I haven’t been in the office for two weeks. I spent three days delivering a workshop to IN teachers and five days working from home on research leaving. That’s two days of vacation. I miss being a K-12 educator and yes, it’s all about the vacation time. Being an educator is doing information work and if done well, this is exhausting. I found that working in public schools, the extended breaks came just when I needed them and if teachers needed them, so do students. As an academic librarian, I’m now working 12 months and have had to learn to pay attention and know when I need to step away and take a break.
I’ve been reading for the Printz and there are sooooo many books I’d love to discuss and blog about but, if I did they’d take my first born male child as per the agreement. I’ve also been digging through layers of text to deepen my interest and understanding of black girls in YA lit, this time through the lens of economics. It’s an interesting twist particularly when trying to move away from deficit thinking. Our girls bring so much richness to the table that is too often discounted.
Going back to the office tomorrow gives me just a few weeks to prepare for the next academic year. I’m completing the biography project I began some time ago and I’m at the most difficult part of the process: deselecting books. I’ve marked those I’m considering removing and will need to research the titles a bit further. One thing I’ve learned through this project is that biographies are not just about the person. When looking at books about people with disabilities, I’m considering books that do not separate the person from the disability. While the person centered in the book may not have achieved widespread fame, the book itself documents their life with a disability in a particular time and place. While Chris Burke may have done little beyond Life Goes On, he’s got an important story to tell as the first prime time start with downs syndrome. I have to keep his book.
I go up for tenure this year and have to get my dossier in order! It’s really hard to believe I’ve been here 5 years. I know I’ve grown in ways I would not have had I stayed in the public school system and I cannot imagine what lies ahead. I feel blessed to feel that I have so many possibilities.
August is presenting at the Children’s and Young Peoples Division of the Indiana Library Federation’s annual conference, this year themed With Libraries and Justice for All and at a workshop for graduate writing students. September is presenting at Highlights with Dr. Marilisa Jiménez and author Donna Jo Napoli. October is celebrating a milestone birthday with my family at the Grand Canyon.
Like many others, I’m looking teaching and learning for the upcoming year. This will be the year I plan and implement a course so, I’m reading more about learning. With what I’ve learned about how the brain works, it’s becoming easier to recognize meaningful methodologies. The proof is in the implementation. A few reading recommendations.
Becoming a Scholar in the Digital Era: Transforming Scholarly Practice for Public Good by Jessie Daniels and Polly Thistlewaite (U of Chicago Press). An uncomplicated read that will transform how you share information with colleagues as well as with students. C’mon, y’all! It’s the 21st century!!
The Future Scholar: Researching and Teaching the FRAMEWORKS for Writing and Information Literacy (asis&t) by Randall McClure and James P. Purdy. Discusses research based practices for secondary and post secondary educators and librarians to work within the WPA and ACRL frameworks to reach the desired ways of knowing and being. I wish I owned this book! I want to write all over it.
No Longer Invisible How Diverse Literature Helps Children Find Themselves in Books, and Why It Matters in which the NCTE highlights members who are educators, librarians and academics to document practical and researched situations of diverse literature for children. Crystal Brunelle of Rich in Color describes some of her work.
Brunelle’s school does have a large Hmong population, so she sought Hmong-oriented books to share with her students. She showed one to a little boy who gasped: “There are Hmong in books?” After encountering difficulty finding more books, Brunelle helped her students create their own book about Hmong New Year celebrations, which she printed from an online vendor and now stocks in the school library. The book is frequently checked out by both Hmong and non-Hmong students, she says.
I Am A Gender Queer Literacy Education in which I had to check my own privilege because I was hit in the face regarding all the voices I do not center in my work for social justice. Sure, I create space for others along the way, but that’s not the same as getting keeping lesbian gay or trans people or those with disabilities front and center. The world doesn’t get better for People of Color or for Native Americans if it doesn’t get better for those with disabilities or those who are LGBT.
How many books in your library and your curriculum and your read alouds center trans voices and narratives?
And, how many people are suddenly scrambling to find these books and center these voices in the wake of 45 making news for kicking transgender people out of the military?
Libraries Are the Real Punk Rock In which a young person realizes the library provides her free access to queer smut because of the 1st Amendment and she decides to volunteer at the library.
I expected that we were going to learn about things like policies for canceling our shifts, or maybe where to find first aid kits. We probably did talk about those things. But the part that I remember most vividly is the first thing she talked about.
“We’re going to start with the Library Bill of Rights from the American Library Association,” she said, and she projected the text of the document onto the screen. “Everyone who works for libraries, including volunteers, helps to support and uphold the Library Bill of Rights.”
Every library ought to do this. Every librarian should understand the concept of censorship, that access to books means wheel chairs should be able to get through space as well as visually challenged users finding books in an online catalog and even though there are biases in library classification systems, librarians and resist those biases.
Social justice is all or none. There’s no justice in thinking we can achieve justice at the expense of others. Debbie Reese has been speaking out against the inclusion of someone known for cultural appropriations on a USBBY panel meant to discuss “Indigenous Experiences”. While both of these circumstances are well documented on Debbie’s blog, it’s the letter from Christy Jordan that is truly effective. Try to understand the disrespect shown first by not including an additional Indigenous voice, doubled by including someone who aside from this situation has appropriated from the culture. In working with the organizers to change this, there’s less of a chance that another group of people will be disrespected in such a manner in the future.
And so, July rolls out. Washington continues to provide a backdrop of horrifying speculative fiction and black and brown lives continue to become lifeless bodies in the streets across this country. Debbie Reese and disability advocates fight the good fight for us all. There’s an eclipse coming. I can’t tell you all the amazingly talented writers with books coming out this week, but I can get back to work.