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Libraries Take the Spotlight in this Disney Junior Show

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by Burkely Hermann

Recent animated series like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Hilda, Cleopatra in Space, and Too Loud have portrayed libraries positively. One Disney Junior show, which features the first South Asian protagonist in the network’s history, brings this trend to cable: Mira, Royal Detective.

The titular protagonist, Mira, lives in the fictional kingdom of Jalpur, set in 19th century India. She is a royal detective who serves at the pleasure of the queen and is “on the case” to help anyone in the kingdom, regardless of their socioeconomic class, with the assistance of two mongooses (Mikku and Chikku). Viewers of all ages can enjoy the series, especially the episodes with scenes in libraries.

In the show’s 14th episode, Mira works with her friends to determine the origin of a stomping sound shaking the royal palace. During her investigation, she travels to the palace library in hopes that it will help her solve the case. In the process, she re-shelves books which have been pushed to the ground by shaking underneath the palace. Viewers see spiral stairs leading to the library’s second level and beautiful designs in keeping with the rest of the show’s visual motif. The library reappears in the next episode as well: Mira and her friends Priya and Prince Neel fall into a secret room, much like in the scene in Hilda when a pet deerfox stumbles upon a secret special collections room in the town’s library. Using hints left by the previous detective, Mira and her friends soon enter another hidden room, and go through all the books on the shelves to find another clue. When they have almost lost hope of solving the case, Mira spies one final book. It has a note from the former detective, and she uses that to continue her journey. She then finds a book the detective left specifically for her, detailing unsolved mysteries in the kingdom. We see the same hidden room of the library briefly in another episode when Mira is showing a visiting princess some of the detective disguises left behind by the former royal detective. All these scenes communicate the value of libraries and their organization.  

In the show’s 22nd episode, Mira solves a library-related mystery; the entire episode emphasizes the value of libraries, with some reviewers saying that it has a lesson about “proper library borrowing etiquette.” The episode begins with Mira pedaling a bike-powered bookmobile across Jalpur and telling her mongoose friends that everyone is amazed by the new “mobile library,” the design of which is inspired by actual bookmobiles. Mira works with her father, Sahil, to set up this library and says she is excited the city now has a movable library. When her friend Neel returns a book to the library, she tells him that there is always room for more books and that the library is for the whole town. After that, in keeping the tone of the series, the characters sing a sweet song about the importance of reading and libraries. This includes Mira describing the library as a "big buffet where you can try something different every day," with many stories that can allow people to get lost in their imaginations in the process. Following this, Sahil checks out books to patrons and says that the last step is returning the book after you are finished with it.

Afterward, Mira’s cousin Dhruv returns a fantasy book named The Magical Monsoon and recommends it to those standing nearby. Mira notes that there is a waiting list for the book due to its popularity. Her friend, Kamala, checks out another book, with Mira’s mongoose friends stamping the book, taking out a slip and putting it in a box; Sahil tells her that she should return the book in three days, acting as the librarian. Shortly thereafter, The Magical Monsoon goes missing with no book slip showing who checked out the book. Mira begins her investigation, using her tools to find the person who took the book, talking to some of her friends to gather information. She eventually discovers that Kamala’s sister Dimple took the book by accident, solving the case. Mira reminds her that you need to check out library materials properly so that the library can keep track of their materials, so they are available for everyone to enjoy. The episode ends with the mongooses reading the book aloud to Mira and her friends who gather around a tree in the center of Jalpur, enjoying the story.

Fans who watch the series on cable or streaming services can expect more Mira, Royal Detective in the future: it was renewed for a second season before it even premiered! Whether libraries or librarians appear in future episodes, the series has already made clear to viewers the importance of libraries and hopefully it continues to do so in the future.

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12 Must-Read Cookbooks Recommended by Librarians

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Looking to mix things up in the kitchen? Each year, members of the American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) name the most essential cookbooks for public libraries, and this year’s list features a diverse mix for newbie chefs and experienced cooks alike.

RUSA’s 2021 list includes recent books spotlighting cuisine from around the world. There’s something for everyone, from vegan and vegetarian recipes for plant-based eaters to decadent desserts for those with a sweet tooth.

Here are their top 12 picks:

Taste of Tucson: Sonoran-Style Recipes Inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona, by Jackie Alpers

Chaat: Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India, by Maneet Chauhan and Jody Eddy

Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France, by Melissa Clark

The Good Book of Southern Baking: A Revival of Biscuits, Cakes, and Cornbread, by Kelly Fields with Kate Heddings

In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean, by Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen

100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen, with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More, by Sarah Kieffer

Fresh From Poland: New Vegetarian Cooking from the Old Country, by Michal Korkosz

The Honeysuckle Cookbook: 100 Healthy, Feel-Good Recipes to Live Deliciously, by Dzung Lewis

Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence, by Claire Saffitz

New Homemade Kitchen: 250 Recipes and Ideas for Reinventing the Art of Preserving, Canning, Fermenting, Dehydrating and More, by Joseph Shuldiner

Falastin, by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley

Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes, by Bryant Terry

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People Share How Their Libraries Have Adapted to COVID

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The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has caused many libraries to close their doors to the public, but their staff have still been hard at work keeping their communities connected while social distancing.

We asked I Love Libraries readers and the American Library Association’s social media followers to share how their libraries have adapted to these challenging times. Here are a few of the highlights:

“All programming has gone virtual, from story time for the kids to crafts and cooking for all ages; short story book discussion club; general book discussion clubs about any and all genres; topiary design;  jewelry making; bath salts as gifts, chocolate making; authors' discussions; musical entertainment, history programs; there isn't a topic that has not been approached and re-purposed for all who care to Zoom in. We are not just a building full of books: we have become the cultural hub of the community, virtually, as we were in person before the pandemic.”—Judith E., Millburn Free Public Library (New Jersey)

“We were able to offer a way for researchers to utilize the software in our physical computer lab through a remote connection, allowing them the same functionality from the comforts of their home or offices. A lot of the specialized software on our computers can be expensive for an individual or department to license, so we are so happy to have been able to continue enabling access for our researchers in a safe, remote environment.”—Holly D., Ohio State University

“We created a monthly event called Snackchat. This combines the food and fun of traditional programming, with a book talk element. Before the program, the snack bag of the month is picked up through contact free services. The kiddos then hop on the Zoom call split up by grade and talk about books they have read that month with a specific theme: fantasy, historical fiction, graphic novels, and more. They also enjoy a fun activity which is ready for them in the bag.”—Christine S., Sierra Madre Public Library (California)

“For the younger students (preschool through third grade) I am now ‘The Rolling Library’! I visit their classroom, with my cheerfully decorated cart to present stories/library lessons each week. The students love to see ‘who’ I am going to have on my cart—a Beanie Baby turkey? a snowman? a Valentine pup? Whoever gets to come of course is also wearing a mask as a sweet reminder.”—Julie C., Tipton Community Schools (Iowa)

“Our library has kept busy by offering innovative youth programs such as outdoor scavenger hunts, a life-size Candyland game on the grounds, and virtual story times. We've also offered hotspot and Chromebook checkouts, online speaker events, BINGO card reading challenges, and have continued to circulate book and movies curbside. Currently we're hosting the free VITA tax services, done completely curbside by having a walk-up window where clients can exchange materials with tax preparers without having to enter the building. We are so pleased to continue to serve our community!”—Sai E., Watauga County Public Library (North Carolina)

“In September, we held our first Virtual Fall Fest, an online and interactive event with the theme ‘Libraries for All.’ Over five days, each of our libraries held a synchronous or asynchronous event that was promoted via all library social media channels, including Drag Story Hour, workshops, quizzes, a whodunit mystery event, and more. Students who participated in the week’s events received a one-of-a-kind t-shirt designed by library staff.”—Robin F., University of Florida

“The Teen Book Drop program offers teens a unique way to connect with their library from afar. These kits were designed to feel like a subscription box with a young adult book selection paired with themed activities and souvenirs. The first-ever TBD box featured My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma and included extras like mehndi-style temporary tattoos, mandala sand art designs, a movie review kit, movie buff trophy, and microwave popcorn snack. All items included in the boxes were free for teens to keep and enjoy.”—Emily O., Berks County Public Libraries (Pennsylvania)

Subscribe to the I Love Libraries newsletter for more great stories about how libraries are transforming amid the pandemic. Lead photos courtesy of Watauga County Public Library and Tipton Community Schools.

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These Online Games Help Kids Learn Money Skills Early

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The American Library Association (ALA) has teamed up with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation to create free online games for kids about earning, saving, and spending money.

The games are part of a series called Thinking Money for Kids and are perfect for youth aged 7 to 11. They empower kids to develop financial savvy and have fun at the same time.

The offerings include Earning It, which follows a diverse group of characters translating their childhood interests into successful careers; Balance My Budget, which shares tips on how to prioritize spending between basic needs, luxuries, and saving up; Money Trail, which lets kids practice making tough decisions about spending and earning; and Let’s Deal, which explores buying and selling in a farmers’ market setting.

The games supplement ALA and FINRA’s Thinking Money for Kids traveling exhibition, an interactive experience for kids and families at public libraries. While the exhibition tour has been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’ll return to public libraries once it’s safe to do so.

“These new interactive games allow libraries to bring financial education directly into the home, with the assurance that all of the learning is engaging and appropriate for children,” Gerri Walsh, President of the FINRA Foundation, said in a press release.

“FINRA Foundation research shows that adult financial literacy is declining in this country,” she continued. “To reverse this trend, it’s critically important to start financial education early. And that’s exactly what the new Thinking Money for Kids games do.”

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These Baby Yoda Tees Are Perfect for Book Lovers

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Last fall, the American Library Association (ALA) debuted a new READ® poster featuring The Mandalorian breakout character The Child, also known as Baby Yoda and Grogu; the first run of the poster sold out almost immediately. Thanks to a collaboration between ALA and Out of Print, the instantly-iconic design is now available as a t-shirt.

The tee makes a perfect gift for the book-loving Star Wars fan in your life. It’s available in a unisex crewneck style as well as a relaxed fit women’s cut, plus kids’ sizes for the little ones.

This isn’t the first time ALA and Out of Print have teamed up to create bookish Star Wars merch. They’ve released a host of other clothing and accessories featuring Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and more, from tote bags and socks to notebooks and mugs.

When you shop the collection proceeds from your purchase help support ALA’s work keeping our nation’s libraries strong. Efforts include advocating for library funding, fighting censorship, diversifying the library workforce, and providing disaster relief to libraries in need.

Ready to own your very own Baby Yoda t-shirt? Visit the Out of Print website to shop now.

These Librarian-Recommended YA Books Have Something for Everyone

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There’s a book out there for everybody—even people who don’t typically enjoy reading. Teens of all interests and reading levels can find something to enjoy from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)’s the 2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list.

Librarians from YALSA curated 64 recent books based on their appeal to non-avid readers. Selection criteria include compelling plotlines, relatable and believable themes, and language that’s clear and accessible without sacrificing quality.

Of the dozens of picks, YALSA bloggers highlighted the following as their top ten featured titles:

Be Not Far From Me, by Mindy McGinnis

Found, by Joseph Bruchac

Golden Arm, by Carl Deuker

Heartstopper Vol. 1, by Alice Oseman

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novelby Jason Reynolds

The Loop, by Ben Oliver

#NoEscape, by Gretchen McNeil

Punching the Airby Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Snapdragon, by Kat Leyh

You Should See Me in a Crown, by Leah Johnson

Check out the full list at the YALSA website.

Alyson Hannigan Shares the Magic of Libraries

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Alyson Hannigan—iconic star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, How I Met Your Mother, and American Pie—is spreading the library love in a new PSA video.

Hannigan’s latest project is Disney+ original movie Flora & Ulysses, which is based on a John Newbery Medal-winning children’s book by Kate DiCamillo.

"You can find [DiCamillo’s book] for free at your local library, along with countless other stories for readers of all ages,” Hannigan shares in the video. “Head to your library’s website to discover something magical.”

Check out the full clip below:

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Join Educators in Supporting Transgender and Nonbinary Youth

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Later this month, readers across the country will join the annual Jazz & Friends National Day of School & Community Readings, a literary celebration of transgender and nonbinary youth.

On Thursday, February 25, libraries, schools, and households will participate in readings of three children’s books about gender identity: I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, My Rainbow by Trinity and DeShanna Neal, and When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff. The event encourages communities to (virtually) come together to show support and advocate for transgender and nonbinary kids.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Welcoming Schools Program organizes the annual event, alongside cosponsors the National Education Association and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Educators can get involved by registering at hrc.im/JazzSignUp, where they can receive discussion guides, promotional tools, resources, and more.

“School librarians strive to create an inclusive environment where all students feel welcome,” AASL Kathy Carroll shared in a press release about the event. “Our goal is to provide collections and learning experiences that celebrate diversity and recognize our learners’ unique experiences.”

She continued: “School librarians also carefully curate the digital and print collection, outreach programs, and services so that all students see themselves reflected within the offerings of the school library. We hope that school librarians across the nation will join us in advocating and supporting our transgender and nonbinary learners.”

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Librarians Name Their Top LGBTQIA+ Books of the Year

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Each year, members of the American Library Association’s Rainbow Round Table compile the Over the Rainbow Book List, a selection of excellent recent titles focused on LGBTQIA+ stories.

This year’s list is out now, featuring 48 exceptional nonfiction and fiction books for adult readers. The Over the Rainbow committee’s picks include a diverse array of authors, exploring history and contemporary politics through new lenses.

Here are their top ten titles:

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex, by Angela Chen

Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America, by R. Eric Thomas

A History of My Brief Body, by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Homesick: Stories, by Nino Cipri

Homie: Poems, by Danez Smith

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir, by Jenn Shapland

Plain Bad Heroines, by Emily M. Danforth

The Prettiest Star, by Carter Sickels

Real Life, by Brandon Taylor

What's Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She, by Dennis Baron

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We Love These Vintage Valentines from the New York Public Library

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Valentine’s Day is upon us—and how better to celebrate than with some vintage love postcards from the New York Public Library?

NYPL’s Holiday Postcards collection includes countless archival gems, include some amazing turn-of-the-century Valentines.

Some highlights are below; save your favorites to send to the loved ones in your life this February 14.

 

 

“With love from thy valentine” (1909)

“A valentine message” (undated)

“To my Valentine” (1903)

“To my Valentine” (undated)

“St. Valentine greeting” (undated)

“Love's message to my Valentine” (undated)

“Dear little sweetheart of my soul, for whom my songs are sung” (1908)

“A message of true love” (undated)

“My heart's best love to my Valentine” (1912)

“Train engine covered in flowers” (1900-1909)

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