Guest Post: Scott Bonner of Ferguson Library

You may remember that I had interviewed Scott, our beloved Ferguson librarian, previously here on The Magpie Librarian, and this was all way before his Movers and Shakers and Lemony Snicket awards (I knew him when!). Recently, I witnessed some thoughts Scott was working out on Twitter, and thought that I’d give him a platform here on my blog.

Scott notes that he knows that “this is so “Librarianship 101″, but I’ve been obsessing, and needed to write it out.”

And now, his guest post:

Scott Bonner

 ~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
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Birds of Paradise OR Hey, I’m in a book!

Several years ago, I was heading onto the G train, going home from work at my old library in Northern Brooklyn. Suddenly, a woman approached me:

Her: Can I photograph you for a project I’m working on?

Me: …

Her: It’s paid!

Me: OK!

I showed up in her apartment about a week later, wearing the same old outfit she spotted me in, which included a pink and red faux fur jacket and my Delta Burke necklace.

Recently, the photographer, Lee O’Connor, contacted me to let me know that her project had turned into a book: Birds of ParadiseI barely recognize myself in that somewhat old portrait, but it was so cool to see my picture up in a gallery alongside many other similarly dressed women.

me and me

I’ve never been in a book before! Birds of Paradise is a beautiful, candy-colored collection of portraits of fashionable NYC women that Lee photographed between 2009-2014. It’s such an honor to be included.

To see the other photographs, click here!

To learn more about the book, click here!

I’M IN A BOOK! It’s a librarian’s dream come true!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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I Have too Much Crap to Carry: Behold, my new storytime box! (Inspired by Shania Twain)

My storytimes require a lot of…stuff, as I’m sure yours do as well. There’s a flannel board, one or two sets of pieces to go with it, maybe a puppet, at least three books, a stamp and ink-pad, handouts, signage, some sort of prop like scarves or shakers, and sometimes a boombox and/or MP3 player. I load my arms up with all that nonsense, then trek to the other side of the Youth Wing, and often up a flight of stairs, where I try to wrestle with the lock on the program-room door. It typically takes two trips and it usually ends up with me dropping everything on the floor while some super-hip Brooklyn dad says, “Do you need help?” and I’m like, “No, no, I’m cool. I’m TOTALLY fine!”

This is an actual GIF of me trying to look cool and casual.

I made a couple of make-shift storytime boxes out of cardboard with shiny paper stapled on, but they weren’t very sturdy and/or cute. I was simply trading an arm full of crap for a box full of crap!

A solid attempt, but these temporary boxes always fell apart!

A solid attempt, but these temporary boxes always fell apart!

I still didn’t have my hands free to open doors and wave to babies, and objects were still feeling pretty precarious. Sure, I could throw all the storytime supplies on a cart, but that didn’t sound very fancy, and how was I going to lug said cart up the stairs? #childrenslibrarianproblems

One night, my partner/euphemism and I were at a show his friend’s band was playing in, and I saw a dude carrying a bass drum/floor tom case. It looked perfect! It was sort of circular, sturdy-looking, and it had a handle. A HANDLE! I could throw all my crap in it AND still have one hand free. It reminded me of the hat-box in that Shania Twain “That Don’t Impress Me Much” video. Yes! That video! I’m old! Whatever!

See! Her hand is free! Doesn’t that look so much better than a stupid cardboard box? Plus it matches her leopard print snuggie!

It’s sturdy enough for you to stand your leg up on it so you can properly survey your haters!

Tim, being the good boyfriend/euphemism he is, got me a drum case for Hanukkah:

I, of course, hauled over to the craft store to pick up some stuff to gussy up my new storytime box. I came back with plastic dinosaurs, keychains, eye screws (screw eyes? These things.), gold spray paint, two kinds of glitter spray paint (in “Posh Pink” and “Sparkling Waters”), glitter letter stickers (are we sensing a pattern here?), and sealant.

First, I sprayed down all the dinosaurs with gold spray paint and laid them out to dry. Once they were unsticky, I screwed the eye screws into their little dinosaur bodies. I attached the dinosaurs to the keychains and they now hang from the handles.

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My second year on the Rainbow List is finished and I have some thoughts

Sometimes we fight over what titles will end up on the list, but all-in-all, it's a great team of people.  Not pictured, our chair Naomi Gonzales, one of my very favorite people.

Sometimes we fight over what titles will end up on the list, but all-in-all, it’s a great team.
Not pictured, our chair Naomi Gonzales, one of my very favorite people.

When I first heard about the Rainbow List, I was so excited to see that there was a project that seemed perfectly suited for my particular interests. At the time, there was nothing else in ALA I had any interest of joiningThe whole concept of the committee sounded fun, useful, and an important resource for readers and librarians. Before I even joined the list, I used it as a collection development tool to make sure my library’s selection was well-rounded and inclusive.

My time on the Rainbow List has imparted me with a very solid understanding of LBGTQ kids’ and teen lit, to the point that I have been asked to do paid speaking engagements on the topic. Two years on the Rainbow List forces you to concentrate on a specific segment of youth literature and, by the time your term is over, you’re a bit of an expert. My experience on the list has been rewarding and personally special to me. This year, when we finally decided on our Top Ten titles, I got a little choked up. All I could think of was, “We made this. We did this!”

highly recommend considering a term on the Rainbow List. You need to be a GLBTRT member, which, at fifteen dollars a year, is one of the best deals in ALA. Click here for the volunteer form. Be sure to join the RT before you fill out the form.

ETA: I want to be extra clear: The 2015 Rainbow List committee has already been appointed. So, plan ahead if you want to be a 2016 participant.

Click here for this year’s list. I am particularly excited about our selections this year. Compared to last year’s list, we have a larger selection of picture books and titles that speak to the trans* experience. I expect that next year, the list will see even more. You know what would be cool, too? More middle grade LBGTQ fiction. Tim Federle might want to take a year off. We need more voices!

I thought that, here, I’d take the time to list our Rainbow List selections that include diverse characters. The Rainbow List is diverse in nature, in that all of the titles have LBGTQ characters. However, here are some titles that go even further. I think it’s important to note this, especially for collection development and readers advisory purposes. #weneeddiversebooks! Now! Forever!

I know that some of the ethnicities listed below aren’t considered to be POC, but I felt the need to include them. I hope you find it useful.

  • One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva centers around an Armenian-American family.
  • Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, one of my personal favorites, has a Persian-American protagonist. Sara Farizan does it again!
  • Screaming Divas by Suzanne Kamata is so much fun. The plot revolves around four girls, including Harumi, who is of Japanese descent. Harumi is not the queer character, it should be noted.
  • Austin’s Polish heritage plays a big part in Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle. I would also like to note that the Rainbow List receives very few positive portrayals of bisexual characters. It was refreshing to see a protagonist as well thought-out as Austin. #donteatthecorn
  • Sophie, in Tess Sharpe’s Far From You, lives with a disability brought about by chronic pain. In addition, she is a recovering drug addict.
  • One of the books that I simply could not put down was Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Darcy Patel, one of the two main characters, is of Indian descent.
  • Though the teen featured on the cover of Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin is white, the teens included in the title are very diverse. Same goes for the teens found in We Are the Youth: Sharing the Stories of LGBT Youth in the United States. I highly recommend purchasing both of these non-fiction titles. They are informative and beautiful to look at.
  • Previously, I have gushed about both Not Every Princess and This Day in June. If your picture book collection does not include these two titles, it is incomplete. If the diverse children and families in these two books don’t melt your cold, cold little heart, I just don’t understand you.

If you are considering being on the Rainbow List and you have some questions that I haven’t answered in this post or here or here, you know where to find me. I am happy to answer any questions you might have. I really believe in the work of the Rainbow List and will continue to follow its lists even though I am no longer on the committee.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Little Reminders Everywhere: Sing to your child, even if you’re literally the worst singer

Looks like it’s time for yet another Literacy Tip of the Month!

Here’s what I whipped up this time:

This literacy tip was inspired by all the grown-ups in our Babies and Books and Toddler Time programs, who, when asked to sing along proclaim, “I can’t sing!”

Can you imagine a toddler calling out her parent for crappy singing? It doesn’t happen (even with our sassy Brooklyn toddlers). Toddlers and babies don’t care if you’re a good singer or not. If you want your kid to sing, you need to show them that it’s fun to do. They’re modeling your behavior.

I always back up my literacy tips with information from the experts, and in this case, I hit up Saroj Ghoting’s Early Childhood literacy site, specifically, the cards she made for the Library of Virginia:



As always, our literacy tip sits behind the reference desk so that parents and caregivers can read it while they are waiting on line. This one was particularly popular, with many adults asking to snap a picture of it.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Introducing No-Name, the New Storytime Puppet!

I first saw this beautiful and breathtaking puppet on Ms. Anna’s blog, Future Librarian Superhero, and I knew I had to have him. Her. Zir. I haven’t properly considered this puppet’s preferred pronouns.  In any case, No-Name the Puppet came in our last materials order, and I’m in love. I can’t wait to use No-Name to introduce the Letter of the Day in storytime!

I am maybe a little too into No-Name

I am maybe a little too into No-Name

Ms. Anna named her puppet Fergus, and Folkmanis, the company that sells the puppet, named it Blueper. I’ve decided to eschew this puppet-naming pressure altogether and, instead, hold a contest to let our library kids name the puppet.

Here’s the sign letting everyone know about the contest:

I crossed out the word "fortune" by hand because I just don't have that kind of money, honestly.

I crossed out the word “fortune” by hand because I just don’t have that kind of money, honestly.

The form includes the following fields:

Your name:

Your age:

What should we name the puppet?:

Email/Phone number (we need to contact you if you win):

Do you like peanut butter?

Why do you like the library?

I’m going to go chill with No-Name, and I’ll get back to you when we’ve picked a name!

I'm like cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don't even belong to each other.

I’m like cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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ETA: No-Name is named! The winning name was Pogo and she’s a storytime success. Look for her in upcoming posts.

That interview with JP Porcaro, ALA Presidential Candidate, I promised you

Ages ago, I asked you to send me questions that I could ask JP Porcaro, candidate for ALA President. Once I gathered them, JP trekked out to my sadly unhip end of Brooklyn and we taped these segments just for you. If you’re voting in the upcoming ALA election, or even if you’re not sure you want to vote, please take the time to watch these short clips. They’re uncensored and un-bullshitty and decidedly more real-talk-y than half the things I’ve heard from past candidates.

(I’m going to be straight up and say that being taped and having these videos up is a major nightmare for my insecure self. I’ve watched these once, and not very closely.)

A short introduction:

Let’s talk a little bit about #partyhard and your image:

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Our Toddler Winter Dance is over: Here’s our playlist

I’ve thrown a couple of toddler dances in the past year, and, I have to say, I purposefully put less effort into this one. The Valentine’s Day dance took over a month’s work, what with the bean bag toss, decorations, playlist, and photo backdrop. Then came the Halloween Dance that took about the same amount of work. This time, I really wanted to frame this event as a “family dance party”. No activities like bean bag tosses or toddler bowling: Just a low-maintenance party store-bought backdrop, a really good dance mix I made with the generous help of the librarians of the Storytime Underground Facebook page, and lots of a drums and shakers. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or the purposeful scaling back of the event, but I saw more adult participation this time around.

Here’s me and the backdrop, which is two layers of that mylar/tinsel curtain, plus some sparkly stars. I’m wearing a tinsel crown, but it’s impossible to see in my already candy-colored hair:


I cut out our volunteer, Brianna, as she signed a waiver to be on our library’s Facebook page, but not on my blog. She is FABULOUS, though, and the toddlers loved having a “big kid” at the party.

Why not add some pro-library propaganda to your photobooth backdrop?

Why not add some pro-library propaganda to your photobooth backdrop?

We had a smaller-than-usual, but enthusiastic crowd.

We had a smaller-than-usual, but enthusiastic crowd.

You can see all the pictures on our library’s family page. Brooklyn kids are so cute! Give the page a like when you’re there.

Overall, I was really pleased with this party. While our other dance parties consisted of, for the most part, adults sitting along the walls instead of dancing with their kids, I saw every single adult dancing with their child.

Here is the playlist of all the action-based songs I used. Our biggest hits were Tooty Ta and the Koo Koo Kangaroo songs (it’s worth checking out the Koo Koo Kangaroo videos so you can learn the dance moves beforehand):

I interspersed action songs with family-friendly dance songs, mostly from this mix.

I ended the party with this song, which made everyone mellow out a bit. Brianna, the volunteer, and I blew bubbles with our Gymboree bubble blowers:

As always, my partner in crime for this activity was my work buddy, Emma. You can see her picture with Brianna here.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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An Incomplete and Brief History of Protests, Riots, and Uprisings: A YA Display

The streets of NY have been full of protesters since the disappointing and disgusting decision not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner, an unarmed New Yorker. Protests have also sprung up all over the world around the murder of Garner, as well as those of Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, and far too many others. This is a time for many of us to feel sad, angry, heartbroken, and helpless.

I, myself, have attended a protest that started in Union Square and ended up at the Rockefeller tree lighting. I was relieved to see such a huge crowd of supporters, but utterly dismayed to see tourists and Christmas tree enthusiasts yelling at us, starting fights with us, and, even worse, being completely apathetic to our presence. I left angry and sad and scared.

I should really attend more protests. I feel so strongly about this, and yet, I’ve only been to one.

Crowds of citizens protesting the deaths of unarmed Black men and women are a reality of life in New York City and the world at large. The library would be remiss to not comment on the demonstrations or the killings. It’s just not always clear to me how to tackle the subject.

I’ve made displays about other sensitive topics: body image, racism, LGBTQ pride, and self-care, but this one seems harder to bring up. And who am I to bring up the topic anyway? What am I trying to say, exactly? Do I think the teens aren’t talking about it? Maybe they just don’t want to talk about it around me. 

My attempt may be awkward, but, here it is.

I made a display called An Incomplete and Brief History of Protests, Riots, and Uprisings. I wanted to show that protests are not a new phenomenon. They are not just an American institution. They are led by and for the interests of men and women, queer people and straight people, those who are Black or white, young and old. It’s been happening since before the dawn of this country.

I see a lot of apathy concerning protests: “Why? What is the point? What does it accomplish?” And yet: The Storming of the Bastille, though only a few prisoners were released, brought about an entire revolution. The Boston Tea Party accomplished the same. The Salt March opened up the world’s eyes to Indian, not British, interests. The Great March on Washington gave the world the “I Have a Dream” speech. The Woman’s Suffrage Parade raised $14,000 (in 1913 dollars!) and women were afforded the right to vote only seven years later. Walls were brought down. Rights were granted. The world was made to listen to voices that were being silenced. There were real, tangible results to these protests.

Now, looking at this display I’m wondering if I should have made a bigger statement, huge signs that say #BlackLivesMatter or #ICantBreathe. Certainly, in (mostly) liberal Brooklyn, they wouldn’t be out of place. I don’t know. Maybe I chickened out. I suppose I didn’t want it to look like I was telling the teens what to think. I simply wanted to provide access to this history and let them figure out what they needed to themselves.

In any case, here is the display, along with some visuals I made if you want to steal them to make something bigger and badder and better. They are yours if you want them.

This was put up in the Young Adult section. I hope it starts some dialogue, even if I’m not there to hear it.

The Woman’s Suffrage March of 1913 and the Tiananmen Square protests.

The Great March on Washington. On the top, cut out, is the Berlin Wall protests.

Stonewall Riots and the Boston Tea Party.

And now, the visuals I made (using my old friend, PicMonkey). The text is mercilessly and shamelessly cut-and-pasted and Frankensteined from all over the place. I tried to make these historical events accessible and clear to teen readers.





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An updated Staff Picks display featuring lots of cartoon cats and galaxy prints

Previously, I had made a Staff Picks display where all the Youth Wing librarians posted their favorite middle grade titlesWe had all picked several books that we put on display under little cartoon librarians I created In addition, I offered a little hand-out for the patrons which included all the staff favorites.

This time, we went a little more casual. Instead of several picks per librarian, everyone gets one spot. If you see your spot empty, give yourself a pat on the back for picking something that caught someone’s eye, and replace the title. In addition to middle grade titles, we included YA books as well.

First, I made new cartoons of all the staff (most of us new since the last time I tried this!), using Wee World and PicMonkey.

Here’s me:

Note the half-hearted smattering of pink glitter all over the floor.

This is actually pretty close to what my hair looks like now! Note the half-hearted smattering of pink glitter all over the floor. If anyone can find me mint green cowboy boots, I’d be happy forever.

And the rest of the staff (you can see that most of us are pretty into cats):


Emma says she doesn’t like cats, and yet, she asked for Hello Kitty, which is kind of a girl who thinks she’s a cat or something. It’s complicated.

tatiananame rakishaname lisaname leighname Jasonname benname

I laminated all these pieces, along with letters spelling out S-T-A-F-F P-I-C-K-S. Here’s an example of one letter I made:

Yes, apparently I'm super into putting galaxy print on everything, thus putting me at least 2 years behind the trend.

Yes, apparently I’m super into putting galaxy print on everything, thus putting me at least 2 years behind the trend.

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