A Review of My Teen Years, Through the Lens of Livejournal

From January 2004 and August 2009, I wrote nearly 600 entries between two primary Livejournal accounts, and basically every single one can be reduced to just the following:

“I have nothing to say, but I’m gonna write something anyway [because it took me so long to log on with dial up that I might as well take advantage]. Today, I ate a lot of food – specifically, [this food.] I am also not-so-humble-bragging about how well I’m doing on every test and in every class ever, but I AM STILL SO STRESSED about failing. I’m angry with my mother, and I love [random boy of the day/week]. I am pretending to be an airhead because I think it will make more people like me, even though in the same entry I am quoting a poem by T.E. Lawrence. Endless “*hehehehehehehe*s.”
Currently listening to: Any number of terrible pop-“folk”/pop-“punk”/pop-“alt” songs.

Mood: Quixotic, even though I never knew what it meant.

However, here are some clutch quotes, moments, or observations:
  • I once used the phrase “will just die” if this happens, unironically
  • I got a 97 on my first midterm exam sophomore year of high school, which was in World Geography, but then immediately professed to not knowing where Iraq or Iran were. Lol?

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  • I had a weird crush on my biology teacher that lasted for WAY too long
  • I apparently had a crush on a guy named Henry? I don’t even remember ever knowing anyone named Henry. And who the hell was this guy Tom I was so stoked to be sitting with during Astronomy? Apparently I was really psyched to be going to some guy named Andy’s birthday party, but the only Andy’s I remember now are ones who would have  *never* invited me to their birthday party…
  • Ah, sweet memories of having Driver’s Ed with a dude I had a crush on at the time and would eventually have a mediocre one night stand with, 11 years later.
  • I was arguably equally obsessed with two boys named Jesse whom I had very different relationships with (one I thought of as the Dawson to my Joey, and the other I thought of as my very own Jared Leto brought down to play in my high school’s screamo band) and often shared stories about them without specifying which one, which is very confusing upon re-reading.
  • In hindsight, it is not nearly as surprising that I ended up dating the boy I did senior year cause I can see now that we clearly liked each other for months leading up to it, even though at the time I was oblivious.
  • I had a very definite crush on a dude who’s brother I ended up hooking up with later. Whoops. Forgot about that. Tacky.
  • Who the hell is “this Russian named Igor” I knew in college, and why was I going out with him?
  • Aw. Sad emo Emily “hasn’t got a heart to break.”
  • Crushing on Jon Stewart since 04, baby!

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  • It’s like I didn’t know that people were reading this thing, for all the trash talk (both casual and crazily intense) I threw out on it.
  • Reading about some of my encounters with friends, crushes, etc. is like an out of body experience because I genuinely have NO memory of ever doing like half of them, and the other half then suddenly all come flooding back in to drown me in shame
  • I literally started incorporating the phrase “so fetch” into my regular vocabulary the same day I saw Mean Girls in theaters
  • I do not ever remember being the type of girl to write “I am so sick of the drama!!” or “No one’s even gonna comment on this so who cares” which is the equivalent of kids posting an Instagram pic now with the caption “Deleting later,” which annoys me. You’re just fishing for compliments, child, and that’s not cute.
  • I ONCE CRIED IN THE CAFETERIA?? Oh, sorry, make that at least two crying-in-public jags. Wow. And I thought I had avoided those til college!
  • God was once #1 on my list of “What I couldn’t live without.”
  • I was equally excited to receive Ravi Shankar’s Three Ragas for Christmas as I was to receive Time Well Wasted by Brad Paisley, and Eminem’s Greatest Hits…
  • I was already anti Creed by 2004, thankfully, which is still too late in the game by many people’s standards but you do not understand how much I loved Scott Stapp back in the day. And I don’t understand it either. So this was a big accomplishment.
  • I at one point listed Kanye West as my favorite rapper. Ew.
Good Lord, teenage Emily. Take so many chill pills, PLEASE, because you are a manic mess. Take some deep breaths and know that the golden era of wireless internet and smart phones is coming, and soon your life will be filled with videos of baby animals, and a whole world of Nutella based breakfast recipes will be open to you, and you’ll be able to watch all cycles of America’s Next Top Model on your phone while sitting on the toilet.
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Don’t be so judgmental about people’s habits and appearance, but do be more discerning in who you choose to be friends with. You’re going to get very lucky in terms of meeting amazing people who will become lifelong friends but shouldn’t let that make you lazy in terms of honing your character assessment skills. You are smarter than you think but also way dumber and immature, too. College will be 90% awful but you’ll get through it. Know that a) many of the guys you liked in high school actually did like you back already, or would have if you’d just had any confidence in yourself at all, and b) mostly they were not worth liking in the first place. Open your damn eyes. Also please stop hooking up with your guy friends; it’s literally never a good idea. Everything prior to October 2007 was just practice for the real thing, and you shouldn’t judge those boys too harshly for not knowing how to handle your crazy (but also you shouldn’t let them walk all over your feelings either). You will have a first great love and it will eventually end, you’ll have a bad love that lasts for too long but ends with you figuring out how to start actually loving yourself, and then you will meet the love of your life shortly after that because you’ll finally be ready to appreciate him. Stop being a competitive biotch with other girls over things that don’t matter and just embrace feminism ASAP, please, because other women are cool and you’re going to have a life full of wonderful, inspiring, radical women to remind you of that fact every day, and because all the dudes in your life will benefit from feminism, too.
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Every major thing you’re going to do, you should do, even the “bad” stuff; I wouldn’t have you change a thing because it’s going to help get you to a better place even if it feels like a mistake at the time or looks like one in hindsight. It can be a mistake but still be a good one to have made because that’s how you learn. Except for over plucking your eyebrows – you really shouldn’t have done that. You should, however, stop saying (or specifically, writing) everything that comes into your head because you’re a mean little thing sometimes and that’s not a good look, nor is it helpful to anyone. The Internet will be full of people spouting every opinion they’ve ever had; you don’t need to be one of them.
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It will all get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. Friday will come, the semester will end, you’ll lose the weight but more importantly you’ll learn to accept your body and face the way they are when taken care of properly, you’ll have a career that fulfills you, and a husband who loves you, and cats that use you as a body heat and food dispenser. Just have your fun, don’t drive stoned, and wait.
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Two-Thousand and Sixteen – and Beyond

So, since there’s only a few more hours left until 2016 begins, I decided to whip up a quick retrospective on the past year, including some of my favorite pieces of literature and entertainment. If you’re interested, scroll on! If you’re not interested, then I’m not even sure how you ended up on this post in the first place.

2015 lessons and discoveries

  • Don’t follow unnecessary trends and just dress in a way that feels equal parts authentic and comfortable and fun; accept the fact that you can love how someone else looks and not have it either work for your particular face or body, or maybe you just don’t have the time/interest/energy/inclination to replicate it (ie: all those damned beautiful hair styles I see on all y’all and will never actually do myself).
  • I’m truly horrible at remembering names and need to work on it
  • Social anxiety is a totally real and potentially totally crippling thing, and is also something I need to take care of
  • My political views align more with Bernie than Hillary; if you aren’t sure who you’re voting for, check out this quiz, but then make sure to do your own reading and research and stay current after that; people and things can change rapidly and drastically)
  • I know many, many more racist (or at least racially insensitive) people than I expected – same for people who don’t fully grasp the concept of gender equality, the direct impact of lax gun laws on gun violence, and the problematic distribution of wealth and lack of decent healthcare in the US.
  • I have been exceptionally blessed with remarkable and strong women mentors and male friends
  • The second year of marriage is better than the first ❤

2015 favorite shows (that I watched this year, obviously not only those that came out this year)

netflix-and-chill

  • Hart of Dixie
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • The West Wing
  • Garfunkel and Oates
  • Friday Night Lights
  • A Young Doctor’s Notebook
  • Psych
  • Comedy Bang Bang
  • Scream Queens

2015 favorite books (mostly grouped together in the categories of Memoirs, Young Adult, Non Fiction, and Thrillers/Mysteries):

  1. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, by B.J. Novak
  2. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, by Jenny Lawson
  3. Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny, by Holly Madison
  4. Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
  5. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, by Neil Patrick Harris
  6. My Life in France, by Julia Child, Alex Prud’Homme
  7. Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
  8. Girl Last Seen, by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown
  9. Complicit, by Stephanie Kuehn
  10. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #1), by Jenny Han
  11. Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library, by Don Borcher
  12. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan
  13. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  14. Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids, by Meghan Daum (Editor)
  15. Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn
  16. Before I Go to Sleep, by S.J. Watson
  17. Room, by Emma Donoghue
  18. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
  19. The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1), by Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym for J.K. Rowling)

And of course, I couldn’t call myself a real millennial with a blog if I didn’t also share my requisite list of my goals for the upcoming new year (and well beyond it, in some cases, cause ain’t nobody got time to go to Disney World AND wine country and buy a home and play laser tag all in one year! At least, not me!). So here they are! What are yours?

  • Go hiking and camping
  • Take a cooking class
  • Take dancing lessons
  • Attend a paint night
  • Visit wine country
  • Finally visit to Disney World
  • Go white water rafting
  • Play laser tag
  • Play paint ball – if you are part of a team and have room for two more, or if you would like to create a team with Joseph and me, please let me know because there’s this amazing looking adventure park in Mystic but their minimum is 8 people in a group.
  • Zip line (either at Fields of Fire listed above, and/or someplace more exotic)
  • Visit a gun range
  • Attend a talk show (preferably Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, but the Daily Show would also be rad, or Ellen if we were out that way)
  • Become an extra in a TV show or movie at least once
  • Participate in a themed half-marathon (zombies and/or mud, or the Color Run? If you have any recommendations, holler!)
  • Go to the Newport Folk Festival (if you’re going, too, let me know!)
  • Learn more about home ownership and continue down that path
  • Buy locally as frequently as we can afford
  • Volunteer more of my time and donate more to charity

Happy New Year to all y’all, biotches!

Helping You Help Others

Otherwise known as: Emily is tired of everyone sharing inaccurate and inflammatory things on Facebook and seeing everyone take them seriously without doing a single practical thing to help, or even run the most basic fact checks.

armchair activism

So, in light of all the armchair activism flourishing in the land of social media memes, I decided to put together a non-comprehensive list of links from reputable websites and credible organizations with suggestions of ways to tangibly support some of my favorite causes and help those in need.

The most valuable tips I’ve ever come across are:

  • It’s remarkable cheap and easy to be an informed speaker and a compassionate listener – just always check your sources and consider your audience.
  • The closer you can get to the center of the problem, the greater your impact and the further it is felt, so start small and local.
  • Even if you think your vote doesn’t matter, consider voting in local elections, or at least contacting your elected officials when bills come up to let them know where you stand.

Don’t know where to vote?
Find Your Fucking Polling Place

Don’t know who your elected officials are?
Contacting the Congress – here’s an easy way to find out!

Animal Welfare
Adopt Don’t Shop – there’s about a million reasons to adopt, but here are the top 10
Reporting Animal Cruelty – speak up for those who can only bark or meow
Cruelty Free Drugstore Makeup – for those who want to look fabulous without paying two high prices

  • Also, find your local animal shelter’s website and buy them things from their Wish Lists

Racism
Talking with kids about racism – no one is born knowing who to hate
Combating racism as a white educator – use your privilege to ask the right questions and make positive changes

Sexism
Stop Sexist Remarks

Women’s Reproductive Rights and Health
How to Support Planned Parenthood

Be a Straight Ally
Top Ten Ways to Be an Ally
Guide to Being a Straight Ally

Homeless Veterans
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
US Department of Veterans Affairs

Syrian Refugees (believe it or not, you can care about and support both homeless veterans and refugees simultaneously)
Refugee Council USA

Vaccines
Vaccine Safety – Top Questions and Answers

So there you have it, ladies and germs – my own, slightly more practical brand of armchair activism! The holidays are coming, which is the perfect time to explore charitable giving, and the new year is coming, which is the perfect excuse to resolve to be more socially aware and accountable.

Do with these links what you will – my hope is that you will pick at least one to focus on and expand upon, and maybe teach me the ways in which you’re learning to help!

 

 

My Big Fat Gay Agenda

Since I started working at my library about a year and a half ago, I haven’t heard of any overt hate crimes against homosexuals in or around the neighborhood, and for that I am grateful. What I have heard, however, is about a hundred little passive aggressive comments muttered quietly or vile words uttered out loud in supposed jest, by kids and adults alike.

Subtle expressions of hatred are particularly troubling to me because they’re so stealthy and viral. They’re difficult to prove and discipline, often confused with wit or disguised as humor, and infects children in many cases worse than overt acts of crime because everyone’s taught that violence is unacceptable, but their dad says [insert ignorant slur du jour here] in casual conversation, so they learn that it must be okay for them to repeat when they grow up, too.

I guess what I hear the most from parents is some perhaps benign sounding version of “I know some people are gay/lesbian/transgender/whatever, but I don’t want to see it, and I don’t want my kids to think that it’s okay.” Well, that’s too bad, because while I don’t think that any of my homosexual friends and acquaintances are going door to door and spreading the good news of Sir Elton John, I can tell you that this straight woman does have a gay agenda, and my covert crusade is executed by sabotaging story times.

For every subtle homophobic comment that’s dropped in my presence, A Tale of Two Daddies is read during one of my school visits. For every time I hear that you don’t want your kids to “have to hear about Caitlyn Jenner,” I will sneak Red: A Crayon’s Story into the list of books I suggest you take home to read with your child. You know what else? Every time you leave your child or preteen alone at the library for hours of free daycare, it might interest you to know that I regularly educate them on tolerance of others, self-acceptance, the complexities of identification, and the significance of power and consent.

To combat homophobia at your library and in your home, please communicate openly and clearly with your children and others, and stock your shelves with the following books:

Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall
A Tale of Two Mommies, by Vanita Oelschlager
A Tale of Two Daddies, by Vanita Oelschlager
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, by Christine Baldacchino
I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel
And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson
10,000 Dresses, by Marcus Ewert
The Family Book, by Todd Parr
The Sissy Duckling, by Harvey Fierstein
Heather Has Two Mommies (the updated version by Lesléa Newman)
Mommy, Mama, and Me, by Lesléa Newman
Daddy, Papa, and Me, by Lesléa Newman
King and King, by Linda de Haan
This Day in June, by Gayle E. Pitman
Jacob’s New Dress, by Sarah Hoffman
The Different Dragon, by Jennifer Bryan

tl;dr

I’ve known that I wanted to be a librarian since I was a teenager and I got high marks and honors all throughout high school, college, and graduate school, so it may come as a surprise to some of y’all that I was a late bloomer in terms of learning to read (also in terms of a LOT of other things) and (brace yourselves) I am now an extraordinarily bad reader and rarely get through more than maybe one or two traditional, paper books a year.

I know! I know. Take a minute to process that and let me know when you’re ready.

Just kidding, I don’t care. And neither should you! Well. You sort of should. You should care because although this posts starts out sounding like it’s about me, it’s actually “for the children.”

Okay so if you actually want to know, my personal history with literacy is that I adamantly refused to learn how to read until I was about 7 years old. I was home schooled most of my life, and of course my mom would encourage me to learn but thankfully she also let me dictate my own pace for things as long as I had a good argument for why. She explained that reading would let me learn about the thoughts in other peoples’ heads, and I told her that I already had enough thoughts in my own head and I would learn to read when I started running out and needed new ones. Then one day I picked up Green Eggs and Ham, and then really quickly moved into juvenile chapter books about horses and babysitters, and then catapulted into Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Garden, and then regressed slightly back into Cut and The Perks of Being a Wallflower in early high school, and I was voracious at every step of the way. I remember reading almost every book on the Summer Reading list before I began my sophomore year of high school, which coincidentally was my first year in public school, and being really surprised that my classmates had reluctantly dragged themselves through the requisite two or three.

But that’s also when everything came to a pretty screeching halt. Let’s be honest – reading for a purpose, for a deadline, for a grade, is awful. A steady diet of increasingly dense texts (or light texts made dense by endless discussion questions) is what I consumed for the next decade, with few exceptions, and my ability to read for pleasure more or less atrophied in that time. Obviously Harry Potter books were always a thrill, I savored every moment of the Poisonwood Bible one summer during college, and I really liked Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan when I picked it up on a whim right after graduation, but those are some of the last times I can remember genuinely attaching to a paper book.

(Amusing anecdote: I didn’t purchase any books during library school. I also can’t recall really reading anything new at all during that time. Sorry I’m not sorry, professors, but I faked most of those book reviews. Whoops…!)

But wait, does this mean that Miss Emily the Children’s Librarian is a big fat phony and doesn’t care about literacy’s history, present, and future? How can she make sound book recommendations if she hasn’t read everything on the New York Times Best Seller list?? All she “read” last year was Elizabeth Smart’s memoir and the Tales of Beedle the Bard!? ARE THERE NO PRISONS? ARE THERE NO WORKHOUSES!?

scrooge

Don’t be such a Scrooge, man.

No, it doesn’t mean that, at all. What it actually means is that the act of reading words on pages bound together in a novel generally makes me fall asleep within about 5 minutes – not sure why, but it is what it is. However, I absolutely love audiobooks, I devour brief articles online and in print, and I frequently dig works of non-fiction. I also happen to genuinely enjoy children’s books as a medium because I’m really visual and I continue to be astounded by the beautifully rich illustrations and deep, duplicitous storylines that go into so many of them, especially now-a-days. Seriously, have you seen some of the picture books that came out this year? Outstanding.

What it actually means is that I tend to be hyper-judgey and think that most book summaries and first sentences or paragraphs sound incredibly lame so I dismiss them quickly, and this puts me at least a small step closer to the majority of the kids and teens that I interact with on the regular and I think this makes me easier to relate to. What it actually means is that I don’t mind if your kid hates reading cause I totally get that, but there are still a lot of ways to get around that and be successful and have fun and I can help them discover some of them. What it actually means is that I have no real stake in whether you prefer e-readers or if you have many leather-bound books and your apartment smells of rich mahogany, because I’m just glad you’ve found something that works for you and helps you learn and/or relax.

leather-bound books

Literally, this is what everyone who gets all blustery about the whole e-readers vs. paper books debate sounds like to me. Please stop.

What it means is that I actually finished about a dozen books last year, not including all the children’s books I read for library programs, and then also probably a couple of hundred professional articles about librarianship and even more about, for lack of a better word, adulting. I could recommend many of them because I thought they were awesome but guess what – what I like to read is basically irrelevant because what resonates with me may not with you at all. For the same reason it’s usually stupid to ask the bartender what drink they like best, it’s also kind of stupid to think that what I’ve read recently will affect you in the same way. Some texts are universal, but most are not, and we are incredibly lucky to live in a time and (not to go all ‘Murica on you) in a country where we have easy access to virtually everything we could ever want or need to read, so just communicate those desires and necessities to me and let me work my magic! #librariesforlife

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Malala ❤

And no, I don’t find it ironic that someone who has difficulty reading in the traditional sense became a librarian because if you had any idea how little of my day at the library involves reading and how much of it is devoted to programming and restarting computers and wiping up boogers and being an unofficial guidance counselor, you wouldn’t find it ironic either.

You might think that being a librarian but not loving books is like owning a record store and hating music, but that’s just not the case. If we’re gonna go with this analogy, then the library is a music store that distributes records, CDs, mp3s, and even cassettes (for better or worse) and my preferred method is mp3s – but we also serve coffee, host local bands, teach kids to play music, and a plethora of other things. I LOVE music, and LOVE literacy – I just don’t have a compatible listening device for 78s or a brain for reading physical books most of the time.

libraries are more than just books

Holy libraries, Batman!

So here’s where it becomes a piece that’s for the children, and it’s the real reason why I bothered even writing a post about this topic because as annoying as it can be to have people endlessly give me grief if/when they find out that I rarely read, it’s more unsettling to me when I see people give kids grief about the same thing.

One of my main take-aways from my Literacy Methods course in college, and one of the main take-aways that I hope you get from this post, is that it really doesn’t matter what or how a kid is reading, so long as they’re reading something, somehow. The brain stimulation alone is essential, and the content and lessons will always find a way to be relevant to their lives. Yeah, stepping outside of your comfort zone is cool, but so is becoming really well-versed in a particular topic and medium.

tl;dr – I’m a highly educated and pretty successful children’s librarian, and in my opinion, if your child is struggling to learn how to read or is just not into it right now, it’s probably no big deal. I was and am a reluctant reader in the traditional sense to this day, but I turned out fine. Be patient, read to them and with them at every opportunity, give them real reasons why reading is important, give them a variety of texts, topics, and mediums to choose from, and then back the fuck off them. Your judgement and insistence probably isn’t going to help – it’s actually more likely to do damage to their understanding of what reading can and should be all about. Like children, literacy comes in all forms and you can’t totally predict when it’ll start to bloom, so let your kid embrace what works best for them.

GSLIS WTF GTFO: Courses They Should Actually Offer in Library School

Unbelievably, I’m fast approaching my one-year anniversary of working at Mt. Pleasant Library and I love it here, but every single day I am reminded multiple times a day of just how little graduate school prepared me for literally anything I do as a librarian. And considering the fact that pursuing my MLS (is it even an MLS? Is it an MLIS? I don’t even know) took two years and a boatload of money, that’s a damn shame.

Fortunately, there are a bunch of amazing blogs and boards out there to help supplement and subdue the shock of entering a profession very in debt and very unprepared (like Achieve Every Goal Always Forever in Three Easy Steps and Letters to a Young Librarian).

However, I am not yet at the point where I can provide such wisdom. Someday, maybe! But for now, I can mostly just provide sarcasm. So if I were to become the new head of URI’s GSLIS program, these are the courses I would want to be offered.

Actual Reading Interests of Children I: Legos, Princesses, Spongebob, and Pokemon

Actual Reading Interests of Children II: Just Buy Every Single Diary of a Wimpy Kid Read-Alike You Can Find

Actual Reading Interests of Young Adults I: Angst, Angst, Distopian Angst.

Actual Reading Interests of Young Adults II: No, the Fault In Our Stars is Checked Out and There Is a 2 Month Waiting List for It and Everything Else Written By John Green, But Here Are Some Similar Titles You Might Enjoy Instead.

Reader’s Advisory Skills 101:

Excerpts from course *
Scenario 1
Librarian: “Do you like to read?”
Kid: “Yes.”
Librarian: “Great! What’s something you’ve read recently that you enjoyed, and what did you like about it?”

Scenario 2
Librarian: “Do you like to read?”
Kid: “No.”
Librarian: “No worries! What’s something you like to do for fun?”

*
This is actually the whole course.

Reader’s Advisory Skills 102, Following Up: “Did you like it? Oh, it sucked? That’s okay, I didn’t write it so I’m not offended, just tell me what you didn’t like about it and we’ll find you something less lame.”

Reader’s Advisory Skills 103, Online Resources: Goodreads, Pinterest, and Amazon are a Gift from The Universe And You Should Praise Them As Such Every Damn Day

Youth Culture 101, Linguistics: How to Tell if a Teen is Secretly Cursing You Out

Youth Culture 102, Relevant References: Know Your Viral Vines and Popular Youtube Channels

Youth Culture 103, Computer Games: How To Help Your Computer Recover if Roblox, Halo, or Minecraft Cause It to Crash

Sweatin’ to the Oldies: Making the Most out of the Stupid Summer Reading Theme a Bunch of Old People Picked Out for You and Your Kids

That’s Very Pinteresting: Inspiration and DIY Ideas for Programming, Decor, Displays, and Collection Development Because Why Reinvent the Wheel?

Budgeting 101: Swallowing Your Pride and Crushing Your Dreams In One Fell Swoop

Pushing the Envelope: When That Envelope Is Full of Pennies and That’s Your Programming Budget for the Year

Getting Blood from a Stone: Once You’ve Recovered and Are Done Bawling About Your Budget, Learn How to Ball on a Budget and Become Really Well Known at your Local Dollar Tree

Guilting People Into Generosity 101: “It’s For the Children.”

Supplies and Demanding Children: You Will Literally Always Need More Gluesticks and Construction Paper

3D Printing A Seed Library, and Other Ridiculous Concepts and Contraptions That You Will Read About In Professional Publications But Will Never Be Attainable or Applicable @ Your Library Given Your Budget and Patrons’ Needs

Professional Attire: The Best Cardigans for You and Where To Buy Them Cheaply, En Masse

Dealing with Pubescent Patrons: How to Gently But Firmly Stave Off the Advances of a Twelve Year Old Boy Trying to Convince You To Leave Your Husband Because You Know He Is Probably Just Practicing to Ask Out A Girl His Own Age And You Don’t Want to Crush His Confidence But Also Ew.

Dealing with Difficult Coworkers: Being an Asshole Isn’t In Your Job Description Either Yet You Still Do That Every Day

Dealing with Difficult Coworkers II: You Are Clearly Miserable Because You Picked The Wrong Profession and I Feel Sorry For You

Dealing with Difficult Union Representatives: Don’t.

Stacks Survivalism: How to Breathe Through Your Mouth when Dealing with Mouth Breathers Who Have No Sense of Personal Hygiene or Personal Space

Dealing With Parents Who Care Too Much: Gifted Children Are Actually a Curse

Spanish for Librarians: There Is No Subtitle for This. You Really Just Ought to Learn Spanish. Why Are They Not Teaching Spanish. I Will Never Need To Learn How To Code a MARC Record But I Need to Speak Spanish Every Day But Can’t. Just Kidding, This Turned Into a Subtitle.

In closing, you can expect me to be running the GSLIS program at URI real soon.

Increasing Literacy to Increase Diversity in Literature

Note from the future because Wordpress backdates entries to their original draft date: Sometimes I go through my saved drafts and cringe because I can’t believe I wrote such garbage, but today I discovered this post and cringed because I can’t believe I never actually published it. What the hell, me? So, I’m publishing it now, because better late than never I guess.

“Increasing Literacy to Increase Literary Diversity, by Emily Grace Le May

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to attend the sixth annual KidLib Camp at Darien Library in Connecticut; as part of this “unconference,” we engaged in several informal break out sessions, and one of my favorites focused on Diversity in Juvenile Literature. The discussion flowed from children’s picture books and presenting folktale-friendly story times to trends in juvenile and young adult fiction and what resources we relied upon to select the best culturally diverse materials for our young patrons.
At some point during the session, a question was thrown out to the group, which was “How can libraries play a part in increasing cultural diversity in literature?” Of course, there are lots of opportunities every day to increase cultural awareness at your library, starting with purposeful collection development strategies and then moving into stellar readers advisory sessions and programming.
However, my biggest take away was how vital it is to make sure that your library is a literacy hub for your community, particularly for those individuals who may be struggling with language barriers and subsequent or stand-alone illiteracy.
ESL Programs
At my library, where we serve a strongly Hispanic community, we offer a toddler-to-preschool story time and craft program all year, and we just completed our first “Ready for K!” kindergarten preparation program this summer. Both programs offer bilingual components (mostly songs and stories) and encourage parents to participate along with their children, which targets two age groups at once and provides almost seamless language learning opportunities for both English and Spanish speakers.ESL Courses
Hosting in-person ESL classes regularly is definitely something to strive for, of course. Maybe this is an obvious point, but you never know. You can and should reach out to local teachers or try to find bilingual individuals willing to volunteer their time.

Beyond that, I’m always working on my Spanish speaking skills (most recently through Mango’s Spanish for Librarians mini-course) to improve my customer service since most of my patrons speak Spanish, but for that patron who comes in and speaks primarily Armenian, don’t forget about Mango Languages’ ESL courses! There’s about a million of them to choose from – well, there’s actually 17 but growing every day. Make sure your patrons know about these (free!) courses as a singular or supplemental way to learn English, and encourage your fellow employees to learn a language that will help them better serve your patrons.

Adult Literacy
The bad news is that illiteracy is a reality for thirty-million adults in the United States, and almost half of those who have the lowest reading levels live in poverty. The good news is that you can make an amazingly positive impact in this area! If you don’t think you have the right training or resources to become a literacy instructor, I strongly encourage you to check out this amazing program put together by librarian Kristy Cooper and the free eBook that teaches you the ins and outs of how to do it yourself.

If after that you still don’t feel you can move forward with an adult literacy program at your library, at least take a few moments to research literacy centers nearby, reach out to them and direct your patrons to them as often as possible. As librarians, some of us may take our literacy for granted, but for our patrons, this simple referral could make all the difference in the world.

The Bigger Picture and Bottom Line
Ultimately, the publishing world is a profit-driven one – if a demand and a subsequent market can be proven to exist for culturally enriched literature, more books will be published for that market. Between language learning software subscriptions and an abundance of ESL and Adult Literacy programs, the library has a unique opportunity to provide amazing resources to anyone who wants to read, speak, and be heard.

Make your library the first stop on the pathway to literary enlightenment for everyone in your community, and these new readers will in turn demand adequate representation in the literary world. This is not a change that will happen overnight, but there are so many things you can start doing today to improve tomorrow.

For further reading about Adult Literacy and how libraries can help in this regard, check out Kristy Cooper’s article “Supporting Adult Literacy” in the May/June 2014 issue of Public Libraries.”