ALSC Matters! | February 2021, Vol. 19, no. 1

Officially Speaking | ALSC Voices | Bright Ideas | Competencies in ActionHear Ye! Hear Ye!

Officially Speaking

Midwinter and Beyond

As I was driving to the Oregon coast yesterday for a long weekend of rest post Midwinter, I was listening to the latest episode of one of my favorite podcasts, This American Life. “The Empty Chair” explores all the things that we have lost in the past year since the first American case of COVID-19, and I was overcome by the sheer volume of people and experiences that we can never get back—and how much will never be the same even when everyone is safely vaccinated. Reflecting on what I thought this year would be and what it has turned into had me simultaneously crying and laughing. The best laid plans and all that, but, when I sat down to write this column, I realized in spite of it all, I feel so lucky to be leading this division and to be surrounded by amazing professionals determined to forge ahead and build healthy, successful futures for all children. Thank you for your commitment to each other, your communities, and our work. 

Although our final ALA Midwinter meeting was not what many expected, I enjoyed many great sessions—how amazing to hear from Cicely Tyson, Ibram X. Kendi, Amanda Gorman, and Dr. Jill Biden all in one weekend! I was so happy to see many of you at the ALSC Happy Hour, kudos to the Membership committee for a wonderful event. I heard about so many wonderful sessions and meetings; I am grateful to ALA and ALSC staff for their hard work in converting as many meetings to virtual as possible so that we could continue to do the important work of the association. 

Committees, task forces, and working groups are hard at work. Hearing about and discussing the projects and activities that are moving the needle forward in our strategic areas of advocacy, diversity & inclusion, and learning & development was inspiring. You can read about some of the work of the ALSC Board as well as other committees by visiting the ALSC library on ALA Connect. The Board met again on February 4 for an extended meeting to finish discussing agenda items we could not get to during the Midwinter session. We are also planning a working meeting for the spring to dive back into our Strategic Plan to check progress and set new targets.  

Community Agreements

One particular initiative that I’m excited about is our roll out of the ALSC Community Agreements. In June 2019, then president Cecilia McGowan put together a small working group of board members to draft community agreements—these ground rules would outline best practices to ensure that everyone has an opportunity for expression, accountability, and growth. The ALSC Board approved the draft agreements and we piloted their use as a Board in late 2019. This year, the pilot ended and we evaluated the practice and adjusted language in a few areas. ALSC leadership is committed to creating an environment that embraces equity, diversity, and inclusion, and we see these community agreements as a step in that direction. We stand against any type of discrimination within the profession at large and amid our professional associations and meetings. As such, the ALSC Board will continue to champion these community agreements, and any ALSC meeting or forum or presentation will follow them. They provide a guide to how topics are discussed, the language used, and how our different experiences, identities, and knowledge are reflected in our thought processes, discussions, and decisions. Here are the ALSC community agreements, and they can be found at the bottom of every ALSC Board agenda: 

  • Speak for yourself. Use "I" and be aware that your perspective is not everyone's perspective or the 'normal' perspective.  
  • Embrace multiple perspectives to engage in curiosity-driven dialogue (not debate or argument). Have compassion for and honor people’s varied journeys while respecting their humanity. The goal of dialogue should not be to change anyone’s mind, but to offer and receive a perspective for consideration and curiosity. Even if your every cell feels in disagreement with someone’s perspective, right and wrong binaries rarely build connection and understanding. Do note that racism, bigotry, and all other forms of oppression are not a difference of opinion and will not be tolerated. 
  • Be aware of the privilege, oppressions, and life experiences you carry and how they might impact your discussion process. 
  • Listen to and use people’s correct pronouns. Let people know how you would like to be addressed during introductions, and include pronouns if you would like. If pronouns are not shared or if you are unsure of someone’s pronouns, refer to the person by their name.
  • Share the air. Be aware of how much you are talking versus listening. Challenge yourself to invite others into the conversation, and “step up” if you are prone to not participating. We all have something to bring to the discussion. 
  • Interrupt attempts to derail. Oftentimes, discomfort is so great that we immediately attempt to change the conversation to something that feels more comfortable. Before you know it, the conversation is about the weather, when we were talking about equity. Work to stay engaged when you feel uncomfortable and make mistakes (this is when learning happens). 
  • Acknowledge intent while addressing impact. Work to not personalize the responses of others while taking care to be mindful of the impact of our words and our actions on others. Understand that intent does not equal impact and acknowledge the impact of something that was said or done during the conversation (or break) by criticizing ideas and not individuals. 
  • Interrupt bias and take feedback. It is everybody's responsibility to hold one another accountable. If you observe something oppressive being said or done (by yourself or others), mark it. For example, "ouch" and "oops" are words that can be spoken to mark moments when you recognize something oppressive is said ("ouch") or you notice a mistake that you've made ("oops").  If you experience feedback from an "oops" or "ouch" it is your responsibility to keep learning. You can reach out to the Chair, Co-Chair, or discussion leader(s) to address it (after the meeting, via email, in person, etc.). "Ouch" and "oops," when used, remind everyone that deeper dialog, reflection, and learning will happen later.
  • Remember that we all have opportunities to grow. Feedback is a gift of experience and expertise, and it acknowledges that learning is complex and never-ending. Receive it and consider systems of dominance and power at play in community conversations and interactions. Be aware of the lenses you do and do not have as a result of your identities and experiences. 

Youth Media Awards

Congratulations to all award-winning authors and illustrators of the 2021 youth media awards. Although I would have loved to be on the stage, absorbing your energy as I announced the winning and honor titles, I appreciate your comments following the ceremony. Remember you can still view the recording of the presentation!  None of this would be possible if not for the committee chairs and members-- I can’t even imagine deliberating in this new environment. Yet you all all accomplished it with grace and managed to make history again with your selections; I thank you for your hard work. 

In addition to the award committees, there are even more avenues within our ALSC committees to network and become involved in activities that help library staff engage communities.  If you haven’t completed a volunteer form, I strongly encourage you to do so. Vice President Lucia Gonzalez  will begin making her first committee appointments very soon. Visit our volunteer webpage for information on the appointment process and timeline, as well as a link to the volunteer form. Looking forward to engaging with you all!—Kirby McCurtis, ALSC President 

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ALSC Councilor's Midwinter Report

Hello, ALSC Peeps!  The ALA 2021 Midwinter Meeting has come and gone. It was our last MW as we know it, and it was virtual. Sadly, there were no fantastic new restaurants to feast in with my favorite library friends and colleagues, or wonderful sites to see or libraries to visit, but on the flip side, I spent most of the meeting time in jammies and sweats as I cozily sipped my tea and nibbled home baked goodies. Here is hoping we can raise a glass and celebrate the NEW incarnation of our Midwinter gathering—LibLearnX—next year in San Antonio! As for now, I am happy to share with you some of the highlights of Council news for ALA MW 2021.

News from Council Executive Committee

ALA’s Focus: Renewal; Stronger Association; Stronger Membership

57,000 members is considered too small to do all that we want to accomplish as an association. The Association has two primary goals: to increase membership and increase revenue. 

ALA is facing changes at every level. 

Three new revenue streams are being added: Continuing Education, Contributed Revenue, and Data, Research, & Design to the three existing streams of Membership, Conference Services, and Publishing.

Implementation Action Items

Implementation Action (Item 1): The ALA Council APPROVED, changes to ALA Bylaws Article VI, Section 3, Section 4b. Section 4c.; Article VIII, Section 2a, Section 2b. Response: Council approved language, which will be placed on the 2021 ALA Election Ballot for Membership vote. (See CD 25.1—2020 ALA Virtual Council Meeting) 

Implementation Action (Item 2): The ALA Council APPROVED, changes to the requirements for a quorum in the Bylaws to make them consistent with the Constitution. Article II, Section 5c. Response: Council approved language, which will be placed on the 2021 ALA Election Ballot for Membership vote. (See CD 25.1—2020 ALA Virtual Council Meeting) 

Implementation Action: The ALA Council ADOPTED AS AMENDED, the ALA Forward Together Steering Committee Timeline 1. ALA Council, as the policy-making body of the Association, takes responsibility for the decision making on the Forward Together process; 2. ALA Council requests that the ALA Executive Board present the SCOE Report with specific action items and a draft timeline to ALA Council along with consolidated feedback from the various conversation sessions, hearings, and email commentary prior to a fall meeting; 3. That the President call at least one meeting of ALA Council (fall meeting) prior to the Midwinter Meeting devoted exclusively to discussion of changes to the structure of ALA governance and the detailed plans for a Constitutional Convention; 4. ALA Council requests the Forward Together Working Group and the Forward Together Fiscal Analysis Working Group provide regular, ongoing formal updates to ALA Council for discussion prior to ALA Annual Conference in Chicago in 2021; 5. ALA Council requests that the timeline include scheduling a Constitutional Convention before and during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago in 2021. (See CD 42—2020 ALA Virtual Council Meeting)

Executive Board Election

The following individuals were elected to the ALA Executive Board:

Christina Rodriguez, OCLC
Ana Elise de Campos Salles, San Francisco Public Library
Sam Helmick, Iowa City Public Library 

Forward Together Working Group Report (CD 35)- 

A Forward Together Resolution Working Group was formed. This group will write the resolutions that Council will vote on to put the Forward Together plan in place. Things that we do know at this time: There will be a small reduction in Round Tables. There will be some restructuring of Council, including less at-large councilors, more meetings closer together, and more engagement and working groups for Councilors. What we do not know yet is exactly how it all will look. Resolutions come to council by annual. 
Resolutions Adopted by the ALA Council

In addition, eight Memorial resolutions and five Tribute resolutions were passed.

A revised RESOLUTION on replacing the Library of Congress Subject Heading "Illegal aliens" with "Undocumented immigrants" was removed, to be evaluated at the 2021 Annual Conference.—Respectively submitted, Kimberly A. Patton, ALSC Division Councilor

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Honoring Our Silver Anniversary Members

Congratulations to the following individuals who reached 25 years of ALSC membership in 2020. We appreciate your commitment to the association and profession. A silver anniversary member is recognized in the ALSC Voices section of each issue of ALSC Matters

Stephanie D. Bange
Inga Boudreau
Shawn Brommer
Mary Clark
Betsy Crone
Sharon R. Dykstra
Andrea Erickson
Kathryn J. Ferrell-Bargeloh
Nancy A. Hawkins
Caitlin D. Jacobson
Kathy Jarombek
Leigh Kennelly
Joyce R. Laiosa
Karen R. Lemmons
Daryl L. Mark
Ruth Anne Mielke
Wendie C. Old
Elizabeth Wright Redford
Amy B. Roberts
Eden Stewart-Eisman
Gwen G. Thomas
April Halprin Wayland
Lucinda S. Whitehurst

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Thank You to Our Friends!

Many thanks to the following generous contributors to Friends of ALSC. To learn how you can support ALSC, visit our website.

Gold Circle - $500 - $999

Anne Britton
Maria Gentle
Ed Spicer

Silver Circle - $250 to $499

Linda Perkins
Judy Zuckerman

Notables Circle - $100 to $249

Mike Aquilina
Therese G Bigelow
Cindy Boatfield
Amber Creger
Bruce Farrar
Adrienne Gillespie
Debra Gold
Nina Lindsay
Charlanne Maynard
Matthew McLain
Linda M. Pavonetti
Cheryl Shrake
Meredith Steiner
Beatriz Wallace
Caroline Ward
Kay Weisman

Friends Circle - up to $99

Marilyn Ackerman
Shayan Amiri
Elizabeth Basile
Dianna Burt
Edith Ching
Lisa Dennis
Jennifer Duffy
Liv Hanson
Sharon Haupt
Abby Johnson
Amy Koester
Angela Leeper
Elizabeth McChesney
Kathie Meizner
Alessandra Petrino
Carol Phillips
Kristin Piepho
Randy Placek
April Roy
Michael Santangelo
Laura Schulte-Cooper
Laura Scott
Elizabeth Serrano
Lisa Soper
Sylvia Vardell
Ashley Waring
Gretchen Wronka
Nancy Zimmerman

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ALSC Voices

ALSC Profile

Celebrating colleagues with 25 years or more years of ALSC membership

Kathy Jarombek
Director of Youth Services
Perrot Memorial Library
Old Greenwich, Connecticut

ALSC Membership: 26 years

Where did you attend library school?

Simmons College in Boston

What was your very first library position?

My very first library position was at Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Massachusetts in 1980. I was the Assistant Children’s Librarian and I did a little bit of everything – story time, arts and crafts, circulation, reference and readers’ advisory, cataloging.  I had to hand write my cataloging for each book on an index card, which then went to a typist who would type out the cards for the catalog. Then I would file the cards in the catalog drawers. Circulation was all done by hand as well – each book had a card which staff would file alphabetically by date and title. It was a different world!

What do you love most about your current job?

I love doing story time and running my two book groups. All via Zoom right now, sadly – although the book groups have thrived since the kids can hop on the Zoom from anywhere. But I’m missing the in-person connections with our kids and their grown-ups as all our programs are virtual and we are still curbside pickup only. One upside to the pandemic is that we are doing a lot more readers’ advisory since people can’t come into the building. I think many more library users are realizing what a great resource we are!

What is your favorite book of all time?

May I list two favorite books? As a child, I loved Anne of Green Gables. Maybe because we both had red hair? A few years ago, we took a family trip to the Maritime Provinces and my daughter (also a fan) and I made a pilgrimage to Cavendish on Prince Edward Island, where we immersed ourselves in all things “Anne”. It was magical! I first read The Once and Future King by T. H. White as a young adult. I always remember the line at the end of the book, as Arthur is dying, that “the fate of this man or that man was less than a drop, although it was a sparkling one, in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea.” I think it may be time for a re-read!

Do you prefer being the driver or the passenger?

I prefer being the passenger, but I like telling the driver exactly what to do. Fortunately, my husband is a good sport!

What’s your favorite myth, legend, or fairy tale?

Once a Good Man is a Jewish folktale that I first encountered in The Hundredth Dove and Other Tales by Jane Yolen (Crowell, 1977). A man asks an angel to take him to visit both heaven and hell, so that he can see the difference. At first glance, they seem the same. In both places, there are tables piled high with food and the people are bound to their chairs with bands of steel and have sleeves of steel from their wrists to their shoulders. The people in hell are in agony, though, because, although they can reach the food, they can’t bend their arms to put it in their mouths. But the people in heaven are happy because, instead of trying to feed themselves, they reach over and feed the person next to them. There is so much wisdom in folktales.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

Well, I do love the English countryside - it’s so beautiful. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but I live vicariously through PBS and Netflix. Right now, I’m loving All Creatures Great and Small on Masterpiece. But my favorite place is my home at Christmastime – because of the delicious aromas from the kitchen, the scent of fir and the lights on the tree, and because the people I love best in the world are there.

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Bright Ideas

Celebrating Hometown Heroes during Library Card Sign-Up Month

How do you create a relevant library card sign-up month program in the middle of a pandemic? Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, Illinois, put a new twist on its annual Library Card Sign-Up initiative in September 2020 by honoring Hometown Heroes who worked on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 17 local Hometown Heroes chosen represented the brave and hardworking frontline workers from many different professions such as nurses, firefighters, and city workers whose work is valuable to the community. We spotlighted them throughout September via the library’s social media channels as well as featured in windows of local businesses as part of a scavenger hunt. 

All our chosen frontline workers were enthusiastic about being asked to participate. Outreach Nurse Coordinator Elisa Lara responded:

“I am so humbled and honored to be thought of in our wonderful library community. This is so exciting. I love to help and this is so motivating to try to inspire others to get involved in our community. I work as a nurse but also work in the outreach community. At this time I am working on our COVID team . . .” 

We asked each frontline worker to send us a photo of themselves. To make the images more eye-catching and fun for families, we altered their uniforms, and added superhero capes and face shields, along with other superhero elements.

The images of the Hometown Heroes along with their “Secret Superhero Words” were posted on the front windows or entrances of businesses. This allowed for the scavenger hunt to be a safe and socially distanced activity for families as there was no need to enter businesses to participate. Participants had to visit each location to find the words. Entry forms and maps were available at the library or from the library web site.

Each Secret Superhero Word directed customers to one of library's virtual services such as “eAudiobooks” or “streaming.” This gave us the opportunity to highlight the virtual services and materials, which, due to lower building capacities and a general fear of going places, proved themselves more crucial than ever before to our community members. 

The 28 businesses that enthusiastically partnered with the library were mostly restaurants in the downtown area. Helping promote these businesses via a scavenger hunt is always a bonus for the community, but this year proved to be even more important, as many small businesses felt the effects of COVID-19. Wendy Wessel, owner of Herb’s Bakery in Elgin, welcomed the chance to display a Hometown Hero in the bakery’s window. 

“We are happy to partner with the Gail Borden Public Library to increase library cardholders and support literacy in our library district. We are proud to display a Hometown Hero on our door and we join the library in recognizing the importance of essential workers in our community."

Encouraging local residents to use their library card, or sign up to get one, was another incentive of the scavenger hunt. The names of those who submitted a completed entry form were entered into a grand prize drawing for a chance to win a tablet—the winner was required to have a Gail Borden Library card. Also, some of the participating businesses offered a discount, such as 20 percent off the purchase of an entrée, to those who showed a library card.   

Grand prize-winner Ira Gerard and her son did the scavenger hunt together and, after participating in the library's summer reading program scavenger hunt every year, were excited to finally win! "It was such a great activity to do—particularly one outdoors—during the pandemic," Ira said. She also encouraged the neighborhood families to participate and even got some of them signed up for library cards! 

But this year’s campaign was about more than library cards. It was about relationships and reverence for people who heroically served our community.—Liz Clemmons, Director of Communications and Visual Arts, and Natalie Kiburg, Social Media Specialist, Gail Borden Public Library District

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Adventures with Grover -- Virtual Library Cards

Gail Borden Public Library’s (GBPL) Hometown Heroes celebration wasn’t their only bright idea involving library card sign-up! "Adventures with Grover: Getting a Library Card" is a fun, effective video short that promotes the library’s virtual library card. At a time when many are reluctant to venture out and spend time in public spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GBPL’s virtual library card can be requested online at the library website, and a bar code or library card number is emailed right to the user. Customers are then ready to borrow ebooks, audio books, movies, streaming music, and more online. The virtual card is good for 90 days.

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Inspiring Kids through Virtual Field Trips

In preparation for several upcoming significant societal events, the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) has curated a list of live, interactive virtual field trips that educators and librarians can access to enrich discussions surrounding Black History Month, President's Day, Women's History Month, and Earth Day. Several of the offerings are free to the public.

Virtual expeditions have gained in popularity in recent years and even more so since the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic. What sets CILC and its content collaborators' programs apart from traditional web-based experiences (prerecorded) is the live interactive aspect. Museum curators, historians, authors, researchers, and other expert instructors engage directly with participants during the virtual field trip to create a richer learning environment. The selections below are free of charge.

Black History Month - February

African American Artists, Smithsonian American Art Museums
African American Trailblazers, Pro Football Hall of Fame

President's Day - February

America's Presidents, Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery
George Washington and the French and Indian War, Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Women's History Month - March

Activism in the Suffrage Movement, VA Museum of History
Women Who Paved the Way: Exploring Women Homesteaders and Suffragists, Homestead National Monument

Earth Day - April

Sustainable Solutions: Bioenergy and Bioproducts, Creative Discovery Museum

To browse CILC's complete library of programs or register for a free membership, visit their website.

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Competencies in Action

First created in 1999 by the ALSC Education committee, the ALSC Competencies highlight the critical skills and aptitudes required for providing exemplary library service to children. The Core Competencies are recommended to all children’s librarians and other library staff whose primary duties include delivering library service to and advocating library service for children birth to age 14.
In each quarterly installment of
Competencies in Action, a library practitioner delves into one particular area of the Core Competencies, providing valuable, real-world context and examples. The reflection below is from Elisa Gall, a librarian from Illinois and a member of the ALSC Board of Directors.

Commitment to Client Group

by Elisa Gall, Illinois librarian and member of the ALSC Board of Directors

I find it fitting that “Commitment to Client Group” is listed as ALSC Competency #1, because a throughline to this competency—and to all children’s library work—is that children come first. The benchmarks go deeper into the importance of understanding implicit bias and systems of oppression so that children’s library workers can actively remove barriers to access and disrupt oppression of all forms. Please read the benchmarks here.
Achieving these benchmarks today does not guarantee success tomorrow. This work occurs in everyday behaviors and policies, both on individual and systemic levels. These benchmarks are goals for which one should continuously strive.
So what does anti-oppression work look like in children’s library services? This varies depending on the person and context, but one constant is that this work never stops. I am reminded of the moving walkway metaphor introduced by Beverly Daniel Tatum in Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?:

I sometimes visualize the ongoing cycle of racism as a moving walkway at the airport. Active racist behavior is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt. The person engaged in active racist behavior has identified with the ideology of our White supremacist system and is moving with it. Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway. No overt effort is being made, but the conveyor belt moves the bystanders along to the same destination as those who are actively walking. But unless they are walking actively in the opposite direction at a speed faster than the conveyor belt – unless they are actively anti-racist – they will find themselves carried along with the others.

In considering anti-oppression work personally and zooming in on the system of racism specifically as a white librarian myself, it is imperative to acknowledge the whiteness of the profession and the white supremacy and systemic oppression of all forms embedded into what is considered “normal” right now in our communities, institutions, and personal lives. In short: everywhere. Unfortunately, oppression is the moving walkway of our world, including most current library services. This competency communicates that the status quo is not okay and that it is the job of library workers committed to children to work for change.

A few tools that I have found helpful related to this competency include:

I also want to spotlight The Inclusive Services Assessment and Guide from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. It helps increase awareness and it affords library workers opportunities to set goals related to hiring practices, programming, collections, policies, and so much more. This guide helps me remember that learning and reflecting on oppression are valuable, and, at the same time, those reflections will not change anything unless I translate them into action.

This work is messy and it is hard, but it must be done. This is “Commitment to Client Group” in practice.

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Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Member News 

Adilene Estrada-Huerta, Sacramento (CA) Public Library, is one of ten winners of the 2021 I Love My Librarian Award. Adilene has provided outstanding outreach services to Spanish-speaking families, including bilingual storytimes, a traveling literacy program, and a partnership with the Mexican Consulate. She will receive $5,000, plus a $750 gift to her library, both funded by award sponsor Carnegie Corporation of New York. Congratulations, Adilene!

Lisa Kropp, director, Lindenhurst (NY) Memorial Library, received an Arthur Cromarty Tabletop Award from the Kiwanis Club of Lindenhurst  NY, Inc., for her work in building community partnerships. In addition, the library received an ALA Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change grant for $500, which will allow them to continue their sustainability program offerings for all ages. Kudos, Lisa!

Ellen Fader, ALSC 2005-2006 president, has provided a generous donation to the Spectrum Scholarship for an eighth consecutive year. Her contribution will support students through the 2021-22 school term. Scholarship recipients will be named in June. Many thanks to Ellen for her generous donation and continued support of and commitment to increasing diversity in the profession.

Faith Hvisdas, Oaklyn Public School and Collingswood Elementary School, New Jersey, and a district colleague applied for and received mini grants from the Foundation for Impact on Literacy and Learning (FILL) to support the school libraries and literacy initiatives. Each school was awarded a $500 grant for the purchase of e-books and healing library materials. Way to go, Faith!

Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, pediatrician and ALSC member, is the host of a podcast called Reach Out and Read. In an episode released in December, "Jason Reynolds Is Crazy about Stories,"  Navsaria and Reynolds--novelist, poet, Newbery Award Honoree, and the Library of Congress's National Ambassador for Young People's Literature--discussed the power of imagination, literature, and storytelling to allow America's youth to grow, strive, and reverse the ills of racism and beyond.

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DSA Recipient to be Announced at Upcoming Community Forum

ALSC hosts regular online discussions via Zoom for members called Community Forums. The next forum will be held on Thursday, February 25 at 12 p.m. CST. The topic is Our Work Matters: Advocating for Children's Services, and the 2021 Distinguished Service Award recipient also will be announced at the session. For more information, visit the Community Forums webpage

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Connect with Fellow Children's Librarians

You are invited to join the School-Age Programs and Services committee for an upcoming chat on connecting and maintaining professional and patron relationships. Scheduled for Thursday, February 18 at 6 p.m. CST, this We Are ALSC Chat is open to both ALSC members and non-members. To learn more about these informal chats, visit the We Are ALSC Chat webpage.

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ALSC Seeking 2022 Ballot Recommendations

Members of the 2022 ALSC Nominating and Leadership Development committee are seeking recommendations of promising candidates to appear on the spring 2022 ballot. ALSC is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion in our organization and in our work as we move toward a division and a profession that is representative and supportive of the children we serve. We are looking for members committed to our core values—Collaboration, Excellence, Inclusiveness, Innovation, Integrity and Respect, Leadership, and Responsiveness—to serve our association.

Positions include:

Governance: 3-year terms that begin at the conclusion of the 2022 Annual Conference and continue through the end of the 2025 Annual Conference.

  • ALSC Vice-President/President-Elect
  • Fiscal Officer (1 position)
  • ALSC Board Director (1 position)
  • New-to-ALSC Board Director (1 position)

Award Committees: 2-year terms that begin at the conclusion of the 2022 Annual Conference and continue through the end of the 2024 Annual Conference.

  • 2024 Caldecott Award Committee Member
  • 2024 Newbery Award Committee Member
  • 2024 Sibert Award Committee Member
  • 2024 Children’s Literature Legacy Committee Member

The deadline for member nominations for the 2022 slate is Wednesday, March 31, 2021. To submit recommendations, complete the online nominee suggestion form. While the nomination form gives an idea of the skills, expertise, and background required, those looking toward leadership roles are encouraged to attend board meetings and review board documents to further acquaint themselves with our processes and practices. Board meeting information can be found on the ALSC website. Self nominations are highly encouraged.

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Children’s Librarians, ALSC Featured by USA Today

ALSC's Look to Libraries campaign, which advocates the work of children's library professionals, was highlighted in a USA Today magazine insert entitled “Future of Education,” published online at In her article, "Parents, Caregivers Look to Nation’s Libraries to Cope with COVID-19," ALSC President Kirby McCurtis affirms that libraries can help families to cope and eventually to recover. "Parents need an ally to support their kids, and children’s library professionals are here to help. They provide a pipeline to materials, programs, and services that support families in their communities," McCurtis wrote. Through USA Today, targeted distribution, and online/social media outlets, the publication, both in print and online, could reach an estimated 20 million readers.

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Suggest a Title for 2022 Book/Media Awards

ALSC personal members are welcome to suggest titles for the 2022 book & media awards and Notable Children's Books list. An online submission form for each award is now available. This form can be used for all awards, but please submit a separate entry for each title. The deadline for submissions is October 15, 2021, with the exception of the Children's Literature Legacy Award. Please submit Legacy Award suggestions by May 31, 2021. For more information about each award, visit the ALSC website and click on “Awards, Grants & Scholarships.”

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ALSC Annual Report

The 2019–20 ALSC year was a busy one. Accomplishments include an updated committee structure and a revised and approved 2020–2023 Strategic Plan, among other activities. The 2019-20 annual report highlights the events, awards, resources, and advancements that made up the challenging and unparalleled year that was 2020. The report also is a testament to the commitment, hard work, and reach of ALSC members and leadership, showcasing the resources and support their work brings to the profession and, ultimately, to communities and families. 

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Jaffarian Award Applications Open

ALA invites school librarians to apply for the Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award, a $5,000 award recognizing outstanding humanities programming for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Nominations will be accepted until May 5, 2021. In light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on programming, submissions of virtual programs are highly encouraged. School libraries, public or private, that serve K-8 students are eligible. Learn more about the award online.

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Baker Lecture to Feature Park Dahlen

The Augusta Baker Diversity Lecture Series with Sarah Park Dahlen will take place on Thursday, February 18, from 3-4 p.m. CST. Children’s literature depicting the Asian diaspora has grown and diversified considerably over the past few decades. In this free lecture, Park Dahlen argues that Asian American youth literature may be approaching a “golden age,” based on popularity and critical acclaim, but despite significant gains, this literature has a long way to go. By examining children’s literature addressing two specific topics—Asian bodies and Asian food—Park Dahlen demonstrates how the literature still suffers from persistent distortions and erasure, and suggests interventions that can be made to diversify and complicate depictions of the Asian diaspora in an increasingly transnational world. For more information and to register, visit the lecture's Eventbrite page.

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Visit WWU's Children’s Literature Conference

For 18 years Western Washington University (WWU) has hosted a Children’s Literature Conference (CLC) on the last Saturday of February featuring authors and illustrators sharing their work. For 2021, WWU invited all past presenters to submit a piece of art or writing on one of two themes—Art as Protest or Art in the Time of COVID—to a virtual exhibit, which is running for the month of February. Among the participating creators are Candace Fleming, E.B. Lewis, Pat Mora, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and Janet Wong. On Saturday, February 27, WWU will host two Zoom sessions where exhibit visitors can convene for a discussion of the works. Many of the exhibitors also will take part in the conversation. Interested in joining the discourse? Registration is free. For more information, visit the WWU CLC site.

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Urge Senators to Build America’s Libraries!

Introduced on January 28, the Build America’s Libraries Act (S. 127) would provide $5 billion in funding to repair, modernize, and construct library facilities in underserved and marginalized communities. Federal funding for library buildings has not been provided in more than 20 years. Most library buildings are decades old, including nearly 800 of the original Carnegie libraries which are still in use today. They face many modern challenges, such as adapting ventilation for the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing for natural disasters and extreme weather, and meeting current connectivity and accessibility standards to ensure service to all members of the community. Ask your Senators to co-sponsor the Build America’s Libraries Act today. ALA's Action Center makes it easy at

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2021 Floyd’s Picks Announced

The State Library of Ohio and the Choose to Read Ohio (CTRO) Advisory Council recently announced that Hello by Aiko Ikegami (Creston Books, 2019) is the sixth annual Floyd’s Pick Book Award winner. The award, named in memory of children’s literature expert, advocate, and ALSC member Floyd Dickman, is given annually to a book written by an Ohio author or illustrated by an Ohio illustrator that is representative of high-quality literature created for children.

The CTRO Advisory Council also selected three Floyd’s Pick Honor Books for 2021: The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil, illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan (Tilbury House Publishers, 2020); Go, Girls, Go! by Frances Gilbert, illustrated by Alison Black (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, 2019); and The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora (Schwartz & Wade/Penguin Random House, 2020). Learn more at the CTRO website.

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CSMCL Chooses Best Multicultural Books of 2020

Each year a committee of the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature (CSMCL) identifies the best in multicultural books for preschool through middle school. The 2020 best books list includes 59 diverse titles curated by Dr. Claudette Shackelford McLinn, Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada, Lettycia Terrones, Dr. Sujin Huggins, and Dr. Naomi Caldwell. Find the complete list at the center's website.

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Endangered Species Day Is May 21

Community and school libraries are encouraged to participate in the 16th annual Endangered Species Day on Friday, May 21, 2021. Every year, Endangered Species Day events are held at school and public libraries, zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens, parks, and other locations throughout the country.

While participation may look different this year due to COVID-19, a host of information and free resources are still available for those who wish to take part in some manner. Check out the Endangered Species Day toolkit for planning and promotional information, event resources including an activity book, downloadable posters and more, and handout materials.

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