This website started as a home for resources following an Outreach and Collaboration presentation at School Library Journal's Leadership Basecamp at Simmons University, Boston Massachusetts in 2019. In 2020 the website grew as the pandemic made outreach libraries main method of service to their communities.
A new project is actively using picture books to build bridges. The Welcoming Library is a pop-up community conversation about immigration. That conversation is driven by a collection of acclaimed immigration-themed picture books and their embedded discussion questions. Here’s some examples of the discussion questions affixed to the books’ endpapers:
From the first generation Vietnamese American Picture Book A DIFFERENT POND: The kids at school say that the father’s English sounds like a “thick, dirty river.” The boy thinks his father’s English sounds like “gentle rain.” Why do the boy and his fellow students see the father differently?
From GOLDEN DOMES & SILVER LANTERNS: A MUSLIM BOOK OF COLORS: The girl and her mother read the Quran. Are there books that you read with your family that offer lessons on being a better person?
FROM TIA ISA WANTS A CAR: The girl says, “soon is when our family will join us, so I know soon is a very long time.” What do you think she means? Have you wanted something to happen “soon,” but it felt like a long time?
From MY TWO BLANKETS: The first time the girl in the park smiles and waves at Cartwheel [Cartwheel is a “new arrival” Somali girl], Cartwheel does not smile or wave back. Imagine that you waved at someone new and they didn’t wave back. What are some reasons they might not wave back? Would you try again
The picture book collection, its pop-up display unit (with celebratory flags and banners), and programming and educational tools, packs into a crate and travels between schools, libraries, and community centers in a given region. The Welcoming Library invites readers of all ages to explore literature as a means to celebrate our commonalities and differences and to create an environment of welcoming. Is it working? Here are the reader survey results so far:
67% inspired by the book or project to be actively welcoming in their communities.
100% saw similarities between the book’s family and their own.
100% learned something new about a featured culture or community.
100% want to read more books like these.
You will find this quote from poet Amit Majmudar, everywhere on the website:
“The true meeting takes place when the book opens, and a stranger reads about — and comprehends — a stranger.”
The Welcoming Library comes in two red totes. One contains 29 books with discussion questions. The second the Ambassador’s notebook, banner and easily assembled bookshelf. This special collection is available to be hosted at your library (schools included) or organization). To borrow, contact Deborah Dutcher, Library Services Consultant. The New Hampshire State Library Welcoming Library was made possible with support from the Hesed Foundation.
Following an incident last week at the New Hanover County Public Library Pine Valley Branch in Wilmington, North Carolina where the Proud Boys protested a Pride Month storytime—from my counterpart Jasmine Rockwell at the NC State Library following her meeting with the library’s staff:
Here are some resources we gathered to share. Some of these might be familiar to you.
ALA ODLOS Hate Crimes Resources (pg. 1): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hWCJBNxAz9GIAWHrCaXd8ljlwGFRaTNlngak4VkrFVc/edit
Manager’s Handbook Handling Traumatic Events: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/worklife/reference-materials/traumaticevents.pdf
Encountering hate speech and hateful conduct, even if not directed at you, can have an adverse emotional and mental impact. Talking about the experience with colleagues or supervisors may help you process the incident, and it may also help the next person that encounters a similar situation. Management and administration should model that self-care is a priority in the workplace and encourage staff to practice this, as well. In the short-term after an incident, this may include actions such as encouraging the staff member(s) to take a mental health day, granting them an extension on a project, or personally checking in with individuals in your unit.
Working with the Media: https://www.ala.org/tools/challengesupport/media
How to Respond to Challenges and Concerns About Library Resources: https://www.ala.org/tools/challengesupport/respond#:~:text=Listen%20thoughtfully%20and%20respectfully.,to%20agree%20with%20the%20individual
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the New Hampshire State Library.