Monday, November 20, 2017

The Thanksgiving Myth and #NotYourPrincess

I'm still working on figuring out what to do about Thanksgiving books. If you're not familiar with the Thanksgiving myth and the harm it does, I'd start with Debbie Reese's posts about Thanksgiving (linked to my favorite and there are more linked on the left side of her page). Reading While White has also thought about Thanksgiving and offered resources on updating your Thanksgiving displays.

My library still has a large collection of books that perpetuate the Thanksgiving myth. When we looked into withdrawing them, we realized it would leave us with about 10 titles. And there's not a lot to replace them in the holiday section, particularly for young children. So, we're still working on figuring out what to do.

One thing I know I can do is focus on Native American voices during the month of November. One of my catalog display lists focuses on Native American authors (it scrolls - there are more than just four books that rotate through!):


And speaking of Native American authors, I want to make sure you know about this book for your library: 


#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale is a powerful collection of writing and art. The collection includes poetry, essays, paintings, photography, and commentary from a wide range of Native American women. Topics run the gamut from identity to fashion to sexual abuse to sports. 

Essays address "the invisible Indian" from a young lady who doesn't "look Indian" and is made to feel out of place for that or the continuing pain felt by families who were forced into the residential Indian schools. A powerful poem "The Things We Taught Our Daughters" talks about allowing a cycle of violence against women to continue because "We don't call the police on our own." 

These women use expressive language and images to get their points of view across in a paucity of words. This book packs a lot of bang for its buck. One passage that stuck with me is from "The Invisible Indians" by Shelby Lisk (Mohawk). She's speaking of white people who want to learn about Native Americans: 

"They want buckskin and war paint, drumming, songs in languages they can't understand recorded for them, but with English subtitles of course. They want educated, well-spoken, but not too smart. Christian, well-behaved, never questioning. They want to learn the history of the people, but not the ones who are here now, waving signs in their faces, asking them for clean drinking water, asking them why their women are going missing, asking them why their land is being ruined."
This book truly has the potential to change minds, but we've got to give it to our teens. Now. The format of the book is that large format nonfiction, which can be a hard sell with teens. But it's worth the effort of pressing it into their hands. Maybe sell it as a magazine-style book instead of what can appear to be a picture-book format. The colorful spreads and varied, interesting formats do resemble a magazine's content.

Do what you need to do to get this book and put it into the hands of teen (and adult) readers.

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale. Grades 8+ and adult crossover. Annick Press, September 2017. 103 pages. Review copy provided by my local library.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book of the Month



(This is not a sponsored post, I just truly love Book of the Month. However, if you use my Book of the Month referral link, you get your first book for just $9.99 + a free tote bag!)

Do you know about Book of the Month? I am a subscriber and I am loving it.

I started last year when I thought that BOTM would be a good Christmas gift for my sister-in-law. She loves to read, but she lives pretty far from her nearest library branch, and working full time and having a one-year-old at home keep her pretty busy. Book of the Month gives her one free book a month, delivered to her door, with the option to purchase additional books at a steep discount. The bonus for me was that they were running a special discount on a 3-month subscription if you purchased a gift subscription. Win-win!

Here's how it works:

You sign up (or you gift someone a membership). For $14.99 a month, you get to choose one book from a curated list of five titles. Not interested in any of the titles that month? Just skip the month. They make it really easy and you can skip as many as you want. If you like more than one title that month, you can purchase up to two additional books for your box for just $9.99 each. They also provide a selection of their backlist titles for $9.99, so if you have BOTM regret and realize that you need one of the previous month's titles, you can still get it.

Gift plans come in 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month subscriptions and you get a little discount if you purchase the larger gift plans. The recipient can still skip a month if they want. They do NOT ever force you to take a book you don't want.

I love that you get to CHOOSE which book you're getting (I have always liked to choose my own books). I love that it's EASY to skip a month, so you're always buying books you actually want. I love that they have great choices - new and noteworthy books. November's choices included Andy Weir's new book Artemis and Louise Erdrich's new book The Future Home of the Living God, both of which were already on my to-read list. And I love getting things in the mail!

It has been super fun to subscribe along with my sister-in-law. We'll often talk to each other about which books we're choosing or offer to choose different titles and swap later if there are several we both want to read.

And she likes it so much that she casually asked me if I might consider that for her Christmas gift this year, too (which of course I will!).

Want to check it out? Use my Book of the Month referral link to get your first book for $9.99 (and a free tote bag!) and I'll also get a free credit. :D


Monday, November 13, 2017

Collection Development Tool: Google Keep



So, I've started my role as the Collection Development Leader for my library and I'm slooooowly learning the ropes. One tool I've been using a lot already is Google Keep.

Google Keep is a free app and web tool that's part of the Google Suite. Basically, it's a digital bulletin board where you can make notes, keep lists, pin links, add photos, etc.

I am a person who loves to read about books and reading. I love perusing Book Riot for their recommendations and checking out what people are reading on Litsy. I have been known to view online publisher book previews at home on my day off. I love making lists of books I'm interested in reading, even if I know I'll only have time to get to a tenth of them. I've done that for a long time, not just because I'm now a collection development librarian.

We talk a lot about work-life balance and, even though my work is something that I LOVE and researching new books is something I sometimes do for fun, it could all too easily turn into me working all the time, around the clock. If I was constantly bringing up our library catalog to check if we have books or pulling up our vendor's site to add books to carts, I would be working all the time.

So I wanted a tool that would allow me to save relevant links, lists, etc. for further investigation when I'm back at my desk. I needed an online tool so that it could be accessed on multiple devices and I needed something that has an iPhone app so that it would be with me where I am.

That way, instead of digging out my bullet journal to jot down the URL to the amazing Rich in Color, the diverse books release calendar, I can add a link from Chrome or my phone or snap a screenshot so I remember to look it up later. I don't have to obsess about something in hopes I'll remember it on Monday when I'm at my desk. I can quickly note it right where I am and then go back to living my life.

Here are ways I've already used it:
  • I jot down titles that I want to check and see if we have. This is great for when I'm hearing about a book during casual conversation, etc. and I don't want to forget.
  • I snap and save photos of new books or book displays at the bookstore when my husband and I are browsing.
  • I keep lists of book display and book list ideas that I can add to whenever something occurs to me (no more scrambling for themes on the first of the month!).
  • When I'm scrolling through my blog subscriptions on Newsblur, I can save links to posts that I want to read in close detail, so I can catch up on my blogroll as I'm watching TV or something but not miss anything that might be useful in my job.
  • I keep resource links saved in there that I want to check regularly. Since I can make notes about the links, I can note what I want to explore when I have time, what I want to check regularly, etc. 
I'm sure there are other similar organizational apps out there - what do you use to keep notes about new books or trends you hear about??

Monday, November 6, 2017

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

Here is a book that you need:


It's called Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut and it's written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James (published by Agate Bolden, October 2017). Y'all, I have never stepped foot in a barbershop but this book makes me want to find our nearest one and press this book into the barber's hands. And then frame all the spreads and hang them up everywhere. But not our library copy because that needs to be right up front on display where everyone can see it and find it. 

Buzz has been building for this book and I was thrilled when the publisher offered me a copy for review. I'm not accepting too many review pitches these days, but I snatched this one up. It's got three starred reviews so far and I wouldn't be surprised to see it on many of the 2017 Best lists. 

So, this is a book that celebrates that feeling of confidence and joy when you get a new haircut. Sounds like something small, right? But it's a big feeling: when you feel like you're looking your best and everyone will notice and you can conquer the world, you can do anything you want to do. Walking through a boy's visit to his local barber shop, the text describes the visit as well as the feelings that go along with it. 

Ebullient! These gorgeous illustrations celebrate African American boys and men everywhere, something that's much needed in our world. From the crowns on the cover to a boy with his head held high, these paintings communicate that take-on-the-world feeling you get when you have a fresh haircut. It's a small moment, but it's a big feeling and the illustrations express that. And the last spread... how it flips perspective just like a kid who's gotten a fresh cut and now he looks different to the world and the world looks different to him! 

The text, it bounces right up off the page with energy and enthusiasm. This is a book that begs to be read aloud. It begs to be shared and shared and shared. 

"You're a star. A brilliant, blazing star. Not the kind that you'll find on a sidewalk in Hollywood. Nope. They're going to have to wear shades when they look up to catch your shine." 

and

"It's how your mother looks at you before she calls you beautiful. Flowers are beautiful. Sunrises are beautiful. Being viewed in your mother's eyes as someone that matters - now that's beautiful. And you'll take it. You don't mind at all." 

And so much more, but I can't quote the whole book for you here - you'll have to go buy it and put it on your shelves and (please) display it prominently. All the world should see that Black boys matter, and they'll see it in this book. 

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James. Ages 5-10. Agate Bolden, Oct. 2017. Unpaged. Review copy provided by publisher. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Am I Still a Children's Librarian?



I posted awhile back about changes in my career and since then we've been busy transitioning at my library. We're managing a lot of changes all at once, which has been stressful, but I'm excited about where all these changes are taking us.

I knew that transitioning into a new role wouldn't be easy, but to be honest it's been harder than I thought. Part of that is my own tendencies toward stress and anxiety. As I've started taking on some of the tasks of my new position but also remained doing some of the tasks of my old position (necessary since we're in the process of moving things around), I've tried to remind myself that no one expects me to do two full jobs at once. I've gotten the time-sensitive stuff done and everything else has had to wait until I'm more fully into my new position.

And that's had me thinking a lot about my old position as Youth Services Manager and not being that anymore. I've got the skills and knowledge to put on a children's program, to do storytime, to cover the Children's or Teen reference desks... but that's not going to be my job anymore. So am I still a children's librarian?

Being a children's librarian will always be part of who I am. I've offered to be a sub any time they need me. But to be really fair to my new position and to do justice to the part of my new job that's concerned with the needs of adult patrons, I'm starting to think of myself as a collection development librarian. I have to - it's my new job and one I'm really excited about.

But "children's librarian" has been my label for so long that it's hard to let it go. It's really bittersweet to think about my last (regular) baby storytime coming up in a couple of months or that I've worked at possibly my last teen after-hours program. I won't be part of our Thursday night crew anymore (lovingly called the Thursday Night Dream Team) and I will probably only rarely need to use the hashtag #SaturdayLibrarian.

As I've been winding down my time in youth services, I've realized how much that type of work took it out of me. I have loved what I do, but it's also always stressful for me to run a children's program or to work a public service desk. These are jobs where you have to be "on" even more than when you're working with your library colleagues in a more "behind the scenes" fashion. And while I will still want to jump in on the public service desks sometimes to give me a sense of how people are using our collection, it's a relief that it won't be part of my everyday work life any more.

I don't think I really have a point here... I'm just exploring what this transition has meant for me and what I've been thinking about lately as I make this change. I'm still really excited about my new position, even as I'm feeling nostalgic (already!) for the job I haven't quite left yet.