Author Archives: Brytani

Virtual Guerrilla Storytime- January 2017



Back in January, the joint chiefs hosted a virtual Guerrilla Storytime via Facebook and Twitter. During the event, we introduced our new social justice-focused questions, which you can find here.


Below are a few teaser questions, but please do read through all of the thoughtful responses by clicking here.




  1. What is your favorite storytime book featuring a main character of color?



  • The Snowy Day
  • I Got the Rhythm
  • One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree
  • Lola At the Library
  • Lottie Paris and the Best Place
  • Ada Twist, Scientist
  • I Love My Hair
  • Whose Toes Are Those?
  • All Different Now
  • Big Snow
  • Show Way
  • Big Red Lollipop
  • I Like Myself
  • My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood
  • Dim Sum for Everyone
  • Princess Hair
  • How to Find a Fox
  • Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom
  • Jazz Baby
  • Peekaboo Morning
  • Bee Bim Bop
  • Last Stop on Market Street
  • Looking for Bongo
  • Love Is a Truck
  • Thunderboy, Jr.
  • Say Hello
  • A Chair For My Mother
  • Pumpkin Eye
  • Every Little Thing
  • The Bus For Us
  • Lenny in the Garden
  • When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat


  1. How would you accommodate a family in the disability community in your regular storytime?


  • Wearing a mic for families with a hearing impairment
  • Having rhymes and modifications for children in wheelchairs (upper body movements).
  • Let everyone know they can step out for a break.
  • Offer noise-cancelling headphones and warn of extra loud noises.
  • Including a variety of activities–things to touch, different volumes, options for seating.
  • Ask families about accommodations or welcome feedback to make them more comfortable.


  1. How do you address diversity in your welcome message?


  • “Today we’re celebrating all the different ways young children learn. We’re going to be singing and playing, laughing and talking, and, of course, reading together. Since our storytime reflects our community, that means we also have some songs to learn in different languages. Sometimes our little listeners like one activity more than another or maybe they find an activity overstimulating and upsetting. Please stay close to your child during storytime so you can respond if they become upset. I do have some fidget toys that you can take for your child to hold and there’s lots of diversions in the children’s area if you need to take a break.”
  • I make a note for accommodations. “Miss Julie will be jumping and clapping today, but please modifying if you need to.” Then I give examples based on what I may be doing. “You can lift arms instead of jumping, say ‘clap’ instead of clapping!”
  • I welcome everyone at the door as they come in and then as a big group by saying “Welcome, friends!” And then we go into calendar time and talk about all the different holidays we have that month. And I say “Do we have any friends that celebrate any of these holidays?” And then I’ll say, “But it’s okay if we don’t celebrate any of these holidays too. We might have friends that don’t.”
  • We add hello and goodbye in each language represented in the room. It’s very quick and very sweet, especially when the children start to do it rather than the grown-up.


Social Justice Meets Guerrilla Storytime



Did you know that we have new questions for Guerrilla Storytime that relate to social justice in our practices? No? Stop everything you’re doing and take a look at them right now. Click here for a list of the questions in a straight text format.


Love them? Want to stand on a rooftop and shout about them? Us, too! If you were checked into Facebook or Twitter with us back in January, you may have noticed that we had a virtual Guerrilla Storytime featuring these new questions. The answers were beautiful and inspiring and we’ll have a round-up up on the blog soon.


We wanted to re-introduce the questions today, though, because we have a lot of hopes for them. Hopes like the following:


  • Our peers could explore any unfamiliar terms and topics brought up by these questions and become more knowledgeable on the issues.
  • Individuals might have informal conversations with their co-workers and raise awareness for these topics.
  • Supervisors can take the initiative to use these questions in their own guerrilla training.
  • They might make an appearance at more public Guerrilla Storytimes, like the ones at conferences, and raise the profile of public libraries as places for critical analysis and perspectives.


And maybe we’re shooting for the stars a little, but we’re so pleased that one library system has already taken up the challenge. Back in January, Enoch Pratt Free Library incorporated these questions into a Guerrilla Storytime training for internal staff. It challenged the team to come together and talk about the issues, sharing thoughts and concerns and working out how to address them.


EPFL mixed these new social justice questions with those from our original kit using images on a powerpoint. The mixture helped to keep the conversation moving and fun and to help develop answers to these deeper questions, they sent the list to staff ahead of time for reflection.


Follow this link to read the notes from EPFL.


As you review the notes for their meeting, we invite you to think about how you may be able to discuss these topics with your own teammates and staff and we hope that you’ll feel free to incorporate these questions into your next meeting. If you’re interested in making your own powerpoint with the images from our January virtual Guerrilla Storytime, here is a link to our file.



Local Chapter of the Month: Colorado’s CLEL

This month, we’re highlighting another outstanding local chapter by giving them a shout-out on the blog.


Have you always wanted a group of mentors and friends IRL? Make sure you’re connected with your local chapter for online discussions and in-person meet-ups. Not only are they a great way to learn from your peers, but they’re also fun. Find your local chapter here, or learn more about what it takes to be a chapter leader.






This month we’re so proud to announce our partnership with CLEL (Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy)! They will be serving as our local chapter for Colorado residents and SU followers.


If you’re not already a member, please do join the Facebook group, here. Also, make sure you take a look at their website and join the organization. It’s free and you don’t have to be a Colorado resident to be a member! CLEL closely aligns with the goals of the SU community, but they provide even more concrete services in your area. You definitely don’t want to miss out on some of these free resources:


  • StoryBlocks- We love these recordings of rhymes and songs that Colorado libraries are creating in many languages. You can browse by age group or language and each comes with written lyrics and an early literacy tip. For extra fun, try to spot Joint Chief Mary Kuehner. (Hint: She’s fluent in Spanish.)
  • Early Literacy Tips- If you like our Fast Facts, you’ll love these tips! They’re organized by ECRR practices and ready to implement.
  • CLEL Bell Nominees and Winners- Wish it was easier to find books that tie in ECRR practices like writing and talking? The CLEL Bell awards are designed to do just that! Pro tip: You don’t have to be a Colorado resident to make a nomination for these awards.
  • Yearly conferences and learning opportunities- Members have a chance to get together and learn at least once a year with a very affordable conference.


And the most exciting part for us? With CLEL’s agreement to become a local chapter, they are bringing a renewed focus on hosting free events and opportunities for you to get together for learning, networking, and fun.


So, Colorado library friends, we hope you’re reading and taking advantage.



Storytime For Social Justice Kit

This is the time of year when you normally see the SU community light up with resolutions to change our practices, learn something new, and improve our services. It’s a time when we ramp up our energy and set goals to smash expectations of what libraries should be. It’s a tradition we love and honor, but this year is different.


This year most of us in the library profession had our ethics, hearts, and years of work demolished by a perfect storm of bigotry, ignorance, and apathy. In the wake of endlessly disappointing legislation, devastating and infuriating election results, and ever-capitulating leadership (both in our government and in our profession), the Joint Chiefs are choosing to fight. Our weapon is something so innocent and so elegant that you may miss its power on first glance.


We’re fighting back with Storytime.


See, we think that when we are faced with fascism on a terrifying scale, it is radical to empower the public with messages of strength in community, empathy for those who are different from us, equality with those we cannot understand, and love without boundaries. We think it’s nothing short of sedition to sow the seeds of unity, equity, and power.


We think Storytime should make bigots tremble. It should establish a place of belonging and safety, raising up families who are willing to advocate for one another. It should normalize and celebrate diversity, dispelling all fear of differences. It should give children the foundation they need to have confidence in their ideas, pride in their ability to make and change things, and a place of acceptance for voicing their thoughts and feelings.


Storytime is social justice.


So, yes. This year is different. Instead of asking for your resolutions, we’re issuing a challenge to throw away your trusty road map and become an explorer again. Re-examine your mission and practices and choose the path to being a social justice warrior. We invite you to join us in reading diverse titles, using your songs and activities to create a sense of community and safety, and encouraging support and love among families and neighbors.


As always, we’re here to support you as you make this leap. Below you will find a kit complete with book suggestions, songs, flannels, and extension activities. We’ve also included some ideas for fostering constructive conversations in Storytimes and linked to other lists that may be helpful.


Click here to view and use our brand new Storytime for Social Justice Kit.




If you’re ready to take a stand with us, shout it out. #storytimejusticewarrior

And, don’t worry. There is much, much more to come. Check back with us next week for more resources related to this challenge.


Motivational Monday: November Shout-Outs

Here at SU, we think that it’s up to every member of a team to encourage and lift up your peers. It’s why we started things like Guerrilla Storytimes and our Local Chapters. We want YOU to have the power to learn from each other, connect, and grow.


Today, we’re introducing a new feature that we hope will become a staple in our blogging content. For the first time, we put all of YOU in charge of publicly recognizing the teammates and peers in your lives who are doing great work. We want to regularly reward the workers who are making a difference every day and we want you all to feel seen and appreciated.


So, here goes! Our first round of shout-outs is small but mighty.




First shout-out comes from our friend, Rebecca McCorkindale aka Hafuboti. She’s lifting up her whole team today!


I want to give a HUGE Shout-Out to my Children’s Library team. Jennifer, Natasia, and Ashlynn have created such a positive atmosphere for both each other and the public. When I was gone for almost half of a month recently, I was able to have two wonderful vacations knowing that these three ladies were keeping things going.
Jennifer, our Children’s Librarian, oversaw everything along with my Director (who would also deserve a GINMOURMOUS shout-out on her own for her support and encouragement). Super-fabulous early literacy and just straight-up fun events were prepped and executed. She resolved issues, and if she felt I needed to know something, she left me clear notes. She did a lot more, but I don’t want to bog-down my Shout-Out with a list.
Natasia, our Technical Services Librarian and my “Marketing Minion” made sure that November’s theme and decor would be ready to go when I came back on November 1. Although she’s headed up planning and execution of our monthly themes, this was this first time that I gave her a theme and then basically left. Her creativity, artistic skills, and teamwork attitude add to my joy when I come to work every day and not just when I come back from vacay.
Ashlynn, our Technical Services Librarian with diverse interests and a generous heart, helped out in any and every area that she could. She created November’s scavenger hunt, and stayed vigilant to others’ needs. She also came up with one of my all-time favorite passive programs: leaf piles on our lawn. She took a problem that we’ve had since opening the Children’s Library (fallen leaves getting everywhere) and solved it in a creative and memory-making way.
Upon my November 1 return, I had the easiest reentry into work-world that I can remember. Things felt great, I knew what had been going on, and things were in a great place for me to take up my tasks and duties again. It was more like returning to my family than coworkers. And for all this and more, I want to shout to world at how awesome these ladies are.
Next, we have Kaitlin Frick calling out a co-worker, Grace Zell, for going above and beyond.
I’d like to give a shout-out to my work twin, Grace Zell. She’s all-around an incredible children’s librarian who seems to know every name, has a kind and warm personality, but steps up to handle tough situations when necessary. This past couple of weeks in particular, she’s been working her butt off to put in a grant proposal for a project we want to put together here at our library. We didn’t receive word until very last-minute that we needed to make changes to the proposal, and she took time outside of work to make those changes happen and (hopefully) get the funding to create some incredible children’s programming. Basically, she’s amazing and I aspire to be more like her in so many ways.
That’s all for now, but we hope that you will continue to send us your shout-outs and dazzle us with the dedication and passion that you admire in your teammates.