Friday, July 27, 2018

LEGO Builds @ Your Library


I love LEGO and the patrons at my Library do too. Our Library has offered programs for kids and teens to stop by the Library and build with our collection of LEGO bricks. They are popular, fun, and easy to run. But in 2015 our Library decided to take our LEGO programs a step further and it started with this book:

I showed it to my director, who is also a LEGO fan, as soon as our copy arrived. She said, "We should do that as a program."

Since then our Library has hosted more than a dozen LEGO Build programs where patrons can take home the completed project. I haven't heard of another Library that does it. (But if you do I'd love to talk to you!)

I'm here to share my experiences and give you advice on how you can host similar programs at your Library.


STEP ONE: Pick a Project





STEP TWO: Price Out the Bricks

  • I always price out my bricks through the LEGO website first. I consider this my "max" cost for each project. There are other websites that I'll mention that resell bricks, often less expansive than LEGO, but your required quantity may not be available.
  • You can order individual LEGO bricks from the LEGO website in two different ways and you may need to check both for a particular brick: Pick a Brick and Bricks & Pieces.
    • Pick a Brick - LEGO's most commonly requested pieces, you can order up to 999 pieces per brick.
    • Bricks & Pieces - Harder to locate pieces, you can order up to 200 pieces per brick.
  • Now do some math! Multiply the cost per brick by the number of bricks needed.

STEP THREE: Purchasing Bricks

  • My two favorite ways to buy bricks:
    • LEGO Website - Pick a Brick and/or Bricks & Pieces
    • BrickOwl - LEGO Marketplace with brick resellers. You can usually find parts cheaper and they usually ship faster than LEGO, however you may have to order from multiple sellers to get what you need and price comparison can take longer. 
  • You could also try purchasing bricks directly from a LEGO store. Wall of Bricks is a great website to check what bricks are available at your local LEGO store.

STEP FOUR: Preparing Kits

  • Since you are creating your own kits you need to sort and bag them yourself. If you have detail-oriented volunteers this can be a great task for them. I order a box of small clear plastic bags, like this, to put bricks in.
  • Once your bricks arrive in the mail, sort them. Next, create the kit by adding each of the bricks your participants will need to complete the build.
  • Having lots of space to sort and spread out is really helpful at this step.

STEP FIVE: Running the Program: Tips & Tricks

  • Our Library has found that these programs work best for patrons in grades 3 and up. We usually divide groups into grades 3-5, grades 6-12, and adult. You could also just do mixed groups with grades 3 to adult.
  • We've also found that the program works best with 10 participants per session and two staff.
  • In order to save your sanity and keep everyone together we build as a group. Each participant completes step one before moving on to the next. This way you don't have to go from helping someone on step 2 to another on step 12. We also do not allow patrons to have individual instructions and strongly discourage building ahead.  
    • Having trays on hand make in easy for patrons to see their parts and keep them from mixing with their neighbor's parts. Talk to your local supermarket meat department for some foam trays and line them with felt.
  • Have a projector with the LEGO instructions for you to go through step by step. It's sometimes easier to create your own powerpoint of the build.
  • Our programs usually vary in length depending on what we are building and how complicated it is.  
  • We also let patrons know that the build starts 5 minutes after the program start time. If they have not arrived in time they cannot join the build. It is too complicated and time consuming, as well as unfair to the other builders, to catch up late-comers. We also don't allow late-comers to take kits with them. We usually don't have printed instructions and the point of the program is to build at the Library. 

More Helpful Advice I Can Give You:

  • Build in enough time before your program date to order bricks, receive them, sort them, and possibly order missing bricks. I recommend a month or more.
  • If you order more than 2 projects at once, know that it can be a major time suck to separate bricks from different projects. 

    I'd love to hear from you if your library runs similar programs. Feel free to email me with any questions.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Ready to Go Book Display: Legendary Ladies

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. This month we are featuring books that highlight amazing women.

Adult and Teen Recommendations:


Legendary Ladies: 50 Goddesses to Empower and Inspire You by Ann Shen (Apr 2018)

A celebration of goddesses from around the world including, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess whose love overcame morality, Mazu, the Chinese deity who safely guides travelers home, and Lakshmi, the Hindu provider of fortune and prosperity.



Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win by Rachel Ignotofsky (Jul 2017)

Illustrated profiles of fifty pioneering female athletes.



Galaxy Girls: 50 Amazing Stories of Women in Space by Libby Jackson (Jun 2018)

A compedium honoring fifty inspirational women who helped fuel some of the greatest achievements in space exploration from the nineteenth century to today.



Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz (Mar 2015)

Profiles of 26 American women from the 18th through 21st centuries, who have made - or are still making - history as artists, writers, teachers, lawyers, or athletes.



Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky (Jul 2016)

A collection of artworks inspired by the lives and achievements of fifty famous women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, from the ancient world to the present, profiles each notable individual. 



Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World by Ann Shen (Sep 2016)

Explore the notable works, impressive feats, and striking portraits of these wild women from around the globe who challenged the status quo.



Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics by Jason Porath 

Fun, feminist, and educational, Rejected Princesses commemorates unknown but captivating female heroes, proving that women have been kicking ass for a long, long time and always will.



Tough Mothers: Amazing Stories of History's Mightiest Matriarchs by Jason Porath (Apr 2018)

Offers examples of real-life matriarchs who gave everything to protect their children and causes, from Sojourner Truth's legal campaign against slavery to Irena Sender's advocacy on behalf of young Holocaust victims.





Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu (Mar 2018)

From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.



Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs (Oct 2016)

Profiles of 25 women scientists.



Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World by Mackenzi Lee (Feb 2018)

Starting in the fifth century BCE and continuing to the present, Lee introduces readers to bold and inspiring women who dared to step outside traditional gender roles of their time.



Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science - and the World by Rachel Swaby (Apr 2015)

Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one's ideas developed.



Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave and Brilliant Young Women by Kate Schatz (Jul 2018)

A collection of stories and art about inspiring and accomplished girls who have made positive impacts on the world before the age of 20.


Kids Recommendations:



Amazing Women: 101 Lives to Inspire You by Lucy Beevor (Feb 2018)

Featuring an international selection of female figures, this carefully curated collection highlights those who have achieved significantly in their fields, ranging from science and politics to sports and the arts.



Profiles fifty-two women in history who have risked their lives for the sake of adventure, including Sophie Blanchard, Mary Anning, Minnie Spotted Wolf, and Alia Muhammad Baker.



Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (Dec 2017)

Based on her popular Instagram posts, debut author/illustrator Vashti Harrison shares the stories of 40 bold African American women who shaped history.



Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation by Cokie Roberts (Dec 2016)

Shares the stories of remarkable women who shaped American history between 1796 and 1828, including Dolley Madison, Isabella Graham, and Sacajawea.



She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton (May 2017)

A nonfiction picture book compilation of the stories of 13 American women who persisted in overcoming obstacles and changing the world.



She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History by Chelsea Clinton (Mar 2018)

Profiles the lives of thirteen women who have left their mark on world history, including Caroline Herschel, Marie Curie, Mary Verghese, and Malala Yousafzai.



Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women by Elena Favilli (Jan 2016)

100 bedtimes stories about the lives of 100 extraordinary women from the past and present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world.



Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli (Nov 2017)

100 new bedtime stories, featuring the adventures of extraordinary women from Nefertiti to Beyonce.




Profiles thirty real-life princesses from history and today whose lives were marked by scandal, violence, and other less-than-happy fates.



This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer by Joan Holub (Sep 2017)

This board book highlights ten memorable female trailblazers.



Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Sep 2016)

Kate Pankhurst, descendant of Emmeline Pankhurst, has created this book about women who really changed the world.



Friday, July 13, 2018

Hate in the Library: Voices of Opposition



Recently, ALA updated their Library Bill of Rights. And one particular line has people fired up: they specifically mention that Hate Groups should be allowed to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms:

“Public libraries are bound by the First Amendment and the associated law governing access to a designated public forum. A publicly funded library is not obligated to provide meeting room space to the public, but if it chooses to do so, it cannot discriminate or deny access based upon the viewpoint of speakers or the content of their speech. This encompasses religious, political, and hate speech.

“If a library allows charities, non-profits, and sports organizations to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms, then the library cannot exclude religious, social, civic, partisan political, or hate groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities.” - ALA's Library Bill of Rights (2018)

School Library Journal released an article a few days ago titled Free Speech Debate Erupts with ALA's Inclusion of Hate Groups in Revision of Bill of Rights Interpretation. In that article, ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom Director James LaRue and co-chair of ALA's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Implementation Working Group, Martin Garnar, both defend this decision. They believe that the First Amendment gives all patrons the right to use library meeting rooms, if they are open to the public. If you go to ALA's Hate Speech page, you'll see court cases which supports why they think libraries cannot exclude hate groups.

But their line of reasoning feels wrong on so many levels. Yes, a library has to protect free speech since it is part of the government, but don't we also have a duty to make sure all patrons feel welcome and safe? There has to be a middle ground. Going down their line of thinking is really scary in this dangerous time, most especially since hate crimes (according to SPLC) are on the rise. I am really worried about where America is heading. I understand that people can have different opinions, but there has to be a line somewhere. And for me, that line is people's safety - both patrons and staff. If we wouldn't allow what was being said behind closed doors to be said in the middle of the library, then why are we allowing it?

Libraries Do Stand Up Against Hate

And we don't allow it, do we? When one library had a display up of a poem that was clearly offensive to the Muslim population -- outside library workers and the public pressured them to take down the poem. Patrons shouldn't feel threatened when they walk in the door and see it displayed on the wall.

Can you imagine if Ferguson Municipal Public Library had hate groups that used their library rooms? Especially if they were meeting during the riots? There would be no way anyone from their community would step into the library. The message, "We're In This Together", would be hypocritical and meaningless if patrons felt like the library was allowing hate to meet and grow there. Thankfully, FMPL didn't do that and were able to bring community members together in a safe haven. That's what libraries are about.

And, lastly, probably the best example of libraries standing up for *all* patrons is when it comes to challenged books. We don't just bow to people's request to remove a book. We have a book challenge policy, explain our process and why that book is important (and why it was bought), and we don't give in to the pressure. Why wouldn't we give that same attention and thoughtfulness to our meeting rooms, too? Even ALA has noted that a "high percentage" of challenged books are titles with diverse content.

Library Workers Are Speaking Out

If you go on Twitter and follow the hashtag #NoHateALA, you will read lots of great points and arguments. We decided to amplify those voices below. Libraries are not neutral. We never were. Tim Hensley's thread is a harrowing account of how LIBRARIANS supported the Nazis. We have to do better.
If you follow Tim Hensley's thread (who is a curator at the VA Holocaust Museum), you'll read a jarring account of how librarians helped the Nazis:

"This has me thinking about how librarians and archivists were complicit throughout the Nazi regime, beginning with subtle alignments:
1. Reshaped collections in support of Gleichschaltung,
2. Expelled Jews and anti-Nazi political opponents (following civil services decrees),
3. Provided access to records for Nazi racial policies,
4. Appraised and accessioned important books, manuscripts, and artwork “confiscated” from Jewish households,
5. Collected and “relocated” important collections from Polish archives to the German interior, and
6. Assisted in the looting and destruction of Jewish material culture.
Before any of those steps, state archivists arrived at their annual meeting in 1933 with multiple calls to conform to their new political climate.
“...the overwhelming success of the Germans was attributable to the fact that they had entered the war with a better filing system.” -- Ernst Posner"


If you follow the thread, @RowMyBoat makes some fabulous points, including:
1. "Oh, we'll let everyone come have their events!" If you have white supremacist, etc. events, you will soon find those are the only ones you have. Because everyone else stays the fuck away. Now you're the overtly white supremacist library, because only they come around, whoops.
2. See, here's the difference. All *people* are allowed at the library. The nazis can come to the library, too. Just, not as nazis with nazi ideas. They can come borrow a book or whatever. Same as anyone.
3. Not letting them have white supremacist meetings doesn't endanger their safety. Having, say, an Afro-Caribbean dance performance doesn't endanger a white supremacists safety. They won't like it, but they are still safe, as a person.

If you follow the thread, Ana Ndumu continues:
1. Consider also the library staff who themselves are immigrants and refugees. What does this do for staff morale, let alone safety?
2. Here's the thing with bonafide hate groups (I'm aware that the label "hate group" is weaponized): once they make themselves at home in your space, they begin to question why other people are there. Think "inch/yard"
3. Finally, it was silly for ALA to classify conservative and/or religious groups with hate groups. Lends itself to conflation. Bottom line: embracing hate groups who verbally and physically attack entire classes of people is, well, dangerous.

I love that line: "If you are making choices, don't choose hate." Exactly!

Melissa Hubbard's thread goes on to explain about book challenges and how ALA supports the library:

1. When a user says, "you should remove books with LGBTQ content because they're immoral," we don't just do it. Nor do we throw up our hands and say, "if any books are in the collection, then all books must in the collection."

2. We craft a reasoned and supported argument to justify our collection development decisions. We can do the same when making a determination that allowing a hate group to meet in the library constitutes a threat to user safety. ALA could support our professional judgement here.

Again, if we don't allow what is being said behind closed doors to be said in the middle in the library in front of all patrons, then perhaps it shouldn't be at the library at all.

Great points. And again, refer to the first tweeter, Tim Hensley, who laid out how librarians participated in the Holocaust. Now is the time to stand up and do something. We can't let history repeat itself.

What can you do?

From the way I see it, there are four actions you can do in response to this:
1. If you want to have direct involvement, there is nothing better than joining the IFRT.
2. Madison (@Beastlibrarian) put together a great template to reach out to ALA. Even if you are a library worker but not an ALA member, you are encouraged to still send a letter. ALA is for everyone, member or not.

3. You can also visit ALA's post called Library Meeting Rooms for All and post in the comments to share your thoughts.

4. I would also like to throw out a fourth option. I know ALA's stance doesn't have to be accepted by any library. So, I'd like to propose that everyone go back and examine their meeting room policy. Are you happy with the wording? Should you include more? We don't want to censor free speech, of course, but I do think it is important that it includes wording which protects the safety of patrons and staff. Now is a good time to do so.

Friday, July 6, 2018

To Clean or Not To Clean: The Library Book Question

Recently shared on Facebook is a fascinating video of a library cleaning every item returned to the Children's Department. I watched it in awe - wow, who has the time and staff to do all of that cleaning? (Here's the video, if you would like to see it.)


But what a great idea! If you don't have the staff, it would be a good volunteer project. It doesn't require many resources, just half water/half rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and reusable towels. Squeaky clean books will make any collection much more attractive. And viruses can last on books (especially the plastic covers) for days, depending on what virus it is.

It isn't surprising to see someone bring their kid too sick for school to the library... And, being a parent of young kids, I am learning that kids can be contagious *before* symptoms appear. In my house, we dodged the Flu, but succumbed to Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. So, even being a responsible guardian, sometimes, you just don't know.

Another area that I wonder about -- if your library has a play area with toys, how often do you clean it? I thought when I had kids, I would be visiting the play area every rainy day. Now, I actively avoid it during flu season. (If you don't wash the toys often, please, please, please offer a "To Wash" bucket where parents can put toys that their little ones have put into their mouthes to be washed.) Another idea to simplify the process is to buy a UV cabinet (or UV wand) and use the light to sterilize the toys.

Ah, the library... Where you can get books, movies, and viruses for free! Just kidding. Actually, according to this article from Mental Floss, while books do hold minuscule amounts of viruses, the risk of patrons getting infected is very low. So, no guilt if you don't clean!