Worth Reading: Round 2

Another collection of articles and blog posts about libraries and librarianship that are particularly relevant today.

#OwnVoices

Kayla Whaley writes elqoently on the subject in “#OwnVoices: Why We Need Diverse Author’s in Children’s Literature.” Whaley writes, “Sometimes the characters and stories they create are wonderful! But many times, they’re rife with stereotypes, tropes, and harmful portrayals. Time and again, marginalized people have seen their stories taken from them, misused, and published as authentic, while marginalized authors have had to jump hurdle after hurdle to be published themselves.”

“The Power of a Series”

I needed this post. I often lament the plethora of series in Juvenile and Young Adult lit. I want to tell kids, “read outside of Magic Treehouse or The Selection!” Part of it is because I want our young readers to experience different books and different characters and part of it is because I think it’s a marketing ploy on the behalf of the publishers (especially with The Selection series). However, Katie Muhtaris makes an excellent argument for the necessity of series.

Muhtaris wrote, “I wasn’t a reluctant reader, but I was a fair weather one.  Reading came easily to me. It was no effort, it was just there.  It seemed to please others when I read aloud nicely.  It wasn’t for me.” This description sounds an awful lot like my brother, who was a steady series reader (Bailey School Kids and Captain Underpants when he was in elementary school and Redwall and Harry Potter as he grew older). I can’t say he is an avid reader now, but it took investment in those series to encourage his individual pleasure reading, and make reading his.

Just like the box of Nancy Drew books opened up Muhtaris to reading for her: “That, my friends, is the power of the series.  The power for stories to become a part of who we are.  As a teacher I know that to help readers I often need to get them hooked on a series.  The predictable plot structures, the familiarity with characters, setting, and genre all help support developing readers.  But they help kids like me, too.  I was a developing reader.  Maybe my assessments were high, my letter was good, my lexile was fine, my standardized numbers were acceptable.  But I was still a developing reader until the moment when I realized I could take charge of my reading life.  That reading wasn’t for anyone else but me.”

“The Secret Life of the Librarian”

My friend over at No1Librarian posted this article on her blog. The outreach librarian vision is something my current library is working towards (although we all still have desks), and I love this mentality. We serve the community, not just those that walk in our doors, and with library usership dwindling, we need to make our presence known even more.

Anonymous writes, “The only regret I have about my long career in public libraries is that I have not been able to convince more librarians that they should be less book-focused and more people-focused; that they should look outward to the community rather than inward to the library; that they should get rid of desks and counters and do more active roving inside the library and outside in the community; that they should put less emphasis on the excellence of the collection and more on providing books that people actually want to read; and, most important of all, that libraries should be community-led and based on the needs of the public they serve.”

Life Lately

This past week in Minnesota, and the rest of the United States, was terrible. The shooting of Philando Castile happened less than 5 miles from my house. I can’t bring myself to drive past the spot, and I certainly cannot even begin to imagine the pain and grief his family, friends, and those who knew him are feeling.

There are many ways to get involved, and work towards peace and justice, but as this is a library blog, I want to share this wonderful editorial by Colin Whitehurst, of Portage District Library in Michigan.

I feel like today more than ever, the Library reminds us that we can work together. We have this place in each of our communities that stands up proud and tall and invites everyone in to be fed emotionally, intellectually, and yes sometimes literally.