June 2020

Dear neighbors,

There is a lot to grieve right now: secure employment, routine, a sense of safety and predictability.  

We recognize that we are all still very much in a transition stage in our personal and professional lives. Allie and I have been doing curbside pickup for about a month now, and by the time this newsletter reaches you, we will be back to having a limited number of customers in our building for 2 days.  We compiled the resources in this newsletter with this reality in mind: we hope you will continue to find the information relevant to your adapting circumstances. 

We also want to join in the collective grief and anger over the assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. We want to use our platform to unequivocally state that Black Lives Matter and commit to continually dismantling our own internalized racism, and supporting anti-racism work. We also want to use our platform to elevate and support librarians of color, and will be digging into this more next month.  If you would like to contribute, please reach out. I plan on revisiting this article I read in library school called “Trippin’ Over the Color Line: The Invisibility of Race in Library and Information Studies” by Todd Honma. Now more than ever, it’s vital for us to acknowledge libraries’ role in centering whiteness and work towards change. 

Last month, we announced that we are moving away from our current newsletter platform Mailchimp in favor of a website. We are excited to share the URL with you: www.thecardigannewsletter.com 

Here is what you can do: subscribe by clicking on the big red “follow” button. This will ensure you get an e-mail notification when a new newsletter is uploaded:

While July will be our last newsletter using Mailchimp, the content and format will be exactly the same! We look forward to continuing learning and growing from you on our new platform.


Learn: The REALM Project – Allie

As libraries open and begin offering services to the public in the midst of the pandemic, what precautions library staff and patrons should take remains a significant issue, as well as how COVID-19 affects library materials. While information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing and we are definitely not experts on the topic, we thought it worthwhile to share the information from the REALM (REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums) project, as well as other relevant articles pertaining to COVID-19 and library safety. 

The REALM (REopening Archives Libraries and Museums) Project 

OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Battelle research institute are working together to create and distribute science-based information and recommended practices designed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to staff and visitors to libraries, archives, and museums. Below is a chart they have shared that shows their process for producing a toolkit. 

They have 3 phases of the project: 

– Phase 1:Preparing for Reopened Libraries: Research on High-Priority Materials and Workflows (May 2020-August 2020) 

– Phase 2: Additional Research to Support Operations of Libraries, Archives, and Museums (June 2020 – October 2020)

– Phase 3: Monitor, Update, Communicate (October 2020 – September 2021)

As of right now they are in the early stage of Phase 1. Below is what they have shared of what they have already started to work on since May: 

Conducting literature reviews of scientific research

Gathering and assessing protocols and guidelines for other materials-based service industries

Gathering examples of public and state library plans and protocols for reopening

Developing laboratory testing scenarios and identifying materials to prioritize for analysis

Lab testing at Battelle

Steering committee and working group meetings 

Communication of project updates through the website

Setting up additional project communication channels and a community network of associations and support organizations

For more information about the REALM project, you can visit their website and sign up to receive updates about the project. This project will have lasting effects on how libraries operate in the next few years and as children’s librarians who plan programs and curate collections, it will be vital for us to stay updated about this information. 

Demco Q&A with librarian and pediatrician 

Demco shared a Q&A article and webinar with pediatrician and librarian, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, about how to open libraries safely. Below are some highlights from the Q&A. It’s important to note that information about COVID-19 is always changing and the information shared here is based on the information Dr. Dipesh Navsaria had at the time. He suggests that libraries quarantine books for at least 72 hours with maybe a wipe down of book covers. 

– Plexiglass shields at circulation and reference desks can help protect both staff and patrons. 

– He emphasized the importance of hand washing and social distancing. Face masks can be helpful as it can keep your droplets from spreading to others, or if there are droplets in the air from others, it reduces the risk that the virus gets into your respiratory tract. He explains that when people wear gloves, they think they are somehow protected, but he claims the virus does not get through your skin. You need to touch your face in order to give yourself an infection. If you have gloves on, you’re going to move the virus around the same way you would on your hands, and people often do because they think they’re protected. 

– He encourages regular cleaning of high-traffic areas. You can check out the CDC guidelines for EPA-approved disinfectants. 

– Arrange furniture in the library for social distancing. Remove chairs or put an X on them to make sure patrons can social distance themselves without library staff constantly being the “social distance” police. 

– Browsing the collection is a hard topic and libraries should look to their local government guidelines to inform their decision. On one hand, he says you can think about how supermarkets are operating. There’s no guarantee that a box of breakfast cereal you pick up off a shelf hasn’t been touched by someone else. If you and your patrons are okay with that, books in a library are probably no different. If you’re not okay with that, you might need to consider “closed stacks” and having books retrieved for patrons.

– Phased re-openings make the most sense. Start small: offer virtual services, then curbside pick-up, then other areas of the library. This is dependent on your size of library. 

You can watch his full presentation, “Safety Tips for Reopening Your Library,” on DEMCO’s website, as well as read his entire Q&A here.

These are just a couple of resources from experts about COVID-19 and re-opening the library. How are you and your library handling re-opening? We’d love to hear about your experiences, good and bad. Most importantly, we wish you well during this time. 

Play: Online Play with Animal Crossing – Lindsay Jones

The great social media post made by our Marketing team!

From spiraling flower rainbow landscapes to a town square with enough amenities that will make you want to start packing up your belongings and calling Dodo Airlines, one could argue that librarians might love Animal Crossing just a little bit more than your average person.  After discovering that a huge percentage of teen librarians in our system were playing Animal Crossing in a Zoom meeting a few weeks after our library closure, a colleague and I started discussing the possibility of an Animal Crossing Teen Meetup.  Word spread quickly that we were working on such a fun project and soon we had a total of 7 librarians from across our system Zooming and Teams chatting our way through the logistics of offering this program. Our two-hour tour consisted of 4 islands, in which teens could hop back and forth via Dodo Code. On the fashion show island, teens could show off their outfit designs and try out different looks.  On the swap meet island, teens could take items and leave items, recipes, and clothing. We also had an incredibly intricate maze island complete with red herrings and hidden prizes. Finally, we had a bug tournament island and a fishing tournament island. Participants on these islands were able to complete and score prizes that we had gathered from each other in the weeks leading up to the program.  The prizes we offered varied from island to island, but included Nook Miles Tickets, fish bait, recipes, furniture, plaques, tools, and clothing. 

The day of the program, we sent the island Dodo Codes to each participant who had signed up.  One of our teen librarians, Shelbie Marks, coordinated a Zoom session with the teens while simultaneously Microsoft Teams video chatting with the librarians who were stationed on each island.  This way we could communicate to each other and the teens about the timing of events on each island.  After the program ended the teens stayed on Zoom for several minutes so that they could swap friend codes and visit each other’s islands even after the program was finished.  This was such a fun program for librarians and teens alike!  We are already planning a series of teen and adult Animal Crossing Meetups for the summer. 

Plan: Collaborating with Local Agencies – Tara Golden  

When I first started my job as a children’s librarian, I was so excited and wanted to connect with everyone. I would contact anyone and everyone trying to partner up and offer our services. And it paid off, my calendar filled up. But as time went on and the landscape changed, I lost touch with many of my early allies. As people leave positions and other priorities within your own organization take over, it is easy to lose that chain of connection. However, this might just be the perfect time to revive that connection and come up with something new.

I was able to reconnect with our city’s Parks and Recreation Department through a long-standing Halloween event that consists of many community partners. At this event, I was able to meet Grace, the new Events Specialist. After a productive coffee meeting, we quickly set up an entire roster of activities that we were going to partner on – including movies in the park, a Christmas village opening night, and a Noon Years Eve Dance. And then Covid hit, throwing our, and everyone else’s best laid plans into the wind.

Luckily, Grace has vigor and was quick on her feet and developed a program called Create with Grace and invited me to do a storytime during the show. The event was streamed weekly on FB Live to the City of Midwest City Parks and Recreation’s Facebook page. Each program consisted of the following elements:

· DIYs and crafts demonstrated by Grace

· Mini Storytime Session

· Information about the current status of the library

It was an easy decision to make to be involved. I appreciated Grace’s call to action and was delighted for another way to reach out to my families. Not only is forming these partnerships personally and professionally rewarding, it presents a lot of advantages:

Expanding your audience – While of course there is a lot of audience overlap between our two entities, there are a lot of people who follow the city’s page who do not follow ours or use our services. Partnering allowed me to reach them in their homes and remind of them of our existence and our services.

Adding value to one another’s organizations – It truly is a mutual beneficial situation. The city is providing us with an audience and a platform to broadcast our services and allowing us to demonstrate our flexibility and eagerness to be in the fray. The library is enriching the offerings of the city. And we both are getting the benefit of each other’s audiences. By working together, we make each other look good.

Strengthening bonds – Working together on this project has solidified my relationship with the Parks and Recreation Department. We will be at the forefront of each other’s minds for events and we have a successful working relationship established to build from in the future. I am truly looking forward to seeing what programs we come up with together in the future.

Our field is ever-evolving and the pandemic has only made it more so. While we’re scrambling to figure out how to proceed, I don’t think we invest enough in community partnerships. I was lucky enough to have a relationship with Grace already established. But even if you don’t already know the events coordinator with the entity you work with, here are some things that may help you:

Tap into preexisting relationships – It’s easier to build something with someone you already know. Maybe someone you’ve met a few times and fallen out of touch. People love it when others see the value of their work, so reach out in appreciation and see where it takes you.

Look for opportunities to connect – If you look at the organizations around you who are doing things, there will be many amazing opportunities to reach out, tell them you love what they’re doing, and propose a partnership. It might take a few days to hear back, but in my experience, people are receptive.

Try to make partnering as easy as possible – Because we are so busy and life is overwhelming right now, it is best to come with a concrete idea of how a partnership could take place. Definitely remain flexible and see how something can evolve, but doing the emotional labor of the initial idea can go a long way in making people want to work with you.

Tap into the enthusiasm of new hires – don’t underestimate the power of someone who is new and excited about what they do. Often, they’re able to get more done than someone higher up and established in routine.

There are endless possibilities waiting to be discovered. May you find them and make magic

Tara Golden is a Children’s Librarian in Midwest City, OK

Consider: Reader’s Advisory on the Topic of Death – Katherine

Every now and then, I will receive a request from a patron for children’s books about grief and dying. This kind of reader’s advisory is hard, so it can be helpful to know in advance what makes a good book about death and how children understand death at different developmental stages. Preschoolers: they need clear, simple explanations. Analogies and metaphors can be confusing. They may also struggle to understand the permanence of death.

Young Elementary: these children will ask more questions and can handle more detailed information. They may feel frustrated if caregivers are still giving them “preschool answers” and avoiding hard discussions. 

Older Elementary: they may have more logistical concerns than younger children, such as worrying how they will be taken care of or who will pay for a funeral. They may be tempted to hide their feelings of sadness so as to not appear weak. 

What does this mean for reader’s advisory? Here are some questions to ask to make sure you connect patrons with books that best match their needs:How old is your child?

Do you have a preference for books with or without religious content? Follow up: do you have a preference for a specific religious worldview (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, etc.)?

Is there a specific kind of grief you would like resources about or are general books okay? (if you look up a subject heading related to grief in your catalog you are going to get a wide variety of topics covered, from the death of a pet to the death of a deployed family member. If the patron is comfortable sharing, narrowing the topic can help a lot).

– Offering a choice: if you don’t feel comfortable asking the previous question, you can offer the following: “we have children’s books on lots of different forms of grief. Would it be okay if I pulled several from the shelf and you can look through them to see if they will work for you? If not we can try again.” This allows the patron to maintain their privacy and look through books on their own time. 

The New York Public Library has a great list of grief related titles here, as well as the NAEYC. This may also be a good time to look through your catalog to make sure you have sufficient books on the topic. It’s incredibly disheartening to tell a grieving patron they will have to wait 2-3 weeks for an interlibrary loan to come in. You can anticipate the need now and work on rounding out your offerings. I do hope we will see the publication of physical print materials related to COVID, but in the meantime, here is a helpful list of digital titles


Stanford Children’s Health

Vitas Healthcare: Children’s Developmental Stages Concepts of Death and Responses

Connect: Celia Krampien

You may not know Celia Krampien’s name but there’s a good chance you’ve seen her art work! She is an illustrator and designer and is behind some of the most gorgeous book covers of 2019 and 2020. Last year, she wrote and published her first picture book called “Sunny.” She graciously took the time to answer our questions about book jacket design!

Can you describe the process of designing a book jacket? What is it like collaborating with the author and publisher? Every project is a little different but it’s always a collaborative process. I often work with an art director and it’s the art director’s job to design the book jacket/cover. The project begins with the art director reaching out to myself or my agent. Terms are negotiated and contracts drawn up (my brilliant agent oversees these parts) then I gather the specifics of the project and I’m often given the manuscript to read (getting to read for work is always awesome). I keep things rough at first, providing several different possible directions I think would work for the cover. The art director and their team review my ideas and once we’ve nailed down a concept, I do a more refined version and provide some colour options. These are reviewed again and once approved, I go ahead with the final artwork.

It’s my understanding that the author generally has little say in the cover and I usually have little to no contact with them. The publisher’s goal is to sell lots of books and they employ a lot of very talented and knowledgeable people who know how to do this well. Many of the authors have reached out to me afterwards (especially around the time of the official cover reveal) to say thank you and provide credit for my illustration which has been such a treat!

In your opinion, what makes a great book jacket design? Do you have some favorites? I’m biased but I’m generally drawn to beautifully illustrated covers. Carson Ellis’s covers for the Wildwood Chronicles come to mind immediately, they’re so gorgeous. My mom had kept a lot of her books from when she was young – Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Trixie Beldon and I remember being drawn to those covers. The ones from around the 1960’s always featured some sort of wonderfully mysterious scene that wasn’t even in the book.

You recently released your first picture book, “Sunny.” What was your inspiration for the story? SUNNY was sort of a confluence of thoughts and ideas from back in 2016. I had been thinking a lot about seeing things from different perspectives and the idea of resilience. I was toying with the idea of using the concept of silver linings as a jumping off point for a story around the same time I was staring down another unbearably hot summer in my A/C-less apartment. Rain was my best friend during my time in that apartment because otherwise I baked (I work from home, it’s hard to work while being baked). There can be a lot of hate for rain but I started thinking about the upside to wet weather and everything sort of fell into place from there.

SUNNY was also informed by my time spent as a reading buddy at a nursery school the town over. The experience allowed me to interact with lots of kids all at once and I saw how each kid’s relationship with books is wonderfully different. It should go without saying, but kids respond to different things and want different things from their books and seeing that first hand gave me so many ideas! Reading with them made me more thoughtful about my choices than I think I would have been otherwise.

What books have impacted you the most in your life (whether from childhood or adulthood?) It’s so hard to choose! I was lucky to grow up with adults in my life who saw I loved reading and made sure I was never short of books. What a gift it was! I remember reading The Giver by Lois Lowry in elementary school and really being blown away by it. I don’t think I had ever read any sci-fi or dystopian before (or even understood that the genre existed… or what a genre even was) so it was like discovering a whole new world. I remember really loving Watership Down as well. The mythology of the rabbits in particular seemed so special, like nothing I had run across before.

How can our readers connect with you (website, social media, etc.)? Readers can find my work at http://www.celiakrampien.com or follow me on Twitter or Instagram @celiakrampien. Thanks so much for having me!

(book jackets designed by Celia)

Read: Fairy Tales – Allie 

Click on the image to be redirected to the list

Reflect: Underdeployment – Katherine

I first heard the term “under-deployment” in S Bryce Kozla’s training on being trauma-informed. She uses the term to describe the flexibility and modified expectations employers can give their staff during times of crisis. Essentially, give them some slack while they are managing increased levels of stress. Expecting staff to function at their normal levels of productivity is unrealistic, untenable in the long run, and potentially a catalyst for deteriorating mental and physical health. I’ve tried to keep this at the forefront of my mind as I’ve noticed myself wanting to compensate for all of the work I didn’t do while the library was closed. Hopefully the concept of “under-deployment” is helpful to you too: all of that self care and boundary-setting doesn’t stop when we return to work. It’s ok to do less, and if your energy levels are lower than usual. Confession: my first week back at work I returned home every day and crashed on my bed for about 2 hours. The transition is hard. Check in with yourself regularly, and with your coworkers. 

Thank you for reading the June edition of The Cardigan! We will be back July 1st.  In the meantime, be sure to check out our Instagram @thecardigannewsletter

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