Fall Meeting Tackles the New Abnormal

Today is Election Day, which seems a fitting time to look back at HVLA’s Fall Meeting, held on October 20, 2020. Editor-at-Large for The Daily Beast, Molly Jong-Fast spoke about the media and teaching news literacy in the current political climate. As Molly pointed out, we are actually living in a Golden Age of Journalism. Investigations into Harvey Weinstein, President Trump’s tax returns, and other stories that have had real impact in our world have all been researched and reported by journalists. Yet, at the same time we find ourselves “at the mercy of the algorithm”, existing in filter bubbles, using platforms designed to prioritize engagement with a particular site over quality information.

As librarians, we are well-versed in this problem from the position of educators. Molly brought the perspective of a journalist to the table and offered the following key points: teach kids that the way things are reported shows bias, equip them to identify legitimate vs. illegitimate news sources and where those sources fall on the political spectrum, to check other sources, and read critically. She also offered up some of her favorite more conservative outlets with good journalism for those looking to balance out a more liberal media diet- The Bullwark, The Dispatch, and The Economist.

After Molly’s talk, and some on-the-spot reader’s advisory by the group for Molly’s daughter, we split into breakout rooms to share what’s worked for us when teaching news literacy. Natasha Goldberg has generously shared her breakout session notes; access them here.

The board is hard at work planning our next gathering- a (hopefully) festive and cathartic informal gathering in early December. Stay tuned for details!

Welcome to 2020-2021!

Happy Fall, HVLA-ers! As we get further in to this unusual school year, HVLA has a few resources and upcoming events to planned to connect with colleagues, reflect on practice, and share ideas! We hope you’ll join us on Discord to share ideas and touch base in an informal setting. We’re also really looking forward to our Fall Meeting on October 20 from 5-6 PM. Editor-at-large for The Daily BeastMolly Jong-Fast will be speaking to us on the topic of Teaching Media Literacy in the New Abnormal

We also want to officially introduce you to our new board members. Please read below to get to know them a bit better.

Gwen Kaplan- Treasurer

Which book protagonist would make the worst roommate? Joe Hardy. Not only does his “impetuous” nature lead to the frequent ransacking of his domicile, but I also fear that he might eat all of the leftover pizza I save for breakfasts.

Best book you read this summer? Most fun? “Shadowshaper” by Daniel Jose Older. Most interesting? “The Real David Espinoza,” by Fred Acevedo. But there were so many others!

What do you wish you knew more about? Neuroscience

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a chance of medaling in? I prefer to rack up participation trophies in trying new activities I might not win, while savoring the inspiration I get from watching the true medalists. Unless “daydreaming” could be measured – I dream with persistence and enthusiasm.

Favorite ice cream flavor? Cinnamon

Megan Westman- Secretary

Which book protagonist would make the worst roommate? I would never want to live with Bitty from Check, Please. Our baking and cleaning tendencies are too alike; I think we would clash over trying to fill the same role! 🙂

What’s your favorite bit of useless trivia? All pandas born at the National Zoo are technically Chinese property and return to China once they reach a certain age, despite being born in the US! I’m a former DC resident and I know way too much about “panda diplomacy.” Deep dive, it’s fascinating.

If you weren’t a librarian, what would you be doing? Pastry chef, environmental activist, dramaturg, who knows!

What do you wish you knew more about? Musical improvisation! 

What do you love about being a school librarian? So so many things, all wrapped up in the fact that I get to help students know that they are seen and valued every day.

Favorite ice cream flavor?Oatmeal Lace from Ample Hills in BK! 

Natasha Goldberg- Vice President

Which book protagonist would make the worst roommate? The murderer in Tana French’s roommate drama, The Likeness

Best book you read this summer? Prairie Lotus (I’m a Little House buff)

If you weren’t a librarian, what would you be doing? Cocktail pianist or filmmaker

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a chance of medaling in? Eating copious amounts of breakfast cereal

What do you love about being a school librarian? Every day feels like Christmas. (I’m actually Jewish, but you get what I mean, right? All that giving. All that getting. And twinkle lights. I always have twinkle lights.)

Favorite ice cream flavor? Haagen Dazs Mint Chip

Notes as the school year ends

To commemorate the end of our school year, I’ve compiled HVLA members’ chosen excerpts from page 20 of the books they were currently reading that spoke to them about the state of the world. These excerpts were chosen on Tuesday, May 26th at our final HVLA meeting. 

As I arranged and ordered these sentences to create a narrative, I reflected on the two weeks that have gone by since HVLA’s final meeting. We are sixteen days into protesting the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery and countless People of Color and people in LGBTQ communities by police and white supremacists and cases of COVID-19 cases are on the rise globally. Might we choose different books and excerpts that can speak to and guide us through this day? This moment?

There are a proliferation of anti-racist booklists circulating. Many of us are in the process of curating and sending out summer reading lists to our students. What is a booklist without active engagement? In the streets, people are risking their lives to speak out, listen and learn from each other. As an able-bodied white woman in a heteronormative family structure, now is the time for me to listen closely, fully engage in challenging my perspective, and hold up the rising leaders who are dismantling this toxic world.

This summer, join me in the streets. Let’s learn from our students, these young and fierce leaders. What books are they reading? What music are they listening to? How can we educate ourselves to support their inspiring work in leading us into a more just future?

Be safe, healthy and strong.

Black Lives Matter.



The Excerpts

(Click on the punctuation at the end of each excerpt to link to the book.)

She felt off this morning. She was still jumpy from her nightmare. She often had bad dreams, but last night’s was more vivid than ever before. 

She seemed to be in another world, as if floating on air.

“Is there a school?” Hanna asked.  It was always her first question. 

It was less a school, in fact, than an atelier run by a German painter whose true talent as a teacher lay in his ability to inspire.

I’m sure in your heads you’ve created every sort of speculation, from the likely and plausible to the wild and impossible.

He saw something in her face he never thought he’d see. Exhaustion.

The rest of the day follows a similar pattern, with minor variations: maybe she opens her curtains, maybe not; maybe breakfast, or maybe just coffee, which she takes upstairs to her room so she doesn’t have to see her family.

She told me how adding or taking away just one or two can change a character’s entire meaning. 

I guess for each one in the family it was different what was the hardest thing.

I glanced at Father. He hadn’t seemed weak until she said that he was.

The humiliation of the defeat was suffered by the whole French nation...

I can’t see everything inside it, but what I can see isn’t promising. 

I shouldn’t have raised my voice at her. I really try to be a good kid, but sometimes I get so angry.  

I can feel my eyes starting to sting from the salt.

A century later, the tradition–one that would go on indefinitely–of writing about the African was alive, and and well and more creative than ever. 

I noticed that the houses in Fort Smith were numbered but it was no city at all compared to Little Rock.  

“What’s going on?” Sierra’s hand wrapped around his arm. “Who is that?

As we left Encrucijada , I looked back for the last time in the vain hope of seeing Brígida appear in the door of the storage room, but she wasn’t there. 

I stayed in the doorway longer than I needed to.

Dad dashes over, nearly knocking the traditional wooden masks from the wall. He must have sensed there was a brag session going on.

Instead of performing, Ruby put her elbows on the back of their sofa and sighed heavily and watched the clouds drift past their window. She’d seen her father do this often when he had lost at Scrabble.

“How can you say it’s awesome?” said Janie.

Still, in his captivity, like a lower animal–like some impatient ape, or roused bear of the smaller species– the prisoner, now left solitary, had jumped upon the ledge, to lose no glimpse of this departure.  

“Whattya say we blow this popsicle stand, huh?

They’ll be fine. They’ll be better than fine. They’ll be great. 

10 Questions with Kyle Lukoff

Lisa Norberg, Acting Director of the Library at The Cooper Union and librarian at La Scuola d’Italia, spoke with Kyle Lukoff, author and librarian at Corlears, about writing, reading, and life in the library.

LN: First, congratulations on receiving the Stonewall Award for When Aidan Became a Brother. How has receiving national recognition for your work changed the way you think about your writing?  

KL: Thank you!

I think winning the Stonewall (and, prior to that, the generally good press it received) helped me trust my gut. See, it was really hard to find a publisher for Aidan. I had one editor suggest that I “team up with a talented writer,” and others give me vague, nebulous feedback saying that the story “didn’t work,” or that they “just didn’t love it.” My former agent wanted me to completely overhaul the story, but all of her suggestions involved deadnaming him, having strangers openly speculate about his gender, or include various transphobic microaggressions. Which I didn’t want to do. The last few months have proven that I was right to keep trying even when it probably made sense to give up. Which will hopefully translate to that level of confidence–or at least stubbornness–for future projects! Though who knows, that might not always be a good thing.

LN: You recently tweeted “I’m not a “real writer” I’m three very lonely creative children who like to make up stories about their imaginary friends stacked in a trench coat.” Do you think there is such a thing as a “real writer”? What’s your definition of a “real writer”?  

Continue reading “10 Questions with Kyle Lukoff”