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Overdue Party

When you are a kid, your birthday is one of the cornerstones of your year. Festivities, friends, and family, and birthday cake all come together to make it a special day. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many children were unable to properly celebrate their birthdays this year.

Protected: Available Now! Public Libraries May/June Digital Issue

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Jennifer Close on How Politics, Pasta, and 90’s Cover Bands Informed Her Hilarious New Novel About a Family in Crisis

For nearly thirty years, the Sullivan cousins—Teddy, Jane, and Gretchen—have found solace in their family restaurant, JP Sullivans, a cozy establishment in Oak Park, Illinois. But in the fall of 2016, the cousins find themselves unmoored when their grandfather unexpectedly dies, their beloved Cubs finally win the World Series, and Donald Trump is elected President. Jane suddenly questions whether her husband’s newfound obsession with CrossFit is just an innocent hobby or an indicator that something is amiss in her once-stable marriage. Her younger sister, Gretchen, is unsure whether her popular 90’s cover band, Donna Martin Graduates, still has a chance at rock and roll stardom when the majority of their income comes from playing wedding receptions. Their cousin, Teddy, struggles to get his aunts and uncles to take him seriously as the new manager of JP Sullivans, all the while trying to figure out why his snobbish ex-boyfriend is suddenly frequenting the restaurant so much. What follows is a delightful comedy of manners as the three Sullivans navigate the unexpected twists of life, fortified by family and the restaurant’s phenomenal grilled cheese sandwiches. As she has done in her previous books, Jennifer Close depicts the complex of family and romantic relationships with a graceful charm and easy wit. Critics have raved about Marrying the Ketchups, with The New York Times singling out Close’s “merry sense of humor…[and] the knack she has of inventing story lines that have the feel of extremely good gossip told across a hightop table over a beer with an old friend.”

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FYI Podcast: The White Allies Handbook: 4 Weeks to Join the Racial Justice Fight for Black Women

In this episode our guest is Lecia Michelle. Lecia is a long-time librarian, activist, and author. Her forthcoming book “THE WHITE ALLIES HANDBOOK: 4 Weeks to Join the Racial Justice Fight for Black Women” (published by Kensington Books) will be on sale July 26, 2022. The book is a practical, actionable, explicit guide for people looking to not just “start a conversation” but to take concrete steps toward equality.

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“I’m Always Writing in Extremity of My Life” — Sara Baume on Her Gorgeous and Poetic New Novel

Sigh and Bell, drawn to each other by their similarly distrustful views of society, are relatively early in their relationship when they decide to ditch their dead-end jobs in Dublin and move to a cottage in the countryside. Over the next seven years, the two lovers, along with the dogs each person brought into the relationship, adapt to the steady rhythm of the natural world, shedding their past relationships and committing to a parsed-down life. The one constant in their life is the mountain that looms over them, a watchful presence that serves as the touchstone of their lives. Sara Baume’s Seven Steeples charts this unique love story—not only between the two lovers but also with each individual and their lush environment—with a graceful force that accumulates as the novel progresses. In spare and evocative prose, Baume pays tribute to living life on one’s own terms and forging a deeper connection to the natural world. Baume spoke with us about writing in extremity of her life and how her background as a visual artist impacts her writing.

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Libraries Can Really Change the Future

It was sheer good fortune that I went from working with cities and counties to working with urban libraries. Truly one of the luckiest things that has ever happened to me.

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HOW TO Flip Your Library’s Collections – Visiting Project Chaos

This was a daunting project with multiple moving parts. Staff flipped our entire adult collections and ended up moving 71,701 items.

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HOW TO How to Think About, Talk About, and Be About Allyship

What does allyship mean to you? It’s a simple enough question, but often, aspiring white allies get the answer wrong.

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HOW TO Initiate and Pilot a Social Work Practicum at Your Library

Originally presented at the How-To Stage during PLA 2022. HOW TO Initiate and Pilot a Social Work Practicum in Your LibraryProgram Description: Public libraries across North America are adding social work students to try to meet patron and staff needs, yet many are “reinventing the wheel” due to lack of consistent guidance about how to […]

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HOW TO — National Voter Registration Day Initiatives

At PLA 2022 we (Lynda & Lauren) presented about hosting a National Voter Registration Day statewide initiative.

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Azar Nafisi on How Reading Is Crucial To Our Survival

Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times is Azar Nafisi’s exhilarating examination of the role literature plays in understanding political systems and those who uphold opposing beliefs. Structured as letters to her deceased father, a compassionate man who instilled a profound respect for the art of storytelling in his children, Nafisi writes about authors who have engaged with the darkest aspects of their societies. In celebrating and studying these disparate writers, Nafisi notes how they created humane works that not only deepens the reader’s understanding of their own world, but also makes them more empathetic in the process. Nafisi also reflects on her family’s fascinating history in the letters, including her father’s imprisonment in Iran for political reasons, her own experience as a young professor living in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and her observations living in the United States for over two decades.

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New FYI Episode! A Trauma-Informed Framework for Supporting Library Patrons

In this episode we talk with Debra Keane and Margaret Ann Paauw (members of the PLA Social Work Task Force) about the emerging field of public library social work; the SWTF’s new book, (available April 2022 from ALA), “A Trauma-Informed Framework for Supporting Library Patrons — A PLA Workbook of Best Practices;” and more.

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“To Make Meaningful Long-Term Change We Have to Take a Systemic Approach To It”—Ruchika Tulshyan on Creating a More Inclusive Workplace

Ruchika Tulshyan combines her years of expertise as a DEI consultant for global companies along with her journalist’s acumen to write Inclusion on Purpose: An Intersectional Approach to Creating a Culture of Belonging at Work, a ground-breaking and user-friendly guide to making workplaces more inclusive environments. Tulshyan articulates that inclusion must be a practiced habit rather than an acknowledged theory, and gives leaders the tools to transform their companies into more inclusive spaces. Tulshyan’s meticulously researched management book also serves as a workbook for leaders, ending each chapter with prompts for writing and reflecting on how the issues covered in the chapter show up in the reader’s life. Tulshyan might be familiar to readers for her appearance on Brené Brown’s podcast as well as her frequent essays for The New York Times. Her previous book, The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Workplace, focused on leadership strategies to advance women at work.

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Jane Pek on Subverting Genre Tropes and the “What If” Scenario at the Heart of Her Ingenious New Mystery

Twenty-something Claudia Lin spends her days biking around New York City, working for a very unusual (and exclusive) detective agency. Lovelorn New Yorkers hire Claudia’s company to investigate their potential romantic partners, and Claudia must determine if the online persona on the partner’s dating profiles matches up to their real life identity. When one of Claudia’s clients dies under mysterious circumstances, the lifelong lover of detective fiction immediately suspects foul play. Despite strict instructions to the contrary from her boss, Claudia launches her own investigation. In the midst of tracking down a potential murderer, Claudia must also fend off her mother’s prying questions about her dating life, keep her job secret from her high-achieving siblings, and navigate the confusing waters of New York’s dating scene. Jane Pek’s witty and incisive The Verifiers is a love letter to the Golden Age of mystery, and with Claudia, Pek has created a brilliant and endearing detective for the current age. Critics have heaped praise on The Verifiers. Buzzfeed hailed it as an “astute, page-turning debut [that] sheds light on the necessities and limitations of interpersonal interaction, the role technology plays in its evolution (and de-evolution), and what it means to be human and looking for love in the 21st century,” while Poets & Writers wrote, “Through Claudia’s perceptive and entertaining narration, The Verifiers underscores the pitfalls and absurdities of modern technology. The novel is also an intimate portrait of a young, queer Chinese American person forging her own path.”

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Advancing Digital Equity by Expanding Tribal Library Access to E-Rate

Since the federal E-Rate program was established in 1996, public libraries across the nation have saved close to $2 billion in telecommunications and internet access costs. However, the program has largely failed to reach communities with some of the worst broadband access in the nation. Nearly 7 in every 10 residents on rural tribal lands remain without access to high-capacity broadband, and yet only about 12 percent of tribal libraries report receiving E-Rate funds.