Tuesday, February 20, 2018

HR 620: A Review for Library Staff

A couple months ago I wrote about accommodations in the wake of the announcement of HB 620, which was a proposed amendment to the ADA.

This bill, now HR 620, passed in the House and is on its way to the Senate.

There are definitely implications for libraries here.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Announcing: Fostering Grade Level Reading!

Just in time for the proposed elimination of funding for the Institute of Museum of Library Services, I'm pleased to announce a new project funded by a Library Services and Technology Act grant: Fostering Grade Level Reading!

A teddy bear with an open book in its lap, appearing to read
on a blue background. Text reads, "Fostering Grade Level Reading."
Picture created in Canva with a free image as decoration.

Fostering Grade Level Reading (or Fostering Readers, as the team is calling it colloquially) is really one of those dream-come-true projects for me. As project co-manager, I'm able to deep dive into my background with literacy research to work with our project team toward providing librarians and out-of-school-time providers with what they need to support children learning to read, and foster student ability to read at grade level by third grade. At our first in-person meeting, I was able gush with our reading specialists about big names in educational research, which was fun! I'm using brain cells that haven't been tapped since 2009 which... hurts my head. But in a good way!

Fostering Grade Level Reading is a partnership between Washington County Cooperative Library Services and OregonASK. Right now, our subject matter experts are compiling research in preparation to create a toolkit for use in libraries and for out-of-school-time teachers/caregivers. In accordance with our LSTA timeline, we will have a toolkit prepared for publication online, available for free by the beginning of 2019.

We need your help: Currently, our funding is made possible by a grant obtained through the State Library of Oregon while Katie, project co-manager, was employed there are the state Youth Services Consultant. Katie has since become my new coworker (!!!) and our employer has taken over as the fiscal agent for the grant. We are applying for a second year of funding, which would allow us us to: 1) strengthen the toolkit with an official pilot and unofficial feedback from those around the country who are using it, and 2) make informed recommendations for training with the toolkit. For the second year funding, we are asking for support from youth services library staff in the form of letters of support; the more, the better! This will enhance our justification that not only is a product like this needed; but an evaluated and vetted product like this is crucial to filling the knowledge gap posed "after" Every Child Ready to Read. If you work in libraries and are not a youth services staff member, but can speak to the importance of this project for libraries and youth services, you're welcome to send one along as well.

Take a look at the documents linked below for more information and talking points you can use to craft your letter.

Please email me (brycek at wccls at org) or Katie (katiea at wccls dot org) your completed letter of support! Letters are due to us by March 16, 2018 for compilation and submission with our grant application.

Fostering Grade Level Reading description and talking points

Fostering Grade Level Reading Project Team
(I never get tone right on bios and if I get enough letters of support, I may be inspired to redo my bio on the blog not unlike my Emerging Leaders one)

Thanks for your consideration!

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Investing Energy in Trying Times: What's Working for Me

Comedian Maria Bamford, looking stern. Text says:
"If you stay alive for no other reason at all, please
do it for spite."

I’ve started to write this post a couple times and then stopped, deleting. Because it’s hard to talk about and think about. Because I might say the wrong thing. But then Abby (who I recently met IRL, which was awesome. Did you know her husband and Caleb have been good friends since high school? Life is random.) told me that I’m one of the reasons she feels as though she can talk mental health as a library professional, so here we go.

Disclaimer: this post promises to be at the very least, self-indulgent and/or deeply personal. It is absolutely a million percent about me and has no implications for anyone else. That said, if something I talk about here sounds helpful to you, you’re welcome to try it.

Disclaimer 2: yes, I am extremely privileged, and I acknowledge that.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Zombie Dancemob in the Library! An All-Ages Event

This post is authored by Jennifer Johnson, BDP blog intern.

A group of zombie dancers do their best scary poses 
on the front steps of the library. (Thrill the World 2016)

Happy New Year everyone and thank you in advance for indulging my programming ramblings! I am super excited for my inaugural programming post to be this one in particular. There was a tease in my introductory post about my library’s Thrill the World programs and now you get to hear about it in full! We are headed to Zombieland, so remember rule #4: Seatbelts!

Before I tell you how I found out about Thrill the World, I want to direct you to their website so that you can see what exactly it is. I can’t explain it much better than they do themselves.

For me, this idea was born from the quirky, wonderful people of Cookeville, TN, my stomping ground. There was a group in 2008 that participated in Thrill the World, but sadly, I didn’t hear about it until after the fact.  However, I was determined that if they ever did it again, I would be right there dancing with them. I even began teaching myself the dance at home in anticipation! Now, to my knowledge, 2008 was the one and only year that Cookeville ever participated and my hope for zombie dancing glory dwindled.

When planning programs for Fall 2016,  one thing kept nagging at the back of my mind: You need to make Thrill the World happen. I knew that it was an annual event and that it happened on a certain date and time in October. And so, with the  of my supervisor and our teen librarian, I put it on the fall schedule that year.


Friday, January 19, 2018

The Problem with Autism Speaks: A Primer for Well-Meaning Library Staff

Note: this post is heavy with links so you get the full picture. Please read all of them.

This  post is inspired by an email I recently wrote to ALSC, which I was informed has been forwarded to their leadership. Following and making friends with quite a few members of the disability community in the past year or so has alerted me to this specifically, and I want to make sure library folks at a large are aware. Many people in our profession are in fact #actuallyautistic, and a few have written about their experiences.

Accessibility series logo by On a Roll Designs

We need to talk about the view a very large and growing percentage of autistic adults have.

They see Autism Speaks as a harmful organization. At best, as I've come to understand, Autism Speaks is seen by many, many #actuallyautistic people as exploitative (Autism Speaks is often shortened by disability activists as A$); at worst, it's seen as a hate group.

A hate group.

Has your library partnered with Autism Speaks? Do you have "Light it up Blue"* displays  or other events related to the campaign? Do you refer to articles and resources from Autism Speaks as a go-to resource for autism-related tips, especially on behavior? This post is submitted for your consideration.

I know this is not widely known information for people outside the disability community, so especially in the recent climate  want to be clear that I come to you not to shame but to provide information and make this humble request in the hope that library staff receive the most disability-centered information possible, as well as stop partnering with this organization.

You may be wondering why so many people dislike Autism Speaks. There are several reasons; here are a couple:
1. Autism Speaks has a long history of centering allistic/non-autistic voices in their resources, prioritizing the feelings of abled parents and caregivers rather than centering autistic individuals and what is best for them. This includes an uncritical support of ABA therapy, which many autistic adults have spoken out against. Accusations span from it being traumatizing to denying autistic children the allowance we've recently begun to grant children as a whole as a society: that behavior is communication. Mel Boggs illustrates this in action in a great post called "Exactly Who is Unresponsive Here?"

2. Autism Speaks sends harmful messages to autistic children. Many people in the disability community live with internalized ableism, and autistic people who have written about it cite Autism Speaks's specific place in contributing to it. The puzzle piece analogy adds to it.

3. Autism Speaks sends harmful messages to parents with autistic children. Where empowerment and community are needed, fear can be instilled under the guise of "validation". One video that has now been removed due to criticism called "I Am Autism" was filmed like a horror movie and included lines like "“If you’re happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails” and “You are scared, and you should be." Another video, that Autism Speaks has since taken down but has been uploaded elsewhere and was accepted to the Sundance Film Festival the year it came out, paints a bleak existence of living with autism including this clip of a mother considering murder-suicide right in from of her daughter. This type of messaging can lead to overworked and isolated parents feeling as though this is a righteous decision, and public opinion and courts can show sympathy for the accused.

4. Autism Speaks focuses on a "cure" for autism, rather than helping to reduce barriers for autistic people who already exist. You know, why help people exist when you can eradicate them instead?

The view that Autism Speaks is a hate group is not shared by all autistic people or autistic families, but enough people do that it's worth finding other organizations to partner with and learn from, and other displays and programming (how about an #actuallyautistic or #WalkinRed theme?) in support of autistic people to offer.

Please stop referencing Autism Speaks as a go-to resource about autism. Please advocate for this change in your library and community. A much better resource and partnering organization is the Autism Self-Advocacy Network.They do such good work and need your donations way more than Autism Speaks does.

Groups like FACT Oregon are family advocacy organizations that are in tune to the disability community and are dedicated to empowering families. While they have several resources for planning for families in the early years, you will find there is no mention of Autism Speaks on their website. They are creating a supportive community of parents who are educated about their rights in IEP meetings and rally for legislative days to demand proper funding for accessible education. It can be done.

*this campaign plays into the stereotype that more boys have autism than other genders, which leads to girls and NB people going misdiagnosed or undiagnosed

Find more in the Accessibility Series
Want to write for the series? Check submission guidelines here.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Accessibility and Conference Presentations

Accessibility series logo

NOTE: If you're new here, welcome! When I write about accessibility, you will find that I use the terms "people with disabilities", "PWD", "the disability community", and "disabled people" interchangeably. This is something I deliberately do to challenge our institutional insistence on "person-first language." If you come across more terms you're unfamiliar with here, I start this post with some definitions.

Having done a few presentations on accessibility, I’ve started the past few years to make way more considerations than I have in the past regarding the extent to which my presentations are accessible. Few things bug me more than a presentation about accessibility that is, itself, inaccessible.

The ALA Midwinter Meeting is right around the corner (which has some great offerings at the Symposium on the Future of Libraries!), so I though this might be a good time to share some tips on making your presentation more accessible. Remember PWD should be expected in these spaces just like abled people are.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive and complete list, and there are definitely things that should be included. Please add more suggestions in the comments and I will add them in an update!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Get to Know My New Blogging Intern!

2018 is shaping up to be a stellar year here at BDP. After my recent webinar with the Ohio Library Council, I was inspired to start a new periodic series about child management, so stay tuned! Additionally, we'll be returning to regular posts on youth services programming with the help of my new blogging intern, Jennifer!

I'm pleased to introduce Jennifer Johnson, School Age Program Coordinator at Johnson City (TN) Public Library! Of her job, Jennifer says, "I have been serving the school age population of Johnson City for about two years now and loving every minute of it!"

Brown-haired women (Jennifer) dressed in a red and gold tie, socks, and a white dress shirt
(cosplaying as Hermoine Granger) posing with a school-aged child
(Harry Potter celebration, June 2017)

Jennifer was game to answer some questions so we could all get to know her better.

What do you like best about working in a library? 
There are two things I love most about working in a library. The first is being able to help people. I love doing research and helping people find resources, especially when it’s something that’s more obscure. I love seeing their faces light up in appreciation when you are able to locate that super specific book or information that they need. It’s like a scavenger hunt and it helps people to see that they do still need the library and a librarian’s particular set of skills in today’s digital age. The second thing I love is geeking out with people about books that I love. It’s incredibly fulfilling to me to be able to share book recommendations with people and especially kids. When they come back and tell me that they loved the book and they want to talk about it and read more, there is no better feeling than that.

How do you approach library programming?
I really try to listen to what our patrons and our community express an interest in. Our library currently does not have a dedicated makerspace, but our families have expressed an interest in STEM programming, so I have begun a series of makerspace programs over the last year where we focus on a particular skill/material at each program, and have tried to incorporate it into other existing programs (coding with LEGOs, engineering challenges related to book club, etc.).

Besides patron input, I also try to pay attention to what’s relevant for the community at the time, especially when it comes to pop culture and other happenings. Right now, I am in the planning stages of a Star Wars Celebration for the release of The Last Jedi next week. This past summer, we were one of the libraries fortunate enough to receive eclipse glasses, and we had a couple of programs leading up to that. That was a huge event for our community even though we weren’t in the path of totality, but it was all everyone talked about for months.

Other than that, I just follow librarians on social media and look for ideas from them that I can adapt or tweak for my patrons. I love to see what others have successfully done and implement it for our patrons if there’s an interest.

Jennifer in a pink shirt with shooting start (cosplaying as Mabel Pines)
posing with a school-aged child. Child is giving the "thumbs up" sign.
(LibCon event, September 2017)

What is your favorite program you’ve ever done? 
Ooh, this is a really tough question. I have different programs that I love for different reasons. I guess if I had to choose it would be our annual Thrill the World events. For the past two years, starting in September, we have held practices to learn the dance moves to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and then on the last Saturday in October, we have a sort of flash mob performance of it at the front of the library. It’s part of a world record event that happens globally and everyone dresses up as zombies and has a great time!

I love this program for so many reasons, but the biggest one is the feedback I get from the patrons who participate. Our dancers’ ages have ranged from 4 to 60 in the past, and particularly, the older participants always express a sense of pride and accomplishment at the end for seeing it through. We host hour-long practices over the course of five weeks and then our culminating event is two hours long, plus all the time they put in at home practicing, and “Thriller” is not an easy dance! I am always so proud of them for taking on something so physically demanding and owning it. And our young patrons love the dress up aspect of it. One mom told me last year that her little girls and several others who were participating had a big dress-up/makeup party at their house beforehand and it was like they were getting ready for prom!

Another reason I love this program is that it tends to get the library some positive press and attention. It shows the community that we are not just stuffy shushers and peddlers of books. We have a wild side and we are not afraid to get loud and have fun!

[Bryce note: Check back in January for a full write up of this program! ARE YOU PUMPED FOR THIS YET ARE YOU]

Tell us about your biggest program flop! 
This past spring I tried to put on a homeschool project fair at our library. We had had patrons asking for special programs for homeschoolers for so long and we thought that would be an easy way to see if they would actually come if we offered something just for them. We advertised it specifically to all of our homeschool families and seemed to have genuine interest, but when it came down to it, only one kid actually signed up to show his end-of-the-year project and we ended up cancelling the entire thing. I’m still not sure where I went wrong on that one. Maybe it wasn’t the type of programming our homeschooling families wanted or maybe I didn’t get the word out with enough time in advance. For whatever reason, it just did not take off. So back to the drawing board on that one.

If could have any superpower, what would you choose? Probably telekinesis because I can be super lazy sometimes and I’m short so it would help me reach things in tall places. Also it’s basically like using the Force! You want the TV remote but it’s all the way across the room? Don’t get up! Just float it over!

Describe yourself in a GIF or a meme.
Wholesome Memes are my jam. Below is one of my favorites. =)

Cat with a birthday hat and a wand, looking like a wizard
casting a spell.
Text reads "WOOSH, you have my love and support"

Join me in giving Jennifer a warm welcome!