Author Archives: Matt Imrie

Missouri’s Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act versus the Library Bill of Rights

The Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act being brought forward by Representative Ben Baker falls foul of most of the rights laid out in the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights

Particularly:

Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves.

Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

…resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

and

A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

The Library Bill of Rights is laid out below:

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

The full Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act can be accessed here.

The personal or religious beliefs of a small group of individuals should have no place in dictating what can be accessed or done by a community as a whole. This move by Representative Baker further blurs the separation of church and state.

In a news post he is quoted as saying: The main thing is I want to be able to take my kids to a library and make sure they’re in a safe environment, and that they’re not gonna be exposed to something that is objectionable materialUnfortunately, there are some libraries in the state of Missouri that have done this. And that’s a problem.

Access to information does not make a person unsafe, limiting their access to accurate information does that!

Views on what constitutes appropriate materials may vary widely from library to library.

If parents are concerned what their children are reading (and many are) then they should be active participants in their lives and be willing to have discussions on puberty, sex & sexuality and more. If young people are unable to have those types of discussions with their parents or guardians then they will go looking to find the information on their own and their library will be one of the safer and more accurate places for them to find information.

If parents and care-givers would rather legislate that option away from children in their care then they will go looking for information in places where accurate and truthful information may not be available.

The Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act will force library staff to act in loco parentis, as gatekeepers (a role that we have been trying to get rid of for years), young readers going through puberty, questioning their sexuality, trying to find information for class assignments or those that are just curious will be unable to access the information they require if the group overseeing the library collection takes a narrow view on what is appropriate for young readers.

If this act is passed then Libraries that fall foul of it will lose access to federal funds and Library staff that provide access to proscribed materials will face a fine or jail time.

You can find out more information about this developing story and how to make your views heard at Bookriot, EveryLibrary, PEN and The Guardian.

Visit this page for a list of interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/interpretations

Representative Ben Baker is “Thinking of the Children” with the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act

I read a blog post last night (https://rturner229.blogspot.com/2020/01/ben-baker-files-parental-oversight-of.html)

It details the machinations of Ben Baker the GOP Representative for Newton County in the Missouri House of Representatives who is trying to get public libraries to age restrict materials that could be considered objectionable.

From the above-mentioned post:

Baker filed the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act to keep impressionable young people from getting their hands on material that deals with sex or anything else that might be considered inappropriate by parents (or Baker).

No public library shall receive any state aid under this section if such library 53 allows minors to access age-inappropriate sexual materials in violation of section 182.821. HB 2044 3 182.821. 

As Library Workers, our job is to bring people and resources together. I can understand School Libraries being more prescriptive in their collection development; but to require Public Libraries to limit access to materials based on the age of readers is not only offensive but also dangerous. It places the decision on what is considered appropriate in the hands of a small group of people (& Representative Baker) who could, quite conceivably have a limited view on what “appropriate” is for readers of different ages.

The threat of losing funding is blatant strong-arming and needs condemnation in the strongest possible terms!

Libraries have made a concerted effort to move away from being gatekeepers and the story of Goodnight Moon at the New York Public Library is a great example of how a book can be kept out of the hands of readers: https://slate.com/culture/2020/01/goodnight-moon-nypl-10-most-checked-out-books.html

Sidelining the views of the majority of parents who will not be involved in the decision-making process sets a dangerous precedent, writing something into law that is best left up to families to decide is sheer overreach – I thought that Republicans were usually the part of small government and limited interference.

Resources for International Holocaust Memorial Day

International Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on the 27th January, this date is the anniversary of the liberation of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. This year (2020) marks 75 years since this happened. It is also the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia.

If you want to set up a display or run events to mark this date you still have time to put something together. Below is a list of links to resources you can download and use in your library:

https://www.hmd.org.uk/resources/ – the official site of Holocaust Memorial Day UK, you are able to download packs, you can also request physical packs if you are in the UK.

https://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/Learning The Wiener Holocaust Library is one of the world’s leading and most extensive archives on the Holocaust and Nazi era.

https://www.yadvashem.org/education.html Yad Vashem is the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, is the ultimate source for Holocaust education, documentation and research.

https://www.ushmm.org/ The US Holocaust Memorial Museum

https://www.annefrank.org/en/education/ Anne Frank House is an independent non-profit organisation that runs a museum in the house where Anne Frank went into hiding.

https://www.facinghistory.org/topics/genocide-mass-violence Facing History helps students connect choices made in the past to those they will confront in their own lives

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-holocaust This Holocaust site produced under the auspices of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise offers all the tools necessary to provoke students and teachers alike to undertake a meaningful investigation of the Holocaust.

http://auschwitz.org/en/ the website of the memorial and museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The Diverse Book Awards calls for entries from UK-based authors & publishers

Authors and publishers are invited to enter a new book prize, open to fiction books that are traditionally published, self-published and everything in between; from January 13th to May 31st 2020.

The Diverse Book Awards is sponsored by Hashtag BLAK (a new imprint of indie publishing house Hashtag Press focused on diversity and inclusion) and Literally PR (award-winning literary PR and marketing agency).

  • The long-list will be announced in June 2020 (books will be called in at this time for judges to review).
  • The short-list will be announced in September 2020.
  • The winner from each category (YA, Adult & Children’s Fiction) will be announced at a Hashtag BLAK party in London in October 2020.

Abiola Bello, co-director of Hashtag Press and Hashtag BLAK, says: So much more can be done to raise levels of diversity and inclusion in publishing, but The Diverse Book Awards seeks to recognise and celebrate the amazing work that was done in 2019 by authors and publishers. In turn, hopefully more diverse and inclusive books will be published in the coming years.

Authors and publishers can submit any children’s, young adult or adult fiction book published in 2019 that features BAME and/or inclusive main characters.

Each of the three category winners will be awarded a trophy, certificate and a PR campaign organised by boutique agency Literally PR.

Hashtag BLAK is currently only for submissions (www.hashtagblak.co.uk / info@hashtagblak.co.uk) seeking adult and YA fiction from Black British writers. The aim is to publish the first book by the end of 2020, the second in 2021, and then submissions will be open to all under-represented voices. Hashtag BLAK is open to unsolicited / unagented manuscripts.

For complete details on how to enter please visit: https://www.thediversebookawards.co.uk/

Teen Librarian Newsletter January 2020

The January issue of the Teen Librarian Newsletter is now available via Mailchimp:

https://us20.campaign-archive.com/?u=32ffbca7d353f6dcc0c7c0953&id=930dd230ad

Wand Making Workshop

Ahead of Harry Potter Book Night on the 6th February 2020 I have been working on a special wand-making workshop that will enable participants to create their own wands.

The outer part of the wand is composed of a 10 inch (25.4 cm) stiff paper tube. I sourced the paper tubes from Target. Bamboo sticks or hollow wooden dowel rods can also be used if your budget stretches that far.

The wand end plugs are made from paper twisted into a cone that will fit into the ends of the wand and be glued in place.

Participants will be able to choose a phoenix feather, a strand of dragon heart-string, unicorn hair, woven sunlight or a combination of all of them to make up the core of their wand.

Once the wand-making apprentices have completed their wand they will receive a parchment certificate confirming that they have attended the workshop.

They will also receive a cardstock wand-holder emblazoned with the seals of the Hogwarts & Ilvermorny Schools of Witchcraft and Wizardry to keep their wands safe. There is a space on the back of the wand holder to note down what is in the core as well as who made the wand.

The materials used in the workshop are:

Red, Silver & Gold Thread
Feathers
Paper tubes

The certificate is plain paper that has been soaked in a weak coffee solution (tea also works)

The wand holder is card-stock also soaked in a weak coffee solution.

The certificate is available to be downloaded in US letter size below:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

and A4:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

The wand holder is available to be downloaded in US letter size here:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

and as A4:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

For those wishing to make a more traditional looking wand using chopsticks and hot glue, there are instructions available here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Wands-With-Chopsticks/

Note: This post was scheduled to go up on the day the controversy broke around J.K. Rowling tweeting her views about transgender rights. I have decided to run this article, not in support of the author whose views I find reprehensible but for those who read Harry Potter and take away the message about love, acceptance and for standing up & fighting for what is right.

The Night Before Christmas: Steel Frame by Andrew Skinner

Twas the night before Christsmas and all round the Eye

Dark forces were stirring and jockeys did die!

The mecha were cradled in their hangers with care

Not knowing that bad things would soon happen there!

Rook was a jockey also a con,

indentured by NorCol her old life was now gone!

In a near hanger there arose quite a clatter

A Juno mech was trying its confinement to shatter!

Rook and the Juno a match made in hell

Really quite lucky as time would soon tell!

The hollows were moving – dead pilots in shells

Rather like zombies, they fought and killed well!

Their infection was spreading, corporations did fall

Soon Rook’s back was pressed ‘gainst the wall

A last ditch defence against to stem the dire flood

A few plucky heroes and gallons of blood

Needed to stop dire evil’s spread

Would they survive or all end up dead?

I will not tell you, but this tome you must read:

Steel Frame by Skinner a great book indeed!

Steel Frame is written by Andrew Skinner and published by Rebellion Publishing, it is available now

Spin the d-read-l Interactive Display

You can mix parts of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas/Yule into a single interactive display enabling library users to choose a book that they may not previously have considered prior to participating in the interactive part of the display.

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Using the Kwanzaa mkeka mat as the base upon which to spin the dreidel (or in this case the d-read-l) the library patron will then take the book that matches the symbol on the side of the dreidel that is facing up.

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You can also match one of the four letters to different genres instead of specific books as shown below.

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Once the patron has taken a book or respun the dreidel if they wanted to try something else, they can also take a Yule Reading Log to keep track of the books they will read over the holiday season.

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The dreidel can be downloaded here:

US Paper size:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

UK paper size dreidel:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

To create a mkeka mat you need strips of paper or cardstock in green, black and red. These are woven together as shown below.

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The Yule Reading Log can be downloaded here:

US paper size:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

UK paper size:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

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It’s NOT only Christmas! Downloadable Display Resources

There is a perennial discussion amongst library workers around the world at this time of year about the appropriateness of Christmas Trees in Public Libraries. I am not here to further this discourse, rather I would like to share some of the resources I have created to recognize the festivals of those patrons that do not hold Christmas traditions.

I put together an introductory ‘zine that can be read with the display. It contains basic information about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Ōmisoka & Sol Invictus. This can be downloaded here:

US paper size:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

UK paper size: 

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Hanukkah

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I have created a dreidel that can be printed out and used in a library as a way of selecting books – a d-read-l if you will. The idea is to match a genre with one of the four letters of the Hebrew alphabet on the sides of the dreidel – נ (nun), ג (gimel), ה (hei), ש (shin) then when a participant spins the dreidel they get to borrow a book from the genre that matches whichever letter comes up.

US paper size dreidel:

Download (PDF, Unknown)



UK paper size dreidel:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

I have also made a cardstock menorah, the image can be downloaded and cut out.

I glued three together to give it strength to stand without bending.

You can find out more about Hanakkah here: https://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/default_cdo/jewish/Hanukkah.htm

Kwanzaa

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I do not have templates for the Kwanzaa parts of the display but for the candles I used red, black and green card-stock that I rolled together to make candles and white card-stock that I folded into a triangular shape to make a candle-holder. I used strips of each of the three colours of card-stock woven together to make a small Mkeka mat.

You can find out more about Kwanzaa here: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/

Yule

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Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time” or “Yule season”) is a festival historically observed by the Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the original celebrations of Yule to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.
Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are still used in Nordic countries and Estonia to describe Christmas and other festivals occurring during the winter holiday season. Today, Yule is celebrated in Heathenry and other forms of Neopaganism.

I created a Yule Reading Log, that, when rolled up resembles a log and has the dual purpose of being used to record one’s reading over the holiday season.

The log can be downloaded here:

US paper size:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

UK paper size:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

You can find out more about Yule and it’s traditions here: https://www.goddessandgreenman.co.uk/yule

These resources are very simple and can be supplemented by books held in most if not all public (& school) libraries. I hope to extend what I have done here in future years to make the displays more complete. This is just the beginning.

Interactive Program: Magnetic Poetry

I have just set up a Magnetic Poetry interactive display in the teen area of my library. I have gone for the imaginative title of Magnetic Po(l)etry as it is on one of the metal pillars holding up the ceiling in my branch.

It should be very easy to set up – all you need is a magnetic board or something similar (in my case it is a pillar) and some magnetic words. You can find a whole range of magnetic poetry kits online or in stores at reasonable prices. Some kits can contain <ahem> mature words so if you live or work in conservative area it may be worth knowing what you are purchasing before you buy it. On the other hand this program is aimed at teens, people who can make even the most innocent words into suggestive phrases so this sort of thing can be a risk no matter how much care you put into organising it.

Once teens start playing around with it I will update this post and possibly share whatever they create using it.

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