Advocacy Toolbox: We Need Diverse Books

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have already educated yourself on the grassroots organization We Need Diverse Books. Today, we add this glorious campaign to the toolbox.


Take them out for daily use.


Advocacy Toolbox with watermark (1)


It has been over two years since the first #weneeddiversebooks tweet devoured our emotions and took over our intellectual capabilities. While many were already aware of the lack of diversity in kidlit, so few of us knew what to do. This team has come a long way (two anthologies being published in the next two years) and they have created a wealth of resources along the way. Be sure to head to the site and take in as much as your eyeballs will allow.


For starters:


  • Be sure to check out WNDB’s Tumblr for the Summer Reading Series 2016. Get these diverse books in the hands of your users!
  • Visit the FAQ! It is dense with well collected material regarding diversity in children’s literature.
  • Peruse this list featuring diverse books for toddlers!
  • Read your way through each of the roundtable discussions. Become a champion for diversity.
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Unsolicited Rant: Why Fines Must Die



The joint chiefs have been tracking conversations about the practice of fines in libraries for a very long time. We’ve learned from experiences in our own libraries, from presentations and articles, and from threads on groups and listservs. Friends, it is safe to say that we have FEELINGS about fines. This week we want to thank Ingrid Abrams for a recent SU thread that made us finally decide to post this rant that’s been so long in the making.


We understand that fines are a tradition that have found their way to the heart of how most public libraries operate and that is not easily changed. This rant does not offer solutions, but we hope that it raises questions. We want to encourage discussion on this topic and we’re inviting all of our blogger friends to use their own voices to revisit this practice. We want to see a variety of perspectives and that’s why this time, our rant is a collection of thoughts instead of just one person’s perspective. Please, PLEASE feel free to borrow the image from this post and help us create a blog hop that explores this crucial topic.


Cory: Fines are stupid and classist and punish the people who most need the library. Also they don’t make any sense. Who cares if someone has a book for 2 days longer than they were supposed to? Or 2 weeks? Or 2 years? Like 90% of the time (made up statistic) it’s a book no one else wants, anyway. They’re harming literally no one. What if people don’t have transportation to come to the library, so they need to take the bus, and then they get here and find out it’s either spend their bus fare home or not be able to check out? Nope. What if kids are shuttling between relatives and can’t find their books? Nope. It’s not my job to punish people for their life circumstances and it’s CERTAINLY not my job to find ways to restrict access to information.


Brytani: Fines disproportionately affect our under-served populations due to reasons like lack of mental acuity in the elderly and disabled, poor public transportation systems, cultural differences in perspectives on social responsibility and how libraries work, and pure frequency of check-outs. Make no mistake; libraries do not live in a vacuum. When fines cut off any patrons with critical needs, we stop the flow of benefits to the community that libraries provide–things like higher graduation and employment percentages and lower incarceration rates. In the short term, the library collects $12 from someone living on unemployment, but in the long term, we lose their trust. If we use financial punishments to create desired behaviors in our users, they will not learn that we want to see them succeed and that we will move heaven and earth to see it happen. They will not learn that they can ask us for help in expunging their criminal record or securing a green card for a spouse. Instead, we increase the likelihood that they will continue to remain under-served, drawing on tax-supported welfare programs–a much greater expense over time for governments at large. Fines are a short-sighted solution with costs that are invisible, but they have very real financial consequences for society. We cannot reach our full potential for having a positive impact on the community unless we are willing to turn away from punishment and move towards building relationships.


Mary: Fines are a barrier to access. Period. Our patrons most in need of our resources are denied access (or choose to deny their children access) when fines are levied. It seems contrary to our purpose of providing free and open access to all. We talk about how important it is for kids to have books in the home in order to become readers. They need to be able to pick up books whenever they want. But if a parent’s choice is between buying groceries or paying library fines so their child can check books out from the library, well, it’s easy to guess which one they’ll choose. I have, in my 17 years as a librarian, had conversations with parents who were unable to come to the library to return materials due to hospital stays but sincerely wanted to find a way to pay them so that their children could use the library (I waived most, if not all, of her fines). I’ve also heard parents not allow their child to take home a book because “you lost the last one and we had to pay for it.”  Which would we rather have? Children who have access to books and ideas and knowledge who become readers and productive citizens or children who think the library is a privilege they don’t deserve and who don’t have access to books? I know what I’d choose, every time.


Kendra: Fines prevent access to information and materials, plain and simple. The money earned from fines comes at the much higher cost of access. Libraries without fines are more pleasant to visit and work in, and everyone feels welcome rather than shamed or burdened because their life is happening. When fines are in place, children are often punished for their caregivers’ transgressions. An 8 year old cannot drive themselves to the library to return an overdue DVD but that fine is going on their card, regardless. Even if they are living with their homebound Grandmother this week because their mom is not currently capable of caring for them. Fines are a sign of white privilege and do not allow for real life. If libraries need additional income (they always do), fines are not the way to secure it.


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Sunday Storytime Challenge

Welcome to another Sunday Storytime Challenge! The goal is to encourage the SU community to try new things and share out those adventures. Challenges will vary widely and can include craftiness, elevator speeches, networking, professional development and beyond!


So here is this week’s challenge!




We hope that our work here at the Storytime Underground inspires you to do more for your library users. We want you to think, play, and work harder for them. We also want you to know that you are important. Your work is important. You deserve funding, compliments, chocolate, off-desk time, and so much more. 


We think you are:




It is unfortunate that you may not have your praises sung from rooftops every morning. Your fellow staff may feel like all you do is glue glitter on craft sticks. They are likely to go on believing this until you inform them of your baby brain building awesomeness. So, we want you to shout your praises to someone this week. Share a recent accomplishment, talk about your research, or discuss your future goals with those around you. (Your cat does not count)


Did you share your success at a library board meeting? Send in a request for an hour of time to do research? Did the mayor visit your Storytime? Make sure to come back and share with us! There are so many ways you can share:


  • Simply comment to this post!
  • Email us at
  • Tweet it out using #storytimechallenge
  • Do you have a kick-ass blog? Share your challenge story there and send us the link!


There is no concrete timeline for you to complete the challenges and they will always remain open.


We can’t wait to see what you can accomplish!

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The Coolest Things I Saw on the Internet Recently

Why hello there!


Yes, we have been slacking on the coolness collection lately. However, that just means that you are getting an eyeful today. Are you ready?


First, I am gonna toot the SU horn a bit. Cory took over the SU Twitter last week and while some may call it an epic rant, I prefer to call it TRUTH. We saw the need to officially  take the stance that we will choose a side when it comes to human rights. We ask you to to join us.


Yes, we felt a little famous after the thread had a ‘moment’ on Twitter and we watched with awe as our notifications began buzzing. We were inspired by many libraries and librarians and library staff and people who are simply amazing. Multnomah County Library hosts a Black Storytime as well as Storytimes in multiple languages. The Denver Public Library is asking users to join the conversation by submitting their race card. The Skokie Public Library created Black Lives Matter reading lists that allow families a chance to talk together about the movement.


and….yes, diverse books are exactly what our patrons need. Windows and mirrors for everyone, but be sure your ‘diverse’ display isn’t filled with just books about civil rights, pride, and Japanese lantern crafts. Make sure you show off those books that have diverse characters just being characters in a book. I loved this piece from Raych Krueger at Book Riot for spreading that sentiment: Picture Books With LGBTQ Parents Just Being Parents.


Talking is important. Taking a stand publicly is important. We know that so many of you are finding it hard to do so in systems that refuse your efforts. We are here for you. We got your back always. Now to more coolness:


Jbrary shared a fabulous list of non-librarian blogs that you must check out. I personally read Mama OT and this baby happens to really like all those tummy time tips.



Yes, I exploit my baby’s adorable face.


Roller Derby ladies invaded this library’s book club and our hearts went pitter patter.


Try a Rube Goldberg Machine program like Ms. Anna!


Check out Miss Julie’s Top Five Tips for Youth Reader’s Advisory. I now want to make a candy readalike list!


Go Pokemon Go.


Finally, some flannel fun with dinosaurs, monkeys, and tools.

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