Author Archives: Matt Imrie

A Parent’s Guide to Black Lives Matter

Yoopies UK the childcare platform, has put together a family-friendly resource guide for parents about the Black Lives Matter movement from a British perspective; with contributions from both white and BAME writers.

This guide shares resources (films, podcasts, books etc), advice, and tips to ensure that children are aware of racial inequality, racial hierarchies, and white privilege present in modern-day society, as well as share some knowledge to help combat racism today.

The guide can be downloaded here:

https://yoopies.co.uk/c/press-releases/blacklivesmatter

The Police and Public Libraries

I have seen police officers in libraries for as long as I have been a library worker, they come in as patrons, they have been called in if people started endangering the lives of patrons and staff, occasionally an officer will come in and do a walk-through the library, more recently I have witnessed official library events featuring police officers including Youth Services organized “Story-time with a Police Officer” which is a local PO will come in uniform and read some stories at a library story-time event and a Civic Engagement series called “Coffee with a Cop” which is basically just that – a Police Officer sitting drinking coffee and chatting to local library patrons.

I am aware that seeing the police as being helpful and there to help is very much a White viewpoint; other population groups, Black, Asian and others have differing viewpoints and opinions about them.

I have been concerned about story-times being lead by police officers for ages now but the coronavirus closures put those thoughts on the back burner, they are now forefront in my mind now in the wake of the violence against protesters that has been occurring on a daily basis since people began standing up in reaction to the murder of George Floyd. This ongoing violence has been an eye-opener to many people that live in denial of the violence police often perpetrate against minority groups.

Can libraries afford to keep hosting police-centered events and at the same time claim to be welcoming to everyone?

It is often vulnerable groups and individuals that have the most need of the services that libraries provide and they are the most at risk of being traumatized by coming face to face with uniformed police officers at library sanctioned events. These encounters will in all likelihood re-traumatize them again and they are already at the receiving end of police violence; this will, in all likelihood keep them from returning for fear of encountering the police again.

The fig leaf argument that libraries are neutral spaces gets more threadbare every day. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor

Neutrality does not mean having no opinion, it means being open to other opinions. I am of the opinion that it is past time for libraries to look at who we partner with and discuss how we can move forward with offering a truly inclusive and welcoming service.

Before we allow the police in for photo-opportunity events, we must demand real and substantive change in the way they behave towards all groups in the communities they ostensibly serve.

In demanding that of them we must, at the same time interrogate our own biases and how we behave towards others as well as challenging ourselves and those around us to actively fight racist thought and activities that pervade our daily lives.

Racial Equity Tools

Racial Equity Tools is designed to support individuals and groups working to achieve racial equity.

This site offers tools, research, tips, curricula and ideas for people who want to increase their own understanding and to help those working toward justice at every level – in systems, organizations, communities and the culture at large.

https://www.racialequitytools.org/home

Anti-Racism Resources for all ages

A Project by the Augusta Baker Chair | Dr. Nicole A. Cooke | The University of South Carolina | 

https://padlet.com/nicolethelibrarian/nbasekqoazt336co

No! Nobrow!

I have been a fan of Nobrow and their picture book imprint Flying Eye Books for a good few years now. I have reviewed a number of their titles (you can find the reviews here and here). I have written about them for the Federation of Children’s Book Groups here. I have interviewed their authors and illustrators and championed their books for years as they produce works of quality and beauty that catch the eye of readers of all ages. I have used them to turn reluctant readers on to the joys of reading many times over the years.

Over the past few days on twitter I found several threads accusing them of exploiting new and upcoming authors & illustrators and acting in a less than ethical manner against other small press publishers. Several years ago at a publisher event in London I was chatting to a publicist and mentioned that I was a fan of their work and the publicist (off the record) asked if I had heard the rumours about their low payment of creators and claiming rights to works created by authors and illustrators they published. I said that I had not and thereafter dug around but was never able to find anything about this so I marked it as unproven and moved on.

Below is a screenshot of an email allegedly sent by Alexander Latsis in 2013

Source: https://twitter.com/deadtreesanddye/status/1253762564032520195

Illustrator Lucy Haslam has been creating an epic twitter thread about ELCAF (the East London Comic Art Festival) and Nobrow. It is definitely worth a read for detailed background information about what has been happening for a number of years.

Illustrator Eleni Kalorkoti tweeted this about an offer from Nobrow in 2018:

This discussion was not a total pile-on, several creators spoke up positively about their interactions with Nobrow, including CILIP Kate Greenaway winning illustrator William Grill:

Astrocat creator Ben Newman:

Kellie Strøm:

and a few others.

Nobrow has also released an official statement that can be read here:

A Statement from Nobrow

It should definitely be read in full. In the statement they challenge the claims that their contracts are unfair and have promised to do research into comparative advances and royalties. They also go on to deny that they do not prevent their creators from working with other publishers and state that the screenshot of the e-mail was released without permission and out of context although it is hard to imagine what the context was without further information about that discussion as the e-mail alone appears to be pretty damning.

The full statement rather than allaying the fears and allegations seems to have inflamed opinion in more areas, with Paul Duffield‘s take being worth a read:

When this type of situation erupts it is not always easy to identify who is in the right, I support small publishers and creator rights but I think in this instance the number of dissenting voices that have been raised about unfair treatment as well as those raised in defense show that this situation is not clear cut to outside observers. I think that Valerie Pezeron‘s views as laid out in the thread below most closely match up with mine – they are definitely worth a read.

The vocalization of the long-term unhappiness of many of the authors and illustrators is an indication that people are no longer going to be quiet if they perceive themselves to be treated unfairly, this is good as it can act as a warning to others that may find themselves in a similar situation and can strengthen collective bargaining if enough creators band together. We may be witnessing the birth of unionisation in the author/illustrator world beyond what the Society of Authors and other groups that already exist.

I remain a fan of many of the authors and illustrators published by Nobrow, but this fandom is now tinged with a concern over what they may have experienced during the creation of their works for their publisher. Is it a fair and rational feeling? I don’t know, but it is human to have concern for the welfare of others and I am also concerned for those currently furloughed by the publisher and for everyone else impacted by the Covid-19 shutdowns across the world.

Self-care Reading List

Librarians & library workers need to practice self-care as we focus on adapting the work we do around stay at home orders and mandatory closures for the coronavirus. It is a stressful time for everyone and burnout is another very real threat! I personally am very bad at self care so I have been reading up on how to do this! These are some of the websites I have found useful in this regard:

https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/self-care-not-selfish/

https://schoollibrariansunited.libsyn.com/burnout-and-self-care

https://hacklibraryschool.com/2014/12/17/a-librarians-approach-to-self-care/

Professional Development Links for Library-folk

WebJunction Course Catalog

Library-specific courses and webinar recordings available for free to all library workers and volunteers. Through the generous support of OCLC and many state library agencies across the US, WebJunction provides timely and relevant learning content for you to access anytime, from anywhere.

All new learners need to create an account. Select “Log in” at the top right of this page, and then “Create new account.” Once you’ve created your new account, explore the catalog of library-focused self-paced courses and webinars. Certificates of completion will be available to you after you have completed any course or webinar.
https://learn.webjunction.org/

Young Adult & Teen specific training:  
https://learn.webjunction.org/course/index.php?categoryid=25

School Library Journal Offers Temporary Free Access to Digital Content

https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=school-library-journal-offers-free-full-access-to-content-digitized-magazines-coronavirus-slj

Raising the Bar
Integrating Early Childhood Education into Librarian Professional Development

a four-part training series developed by the New York Public Library, in collaboration with CUNY’s Professional Development Institute and funded by the Institution of Museum and Library Services.
https://nypl.teachable.com/

Free Library Webconference: 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdSZu598n6w5ikj00_3eUxuK5n06iiqb7O47yN43kzHGEmUrw/viewform

Submit a piece to a Library ‘Zine

Historical Fiction Webinar

https://www.ebscohost.com/novelist-the-latest/blog-article/webinar-crash-course-in-historical-fiction

Middle Grade Magic Virtual Conference

https://vshow.on24.com/vshow/middlegrade2020/registration/16561

Teaching Social Justice: Navigating the Deep Waters of Equity in Early Childhood Programs

https://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.com/webinars/teaching-social-justice-navigating-the-deep-waters-of-equity-in-early-childhood-programs/

NoveList Webinars

https://www.ebscohost.com/novelist-the-latest/by_tag/tag/Webinars



Educational Resources

A short list of online educational resources :

Virtual Story-times

Storyline Online

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website, Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Readers include Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, James Earl Jones, Betty White and dozens more.
https://www.storylineonline.net/

Publisher Permission Details for Virtual Story-times during the Coronavirus Crisis

This list will be updated as I find more publisher positions on virtual story-times

Scholastic: https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=scholastic-temporarily-revises-policy-for-online-read-alouds-coronavirus-copyright

Candlewick: https://twitter.com/Candlewick/status/1240645865301295107 (applies to Walker Books US as well)

Little Brown Young Readers: https://www.lbyr.com/little-brown-young-readers/lbyr-blog/lbyr-book-sharing-permission-statement/

Penguin Random House: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/penguin-random-house-temporary-open-license/

Simon & Schuster: https://www.simonandschuster.com/p/online-read-aloud-guidelines

Macmillan: https://us.macmillan.com/macmillan-content-use-guidelines/

Abrams: https://www.abramsbooks.com/abramskidspermission/

HarperCollins Childrens Books: https://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/?detailStory=harpercollins-childrens-books-outlines-online-reading-policy-coronavirus-covid19

Lerner Books: https://rights-permissions.lernerbooks.com/

Boyd Mills & Kane: https://boydsmillsandkane.com/permissions2020/

Lee & Low Books: https://blog.leeandlow.com/2020/03/20/lee-low-guidelines-for-virtual-book-read-alouds-during-covid-19/

Quirk Books: https://www.quirkbooks.com/post/want-read-quirk-books-kids-online-while-social-distancing-heres-how

Mo Willems: http://wernickpratt.com/covid-19-guidelines-for-online-enrichment/

UK Publishers

Hachette Children’s Books: https://twitter.com/PiersTorday/status/1241493636069670917

Walker Books UK: http://www.walker.co.uk/UserFiles/file/2020/Storytime,%20Reading%20and%20Virtual%20Book%20Promotion%20Guidelines_COVID-19.pdf

JK Rowling Harry Potter temporary open licence: https://www.jkrowling.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/TBP-Temporary-Open-Licence-Schools-2.pdf

Chicken House:

These are challenging times for all of us and we are particularly sensitive to the needs of children to continue their learning and to reap the many benefits that literature brings them. We at Chicken House and Scholastic are in full support of providing a wide range of online learning activities for kids during this time of school closures.
We have been moved by the numerous requests we’ve received from people across the country who are trying to address these needs by posting readings of books online for children to access. We want to support you in your efforts and ask that if you choose to read your book online to your students you follow these guidelines:
• At the beginning of your video, please state that you are presenting your reading “with permission from Chicken House books.”
• You post your reading through your school’s platform or another closed group or platform with limited access for your students. Should this not be possible please let me know.
• Since we view this as a way to compensate for the closure of schools, please delete your video or disable access no later than 5pm 30th April 2020.
By posting a reading, you are agreeing to abide by the above terms.

Usborne Books: https://faqs.usborne.com/article/83-id-like-to-make-a-recording-of-an-usborne-book

Faber Children’s: https://www.faber.co.uk/blog/a-message-from-our-faber-childrens-publisher/

Little Tiger Group: http://littletiger.co.uk/tiger-blog/little-tiger-group-permissions-policy-for-online-book-readings

Quirk Books: https://www.quirkbooks.com/post/want-read-quirk-books-kids-online-while-social-distancing-heres-how

Macmillan: https://www.panmacmillan.com/panmac/macmillan-content-use-guidelines

Australia

Books Create Australia, the collaboration between the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA), the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), the Australian Publishers Association (APA) and the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has announced a special arrangement for library storytimes during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For the duration of the pandemic, virtual story-times will be sanctioned by an industry agreement. It is the policy of the Boards of the APA and ASA that their members suspend any requirements for copyright permission to be sought, in order to allow libraries to make recordings or livestream storytimes so children aren’t denied this important and much-loved service.

https://www.alia.org.au/news/21007/book-industry-partners-come-agreement-copyright

Canada

 The Association of Canadian Publishers has formed the Read Aloud Canadian Books Program with Access Copyright.

The Program will allow, on a temporary basis, a waiver of licence fees related to the reading of all or part of select books from participating publishers and posting of the video recording online.

https://accesscopyright.ca/read-aloud/