MLA 2019: School libraries, Neutrality, Youth Services

Read about the Keynote and breakout session with Deborah L. Plummer here.

11:45am “Advocacy for Access and Equity to Massachusetts School Libraries,” Greg Pronevitz, James Lonergan, Robin Cicchetti (Concord-Carlisle Regional High School)

In memory of Judi Paradis

Greg Pronevitz (formerly of MLS, currently a consultant) introduced this session off by acknowledging the great impact of Judi Paradis, a school librarian and advocate for school libraries. Judi was instrumental in the formation of the Legislative Special Commission on School Library Services in Massachusetts, which produced the report The Massachusetts School Library Study: Equity and Access for Students in the Commonwealth. “This study is a result of her efforts,” Pronevitz said.

The report concluded that there is a lack of equity in Massachusetts schools. In its long-range action plan to build equity, it suggests hiring someone at DESE (the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) to manage school library services; at present, it isn’t even possible to get a complete count of the number of schools that have libraries (let alone librarians, book budgets, and appropriate technology). A possible partnership between DESE and MBLC could conduct a census of school libraries, librarians, and services. School libraries should also be included in ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) funding. The report also recommends that the state set regulatory minimum standards, to ensure at least some level of equity and access for students, whether they’re in rural, suburban, or urban districts.

Equity v PrivilegeJames Lonergan from MBLC (Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners) mentioned a number of other possible partnerships and stakeholders, including COSLA, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, EveryLibrary, and MLA. MBLC already supports school libraries through LSTA grants, the Commonwealth Catalog, and access to statewide databases; in fact, schools account for two-thirds of the use of state databases – would DESE consider contributing?

Robin Cicchetti, Head Librarian at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School and one of the authors of the Equity and Access study, spoke about the important takeaways from the school library impact studies:

  • A strong school library program (SLP) leads to higher overall test scores
  • Access to better libraries means higher reading scores
  • School librarians provide much more than access to books
  • High levels of poverty mean little access to books
  • Access to books appears to offset the impact of poverty
  • Economically disadvantaged children benefit at a higher rate

Unlike a classroom teacher, a school librarian can have a relationship with an elementary student for six years (in a K-5 school), getting to know their interests and preferences and helping them find the right books and other resources for them. Because many schools have lost their librarians due to budget cuts, nearly a whole generation of students (and teachers) does not know what a librarian can offer – “And you don’t know what you don’t have.”

More information about the Massachusetts School Library Research Project is located on this LibGuide hosted by Salem State.

EVERY Student Needs A School Library

1:45pm “Neutrality in the Library – A Continuing Conversation,” Laura Saunders and Rachel Williams

Simmons School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) associate professor Laura Saunders and assistant professor Rachel Williams each spoke for several minutes before opening up the conversation to the audience. “Neutrality” has been a hot topic in libraryland over the past year, especially around the Library Bill of Rights as discussed, amended, and un-amended at ALA last summer and last winter. (See Meredith Farkas’ take in American Libraries, “When Values Collide,” November 1, 2018.)

“Neutrality replicates existing oppression. Being true to our professional core values around access, diversity, and social responsibility requires finding ways to make historically marginalized members of our communities feel that they belong in our libraries and are reflected in our collections, staffing, and services.” -Meredith Farkas

Some questions that arose during the session (from the speakers and the audience) included: Are libraries ever really neutral? How do we define “neutral”? What does that mean in practice? What/who are we including/excluding? Our libraries reflect our communities; how do we make sure our libraries reflect everyone in our community? Do all library users feel safe? What voices do we support and amplify?

Are libraries neutral, can we be neutral, should we be neutral? (Remember, a position of neutrality doesn’t necessarily mean an outcome of neutrality.) As information professionals, do we want to promote/defend intellectual freedom when it comes at the cost of social responsibility? What are the impacts of intellectual freedom? Which voices will be limited, which will be amplified? If access to information is a human right, should the education to be able to evaluate information be a human right also (information literacy)?

It was pointed out that freedom of speech is a “negative right” (i.e., “Congress shall pass no law…”). Government cannot get in the way of freedom of speech, but it doesn’t have to promote it either.

The session closed with Saunders’ reference to Dante’s Inferno, in which neutrality was found to be “not just unethical, but damning.”

2:45pm “Youth Services Quick Start for Everyone,” Monica Brennan, Turner Free Library (Randolph, MA)

Brennan brought plenty of energy and enthusiasm to this session, which wasn’t quite what I expected but had an important core point: Identify your “tribe” (or team, or pack), what they need to know, and what you can learn from them. There are a couple “tribes”: one is library staff, especially those who may be working only a few hours a week in the children’s department and may feel especially overwhelmed and underprepared to answer specific questions about levels from kids, parents, teachers, and caregivers. Make sure everyone who works in the children’s department feels comfortable answering those questions, or knows where to find the information. (This might be preparing a binder full of pathfinders, posting the various levels and their grade equivalents and some representative books, or whatever else works for you and your staff.)

Another “tribe” includes those who come into the children’s department and may have knowledge to share with you: parents, teachers, caregivers, coaches, kids, siblings, peers,  librarians. Find out what the schools are using, talk to teachers (especially if they have very specific requirements). People are usually happy to share what they know, what they like, and what they don’t like.

Brennan shared two readers’ advisory tips that I liked: one was simply asking the kid to give a thumbs-up/thumbs-down when you show them or tell them about a book. This saves them from talking if they’re shy, but quickly allows you to gauge their interest and move on. Another strategy involves tiny colored post-it notes, which she sticks on/near books in the stacks so kids can browse without a librarian hovering; if it’s busy, you might use different colors for different kids.

Wipe Clean Workbook Uppercase Alphabet“Everyone deserves to be trained in kid’s services, but not everyone is” – Brennan gave an overview of the areas of the library (fiction/nonfiction, picture books, early readers, chapter books) and the different levels (Lexile, Fountas & Pinnell, DRA). Kids need books at their “level” to learn certain skills and grow as a reader, but can “reach” for books they’re interested in and are motivated to read. She is a big fan of the NoveList K-8 database, which can be a useful tool for those who aren’t as familiar with children’s books.

Brennan is passionate about children’s services and early literacy in particular; to that end, she has developed backpack kits that kids can check out for pre-K, toddlers, and infants. It’s never too early to start reading together; “families that read together achieve together.”

Librarians can “model it”: be open, be cool, be confident, be fun. Encourage a growth mindset with a “Let’s find out together” approach. Remember that “There’s no more important library patron than our youth,” and “The windows and mirrors you have as a kid literally shape the rest of your life.”

Read about Wednesday’s MLA sessions here.

 

MLA 2019: Active Bystanders, Civic Hub Grants, Little Women, Usability and UX

Wednesday, 9am: #WeToo: Becoming Active Bystanders, Sharon Schiffer of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) 

This was a slightly smaller group, so we all introduced ourselves (including pronouns!) and Schiffer had us discuss the following questions in pairs or small groups: Have you ever felt uncomfortable? What did you do when you felt uncomfortable? Why do you think people do not talk about things that make them uncomfortable? Why should people talk about what makes them uncomfortable? What’s a bystander? What’s an active bystander? When you see a situation, why DON’T you get involved? Why DO you get involved?

Schiffer presented the “Four Ds,” strategies for active bystanders: Direct, Distract, Delegate, Delay:

  • Direct: Direct action can be verbal or physical actions that aim to address and stop the problem behavior.
  • Distract: Distraction will not solve the root of the problem, but can help someone out of an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.
  • Delegate: Delegation is a way to get others involved interrupting in problem behaviors
  • Delay: It’s never too late to take action. Delay action until you have a better understanding of the situation. Check in with someone after the fact.

10:15am: “How I Became A Warrior Mother,” Marianne Leone

Leone read a little from one of her books, Ma Speaks Up, and spoke about raising her son Jesse, and fighting for him to be included in public school classrooms. Their story reminded me very much of two novels: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (middle grade) and Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (YA).

11:20am: A Force for Good: Bridging Civic Divide Through Discussion, presented by MBLC Consultant Shelley Quezada, Desiree Smelcer of South Hadley Public Library, Molly Moss of Forbes Library (Northampton), and Jessica FitzHanso of Chelmsford Public Library

The three libraries represented at this panel had all received the Civic Hub grant through the MBLC. The aim of the grant was “to strengthen the role libraries play in promoting civic engagement, providing impartial, trusted information on a variety of issues as well and providing a neutral space for the public to participate in community conversations.” Each library took a different approach to programming, collection development, and promotion; the librarians showed a knowledge of what worked in their communities (book groups in Chelmsford, lecture series in South Hadley), and had some surprises as well.

Smelcer spoke about a successful lecture series, skillfully moderated by a local debate coach. She said that by creating a safe space for people to ask questions and not get attacked for their views, more people began to open up. (“By not talking about politics and religion, you never learn how to talk about politics and religion, and it gets harder to do.”) She also mentioned a finding from the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC, parent of FactCheck.org) that “incivility” in Congress has actually remained relatively flat since they began monitoring it in the 1930s, but people who watch cable news believe that it has become much more uncivil (as opposed to people who watch network news).

Though Northampton is close to South Hadley, the communities are quite different; Northampton has a lot of activists, and the library wanted to raise its profile within the town by positioning itself at the center “passively and serendipitously.” Moss explained how they had divided the year into quarterly themes: Racial justice, community divides (which turned out to be “too broad”), climate change, and safety and justice. They had World Cafe-style conversations (facilitated conversation around open-ended questions) about each. For their “All Hamptons Read,” they chose Never Caught: the Washingtons’ relentless pursuit of their runaway slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar; Moss also mentioned The Common Good by Robert B. Reich. 

REACT logoChelmsford came up with a great logo and acronym; read more about their “REACT Grant” (Read, Engage, and Come Together) on their library website. They incorporated their theme (and branding) into existing programs like book clubs and lecture series, created displays, made handouts and booklists, partnered with many other organizations, and for their popular “One Book” program, chose Counting Descent by Clint Smith, an advocate for racial justice.

Lunchtime Spotlight session: Anne Boyd Rioux, author of Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters

Takeaways:

  • Little Women Helps girls figure out who they are and who they want to be. Each March sister is unique and has a different personality. There isn’t just one or two ways to be a girl, there are an infinite number of ways. Readers, too, can try on and reject different identities.Cover image of Meg Jo Beth Amy
  • Jo March: She is ambitious, she wants to be famous (taboo!), powerful. No one IN the book tells her she can’t or shouldn’t. Jo is defined by what she DOES.
  • Little Women is important to people not just when they’re children but as adolescents, young adults, and parents.
  • Coming-of-age narrative focused on boys; Little Women broke the mold and showed girls growing up. (And not the conventional “wild child becomes tamed” narrative – none of the March sisters are forced into a role they don’t want.)
  • Meg gets married in the middle of the book – marriage isn’t the end. When else does that happen? (Not Shakespeare, not Jane Austen…)
  • Marmee to Jo, admitting she shares her temperament: “I am angry every day of my life.” Maybe we’re ready to think of mothers as human beings, hmm…
  • What about boys, do they read Little Women? “There are real-world implications of telling boys they don’t need to understand girls’ experience.” Shout-out to author Shannon Hale, who has written a lot about this. (Here’s one article by her in the Washington Post.)
  • Librarians can help kids choose books about people different than themselves.
  • Descendents of Jo March: Katniss Everdeen, Rory Gilmore, Hermione Granger

1:45pm Do-It-Yourself Library Website Usability Testing, Jenny Arch, Callan Bignoli, Ran Cronin

User Experience Honeycomb
User Experience Honeycomb

Our slides are here. We talked about designing and conducting usability tests in our libraries (Winchester Public Library and the Public Library of Brookline) in order to identify areas of frustration or friction for people using the library website. Where are the problems? What do people have trouble finding? What do they not know about, and how can we make these things more obvious? How can we make the experience smoother and more successful? Running a usability test with as few as five participants and six tasks can be illuminating.

2:50pm Patron First: Patron-Focused Design and User Experience, Callan Bignoli and Roy MacKenzie, Public Library of Brookline

More user experience! UX is how a person feels when using a product or service. (Delighted? Frustrated?) Usability impacts UX. Key elements of usability are navigation, familiarity, consistency, error prevention, feedback, visual clarity, flexibility, efficiency. (If, for example, most people recognize that blue text with an underline is a link you can click, don’t reinvent the wheel by making your links orange with no underline.)

UX design is a process

Bignoli advised making UX part of the library’s strategic plan and action plan, if it isn’t already, and said that it’s a process that will never be completed. Observe, identify improvements, develop, implement, repeat. “Done is better than perfect. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. You’re never done. You’re always going to be offering new services and evaluating your services. The final step of this process is to repeat it, and keep doing so.”

MacKenzie spoke more about library space, collections, and policies. Ideally, there is a committee with members from every library department that revisits every policy every year or two (so that you don’t end up with an Internet policy from, say, 2011). Questions to ask: What is the real goal of the policy? How does the policy impact users? Is this policy improving things for patrons or for staff? Is this policy really necessary? Is this policy enforceable? 

Regarding the library space, consider “desire lines” (do patrons keep moving furniture to different locations?) and noise levels. If the children’s area and the local history area are right next to each other, can you rearrange the space to make both audiences happy? In Brookline, they closed the main library for two days to shift the entire adult fiction collection off the ground floor, leaving the ground floor completely for youth services; they used the time they were closed for staff training.

Library collections are changing too. Ask, What do we have? What do we need? This is another area that will depend very much on the library location and population. Do your patrons want portable DVD players, cake pans, board games? Many libraries have begun building a “Library of Things” collection, from seed libraries to household tools to kitchen equipment to games, and they tend to be really popular.

Once again, there were plenty of great sessions that gave us a lot to think about at MLA this year. Thanks to the conference organizers, presenters, panelists, and everyone who was tweeting #MassLib2019.

 

 

 

 

 

MLA 2019: The Greatest Job on Earth

The Massachusetts Library Association’s annual conference theme this year is “the greatest job on earth.” And I guess we can claim that, because a quick internet search shows there’s not a lot of consensus on the issue. Moving on!

The keynote speaker was Dr. Deborah L. Plummer, Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial and author; her presentation was called “Radical Respect in Troubling Times,” and it was followed by a “Communicating Across Differences Workshop.” Plummer spoke about how to turn “Us and Them into We” through conversation – and not just conversation with the people you already agree with. It’s easy to respect people who look / think / talk / behave / worship / vote like you; it takes work to get out of your echo chamber. But bumping up against difference is how we learn about others and about our own identities. 

The paradox of diversity, said Plummer, is that (1) we are unique and like no one else (personality); (2) we’re each like some other people (similar backgrounds, views, genes, etc.); (3) we’re all like everyone else (i.e., human). And we don’t each have one identity; we have multiple and intersecting identities. We may emphasize or project one or another of these depending who we’re with. “Identity pulling” is okay if you’re the one choosing to do it, but it’s not okay for one person to do it for someone else.

Plummer gave the attendees strategies for successful “bumping”: (1) Focus on being respectful rather than being right; (2) Check your assumptions, and de-escalate if necessary by saying something like “I’m sorry, I made an assumption”; (3) Mirror the other person’s style by “grabbing their handle” – figure out if they are coming from the head, the heart, or the gut/soul; (4) “Take a helicopter ride” and observe from a distance if the other person doesn’t have the capacity to change their viewpoint or behavior.

Plummer also listed her three components of radical respect:

  1. Admiration: “Wouldn’t it be great if we treated differences like a challenge instead of a threat?” (We have different physiological responses to these: we react to a challenge with adrenalin, and to a threat with cortisol.)
  2. Civility: Listen for understanding, rather than for rebuttal
  3. Dignity: Honor that needs and concerns exist. Where do they come from?

one vase or two facesThere was a break after the keynote, and then the next set of morning sessions. I chose to stay with Plummer for the “Communicating Across Differences Workshop,” which included some of the same material as her keynote with additional exercises and examples, starting with a few of the classic Psych 101 images to demonstrate our ability to make perceptual shifts. You can’t actually hold multiple realities or perspectives at once, but you can shift back and forth between them – and if you don’t see another reality on your own, sometimes you can once someone points it out to you. (Ah, see what she did there? Clever.)

In this session, Plummer spoke about the traditional approach to difference compared to the contemporary one, and used an analogy of an hourglass: If the sand in the top is the dominant culture (white, male, Christian, healthy and able-bodied, adult, heterosexual, upper-class, educated), those on top are afraid of simply flipping the hourglass; “we have a better chance for creating equity if we tip the hourglass on its side.”

Communicating successfully across differences is tricky; Plummer’s “Intention vs. Impact” slide shows how a sender’s intended message might impact a receiver. If the impact is positive, we have effective communication; if it’s negative, we need to acknowledge and clarify. Intent and impact are both important; one of Plummer’s examples was a Black Lives Matter display. Some people thought it was an anti-police message, which wasn’t exactly the sender’s intended meaning (it was more like, Black Lives Matter too).

intention vs impact flow chart slide

Following this slide was one with a number of conversational “bounce backs,” ways to recover and things to say when a conversation goes wrong, such as “Help me to understand…” and “My experience has been…” Everyone will make mistakes, and these can help move the conversation forward if done with a degree of cultural humility and commitment to learning.

diversity petalNext was a “diversity petal” exercise: we identified the dominant or “up” identities for race, gender, age, mental/physical ability, sexual orientation, class, education, and religion and then our own identities within each category, then placed a check mark next to any category where our own identity matched the dominant one. Plummer pointed out that marginalized people know more about the dominant culture; part of privilege is not having to learn about how life is for others. “Black people know a lot more about white people than white people know about Black people. Women know a lot more about men than men know about women. People who have a disability know a lot more about the world that’s designed for people who are healthy and able.”

We came back to the “multiple realities” images to hammer home the point that just because you don’t see (or experience) something doesn’t mean that it isn’t there (or doesn’t exist). Plummer is a champion of cross-racial friendships (Some Of My Friends Are…), and pointed out how going through life with people who are different than you can highlight the ways in which you experience the world differently (or ways in which the world treats you differently).

All of this is ongoing; no one has “arrived,” but we can commit to continuing the conversation.

To Be Continued (more sessions from Monday, and sessions – and a presentation library website usability testing – on Wednesday)

 

 

Libraries in a Post-Truth World: The Conversation Continues

Back in January, there was a one-day conference called “Libraries in a Post-Truth World,” where panelists, presenters, and participants discussed the problem of “fake news,” the spread of misinformation/disinformation, the nature of truth, and what role librarians can play to help boost information literacy and media literacy. (And more. It was a pretty packed conference. See blog posts one | two | three.)

Another conference this month grew out of that one; the Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) Intellectual Freedom / Social Responsibilities Committee planned it, and it was held at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA, which is by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever attended a conference.

View of Wachusett from Tower Hill Botanic Garden
View from Tower Hill Botanic Garden

The first speaker was Gail Slater, General Counsel for the Internet Association, based in Washington, DC. She had also spoken at ALA’s Midwinter conference in Boston, where she said she realized that “Librarians are the first responders and guardians of the Constitution” (a nice way to win over your librarian audience right away).

Slater’s topic was “The Right to Be Forgotten: Rulings in the EU, Their Impact on Global Internet Companies and Pending Legislation in the United States.” She spoke about “a wave of public policy challenges” to do with the internet now; one of the key questions is about internet companies’ (“online intermediaries”) responsibilities in terms of content posted by users. At the moment, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects them from liability, but this “safe harbor” law may change.

Slater then moved on to speak about the Right to Be Forgotten. In a key case from Spain in May 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that search engines are responsible for the content they point to. People in the EU have the right to be forgotten; they can petition Google to de-index links to content about themselves, as Mario Costeja Gonzalez did in the Spanish case. The information itself still exists, but a search engine won’t bring it up.

Plants in hanging basket
A hanging plant, Tower Hill Botanic Garden

Google handles these requests, weighing the public’s right to know against the individual’s right to privacy. Slater explained that in the EU, they place a higher value on the right to privacy, while in the US, we place a higher value on the right to know and free speech. This is “one of the bigger issues” on the geopolitical scale.

During the Q&A, someone asked a very good question: If a person can claim the Right to Be Forgotten or right of erasure, can a corporation claim it? Slater thought there were two reasons this was unlikely, even in the EU: first, the definition of a “data subject” is an individual citizen, not a corporation; and second, the request itself would become a news event, reminding everyone of the original story that the corporation is trying to erase.

Someone else asked what librarians can do about some of these issues. Slater said librarians can speak out about the importance of speech and the right to know. In the EU, privacy is considered a human right, but free speech is important too. She spoke of these as “competing equities” that require a careful balance.

Reflecting pool with turtle fountains
Turtle fountains in the Winter Garden, Tower Hill Botanic Garden

The second speaker was Shawn McIntosh, Assistant Professor of English and Digital Journalism & Communications at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His topic was “Journalism Today: Learning to Trust the First Rough Draft of History.” Unlike Slater, he read a prepared speech, in the manner of a formal lecture. Rather ironically, he quoted Jay Rosen: “Journalism is a conversation, not a lecture.”

McIntosh spoke about what has and hasn’t changed in journalism. “Fake news” isn’t new, of course – there has always been propaganda, biased and partisan writing, and satire. However, “Willingness to accept the lies or spin them as ‘alternative facts’ or not caring is new.”

McIntosh said that his background in strategic communications (a.k.a. PR, a.k.a. “the dark side”) had been helpful: knowing how and why persuasion works, and how attitudes can be impervious to change even/especially when confronted with facts gives perspective to the news climate today. “Beliefs,” he said, “eat facts for lunch.” Research shows that presenting facts to counter someone’s beliefs does not work to change their minds (a disappointing thing for a roomful of librarians to hear).

Over the past few decades, McIntosh said, there has been a broad shift that is “dangerous to our civic and cultural life,” an erosion of public trust in experts and institutions. Journalists are seen as biased and untrustworthy sources. (Librarians, on the other hand, enjoy a high degree of social trust.)

Tree with fall foliage
A tree with fall foliage, Tower Hill Botanic Garden

What are the obstacles? Journalists are overworked and underpaid, and employees and coverage are being cut back, so there is more use of wire service content and less reporting on local issues. Less advertising leads to more cutbacks in a downward spiral. And the 24-hour news cycle certainly doesn’t help.

What can be done? “Journalism has to get back to its roots and break free from its modern traditions.” Rather than attempting or pretending to be objective, journalists must provide context for their stories. “Narrative and stories are how we make sense of the world….News is socially constructed. Acknowledge that.” Furthermore, because of mass communication and social media, the lecture style of journalism no longer works; it must be a conversation.  Within this conversation, though, “people will seek trusted voices,” and curation (the librarian ears perk up) “will play more of a role than it has so far.”

In this environment, McIntosh said, “Developing higher-order critical thinking skills is crucial….News literacy and information literacy skills are vital.” Librarians, of course, are on board with information literacy and media literacy, but McIntosh also said, “It can’t be all consumption, it must be production too.” People need to look under the hood to get an idea of how things work. Here, he said, is a “natural place for libraries, educations, journalists to meet.” People meeting face to face in libraries and classrooms can lead to “exchanges and dialogues between people of different views, [which] can start to break down polarization.”

Stone bench and plants

After a lunch break and a walk around the beautiful grounds, we reconvened in the conference room for a panel on “Combating Disinformation in Your Library.” I spoke, along with Andrea Fiorillo of the Reading Public Library and Bernadette Rivard of the Bellingham Public Library, about what we have done in our libraries to increase information literacy and media literacy.

Photo of panel from a conference attendee's Twitter account
Bernadette Rivard, Jenny Arch, Andrea Fiorillo

Last December, Bernadette wrote a blog post encouraging library users to “think before you share,” and giving tips on how to evaluate news sources. Andrea ran a “civil civics” series, bringing in speakers such as Melissa Zimdars (who was on the panel at the January conference; she also got online access to newspapers for the library’s patrons. (Most libraries still subscribe to newspapers in print, but because most people read the news online, digital subscriptions are another way the library can help connect people with quality information.) I spoke about my “What Is Fake News?” pamphlet, display, and library blog posts, and went over some tips that I’ll be sharing in a future library blog post.

View of the pergolas from the Secret Garden
View of the pergolas from the Secret Garden

After the panel, we returned to our tables for small group discussion on the following four questions:

  1. What does the term “fake news” mean for librarians and the communities we serve?
  2. What are some creative and traditional approaches for librarians to support First Amendment awareness and education?
  3. What are your library’s barriers and supports to promoting media literacy?
  4. What has your library done and what would you like to do to support media literacy?

Conference organizers will be compiling the replies and sending them out to participants, so I may share those here later. At our table alone, we had a mix of public librarians (children’s and adult) and school librarians; I imagine academic librarians would have had a different set of answers. The hashtag for the conference, #mlafreedom, purposely didn’t include a date, so it may be used for related events in the future.

What does your library do to promote information literacy and media literacy? What role(s) do you think librarians can play in our current information environment? Do you have blog posts or handouts to share?