Sunday, December 11, 2016

What Lies Ahead (for libraries, at least)

(My husband thinks this post needs a trigger warning for general despair, so FYI.)

It’s December, which means I’m grading final projects, cleaning up my office, wrapping holiday presents, reading for a book committee, etc.

This year, I find myself nostalgic for a reality that no longer exists after November 8, 2016. (And, for the record, parts of that reality were pretty awful as well.) As more and more news comes out about the role Russia played in the election, potential Cabinet picks, and the PEOTUS’ fundamental unfitness for office, the more important it becomes for each of us to have a reckoning with what lies ahead.

People far more knowledgeable than I am about kleptocracies, fascism, and authoritarianism are hard at work these days, and I encourage you to check them out (just look at who I’m retweeting these days). This post will be focused solely on the potential financial impacts to libraries in the upcoming administration. While I would love to believe that something (anything) could keep his inauguration from happening, I don’t think we should kid ourselves.

1)      Prepare for the worst for school libraries. Since they are already often the first thing on the chopping block in an age where other “extras” like music and arts education have long since been gutted, school librarians will likely be one of the first things to go when changes start coming through from whatever remains from US Department of Education.

2)      It may take a while, but expect disastrous cuts to public libraries (and state libraries), especially those most dependent on IMLS funding (as opposed to local funding). Look at what has happened in recent years to public and state libraries in Kansas and Louisiana as an example. In an extra-special, knife-in-the-gut twist, the same Kansas libraries Governor Brownback financially decimated can apply for tiny little grants (from corporate & private sponsors of course) that First Lady Brownback doles out as part of the Kansas Book Festival.

3)      Academic libraries in many places are already suffering, as we have seen a gradual depletion in state support over the last decade. Factor in potential changes to federal student loan programs, DACA, etc., and the impact could be detrimental for academic libraries. (And this isn’t even looking at the threats by certain Republican governors to cut state funding to campuses that designate themselves as sanctuaries.)

So, there you have it, all laid out. This is without even scratching the surface of an uptick in book challenges, fears of retribution for saying anything negative about the government (which, I’ll remind you, is already a part of the reality here in Kansas due to this lovely Social Media Policy), growing backlash toward marginalized groups, shit like the screed the New York Post ran today (I’m not linking to it), etc.

This is not business as usual (regardless of what the mothership would have us think). Prepare accordingly.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Building an Intentionally Problematic GLBTIQ Reading List

This summer, I'm thrilled to finally have the opportunity to design and teach a two-hour MLS course called GLBTIQ Resources and Services for Libraries.

Originally, I had set out to create a booklist similar to what I had done for my multicultural course here, since both courses have a long-form book review assignment in addition to the class-wide reads we all read and discuss as a group. You can learn more about the class-wide reads for this course in the guest post I did over at

I had planned to start from scratch, using my own personal library as a base and building from there. But, given my relatively limited resources, I knew I wouldn't have the variety I was looking for. Since I'm already in the midst of research using Stonewall Book Award and Rainbow Book List titles for a paper I'll be presenting at YALSA's 2016 Young Adult Services Symposium in November, I had a spreadsheet my graduate assistant had created of the titles since 2010.

Using that spreadsheet as a base, I could add winners and finalists from the Lambda Literary Awards and have a great list. Or so I thought...

Once I took a moment and started looking at the titles I'd compiled, after adding just a few of the current Lammys, I started noticing that there were some problematic titles on the list--a lot of them. There was no shortage of "acceptance" narratives written by cisgender writers, there were a number of coming out 1.0 stories, and there were a lot of straight authors and titles I knew I had had some issues with while reading.

I started deleting titles (I won't go into which ones) but realized that I could use this problematic list to help students better understand the issues they will be facing when selecting GLBTIQ titles. Here was a list of award and notable books (things we tell students to look for when selecting) that still sent up yellow and red flags.

I included the following two paragraphs on the page where a student signs up for their title to review:
You may also read any winner or finalist of the Lambda Literary Awards in the following categories: lesbian fiction, gay fiction, bisexual fiction, bisexual nonfiction, transgender fiction, LGBT nonfiction, transgender nonfiction, lesbian memoir/biography, OR gay memoir/biography.
Note: Some of the titles on this list are problematic in various ways we've been learning about in this course. Your reviews should make note of the ways in which the title you reviewed may be problematic to particular readers.

The List
37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order)
Magoon, Kekla
a + e 4ever
Merey, Ilike
Westerfeld, Scott
Alex as Well
Brugman, Alyssa
Almost Perfect
Katcher, Brian
Another Life Altogether
Beale, Elaine
Anything Could Happen
Walton, Will
Lo, Malinda
Ask the Passengers
King, A. S.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
Cronn-Mills, Kirstin
Beauty Queens
Bray, Libba
Between You & Me
Calin, Marisa
Beyond Magenta: Transgender teens speak out
Kuklin, Susan
Blue Boy
Satyal, Rakesh
Blue is the Warmest Color
Maroh, Julie
Born on the Edge of Race and Gender: A Voice for Cultural Competency
Wilkinson, Willy
Boyfriends with Grilfriends
Sanchez, Alex
Branded by the Pink Triangle
Setterington, Ken
Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World
Andraka, Jack with Matthew Lysiak
Brooklyn Burning
Brezenoff, Steve
Calling Dr. Laura
Georges, Nicole
Chulito: A Novel
Rice-Gonzalez, Charles
Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World
Cameron, Janet E.
Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America
Gold, Mitchell with Mindy Drucker
Cut Both Ways
Mesrobian, Carrie
Darkest Part of the Forest, the
Black, Holly
Death-Defying Pepper Roux, the
McCaughrean, Geraldine
Deflowered: My Life in the Pansy Division
Ginoli, Jon
Difference Between You and Me, the
George, Madeleine
Dirty One: Stories
Graves, Michael
Don't Let Me Go
Trumble, J.H.
Drama Queers!
Polito, Frank Anthony
Dumbfounded: A Memoir
Rothschild, Matt
Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, the
Bechdel, Alison
Everything Leads to You
LaCour, Nina
Carter, Timothy
Evolution of Ethan Poe, the
Reardon, Robin
Fans of the Impossible Life
Scelsa, kate
Far From You
Sharpe, Tess
Fat Angie
Charlton-Trujillo, E.E.
Ruff, Shawn Stewart
Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, the
Hutchinson, Shaun David
Forgive Me If I've Told You This Before
Stetz-Waters, Karelia
Clark, Kristin Elizabeth
Freaks and Revelations
Hurwin, Davida Wills
Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, with 21 Activities
Pohlen, Jerome
Gay America: Struggle for Equality
Alsenas, Linas
Gay in America: Portraits
Pasfield, Scott
Gemini Bites
Ryan, Patrick
Giraffe People
Malone, Jill
God In Pink
Namir, Hasan
Gracefully Grayson
Polonsky, Ami
Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood
Hart, Melissa
Happy Accidents
Lynch, Jane
Happy Families
Davis, Tanita S.
Mournian, Tomas
Hidden Voices: The Orphan Musicians of Venice
Collins, Pat Lowery
Hour Between, the
Stuart, Sebastian
How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity
Cart, Michael
I Am J
Beam, Cris
If I Lie
Jackson, Corrine
If I Told You So
Woodward, Timothy
I'll Give You the Sun
Nelson, Jandy
In Mike We Trust
Ryan, P. E.
Stevenson, Robin
Into the Beautiful North
Urrea, Luis Alberto
Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham
Bingham, Emily
It Gets Better
Savage, Dan and Terry Miller
Kicked Out
Lowrey, Sassafras
King of the Screwups
Going, K.L.
Kiss the Morning Star
Hoole, Elissa Janine
Less Dead, the
Lurie, April
Let's Get This Straight: The Ultimate Handbook for Youth with LGBTQ Parents
Fakhrid-Deen, Tina
Letter Q, the: Queer Writer's Letters to Their Younger Selves
Moon, Sarah
Life and Death of Sophie Stark, the
North, Anna
Lizard Radio
Schmatz, Pat
Lola and the Boy Next Door
Perkins, Stephanie
Love Drugged
Klise, James
Love in the Time of Global Warming
Block, Francesca Lia
Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, a
Horner, Emily
Magic and Misery
Marino, Peter
Mariposa Club, the
Gonzalez, Rigoberto
Marvels, the
Selznick, Brian
Martin, Ricky
Meaning of Matthew, the: My Son's Murder in Laramie and a World Transformed
Shepard, Judy with Jon Barrett
Miseducation of Cameron Post, the
Danforth, Emily
More Happy Than Not
Silvera, Adam
More Than This
Ness, Patrick
My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity
Bornstein, Kate
My Two Moms: A Lesson of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family
Wahls, Zach with Bruce Littlefield
Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, the
Bergman, S. Bear
No One Needs to Know
Grace, Amanda
Not Otherwise Specified
Moskowitz, Hannah
Not Your Mother's Meatloaf
Miller, Saiya and Liza Bley
Notes from the Blender
Cook, Trish and Brendan Halpin
Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
de Gutes, Kate Carroll
Oddly Normal: One Family's Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with his Sexuality
Schwarts, John
Of All the Stupid Things
Diaz, Alexandra
One in Every Crowd
Coyote, Ivan
Lam, Laura
Personal Effects
Kokie, E.M.
Wilkinson, Lili
Porcupine of Truth, the
Konigsberg, Bill
London, Alex
Rapp, Adam
Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy
Wright, Bil
Queer: The Ultimate Guide for Teens
Belge, Kathy and Marke Bieschke
Rapture Practice
Hartzler, Aaron
Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition
Hill, Kaite Rain
Say the Word
Garsee, Jeannine
Rainfield, Cheryl
Screaming Divas
Kamata, Suzanne
Secret City
Watts, Julia
Secrets of Truth & Beauty
Frazer, Megan
See You at Harry's
Knowles, Jo
She Loves You, She Loves You Not
Peters, Julie Ann
Myracle, Lauren
Side Door, the
Donley, Jan
Silhouette of  Sparrow
Griffin, Molly Beth
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Albertalli, Becky
Sister Mischief
Goode, Laura
Soames on the Range
Belgue, Nancy
Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen
Andrews, Arin
Song of Achilles, the
Miller, Madeline
Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie
Adams, S.J.
Speaking Out
Berman, Steve
Peck, Dale
Starting From Here
Bigelow, Lisa Jenn
Brown, Rachel Manija and Sherwood Smith
Street Dreams
Wise, Tama
Stuck Rubber Baby
Cruse, Howard
Summer Prince, the
Johnson, Alaya Dawn
SuperMutant Magic Academy
Tamaki, Jillian
Sweet Tooth
Anderson, Tim
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
Farizan, Sara
Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom
Franklin, Emily & Brendan Halpin
Tiny Pieces of Skull, or a Lesson in Manners
Kaveney, Roz
Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
Prince, Liz
Two Boys Kissing
Levithan, David
Unbearable Lightness
de Rossi, Portia
Under the Udala Tree
Okparanta, Chinelo
Vast Fields of Ordinary, the
Burd, Nick
Very LeFreak
Cohn, Rachel
We Are All Made of Molecules
Nielson, Susan
We the Animals
Torres, Justin
What We Left Behind
Talley, Robin
When Everything Feels Like the Movies
Reid, Raziel
When We Were Good
Sutherland, Suzanne
When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love and Revolution
Cordova, Jeanne
Where's My Wand?: One Boy's Magical Triumph Over Alienation and Shag Carpeting
Poole, Eric
Eagland, Jane
Boyd, Maria
Willful Machines
Floreen, Tim
Smith, Andrew
With or Without You
Farrey, Brian
Wonders of the Invisible World
Barzak, Christopher