Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Responding to Caregivers Looking for Information on Disability

Saturday night I returned from a whirlwind 19 hours in Las Vegas for #NVLA18, where I presented on how library staff need to examine the lessons they've internalized about disability if we really want to get serious about accessibility and welcoming the disability community in the library.

My thoughts on how to talk about the disability community in the library continue to evolve as I learn and grow as a self-advocate. I'm realizing that for multiple reasons we can't talk about disability in the same frame as other marginalization, though it's important to acknowledge that particularly the intersection of race makes a member of the disability community more vulnerable to the societal effects of the abled narrative (follow Vilissa Thompson at Ramp Your Voice for more on the intersection of race and disability). It's tough, because as much as I want diversity and inclusion conversations to include disability (and they should, still), there are specific challenges in regards to accessibility that disabled people face in society and the workplace; and often un-examined feelings about the disability can lead to a neglect of basic access needs.

So at #NVLA18 I tried my hand at a way to talk about accessibility and the way the abled narrative inserts itself into the framework in our profession. I framed the presentation through three overarching lies the abled narrative tells us; how each plays out in libraries; and some things we can do to counter and rebalance our thinking. A tall order for 50 minutes! But hey, I had a lot to say.

One part of the presentation was not only particularly difficult to write but also prompted some discussion afterward, and I thought it might make a good post for everyone to consider:

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sensory Story Time for Adults

Guest post by Jen Taggart and Ed Niemchak, Bloomfield Township Public Library

Why do sensory story times for adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities?
Jen: Story times are not just for kids, and multisensory experiences are the best way to engage audiences of all ages and abilities. Adults with cognitive disabilities may often feel more at home in the Youth Services area. Three years ago, we began seeing increasing numbers of group home residents with disabilities visiting the library. Caregivers were asking about attending our adaptive sensory story times for youth with developmental delays, which is limited in registration to help prevent overstimulation of our young attendees with sensory sensitivities. Many of our weekly group home visitors enjoy coloring, playing with some of the games and toys, doing a simple craft at our passive activity table, and eating their lunch in the library cafĂ©. It was time to start thinking about an ongoing program for these frequent visitors who loved the library so much. One question kept arising: While youth librarians have experience creating developmentally appropriate programming and these folks seem to prefer children’s books and materials, are we being mindful andrespectful of their age by doing the program in Youth Services?

Youth Services and Adult Services Collaborate!
Jen: After reaching out to the Adult Services department for their thoughts, I soon began meeting with Ed to talk about developing a monthly program for our adult group home visitors (which would later also include young adult students with multiple disabilities from the Wing Lake Developmental Center). We decided to start with a monthly program, taking a look at the program outline for the youth sensory story times which we have offered here since 2010. We adapted the program outline for teens and adults, including simple but age-respectful materials and more opportunity for social skills development. Accessibility aids such as a visual schedule and adaptive yoga movement remained. After the first few story times, Ed adjusted some of those activities based on caregiver input.

Where Do I Start?
Ed: Identifying 24 local adult group homes, I sent out letters introducing myself and explaining our plan to offer a program for adults with cognitive disabilities. After a month I had not received a single response and felt completely demoralized. It was then that I noticed a group of six adults and two caregivers just hanging out here one day. I approached them and introduced myself, talking about the possibility of this ongoing program. They were very enthusiastic and offered to attend the first program. Word of mouth and dedication helped to grow our average attendance to between 20 – 40 participants.

Personal standing and looking at picture book in front of a white board

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Favorite Program Posts from the Archives!

This past spring as I was starting to make the move from my old blog space to this one, Courtney from the Public Programs Office of ALA reached out to me about being featured on a post of "favorite programming blogs" on ALA's Programming Librarian website.

While I was honored, the timing was tricky and I didn't want to muddy the waters and direct lots of new people to my old address when I was just intending on abandoning it. Also, I love programming, but aside from the occasional storytime sub opportunity that's not really part of my job anymore.

So, how humbling and hilarious was it that five out of the nine authors who ended up being featured named my old blog as one of their favorites?

Granted, I'm Internet Friends with each of them and we've been part of a shared blogging community for awhile (I know at least that I've been blogging about library stuff for 7.5 YEARS now...what?!). I've been incredibly fortunate that something I basically started as notes to myself (okay, a very terrible book blog that THEN turned into notes to myself that THEN turned into stuff people read sometimes) to be received so well by people I respect so much.

For a couple of years I used my blogging anniversary to lift up newer programming blogs, and then newer-to-me-blogs in general. I'm out of practice with it but I need to get back in the game. That's why, when this space is fully up-and-running, I'll be writing a post with a whole bunch of new-to-me programming blogs to add to your feeds. 

If you've started a blog that I don't know about it, please comment here so I can feature you, too! If you'd like to start collecting your programming thoughts in a place that's shareable, a blog is still a good place for that! Know that it's a lot of work, but you'd probably be doing it anyway for your own files, so might as well share your great ideas and maybe meet a few people along the way!

Bryce with some Internet Friends sitting round a restaurant table
and smiles for a picture at ALA Midwinter 2018
(From left to right those pictured are Soraya (Admin at Storytime Underground), Mary (of Storytime Underground and Miss Merry Liberry), Rebecca (of Hafuboti), Melissa (of Mel's Desk), me (of here), and Anna (of Everyday Diversity and Future Librarian Superhero).

In sum: I'm Nobody and You Can Be Too. Email me if you need encouragement! 

Anyway, wasn't I posting programs from the archives? Here you go (there may be some links that still need updating, but it'll send you right back here to the corresponding post):

Story Action Pod: Election Edition: Shark and Train face off in this passive program

Ninjago Library Party: At over 100 people between two branches, this was possibly the most successful active program I made with junk and hope.

Mythbusters for Elementary Kids: I completely forgot I did this, but there's four weeks of weekly plans for you.

Spy School at the Library: those Ology programs were some of my favorites!

Tween Scavenger Hunt in the Library: great for class visits or other group trips.

Tic-Tac-Toe/Simon Says Mashup Game: one of my last inspired activities as a frontline staff member.

Library LEGO Checkout Club: one of my most-shared posts ever! Super easy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Reshaping Summer Reading: Questions to Guide the Conversation

Does everyone have their Summer Reading 2019 folder created yet? I had mine on 8/20, beating the creation of my Summer Reading 2018 folder by a whole 7 weeks (yaay?).

SRP (or SLP, or whatever you call it*) continues to barrel through the years. A program of the magnitude, impact, and history  that SRP is seems to be best left How It Is, mostly because it is easiest. But also because it's a ton of work and we put a lot of thought and heart into it. There's lots of Feelings and ownership wrapped up in SRP for a lot of us. For instance, when approaching the conversations this post is about with others on my team, I used the example of myself: the Summer Reading Game Cards I developed are my favorite and no one can convince that anything is better. And I mean, sure, there are so many people doing so many great things when it comes to SRP, but given the opportunity and without the guideposts I'll address here, I would probably run SRP with them until I was done in libraries.

But that doesn't mean What's Easiest doesn't ever come with a healthy dose of overwhelming dread.

Youth Services representatives at our local libraries expressed interest in revisiting countywide support from central services for SRP, and this support involves a lot of people and a ton of moving pieces. Big picture conversations, therefore, need to happen at the administrative and the local level. My coworker Katie and I decided to turn this into a fiscal year priority project (I keep meaning to write about these, they changed my life) and map out the conversation. I'm not going to share a lot about this process, or update about it as the conversation happens, in the interest of preserving the psychological safety of my team and local staff. But I did want to share to the questions we're asking. Because here's the thing: much has been written about the need to reshape SRP, or specific things people have tried, but what I haven't seen is the how: whose buy-in is needed? How do you advocate for change? How do you make sure no one on your team feels left behind or experiences burnout?

My answers to these questions:
1. your entire team, to help with the next question when speaking to higher ups
2. basically, make no assumptions and try to know your sh** (for instance: redemption stats for incentives, historical knowledge, staff time/resource analysis, preliminary conversations; observations; I've been meaning to write THIS post for awhile too. To demonstrate the extent to which I attempted to prepare for these conversations, I reached out to Angela who held my position--er, what was my position 3 people ago-- to ask for anything she remembered about the history of support)
3. involve your entire team in the following conversations. Even the "pearl-clutchers".

I share these questions with the caveat that there is a likelihood--possibly a high one-- that your staff doesn't feel psychologically safe enough to share their thoughts on these questions with a supervisor or another in a position of perceived power, especially if the supervisor has historically been the main creator of the program. It might be good to get a facilitator from another department or an outside source. Facilitation isn't for everyone. Feel free to reach out if you need help with figuring out this crucial aspect.

Because of how BIG countywide support for SRP is, we decided on two conversations: one at the central level, and one that spans multiple meetings of the county's Youth Services Committee. I changed some of them slightly to make them more general. Feel free to use these questions when planning your own changes to SRP with your team!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Should I Share This Inspiring Story About Disability? A Checklist

TL;DR: Usually, no.

NOTE: If you're new here, welcome! When I write about accessibility, you will find that I use the terms "people with disabilities", "PWD", "the disability community", and "disabled people" interchangeably. This is something I deliberately do to challenge our institutional insistence on "person-first language."

The other night I was dismayed to see several people I follow on social media sharing, liking, and "loving" the same new viral story about a PWD. These stories are great for the people and their families, when shared personally and on their terms. But then, sometimes the stories are picked up for likes and shares, and go viral  by playing into the abled narrative: disabled people don't just live their life and enjoy new experiences for their own sake; they exist to teach everyone about how grateful we should be to be able to do something they can't.

I was so confused as to why, after so many posts, conversations, and shared links, that people close to me still didn't get it. Didn't think critically about this story and whether they should share it before hitting "share post." Didn't think about the lived experience of PWD before deciding that the person featured existed to teach the world about gratitude. I wondered what I was even doing here. I wrote a FB post about it, then deleted it almost immediately, thinking about the fights I didn't want to have.

I slept on it and decided to write this post instead.

This, of course, is not just about that one post. I've also seen posts across groups and Twitter threads where library staff share their sweet stories to keep us all going-- and some of these happen to specifically mention the fact that the person they were helping was disabled, or "looked" disabled. Occasionally these posts are called out in the comments, to be defended as "I just wanted to share a story." Members in groups tag mods who assert that it's the job of disabled members to educate other members, that everyone is "still learning." (if you're serious about learning, there are two Facebook groups-- here and here-- that exist for PWD to volunteer their time to answer questions). As if Google doesn't exist. As if we're not all information professionals.

So I decided to make checklist about whether or not to share stories about disability you find "inspiring", particularly if you are an abled person.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Symposium on the Future of Libraries 2019: A Youth Services Opportunity!

Do you have ideas about the future of youth services? Five years in the future will be here in no time. How about 20?

I've been honored to represent the youth services perspective on the Center for the Future of Libraries Advisory Group the past few years. The Center is a great resource for tracking library trends and sharing future-focused stories through the weekly "Read for Later" newsletter. The Advisory Group's main duties so far have been to review and make recommendations for the Center for the Future of Libraries Fellowship and the Symposium on the Future of Libraries. The Symposium has quickly become a popular offering at the Midwinter Meetings.

A lined background with a red stamp that says, "Due 8/15/18." 
In black text: "Symposium on the Future of Libraries: A YS Opportunity!"

As you know, the Midwinter Meeting is where the Youth Media Awards are announced, which makes it a great space for more youth-specific sessions. This Midwinter's last-minute "Storytime Deep Dive" in the Uncommons was an attempt to fill this need by ALSC member Melissa Depper.

As I said about the the Center for the Future of Libraries Fellowship earlier this year (I mean it double this time):

"I'd love to see a ton of Youth Services submissions. I really feel like there are so many great conversations happening about even the nature of youth services itself, but implementation can be tough when you're running 15 programs a week/managing tours for your whole district/on the desk several hours a week/yelling 'walk please' every 20 minutes/getting Child Germ Flu/constantly planning either Summer Reading or Battle of the Books/ etc etc etc. Or maybe you're facing a rough time and buzzing along and could use a new project to sink your teeth into.

Youth Services IS the future of libraries; we're literally shaping family library legacies and creating lifelong library users and supporters, everyday. But we hardly get the time or support to really consider what that even means. We see it in the courses that are offered, the conference proposals that get accepted, the Storytime Underground questions that get asked again and again: we're looking for quick tips for right now, and that's what we're getting.

And that's great, and it can work.

We ALSO deserve the space, the time, and the support to really consider what youth services actually means, and what our future could look like"

SO: I want to see your proposals for the Symposium in 2019! What ideas are floating around in your head that you want to shake out? Have a presentation in mind, or a discussion you want to see had? The proposal application is live now! Submit your youth-focused proposal by August 15th (not that there's anything else going on for youth services folks right now...).  I know it's all in the throes of SRP,  but I'd love for anyone who has the bandwidth to consider this opportunity.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Rerun This Fall! The Disability Community in the Library: The Class

I am so happy to announce that this Fall I will be teaching the online course, "The Disability Community in the Library" with the University of Wisconsin-Madison iSchool Continuing Education program! The course will run November 5-December 16, 2018. Register by October 22, 2018 for a 10% discount!

Unsure if this course is for you? Need some help justifying this course to your admin? Read on for more information!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Battle of the Bands Escape Room for Tweens and Teens

This post is written by Jennifer Johnson, my current programming blog intern. Find all of her posts here.

Happy summer! I hope that everyone’s summer reading programs are off to a great start! Like most libraries, we are absolutely loving the music theme this year with Libraries Rock! And like most libraries, escape rooms are hugely popular with our patrons at the moment. Up until this summer, we had used pre-made games from BreakoutEdu for our escape room programs, but we just couldn’t find one that struck the right chord (pun totally intended) with our music theme. Thus, we embarked into the unknown territory of writing our own games!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Investing Energy-What's Working For Me: The News Edition

“When one is engaged in suffering, there is so much more to it than keeping it all together”.
This is a quote from Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, founder of the Trauma Stewardship Institute. She said this in a TEDx talk in 2015 titled “Beyond the Cliff.”



There is a lot going on.

I get that it can be hard to focus, and hard to know where our focus is supposed to land. I believe this is by design.

CW: murder of people with disabilities. Skip to bolded points below.

As a disabled person, I regularly fear for members of our community. In history class growing up, it was a common occurrence to learn about past events and immediately think about how I probably would have been dead. I’m still working through how the historical trauma of PWD has affected me.

Monday, June 18, 2018

I Have the Mind of an Infant: Mental Age Theory in Libraries

NOTE: If you're new here, welcome! When I write about accessibility, you will find that I use the terms "people with disabilities", "PWD", "the disability community", and "disabled people" interchangeably. This is something I deliberately do to challenge our institutional insistence on "person-first language."

I have this thing due to my cerebral palsy where the muscles in my right hand constantly want to be clenched in a fist. This runs the spectrum from annoying, since it distracts people, to frustrating, because if I’m holding something in my left hand I’m basically immobilized, to incredibly painful. All of my shoulder muscles are nearly constantly tense. Add to this the practice of mirroring; which is where my right hand just really wants to do anything my left hand does due to my mixed-up-rewired Frankenstein of a brain. This results in things like having to ice down my hand after work if I’m writing all day by hand, my right hand deciding that WE TOTALLY NEED TO CLENCH A TIGHTER FIST THIS IS A LOT OF WRITING WE’RE DOING. Standardized tests were a nightmare.

“This thing” is actually a leftover from the Moro reflex, a reflex useful to infants to cling to a parent for survival. It looks like this should go away by the time a child is 6 months old. I’m not big on developmental timelines, since there can be a lot of parental anxiety about that, but I’m thinking 35 is a safe age to say this shouldn’t be happening.

My brain is developmentally disabled, and my body performs in a way that mimics a baby. So, I have the mind of an infant.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Bookmark This: Summer Reading Hype Videos!

Okay everyone, I did a ridiculous thing and accidentally deleted my original SRP Hype Video content! Whoops... Good thing I never delete any email I ever receive so I could find them all again!

I decided to just put them all together into one post, a one-stop shop for your Summer Reading calm down/check-in needs. These are all the video from 2016 and 2017.

If you weren't around a few years ago, here's the context:
I started this position in the middle of Summer Reading. When the start of SRP came around again, I knew I wanted to do something to support our member library youth services staff. I thought back to what helped me, and I remembered how comforted I felt when I read (and read again and again) posts like Ingrid at The Magpie Librarian's "I Got 99 Problems and They're All Related to Summer Reading." I laughed, I cried, I felt comforted. Like we were all in this together.

So I reached out to some folks and got enough responses to send one video per week from June to August to our member library staff. The next summer I put out an all-call on the blog (since it was no longer a surprise) and I got fewer responses, but still got some. I wonder what changed between 2016 and 2017? It's a mystery.

Anyway, here is a sloth in a teacup followed by some amazing library Youth Services staff from all around the Internet ready to talk self-care, sing pump-you-up songs, and make you laugh. Forever. Because they're recorded.

It will all be okay. You're doing great.