Thursday, December 29, 2016

Iron Fist: The Class PLUS Programming for School-Agers

HEY EVERYONE.

(This post is ridiculously late, I know. Look out for a post sometime in the New Year about what I've been up to this fiscal year! I really can't wait to share)

Looking to reconsider your space and programming in the New Year with your kid patrons in mind?

Looking for a resource that might save you some money that you don't have for a design consultant?

OR have you just recently fallen down the rabbit hole of my Iron Fist posts and want to sink your teeth into behavior management at your library?

Well you're IN LUCK: I will be running the course "Child Development, Library Space, and Behavior" January 23-March 3, 2017. It's an asynchronous class with a very doable work load (2 discussion questions a week; a culminating project of your choosing; and you're done) with tips you can use right away.

This course is designed with the student in mind: content to digest, questions to help you reflect and synthesize with classmates; and hopefully, a frame of reference that will stick with you as you continue to make changes in your library. I am here for you to get as much out of this class as you can, and there are a few different ways you can engage to make the class the most meaningful it can be for you.

Want to know more? Here's my post about my second run of the class with some more encouragement.

Ready to register? Click this link to get more information. Register by January 9 to get 10% off!

Can't make it? That's okay.  I wanted to also share with you a couple of videos I put together in the past year. They're both only one take, and are pretty long, and I apologize there are no captions or subtitles. From now on, I will make sure to retain my transcripts for further accessible sharing:



2nd and 3rd grade programming from Bryce Kozla on Vimeo.
This video was done right after my "Top Five Places to Hide and Cry in Your Library", I care way less than in previous videos I've made about whether your see my CP-hand or not.


Special Programs and No-School Days from Bryce Kozla on Vimeo.
This video was done soon after my move to Oregon, amid watching lots of WWE promos and the reality show "Legends House", and I think it shows. I'm loud. I point a lot. Like, way more than normal. I might as well say "Listen here, Mean Gene." My accent is still pretty bad in this one. NOTE TO SELF: Even though it looks good here, never get that haircut again. EVEN THOUGH it looks good here.

What professional development resources are you digging lately?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"There Goes Your Hero": An Accessibility Series Post


Chris Frantz is the artistic mastermind behind my blog design and the Accessibility Series logo (check out her amazing business, On a Roll Designs). I've known Christ Frantz for 20 years, mostly as an acquaintance; but it wasn't until we reconnected on Facebook that we became closer. I found out over Facebook that she has cerebral palsy, like me-- or, as people with cerebral palsy on the Internet call it, we're both "ceeps"*. When I first thought of the Accessibility Series, the very first post I ever wanted was this one, originally published by her  on her personal website in November 2013.

 “What are you going to call me?”

I looked up, probably from reading celebrity gossip. “What’s that?”

“On the blog,” my husband clarified. “What are you going to call me?”

It was a fair question, and one I’d been posing to myself since I’d decided to start this project. See, in my years on LiveJournal he came to be known as Mr. Beets, a takeoff on my nom de pixels “Bears Eat Beets.” (FACT.) On Facebook I usually refer to him as “my better half,” “mah boo,” and other similarly corny titles. In real life he gets tagged with all sorts of affectionate nicknames, most of ‘em scatological in nature.

His query prompted all sorts of suggestions from both of us, and eventually devolved into us reciting the epic list of David Ryder’s many monikers from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which tends to happen with more discussions in our house than it probably should HAHA IF THAT'S POSSIBLE).

By the end we still didn’t really have an answer. I couldn’t come up with anything good on my own, either.

I’m going to call him Brandon. Because that’s his name.

Brandon is a lot of things. He’s a dork of the highest order. He’s a pub trivia dream teammate. He’s a sabermetrics devotee. An engineer. A borderline socialist. He’s the owner of an insanely good head of hair and he’s our fat cat’s favorite cuddle buddy. He’s both a mature appreciator of meta humor and a giggly seven-year-old when it comes to fart jokes. For me personally, he’s a lover (as much as I hate that word), a protector, a fan, and a support. He’s a caretaker - I don't just mean he hugs me when I'm down or makes me soup when I’m  sick; my well-being and the fulfillment of just about every basic need is essentially in his hands. Most of all he’s the best best friend - he listens, he makes me laugh harder than anyone else, and he calls me on my shit.

What he is not is a hero. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Let's Talk About the Future at ALA Midwinter


Logo for the ALA Midwinter Meeting, January 20-24, 2017
Remember a few weeks ago, when I talked about librarianing is a political act and how some work I had been involved in lately has encouraged me to remain an ALA member for the time being?

Remember how I had my reservations about accepting an appointment to the Center for the Future of Libraries Advisory Group?

Well, I am here to tell you how stoked I am about something that the Center for the Future of Libraries has in store for the ALA Midwinter Meeting this January in Atlanta:

The Symposium on the Future of Libraries.

Yes, I know. But check it out: this Symposium is jam-packed full of meaningful and doable learning experiences and calls to action. Here are a few of the sessions I'm going to drag you to if you're ever in my general vicinity at the Midwinter Meeting... er, may be of interest to you, Reader:

The Future of Librarian Labor
Emily Drabinski, Coordinator of Library Instruction, LIU Brooklyn
Eamon Tewell, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Long Island University, Brooklyn
In an era of unprecedented attacks on teaching and learning in higher education, how can librarians mobilize to advocate for their own wages and working conditions, which can be understood as the learning conditions of students? This session will explore labor issues in academic libraries in the context of a future marked by increasing management control. Participants will explore strategies including union struggle and cross-sector organizing as modes for working against transfers of institutional power from libraries and classrooms to administration. This session will be of interest to academic librarians in both public and private sectors.

Think Universal…To Design Accessible Services for All
Patrice Johnson, Librarian, Chicago Public Library
Pat Herndon, Director, Georgia Library for Accessible Statewide Services at Georgia Public Library Service
Jill Rothstein, Managing Librarian, Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, New York Public Library
The most popular technologies (Apple’s iPhone and iPad) build accessibility into the beginning of their design, creating experiences that are beneficial to all users. When it comes to our own future planning, libraries need to design innovative programs and accessible services that are inclusive of people with disabilities from the first stages of planning. This session will explore insights, strategies, partnerships, and resources that libraries can implement with a focus on serving those with visual and physical disabilities.

Building Civic Engagement with a Civic Lab
Amy Koester, Youth & Family Program Supervisor, Skokie Public Library
Amita Lonial, Learning Experiences Manager, Skokie Public Library
Disappearing local news sources and today’s polarized political landscape mean the library’s role as a space for civic engagement is increasingly important. The Civic Lab at Skokie Public Library is a pop-up library that encourages dialogue and engagement on the issues that affect our community. Featuring all-ages collections and resources on major and emerging issues, including climate change and Black Lives Matter, the flexible, mobile space is used for formal and informal programming for families, teens, and adults. Learn about how this type of pop-up space can invigorate civic discourse and literacy in the library and the community.

Towards A Less Normative Future in Library Services to Children/Teens
Angie Manfredi, Head of Youth Services, Los Alamos County Library System
When we envision the future of libraries, youth services librarians must actively push for de-centralizing Whiteness, particularly in our collection development. This session will help librarians critically evaluate not just the media they purchase for their youth patrons but also the sources that review it. The future of libraries, and of library collections, must reflect the reality of the communities we serve and we, as gatekeepers, need to be advocates for change.

Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Recommendations: An Equitable Future for ALA and the Profession
Leslie Scott, Library Director, Prosper Community Library (Texas)
Melissa Cardenas-Dow
Martin Garnar, Dean, Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Lessa Pelayo-Lozada, Young Readers Librarian, Palos Verdes Library District
LaJuan Pringle, Branch Manager, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
ALA’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has developed a plan and strategic actions to build more equity, diversity, and inclusion among our members, the field of librarianship, and our communities. As these recommendations shift to an Implementation Working Group in 2016-2018, we will need to continue the public and honest conversations that help keep these issues at the forefront. Task Force and Working Group members will present the recommendations in the context of the future of the United States and will ask for participation from attendees to help advance our profession to reflect and represent our nation’s ever-increasing diversity. All library workers will benefit from learning how they can contribute to this important work.

21st Century Library Ethics
Sarah Houghton, Director, San Rafael Public Library
As the world goes increasingly digital, the climate surrounding information politics becomes increasingly convoluted. Libraries are caught in the heart of these tangled issues. When was the last time you looked at the ethical statements of our profession? When you sign contracts and revise policies are you keeping those ethics in mind? As you develop programs for your users are you thinking about how to fold in the ethics of freedom of information and privacy? If not, now's a great time to start.

Crafting Successful Youth Civic Engagement in Information Spaces
Chaebong Nam, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Government, Harvard University
Danielle Allen, Professor, Department of Government/Graduate School of Education, Director, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University
Libraries are the key information space for young people to engage in a range of connected digital experiences. How can information professionals help young people leverage libraries to craft successful civic engagement—not only physical space but human, organizational, and social resources¬¬? To address this issue, in part, participants will learn of an action-reflection frame for youth participation developed by MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Youth Participatory Politics. Then, they can discuss practical steps to infuse the frame into practice. Library professionals who closely work with youth are welcome, especially youth services librarians and school librarians.

...Right?! Right?!
The whole schedule is online here.

If you missed a chance to submit a proposal for Midwinter, never fear! Another Symposium is in the works for Annual.

One more thing:

Interested in exploring a project that will result in a deliverable to help inform the future of libraries? Apply for the Center for the Future of Libraries fellowship. Deadline is January 15, 2017!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

It's like the Ocean; You Can Learn the Currents: An Accessibility Series Post


Lisa Cohn is a librarian in an urban public library. Her primary focus is genealogy research, but she's worn a variety of hats in her almost 20 years of library service including: interlibrary loan, programming, book displays, publicity and, of course, reference.

"The staff thinks you don’t like them.” The Director had taken me out to lunch to tell me this shortly before she left our urban public library.  Also that she got complaints about me once a month from patrons.  I should be nicer.  I should accept social invitations more often.    She was an introvert and her husband got panic attacks, so she understood, even if her Facebook feed was filled with parties and dinners out and so many friends.   And why was I still working here anyway (after 19 years).  I seem unhappy. Why hadn't I gone for a job where I didn't have to interact with  people so often?  I left that lunch shaking my head.  It took me a while to come around to the idea that just as I don’t always understand how “normal” people can socialize so easily, it must be hard for them to understand what it’s like to live with a Panic Disorder.

 I got my diagnoses from my family doctor in college when we had to cut short a vacation because of my symptoms. I remember the appointment as a series of   questions which I answered all as yes!  I was relieved that he seemed to know what was wrong with me.  I don't remember what the questions were, but they were probably similar to these from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:
-Do you have repeated or unexpected “attacks” during which you suddenly are overcome by intense fear or discomfort for no apparent reason?
-If yes, during an attack did you experience any of these symptoms?
--Pounding heart
--Sweating
--Trembling or shaking
--Shortness of breath
--Choking
--Chest pain
--Nausea or abdominal discomfort
--"Jelly" legs
--Dizziness
--Numbness or tingling sensations
--Chills or hot flushes
-As a result of these attacks have you experienced a fear of places or situations where getting help or escape might be difficult?
-As a result have you felt unable to travel without a companion?
-Have you felt persistent concern about having another attacks?
-Have you changed your behavior to accommodate the attacks?

I was given medication to help me cope and read every book on the topic I could find.   Workdays invariably, even after all these years, bring on some variety of symptoms.  After a while, I've even gotten to the point where dealing with symptoms is my normal.  I must hide it well, although I assume the symptoms manifest on the outside as unhappy, judging from my former boss’s comments. Everyday situations, standard patron interactions, etc, all can be difficult.

 I remember one Wednesday evening when I was helping two teenage boys look for a video. They were young, but still taller than me.  I brought them back into the stacks where we kept the videos they had asked about.  I was trapped between them.  Nothing happened, but I felt as if something was about to.  A flash flood of panic rushing through the stacks to sweep me away.  I made some excuse and fled and had to take my break early to gather myself.  After that, I tried to lead patrons into the stacks while still leaving myself some room to exit should the need arise.

When I first started here, I thought I'd be up to going to a staff holiday party one December. It was a crowded restaurant and service was slow.  The longer we waited, the louder everything seemed to be. Dishes and silverware clattered.  Voices rose and overlapped.  It wasn't long before my panic had risen to a level where I just couldn't stand it anymore.  I don't remember what excuse I gave but I fled for home.   I wasn't relieved to get out of there, but rather disgusted at myself for not even being able to go to a party.  I haven’t gone to many since, although I’ve tried a couple times over the years.
 
A few years ago, I went to  the state library association convention a couple of hours south by car with some fellow librarians.  I went to a few meetings on topics I was interested in and walked around the vendor room.  I was waiting for my colleagues around lunchtime when I started to panic.  I was about 2 hours from home and not there under my own transportation so I was trapped until everyone was done.  This time, however, I managed to successfully remember my coping techniques.  I went outside, took a walk near the shore, and remembered to breathe from the diaphragm.  I took  a Xanax and gave myself permission to just leave the situation for a while and I calmed down.  I haven’t gone to the state meeting since, or many meetings away from the building (thankfully, a lot are being offered as webinars now anyway).

I think some people equate panic attacks with a Panic Disorder and believe if you confront it, it'll go away.  But when it's chronic like this, it's not going to stop because you face your fear.  It's like the ocean.  You can learn the currents.  Know what your triggers are so you can avoid being swept under and drown in waves of fear, but the ocean isn't going to evaporate because you accepted a party invitation or did something you were afraid of.  It doesn't go away. You do have to keep trying though.  It might be easier to look for a job where I didn’t have to go to an occasional meeting or interact with people so much, but I know my world would shrink to the office walls around me. Interacting with a variety of people forces me to daily stretch my emotional muscles so I can keep swimming the ocean of my fears.   I may not have an active social life with lots of parties and dinners out, but I talk to a variety of people every day, with the express purpose of helping them in some small way.

I weigh situations like parties or meetings against my history of being able to deal with them and my current level of emotional balance and energy.  So, after 19 years, when the boss invites me out to an unexpected lunch, I take a Xanax to head off the flood of panic attacks.  I picked a restaurant that is within easy walking distance, not because I was planning to flee the restaurant (this time) but because knowing I could make me able to stay.  I asked the maitre'd  if we could eat in a quieter section.  I sit near the door.    I  know that some people won't understand me just as I sometimes don't understand people who can just go to or throw a party without calculating where it is, how they'll get there, how many people will be there and who.   Just as I have people who understand and accept me for who I am and value the time I can spend with them and forgive me for the times when I just can't.  And those who understand that I'm not anti-social or unhappy, that my Panic Disorder tends to consume a lot of my energy.

Looking for more on accessibility?
Click here for more in the accessibility series.

Click here for a growing digital page of links to more resources.

Click here to read about submitting a post to the Accessibility Series.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"A Lot of Librarians Are Spoonies": An Accessibility Series Post

Jessica Schomberg is one of my first collaborators on this blog series, and I'm excited to learn more from her as we explore this topic. 

Jessica is currently serving as Library Services Department Chair at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where her other hats include Media Cataloger and Assessment Coordinator. She tweets as @schomj.

It wasn’t until I read Susan Wendell’s The Rejected Body last year that I started really recognizing and internalizing the idea that I am a person with disabilities. I grew up with Type 1 diabetes, have had thyroid disorders for a few decades, and was recently diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and depression.

When I first joined Twitter (in 2009!), I primarily followed librarians and people with diabetes. I initially lurked during #critlib (critical librarianship) and #dsma (diabetes social media advocacy) chats and followed a lot of people who talked about things that resonated with me. Over time, I began participating in those chats and started to realize that my diabetes and my work life actually do intersect a lot -- and that it’s okay. I also heard about the term spoonie and began interacting with other members of the spoonie community. Through these opportunities, I learned that a lot of librarians are spoonies. And a lot of librarians live with mental illness. Talking with others like me gave me the confidence to seek out support for depression when I needed it.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Librarianing is a Political Act

White text on a gray background:
"Librarianing is a political act"

As I mentioned in my last post, I feel like everything we do as library staff is political. Everything we do (at least, youth services library staff) can help to affect the social order through our communities perceptions of themselves and the world. We can empower marginalized groups, and remove barriers to service, or we can assert the status quo. We well better be deliberate about it.

Yesterday morning I wrote a letter to ALA regarding the latest statement by their Washington Office. After that I saw that the executive board has responded to the many letters they’d already gotten, addressing some main concerns but ultimately not redacting the statement of the Washington Office (which is more for the public than for members). I am posting this letter publicly, edited from its original for clarity, in solidarity with those who have already; and to possibly validate the feelings of those who felt the same types of feelings I did when reading the statement. I understand it is imperfect.

Monday, November 14, 2016

This Week in Professional Development


Picture of a brain with a thought bubble.
Text reads, "This week in
professional development."
Well, that was/is horrifying.

I don't have much else to say. I am not shocked.

Right now I have to say how happy I am to work in Youth Services. The work we do today can help shape the future. The first thing I did Wednesday morning was send my county library staff a few resources in anticipation of reference questions they'd inevitably get. I'm expanding that list here. We need to be critical of our own biases and equip ourselves as information professionals to fight for our community's children; especially those from marginalized populations.

Libraries are not neutral spaces. To say that they are is at best disingenuous. Every decision we make is a political one, and impacts the societal climate; and we need to stay conscious of what informs our decisions every day.

Here we go:

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Accessibility Series: Definitions and 5 Quick Tips

Accessibility series logo
UPDATE: Welcome, new readers! if you're interested in guest posting, please click here for more information. 

On Saturday, I was honored to present at the Oregon Library Association Children's Services Division fall workshop, as part of an afternoon on diversity. I figured a lot of what I talked about might be a good starting point for this accessibility series! Note: I am very new to this activism and, probably like many of our guest posters, still battling my own internalized ableism. If you see something that is incorrect or needs to be amended or updated, please email me at brycedontplay at gmail dot com. 
Here we go:

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Disability Community in the Library: An Exciting Announcement!

Picture of comedian Maysoon Zayid
Includes quote: "And I'm like, 'No, like seriously! The part of my brain
that controls coordination is damaged!'"
The first time I ever read a children's or YA book with a disabled character I could identify with, I was 29 years old.

Reviews on Goodreads will tell you that this book is horribly written, and loses the plot halfway through, and it’s just terrible and it’s probably weeded from most teen collections even though it was published in 2011. To tell you the truth I don’t even remember much of what it was about except “If Dawson had cerebral palsy” but that was the biggest thing: It was like reading a book about an abled character. Or, maybe, it was reading a book about a character that got abled character treatment: he had interests and passions and a screwed up friend and realistic goals and all of that had nothing to do with having cerebral palsy. He just had it. And lived.

This was (and still is) rare. The closest feeling I can get to my feeling reading this book was the feeling expressed by some women with the release of Ghostbusters 2016: “this is important and cathartic and satisfying and comforting and god why wasn’t it perfect it should have been perfect.” I wished it was better so that more people liked it, so that more books would be written about realistic disabled characters.

Around this time was the first time I actually started talking to other disabled people about disabilities. Specifically, when I was 29, it was people with cerebral palsy about cerebral palsy. People with other disabilities came later: an extended family member of mine has a disability, one that they have had my entire life, and it did not occur to me to talk about the disabled experience with them until Christmas two years ago. I started reading more about myself as a member of the disability community, rather than as a person in a world not created for me and didn’t understand my experience enough to represent me in media.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Summer Reading Tic-Tac-Toe: A guest post by Katie Gatten

Poodles dancing in leotards
Katie Gatten is the Branch and Youth Services Administrator for the Mansfield/Richland County Library in Mansfield, OH, located directly between Columbus and Cleveland. There are 75,000 cardholders in their diverse county. For more information on their Summer Library Program, contact Katie a kgatten at mrcpl dot org.

This post will be decorated with GIFs of cute animals dancing because we all need that in our lives right now.

We decided to change up our Summer Library Program this year, having done the same program for many years.  It wasn’t a bad program, but we just wanted to try something fresh.  We had been giving the kids reading records to complete with 7 images to check off that represented 15 minutes of reading time.  When they turned in a completed record they got to pick a prize.  This was the classic Rhode Island Novelty stuff that was cheap quality yet costly, and fell apart soon after the kids received it.  Once the child completed 5 records and visited the library five times, they would also receive a final prize of a new paperback book of their choice.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Building a Better (?) Summer Reading

View of mountains and water from the
conference center
This week I had the pleasure of travelling to the absolutely stunning Columbia River Gorge to talk to the participants of the Oregon Library Support and Development Services Focus on Children and Young Adults Institute  (for brevity, named “The Focus Institute”).  This professional development opportunity takes place on even-numbered years and is attended nearly exclusively by non-MLIS library staff from small libraries, and has inspired the creation of similar programs in other states.

As I told attendees, I use a question mark after “better” because while I shared what’s worked for me, and we were going to try some things, I don’t think of any of the material as a do-all-end-all.  We did, however, get a jump start on our planning for SRP right there in the room.

The 2-hour presentation had three parts, some of which was structured similarly to the SRP presentation I gave in February 2014 in Wisconsin. These were:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Power of Validation

A tiny goat wearing a sweater
(Note: All images on this post will be decorative pictures of baby goats. Because.)

A few days ago, it was the one-year anniversary of my blog post “It’s Always Been Done That Way.”
At the time, writing that piece and posting it in public, where people might see, was one of the scariest things I have ever done in my entire life.

Would I be completely skewered?

Would think-pieces be written and completely misrepresent what I said in favor of complaining about something else?

Twenty minutes after posting, a librarian I admire and who has like, three times the Twitter followers I do tweeted out the link. My initial response was shaking terror. I breathed through it, and realized that the exact type of shame I talked about in the post was the same shame that I was feeling right then.

So I tweeted about that, too.

And I continue to do scary things.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The 'Made It Through' Awards

Ribbons that say, "I put pants on today" and "adulting honorable mention"
There are a lot of awards in library-land. While they're there to commend brilliant work, it can often make the rest feel like we're not good enough, not shiny enough. And sometimes, it's enough for many library staff just to get through the day.

I decided we need some acknowledgement of the everyday things that keep our workplaces moving along. And I'm calling them the "Made it Through" awards.

I created these images in Credly, but the logistics of giving them to other people or claiming them was more time than I felt like spending. so I took screen-caps and turned them into .JPGs.  Scroll to the bottom for the direct link to the Google Drive folder, or right-click to save.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Disability Allies in the Library: An Unsolicited Rant

Tweet from Storytime Underground that says
"Librarians are not neutral and libraries are not neutral spaces"
in all capital letters.
We need to talk.

What I am about to say is a long time coming. I am far from an activist and am speaking from the heart.

So here’s the thing; we all been dealing with a lot of tragedy recently. And it really sucks. And I get that we’re all tired.




But this week a bunch of stuff happened related to the largest minority in the world, disabled people/persons with disabilities/PWD* like me.

First, a minor with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2 has decided to end her life. One thousand people attended a party hosted by her mother  to celebrate before she dies. In other words, a suicidal teen has announced her decision to commit suicide, and the adults in her life are celebrating it. Let me be clear that I am not against the right to die, but I am critical of the adults in her life, including her doctors and counselor. ThisTwitter thread by Kayla Whaley gets at my feelings about it. This is not an isolated incident.

Second, nineteen people were murdered in Japan explicitly because they are disabled.  I didn’t see this shared on my Facebook feed until 24 hours after the fact, even though I searched Facebook for it so its algorithm would know it was important to me. Conversely, I saw many people who shared the new ALS gene findings, the sharing of which reads like an in-your-face to critics of the Ice Bucket Challenge drive which just so happens to include a huge portion of the disability community (I was going to find you some links to that, but please Google it if you have questions. It is multifaceted and not the point of this post**). I’ve seen it shared on library groups and on library Facebook pages.

To me, the narratives behind these two stories and its responses are the same: disabled lives are actively seen as less than able-bodied lives, unless our lives serve to make able-bodied people feel better about themselves.

I need to ask you, library staff and librarians on the Internet, to be disability allies.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Top 5 Places to Hide and Cry at Your Library During Summer Reading (plus bonus links)

You didn't think I could make it through the entire summer just letting other people motivate everyone at WCCLS, did you? Well, I still kinda am. Back before the promised flurry of SRP was punched in the gut by mass shootings and overt injustices, I made a little *attempting to be funny* video about crying in the library.

It's first-take and there's no title cards or props or anything. I always intended to redo it, but I'm unsure I could bring the same levity to this video now:


Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Importance of Deliberate Play Opportunities for School-age Kids and Teens

In the spirit of Summer Reading, this post will be filled with completely unrelated galaxy cats.

I’ve talked about the power of play in relation to early literacy and the Babies Need Words Every Day campaign. Today, I want to talk about the importance of the deliberate use of play with school-age children and adolescents.

When we talk about play and creativity in the library, we often talk about young children. And why not? Play is one of Every Child Ready to Read’s five practices. Once children hit kindergarten, though, we talk about makerspaces. We talk about STEM. Even though these are steeped in self-discovery in the library, the overt goal is to educate. Or, at least, add to our evidence that the library helps children “learn” by the academic definition. And for good reason:  It’s clear that libraries have resonated with stake holders about their role in early literacy education. The next obvious step is to show that we make an academic difference with school-age children. Some libraries do pre- and post-tests to prove Summer Reading helps prevent the Summer Slide. I’ve created outreach with measurable alignment to State Standards.



But it’s important not to lose the very real fact that play has non-academic benefits. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may notice that even saying this signals a huge shift in my thinking over the past year or so. Down to the deepest parts of my heart and soul, I am an educator who was born out of the public school system and for all its faults I will defend what is considered a public school classroom until at least the end of this sentence, and probably after that. I will give you that it’s not for every single individual; but public education has never been about The Single Individual, anyway.

That’s why I think it may feel so critical to me that I separate the library from its possible academic benefits here.  Play has so many additional benefits, especially for school-age children and adolescents who come from backgrounds in trauma: those who live with food insecurity or transiency, those who live with toxic stress, those who live in volatile or neglectful environments. Those who may not have a space to play. Basically, a lot of the kids and teens who come into our libraries whether we’re aware of it or not.

If we wanted more deliberately center our school-age and teen programming around play in a non-academic way, what could we say to justify it?


Friday, June 10, 2016

Attention Parent Friends:The Case for Summer Reading

Google image search: "Summer". Checks out.
A lot of times, my main audience is library staff, specifically in Youth Services. Sometimes, though, I like to talk to the public in general. This post is inspired by my non-librarian friends all over the country who love to tell me when they’ve connected to their local libraries—and right now I'm getting at least weekly messages that people are signing up for Summer Reading!



PARENTS: Sign yourself and your (possibly still in utero) children up for your local library’s Summer Reading Program!

What is Summer Reading?
Summer Reading is an ongoing drop-in program happening throughout the summer across the United States (and across the northern hemisphere currently, if you want to get technical). Public libraries everywhere encourage children and families to read and engage in enriching literacy- and learning-based activities throughout the summer.  Many programs involve a reading log or game card with which your child or family can track their reading and other activities throughout the summer. At intervals throughout the summer (minutes or books read, or sheets turned in), small prizes may be awarded, sometimes with the possibility of raffles for larger prizes. Many libraries choose to giveaway a book as a final prize or even as a sign up incentive.

Throughout the summer there also fun events to attend. Think parties, carnivals, concerts, programming series with a weekly “summer camp” feel… all at your public library!

Many libraries offer Summer Reading for ages 0-adult; meaning that it starts at age zero (obviously a read-to-me program). Adults can read for prizes and/or glory too!

As with the vast majority of public library programming, funding for Summer Reading comes from general programming funds or fundraising from the Friends of the Library group, so you pay nothing to join!

Why should my family join Summer Reading?

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Summer Reading Hype Videos

Okay everyone, this is one of the most ridiculous ideas I've ever had.

I've been knocking around in my head about what to do for the awesome library staff at our member libraries for Summer Reading this year. This being my first SRP kickoff here at WCCLS, I wanted to provide them with some comfort when the going gets tough. I needed something cheap or free that could reach/impact anyone who needed it.

I started thinking about what has really helped me through tough weeks (and okay, I thought about the week of ALA specifically).

I started thinking about what really helped, and Ingrid's Summer Reading posts (try "I Got 99 Problems and They're All Related to Summer Reading") immediately came to mind: commiserative, humorous... they just felt like a big hug. My hope is to keep morale high throughout the summer. And I think that being reminded each week that youth services librarians aren't alone, and there's whole world out there of librarians also dealing with SRP, and that some of them actually took a few minutes to talk about it, it might just help a little. I was trying to think of what's gotten me through SLP and it really comes back to bookmarked posts written by other librarians about how they, too, are feeling the drag of summer reading.
And it came to me:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Shoutout to My Negative Voice

On May 16th I presented the pre-conference “It’s Always Been Done that Way: The Conundrum of Us versus Them (and what we can do about it, maybe)” at the New Jersey Library Association Conference in Atlantic City, NJ. People ask, ‘how did it go?” I definitely do mention that I had a lot of fun, but mostly I just say “it sure did happen!”

I don’t say this to humblebrag or intentionally sell myself short. I say this because to me the best outcome was “it happened.”

Because it almost didn’t happen. Twice.

Twice I found myself with a fully written email to my wonderful NJLA contact, Sophie: the person who reached out so many months ago about crafting a proposal, the person who negotiated with me and the Conference Committee from a single session to a pre-conference + panel, the person I sent my entire presentation to in a nervous burst a few days before the conference, the person who absolutely believed in me throughout this entire process. Twice I found myself hovering over the “send” button on an email that was basically forfeiture: I cannot do this. I am sorry.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Crafting a Parent Presentation

Today you can find me at the ALSC blog talking about potential partnership opportunities with schools.Since it's written, I figured I'd share here an alternative post on something I do a lot in my job: talking to parents about the library.

Your local PTO or parent group meeting is a great place to reach local families who may not be regular library patrons.  It’s important that we librarians are able to break down the jargon and make the library an accessible community asset, as parent meetings are a great place to make connections with residents who may never have set foot in a library—or had a bad experience, and have since been scared to return.

Here are my four main components to every parent meeting presentation:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Holidays and Libraries: Rethinking Our Programming

This week I was honored to present at the New Jersey Library Association Conference in Atlantic City. I have a few posts mulling around in my head about it, including at least one more really heavy one. For ease of posting something soon, however, I'd like to share my contribution to the panel "Rethinking Holidays & Cultural Celebrations in Libraries" that I presented with the lovely Dr. LaShauna Dean, Assistant Professor of Mental Health and Addiction Counseling at William Paterson University. 

This will probably read harsher than many of my other posts, but understand I am very passionate about the topic of inclusion.

I do not celebrate holidays in the library and do not suggest running holiday programming.

I know how I sound to some of you: I’m no fun, and I don’t like whimsy, and I Scrooge around shushing carolers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Awesome New-to-Me Blogs

I'm celebrating 5 years of this blog, albeit a little late (even though I sincerely thought that my blog's birthday was tomorrow. I swear).

I really can't tell you how much your following my blog means to me. I've lately been revisiting some of my older posts, and how much has changed around here has quite frankly been ridiculous. Thanks, reader, for hanging around! And thanks to everyone who creates their own corners of the web to share what works for them. Putting yourself out there isn't the easiest thing to do, and I appreciate the hell outta you for it.

Last year, when I actually remembered my blog's birthday, I shared my favorite new-to-me blogs. I thought I would do the same this year. Last year's post focused mainly on programming blogs, and this year I've widened my librarianing scope a bit. Here's a snapshot of my new favorites:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What is a Librarian: An Unsolicited Rant

Yesterday I checked my phone in the morning to find that Book Riot posted an article on non-degreed librarians, and how they have value as humans.


As I read it, that’s what this article was about.


I was disappointed, but not surprised, at the number of negative comments that this article received.


I could write here the many arguments I’ve had when this topic comes up and the comment section explodes: about the process to become a brewmaster and how there are people who run breweries or make beer who are NOT brewmasters, technically (they are usually called head brewers). Or I could talk about the one time a child ran me down in a grocery store calling for her “library teacher” and how I said hi to her rather than explaining that my teacher certification lapsed years ago (and even then, I was never certified to teach in THAT state). Or even how people who are nurses for their entire careers have to take an updated test every few years to prove that they can still Be a Nurse Good; so please stop with “librarians are the doctors/para-professionals are the nurses” because last time I checked it was not a universal requirement for even librarians to keep up with certifications (I mean, it may be that April will arrive and I will have spent 5 years in libraries and I will be summoned to engage in a Hunger Games-style competition using only the Dublin Core, so stay tuned). But instead I want to hit a bit closer to home here, parking this officially in Unsolicited Rant territory.


This was not the only thing I saw shared on social media yesterday. Another widely shared link was to a Libraries Transform post. The supporting text, when shared by ALA, that accompanies this post is “Librarians are early literacy experts!” This was shared on Facebook, at the time of this writing, 496 times. That many shares tells me that a lot of librarians agree with it. And before I recognized the funny juxtaposition that inspired this post, I was kinda pissed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Quick tips: Daily Vroom Early Literacy App

Yesterday was the first day of the second run of Child Development, Library Space and Behavior. Every week of the course, I include one "quick tip" video that can be used right away to help with behavior.

This is also the beginning of an otherwise busy season for me, but I want to keep writing as it has done me good and will do me good; and I say, god bless it! (...any other Christmas Carol nerds out there in cyberland? Any RENT nerds chuckle at my use of the word "cyberland"?) So I figured where I can I'll share a "quick tip" that's been useful to me lately at work.

Today I want to share a wonderful app that you and your family patrons can access for free: Daily Vroom.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Building Relationships from the Ground Up: An Interview with a Natural

In my last post, I came to the conclusion that one foundation of self-care is creating and maintaining healthy boundaries in working relationships.

Having moved across the country in the past year, I’m in the process of creating and maintaining an all-new set of relationships. And if my social media newsfeeds are to be believed, making IRL friends as an adult is something that a lot of people struggle with.

To help me start with this reflection, I looked to the person in my life that is probably the best relationship-builder I know: my husband, Caleb*. Nearly all the people I now call friends are people I’ve met through Caleb. He has been asked to stand at weddings several times and he’s a godfather to two. His best friends are those he’s been friends with since FOREVER. And their friendships are not just of convenience, since we’ve moved so far from his hometown in Florida and they still keep in touch frequently. He tells basically every FB friend “happy birthday” and while I don’t understand it he sees is as an important Facebook Friend Role.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Healthy Boundaries in Work Relationships: Self Care times a Million

“I’ll be what you want until I can’t be that anymore.”

I long ago figured out that this was like my motto in romantic-type relationships before I met my husband. In December 2005, I had recently recovered from an 8 month relationship (that we ridiculously drug out to over a year) followed closely by a three week relationship. The timetables were different, but the arc of the relationship was painfully the same: Figure out what you want me to be, be that, get exhausted being that, force a breakup.

Then I met Caleb. I was tentative at first, not trusting myself. And while that sounds terrible as a romantic comedy plot, it actually helped me create the boundaries I didn’t know I needed for us to get to know each other at a slower pace, and form a more lasting relationship.

I’ve held a few different positions in my 11 professional years, and some working relationships have looked similar to my old romantic habits. The feeling that comes up when I examine any dissatisfying or failed relationships is the feeling of being consumed. And when I have attempted to set boundaries once that feeling starts to happen, there are hurt feelings and broken trust.

And I’ve been doing lots of examining lately, because I’m in the first year of a new job again. And as the old demotivational poster goes:

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Valentines for Homebound Outreach

I share an office with 8 other people spanning two departments. Funnily enough (or “understandably enough”, still undecided) three people who are technically in the same library department as me make up Homebound Services. Together, seven of us are Outreach and Youth Services (or “Outreach”, for short).

If you were to visit our office on any given day, you might catch one of our Homebound staff members reading aloud a list of available romance novels, describing each cover. Or they might read summary after summary of movies a patron might want (I like to play the game of “guess the title” to myself). Their reader’s advisory phone calls are peppered with conversations about their patron’s daily lives.

And sometimes, you might overhear them say something that sparks this particularly popular, caps-locked tweet.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bryce Does 'Play'! A Babies Need Words Every Day Blog Tour post

I’m so happy to post my contribution to The Babies Need Words Every Day Blog Tour! Babies Need Words Every Day is an initiative by the Association for Library Service to Children through The Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. There are posters and book lists in English and Spanish, as well as a media kit to help your form and strengthen early literacy partnerships in your community. The beautiful artwork was illustrated by Il Sung Na, author of A Book of Babies (2014) and others. Check out the rest of the roundup here!

Today, I get to talk about PLAY! But first I want to talk a little more about how BNWED is used in our libraries.

Monday, January 04, 2016

I Resolve to Rock in 2016: Choice. Empowerment. Strengths. Skills.

Well everyone, I've had quite a year! As I was thinking about a reflections post, my thoughts ended up at a resolutions post; and while I'm really not one to make resolutions, I figured some considerations and commitments for the New Year might be in order. So here's one for Storytime Undergroud's Resolve to Rock campaign.

Possibly the most challenging, most nerve-wracking, but overall most rewarding thing I added to the library conversation in 2015 was "It's Always Been that Way: An Unsolicited Rant" (Sept). Since then, I've been thinking a lot more about trauma-informed workplaces, and even asked my team members to join for a day-long training with Trauma Informed Oregon. I was so delighted with the feedback on our attendance, and it's spurred so many conversations.

This week I was again reminded of my dedication to a trauma-informed workplace when reading "Private Lives" at Hi Miss Julie,  which is not only a triumphant return to blogging for Julie, whose articles have continued to inspire far passed their posting dates; it also has clearly struck a chord in the library world for different reasons.

One thing that makes this post so powerful, I think, is her approach: She talks about a problem; she talks about what works for her, AND she talks about a time when she was personally involved in the type of ethical issue she ponders.

What I have seen happen so often with conversations like this is that they can spiral into a conversation made up of "don't" posts. And I truly hope that doesn't happen. Because I have a real sense that many individual librarians whose frustration translates to acting in questionably ethical ways come from backgrounds in trauma. Because when your lid is flipped, you're unable to think logically. What people in this position may respond to is not more shame, To be honest, not many people do, in general. I know I don't. And it's not that I think we need to treat people with kid gloves, but I DO think that we need to act in trauma-informed ways (and I really do think Julie's post is framed very well through this lens Seriously, go back and read it!). Because here's the thing: