Thank You, Friends of the Library!

So, the reason I got to go to ALA Midwinter Meeting? Registration and Hotel were paid for by the Friends of the George Mason Regional Library. Airfare was paid for by the Friends of the Virginia Room.

I am so thankful!

What did I get out of the conference?

Well, it’s hard to explain the energizing effect of hanging around a huge group of book people. Attending ALA conferences always leaves me proud to be a librarian and excited about my job and my calling. Truly, these are my people!

I do get ideas of things to do and new programs, I find out about lots and lots of new books, I make professional connections, and I hear some great speakers.

Some of those connections included the folks at the Bedtime Math booth! They knew who I was, since I have been featured on their website. 🙂 They also sponsor the Crazy 8s Math Club program we do once a week at my library.


I also got to meet two of my fellow Cybils judges, Brandy Painter and Maureen Eichner, for the first time in person. We had a lovely dinner together while the blizzard was raging outside.


Speaking of the weather, I even got to experience an historic Chicago blizzard — from the warm comfort of a hotel and a shuttle bus and the convention center.


I’m going to summarize the sessions I went to with links to my reports. I’ll intersperse them between the snow pictures.

Friday night began with the Graphic Novel Author Forum.


And after a binge at the Exhibits, I went to a USBBY meeting.


Saturday morning brought more time in the Exhibits and an Abrams Book Buzz.


Saturday afternoon was the Women in Geekdom panel.


And after more time in the Exhibits, I finished up Saturday listening to a talk by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.


Sunday (the day of the blizzard) began with LeVar Burton!


Lunch on Sunday was compliments of publisher Boyds Mills Press.

Sunday afternoon, I went to a panel on Young Children, New Media, and Libraries.


Sunday finished up with an inspiring talk by Mick Ebeling.

The final day of the conference, besides helping the publishers unload books, was taken up with the Youth Media Awards and the YALSA Morris and Excellence in Nonfiction Awards Ceremony.

And all that time in the Exhibits? I ended up gaining and shipping home 140 books.


No, I won’t get them all read. But I will get many read. And I will be familiar with many more because of this. And I will have many to give away as prizes at my Brain Games programs.

And in the meantime, the piles of books are making me happy. 🙂

So Thank You, Thank You, Friends, for a wonderful conference! Thank you for learning and connections and ideas and new energy and lots and lots of new books!

YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction and Morris Awards

Monday morning, after the Youth Media Awards, I attended the YALSA Award Ceremony for Excellence in Nonfiction and the Morris Awards for books by a first-time author.

I love that YALSA announces the Finalists for these awards ahead of time — so they can get speeches from everyone and do an awards ceremony the same day that the winner is announced.

Here are my notes from the speeches:

YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award

Shane Burcaw – Laughing at my Nightmare

(Video speech) He’s 22 years old. Blown away when he found out he was a finalist.
Has Spinal muscular atrophy.
Humor and positivity are keys to dealing with his disease.
Laughing is the best way to overcome.

Candace Fleming – The Family Romanov

She was worried about the story – might as well be another planet for her readers.
Conflict: 3 separate revolutions, each extremely complicated.
Had planned to focus on Anastasia – decided she was boring, so expanded her focus to the other children – they also weren’t that interesting. They were naive and cloistered.
Nicholas and Alexandra were more interesting, but they were adults.
Then expanded focus again to revolutionaries.
She saw a movie where the characters kept asking, “But who is interested in Russian History?”
This award tells her, “You are.”

Emily Arnold McCully – Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business – and Won!

Why Ida Tarbell? She was a defender of democratic values when they were challenged.
She was the only woman muckraker.
The author tried to squish it into 32 pages, but the story was too big.
Ida Tarbell saw the cost of the oil rush to ordinary people and the environment.
Science taught her to always look beneath the surface of things and verify.
The issues that led to muckraking are back.
She went after the story and told it true.

Steve Sheinkin – The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights

His brother-in-law loves conspiracy theories – told him first atomic bomb was tested in Port Chicago – but that led him to the true story.
Heard from a man whose father was in the mutiny. Loves getting this story out.

Winner: Maya Van Wagenen
Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek

She’s the child of a historian, so knows the power of truth and primary sources.
Always wanted to be a writer.
Found the book before 8th grade — Her mother’s idea was to try the ideas and write about it.
Learned the kind of popularity Betty Cornell talked about was based on being a good friend and reaching out with compassion and understanding.
Greeting the world with your head held high will never go out of style.
None of this would have been possible without books and librarians.
Middle School Librarian was a light to the students there.
Has turned to reading nonfiction because it tells teenagers that their story is part of a much bigger fabric of history, and each one plays a unique part.

Morris Award, Honor Books:

Jessie Ann Foley, The Carnival at Bray

She’s a high school English teacher, here in Chicago. She loved librarians before she was nominated for this award, and now even more so!
Librarians help teens find books that speak to them.
“That is part of the beauty of literature: You discover that your longings are universal longings… You are not alone.” (A quote she read while writing this.)
She kept in tough scenes so girls who have gone through that would not feel alone.

E. K. Johnston – The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim
due to weather, she isn’t here.

Len Vlahos – The Scar Boys

Central theme: The power of music can give anyone confidence, friends, even save a life.
Music can be an intensely personal experience, but is more appropriately a shared experience.
Music, like math or physics, is a universal language.
Math and physics are the foundation for music.
Music makes us feel something viscerally
Magic dust sprinkled on math and physics
Resonance – sound or vibration in one object produced from sound or vibration in another.
Perfect metaphor for librarians
Immensely skilled at finding the right book and putting it in the right hands.
Finding the perfect book to resonate with that reader and amplify the content.
“School librarians are my heroes.”
Writing is a solitary process, publishing is not.
Librarians help the work of writers resonate far beyond the walls of our institutions.

Leslye Walton – The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

She’s a teacher.
Wrote it with little hope than anyone would actually read it.
Didn’t write it as a YA book. She might have wanted to protect them.
When she was a teen, she experienced isolating grief, and hung out in the local library to find people (in fiction) who were grieving like she was.
There is beauty in sorrow.
I hope it makes someone feel less alone and more alive.
And that there is life beyond that sorrow.
Librarians, you are saving the lives of readers everywhere.

Winner: Isabel Quintero – Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

“To quote someone very dear to me, ‘Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!'”
Started by reading “I Too Sing America” by Langston Hughes
Offended by someone who asked if her laborer parents were surprised that she is an intellectual.
Now she’s a professor of composition.
She thinks about her parents who had tough jobs when they came to America and worked to make sure their children had a different life.
She thinks about fat girls, pregnant girls, and gay teens.
The only option for a daughter of laborers is to think — because that’s what her parents have taught her to do.
It helps when you have a community of people doing the solitary thing together. (Her creative writing group)
“An honor and a privilege to be here, but that was to be expected, given who my parents are.”

Inspiring and lovely speeches! I always love the Morris Awards, because the authors are happy to be published, let alone to receive recognition. Makes me want to go home and Write!

Youth Media Awards 2015!


Hooray! I got a front row seat for the Youth Media Awards announcements that happened on Monday!


As you can see, I had a great view — though I spent most of my time tweeting the winners, rather than taking pictures.

The announcements of all the awards are on the ALA website, so I will just give some general impressions and link to the books I’ve reviewed.

The energy in the room can’t be described! These people who ignored the Super Bowl the night before (Well, I did.) and don’t even turn on the Oscars (Well, I don’t.) were energized and excited to find out who wins the Children’s book awards. We got up early and came through the snow and waited in line to be there, and speculation was high.

I’ll talk about the announcements in the order I remember them happening. It all starts with the Alex Awards — a list of ten adult books with strong appeal for teens. This list contains several I’ve been meaning to read, but none I actually have read.

One of the fun things about the announcements is that all the committees are there. Most committees bring some sort of prop to celebrate their top choice. Here is the Odyssey Award committee celebrating their choice of Horse, by Christopher Myers:


I didn’t notice if they did, but they could have thrown their props again when The Crossover won the Newbery Medal and a Coretta Scott King Honor.

I’ll go with some general impressions first.

It seemed like a lovely day for the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign. The Wilder Award went to Donald Crews. The Edwards Award went to Sharon Draper. The Arbuthnot Lecture Award went to Pat Mora.

The Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement went to Deborah Taylor, a librarian whom I know from Capitol Choices, and a wonderful choice.

And Graphic Novels! El Deafo, by Cece Bell was a Newbery Honor Book, and, most surprisingly, This One Summer was both a Printz Honor Book and a Caldecott Honor Book.

I was especially happy about El Deafo after hearing Cece Bell speak in the Graphic Novel Author Forum on Friday night. It couldn’t happen to a nicer person! I have read El Deafo and have already written a review, which I’ll post soon.

A Caldecott Committee member whom I happen to know said, “The criteria is for ages up to 14. If they want to change the criteria…” Others have expressed indignation that a book for teens would win a Caldecott Honor, but the criteria indeed say nothing about “picture books” needing to be targeted to younger readers.

Before the awards, people I talked with felt that there would be great indignation if Brown Girl Dreaming did not win the Newbery, though one friend said that the writing in The Crossover is actually better. Yet when it came down to it, no one was indignant. I think that’s because Brown Girl Dreaming did win the Coretta Scott King Author Award, while Crossover won an Honor. In the Newbery, those positions were switched — but the fact that both were represented in both awards shows that those are just two darn good books.

And this completely puts to rest the idea that the Newbery committee might set aside books by African-Americans, thinking the Coretta Scott King Award will take care of them.

The one thing that made me sad was not seeing The Farmer and the Clown up there among the Caldecott Honors. I do love Marla Frazee’s work.

I hadn’t read as many of the contenders as usual this year, but many of those I had read were also my own personal favorites.

My review for The Crossover will be posted soon.

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, won the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, and a Sibert Honor (for children’s nonfiction).

The Noisy Paint Box, by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPré, won a Caldecott Honor.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (review upcoming), won a Caldecott Honor.

Viva Frida, by Yuyi Morales, won a Caldecott Honor and the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award.

How I Discovered Poetry, by Marilyn Nelson, won a Coretta Scott King Author Honor.

My favorite children’s nonfiction book of the year, A Boy and a Jaguar, by Alan Rabinowitz, illustrated by Cátia Chen, won the Schneider Award for younger readers.

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, by Loic Dauvillier, illustrated by Marc Lizano, color by Greg Salsedo, translated by Alexis Siegel, won a Batchelder Honor.

Finally, my much-loved Waiting Is Not Easy!, by Mo Willems, won a Geisel Honor.

ALA President’s Program: Mick Ebeling

I walked in a little late to Mick Ebeling’s talk, but still came away inspired and uplifted.

Here are my notes. The end of the talk came from audience questions and comments:

Mick Ebeling

Making things to change people’s lives.
They changed one guy’s life.
Then it was listed as one of the greatest inventions of all time.
They just sought to help one guy.
They got an email from him. It was the first time he’d drawn in 7 years — they decided they had to do it again.

Started Not Impossible Labs
Based on the concept of Technology — making Technology for the sake of humanity.

The concept of Impossible — Nothing was *always* possible

Everything that is possible today was once impossible.

Impossible is hinged to the concept of permission. Roger Bannister breaking the 4-minute mile is an example of that.

Dr. Tom Katana – The only doctor within a 50-mile radius in a wartime situation.

Mick’s method: Commit. Then figure it out.

Surround yourself with people who make you feel stupid.

Made prosthetics for a kid who lost his arms.

Their plan was to teach *them* to be makers as well.

If it could go wrong, it did.
They made a prosthetics lab the locals could run themselves.

Lens they look through: Help One. Help Many.

He learned: You can get carpal tunnel shaking a tin cup.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
–Buckminster Fuller
Changed the model to for-profit.
You can do good and make money!

In 14 weeks, they had 420 Million Earned Media Impressions
Won at Cannes

Want to show that Doing Good is Good Business.
Also: Doing Good is Good Branding

The 3 Rules of How:
1. Singularity of Focus (Help One.) Doable and attainable.
2. Give it Away. (Open source)
You can’t argue with free. You can’t hate on free.
Release early and release often and with open source, you’ll get help.
3. Beautiful, Limitless Naivete
“I know just enough to know I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
What can be done without our preconceived notions.

The Power of Story
Not Impossible Now — a blog that tells the story of people who are doing the not impossible.

All the technology they make isn’t as powerful as the stories they’re telling.

What is your story?
In the concept of Help One, Help Many, Who is your one?
Who is your Daniel?

Libraries should get 3D printers!
A 3D printer is the industrial revolution in a box.
It’s a new way of looking at the world.
It opens kids’ minds up.
Help kids know that nothing that exists now wasn’t impossible at one point.

Walk not impossible — low cost robotic legs teaching kids with cerebral palsy to walk.
The genesis of it starts with the need, not the solution.
The more we tell our story, the more people come with ideas.

Librarians are the Sherpas on the mountains of information.

Listen to those moments when I’m inspired. Walk down the road to explore where the inspiration comes from.
The permission is already granted. If you fail, you learn something.

It’s hard to sue an entity that’s giving it away.
In the maker culture, if you can’t afford something, make it.
Companies are bringing their prices down as a result.
They don’t have patents, and may get sued. But so far, no problem with that.

Comment: Libraries are at the forefront of free and sharing.
Libraries can make a policy that things made on the 3D printer are free and shared.

Smart people find them.

Comment: Like him, as librarians, we can tell stories. How do we tell our stories better?
We are stewards of stories! Collect stories and give people freedom to tell their stories. Be a sherpa and advocate for story.

Comment: Look at those stories of past human ingenuity.

Biggest mistake in project Daniel: They trained all guys. Now they will always train 50% women as minimum.

The editor of a documentary is the storyteller.

Young Children, New Media, & Libraries


Sunday afternoon was a very interesting session talking about a survey that was done about using new media in libraries with young children. Here are my notes:

Young Children, New Media, & Libraries
Liz Mills
Amy Koester
Julie Roach
(ad lib panel because of storm)

Liz: A survey was done from — use of new media with young children in libraries. Role of children’s librarian with new media.
Wanted an initial snapshot of technology use in libraries. Esp programming for ages 0-5.
Wanted to cast as wide a net as possible.
What’s the landscape in public libraries?
To what extent is tech being used in libraries?
What kind of funding/selection strategies?

Def: New media is digital technology, particularly tablet-based. Esp looking at children ages 0-5.
More than 400 responses in 18 days.
Looked at how new media was being used in programming
40% using devices in storytime
31% using devices in programming that is not storytime
26% had devices available for check out.
Most popular: Tablets
Largely funded by library’s operational budgets
2nd was grants and donations.
Also staff used personal devices.
Respondents did consult some type of outside resource.
Will be increasing availability and use.

Not all responses were positive.
Saw some pushback. Some don’t believe tablets are good for young children.
Reasonable to conclude that this is still an important topic to investigate.
Survey sets the stage for a larger discussion around media mentorship.

Interesting similarities between libraries and families using new media.
2013 – 75% of households use new media. 71% of libraries.
40% of families with children 8 and younger own some sort of tablet and their children have used it. 39% of libraries have used tablets in storytime.
Libraries compare well with families in 2013.
Prevalence of families who use digital media continues to go up.

Only 22% of libraries are offering some sort of mentoring on media.
Mentoring on media is what we youth librarians do.
Digital media is just a new form of what we’ve always been doing.

Main implications of survey data: We need digital media mentoring in libraries.

A media mentor is a person who is knowledgeable about recommendations of how children and families use media and supports decisions. We can refer them to experts and give them the information.

Every library needs to have a commitment to meeting families where they are.

We should be familiar with different policy statements — and provide access to the best resources possible.
AAP, Fred Rogers Center, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshops, Erikson Institute — these have done the research and laid out their positions.

Know your resources and share them with families.

Recognize this is a vital way we can serve families.

Library Schools should include this in their discussions with future Youth Librarians.

Julie (Moderator): What initial steps would you take in leading people to be a media mentor?

First step: Identify key resources and make sure staff have an opportunity to read and discuss these resources.
We’d need to remember our role as objective information providers.
Whatever our own personal convictions, it’s up to parents to make the decisions for their families — we need to give them objective information

Liz – at U of Washington, they are preparing a new class about that.
Making students aware of what the landscape is.
Helping students realize they don’t have to be an expert. Talk with the family. Find out what they’re looking for — a Reader’s Advisory/ Reference Interview

What surprised you most from the survey results?
Amy: Surprised by how high the numbers are on current use.
Liz: Curious about the <5000 population libraries. Excited about the 58% who plan to increase use.
Amy: It’s not a tech or no-tech issue.

Julie: Any lessons learned from the survey?
Liz: Would have asked more questions. Really broad swathes.
Amy: Looking at the data in different ways, going in as deeply as possible.

Julie: Any tips for developing media mentors?
Amy: We need general acknowledgement that this is an issue that every library serving youth and families is facing every day.
Emphasize to our managers and policy-setters that we are encountering this and it is important. We need a commitment to explore these issues.
There’s power in a large group of people working toward the same goal.
Liz: Openness and flexibility. Another way in which people are consuming information. Not replacing books.

Question about digital divide. Libraries having tech — how is that related to the income of the families they serve? A follow-up question.

Provides an extra facet to where media mentorship can come in.

Blogs like littleelit and storytimeunderground

More and more research is going on and tied to policy statements. Look at this as a potential research topic.
This area is changing quickly. We need to do a lot to capture what’s happening and think critically about that.

Look for commonalities in the work that’s already being done in making media mentors.

In the same way we can do readers’ advisory in areas we’re not familiar with, we can learn the resources.

Boyds Mills Press Luncheon

I was invited to a lunch given by Boyds Mills Press. They gave us yummy food and talked about their Spring titles and gave us a bag of books to bring home. Two authors spoke about their new books.

Here is what they talked about:

Boyds Mills Press Luncheon

Big Tractor (not much need to say more! Looks great!)

No No Kitten – about imagination

Space Boy and his [Sister] Dog – also about where your imagination can take you

Book by Jane Yolen, Heidi Semple & Melissa Sweet – You Nest Here With Me
Bedtime book with science facts

“The great Rebecca Kai Dotlich” – 11 very very very short stories. One Day The End.
Illustrator put in a story on every spread.
Ends with: “One day I wanted to write a book. So I did.” September 2015.

With Calkins Creek, they’re trying to bring history to engage kids and make it come alike.

Gail Jarrow – writes thrillers — If you can make science and history thrilling for kids, you have done a great thing!
Fatal Fever — Typhoid Mary as you’ve never seen her before. She was a cook, and that’s how she infected so many people.
A turning point time in human health 1930s. Woman born in 1900 lived only 48 years. In 1950, 72 years. Now, we’re only up to 81.
These diseases were brought under control in this time.
35,000 people in the US died of typhoid fever in 1900.
Cornell University had 29 students die, so they worked on eradicating Typhoid Fever.
The age group hit the hardest by typhoid fever were young adults. She put in individual stories of people who had Typhoid.

Kathy Cannon Wiechman – Like a River
Captures the soul of the Civil War. A story first, populated by beautiful characters, with a strong voice.
She didn’t like history as it was introduced to her — dates and facts.
As story, she loves history — people and stories.
Inspiration – The Sultana Disaster – 3 weeks after end of Civil War
Took Union prisoners and sent them north on steamboats. Owners got paid for the number on the boats. Sultana built for 300, carried 2500 people. Boilers exploded, and killed more people than died on the Titanic. Mostly returning prisoners of war.
The more she found out, the more she had to tell the story.
Told in two parts, from two points of view — a boy and a girl. The girl is dressed as a boy, and a soldier, too.

LeVar Burton!


I was a little late today, but I got to hear LeVar Burton speak at ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, while a blizzard raged outside.

Here are my notes. The ending part seems a little disjointed, because those were his remarks responding to audience questions.

LeVar Burton

His new book was inspired by Fred Rogers. He wants it to be a resource to talk with kids about tough times.

The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm

He comes from a collaborative creative background — movies are very collaborative, so his writing was not a solitary journey.
The Rhino is one of the strongest in the animal kingdom. If a rhino can be brought down by depression, than all of us are susceptible.

He doesn’t understand the stigma of depression. It happens to us all.

Irma Jean Christian — His mother. Made him who he is.

She is the first of his storytelling mentors. A voracious reader.

“She read not only to me, but in front of me.”

A very important example to sell.

How often do your kids see you reading?

Do you know what your child is passionate about?

It is our passions that drive the self-selected activity of reading.

“If your child is passionate about superheroes, then, dammit, buy your kid comic books.”

Another storytelling mentor: Alex Haley.

When LeVar reads Alex’s writings, he hears Alex’s voice.

When you were in his presence, you were the person he was most interested in.
Alex was laser-locked on you when you were speaking with him.
Supremely interested in who you are in that Now moment.

In the act of telling his own personal narrative, he changed the way our nation looked at itself.
There’s a throughline in history from slavery through Roots through Barack Obama’s presidency.

Another storytelling mentor: Gene Roddenberry.

The value of remembering that our heroes are you.
Seeing Nichelle Nichols on the bridge of the Enterprise that meant more than the world to him. Made him know there’s a place for him.
It was confusing that this great visionary was Neanderthal in his views toward women.
Our heroes are human — It’s important for us to remember this.
We must separate the man or woman from the myth.

Another storytelling mentor: Fred Rogers

Thanks that a book recommended on Reading Rainbow was first book he checked out from the library — and now he’s a librarian.

Surprise from Rhino — Finished product is vastly different than what he planned. Didn’t expect it to be rhyming.

What piece of literature would you adapt? He’d turn something of Octavia Butler’s into a miniseries. She talks about what it means to be human and what it means to be humane.

Favorite Children’s Books: Amazing Grace, by Mary Hoffman
He relates to Grace’s journey. He was often told there were things beyond his reach. His mother told him no limits were imposed on him. He got the best education available so he could compete with anyone.
Enemy Pie, by Derek Munson
Protagonist has a problem – an enemy who’s moved into his neighborhood. Father helps him solve that problem. At the end of the day, it is our own prejudice that gets in the way of us being open to some of the most wonderful experiences in life.

Favorite Reading Rainbow moments: Hot air ballooning, diving in the Coral Reef, every book carries a specific and indelible memory.

What are you most excited about for the future? Reading Rainbow was most backed Kickstarter or crowd-funded campaign in history. Every Child, Everywhere
Beginning in the US releasing the web product of the app. Reading Rainbow the app is a brilliant translation of the tv show to an app. Content is original digital books with a video — 2 new released every Friday.
In discussion to go to Latin America.

Why Bookmobiles? Because connection with the written word on printed paper is an essential aspect of what it means to be a reader.
There’s nothing like flipping open the pages of a book.

A thank you from a Mom who learned English along with her kids watching Reading Rainbow.

Look at Youtube the Reading Rainbow channel.

What would you say about the value of libraries?
Even in this age of technology, Libraries do one thing that no other institution in America does, and that is provide access to ALL. Everyone has access to the information that defines the quality of our lives. Period.

When Reading Rainbow started, people were asking if TV was the death knell of education of our kids. It has demonstrated that the content is what is important.

LeVar is Awesome!


ALA Loot

I try to restrain myself at ALA! Really I do!

But it’s been more than a year since I went to an ALA conference. My self-control is ebbing.

The first night, I picked up 37 books:


The second day, with a trip back to the hotel in the middle to drop off books — I got 42.2 books. I’m calling a Naomi Novik booklet with the beginning of her new book a tenth of a book, and same for a CD sampler from Guys Listen! with excerpts from various audiobooks.


This includes several signed books. Let’s see:

From the graphic novels panel, I got an ARC of Out from Boneville, Tribute Edition, signed by Jeff Smith

Nina in That Makes Me Mad!, a Toon Book by Hilary Knight, signed by Francoise Mouly, editor of Toon Books

A copy of The Shadow Hero signed by Gene Luen Yang

Then from the exhibits yesterday:

The Terrible Two, signed by Mac Barnett and Jory John

Channing O’Banning and the Turquoise Trail, signed by Angela Spady (who was very excited that my son goes to William & Mary, as does her daughter)

Today I got While Beauty Slept, signed by Elizabeth Blackwell, a book I’ve been meaning to read for some time.

Poison Fruit, signed by Jacqueline Carey

An ARC of Dark Debt, signed by Chloe Neill

Ben Franklin’s Big Splash, signed by Barb Rosenstock

And the only books I paid for ($6 each): Infidel and Nomad, signed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Some other books I’m very excited about include:

The third Princess Academy book by Shannon Hale

The sequel to Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

A new book by Jessica Day George

A new Clementine book by Sara Pennypacker

Two books by Clare Dunkle (one with her daughter), which I had already preordered

The Chosen Prince, by Diane Stanley

Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman

A Dangerous Place, by Jacqueline Winspear

And much, much more!

And there’s still a day and a half to go! (Though I also have to figure out a time to ship the books.)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali – Arthur Curley Memorial Lecture at ALA Midwinter Meeting

The last session of the day today was a big auditorium lecture (A conversation with a moderator) with Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Here are my notes:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Arthur Curley Memorial Lecture
Moderator: Donna Seaman

She worked in a ThinkTank. Managing immigration in Holland. How much immigration can a welfare state absorb and remain a welfare state?

On 9/11, when she saw the towers fall, she prayed that it was not Muslims who did this.
Was frightened when some Muslim kids were filmed being happy about it.
Holland was trying to pretend that nothing had happened.
A vast march of Muslims saw the attacks as the right way to attack the infidels.
She had to evaluate where she stood on Islam.

Donna Seaman: Talk about when you discovered your first school library.

Hirsi Ali: The institution called a library is why she’s here.

They had Shakespeare, but the hottest copies were Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys, Enid Blyton

The most highly read copies had the end missing, but they were still kept in the library.

That was the seeding of her intellectual life.

What was your education like before that?

We are not Islands. Our communities exercise control.

When she was in Somalia, it was all about the collective — everyone policing her behavior, and everyone else’s behavior.

She moved to Kenya at 10 years old, and she went to school, because her father insisted.

There were no screens. She had “A lot of time to be bored and be evil.”

In hindsight, a little bit of my ethical moral training came from Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. Also the individualistic way of thinking about things — the basis was laid back then.

For an average student, seeded with extremely limited resources with the ideas of the enlightenment…. shows how important children’s minds are.

If we consciously try to promote the ideas of the enlightenment, we can reach children’s minds.

For her, her writing is more about the message than about the craft. English is her 4th language.

You need the freedom of expression for her message to get out.
She was amazed when she moved to the Netherlands at the freedom of expression.

When the Dutch had a flood, they blamed the government, rather than God!

In the context where she grew up, her questions were clamped down.

After she wrote Infidel, she became famous or infamous, just from telling the story — and she offended the community she grew up in. The collective was not ready to reveal these things to the world.

99% of western society said it was different — but not some of the fundamentalist westerners. Authoritative collectives treat individuals the same way. This is something universal.

She learned from the responses is that there are degrees in which the authoritative collective can inhibit freedom.

Where we are now is going to military means first.

Most Muslims are good people. They are not going to become atheists. In 2010, she thought they should become Christians.

Then Arab Spring happened. She saw crowds of young people demanding freedom.

After they were standing up to despots, they will learn to stand up to the personal despot. Students will start asking questions.

In the Muslim context, it is “You have to obey because Allah says so.”

The question now is, “Who is Allah? Who is Mohammed to tell me what to do?”

Now seeds for reformation are there.

She is seeing young women having a state of dissonance.

Some choose to clear that dissonance by becoming more fundamentalist.

They cocoon themselves by going by the letter.

What gives her hope is those who try to get to the core of the text. We need a new relationship with God.

Librarians are probably the happiest community on the planet because they have time to read.

It helps to remember when Christianity was as intolerant as Islam is now. And remember that those who wanted change were accused of blasphemy.

Remember that with Christianity: That’s how it was. 500 years ago, Christians were easily offended as well.

Librarians can encourage those conversations.

Libraries are a place where you come and reflect. Think of libraries as temples of enlightenment.

People who are vulnerable to terrible ideas need to see competition of ideas at libraries.

We need the courage to say, if I’m in a place to choose between my conscience and the demands of a God, I need to choose my conscience.

Women in Geekdom

Today at ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, I went to a panel called Women in Geekdom. It was excellent, about reaching out to women via libraries.

Here are my notes:

Women in Geekdom

Moderator, Samantha Nelson, from the A. V. Club — talking about Gamers

Tricia Bobeda — Nerdette Podcast – Nerd is not what you love but how much you love it. 50,000 people listen.
All you need to podcast is a computer and a decent microphone.
Interested in librarians podcasting.

Mo Fong – K-12 Education Outreach at Google
The world is changing, and students need access and exposure to learn.
Research: Why women choose computer science: Encouragement and exposure. That’s something librarians do.

Emily Graslie: The Field Museum & The Brain Scoop
Similarities between libraries and museums.

Molly Jane Kremer: Challenger Comics & 
Have won the Eisner’s for best retailer. She reviews comics.
Libraries facilitate collaboration.

Samantha Nelson, Moderator: “Gamers love to talk to other Gamers.” Libraries can be a space for that.

Tricia: Kickstarter is a similar model to Public Radio.
Membership can also be about getting together and sharing ideas.

Mo Fong – There is lots of collaboration in Computer Science, and that works well with libraries.

Emily : Libraries and Museums have the advantage of an exciting physical space. The majority of their community building happens online.
You can invite people to come into the physical space.

Molly Jane: People assume comic fans are antisocial — but they connect with fellow enthusiasts. Libraries can foster that sort of community.

Moderator: Geekdom can seem intimidating. A library can help people get that first exposure.

Mo: Finding out what students already love within their communities and adding those: Arduino lights on shoes!
Video: Made with Code campaign
It has projects kids can do right in the library
Host a Made with Code Party — comes in a box. You’re a facilitator. Minimal cost and equipment.
Only 18% of Computer Science Graduates today are women.
CS First Clubs. Targeted toward middle schoolers. Tied to themes — music art, fashion, games, friends. Clubs we can run.

Tricia: Podcasting is a safe space, like libraries. Not afraid to show themselves as beginners.
If kids can become the teachers, it’s less scary, and it’s empowering.
Get the kids in your community face to face with scientists.

Emily – She has a web series where she continues to ask the amateur questions. Learning together is a unifying thing.
NOT the empty vessel model.
Allowing kids to become an authority is so empowering for them.

Molly Jane: Intimidating when starting out in comics. Libraries are great places to get around that. You just need a kind understanding person to help you figure out what you need to know. Making you feel like you can dive in.

Samantha: A program is only successful if people show up. How do you combat the perceptions as a waste of time?
More brain power used than the game of chess.
How do we make it clear and remove the negative stigmas? How do we explain the social and mental benefits?

Emily: Can go both ways. She hated everything as a teenager — you also need to appeal to the kid.
Associated with the library gives it built-in credibility!
Depends on the age of the kids, too.

Mo: Curious about how we get interest at different ages.
Can there be parallel programming for the parents?
Tricia: Journalists and librarians are conduits for actual understanding.
Street cred to what we do!
Make partnerships so kids can see actual scientists.

Molly Jane: Get comic artists to do signings.

Samantha: Co-programming is good.
Why do you think women are less represented in your groups?
It’s empowering to meet other women interested. Library can be a place where that happens.

Tricia: The Safety to be As Weird As You Are
When they started Nerdette it was to give women a space.
Libraries can take up the community conversation being dropped by newspapers

Mo: Perception is a problem. What books do you highlight? In history, women were not seen as any less capable with computer science.

Emily: Lots of thoughts in my Mind Palace about women in geekdom
We call the shots on what’s cool.
We don’t have enough positive female role models in these fields.
Take a stance on issues! Highlight women scientists!
You can expand people’s ideas of what games can do.
Games as narrative.
Parents do bristle at things marketed for boys or for girls.
Public librarians: Reach out to the community colleges.
Steer young people to the special programs.
First Robotics programs (free, online).

Tricia: Don’t be apologetic to ask the community for help!

Mo: You only need one person super passionate about things to make things work.