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

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

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:

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.

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

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.


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: 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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Cats (and Librarians) Against Cat Calls: A display about street harassment

Me: Hi, how are you?

Teen girl: I need help.

Teen boy, behind her, staring at her ass, sucking his teeth: Hey…hey…I can help you.

Me, to boy: I’m sorry, do you know her?

Teen boy, sucking teeth: Naw.

Me: Then move it along! Your game sucks!

(End scene)

I am so sick of this kind of crap, I can’t tell you. Can’t a girl ask a reference question without getting leered at? Can’t a 30-something pink-haired librarian walk to the subway without comments being made about my anatomy? I guess we’ll never get to a point where men realize comments about our bodies are unwelcome and unwanted.

I created this display to get teen patrons of all genders to start thinking about street harassment. Cat calling can make women feel insecure and worse, unsafe. We’re not alone in this, though, and we don’t need to feel ashamed. Men need to realize that this type of behavior is aggressive and absolutely not OK. I try to combat sexual harassment in the library on a case-by-case basis by always calling out the aggressor. However, librarians can’t be present for every situation.

I put this cat up behind the YA/Teen reference desk:

cats against catcalling
Cats Against Cat Calling. I’ve named this cat Esmerelda. I feel she looks a bit Pokemon-esque, no?
Here’s a closer look at Esmerelda.
I added some Grumpy Cat to the banners, because I feel that she's an excellent advocate.
I added some little Grumpy Cats to the banners, because I feel that she’s an excellent advocate for female empowerment.

Opposite from the reference desk, I added my typical Tumblr collages (you can see some other ones I’ve made in this manner here and here):

Continue reading “Cats (and Librarians) Against Cat Calls: A display about street harassment”

It’s Time for a Body Positive Brooklyn: Look, I finished that display, finally.

Remember that display that I startedThe “Stop Hating Your Body” display? Well, it’s done and officially up in the library.

I’m a little bit more nervous about this display than I was about the Pride Month one. I don’t know. I mean, we have such a long way to go as far as LGBTQ* rights are concerned, but at the very least I feel like it’s something you hear about on a daily basis. Am I wrong? Maybe it’s because I’m in a super liberal NYC bubble or maybe it’s due to the company I keep, but I feel like at least we’re talking about homophobia and equality. Are we talking about body image? Are we telling people, girls especially, that it’s OK to not hate your body? Has that discussion even begun?

It needs to be an every day discussion. Not just in zines and blogs. Body acceptance has to become part of mainstream dialogue. Otherwise, we have no hope against beauty magazines and the media. Zero chance for kids to have a healthy body image.

Sometimes I feel like it’s still so radical to let people know that it’s not OK to make fun of fat/obese/insert euphemism people (of which I count myself as one of). I want tweens and teens to realize that it’s alright to be fat. It’s OK to have big hips or thick legs. It’s alright to not have a supermodel body. And this isn’t just a display for the bigger teens, it’s for all of them. The thinner ones also need to be aware that they don’t need to be constantly dieting for no apparent reason. It’s not necessary to be permanently dissatisfied with your appearance.

I really needed someone to tell all of this to me when I was a (really, really thin) teenager. No one did. I was a mess. So, I’m making it known now.

I’ve already seen two tween boys pointing and laughing at a part of the display that features a fat girl in a bathing suit. It’s disheartening.

I’ve also seen a handful of girls read over the entire display.

Here it is. It’s got lots of tiny details. The ones I didn’t photograph for this post can be found here.

The aforementioned boys made fun of the drawing in the upper right corner. I was pretty upset.
This one is darling. It always makes me smile.
This one is darling. It always makes me smile.
Lumpy Space Princess and I have similar body issues.
Lumpy Space Princess and I have similar body issues.

Continue reading “It’s Time for a Body Positive Brooklyn: Look, I finished that display, finally.”