Power Partnerships: When School and Public Libraries Unite

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On Friday, June 14th YASD held its annual June Brunch. This year our brunch included a panel of four Librarians from Syosset. The panel consisted of three librarians from a public school setting: Syosset High School Education Technology Specialist Kristina Holzweiss, School Media Specialist Lynn Ortlieb and School Media Specialist Sarah Wasser, along with the Head of Teen Services from Syosset Public Library Sharon Long. The four did a wonderful job of presenting now only what they do but how they work together and ways that all school and public librarians can work together.

Syosset Public Library puts on SY-Con every other year and Sharon makes sure to get the school librarians involved. This included having Lynn be a judge for the cosplay contest. Sharon believes it is great to invite the school librarians and get them involved in large library programs. 

Together these awesome librarians are also planning an un-convention called Cardigan Camp where school and public librarians can come together to discuss the library world, what they have done, and what they will like to do. As it is an un-convention, the exact topics will be decided that day by those who attend.

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They also encouraged visits and meetings between the public and school librarians. Public Librarians should invite School Librarians to visit their space and vice versa. Every year, Sharon, Lynn, Sarah and Kristina get together to discuss the school summer reading lists as well, making a great partnership between those assigning the assignment and those who will be helping the teens find their books for it.

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Kristina also shared about the important of social media as a way to reach our patrons and share what we have to offer. In her e-mail signature she uses GIF made on EZGIF as a moving banner to help advertise. She also shared the QUIK APP to make presentations to share for class visits, PTA meetings and more.

Sharon, Lynn, Sarah and Kristina were all amazing panelists who definitely seem to enjoy working well together. The YASD Board Members and Committee Chairs are so grateful they were able to spend their Friday morning with us.

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Banned Books Week

It’s the last week in September, or, for librarians, Banned Books Week!

Held annually during the last week of September, Banned Books Week is meant to bring attention to the censorship or outright removal of books from library and bookstore shelves across the country.

The Banned Books Week website has plenty of promotional tools

The name of the week is a bit sensational – books are not outright banned in this country in the way they can be in totalitarian governments. If a book is removed from the shelves of a library, people can still get access to it in other ways. However, the library may be the main or only way some people have of accessing information, and if some books are removed, those people are having their freedom to access information restricted.

Why do books get challenged and removed from library shelves?

Many people who want certain books removed from libraries believe they are doing a good deed. Often they are parents who believe a book could be harmful for children. Others are worried that a reading selection in school is inappropriate for a certain age level. In these cases, people believe that they are just protecting children, not restricting information.

The process of challenging a book begins when a person formally requests that a title be taken out of the collection. The library or school must then review their established selection policy to see if the book in question fits within the policy. If it does, then the library can argue why the book should be kept. If it does not, then the library may have to relent and remove or relocate the book.

It is not always a straightforward process and it can often get ugly. Sometimes books are taken out of one section of the library (such as the children’s or teen section) and placed somewhere else that is not as readily accessible to the book’s target audience. Other times there is local (or wider) news coverage of the book challenge, which can draw out further dissenters.

What can librarians do?

Librarians need to ensure that there is a clear selection policy in place that they can point

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The display outside of the Massapequa Public Library’s Teen Dept. at Bar Harbour.

to in the event of a book challenge. A selection policy can be the deciding factor in whether or not a book is removed from the collection, and it should be a librarian’s first weapon.

Our teen patrons may come to us when a book is removed from their school or if a parent restricts what the teen is allowed to read at home. This could be a tricky situation: we need to support teens’ right to access information, but we also don’t want to infringe on their parents’ decisions. When possible, we should try to find books that the teen will enjoy that will also not anger their parents. Most importantly though, we need to acknowledge their trouble, be there so they can vent, and suggest more things for them to read.

We can also come together during celebrations like Banned Books Week to draw attention
to the issue. There’s nothing wrong with reminding people that concern for children or the general public can go too far.

Pamela Pattwell, of the Massapequa Public Library’s Teen Department, set up two displays with a “guess the banned book in a jar” contest, complete with Amazon gift card prizes, as well as a beautiful display outside of the Teen Dept. office to raise awareness.

What are you all doing for Banned Books Week? Please let us know in the comments!