Melvil Dewey, “Father of Modern Librarianship” and racist creep

Melvil Dewey’s name is most often associated with Librarianship due to the Decimal Classification System that carries his name.

But did you know that he also championed spelling reform, and was an early promoter of winter sports.

As Melvil Dui (spelling reform) he was one of the founders of the American Library Association.

Less well-known was his persistant sexual harassment of women – his unwelcome hugging, unwelcome touching, certainly unwelcome kissing  were noted by biographer Wayne A. Wiegand.

When he opened the School of Library Economy at Columbia College he requested a photograph of each female applicant due to his belief that “you cannot polish a pumpkin”.

Then there were his racist and anti-semitic views, at the Lake Placid Club, a place where Dewey envisioned educators finding health, strength and inspiration at modest cost; he banned African-Americans, Jews and others from membership.

Many people at this point may think that his views were common and accepted at this time but they contributed to a petition demanding Dewey’s removal as State Librarian because of his personal involvement in the Lake Placid Club’s policies, this led to a rebuke by the New York State Board of Regents causing him to resign.

He was later forced out of active mebership of the American Library Association after he made physical advances on several members of the ALA during a cruise to Alaska.

In 1930 he was sued for sexual harrassment by a former secretary that cost him over $2000 to settle out of court.

At the 2019 ALA Annual Conference his name was stripped from the Melvil Dewey Medal – awarded for creative leadership of high order, particularly in those fields in which Melvil Dewey was actively interested: library management, library training, cataloging and classification, and the tools and techniques of librarianship.

Find out more about Melvil Dewey here:

https://www.stuffmomnevertoldyou.com/podcasts/librarians-part-1.htm

https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1905/02/15/101408654.pdf

https://www.latimes.com/books/la-et-jc-dewey-name-removed-library-association-20190626-story.html

Quill Soup

Noko, the porcupine, is very hungry. On arriving at a village, he asks the other animals for some food and shelter. But, despite their full bellies, all the animals say they have nothing to spare. Never mind: he’ll just have to make do and cook a pot of soup from the quills off his back – a soup so tasty even the king likes it. Once the villagers hear of his plan they offer just enough ingredients to make a soup worthy of them all…
This African version of Stone Soup celebrates generosity and kindness – and the message that we can all benefit if we share our resources. It’s part of our One Story, Many Voices series, which explores well-known tales told from different cultural perspectives.

Tiny Owl blurb
Quill Soup, written by Alan Durant and illustrated by Dale Blankenaar

I’m sure many readers of this blog are aware of the tale Stone Soup, and there will be well thumbed versions of it in most libraries. This is an African version, with the same message : that we can all benefit if we share resources, and an exhortation to open our arms to strangers (something that desperately needs encouraging in these times).

Quill Soup was retold by British author Alan Durant and illustrated by Dale Blankenaar, a full time illustrator from South Africa. The illustrations are wonderfully detailed, there is so much going on in each spread while the animals (such a range of animals) try to put off the newcomer, the colours are bold and captivating, and the text is great to read aloud.

Tiny Owl are a new(ish), small independent publisher of books for children with one aim: to promote under-represented voices and cultures in beautiful picture books. Quill Soup is part of a series they have called One Story, Many Voices, exploring “well-known stories told from different cultural perspectives from all over the world, pairing authors and illustrators from different countries and different backgrounds.”. Also already published, and also wonderful and different, are Cinderella of the Nile and The Phoenix of Persia.

Thankyou Tiny Owl for sending me a copy of Quill Soup to review, it is available to buy now!

Comic Scene

Tony from Comic Scene kindly sent me copies of the first six months of this new magazine to have a look at, and I asked if he’d like to do an introductory post for the blog. Not only has he written a blurb about the fascinating range of articles, as well as reviews and original comic strips, he has also very generously included a special offer and prize draw for librarians who would like to encourage wider reading of comics and graphic novels, see below!

ComicScene Magazine is a new magazine which guides librarians, adults and children to what classic and contemporary comics to try, and what graphic novels from U.K., US and European publishers people should be reading.  It also introduces you to the exciting and eclectic work of independent and small press comics.  For those who love superhero movies and TV shows they go back to the original comic source of the films and TV.  Many of the original comics inspiring films, such as the Avengers, are over 30 to 40 years old, so a rich source of material to explore.  Did you also know publishers like Rebellion are publishing new Roy of the Rovers comics and bringing back girls comics like Tammy, Jinty & Misty? Comic Fans love the magazine – but the main aim of the title is to help those parents/carers who casually read boys and girls comics when they were younger to revist old friends or recommend comics to their children and grandchildren.   From the current issue they have also introduced some of the best comic strips being produced today with plans for a dedicated pull out comic section for adults to give to their children to encourage reading and improve literacy.  It’s the only monthly magazine dedicated to comics and comic culture being published today in the U.K. and Ireland and we’d recommend it as your guide. The magazine is available to buy in selected WHSmiths, McColls and Easons in Ireland, and it can be ordered in any newsagent or comic shop.  Just pop your postcode into the shop finder to check what local stores stock the magazine. Libraries can also subscribe monthly to the magazine or subscribe in print or digital from £2.50 a copy digital or £5.50 in print (with free digital copy).

On the ComicScene shop they have just added the first six months of the magazine in a £30 pack and if a library purchases a pack and/or subscribes before the end of July they will be put in a draw to get their subscription back for the year PLUS £100 of free Graphic Novels (email comicsceneuk@gmail.com when you have made your order).

With sales of graphic novels for children on the rise and University courses now available to study producing comics and comic history who knows – you could be inspiring the next comic writer or artist by introducing the magazine to your library!

The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals 2019

On Tuesday the 2019 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals were awarded to the most outstanding books as selected by the judging panel, assisted by the advisory panel.

These were the first medals awarded since the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards Independent Diversity Review Final Report was published in September last year. As a long-time observer (and one-time judge) of the Medals I was excited to see how the CKG process would play out this year and I was not disappointed.

Most of the changes to the Medals involved behind the scene stuff – although the majority of the processes are not hidden from public view. The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have some of the most transparent processes in literary medals anywhere; from how the judges are selected, how the eligible titles are nominated and how the entire judging process works. The only thing that is done behind closed doors is the actual process of choosing the long and short lists and the most outstanding titles for each of the medals.

You can read about the changes that were made to the processes here.

The most publicly visible change to the medals is the addition of the Shadower’s Choice Awards – voted for and awarded by members of the 4,500 school reading groups who shadow the Medals. This is important, as for years people (myself included) have called for the involvement of the shadowing groups to be more visible and to recognise their choices in some way. Going forward, future participants of the shadowing process can join in knowing that their views will be listened to and acted on.

What is also amazing is that this year the Shadower’s Choice Awards and the official medals went to the same books! When I heard this it gave me a frisson of excitement as for years in conversations with colleagues and friends online and face to face, many have complained that the judges never choose the books that their students love, thus showing that the awards are out of touch and out of step with popular reading.

Jackie Morris won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for her frankly amazing artwork in The Lost Words, a spell-book of poetry about words from nature that we are losing, written by Robert MacFarlane. I knew from the first moment that I delved into this book that Jackie was going to win – and it is a well-deserved recognition. I don’t often say this but The Lost Words is as close to perfect a work of art that is a book can be and I never tire of losing myself in its pages!

Elizabeth Acevedo won the CILIP Carnegie Medal for her verse novel The Poet X. Elizabeth wrote the most outstanding book for children and young people as chosen by the judges in accordance to the judging criteria of the Carnegie Medal, and, is also the first writer of colour to win the medal in its 83 year history. There was a lot of excitement over her win in certain parts of the US kidlit twittersphere, this cheered me as it is not often that book folk outside of the UK take such an active interest in the medals.

I have said this before and will reiterate it here, the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are a living and vibrant part of the literary landscape in the UK and abroad. For being such well-established awards, with a pedigree of winners, the organisers of the awards are able to effect changes fairly swiftly and respond to criticism and advice from all quarters. This bodes well for the future, and not just of the medals but also, (hopefully) publishing in the UK; seeing BAME writers winning high-profile awards will give agents and publishers the push to find new authors and stories that will give more young readers the opportunity to see themselves represented on the page and open the minds and eyes of others to a wider, more vibrant world.

In closing I would also like to say a massive thank you and well done to the judges.

Judging the awards is never an easy task, especially at this time, after the often critical scrutiny the medals and judging panel have faced over the past several years. Often the biggest criticism the judges get when the most outstanding books are announced is that they have “got it wrong” and that observers and critics know which book should have won.

This year, as they have done every year, following the criteria, the judges have made the only choices they could and made the right choice in selecting the most outstanding books for children and young people!

Interactive Display: Where Would YOU Like to Live in the FUTURE?

This interactive display has been more popular than I ever expected, a simple question: Where would YOU like to live in the FUTURE? and then four options of future residences with little laminated astronauts for participants to stick under their choices rapidly mushroomed.

I could not cut out astronauts fast enough to keep up with demand (I eventually dragooned two colleagues in to help me keep up with demand), currently close to two hundred library patrons of all ages have participated in voting as can be seen in the image above.

If anyone would like to make their own display they may download images below. For the first time I have made downloads available in US and UK paper sizes:

US Letter size

Download (PDF, 1.3MB)

UK A4 size:

Download (PDF, 1.19MB)

The astronaut template page can be photocopied to make extra astronauts

gal-dem manifesto

This is the manifesto that the gal-dem contributors created when putting together their powerful book of essays “I will not be erased”, a collection of stories based on diaries and letters from their teen years, full of understanding and advice they wish they could share with their younger selves. Rules to live your life by!

I shared “I will not be erased” on the blog last week, after being sent a review copy

The Third Degree with Louie Stowell

Brilliant illustrations by Davide Ortu, including this fab cover!
Matt pipped me to the post and wrote this glowing review of The Dragon in the Library a couple of weeks ago! But I got to ask Louie some questions…

Hi Louie, welcome to TeenLibrarian and thank you for giving up your time to undergo the third degree!

You’ve written/worked on a lot of non-fiction, have you had a story bubbling up for a long time or did it come to you suddenly?

This particular story came very suddenly, but I’ve been writing fiction in the background for a long time. My first novel (in a drawer) was about a half-vampire, half-fairy who gave you a wish in return for blood.

A lot of research is needed for both types of writing, but was it a very different approach? Do you prefer one over the other?

I never see it as stories OR non-fiction. It’s both. Facts are magic too. I still work on non-fiction at work so it’s great to keep doing that. Fiction obviously gives you more scope to take things in any direction you want, unconstrained by reality, although writing stories that feel real is very important to me. I love fantasy that happens in the midst of everyday life, just out of sight.

This is quite a love letter to libraries & library staff, why are they so important to you?

As a child, going to the library was a ritual – and having an (apparently) infinite supply of books was incredible. The thing I remember most is the book smell. It smelled like possibility. As an adult, I want new generations to have that sense of infinity.

What made you decide to make the main character a reluctant reader instead of a bookish child?

I felt like I’d read a lot of books where the main character was into books, but a lot of children I meet in real life aren’t so… I suppose I wanted to give them a go in the driving seat. Also, because it’s fun to put characters in uncomfortable positions, so the idea of forcing an unbookish person to do something that requires lots of reading felt enjoyably mean. [C: I really enjoyed listening to Louie explain this to a room of book lovers at the YLG London AGM, but she didn’t need to worry, we love the challenge of reluctant readers!]

Who is your favourite Dragon in fiction?

Smaug. It’s always Smaug. What a class act.

Have you done any school visits? If so, what’s the best bit?

I’ve done loads of non-fiction ones but I’ve just started doing ones for the Dragon in the Library and what I’m really enjoying is the suspension of reality – creating a fictional world in the real world, and pretending that magic is 100% real. (Or am I pretending…?)

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

I’m currently reading A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby. I was lucky enough to get an early copy and it is beautiful and magical. One for anyone who’s in touch with their emotional side… but also people like me who aren’t at all, but books like this help me learn more about how feelings work.

What’s next for Kit & co.?

I’m trying to work out how to say this in unspoilery terms… their next adventure involves a journey and a new wizard… and a new monster. 

Huge thanks to Louie for answering my questions on top of her actual blog tour, and to Nosy Crow for sending me (and Matt all the way in America!) proofs, and to both Louie and Nosy Crow for the brilliant talk and signed books at the YLG London 2019 AGM last week! I loved what Louie said about the importance of just having books around (in lots of formats) and you might just “slip into one”, quite literally in this story.

The Dragon in the Library is out now!

“I Will Not be Erased” gal-dem

Fourteen joyous, funny and life-affirming essays from gal-dem, the award-winning magazine created by young women and non-binary people of colour.
gal-dem, the award-winning online and print magazine, is created by women and non-binary people of colour. In this thought-provoking and moving collection of fourteen essays, gal-dem’s writers use raw material from their teenage years – diaries, poems and chat histories – to give advice to their younger selves and those growing up today. gal-dem have been praised by the Guardian for being “the agents of change we need”, and these essays tackle important subjects including race, gender, mental health and activism, making this essential reading for any young person.

Walker Books

The introduction to this book says “There is something in each of these essays that will speak to anyone who has ever wondered what they might say to their younger self…But it is our hope that these essays will especially speak to those of us from marginalised backgrounds…”. It really does cover every conceivable aspect of the teenage years, I want every 6th former in the country to read this book because they will recognise themselves in it (for me, it was Grace Holliday’s “The Uncool Girl’s Manifesto” in particular) and be inspired by the adults the contributors have become. They’re not saying their lives are all perfect, but that they want readers to “learn from our adventures, mistakes and heartbreaks so you feel less alone in your struggles and more at home in your joy.” The presentation of the essays is really smart, with illustrations by Jess Nash peppered throughout, and they are all really distinct and eloquent voices.

Jess Nash’s illustration for Niellah Arboine’s story “You Speak Well for a Black Girl”.

They made a fabulous short video, in this embedded tweet, and in amongst all the business made time to answer a few questions for us!

gal-dem started as a magazine, can you give us a bit of background as to how the book came about?

gal-dem magazine started when we were (almost) teenagers ourselves – we were in our very early twenties and feeling isolated at university and at the beginning of our careers. Much like with the book itself, we wanted to create something for our peers and for those younger than us, to make them feel less alone in their experiences. We are still a magazine which produces an annual print issue and online articles, but we also have ventured into the realm of events, takeovers and now books!

Can you share any favourite (recent or not) children’s or YA books?

YA is probably still my favourite ‘genre’, if you can call it that! Growing up I read everything from Philip Pullman to Jacqueline Wilson – The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and The Magicians Trilogy. Two of my recent faves have been The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

At the moment I’m re-reading Beloved by Toni Morrison and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the legacy and trauma of slavery, who believes in good and bad magic, and who just loves a beautifully told story.

What’s next from gal-dem?

At the moment we’re planning some really exciting events for over summer around sport! We’re relaunching our website and redesigning our print magazine. Big things ahead and always looking for more people to get involved and do some paid writing for us. Pitching details can be found here.

“I will not be erased” is out now from Walker Books (thank you for sending me a copy)

All-new Teen Librarian Newsletter

The all-new Teen Librarian Newsletter will launch in July!

If you were a previous subscriber or want to become a subscriber, you may do so by clicking on the link below:

https://mailchi.mp/0a73cd6985a3/teenlibrariannewsletter

Library Island by Matt Finch

Library Island is an activity which simulates five years in the life of a nation’s library services. Participants become librarians, government officials, or community members on this island and face the challenges created by conflicting wants, needs, and limited resources. There is an Indigenous community and colonial history to be reckoned with, plus a range of political interests with their own agenda for the library.

It’s a simple game played with nothing more than office furniture, pens, and paper, but it swiftly leads to rich and complex scenarios. The fictional setting allows us to explore structural issues, political challenges, and even some of the disruptive behaviour that professionals may face from their users, within the relative safety of a “make-believe” context.

Source: What exactly is Library Island anyway? – matt finch / mechanical dolphin

Matt has provided a toolkit that can be downloaded with full instructions on how to run, adapt and play the game. It is available here:

https://booksadventures.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/library-island-toolkit.pdf