The Healing Library in InfoToday!

MeganEmergyJPEG - THL InfoToday

What an amazing week I’m having.

The husband and I changed the hill in front of our house, planting a DOZEN azalea bushes which should provide us with a wall of flowers for years to come. (Did you know I was a landscaper for years?)

The husband and I also went out and got my Christmas present now that Spring really seems to be here – a kayak so we can spend this Summer out on the water as much as possible! (Did you know my undergrad is in Adventure Recreation?) It’s also a fabulous object I can acceptably put stickers all over as an adult…

Finally, my interview about The Healing Library came out in InfoToday’s April issue! While it’s not one of my longer pieces it felt very personal. In part because Justin was the one interviewing me (and he always seems to get to my emotional core) and in part because now that the project has been live for 6 months I’ve had time to bond with it even more.

Back to the emotional part – Some of you who are closer to me know that my last few years have featured the deaths of a number of people who were important to me. Even as a person with a relatively large amount of privilege I found navigating all that death to be confusing. I wound up participating in some unhealthy behaviors and had to do some searching for a set of healing strategies that would work for me. After, I felt a strong desire to share some of those strategies and the fact that healing can be mix-n-match for each of our needs with others. I think because of all those experiences the writing was more tender and considerate than it ever could have been before.

The bonding I’ve been experiencing with the project has a lot to do with the fact that launching felt a bit like sharing my “baby” with the world, but now that baby is growing and changing. The team has been talking about potential ways to move forward but I know it takes a village to raise a child so I’ll soon be asking for your feedback.

I’m getting ready to talk to more people about The Healing Library at next week’s CLRC Webinar and can’t wait to share our story, the Social Emotional Learning benefits of The Healing Library, and to hear from others about what direction they think the project should go moving forward.

If you want to read the article go ahead and subscribe to InfoToday! If you can make it to the Webinar go ahead and register! In the meantime, do a little something extra for your own well being today. Take a little walk, turn off the TV and put on some soothing music, take time out for a bath, whatever gets you more in touch with you.  You’re worth it and the world will be better with the best version of you in it! (I’ll be baking some cookies and watering my new azaleas!)


Wowie Zowie! I’m Blushing!!!

Words can’t properly convey how honored I am to have been chosen to participate in the upcoming national forum on Design Thinking & IMLS.

From the IMLS Website:

Syracuse University School of Information Studies and the University of Washington Information School will hold a National Forum on design thinking and methods in master’s level library education. The Forum will address: identifying gaps in existing MLIS curricula; exploring approaches for incorporating design thinking in master’s level library education, and offering actionable recommendations for this incorporation. The project will consist of three phases: 1) a field scan of design topics in MLIS curricula; 2) a meeting of educators, library employers, and design professionals; and 3) production of sample syllabi.

Syracuse University’s Rachel Ivy Clarke recently invited me to take part in phase two of this IMLS granted program. What is phase two, you ask?

2) A national forum on design in master’s level library education. The forum will include 12-15 participants comprised of educators from ALA-accredited programs and design schools, library employers, and design professionals. Participants will meet for 2 days in Seattle to review and discuss the results of the field scan, identify aspects of design education relevant to MLIS education, share professional experiences, and brainstorm curricular approaches. Participants will be invited based on identification from the field scan and/or notable identification with design thinking in libraries.

Here’s what this means…  I’m one of those 12-15 participants. Most likely I’m in the “Design professional” category since I know I’m none of those other things.

Here’s what this really means… I’m gonna’ get to sit in a room with some of the most progressive individuals in my field and nerd out for TWO WHOLE DAYS over my passion for Design Thinking! I haven’t been this excited since landing my internship with Dokk1!!! (Yes, I know I owe you all a blog post on that experience. I swear, it is coming…) I’ll have the opportunity to be a voice at a table where we discuss how to help our future library leaders through practices that I believe so strongly in.

Yes, me, the kid who repeatedly got stuck in her own swing set. (Who knew experimenting with user access was rooted so deeply inside me?)

Me, the teen who got lost in Yucatan City, Mexico with some friends and spoke almost no Spanish. (I really had Please, Bathroom, and Water down though…)

Me, the non-librarian who finally ponied up and got her Master’s Degree but secretly enjoys fooling people by omitting the Library part, telling strangers I have a Master’s in Information Studies just to see how they react. (Will I ever find a way to experiment with frame of reference that doesn’t tickle me? I hope not…)

Want to check out the proposal? Take a peek here!




By the way, it would be pretty irresponsible of me not to mention that our current administration has proposed a budget that threatens to slash funding to IMLS. You can contact your representatives here and encourage them not to cut our funding.  The work that we who work in libraries and museums do carries a lot of weight for our underserved populations. This opportunity to assist in the future of library leaders is going to engage and uplift people but that takes time. We believe in you and all we can accomplish together. Please share your voice and show that you believe in us too!


Librarians: We’re All Drag Queens at Heart – A PLA 2016 Spark Talk

Two years ago I gave a Spark Talk at PLA to inspire folks to feed their brains and take care of themselves that was based entirely off the plot of S.E Hinton’s The Outsiders. I loved it. It was so cool to watch people’s faces realize the reasons they started in this fabulous profession and to hear afterwards that they felt refreshed by the talk. I’ll update the blog with it one of these days, I promise.

So when I saw the call for Spark Talks for this past April’s PLA conference I jumped at the chance and was lucky enough to be picked again to speak. The brain child of the fabulous Kevin King of the Kalamazoo Public Library (check out his wonderful blog Library Lost & Found) and brilliant Toby Greenwalt of Carnegie Library in Pittsburg (Toby’s brilliant blog theanalogdivide is also not to be missed) the idea is for us more plebeian librarians to get a chance to share a fresh idea, alternative perspective, or create a scene in 5 minutes.

I now share with you my talk from this year, every slide and most all of the point I made in those fast paced and fun five minutes. Since I used a lot of gifs and I don’t want you to miss out on their awesomeness I’ll post each slide followed by the gif (for all the gifs that still exist!). It won’t give you the full effect but you’ll see why it’s worth the clunkiness when you see how beautiful they are…

Finally, if you were there (or if you weren’t but this evokes thoughts now!) and want to talk about it let’s do it! Post a comment and let’s share! I wish I could have talked more at length about what a wonderful art form drag is and more deeply about the ties I feel exist between drag and librarianship but 5 minutes isn’t much time and Kevin may or may not have had to sound an air horn to make me stop talking. (Okay, he did. But I only went over by about 2 seconds…)


Librarians- We're All Drag Queens at Heart

Good Afternoon, everyone! I’m here to talk to you about some beautiful similarities between two ancient traditions you may not be aware of.

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But first, I should explain who I am. I’m Megan! I’m the author of Cooking Up Library Programs Teens and Tweens Will Love: Recipes for Success. On twitter you can find me at @bibli, and I’ve just broken my decade mark working in public libraries. I’ve worked in public libraries in Vermont, Maine, and Tennessee and throughout my illustrious career I’ve held over 40 different jobs. I know this because my mother in law, Carol, made me count them all once when she didn’t believe me. Currently I’m enrolled at Syracuse University’s iSchool where I’m earning my MLIS degree, something I never thought I’d do.

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When I was little my dad once told me that swearing was a naturally occurring part of language that had it’s place and to be aware of that when speaking. Drag culture is one of those places where it’s not merely occurring but celebrated. If you’re sensitive to bad language now is the time to cover your ears or leave.

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Another warning – If you’re offended by drag you can also leave but I invite you to take the next 4 minutes and 20 seconds to expand your horizons on how our two beautiful traditions have more in common than you may have ever realized.

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Finally, if you’re into drag and you see a reference or queen you love in this presentation cheer her on! We’re all in this together so let’s have some fun!!!

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To kick things off…

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raja glitter

GLITTER. We may act like we don’t like it from time to time but face it. Glitter is awesome and we all know it.

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We like to trace our information roots back to cuneiform tablets and our modern roots to the Library of Alexandria…

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…but drag is probably a lot older than you think!

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Shakespeare had men playing both the parts of men and women so guess what – the classics have their roots in drag. On the right is of a man in drag in the 1800’s posing for a photo and in the center who could forget the fabulous glamour of 80’s metal. Those boys owned more lipstick and fishnet than I ever have.

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We’ve all done it. It’s okay. We see that one patron come through the door who we can’t stand. Maybe they take up a huge amount of our time, maybe they aren’t as nice as they should be to the other patrons. But before we know it our librarian instincts kick in and we’re only focused on helping them because of all their good points and information needs. Truth is well curated judgement is part of our jobs. It’s how we get to the root of how to help people best.

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In drag they’ve taken care of these feelings of shame or guilt over thinking such things but not saying them out loud by guess what – saying them out loud. They call it opening the library. When the library is open you have permission to say a snarky word or two about the person who’s bugging you in an open forum where feelings are put aside and you just listen and take your lumps. It’s like a roast but funnier and with better clothes.

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Talking about that other person is referred to as Reading them. I bet you didn’t know we have such similar terminology!

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We give face! Giving face is when no matter how a person makes you feel (see above) we don’t let them see it. Instead we give them what they need to see –

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Our most helpful, most beautiful side.

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But that’s not to say that we don’t have our limits. We do. There are times we simply will not put up with your insanity.

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Sometimes we have to stop some nonsense.

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And bring order to the chaos that surrounds us.

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The diaspora is real y’all. Where my millennials at? You know what I’m talking about. I’m on my third public library in ten years. If you want to make it in this field the new normal is to pack your bags and be ready to move because the jobs will not come to you.

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But that doesn’t mean ours isn’t a small world. Thanks in part to the diaspora you never really know exactly who you’re talking to (or who they may become) so watch your mouth. In fact, THIS is Manila Luzon, one of my favorite drag queens. While preparing for this presentation I learned that fellow librarian Jerome Rivera has ties to her.

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In the video for her song Hot Couture Jerome’s sister-in-law played supportive mom to young Manila. This means I’m 2 degrees of separation away from her and that she liked a tweet about all this last Monday.

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See? I die…

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We bot share strict yet strange dress codes that vary based on our sects. Whereas drag queens bicker over breastplate usage, shoes, padding, and plastic surgery we quibble over our own rules. My wardrobe is utterly schizophrenic. I’ve got different outfits for maker days, working with teens, presenting to my higher ups, and for public speaking. Let’s not even get into my outreach wardrobe.

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chi chi

Sigh… Maker spaces, updated furniture, continuing education funds, dream programs… Our list of wants is never ending…

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But we’re all struggling with budgets that don’t match those dreams.

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But even though other departments within our city’s may not understand us or why we can’t simply do what we do with a cheap trip to Party City,

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we don’t let it get us down or take it as an insult,

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and we always make it work.

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Because we give everything to our jobs.

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We’re capable.

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We’re creative geniuses.

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We live to lift other people up.

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We’re confident.

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We find inspiration everywhere and see limitless possibilities.

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There’s a lot more to our art forms than is represented on television. We know that but it’s our responsibility to set the script straight. If they don’t get to all the amazing work you’re doing is it their fault they don’t understand our depth? Get people into your space so they can be wowed by the fabulous work you do. Have them leave impressed with you and then keep impressing them.

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ru support

But that doesn’t mean we don’t need support. From others yes, but also from one another. So get off your ass, go to your local library (and drag shows) and be a part of the conversation. Furthermore, don’t just support your own library, support one another.

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Finally, in conclusion…

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Here are some references…

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Thank you.


I leave you now with Manila Luzon’s Hot Couture video so you can fall in love with her.