As libraries diversify their online offerings as a result of COVID-19, here’s an awesome example of one of the directions that can take – digital escape rooms!Continue reading “Library Digital Escape Rooms”
On March 2nd, Dr. Seuss Enterprises released the following statement:
Today, on Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises celebrates reading and also our mission of supporting all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship.
We are committed to action. To that end, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, working with a panel of experts, including educators, reviewed our catalog of titles and made the decision last year to cease publication and licensing of the following titles: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer. These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.
Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.
After this announcement was made, conversations began in the library world about what to do with the six Dr. Seuss titles that would no longer be published. The KCLS system made the decision (it wasn’t a larger conversation, unfortunately) to keep the six books (we have about 50 copies of each, now with LONG waiting lists – with how much these books are selling for, I’m curious how many will actually be returned?). Which then begs the question – shouldn’t something done to educate readers about the content, especially if the publisher themselves are no longer publishing the books due to how they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong” ?Continue reading “Libraries as Neutral Spaces”
It’s been over a year now that I’ve been in the role of an Adult Services Librarian at the Auburn Library in the King County Library System. I’ve had the chance to learn so much, do so much, and grow so much in this job.
When I initially took this position in 2019, I was slated to be here until mid-September 2020. Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 and library building closures, my end date was bumped to the beginning of January. Which means I’m coming to the end of this adventure.
Preparing for this upcoming change been difficult for a few distinct reasons:
So, before we dive in to the meaty subject of this post – a COVID-19 update on the librarian front. I’ve filled my work-from-home time becoming a new publisher for the KCLS website (writing blog posts, creating content, etc.), volunteered as one of the judges for the adult entries in the Rhyme On! poetry contest (lots of very emotional poetry, it was more taxing than I anticipated), finished captioning and editing a video interview I was lucky to conduct earlier this year with Alson Kelen, am co-leading a KCLS collaboration with the Seattle Public Library for a new service they are pioneering, stepped up to lead planning for a series of LGBTQ+ community conversations as part of Pride, I’ve created video tutorials that have been shared with all staff instructing on the process of close captioning videos posted on Facebook….I’m sure I’m missing a ton of stuff, but the joke is that my name keeps popping up everywhere recently. Librarians all worried for a while we wouldn’t know what to do working from home, but I’ve definitely been filling my days.
Something I’ve learned about myself on this journey of landing in a library career is that I’m very passionate about the work of libraries. And I can’t help myself – if I feel like the library missed the mark, I say something about it. Bless the eternal patience of my manager, who probably had NO IDEA when he choose to hire the lowly Library Technical Assistant as a temporary Librarian what he was actually getting himself into. He listens to me, he laughs with me, and then he helps me speak up when there is room for my voice to be heard.
And something I can’t help but speak up about quite a bit lately is the disappointing way that the King County Library System leadership has responded to recent events. I’m referring specifically to how we have failed to step up for our Black patrons, Black staff members, and Black communities right now in any way that feels meaningful.
Allow me to demonstrate.
Well I sure picked a weird year to start off my librarian career!
I was off to a strong start – in February I offered a workshop on completing the low-income housing assistance application (which was open in King County for only ~3 weeks) and had 21 people show up (plus their partners/children/etc)! For the Auburn Library that’s a really successful adult program and I was really proud that I was able to offer something so needed by the community.
I was helping to coordinate a special Earth Day event this month that would have hosted several special guest speakers including the mayor of Auburn, the director of KCLS, and real live honeybees! It was going to be awesome…until it got cancelled, along with everything else for the foreseeable future.
My fingers are crossed for summer programming to still happen – I lined up a local improv company to come perform, set up paint and sip events with a local art instructor, and so many other fun things!!
But in the meantime, I’m scrambling to figure out how to best serve patrons in a remote role. I mean, I think all librarians are in a similar boat right now. We’re used to libraries as physical locations and physical resources – but right now, those aspects of service are out of the picture. The community where I work has a prominent disadvantaged population and I wonder about how they’re doing – how they’re staying safe, how shelters are functioning, what libraries could be doing from a distance to support that work. As an adult librarian, what can I do to best help adults during this time?
One thing I did do was I created my own directory of easily navigated links here.
I’ve been sharing this directory around on social media and with my coworkers – while this isn’t an official KCLS website, it contains everything you can find on the KCLS website but formatted in a simple, direct way.
I also researched the senior center locations across King County and compiled a list detailing what services they are currently offering (focusing on meals, mainly).
So I’ve been keeping busy….but right now everything feels so uncertain.
There’s no way I thought, so soon after graduating earlier this year with my MLIS, that I would have news like this – BUT! – I have actually been hired for my first librarian job! It’s a full time, temporary position as an Adult Services Librarian for the Auburn Library in Auburn, Washington (yes, the same city I wrote about here) and was open only to applicants within the King County Library System. It’s kinda the perfect job to serve as a stepping stone into a librarian career.
I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky. The staff at the Auburn Library seem like an excellent team and I think I will have a set of fantastic mentors to help guide me. In September of next year the person who occupied this position previously will have the option of taking the position back – and my old job as an LTA will be saved for me, although everyone already knows I’m not planning to come back.
My specific job duties will include:
- providing reader’s advisory
- answering reference questions
- managing parts of the collection
- maintaining and creating community links
- develop/design/host adult programs
And, frankly, I’m so excited I struggle to express it in words.
A career was never part of my life plans – I was raised in a conservative religious environment where women were actively discouraged from becoming career-oriented (luckily, there has been some progress in recent years regarding this attitude). I had zero professional guidance from my parents – my mother hasn’t worked since getting married and my father joined the Navy after high school, taking various jobs to support his growing family until he landed a job at Boeing (where he’s worked ever since). My siblings and I are all first generation college students, and I’m the first and only to earn a master’s degree and also to be employed in a field requiring a degree. But while I’ve worked hard, I know I have also been fortunate – fortunate that my random job-jumping landed me at Green River College, where I talked with the educational advisor to flesh out ideas for my future. I got hired on to KCLS as an LTA, not a Page – everyone tells me that rarely happens. And now I’m jumping from LTA to Librarian – again, incredibly rare as mentioned to me more than once!
I feel very grateful and equally determined to prove myself worthy of the rare opportunities I’ve been afforded. My start date is December 16th, so in the meantime I think I’m going to put together some ideas for “tools” I can use in my librarian role.
There is an ongoing struggle in public discourse to tackle how to acknowledging the harm of the past without giving it power to cause harm in the present.
This New York Times article focuses on an excellent example. From the article:
In the debate over the 13 murals that make up “The Life of Washington,” at George Washington High School, one side, which includes art historians and school alumni, sees an immersive history lesson; the other, which includes many African-Americans and Native Americans, sees a hostile environment.
Following the “Continue reading” cut below, I’m going to share a few images of the murals as taken from the article. Content warning for depictions of violence and historical racial oppression.
While creepy fiction is fun this time of year, personally I enjoy creepy nonfiction even more. In the spirit of Halloween, I’ve picked one of my favorite local true crime stories to share. These murders happened in a city near where I live, and part of why I find this particular crime so fascinating its connection to public libraries and one of their core foundational principles in the United States: intellectual freedom.
The city of Auburn, Washington was originally named the city of Slaughter back when it was settled by non-indigenous residents in 1893 (1). The city hotel was even named the Slaughter House (1) – side note, with a name like that I would definitely want to stay there!! Little would anyone have guessed that the city’s original name would become prophetic over a hundred years later. Most who think of killers in Auburn would point to the obvious: Gary Ridgeway, called the Green River Killer after Auburn’s Green River where he hid many of his victims’ bodies. However, in 1980s Auburn there also was the much lesser-known case of two murders which sparked worry of a nationwide poisoning…
One of the libraries where I work hosted a TERRIFYING TALES short story contest! Being the Halloween lover that I am, I couldn’t resist entering. Especially because, in my humble Halloween-loving opinion, adults don’t take as many creative risks as we should and I like to be the change I want to see in the world.
Here are the contest details:
Tweens, teens and adults! Submit an original eerie, horrifying, and/or spine-chilling short story to the Fairwood Library by October 23 for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
Winners will be selected from each of the following age groups:
Ages 10 to 12, 13 to 15, 16 to 18 and 19 and older.
All participants are invited to read their original terrifying tale aloud on Tuesday, October 30 at Fairwood Library. Refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Fairwood Library.
7pm: ages 10 to 18
8pm: ages 19 and older
One submission per person.
Include your name, age, phone number and/or email address.
Submissions may be typed or handwritten. Handwritten submissions must be legible to qualify.
Limit your story to 1000 words or less.
And now, without further delay, here’s my entry….(cue lightening flashes, a wolf howling in the distance, and menacing organ music rattling dust and cobwebs while the rats skitter deeper into the shadows)…
“Well, at least I can check one thing off the list.”
Becca smiled, looking down at the library book in her hands. The purple cover had been what first caught her attention – the particular shade drawing her eye. As she had pulled the book from the shelf and examined it, she realized she couldn’t find an author or title – not anywhere on the front or back of the book, not written within the first pages as she peered curiously inside. Even library staff were unable to identify the book (something about it being “bulk cataloged”). That was when she knew – this would be the first library book she had checked out in years. The first book she’d read in almost just as long.
Who had time to read anymore, really?
But making time for reading has been top of her list of New Years’ resolutions. Stepping out from the library into the cold February wind, Becca felt hopeful the year was off to a good start.
As the garage door closed behind her car, curiosity got the better of Becca. The engine still running for heat, she unbuckled her seatbelt and tugged off her orange gloves. Flicking on the overhead dome light, she checked the time – 4:13 – and thumbed past the initial few blank pages of the library book. She found the first block of text and began:
“Purple like rotting plums, flesh ruptured with the overly-sweet juice of decay. Purple like old blood lingering in dark, broken veins. Purple like wet fallen leaves, spent past autumn’s glorious yellows and reds. When he saw the book cover in her hands, it colored her similarly.”
Her pulse was quickening. What kind of book is this? Becca paused to stare at the purple cover again, the hue somehow less inviting in the pale-yellow light. Was someone playing a sick joke?
This entry is going to be a post I will continually edit to come back and add ideas I find for library programming and display ideas. I find that I collect ideas from a variety of resources and am not inclined to rely on any specific medium for accumulating them all, except through a list I can arrange as I please.
- Day Storage for homeless (source)
- The city of Eugene and St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County have joined forces to provide free day storage as a pilot project.
- People can store belongings in a PODS container on a county-owned lot on Olive Street between the Public Library and The KIVA grocery store. People can stow backpacks, baggage and other items seven-days-a-week, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., through Sept. 30. St. Vincent de Paul employees are on site to manage the container. Any items left after 4:30 p.m. will be disposed of.
- The city is paying St. Vincent de Paul $7,350 a month to operate the program, plus expense reimbursement, according to the contact.
- St. Vincent holds a lottery every three months for the use of the 20 lockers at the service station.
- Day Storage for homeless (source)
- Binge Boxes (source)
- Boxes containing 5 (or more/less) DVDs within a certain genre
- All movies are listed and covers displayed on box label
- I appreciate that the fines and check-out times are addressed on the flyer to be as clear as possible
- Binge Boxes (source)
I started this website three years ago while attending the orientation for my masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree at the University of Washington. Amid discussions about future career opportunities and ways to create a presence for yourself as an online student, I decided I wanted to create a website/blog where I could talk about things that interested me at school and share my other passion, artwork.
Wow, how the time has flown!!!
I worked full time my first year of doing school part-time and found that I couldn’t manage that work-life-school balance. So I quit my administrative job at a college with the intention of getting some public library experience instead. Volunteering perhaps? But I was able to get a public library JOB, which was even better! The part time work along with 3/4 time enrollment kept me busy, but not completely and utterly overwhelmed (at least, not all the time). My partner Katie and I moved from our apartment into a cheaper space, a basement apartment where we have now lived for two years.
Katie and I got engaged this March, with a wedding date set next September. We also are set to move again, this time in mid-July into a beautiful townhouse. I got a full-time position at the library system, which are coveted and rare positions with a lot of competition! And I graduated last Saturday in a convocation event for all UW Information School (or iSchool for short, we like the Apple influence apparently) graduates.
Life has changed a lot in the three years I’ve been in school. Graduation felt like a celebration of the slow burn of life, of the eventual progress and overcoming of obstacles that seem at first so huge and insurmountable.
My Katie and I have a motto: Together, we can do anything. And moments like this it feels absolutely true.
Now, on to the next phase of life’s adventures!