Library Diversity Initiative

The State Library recently announced receipt of a $1 million grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services for recruiting and educating 30 ethnically/racially diverse students for Indiana’s Librarians Leading in Diversity project. Potential candidates must apply to the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science (IU SLIS) by September 15, 2008. The Fellowship Application process is open until 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 3, 2008.

Ten candidates a year for three years are eligible to be selected for this Master of Library Science (MLS) Degree Fellowship program. Potential candidates who have applied to IU SLIS, and completed the fellowship application must also request two letters of recommendation from people (not relatives) who can speak to their professionalism and leadership potential. See the Fact Sheet for more details.

A rant on VOYA

Have you ever wondered why there have been no challenges to the urban fiction (street lit/hip hop fit) that often appears in school media centers and young adult corners of public libraries? I have. And I also wonder how an educated person would suggest that we not provide alternative reads to street fiction which glamorizes drug dealers and criminals. This is exactly what I read in the current issue of VOYA.

When I was able to find time to read the journal, I was glad to see another article on street lit. The more I read, however the more disappointed I became. This raw, base fiction DOES NOT appeal to every Black and Latino student who enters a library. Although too many like to imitate a life based in poverty and decorated with recreational drugs and crimes, not all have that kind of life. Students of color read a wide variety of literature from anime to craft books to American classics. It can be eye opening to read about lives different from ours, and sometimes a good book is a good book no matter the color or background of the character. Yet, most often students prefer to read about people with lives similar to themselves. Heck, we all enjoy that! I remember when I discovered The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou and I could not believe there were books about people who looked like me! I’ve had middle class Black male students ask me ‘Where are the books for kids like me?’

After creating the position that ALL Black and Latino students read these books, the author continues to create the premise that these books that justify illegal and immoral acts should be placed into young people’s hands sans thought or reservation.

And here again, I wonder why these books are never challenged. As more public libraries carry urban books and when White students begin to read them or when White authors begin to imitate them for young adults, will these liberal librarians still promote them so freely? Will publishers begin to publish books that appeal to other audiences for Blacks and Latinos?

Now, I do know that many librarians have used these as hooks to get students reading. Even Vanessa Morris, who was referenced in this article, provided example of using these books responsibly with teens (see Street lit: Flying off teen fiction bookshelves in Philadelphia public libraries. Journal of Young Adult Library Service, 5(1): 16-23). She and her co-authors used them with reading groups, getting students to openly discuss the situations in the books. My colleague, Mary Ann Laker has found that many of her students find their cousins, uncles and even parents in these books. She requires parental permission for students under 18 to read urban fiction and she discusses the books with the students when they have finished reading. She has found that they often tire of reading the same story re-hashed and she is able to put other books in their hands because they’ve come to trust her literary sense.

I’ve chosen not to put urban fiction in my library. Instead, I work to find a variety of books that will appeal not only to Blacks and Latinos, but to students of color (i.e., not European descent) from all over the globe. Yes, even these books push the envelope from time to time, but such is the nature of YA lit. I just try to be responsible about what I promote.

Now I’m stepping down off my soap box, wrapping up in a nice quilt and reading some Walter Dean Myers.

Library Writing Contest

This was on Beyond the Job blog a while ago:

For Further Info
Contact Debbie Glade
Smart Poodle Publishing
PO Box 817468
Hollyood, FL 33081
smartpoodle@comcast.net
www.lillybadilly.com
www.smartpoodlepublishing.com
954-328-7465

Announcing the Smart Poodle Publishing

“What I Wish Everyone Knew About Librarians”

Writing Contest

Smart Poodle Publishing knows that librarians can make a world of difference in the lives of readers everywhere from every age and at every reading level! We feel that librarians are sometimes under appreciated or misunderstood. Now is your chance to speak out by entering our contest.

Sponsor
This contest is sponsored by Smart Poodle Publishing, PO Box 817468, Hollywood, FL 33081.

Eligibility

* Contest is open only to librarians of public, private and school/university libraries in the United States and who are legal residents of the Unites States.

How to Enter/Official Rules

* No purchase necessary to win.
* Entrants must write an essay describing what they wish everyone knew about librarians. Ideas for your entry: Describe your job, and what it takes physically, mentally and financially to keep a library running. How long have you been a librarian? What kind of education did you get to prepare yourself for this job? Do you have any funny stories about events that have taken place in your library? What kind of sense of humor do librarians have? What type of programs does your library offer? Do you run the mobile library unit? Are you in charge of choosing new titles? Have you experienced budget cuts? Have you helped someone in any special way? Do you have an interesting, touching or hilarious story relating to kids? Do you think librarians are underappreciated? Why? Tell your story.
* Essays can be up to 1,500 words.
* Essays should be typed and emailed to smartpoodle@comcast.net. Text can be copied and pasted directly into the email message area or sent as a Word document.
* All entries must include name, title, library name, address, phone number and email address.
* Please include the phone number where you’d like to be notified if you are a winner.
* Entrants must agree to allow Smart Poodle Publishing to publish their stories online or in print.

Judging
Winners will be chosen based upon content, writing style and originality.

Prizes

* 1 Grand Prize winner will receive $500
* 2nd Place winner will receive $100
* 3rd Place winner will $50
* All 3 winning entries will be posted on www.smartpoodlepublishing.com and may be published elsewhere online or in print.

Contest Deadline
Entries must be received by Monday, December 1, 2008 by 5:00 pm (EST)

Winners
Winners will be notified on or before December 15th via phone call and also email.

Debbie Glade is the author of the children’s picture book/CD The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica. www.lillybadilly.com

(what i learned today)

book review: My life as a rhombus

My life as a rhombus                                              

by: Varian Johnson

Main character:  Rhonda Lee

I was a bit skeptical about this one.  Not only would this book would have math as a central theme, but it is a book written by a male with a teenage female as the main character.  The book itself indicates the problem adult men have in understanding teenage girls through the relationship Rhonda has with her father.  And, it is believable.  Johnson seems to get teenage girls.  The concerns with physical appearance, with cliques, parents and teenage boys are all developed in a very believable manner.

We first meet Rhonda while she is doing what she does best:  tutoring students in math.  The student who needs her help on this day is a classmate Rhonda doesn’t particularly like because she belongs to a different, more popular clique.  Rhonda is far from perfect but she does care about others and she does what she can to help those around her in need.  So, she decides to help this student so that she (Rhonda) can have a chance at a scholarship for the college of her choice.  In the process, she shares more of herself than she would have ever imagined to be possible.

Rhonda is very smart but she has problems and concerns like everyone else.  It is quite interesting to see how she uses mathmatical logic to make sense of her life.  It helps us non-math people see creative, purposeful uses to many of the concepts we struggle with in class.  This is a coming of age story with Rhonda’s growth happening when she learns to forgive others and herself for a tragic event in her past.

My life as a rhombus is Johnson’s second book and he says it is the most difficult thing he’s written to date.  He is a writer and structural engineer who resides in Austin, TX and submits to three blogs.