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Nominate a Superstar Librarian to Win $5000

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Has a librarian made a difference in your life? Now is your chance to say thank you: nominations for the prestigious I Love My Librarian Award are open through November 9.

Each year, the I Love My Librarian Award recognizes 10 outstanding librarians with a $5000 prize and the honor of a lifetime. Leaders from the American Library Association (ALA) select the winners from thousands of nominations from library users—and your librarian could be next.

The I Love My Librarian selection committee is looking for stories of librarians whose passion, creativity, and expertise have made an impact during these unprecedented times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, librarians have been working harder than ever to serve their communities while maintaining social distancing: they’ve hosted video storytimes and virtual programs, expanded access to Wi-Fi in their areas, helped seniors avoid isolation and stay connected, and provided hunger relief amid rising food insecurity across the country.

I Love My Librarian awardees receive national media attention, shining a well-deserved spotlight on their amazing library. Winners will also be honored at a virtual award ceremony during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in January 2021 and receive complimentary conference registration as part of their prize package.

Nominating someone takes only a few minutes and can change your librarian’s life forever. Visit the I Love My Librarian Award website to submit a nomination today.

Wondering how to make your nomination stand out? Check out these tips for making the best possible case for your librarian.

NOMINATE A LIBRARIAN!

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Librarians Partner with Netflix to Support “Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices”

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Librarians have teamed up with Netflix to provide resources connected to the new series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices.

Bookmarks is a collection of 12 episodes featuring different Black celebrities—including Tiffany Haddish, Common, and Jill Scott—reading children’s books from Black authors. The videos are designed to showcase the Black experience and spark broader conversations about identity, respect, justice, and action.

Featured titles include Coretta Scott King (CSK) Book Award winner Firebird (written by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers), as well as CSK honorees Sulwe (written by Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison) and Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James).

To supplement the series, librarians from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association have put together a list of engaging activities for young readers, and members of the Association for Library Service to Children have shared links to resources about how families can connect with children’s library professionals to support their kids’ learning and development. These materials are all available on the Bookmarks website.

You can view the series on Netflix or watch for free on the Netflix Jr. YouTube page. For more book recommendations, check out ALSC’s social justice reading list for families.

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How Can Libraries Support the 2020 Election?

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A New York Times op-ed from sociologist Eric Klinenberg explores libraries how could help ensure a fair and just U.S. election by offering ballot collection boxes for patrons who wish to vote early.

Amid the ongoing pandemic, millions of Americans are planning to vote by mail rather than risk COVID-19 exposure at crowded polling places on Election Day. Still, many are their mail-in ballots may not arrive in time to be counted.

Klinenberg, a professor at New York University and author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life, argues that libraries can play an important role.

“Libraries already serve as polling places on Election Day throughout the country and, crucially, they provide secure, monitored ballot boxes where absentee voters can drop off their ballots before Nov. 3 and know that it will count,” he explains in the New York Times. “Secure boxes for absentee ballots are already available at some libraries in states like California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Utah, and Washington. Other states should follow suit.”

Ballot boxes allow voters to personally drop off their ballot in a secure setting all the way up until the polls close on Election Day. They give voters peace of mind, knowing that their ballot won’t encounter any delays or interference on the way to be counted.

America’s thousands of public libraries reach all types of communities and are among our nation’s most-trusted institutions. With that in mind, Klinenberg sees them as the perfect setting for early voting: “Making ballot boxes widely available at libraries and at accessible outdoor places is a safe and inexpensive way for government at all levels to promote our core civic duty.”

For more stories about the importance of libraries, subscribe to the I Love Libraries newsletter.

“Moana” Star Auli’i Cravalho Encourages Everyone to Get Counted in the 2020 Census

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In a new read-along video from the American Library Association, Moana star Auli’i Cravalho shares why it’s so important for all of us to get counted in the 2020 United States Census.

In the video, she reads from WE COUNT! A Census Counting Book for Kids, (and the Grownups That Love Them), an interactive counting book with illustrations of diverse American families by artists representing their own cultural heritage.  

“In the movie Moana the people of my island were counting on me, a young girl, to make a difference,” she shares. “Now our communities are counting on each and every one of us, young and old, to make a difference by taking the Census.”

The results of the Census will allocate billions of dollars in federal funding to local communities over the next decade, including more than $1 billion to libraries. The deadline for U.S. households to complete the Census has been extended until at least September 30, so it’s not too late to complete your questionnaire.

As of late August, only 64 percent of U.S. households had completed their Census forms. A complete count is necessary to ensure communities don’t miss out on billions of dollars in crucial funding for libraries, schools, healthcare, and other services—take a few minutes to make sure your household gets counted today.

WE COUNT! Virtual Storytime with Auli’i Cravalho

Learn more about how libraries are supporting the 2020 Census.

5 Reasons Everyone Should Have a Library Card

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September is Library Card Sign-up Month—do you have a library card yet? If not, it’s never too late to sign up: people of all ages can benefit from the free resources, media, and programs available at their library.

While many libraries are still closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may still be able to register for a library card online. Then, you can access all kinds of free entertainment and information from the comfort of your home, all while safely maintain social distancing.

Here are a few of the coolest things about having a library card:

Free books galore

From mysteries and graphic novels to cookbooks and biographies, your library has something for readers of all ages and interests. The best part? In addition to physical copies, libraries offer instant online access to free ebooks and audiobooks, which you can download from home with the push of a button.

Movies, music, magazines, and more

Library card holders can check out way more than just books: many libraries also offer free access to streaming video and music as well as online versions of your favorite magazines and newspapers. These resources are great for staying entertained and can save you big money on media subscription fees.

Access to databases and courses

Libraries also offer extensive electronic resources for students, small business owners, job seekers, hobbyists, and lifelong learners. Whether you’re looking for free software to pick up a new language, coding tutorials to boost your resume, or patent records to develop a new invention, your library has free access to amazing databases and classes online.

Big savings on museums and cultural attractions

Some libraries also loan out free or discounted passes to local museums, National Parks, performance venues, and other cultural attractions. While you may not be able to spend time at a planetarium or art gallery during the pandemic, be sure to check out what opportunities are available from your library later on.

Supporting access to information for all

Libraries are among our country’s most democratic institutions, promoting free and open access to information for everyone. Registering for a library card is one of the easiest ways to support this mission, since libraries use their sign-up stats to prove their value to local policymakers and advocate for much-needed funding. When you sign up for a library card, you’re helping demonstrate that today’s libraries are more important than ever.

Visit the Library Card Sign-up Month website for ideas about how to get involved all September long.

Librarians Share Their Top Ten Feminist Books for Youth

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Looking for great kids’ and YA reads about gender equality and justice? Librarians from the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association's Social Responsibilities Round Table have compiled a powerful list entitled “Rise: A Feminist Book Project for ages 0-18.”

Selections include fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels and highlight the work of diverse authors and illustrators. Here are the librarians’ top ten picks:

At the Mountain's Base, by Traci Sorell (writer) and Weshoyot Alvitre (illustrator)

A Boy Like You, by Frank Murphy (writer) and Kayla Harren (illustrator)

Forward Me Back to You, by Mitali Perkins  

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family, by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali (writers) and Hatem Aly (illustrator)

Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou, by Bethany Hegedu (writer) and Tonya Engel (illustrator)

Shout, by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Surviving the City, Vol. 1, by Tasha Spillett and Natasha Donovan 

Thirteen Doorways Wolves Behind Them All, by Laura Ruby

We Set the Dark on Fire, by Tehlor Kay Mejia  

What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, by Chris Barton (writer) and Ekua Holmes (illustrator)

For additional recommendations and more information about the titles above, visit the Rise website.

Calling All Teens: Vote for Your Top YA Reads

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Love young adult literature? Now’s your chance to vote for your favorite YA books as part of the Young Adult Library Services Association’s annual Teens’ Top Ten.

Each year, votes from readers aged 12 through 18 determine which books make the cut. Voting for your favorite titles can help teens across the country discover and enjoy authors you love.

You have until October 15 to cast your votes; winners will be announced later that month. Participants can choose up to three titles from a group of 25 finalists curated by teen book clubs across the country. The pool includes fiction and non-fiction reads from a variety of genres, from sci-fi to historical fiction.

Here are the 25 finalists:

#MurderFunding (#MurderTrending #2), by Gretchen McNeil

Are You Listening?, by Tillie Walden

Aurora Rising, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The Beast Player, by Nahoko Uehashi (writer) and Cathy Hirano (translator)

Between Worlds: Folktales of Britain and Ireland, by Kevin Crossley-Holland (writer) and Frances Castle (illustrator)

Broken Throne: A Red Queen Collection, by Victoria Aveyard

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic, by Sam Quinones

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, by Ben Philippe

Frankly in Love, by David Yoon

The Grace Year, by Kim Liggett

Last Bus to Everland, by Sophie Cameron

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, by Mariko Tamaki

Lovely War, by Julie Berry

The Memory Thief, by Lauren Mansy

My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant, by Laura Dockrill

Opposite of Always, by Justin A. Reynolds

Pumpkinheads, by Rainbow Rowell (writer) and Faith Erin Hicks (illustrator)

Stolen Time (Dark Stars #1), by Danielle Rollins

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon, by Mary Fan

These Witches Don’t Burn, by Isabel Sterling

Warhead: The True Story of One Teen Who Almost Saved the World, by Jeff Henigson

Wayward Son (Simon Snow, #2), by Rainbow Rowell

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya), by Hafsah Faizal

Wilder Girls, by Rory Power

With the Fire on High, by Elizabeth Acevedo

Vote for your favorites by October 15.

For more librarian-recommended YA books, check out the Teen Book Finder Database.

What It’s Like to Be a Library Cat During the Pandemic

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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries across the country have closed their doors to the public—but what has that meant for the cats who call America’s libraries home?

Libraries have long been home to feline residents who keep patrons company, promote activities and programs, and assist with pest control. We checked in on four library cats (and their humans) to see how their lifestyles have changed during the pandemic.

Browser from Texas’s White Settlement Public Library may be one of the nation’s most famous library cats. In a viral story from 2016, a city council member tried to oust Browser from his position at the library; after a public outcry, Browser was reinstated for life while his political opponent lost his reelection campaign.

Browser has stuck around the library during the pandemic closure but seems to be missing the crowds.

“He is generally quite independent, but since the closure he always wants to be near people. We can usually find him in the lap of a staff member, or lying helpfully on their keyboard,” library staffer Kathryn King told I Love Libraries. “Now that we are offering curbside service, he posts himself at the window during curbside hours to watch the patrons come and go.”

Left: Browser from White Settlement Public Library. Right: Cosmo from Grand County Public Library.

Cosmo strolled into the kid’s room at Grand County Public Library (GCPL) in Utah two years ago and has been a beloved fixture of the community ever since. Today, staff see him as “the face of the library”: he appears in monthly library newsletters and even has a weekly “Cosmo’s Corner” feature in the local paper where he (and his human co-writers) highlight different library services.

He’s stayed at GCPL throughout the pandemic, and now that that the library is starting to resume in-person services, patrons have been thrilled to see him.

“He’s also a peacemaker,” library director Carrie Valdes shared. “We’ve found it incredibly effective to enforce rules (especially the mask mandate) by focusing on Cosmo’s health!”

Across the pond, the library cat at Ireland’s Maynooth University has also been adjusting to life during COVID-19. Known only as the MU Library Cat, he’s been a campus celebrity ever since he started hanging out by the school’s library building; since then, staff have installed a hut to make his spot extra comfortable and even created a Twitter account on his behalf.

“He has become something of an unofficial mascot,” said Fiona Morley, head of digital programs and information systems for the library. “He is a popular, informal, and positive feline ‘face’ of the university and the library.”

Library staff know him to be extremely self-sufficient, but during the pandemic people have still been sure to drop by his hut to check in and share snacks. He’s also remained active on social media (with help from Fiona and fellow librarian Hugh Murphy), which he uses to stay connected to the campus community and share reminders about the importance of social distancing.

Left: the MU Library Cat from Maynooth University. Right: Socks from Pinson Public Library.

Socks, the resident cat at Alabama’s Pinson Public Library, has been spending quality time with staff during the pandemic. A few years ago, he and his littermates were rescued by a city council member, who brought the kittens to the library hoping staff might be willing to adopt them. As it turned out, Socks ended up finding a home at the library instead, where he helps greet patrons and promotes the library on social media.

Library director Allison Scanlan thinks the COVID-19 closure may remind Socks of when the library moved to a new location in 2019. “We closed the old location for 3 months to pack everything up and move, so it was just the staff in the building with Socks at that time too. I think he was worried at first that we might be moving again!” she explained. “We have even scattered some boxes around for Socks. He will meow at patrons through the door if they approach. I know that he misses his adoring public.”

Have a library cat story you’d like to share? Email ilovelibraries@ala.org and we may feature you in an upcoming article.

For more unique stories about libraries and librarians, subscribe to the I Love Libraries newsletter.

Librarians’ Favorite Sci-Fi Books for Kids and Teens

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Members of the Library and Information Technology Association (a division of the American Library Association) have put together an out-of-this-world list of recent science fiction books for young readers. Their picks include options for kids of all ages, with titles aimed at readers from pre-school through 12th grade.

Here are there 30+ picks:

Books for Early Readers

Field Trip to the Moon, by John Hare

Hello, by Aiko Ikegami

How to be on the Moon, by Viviane Schwarz

Out There, by Tom Sullivan

The Babysitter From Another Planet, by Stephen Savage

The Space Walk, by Brian Biggs

Ultrabot's First Playdate, by Josh Schneider

Good Boy, by Sergio Ruzzier

Llama Destroys the World, by Jonathan Stutzman (writer) and Heather Fox (illustrator)

Books for Kids Age 7 to 11

Awesome Dog 5000, by Justin Dean

Cog, by Greg van Eekhout

Field Trip (Sanity and Tallulah #2), by Molly Brooks

Friendroid, by M. M. Vaughan

Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat, by Johnny Marciano & Emily Chenoweth

Maximillian Fly, by Angie Sage

The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, by Ronald L. Smith

The Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers, by Margaret Peterson Haddix

We're Not From Here, by Geoff Rodkey

The Unspeakable Unknown, by Eliot Sappingfield

Seventh Grade vs the Galaxy, by Joshua S. Levy

Books for Kids Age 12 to 17

Alien: Echo, by Mira Grant

Aurora Rising, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Girls With Sharp Sticks, by Suzanne Young

The Hive, by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden

The Pioneer, by Bridget Tyler

How We Became Wicked, by Alexander Yates

The Waning Age, by S.E. Grove

The Fever King, by Victoria Lee

War Girls, by Tochi Onyebuchi

I Hope You Get This Message, by Farah Rishi

Honor Bound, by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

For more information about these titles, visit the Science Fiction Notables website.

Subscribe to the I Love Libraries newsletter for even more great book recommendations from librarians.

5 Reasons for Artists to Love Libraries

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Whether you’re dabbling in crafts or a professional artist, libraries offer extensive free resources to support your creative pursuits. Painters, musicians, writers, designers, and more rely on their libraries for access to information, inspiration, and a whole community of creators to collaborate with.

Here are a few of the most ways that artists and creatives use their libraries:

Honing their skills

Libraries give everyone free access to books, online tutorials, and classes for learning new artistic techniques. Library programs like writer’s workshops also enable creatives to exchange feedback and develop their craft in a friendly, welcoming environment. (While in-person library events are on hold due to the pandemic, many libraries are still offering virtual programs you can join online.)

Finding information and inspiration

Need to do some research for the novel you’re writing? Libraries’ vast arrays of books, databases, and archival materials can help you get up to speed; if you need help finding the right sources, librarians offer tailored one-on-one reference assistance to patrons. Many libraries also offer extensive online collections of public domain images, sounds, and video, which you can freely use in collages, song remixes, and more.

Growing their businesses

If you’re looking to turn your artistic passion into a career, libraries can help you get off the ground: they offer countless resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners. From databases of sample business plans and books about budgeting to intensive “small business bootcamp” courses, libraries offer valuable tools for succeeding as a professional creative.

Accessing cutting-edge technology

Many libraries have makerspaces and media labs with 3D printers, recording studios, laser cutters, and more, in addition to free hands-on training for making the most of these high-tech tools. While these physical spaces aren’t accessible during the pandemic, plan to check out what creative tools your library has to offer post-COVID.

Showcasing their creations

Many libraries host open mic nights, art shows, and more, allowing local artists to share what they’ve been working on with others in their community. While these in-person events aren’t possible during the pandemic, libraries are still finding ways to highlight local creators—for example, Virginia’s Arlington Public Library publishes a weekly “Quaranzine” featuring community photography, illustrations, poetry, and more.

Subscribe to the I Love Libraries newsletter for more tips and ideas about using your library.

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