December 18, 2009

Día in North Carolina

Our interview today is with Lori Special, Youth Services Consultant for the State Library of North Carolina. Lori is a fantastic Día supporter, and she incorporates information about Día into her regional workshops about summer reading and other topics.

1. Why are you offering sessions about Día and “best practices” during regional workshops throughout the state?
The Youth Services staff member in the public libraries in our state are very responsive to the needs of the members of their communities and want to provide the services and programs that their customers want and need. My job is to provide resources to help them do their jobs to the best of their abilities.The promotion of Día is a way for many of the YS staff members to consciously incorporate more non-dominant culture into their storytimes and other youth programming. Also, helping the YS staff have the language to speak to the adult members of their community about the purpose of Día as a day to focus on the literacy and developmental needs of children is also helpful in some areas where diversity is not the norm.

2. Tell us about how you’re linking Día to Summer Reading?
Our State Library provides “best practices” to the public libraries in our state, which are their own autonomous entities. I cannot mandate that they do any programs. However, I can have youth services staff from around the state that have successfully incorporated Día in their summer reading programming provide the know-how and information of how it was done in their libraries.

Librarianship is very local and I am encouraging each library to make their Day of the Child meet the needs of the users it serves and the other librarians who are in the trenches daily can provide the ideas, support, and validity that, I in my ivory tower cannot provide.

3. What is the response you’ve received from librarians?
Much of the need for information about Día has come from the YS staff themselves. They have been the driving force behind the need for information, so the response has been positive.

4. What are some of the concerns librarians have about planning Día celebrations?
Many of the concerns center around the belief that Día is only for Spanish-speaking customers and their families and the majority of the staff do not speak any Spanish and they don’t know how to reach members of the Spanish-speaking community. What we are attempting with the Summer Reading Program workshop sessions is to illustrate how non-Spanish speakers can make connections and work collaboratively with others in their communities to bring the spirit of Día to everyone in their communities. The spirit of Día can work in any community with any non-dominant culture. One of the YS staff members in Burke County, NC created a festival with the Hmong as the focal point, as they are a large minority group in her community. This is the type of program where the “spirit” of Día is in full force.

5. Can you give us 3 “best practices”?
-- Forge links with members of your community. Work with school, religious, and cultural liaisons to forge ties between the library staff and the particular group you are trying to reach.
-- Learn about the people, their culture, and even a few words of their language and ask them for their help. Show them respect for being the “experts” of their own lives. Food is a universal language that everyone wants to share and everyone loves to talk about themselves.
-- Be genuinely interested in the people. If you are doing Día or any programming just to get brownie points, it will fall flat. Everyone, especially children, will eventually see through a fake.
-- Plan activities, events you would enjoy participating in yourself. If you are having a good time, the feeling is infectious.

6. I always ask this question when interviewing someone for Pat. Will you tell us one of your favorite examples of bookjoy?
I love to have someone read to me. As a librarian and a mother, I do lots of reading to others. My husband even likes me to read to him. I think that’s why many librarians are so fond of audio books. It’s like getting a pedicure at a salon – you could do it yourself, but there is something so much more decedent about having someone else do it for you.

Thank you, Lori, for taking time to answer these questions.

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