grows in Brooklyn and it could be yours!

I’ve been complaining for a LONG time (almost five years!) about being one of my system’s very last-hired librarians. We had some budget issues here in NYC and a hiring freeze was in full effect.  I sometimes referred to myself, perhaps over-dramatically, as the only living librarian in New York.

Things are looking up, though, buttercups, as my system is finally hiring some librarians! Seven librarians! SEVEN!

I KNOW, RIGHT

I’m excited for me, because I HAVE BEEN SO VERY LONELY. I’m also super pumped for you, because I love working in this city and I think you will too. If you want to work where you’re really needed by your community and you want to throw down and create rad programs for your patrons, this is the place for you.

Specifically, five children’s librarians and two young adult librarians will be hired. Word on the street is that one of each will end up at Central, where I work and desperately need some librarians who love being librarians to come put an end to our understaffing.

To be clear, I am not doing any of the hiring as I am on the very very bottom of the totem poll, but I will say that, as someone who works with kids and teens:

  • I do a mess of programming. Standard stuff like Toddler Time and Babies and Books, to more elaborate stuff like Toddler Prom, the Agatha program, and fancy book-related parties.
  • We have a Maker Space. Say Maker Space three times into a mirror and a MaKey MaKey appears.
  • Know your databases.
  • I do so much Readers Advisory and I love it.
  • There are class visits here. Nearly every day. Kids of every age. Are you ready?
  • Summer Reading at Central is NO JOKE. No sleep ’til Brooklyn. Or in Brooklyn.

So, are you that librarian? Are you that librarian we’ve been waiting for? COME ON, ALREADY!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Little Reminders Everywhere: I think you should consider talking to your kid

Before I was a librarian, I was a nanny in Manhattan (I was totally like Scarlett Johansson in that Upper East Side nanny movie, except my skin looked like crap). I took care of many kids, mostly toddlers, with varying vocabularies and communication skills. At the time, I didn’t have any academic knowledge about early childhood development, but I had been observing the difference between the kids who could and did talk and the kids who didn’t speak, or who had very few words in their vocabularies. It was simple: The chatty kids had chatty parents. If the parents talked, so did the kids. The kids who hardly saw their parents or the kids whose parents insisted on those awful Baby Einstein videos? They just had very few verbal skills. Of course, I talked to the kids all day long, because I have a really big mouth and needed something to do, but overall, I think it’s better if this behavior is mirrored by the primary caregiver.

In other words, if you want your child to talk, talk to them as much as you can (constantly talking on your cellphone in the near vicinity of your kid doesn’t count, sorry). It really doesn’t matter what you talk about. Point out things you see on your walks. Tell them what you’re going to do during the day. And, of course, read aloud to them.

Naturally, I’m not the only one who feels this way, and I shamelessly ripped off Kent District Library’s early literacy practices to make this month’s literacy tip (you can see some others I’ve made here and here). Here’s what Kent District Library has to say:

talking

I made one sign for behind the Reference Desk:

And one that I put up in one of our program rooms:

So go talk to your kid already.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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It’s my booktalk in a box! OK, it’s not actually in a box. I just like to say that things are in a box.

I work in the Youth Wing of a pretty big library. We have have two reference desks: a juvenile/kids’/children’s desk and a young adult/teen desk. Most days the library is open from 9 am to 9 pm, and the children’s desk is staffed by a revolving cast of librarians this entire time. The YA desk is hardly ever staffed by anything other than a sign telling you to go back to the children’s side of the wing. The truth is, our staffing is pretty low with no sign of getting better in the near future. This is sad news, not only for our teen patrons, their caregivers, and their teachers, but also for me (won’t somebody think about me?) because I like YA services almost as much as I like children’s services. I like putting up lots of displays on the YA side to make it look cared-for and important, and to sort of be a stand-in for an actual librarian.

I’m on the Rainbow List for a full term, but I’m taking a little break before next year’s books come rolling in. I love the Rainbow List, but being on it means I have to skip lots of non-LGBTQ-related books. I’m trying to play catch-up on the titles I’ve missed, so I finally decided to take a crack at that Divergent book all the kids are reading.

(If you haven’t read Divergent, you may want to skip the rest of this in case I spoil something.)

OK, I borderline hate this book, but definitely dislike it. It’s got over 300 holds on it in our system and I just don’t know why. Is it because the movie is coming out? I feel like it’s a less clever Hunger Games or The Culling

The premise of the book just grated on my nerves. I don’t buy the notion that most people aren’t Divergent, as if most of the population falls into some tidy little box. I also cannot stand the love-interest, Four, because he’s such a boring little mansplainer.

But I trudged on through this book like the brave little soldier that I am, and came up with this little booktalk-in-a-box. It’s not in a box! But it’s a ready-made booktalk that I pasted up all over the YA section, especially in prime areas, like next to the sign-up computer. It’s not as good as the presence of a librarian, but hopefully someone will see this flyer and will have some interest in reading the book. Full disclosure: I made this by Frankenstein-ing many pre-existing images together. I’m a librarian, dammit, not an artist.

I feel like choosing a faction is a poor-man's excuse for the Hogwart's sorting hat. Snooze.

I feel like choosing a faction is a poor-man’s Hogwarts’ sorting hat. Snooze.

I know it seems kind of pointless to make one of these for a book that’s already really popular, but I couldn’t put the time that I spent reading this book to waste. Hopefully, I’ll find another YA title that I can create the same sort of thing for. If you have any ideas, send ‘em my way.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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It’s too late to copy our Valentine’s Day Dance, but take a look anyway. There’s always next year.

Ages ago, my coworker Leigh and I came up with an idea to have a Toddler Prom: dancing, paper corsage crafts, and a photo booth. We decided to do kind of a test run of this idea for Valentine’s Day. A couple of things were bugging me: I felt like we had to keep “canning” ideas: We just don’t have enough staff to pull off a lot of ideas. Also, due to the awful weather in NYC (THUNDERICESTORMAGGEDON!), so many events have been getting canceled or postponed. It did snow the day of the Toddler Valentine’s Day Dance/Formal. The commute was crap and we were afraid no one would show up, but they did. A lot of them. And we got down. It was pretty fun.

I even got all dressed up in hearts! I look miserable because of the non-stop snow and ice of the morning:

Don't worry. I start smiling later.

Don’t worry. I start smiling later.

My original plan included a craft where the kids decorated their own paper corsages, but we had to table that idea. Not enough time or staff to pull that one off this time. After this event was said and done, I realized the craft may have been just too much stuff for what was, at heart, a simple little program. This dance had three components: a dance floor with music that the grown-ups and kids would enjoy (lots of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and the Village People, but also stuff like the Hokey Pokey and the Chicken Dance), a photobooth (created and executed by Leigh), and a bean bag toss where the kids won a prize just for trying. The main event, though, was the dancing. This was a dance party.

Caregivers were encouraged to hop into the photos with the kids, and you can see some of the photos here (the parents signed a release to get the photos up on the Facebook page. I don’t feel comfortable sharing them on my blog). I like that the kids showed up in everything from fancy little dresses and bowties to their jimmy-jams. Here’s Leigh and I in our Sunday best in front of the photo booth:

Isn't Leigh looking marvelously Annie Hall-esque?

Isn’t Leigh looking marvelously Annie Hall-esque?

I stole the idea for our pipe cleaner tiaras from here. I didn’t let the kids have them because I was afraid they’d poke themselves with the pointy ends.

Other than creating the extra-fancy tiaras, this was an event that took a lot of preparation work. I had to make the mixed CD (I’d use something like Spotify, but WiFi can be spotty in some areas of the library), the decorations, the tickets, and the bean bag toss. Leigh made the really nice photobooth area.

Leigh found some vintage Valentine’s Day cards in her apartment (I feel like this is the sort of thing a librarian would be hoarding, and I mean that with the utmost respect). We used them as our tickets for the event:

Here’s our giant heart-shaped bean bag toss:

I made it by stapling two pieces of foam core together, painting it red, and gluing it with every pink, red, white, and purple thingy we had in the craft closet. Oh,  also lots of googly eyes, too, because I think googly eyes are great and necessary. Two extra pieces of foam core hold up the heart. It took FOREVER to make this thing, so after the dance was over, my boss re-appropriated it for a book display:

Cute, no?

Cute, no?

I saw a tutorial on Rookie Mag for these super-cute tissue paper garlands. Great, I thought, I’ve got tissue paper AND twine! This will be EASY!

Nevermind! These tassels took up my whole freaking life. Endless twisting and gluing and cutting. Oy with the cutting already. Someone pointed out to me that someone sells garlands like these for $130 bucks (granted, these look a mess classier than mine). I don’t blame them. They’re a ton of work if you want to make a bunch.

These took over my whole life.

These took over my whole life.

I hope the toddlers appreciated these.

They also make a really nice hat.

What, this old thing?

What, this old thing?

Despite the absolutely awful weather, which I was sure was going to close the library for the day, we had a full house of happy moms, dads, nannies, and tiny little kiddos. Even though this program required a mess of prep work, the activities themselves were pretty simple. You don’t need to go overboard like I did. Just turn on some up-tempo disco or Motown and shake it with your library kids.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Slate’s This is What a Librarian Looks Like: This is why we can’t have nice things

Slate’s This is What a Librarian Looks Like: This is why we can’t have nice things | The Magpie Librarian: A Librarian's Guide to Modern Life and Etiquette

Photo by Kyle Cassidy. Comments by the users of our fine internet.

It’s taken me a few days to figure out how I feel about the comments made about the Slate article “This is a what a Librarian Looks Like“. I am finally starting to sort it all out. Overall, I’m happy with the results. Sure, I’m thinking about how librarians can better support each other, because, in addition to many kind comments, the participants of this piece were subjected to the vitriol of the Twitterbrarians and others. It’s made me reevaluate how I react to people’s projects of which I am not involved. I need to support other librarians much more enthusiastically (or just not insist on tearing them apart), because I now know what it’s like to feel the scorn of people I’ve never even met.

I will say that I am immensely proud of the article itself for a number of reasons:

  • I met the piece’s photographer, Kyle Cassidy, who in a short while has become one of my favorite non-library worker library advocates. It’s all well and good for us to stand around and tell each other how great we are, but if we don’t push past the atmosphere of our library world bubble, we’re doomed. We need the Kyle Cassidys of the world to spread the word about the important work we do.
  • “This is what a Librarian Looks Like” is featured on Slate.com, which is not a library/librarian publication. Sure, I love reading American Libraries and School Library Journal and whatnot, but Slate reaches an entirely different audience. Slate’s readers are our patrons, the people we’ve yet to reach, and, hopefully, future library supporters. We get too wrapped up in our own jargon and echo chamber sometimes. This is not healthy.
  • The article, at the time I am writing this, has been shared over 32,000 times on Facebook alone. Kyle talked to someone at Slate who said this is far more hits than any photo-essay he can recall. That’s a lot of people talking about librarians.

    Librarians are more popular than royal haircuts!

    Librarians are more popular than celebrity haircuts!

  • I had the pleasure of meeting so many fantastic librarians at the photoshoot. While I was there, recording their mini-interviews, I swear. I had chills. It was Monday night, when many people had already left the conference. I was standing in the dark convention hall, holding a digital recorder, and asking librarians why libraries matter to them and why they should matter to everyone. I thought, “This is why I come to these conferences.” I felt so inspired by everyone’s experiences and convictions. I desperately needed everybody’s positive affirmations about librarianship. This experience is an essential part of why I’m feeling excited about librarianship right now. I feel fortunate to have been involved. I adored every librarian who was kind enough to show up.
  • On a personal note, I love the picture Kyle took of me. I do. I can say that, right? It’s not easy to photograph a bigger/fat/curvy/euphemism girl like me. It’s too easy to make me look just terrible. Kyle worked with me until I started to look decent and not awkward and miserable. I can sing songs to 50 toddlers and their parents with no sense of embarrassment or self-doubt, but stick me in front of a camera and I’m an unnatural nightmare. Where the hell do you even put your hands? Where do you look? Kyle was patient and kind. I actually like the way I look and I haven’t in a long time. My family and I have had a hell of a 2013 and it’s started to show on my face (not that my looks are of the utmost concern in bad situations. But you start to notice this stuff). I lost someone very important to me, and sometimes I’d look in the mirror to see a person whose face was red and swollen from constant crying. I just looked wrecked and defeated all the time. Also, I ate everything in sight to make myself feel better and I put on a ton of weight. Despite what seems like every person in the world calling me fat in the Slate comments (NEVER READ THE COMMENTS!), I’m not sorry. I could have done worse things. My body is what it is. I’m trying to take better care of it as well as have a healthier self-image. In any case, when I see this picture, I can’t believe how happy I look. That’s a real smile on my face, and I very much need to think that I can be that kind of person again. Thank you, Kyle.

What I’m writing about today is less about the article itself, and more about the reactions of librarians and others to what I thought was a positive piece about the importance of libraries. There’s a certain crowd of people on Twitter who dislike me very much and I had zero doubt that they wouldn’t appreciate my presence in the photo-essay. I know that no matter what I do, this particular group of librarians is going to vocally proclaim how bad it is, so I wasn’t entirely unprepared for the backlash. I thought though, perhaps foolishly, that everyone would see at least one librarian in the article that they could relate to or be inspired by. For some people, the Slate article should have been a better representation of librarianship as a whole or should have provided a more realistic cross-section of what librarians look like. Others obsessed over our clothes and hair and said that we were all trying too hard or were preoccupied with our appearances. There was the notion that librarians talk too much about librarian stereotypes. Lastly, over and over again, I heard the cry of: “I don’t see myself represented in these pictures!”

I don’t mind criticism, and I don’t think Kyle does either. But when people seemed downright angry about the article, I was disappointed and a bit baffled. Is it just that people on Twitter love to argue (myself included! Hello!) or was the article really so offensive to librarians?

So, I’d like to address the kinds of concerns and complaints I witnessed. I’d like to try to do so without sounding dismissive or uncaring:

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