October 2020

Hello neighbors!

Happy October! Katherine and I just finished watching some great content from the ALSC Institute. Wow! It was so great to connect with other children’s librarians and such great information. If you attended, we’d love to hear your thoughts as well!

At the moment, our staff is still adjusting to having customers back in our building. Our city also has a mask ordinance in place for indoor spaces so we are also adjusting to enforcing this for customers while they are inside. Katherine has summarized a great training by Ryan Dowd about customers without masks. I also can’t wait for you to read our “Plan” section, where Annie Emmons shares how our library is helping create a spirit of Trick-or-Treating during the pandemic. 

As always, we would love to hear about all the amazing things you are doing. Do not hesitate to email us or message us on Instagram (@thecardigannewsletter).

Stay safe, 


Learn: Customers without Masks


Ryan Dowd recently released a training on enforcing masks at the library. This was a great webinar and we are excited to share some of the takeaways with you! These are just snippets from the training; we want to honor Ryan Dowd’s intellectual property so if you are able, please consider watching the webinar here or accessing a free excerpt from his Facebook Page. 

Here are some key points for working with patrons who may be reticent to wearing a mask or wearing it properly.

Assume good intent. Assume that the patron simply forgot their mask. You can respond with “oh I see you may have forgotten your mask, can I get you one?” or “your mask seems to have slipped down, would you mind pulling it up over your nose?”

Have masks available to hand to patrons. Not only can acquiring a mask be a barrier for some folks, having one readily available prevents excuses. It provides a quick solution to a problem. 

Appeal to empathy. If patrons complain about wearing a mask, you can point to its benefits and say something like “I know it can be uncomfortable, but it helps keep everyone safe.” 

Avoid arguments. There are a lot of conspiracy theories out there about COVID and mask-wearing and patrons can be particularly enthusiastic in sharing them with us. Remember that our goal is not to change their mind about their theory, but to encourage them to wear a mask. Redirecting goes a long way: “I hadn’t heard about that theory. You will need to wear a mask to enter the building though.” 

-Provide alternatives. There are certain individuals who, for legitimate reasons, cannot wear a mask. You can ask “are you unable to wear a mask because of a disability?” Have alternatives ready to provide service: maybe they can’t enter the building, but let them know you can bring hold items out to their car. 

Thank patrons. Acknowledge and show appreciation when patrons comply with your request: “I really appreciate you wearing your mask, it helps everyone feel safe at the library.” Don’t fall for fake face masks exemptions cards. These are frauds and hold no legal weight. 

Plan: Reverse Trunk or Treat

Annie Emmons

As we approach Halloween and so many of our families will have to forego normal Halloween trick or treat activities, we have been brainstorming for ideas to help families feel like they can still have a special Halloween experience at the library. Our youth team has decided to try a Reverse Trunk or Treat. 

We will dress up in costume & give out goodie bags with free books via curbside to make a contactless alternative for families looking for Halloween activities. We ordered the books we will be handing out from BookDepot.Com, a bargain book wholesaler. They buy unsold books from vendors & publishers, and then make them available for resale purposes & libraries. These are not previously owned, but have generally already been on the floor of a store, so may have some light shelf wear – Ex: Some come w/the price stickers still on them or overstock marks along the edge of the pages, which while they wouldn’t be up to our collection standards do not impede readability of the books for community engagement purposes. 

We were able to order 210 books for giveaway priced between $0.35-1.87 each including popular titles like Pete the Cat, Scaredy Cat Splat, and My Weird School with an average of roughly $1/book. Shipping was a bit high at around $65 but overall, this was significantly cheaper than other options. They also came very quickly. 

What are you all planning for Halloween programs? We would love to hear about it. Email us at thecardigannewsletter@gmail.com or send us a message on our Instagram (@thecardigannewsletter). 

Consider: Banned Books Week Displays: Jail 


I will not lie: I enjoy a playful and thought-provoking Banned Books Display. While there are so many creative ways to promote Banned Books Week (send us all your ideas), I have been reflecting on some of the imagery of “prison” and Banned Books Week. I have seen (and even created) banned books week material that had cute sayings like, “Caught Reading a Banned Book,” and had a background that reflected a prison mugshot. A couple of years ago, a co-worker brought to my attention that while this is a clever way to convey that blocking access to books is an attempt to imprison people’s minds, it can for some families be very traumatic. It might not be playful imagery, but instead might bring up painful memories and realities for families with an incarcerated loved one. In a 2016 Pew article, it stated that more than 5 million children, or one in 14, in the U.S. have had a parent in state or federal prison at some point in their lives. That number is staggering. While we’re making any display (banned books or other), let us consider how a jail theme could make our customers feel. 

ALA has some great ideas on their website (minus the Caught Reading a Banned Book idea). Check it out and tell us how you promoted Banned Books Week this year! 

Read: Halloween Books 


One of my favorite things about being a part of The Cardigan community is that it is a safe place to learn. I originally posted on The Cardigan Instagram a call out for some “spooky” titles, but a wonderful neighbor kindly educated me on the history of the work “spooky,” and why using other words is not only more kind, but more appropriate. 

“Spook” has a history of being a second-tier racial slur. You can read more about the history of the word and why we should avoid using it on NPR’s Code Switch article. Thanks again to our neighbor for using this as a teaching-moment for me. 

Click on the image to be redirected to the list

Reflect: ALSC Institute Session-Universal Design for Learning and Storytime


There were many great sessions at the ALSC Institute and I can’t wait to share more with you in the next few months. If you attended and would like to contribute a summary or take away section, please let us know! 

One particular session has been sticking with me: Universal Design for Learning and Storytime: An Inclusive Approach to Early Literacy at the Library. The presenters discussed concrete steps librarians could take to make storytime more accessible to kids on the autism spectrum. I was drawn to the inclusive approach: making existing storytimes more accessible to kids instead of developing a separate program for them. I asked the presenters if they favored this model over having a standalone sensory storytime. They said it depended on your community and its needs, and identified benefits to both. An attendee brought up the issue of program attendance: how do you make a program with 40 kids accessible? Their response was simply “you can’t.” The larger a group becomes, the harder it is to make it accessible. They acknowledged the reality that many libraries don’t have other options (offering 4 consecutive storytimes for groups of 10 sounds exhausting!) and pointed to the pandemic as a good “reset” button. When we resume programming, we will likely be doing so with smaller groups. This will be the perfect time to rethink the accessibility of storytime. 

Follow up about REALM project

On September 3, the REALM Project released results from their latest test. This time they took into consideration the stacking (like items in a return bin) vs unstacking of the items and the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They found that after 6 days of quarantining, the SARS-CoV-2 was still present on stacked items. Below is their graphic to show how stacking affects the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on items. 

You can read more about these test results here. You can also sign up to receive project updates to get the most up-to-date information about their research. 

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