Sunday Morning Reads

Perhaps today’s post is going to be an uncomfortable one, but in opening up conversations about money and finances with my friends and family, I’ve found a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas. Discomfort is a sign of growth.

We usually think of money and finances when we think of economics, but this science is actually the study of decision making. Money and finances often influences our decisions, don’t they? It has for me!

At the end of last year I was fortunate enough to be invited to make several presentations. While may of the organizations that invited me to present were able to provide me with a small stipend, I never had all my expenses covered and as a result, I’ll be paying off credit cards for the next couple of months. Sure, I could have said ‘no’ but, what would have been the cost of doing that? As a pre-tenure faculty member, these opportunities to grow the perception of me as an expert in my field are critical.

I wish I could wholeheartedly say my message was critical, too. I think I refrain from saying that not because I think I’m a completely ineffective speaker but, because I think I’ve strayed from my message. This blog has been the core of my platform and it is where I work to promote Native Americans, authors of color and their works. It’s also where I promote literacy for marginalized teens. White authors are not my focus. Sure, I’ll occasionally do a critical review of something written by other authors, but there has consistently been so little attention given to marginalized authors that I want to keep that focus.

I can’t say I have an audience in mind when I write. I can remember after a couple of years of blogging, I was surprised to get responses from teens when I reviewed books they were reading. And, I’m even more surprised when faculty members tell me they use this blog in their classes. I realize I have a variety of readers and the best thing I can do for them all is to stay focused and to stay true.

I’ve declined several opportunities already this year because I don’t want to talk to white authors about what they can and should write. From my perspective, white authors who embrace decolonization will work to insure opportunities for WOC/NA but those lost in the marketing concept of diversity will be stuck trying to understand how to write The Other.

I have to admit that finances did play a role in leading me realize that I too was caught up on the marketing of diversity. I hae to admit that finances played a huge role in bringing me to this awareness.

Which leads me to the presentations and conferences.

I recently posted on FB about the high cost associated with a conference at which I’ll be presenting later this year ($299 registration fee). This is an ALA affiliate conference. Friends, librarians like to conference! The American Library Association (ALA) has two conferences each year. Each of their divisions has a conference every year or two as do the ethnic caucuses.  These caucuses come together to hold a joint conference every 5 years. There are also state and regional library conferences. Librarians also find ourselves at literacy and reading conferences at the national, state and local levels, children’s literacy conferences and even education related conferences. I attended ALA MidWinter in January and spent over $1000 for travel, registration and lodging )for that one event. Librarians are not particularly well paid professionals.

But I digress! I posted about the high cost of an upcoming conference and generated a rather robust conversation on FB among librarians, academics and authors who are caught in this money pit. We need the conferences because they allow for exchange of information, networking (which is not the same as online networking), committee meetings, validation and rejuvenation. And conferences allow those of us in the hinterland to connect with a NYC focused industry. But at what cost? There are numerous externalities to conference attendance, but money remains a major opportunity cost.

Some authors are sponsored by their publishers and some librarians are sponsoring by their libraries. Public and academic librarians often have a pool of money that is shared among all librarians. School librarians! School librarians have to worry about release time, finding substitutes and getting financial support.

Self-published authors, who really need to be in the conference where it happens, are among those who can least afford these opportunities. Publishers use conferences as a marketing tool and rather than purchasing ad space in major media outlets, they rely heavily on the use the panels and exhibition halls to advertise their goods.

They also rely upon book reviews which have systematically excluded self-published authors. Thanks goodness Zara Rix ( ) at Booklist is trying to open doors for inde presses and authors by reviewing their books for Booklist.

As a result of these costs people who are much better at it than me find themselves strategically selecting where to make their investment. When does attending one more conference make a difference? How do we measure the return on our investment?  Are the organizations who sponsor these events working to promote our profession? I have to say too many kidlit related conferences seem more concerned about promoting books and authors than addressing issues relating to librarianship, the art and science of literature or to literacy. It’s incumbent upon us to see beyond the conference and examine the mission and actions of the association behind the event. Find out how well organized the events are and determine how well they align with our purpose. Not all kidlit conferences are the same; some are just too White [exclusive in nature] for me. Yesterday, I read Tweets from a participant at an annual writer’s conference who painfully and critically examined the ways participation by people with disabilities was marginalized by poorly planned accommodations. We will not continue to show up if we are not made to feel welcome.

I love that I’m in a profession that pushes me to learning and evolving. I just have to work to keep finding ways that allow me optimal opportunities to do so.


In case you were wondering, I don’t make a penny blogging. I have a day job that all too often has nothing to do with diversity or young adult literature. Literacy, yes. Information literacy. When I first learned the IMG_3109term, it described the skills necessary to locate, share, evaluate, access and present information. What it means to be information literate is growing and changing over time as our interactions with electronic media has expanded. Metaliteracy is one example of this change.

This literacy is what school librarians teach and this is why we need them.

My day starts tomorrow with me teaching searching skills to high students and ends after my regular hours with instruction to grad students, again on searching skills. Teaching the same thing at these two very different cognitive levels. I would say I’ve figured out teaching research to high schoolers, but giving it to strangers in a one shot sessions with not enough time to deliver a fully developed lesson is more than a challenge. Grad students? They should be able to digest a rather lectured delivery. I’ll go for that 20 minute max of ultimate brain attention.

I had an interesting revelation regarding this literacy recently regarding cultural relevance. It basically involved a Middle Eastern student who was assigned to research information on a certain car by evaluating information on a U.S. government website, the manufacturer’s site and one other. A student from a country where leadership is never questioned and the of questioning of authority is just not done. How then, do you teach these students to evaluate the information they find in the media?

Our world is diverse indeed.

Celebrated this weekend in at the Madison public library, The South Asian Book Award winners.

Elizabeth Suneby
Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education
(illustrations by Suana Verelst)
Kids Can Press, 2013

Jennifer Bradbury
A Moment Comes
Atheneum Book, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2013

2014 Honor Winner

Farhana Zia
The Garden of my Imaan
Peachtree, 2013

Librarian Amy Cheney has announce openings for In the Margins Book Award and Selection committee (ITM) for next year –  January 2015 – January 2016 for the 2016 list.  Click here to fill out an application of interest: We will be conducting interviews in December. In the Margins serves those young adult readers who are certainly in the margins, those who are incarcerated. Her recent SLJ article reviews recent books that fit her young readers needs.

YALSA has submitted a grant proposal to help disconnected youth, those who are with jobs, skills or knowledge that allows them to develop skills to prepare for the workforce. YALSA needs you to support their application by sharing what your library does to help disconnected your.

Please don’t take the work of school librarians/school media specialists for grant. 40% of the elementary school is Los Angeles have no librarian. No information literacy instruction, no skilled professionals to build capacity for a lifelong love of reading. KC Boyd fearlessly fights on behalf of students in Chicago to have librarians/media specialists in their schools. Here in Vigo County, the schools that still have librarians pull them out to teach science.

What’s going on in the schools near you? Who is teaching and advocating for your children to be truly literate in the 21st century?

call for proposals: REFORMA

The Call for Proposals to present at the Fifth REFORMA National Conference (RNC5) taking place in San Diego, CA, April 1-4, 2015, is now open! REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking

Please visit the website below to get the information and send your proposals for leading presentations, facilitating breakout sessions, or exhibiting posters. The conference’s theme is “Libraries Without Borders: Creating Our Future”. The 2014 REFORMA National Conference Program Committee will evaluate proposals for relevance to the conference theme, as well as clarity, originality, and timeliness.


Deadline is September 1, 2014.