Saturday, September 28, 2019

Promoting Breast Cancer Awareness at the Library

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and while the little pink ribbons are absolutely everywhere, we don't see as much explanation of what those ribbons actually mean.

We have come up with some ways that libraries can help spread the word about cancer, early detection, and surviving "the worst," and get your community involved in the fight against breast cancer.


Did you know that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime? (For men, it is roughly 1 in every 833 people.) When you add in caregivers and families, it's likely that this has an effect on pretty much every person out there.

  • Information is key! Have a table with contact info for local clinics that perform mammograms, pamphlets on early warning signs, and other important facts. Be sure to include dates and times for local support groups!
  • Put up a book display with medical information and biographies of survivors. There are even cookbooks designed for cancer patients!
  • Perhaps have a speaker to come in to talk about their cancer journey, or a local doctor or nurse talk about the importance of doing self-checks. 
  • Put the word out on social media! The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has some great sample tweets that you can use to start the conversation.
  • If you are unable to host any yourself, or in addition to any that you can host, find and promote local events to promote awareness.
  • There is a great article with information to share with your patrons on the Ebsco blog.


Everyone wants to make a difference, and there are many ways that your patrons can help people who are going through one of these hard times.

  • If you have a knitting or crocheting group, see if they would be interested in making hats for people going through chemotherapy. Some hospitals and treatment centers will leave boxes of donated hats near the patient entrance, for people to take.
  • Patrons of all ages can make Get Well cards for patients. Cards can either be sent to hospitals and treatment centers without a specific recipient in mind, or can be crafted for people to take and mail to those in their own life who are going through treatment or are survivors.
  • Assemble care packages for people going through treatment. Include words of encouragement, crossword puzzles to do in the waiting room, and hard candy for a sweet surprise. 


  • Host a support group for cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and their families. You'd be surprised how many people fall into one of these categories!
  • One library had a program where people did "yarn bombing" (where trees, light poles, bike racks, etc. are covered in knit or crocheted yarn), all in pink, to show their support.
  • Have pink ribbons that people can take and wear to show their support. Have staff wear them as well.
There are lots of ways to spread information, awareness, and support. In which ways does your library help? Tell us here in the comments, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Ready to Go Book Display: Sleep

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 related to sleep.

Recommendations for Adults:

While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt (Mar 2019)
Seeking a retreat from her failing marriage in a remote Scottish island house, Zoe disregards local superstitions about the property's tragic history before the manifestations of eerie, gothic phenomena reveal the work of a ghostly, or all-too-human, predator.

Go the F**K to Sleep by Adam Mansbach (Jun 2011)
A bedtime book for adults portrays the trials and tribulations of a parent who cannot get their little angel to nod off.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson (Jun 2011)
An accident in her 20s severely damaged her memory, so although Christine Lucas is now 47, she doesn't recall anything that has happened since the accident. Each morning, her husband has to tell her who she is, and who he is. But each morning after he leaves for work, she receives a phone call and is prompted by a doctor to retrieve her secret journal.

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King (Sep 2017)
In a near-future where women succumb to a sleeping disease and men revert to their primal natures, one mysterious immune woman struggles to survive in an Appalachian town where she is treated as both a demon and a lab specimen.

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (Jan 2019)
Presents the story of a student in an isolated Southern California college town who witnesses a strange sleeping illness that subjects patients to life-altering, heightened dreams.

Recommendations for Teens:

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman (Sep 2015)
A brave young queen and her dwarf companions set out to rescue an enchanted princess who is not quite what she seems.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (Jan 2015)
In the town of Fairfold, where humans and fae exist side by side, a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed at knives awakes after generations of sleep in a glass coffin in the woods, causing Hazel to be swept up in new love, shift her loyalties, feel the fresh sting of betrayal, and to make a secret sacrifice to the faerie king.

More Than This by Patrick Ness (Sep 2013)
Awakening inexplicably in the suburban English town of his early childhood after drowning, Seth is baffled by changes in the community and suffers from agonizing memories that reveal sinister qualities about the world around him.

Recommendations for Kids:

Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss (Jan 1962)
Tells in humorous verse what happens when all ninety-nine trillion and three creatures in the world go to sleep.

Bear Can't Sleep by Karma Wilson (Oct 2018)
It's time for Bear to hibernate but he can't sleep, so his friends all band together to help.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker (May 2011)
At sunset, when their work is done for the day, a crane truck, a cement mixer, and other pieces of construction equipment make their way to their resting places and go to sleep.

I Will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems (June 2015)
Gerald is tired and cranky and wants to take a nap, but Piggie is not helping.

Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese (Jan 2009)
A boy awakens, blindfolded, with no memory of even his name, but soon meets Lord Umber, an adventurer and inventor, who calls him Happenstance and tells him that he has a very important destiny - and a powerful enemy.

Dormia by Jake Halpern (May 2009)
After learning of his ancestral ties to Dormia, a hidden kingdom in the Ural Mountains whose inhabitants possess the ancient power of "wakeful sleeping," twelve-year-old Alfonso sets out on a mission to save the kingdom from destruction, discovering secrets that lurk in his own sleep.

Friday, September 13, 2019

How Libraries Can Help People With Dyslexia

As librarians, we are always trying to make sure that our libraries and resources are accessible and usable by all patrons. While we often focus on visible disabilities - are the aisles wide enough for a wheelchair? Do we have audio and large print titles for those who have visual issues? While these are wonderful things to consider, I wanted to take 5 minutes to talk about a less obvious disability that people live with every day.

Did you know that about 10% of the population has dyslexia?

What Is It?

First of all, let's define "dyslexia." In general terms, dyslexia is a learning difference that presents in a cluster of symptoms, any or all of which may be present. These include:
  • Mental rotation of letters or difficulty differentiating similar letters such as b, d, p, and q
  • Phonological awareness and phonological decoding, or which letters make which sounds
  • Slower processing speed of written (and sometimes auditory) material
  • Letters seeming to "jump around" on the page
  • Spacing of letters being inconsistent, so words crowd together or drift apart on the page
There is a good overview of dyslexia here.

The Mayo Clinic explains that effects of having this disorder can include:

  • Trouble learning - since reading is a skill on which many other subjects are based, a child with dyslexia may fall behind their peers.
  • Social problems - trouble learning and keeping up with peers may lead to low self-esteem, behavioral issues, anxiety, and aggression.
  • Problems as Adults - If untreated, these problems can compound over time, and leave a person unable to reach their full potential. 

Ready for an example? Take a look at this website, which was designed to simulate what it's like to try to read with dyslexia. (Some people say it is a very accurate depiction; others disagree. Not every person experiences this the same way.)

What Helps?

Okay! We know what it is. Now, how can the library help?

Accessible Signage

Let's start with the easiest thing we can do. ALA has some great ideas on how to make your library more accessible for people with dyslexia (these tips are written for the children's room specifically, but they can be helpful for everybody). One of the things they suggest is to make sure that you use pictograms when possible (for example, an image of a toilet on the restroom sign). Use clear, easy-to-read shelf signs and aisle markers.
If you have room, try to place books facing outward when on display (reading spine labels sideways can be very difficult!). When making fliers, try to left-justify your text and not leave hyphenated words straddling two lines. You can also make sure that you write things using an easily-readable font.


The font you use can make a big difference in making something accessible to someone with dyslexia.

According to the University of Michigan, "good fonts for people with dyslexia are Helvetica, Courier, Arial, [and] Verdana." They also comment that, "Arial Italic should be avoided since it decreases readability."

Did you know that there's a special font that makes things easier to read? It's called Open Dyslexic, and it is specially designed to make things easier for people to process. The bottom of the letters is a bit thicker than the tops, making it easier to differentiate each letter from others that are similar. As the website states, the font "was intended to address: contrast/blindness, letter confusion or rotation, and crowding."

So, are we supposed to own every book in a dyslexic-accessible font? If only we had that kind of funding! But it's okay, because we have some exciting news for you:

That's right! If you can get it as an e-book, you can read it in Open Dyslexic font! OverDrive has this available, and therefore so do Libby and Sora. If you are using Hoopla, they have this listed under "fonts" as "Dyslexic Support."

All you have to do is open your book, click on the font options, and you can switch! This will remain as your default any time you read with this platform. (It is also worth a mention that some studies have shown that using a black font on a "not quite white background" makes it easier to read, as well. Luckily, you can adjust background color, too.)

While purchasing every title in an accessible font is cost prohibitive, please note that this font is free to download, and can easily be used on fliers.

As a side note, some books - particularly for children - already come in a dyslexic-friendly font. Notably, the Here's Hank series by Henry Winkler is published with this font, which is particularly helpful because the main character (and the author, too!) has dyslexia.

Reading Guides

Image result for dyslexia page rulers
No, not book lists (though those could be useful, too). I'm talking about colored page overlays, also known as "reading rulers" or "highlight strips." These are transparent, colored pieces of plastic that a reader can place over a page. The change in color helps the words to stay grounded on the page, and the horizontal line helps to keep the reader on the correct sentence.
I found some on Amazon that come in a variety of sizes, to help people of all ages who might need it. They are inexpensive and can help a great deal.

Graphic Novels

One of the problems that people with dyslexia can have is reading comprehension - which makes perfect sense when the words won't stay put! Yale University recommends graphic novels for people with dyslexia, because the images provide context clues to the text, which can help both with the reading and the processing. (We recommend the graphic novel version of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan - Percy himself is dyslexic!)

Information About Dyslexia

This may be common sense, but we're going to put it out there, anyway. Make sure you have information about dyslexia that is accessible for people of all ages, as well as parents or caregivers who help children with the learning difference.

In Conclusion

Can you think of any other steps libraries can take to help people with dyslexia? What has worked for you? Let us know here in the comments, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page!