Love My Library Job
Yesterday I got to make Mother’s Day flowers out of tissue paper with my afterschool kids—and even the boys were really into it.
Two words—Net Galley.
Little kid hugs for no reason.
Hearing, “I told you librarians know everything.”
Conferences. Librarians know how to party.
Children’s work has always been centered in transformative experiences. Children’s librarians not only influence children in their formative years, they open doors for curious minds. Our future depends upon the children’s room. Our power lies in creating learning spaces, influencing lives, and creating community. Our children are our gifts to the world, and the way we care for them says everything about our values as a culture.
You may not realize it, but you have the power to transform the lives of children, the library, and the community. You have the power to open doors, to nurture ideas and imagination. You have the power to change the shape of our world. You are the architects of dreams. Architects of Dreams: Anythink’s Pam Sandlian Smith on the Power of Children’s Librarians” (via schoollibraryjournal)
Sweater vests, Anti-Isalmic Letters to the Editor & the Reality of living in the South
I didn’t give Sweater Vest Sunday much notice. I did not attend Midwinter and I did not wear a sweater vest.
But today on Tuesday, a Muslim friend and library school student posted this letter to the editor from a paper in my state of North Carolina. She had questions about censorship, First Amendment Rights and incendiary materials in the library.
In short the letter states the local community college should learn some true facts about Islam before allowing Muslim materials supplied by the National Endowment for the Humanities in their library. He goes on to say only truthful materials should be held by libraries and provides an appropriate list, all of which titles support his view.
This was my response to Jessica and well everyone else too.
1. If the materials are supplied by the Nation Endowment for Humanities it probably means said library RECEIVED a grant. Meaning they applied for a grant to have these materials funded, and not making said materials available not only could cause the library to have the grant withdrawn from the institution but would probably prevent the institution from having another NEH grant ever and would look bad for grants in general. In fact this man seems to be uninformed that this library probably worked really hard to have these materials funded and part of their collection.
2. Forget about the First Amendment, let’s talk about censorship. Censoring materials is something no librarian should do. If there are no materials at your library about Islam, especially those well-researched and well reviewed—like NEH chosen materials, then you should contact ALA. If materials like these are withdrawn from the collection because of a letter like this, report it!
3. The library has a duty to provide materials from all perspectives even if it is stuff you disagree with, but a library should not provide false information or propaganda.
Example: The Jefferson Lies by David Barton was billed as nonfiction and pulled by publishers for being inaccurate because he just made up sources—should not be in your library.
4. It’s really hard to see hateful stuff about your beliefs in the library, but try to remember that censorship is always bad.
5. Letters like this remind us we still have a lot of work to do as people, and as librarians. Book challenges and censorship are not [yet] a thing of the past and we must constantly strive to ensure all viewpoints are represented in our library.
Our Journey is Not Complete
President Obama’s inauguration, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and all of these responses and discussions about Hi Miss Julie’s blog post (You can see Lifeguard Librarian’s list of Tumblarians’ reactions here) have had me thinking a lot of race, gender, librarianship—where we are going and where we have been.
It may seem overly noble, but I didn’t become a librarian to be famous, or present in front of hundreds of people. There will alway be those people in every profession, but I do not care for their presentations or their pomp and circumstance. The presentations I love are presented by real librarians who have solved real problems.
[Shout out to Vicky Baker who presented “Combatting Negativity Nellies in the Workplace” PLA 2012. I use that everyday!]
I am here for the hug from a kindergartener, a thank you from a single mom and the friendship I have with a fourth grade boy who doesn’t tell other people he likes “princess” books.
I’m fortunate to work in a library system full of females who are managers and leaders— from where I sit I see women in leadership positions from my immediate manager to the current president of ALA. But, in the words of President Obama, “our journey is not yet complete.”
We have come far from the days our grandmothers were forced to quit their jobs upon becoming married or pregnant, but the top library managers and directors in this country are still mostly male and the pay is still not equal. In 2011 women made 77% of what men earned, African American and Latina women made even less*. Other studies have estimated women earn roughly 82% of what their male peers earn (USA Today). Regardless women still don’t make the same money as men.
We have come far from the days when African American librarians crusaded to be included in ALA, E.J. Josey became the first black librarian allowed to join the Georgia Library Association and Clara Stanton Jones became the first African American president of ALA. But the fight for racial equality in this country continues and we still desperately need more ethnic and racial diversity among our ranks.
We have come far from the foundation of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Round Tablee and the lack of adequate LGBT subject heading. But look at the top challenged books in recent years and you’ll still find “And Tango Makes Three.”
We have traveled so very far from the spinster in the quiet library, but there is still work to do.
We don’t choose to be librarians for the fame or the fortune. We are librarians because we believe in free access to information; a person’s right to use the library regardless of origin, age, background, or views; the power of a story; the great equalizer known as knowledge.
Our journey is not yet complete, but we are librarians and we are ready for the fight.