Librarians Read (Listen?): Conviction Podcast

This podcast I heard about from the Reply All podcast, one of my favorites.  Reply All delves into techie things, and they have a great segment called Yes Yes No.  They take a Twitter message and break down all the information about it into digestible moments, explaining all the inside jokes of the interwebs.

Conviction, this other podcast, follows a bounty hunter-type-man who is trying to solve the trouble of this young man who was wrongly imprisoned for his crimes.  There’s drama, some serious matter, but the storytelling is just stellar.

I highly recommend this podcast.

Librarians Read (Watch?): Oscar Nods and Winners

K was trying to see a bunch of Oscar films in advance of the awards and some were better than others.

The Green Book was interesting to watch, but I didn’t appreciate the story focusing on Viggo’s character as opposed to Mahershala’s character, who I found much more interesting.  I only made it to the middle of the movie before I fell asleep, and I don’t have much will to return, even though it won the Best Picture Award.


The Favourite was spectacular, a film about a queen and two servants and the fights that they have with one another.  I loved everything about this film, from the editing of the film, to the camera work, to the acting.  Olivia Colman won the Best Actress for this one, and it was well-deserved.




I enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody as well, but not nearly as much as the awards lent it credence to.  I enjoyed the music and the story, though it didn’t hit me as hard as I would have liked.  Still, a worthwhile film.


Other great films to see:


This film was stellar, and everyone should enjoy it!!

Librarians Read: The Dark Between Stars

K took a break from the thrillers and lit of the average day into poetry.

Atticus gained fame and recognition as an Instagram star, and his(?) most recent book was on the Goodreads top of the year.

I enjoyed this poetry and would recommend it, particularly to teens.  Half the book is in photographs, and it is beautiful and atmospheric.

Find this book in 811 ATT.

Librarians Read: River Bodies

K just read River Bodies, in the quest for getting back into the school year and the habits of reading.

It’s a thriller with a lot of juicy parts: a motorcycle club and their drug running, a woman escaping her cheating boyfriend, and a father on his sick bed.

The book solves two gruesome murders 20 years apart in a small town, and it was an enjoyable and quick read.


Banned Books Week, Day 5

Welcome to the AAS Celebration of Banned Books Week!
Day Five

Every day this week, we will be bringing news of book banning from across the divisions and around the world.  

Today’s topic: Provoked Thoughts and General Reflections

When Kris and I began planning this week, we asked our fellow educators if they had any books challenged or removed from other schools that they had worked in.  We heard a few stories, but not nearly the volume that we expected. Today, on Friday of a week where we have seen so many people, we have finally heard the stories we expected to hear.

We heard stories of books not being taught because they couldn’t make it through the approval process.  Stories of books removed from curriculum, never to be encountered again. We heard stories of teachers spoken to privately because of the content of the book in their class.

One senior remarked that a book from his class may have given him another perspective, but that it was hard to be certain; if it had been removed, perhaps some other books would have done the same or brought him a new idea.  

We heard stories of books vanished from libraries.  Two middle schoolers said that books had been taken from previous school libraries.  One teacher mentioned that a parent had “lost” several copies of a book because she disagreed with the content in a previous school.  One teacher mentioned how she would get secret books in paper bags from her librarian.

We heard students and teachers express a wide range of emotions at books being taken away from libraries: surprise, disbelief, outrage, confusion, humor and frustration.  We heard concern about books being removed from the AAS Library, both in the greater sense and with a particular pointed question. We heard students encourage the removal of some books from our library, feeling offended that certain body parts and words were available in print.

Most of all, we heard respect for the library, for the curriculum, and for the right to choose.  Students and teachers here have the freedom to read about any sort of topic, to explore books that scare them or make them silly, that explore gender and identity, that tackle human issues of addiction and mental health, of their culture and their ethnicity, with any history that it may include.

As librarians, we see this as both a great honor and a great responsibility.  Our collection must have books for everyone, for patrons of all ages, for patrons from every country we represent, for educators and students working towards higher education.  We appreciate that we are gatekeepers to information, that we have power over what comes into our space and gets removed. We appreciate that we need to be sensitive to different perspectives, both in terms of supporting our young patrons and honoring possibly concerned parents.

In a world where there is ample information available at the tips of your fingers, we appreciate the power of a book, no matter its form.  Each new challenge of a book reminds us that what we choose to focus on is a powerful influence. Each new story we hear lets us into a different perspective, one that is ours to form and express.  And each new perspective reminds us that we can’t necessarily force another person to hold the same views as we do.

Thank you all for your support of the library, of literature, and of our students.

We honor the books mentioned in these stories, all books that exist in our collection and throughout the school.

“The Diary of a Part Time Indian”


“The Handmaid’s Tale”

“Walter the Farting Dog”

“The Diary of Anne Frank”

“Captain Underpants”

“Why” (a book in Korean)

“Harry Potter”

“Sex is a Funny Word”

Banned Books Week: Day 4

Welcome to the AAS Celebration of Banned Books Week!

Day Four

Every day this week, we will be bringing news of book banning from across the divisions and around the world.  Banning Books Silences Stories, and our community has more than a few stories of censorship, either from a home country, a place we’ve lived, or from family and friends.

Take a moment today to appreciate your right to your personal story, and your ability to see it in literature and on film, and feel free to share this message with anyone you choose.

Today’s topic: the subtleties and the details.

It’s easy to be outraged at widespread book challenges and banning, but the majority of cases that librarians see are secret, subtle, and whispered to one another.  For every case that we see in the news, there are many times more that are unreported. Sometimes, teachers fear retribution. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel worth the fight.  Sometimes, it is a private affair, not even known through the school community.

One of our teachers had one sentence removed from a library book.  It doesn’t seem like a problem, unless you know that the sentence was the only reference in the story to the idea that a family could have “two mommies or two daddies.”  

As librarians, we’ve noticed in several libraries that some books just go missing.  Perhaps a person is taking a book home in private to explore a topic, but sometimes that book is secreted away because someone disagrees with the content.  We’ve seen books returned with blackout marks, with pages glued together, or just never returned. Both Kris and K have found themselves in the stacks discovering a topic previously unknown, and believe that the library is a place to discover information about topics that are difficult to research online.

Every person has the right to their own choices, both for themselves and for their family.  One of our teachers is a relative of the author of “Amber Brown,” a popular series for younger readers.  The books are loosely based on reality, with Amber tackling some topics in the books that our teacher didn’t exactly experience.  Her brother chooses not to have those books in his home, for his own children, believing that the books are “too much” for his kids.  It is his right to do so, his parental decision.

In much the same way, we as professionals are choosing where to place the books so the “right” group has the “right” access.  Educators are deciding what to put in their classroom, how to find that just right balance of interesting and accessible for the kids that spend so much time in that room.  As librarians, we decide what to purchase, where in the library it goes, what books may have notes. Teachers make those choices as well.

One high school student this week mentioned that books don’t have a rating system like films do.  There are no systems of parental controls that influence our library either. We place a lot of trust in our patrons in knowing what they are interested in, what they are ready to experience, what they prefer for that moment.  Giving that trust can be very scary, but books are a safe place to explore topics that we struggle to make sense of in our real lives. They are a safe place to feel scared, to talk about grief, to think about choices, to develop empathy.  

Here at AAS, we are fortunate to have educators who trust the library.  And we would like to thank each and every person who has shared a story with us, spoken about a tough topic with a student, or just came up to enjoy the literature with us.

Banned Books Week: Day 3

Welcome to the AAS Celebration of Banned Books Week!

Day Three

Every day this week, we will be bringing news of book banning from across the divisions and around the world.  Banning Books Silences Stories, and our community has more than a few stories of censorship, either from a home country, a place we’ve lived, or from family and friends.

Take a moment today to appreciate your right to your personal story, and your ability to see it in literature and on film, and feel free to share this message with anyone you choose.

Today, the topic at hand is currency and community.

Yesterday, one teacher told me that while teaching in the middle east, he couldn’t touch even the idea of Persepolis in his school.  He told me that the parents at his school in Washington wouldn’t let him teach “Diary of a Part Time Indian.” Another teacher, though, wrote a grant for a class set while working on the reservation that made her teaching remarkably successful.  The students connected with that story beyond any “offensive” content that might be there.

Librarians are struggling with this book at the moment, though.  With the advent of the #metoo movement, accusations about the author of “Part Time Indian” came into the public sphere.  Kris and K both love the book, but struggle with the idea of splitting the artist and the art. While we won’t remove this particular book from the library, we did specifically re-evaluate the reader series “Young Bill Cosby,” based on the currency of books, circulation statistics and value to our collection, after his conviction. We chose to remove them.

One recent story connects with the #metoo movement.  A parent in the UK wanted to remove Sleeping Beauty from the curriculum and the libraries given the liberties that the prince takes by kissing Aurora while she is asleep.  This current news brings up issues in the stories that are being told and what they say about the culture.

Sometimes the community rebels against the idea that the issues in books could impact their children.  The book “Perks of Being a Wallflower” is currently behind the library desk (available only when you ask with parental permission) at the school where the book is set.  The author is from a school in the Pittsburgh suburbs, and it tackles child abuse, sexual identity, and teen drinking and drugs.

Other times, there is some benefit to being sensitive to different groups of people.  Books like “Babar” highlight the benefits of colonialism, often by showing discrimination in a positive light.  Other books, like Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” use racial slurs throughout the text. Perhaps changing politics and changing language warrants a change in story.

Of course, not every group has the same logic.  The Lorax was challenged by a group of parents who worked as lumberjacks, who didn’t want their children to see them unfavorably.  Many environmental books are challenged for a similar reason. Police officers didn’t like their portrayal as pigs in “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.”

Our AAS community has such a diverse group of people, and we want to honor that diversity and respect that all of us are coming from a different perspective.  We want our library to reflect a story for each and every one of our patrons.