2017 ALA Annual Thoughts

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ALA Annual was amazing this year, filled with big names like Hillary Clinton and Brené Brown. It was inspiring and uplifting, encouraging and full of lots of books too.I’m not here to gloat about the bags of books I got, though many will grace this blog as I try to read them all. I have piles of pins to decorate my office tack-board, pads of paper and post-it notes to use for the year, and trinkets for co-workers to share.
Since I can’t share the physical books and trinkets with you, I want to share seven pieces of wisdom I heard at the conference that I’ll carry forward in my work at the library:
  1. If you are silent, you are part of the problem. – This was said about LGBT, diversity, management, teamwork and social justice in general.
  2. Advocacy – the importance of libraries not being neutral but also having a social justice position is crucial. In order to serve our entire community, we need to advocate for them.
  3. Customer Service is changing, including the no service desk model in Gwinnett County and Open+ being used to extend hours in a staff-free way.
  4. Change is constant, and we need to be part of it. Making bold changes in library service keeps libraries relevant and responsive to community needs. Changes should be done with your own specific community in mind.
  5. Communication is crucial. Communication is important not just by leadership but from staff too. It needs to be two-way and compassionate. Staff need to feel safe and supported in order to embrace change and enjoy their work.
  6. Management needs to focus on earning trust and supporting staff whether through major changes or changes in culture. Control needs to lessen, hierarchies are problematic, and staff need to have a voice. Management needs to give staff enough power that it makes management uncomfortable.
  7. Books are back – more physical books than ever were on the exhibit floor. The move away from e-book samples and timed ARCs was vividly different from three years ago.

The Teacher’s Pet by Anica Mrose Rissi

The Teacher's Pet by Anica Mrose Rissi

The Teacher’s Pet by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora (9781484743645, Amazon)

Mr. Stricter, the teacher, has always wanted a pet. So when the class hatches tadpoles, he tells them that they can keep one. They choose Bruno who grows very quickly and unexpectedly. Soon he has left the fishbowl and entirely taken over the classroom. He farts, eats furniture, and munches school supplies. He also hasn’t turned into a frog at all! But Mr. Stricter can’t see how troublesome Bruno is until one day Bruno proves it once and for all.

Rissi uses plenty of humor in this picture book that turns the tables on teachers and their responsibility. The class of children must be the ones who see the problem and then rescue their teacher from his own blindness. This twist makes the book all the more exciting and fun to read, especially for children. Add in the humor of what Bruno actually grows into and you can expect when you share this aloud with children for them to be delighted at the huge creature and call out warnings to the oblivious Mr. Stricter.

Ohora’s illustrations are filled with bright colors that zing and zap. He plays the colors against each other with orange-yellow floors and deep red walls. This adds a lot of energy to the book and gives Bruno a dynamic background to appear against in all of his vastness.

The power of children is embraced in this picture book that will have everyone laughing along. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from ARC received from Disney-Hyperion.