By: guest contributor Julia A. Nephew. “To me this has been a reminder of how invisible LGBTQ people in history still are in many school curriculum,” author Robin Stevenson said of District 200 canceling her Oct. 2 talk. “And it does make me feel like it’s important that all kids are aware of the really significant contributions of LGBTQ people throughout history, and it’s important that LGBTQ kids and teens in particular see their own lives and identities reflected in the books they read.”
Long banished are the images of the library as a stuffy and sedate place where any utterance above a whisper was met with swift opprobrium. Shushes and scowls from curmudgeon librarians ready to revoke your borrowing privileges. Very much far from that staid stereotype, libraries have become fortresses of acceptance and forthright with welcoming upright and raucous revelry within their aisles. And nothing encapsulates this veering toward the vivacious than the wildly successful Drag Queen Story Hours.
September is a busy month for academic librarians, but whiteboard surveys offer a relatively easy way to mark Banned Books Week and raise awareness of the issue of banned and challenged books.
While library materials and events related to LGBTQ+ issues have unfortunately seen plenty of challenges, and drag queen story times have proven particularly controversial, I find this particular instance especially troubling. Libraries are for everyone which, it should go without saying, includes LGBTQ+ people who, as Snyder points out, pay their taxes too. They deserve materials and programming that are relevant to them, just as much as the rest of us.
Teens are dealing with dark, heavy matters. Film, theater, literature, and other art forms are perhaps the most cathartic and helpful resource they can lean on.
By: guest contributor and author M. Earl Smith – In the United States, there is a group that, sadly, ties patriotism into a fervent, almost cult-like devotion to certain figures, ideas, and symbols…Yet the second that someone presents the work of someone who views the world differently than the American Dream myth, they are either shouted down or they are, ironically, twisted, contorted, and used to continue that ethos.
The common misconception that any library espouses the content of its collection and programming can lead to feelings of patron alienation. An imagining of the library as an equitable world stage can help to mitigate resulting acrimony directed at this institution.
Some of the lessons we learn in our professional career are painful. And to all of you have made a decision you regret, I say: Welcome to the club. The best response is to learn from those decisions. The takeaway here: our policies articulate our values. Let’s not throw them away just because someone yells at us. Let’s live them.
Join ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) in this engaging Facebook Live event for ideas on how to turn the volume up to 10 on your Banned Books Week programs.
Since its debut in San Francisco in 2015, Drag Queen Story Hour has become a popular event in libraries across the country. Although the queens set aside their usual bawdy performances for tamer, kid-friendly fare, their costumes and makeup are as over-the-top as ever, and kids love it!