It takes special training to be a 21st-century librarian.

American Library Association • August 20, 2019

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Librarians train staff to prepare for emergencies

Incidents reported at the Halifax Central Library

A child who fell and needed stitches, stolen iPads, a group fight in front of the glass building, racial slurs to staff, indecent exposure, a person having suicidal thoughts, youths using hard drugs, and a man who urinated on the floor: These are just some of the things that staff have had to manage at Halifax (Nova Scotia) Central Library, according to incident reports from January 2018 to April 2019. To deal with all of this, staff receive training in customer service, mental health first aid, and nonviolent crisis intervention two to three times a year. Chief Librarian Åsa Kachan said she works closely with community police officers, a mobile street health team, and an in-house social worker....

CBC News, Aug. 19

Drag queen story hour leads to opposing petitions

Children’s Librarian Josh Swindler. Screenshot from KNPG-LD newscast

An upcoming event at the downtown branch of the St. Joseph (Mo.) Public Library has led to two online petitions, with citizens both supporting and reprimanding a decision to host a Drag Queen Story Hour at the facility. The event, scheduled for September 10, is part of the library’s series titled “Celebrating All of Us.” The series has already included events focusing on those with Down syndrome and vision and hearing impairments. Children’s Librarian Josh Swindler (right) said, “It’s really important to us that every voice be heard equally on this issue, even the ones who are in opposition to us.”...

St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, Aug. 19

Autism Welcome Here grant

Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected

Libraries and Autism will again award a total of $5,000 in “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services, and More” grants, either for one proposal or to be divided among several applicants. All types of libraries in the US and Canada are encouraged to apply. Applicants may propose to initiate a new program, bring an established program to the library for the first time, or enhance a program already offered. Applications will be accepted from September 1 to December 1....

Libraries and Autism

International scholars at risk

Scholars at Risk Network logo

Adam Braver and Chelsea Blackburn Cohen write: “In the spirit of Banned Books Week’s theme, ‘Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark,’ it is worth pausing to consider the hundreds of scholars worldwide who face daily risks on our behalf to think, debate, share, and challenge ideas. Banning and suppressing thought is very much alive across the world. Academic freedom relies on a community of individuals who continually fight for it; it fails to exist if untested. Consider inviting a scholar at risk to visit your campus during Banned Books Week. Learn more by visiting the Scholars at Risk website.”...

Intellectual Freedom Blog, Aug. 19
ALA news

How to include intellectual freedom in youth book clubs

Challenged books of 2018

Justin Azevedo writes: “How do you sneak complicated and seemingly unrelated intellectual freedom concepts into your youth book clubs? Just like sneaking healthy food into a kid’s meal, these techniques will enrich the work you already do as a librarian without disrupting your programming routine. For this post, we’ll focus on tips for including important intellectual freedom concepts into a book club for tweens or younger teens, ages 11–14, along with two sample discussion themes you could try out.”...

ALSC Blog, Aug. 17

Learning why, not how

Citation tools

Barbara Fister writes: “Emphasizing correct citation in composition courses is not helping students learn why and how to use other people’s ideas effectively in writing. My primary beef with making formal citation practices a significant part of introducing new college students to academic argument is that it puts too much emphasis on covering your butt and being able to follow complex rules and too little on engaging with ideas, or engaging with the humans who share ideas as part of a collective effort to understand the world. As a librarian, here’s what I see are the problems new students have with the way we teach citations as part of academic argument.”...

Inside Higher Ed: Library Babel Fish, Aug. 8

A novel concept: Silent book clubs

Silent book club. Art from I’d Rather be Reading, by Courtney Cerruti

Josh Axelrod writes: “The air tingles with prose. Patrons perch atop bar stools, but they aren’t drinking. Individuals congregate together as a group, but they aren’t talking. A Silent Book Club is meeting. The concept is simple yet revolutionary: Members meet up at a bar, a library, a bookstore, or any venue that will host them. Once the bell rings, silent reading time commences. After an hour, the bell rings again. Other than that, there are no rules. Liberated from the orthodoxy of traditional book clubs, participants can bring whatever they’d like to read and chat about anything. The space is especially attractive to introverts.”...

NPR, Aug. 12

10 books to help kids come to grips with climate change

Cover of No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg

Amelia Lush writes: “In November 2018, following the United Nations Climate Change Conference, then-15-year-old Greta Thunberg initiated the school strike for climate movement, which saw more than 50,000 people from 100 countries rally together in a call for action. Four months later, 1.4 million students from around the world participated in school strikes. Children are participating in protests and carving out their own platforms to demand a voice. Greta’s speeches have now been collected in a single volume titled No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference. Here are 10 other books for younger readers that reflect her tenacity.”...

The Guardian (UK), July 8
Latest Library Links

Voynich Manuscript theories: Wishful thinking

Collage of pages from the Voynich Manuscript

Lisa Fagin Davis writes: “In a vault in the basement of Yale’s Beinecke Library lies a book no one can read. The Voynich Manuscript, an early 15th-century codex, presents an irresistible medieval mystery. The tome is written using an otherwise unknown collection of symbols known to those who study the codex as ‘Voynichese,’ with what appear to be roots, prefixes, and suffixes as well as repeating spelling and grammatical patterns. Then there are the illustrations, which include unidentifiable but detailed and realistic plants, circular zodiacal diagrams, crowned nude women bathing in green or blue pools, and other images that defy description.”...

Washington Post, Aug. 14

Johnny Cash’s Shakespeare

Johnny Cash’s miniature set of Shakespeare plays

Ben Lauer writes: “Among the Folger’s smallest treasures are the wee books of the James L. Harner Collection of Miniature Books Pertaining to Shakespeare. The collection includes this miniature set of Shakespeare’s plays that belonged to country singer Johnny Cash. The set came to the Harner collection from Cash’s assistant Peggy Knight, who worked for the Cash family for 33 years. The miniature bookshelf seems to be a Regalia Especial cigar box adapted for Cash’s collection. The books themselves are from the Ellen Terry Shakespeare, a set of Shakespeare’s complete works published in 1904. Apparently, the Man in Black was quite the bibliophile.”...

Folger Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare and Beyond, Aug. 2
Dewey Decibel podcast

Meredith Bixby’s puppetry archive

Meredith Bixby and his marionettes. Screenshot from UM video

When Hilary Severyn selected her capstone project (2:39) for her graduate degree at the University of Michigan School of Information, she chose to archive and digitally preserve a unique cultural treasure—the handcrafted marionettes, props, correspondence, and papers of Michigan puppeteer Meredith Bixby (1909–2002), who staged shows for school groups and libraries all over the US from the 1930s to the 1980s. The entire collection has been in a storage area of the Saline (Mich.) Chamber of Commerce since 2008. Severyn used X-ray and CT scanning to create 3D photographs of each of the marionettes and in the process discovered some secrets used by the showman....

University of Michigan School of Information, Aug. 14; YouTube, July 10

Guess these classic novels from their LC descriptions

Card catalog drawer

Emily Temple writes: “The Library of Congress rules of cataloging and classification are complicated, but in practice they boil down to a series of subjects and a generic listing or two. Its cataloging system began in 1898, and while some of the older records remain, they are being gradually updated to reflect contemporary language, and LC staff catalogs about 350,000 bibliographic volumes every year. Here you’ll find 70 sets of Library of Congress cataloging data for classic novels (sometimes with proper names removed, so they’re not total gimmes) with the answers hidden below (highlight the space to see them). Some you will find easy to guess; others less so.”...

Literary Hub, Aug. 20

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