My glitter-heavy displays for GLBT Book Month, complete with images for you to steal

Did you know that June is GLBT Book Month? It’s true! And while I try and knock out LGBTQ displays all the time, I’m extra excited about the GLBTRT’s first GLBT Book Month. Everybody freak out!

While I do adore the official poster for GLBT Book Month (featuring the artwork from one of my favorite picture books, This Day in June, which I talk about in length here), I made my own ’cause mama’s on a budget. I used this for both the children’s and YA displays I made:

GLBT book monthWe have limited display space in the children’s room, so I made an ever-so-tiny display behind our reference desk:

Some of the books have left the display to go circulate, so I’m a happy camper.

My larger display ended up in the YA section, where I just have much more room to set stuff up. Here’s a simple book display:

Over by the YA ref desk, I had even more room to work with, so I created my own images to display on a corkboard. I also laminated the individual images and stuck them up in each YA computer terminal (I can’t promise that every teen will see the corkboard, but most of them use the computers at some point). I used images and quotes of famous LGBTQ folks and allies. I’m still new at creating images. I should have, perhaps, rethought my font choice (some of the commas look like periods. Ugh.). Some of the transparent edits on the images are my own, and that’s why they SUCK. Also, if the person in the picture is wearing a flower crown, it means I accidentally cut the top of their head off. Not cool.

If you want to use any/all these images in your displays, please do. If they go up on your blog, please credit me, your main girl Ingrid.

harvey milk lavernecox jazzjennings

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Adventures in Library Card Applications and Gender Neutral Bathrooms

If I had my druthers, and I mean 100 percent of my druthers, every library would have the following (among other things): no gender option on the library card application and at least one gender neutral bathroom. My library is not there yet, but I think we’re on our way. We’ve made steps towards getting the gender box taken off the library card application. In the past, you had to mark either Male or Female on the form in order to complete it. Now, gender is still on the form, but it’s not required. It looks like this:


Anything with a red asterisk is necessary information to complete the form. Gender doesn’t have one, so if you skip it, you can still submit the library card form. When you hit the drop-down menu under gender, the only options are Male and Female.

This is not ideal. In a perfect world, there simply wouldn’t be a gender option on a library card form. Period. As we have it now, anyone who doesn’t fit into the Male and Female categories is treated like an “other”, which is generally not how I like to treat library patrons. It’s not very welcoming. If a library were to list all the options for all the different genders, the list would very long and I imagine the jargon would constantly have to be updated. You could use a fill-in-the-blank option, like this:


But, statistics-wise, this seems kind of like a nightmare. While I’m down for any sort of gender expression, I don’t really see how this information helps the mission of the library.

That’s why the best course of action is to remove gender from the library card application altogether. Consider why you need these gender-specific stats from your patrons. If your library attracted more female patrons than male patrons, what would that mean to your programming schedule and collection-building anyway? Any steps you would take to balance out the genders would be under the assumption that every gender acts as a monolith. Think, instead, what information could be more useful to your library. How about how many children, if any, are in the family? What are their ages? What languages are spoken at home? A check-list of a patron’s interests? Surely these questions could offer more insights into the kinds of people that frequent your library.

Adding gender neutral bathrooms can be a trickier task. Gender neutral bathrooms not only serve patrons who don’t fit into the gender binary and/or don’t feel comfortable using gendered bathrooms (check out this scene from Transparent if you’re unsure as to why certain spaces may be unsafe for some. NSFW), but also families visiting the library. Consider a father taking his 7 year old daughter to the library restroom. If he doesn’t feel comfortable sending her into the bathroom by herself, he has to choose either the Men’s or the Women’s bathroom, both of which are not a very good fit.

If you’re lucky enough have single stall bathrooms, consider making them gender neutral. If only one person/family is using that bathroom at a time, who cares who is in there? This will cut down on those obnoxious ladies’ room lines and also offer a safe bathroom for those who need it.

(I wish I had a easy fix for when you have multi-stalled bathrooms. I don’t. It’s important to know what your state/city’s law is regarding bathroom usage. In New York City, you can use the bathroom that matches the gender you identify with, as opposed to your “assigned” gender. Make sure your library is aware of local laws.)

In my particular section of the library, we had two bathrooms: a single stall Boys’ Room and a single stall Girls’ Room, both of which have changing tables. It started to seem silly to gender the bathrooms, so I was given the go-ahead to make them unisex. I created these two signs:

bathroom A bathroomB

What more do you need to know other than the fact that these rooms contain toilets? I also color-coded them, so that patrons could also refer to them as the Green and the Orange bathroom, in addition to Bathroom A and B. Our single stall bathrooms require keys, so each keychain has an image that corresponds to these signs.

Though staff received an email about the bathroom changes, someone, a fellow employee I assume, wrote Male and Female on the keychains, thus re-gendering them. I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe old habits are hard to break. However, I am hopeful that this is a step in the right direction and it will seem like second-nature soon enough.

For more on gender neutral bathrooms, check out this article by Everyday Feminism and these FAQs from Lambda Legal.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Thrive Thursday Roundup! (5/14/15)

Thrive Thursday Logo

Check out all these rad program ideas!

♥ Laura over at Library Lalaland is making us all super-hungry with this amazing cake decorating program for tweens

♥ If you have classes visiting your library for tours and storytime, Carol from Program Palooza has you covered with these great ideas

♥ I think Anne from So Tomorrow is so rad. Check out her coding class!

Ms. Kelly at the Library is an overachiever with two posts! I adore her Bubble Bash program, as well as her brilliant Marble Mania program. 

To learn more about Thrive Thursday, check out the schedulePinterest board, and Facebook Group.

Keep on Thriving, y’all!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Thrive Thursday May 2015 Placeholder!

Thrive Thursday Logo

Here’s your chance to participate in this month’s school age programming blog hop! If you have an amazing program to share please post a link in the comments section below and I’ll post a compilation on May 14th.

For more information check out the schedulePinterest board, and Facebook Group.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Happy Thriving!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

ETA: Check out the round-up here!

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Yet Another Toddler Dance Party

I don’t think I’m going to add a full post about our upcoming Toddler Dance, since they’re all somewhat the same and I’ve talked about them here and here and here. But, I am pumped about my ridiculous flyer, so, I thought I’d share it:

spring dance

Is this not the silliest?

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover…But What about the First Line?: A Teen Library Display

Look supervisors! All that time I spend messing around on Twitter paid off! After seeing this brilliant idea from the Johnson County Library, I knew we had to repeat it here in our teen section.

If it’s not obvious, the covers of the books have been covered up. Instead, all the patron see is the first line of said book.

My coworker Emma is usually in charge of this particular display section, but I asked if we could copy the above display for May. She was down, so I got to work finding titles with solid first lines. I specifically looked for books that we had multiple copies of, as well as overlooked gems that weren’t circulating in the collection.

Here are the images I made to tape to the front of our YA books. Feel free to use ’em. It would make me happy, in fact.

baby girl by lenora adams

Baby Girl by Lenora Adams


Cupcake by Rachel Cohn

derby girl

Derby Girl by Shauna Cross

Eleventh Plague

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

everybody sees the ants

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King


Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

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My Letter B Storytime: ‘Cause baby there’s no better, baby there’s no better letter

This may sound bananas to all you seasoned children’s librarians, but I haven’t been doing themed storytimes for toddlers. I know! It’s crazy. My flawed reasoning has been that we have a revolving team of children’s librarians here, so I only get to do Toddler Time once a month or so. I was afraid that doing a theme was only for librarians with a consistent storytime schedule and a regular group of program participants. My typical tactic was just to bring my best, A-game material to storytime without a specific theme in mind.

I know. That sounds nonsensical.

I’ve seen the light now, and have started banging out themed storytimes.

I thought I’d share my Letter B storytime, which was highly successful. I haven’t gotten so many compliments from caregivers in ages. One participant, a self-admitted seasoned storytime goer, said that this was the best storytime they had been to in a long time and that they felt that the topic I covered would actually stick with their child.

I set the theme by sticking this up to the wall and adding it to my handouts:


I am going to make a glittery frame for future storytime signs like this, but this time I just taped it up as is.

I started with my typical storytime starters: A hello song (I like this one), our ABCs (I used the ABC Stop Song, too, which I talk about here), and This is Big, Big, Big (which, by coincidence, is a song that has the letter B in it!).

I then launched into Bread and Butter, which is really sung best by those rad Jbrary ladies.

I mentioned that bread and butter are words that begin with B, and that now we were going to read a book about blueberries, which also begins with B. We read One Little Blueberry by Tammi Salzano, which is a solid counting book.

I reiterated that the word “blueberries” begins with the letter B and that’s the letter we were going to talk about today. I pulled out a big, laminated letter B, which I affixed to this box, which has velcro tabs on it so that I can switch out the letter for every new storytime:

I know it looks crooked, but that’s just my awful photography skills.

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Cover Your Library in Glitter and Lights: An Interview with Rachel Moani

One of my most lurked on librarian blogs was run by the very talented Rachel Moani, a Youth Services Associate in Washington state. She posted the most beautiful and breathtaking library displays I had ever seen. Rachel’s library was populated by dinosaurs, massive flying dragons, candy-colored castles big enough to hide in, glittery lightning storms, and twinkling lights. I was totally enamored by the library atmosphere she created and could only imagine how captivated her child and teen patrons must be.

One day, that website disappeared, and I spent a while searching for where her work was now displayed. I found a Pinterest page, thankfully, but I set to work trying to actually find and contact Rachel. Through the magic of social media, I tracked her down for an interview. I want all of you to become super Rachel-fan-girls, just like me.

I hope you find Rachel’s work as exciting and important as I do.

Ingrid Abrams:  Which came first, the art or the librarianship? How did you come to combine them?

Rachel Moani: Art came first, though during the past five years in libraries I’ve attacked projects and learned skills I never would have thought to acquire if I wasn’t putting up a seasonal book display. I’ve been having a wild and enthusiastic love affair with cardboard thanks to libraries.  Before, I’d always been more of a doodler/painter. Working in a children’s section of a library with very neutral décor, adding color and vibrancy where I could made sense to me.

IA: What was the most complicated display you ever pulled off?

RM: I like a challenge, so most of them push my limits in some way, but if I had to choose I’d say my stegosaurus, I think. It’s in six parts, all together she’s 35 feet long and 15 feet high. Hanging each piece individually while making it look like it’s hung as one piece was a challenge. I looked up a picture of a little balsa wood stegosaurus toy model and blew it up x1bazillion. Mathematical. Though the thing that cracks me up is: I spent all summer perfecting the dinosaur skeleton (for the “Dig into Reading!” theme) and then Banned Books week totally surprised me. So I whipped up a little banned books display in a few rushed, distracted hours – and that was the one that hit it big. Practically no one noticed the dino- Lolz!

Dinosaur Construction (Rachel Moani)Banned Books Display At the Lacey Library

IA: How in the WORLD did you get that dragon to hang from the ceiling?

RM: I’m pretty lucky to have a really supportive Lacey City staff, they put in a set of pulleys for me, so I can lift my crafts into our vaulted library ceiling.  Figuring out dimensions/weight/material quantity is a fun way to brush up on all that high school math I never thought I’d use.The Dragon

IA: What kinds of reactions do staff and patrons have to your displays?

RM: My castle right now is really fun, because kids can tug and touch and pull on it. I’m surprised by how long it’s lasted, and that it seems to be dying so gracefully. I thought it would go in a blaze of ripped up glory after a month or two, but it’s been up almost a year! I am obsessed with Yayoi Kusama, the greatest polka dot artist of our time, and I wanted to make something inspired by her installations. So every time kids come to the library, they put one sticker on the castle. My regular patrons, even the babies, now automatically come to the desk to choose their sticker. Which means I get a patron interaction with every visit, even with the ones who have always been too shy to talk with me. Just look at some of the adorable things they write on them!

Put a sticker on the Castle!)

stickers castle

stickers castle 2

IA: Tell me about your favorite display.

RM: Oh, I loved my ‘Dream Big’ chapter book display. But it was all glitter, twinkle lights, and fairy tales, so no surprise there.


IA: What advice do you have for non-artsy, non-craftily talented librarians who strive create stunning displays like yours?

RM: I get so many great ideas from other creative people out there, and I love helping a fellow book displayer out! I know Pinterest isn’t an ideal place to comment and get responses, but I do try to always  respond if someone has a specific craft question. Craft! Have Fun! Take suggestions from the children at your library! Be bold!

There are so many librarians I admire and aspire to be like, and Rachel is definitely one of them. It was such an honor to get to talk to her. If there’s a library in heaven, it looks like this. Click here to check out her gorgeous Pinterest page.

 ~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
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PS: Rachel keeps a visual diary, and she was kind enough to share this with me:

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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