Tuesday, December 27, 2016

‘The Autistic Gourmand,’ new blog

Cynthia M. Parkhill, shown in profile from shoulders up, examines restaurant menu

Eating is easily the most difficult sensory task for this woman on the autism spectrum. Risking unfamiliar tastes and textures, it takes time and considerable fortitude at times for me to get used to new foods.

The experience of eating — already fraught with sensory/tactile challenges — is further burdened by past experiences and prevalent social attitudes.

My new blog, The Autistic Gourmand, explores social “norms” and challenges related to consumption of food. Several writings originally posted here have been migrated or reprinted on the new subject-specific blog.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Hat People’s ‘Leaf Corps’ hat


Walking around Medford, we got so many compliments for this “Leaf Corps” hat by Hat People that I got Jonathan for Christmas. (I assemble crowns and brims for Hat People’s “newsboy” hats, and that piecework financed Jonathan’s gift.)

Like its name suggests, the “Leaf Corps” hat has unique sylvan touches: a point to the brim suggestive of a leaf, leafy top-stitch embroidery, and a fabric tail at the top of the hat reminiscent of a plant’s stem.

Two ties wrap around and hang down the back, providing a patterned accent to the solid-color body of the hat.

Where they’re secured around the hat-band, the ties can fold down to keep the ears of the wearer warm; the dangling ends at back can serve the wearer as a scarf.

Jonathan has long admired Jim of Hat People’s “Leaf Corps” design. For Jonathan’s hat we chose the fabrics and expressed our preferences in detailing. We really appreciate Jim’s care in creating what turned out a masterpiece.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Why isn’t bullying an ‘Adverse Childhood Experience’?

As featured by PBS’ Next Avenue: a survey of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) finds that effects of childhood trauma can persist into 50s and beyond.

As a survivor of bullying, I can corroborate that the effect lasts well into adulthood. But ACES focuses exclusively upon trauma committed against children by adults. Systemic ostracism and bullying by a child’s peers can also be devastating, but the questionnaire makes no mention of it.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

‘M in the Middle’ portrays girl’s experience of autism

Book cover, 'M in the Middle.' Colored-in drawing of pale-skinned girl with dark hair rendered in profile
M, a teenager recently diagnosed with autism, navigates school and social expectations while plagued by near-constant anxiety. She tries to shape her life to follow the “normal” life-event trajectory as defined by the greeting cards at her local Card Emporium and the idyllic life depiction of her television-drama idol, but can’t sustain the social “masks” she adopts to navigate friendship and dating.

M in the Middle (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, October 2016) offers a vivid portrayal of a teen girl on the autism spectrum. The book was written by the students of Limpsfield Grange School in England with creative-writing teacher Vicky Martin.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

‘Culture fit’: LinkedIn HR head offers caution

Appreciation to Pat Wadors, Head of HR at LinkedIn, for her cautionary take on using the term “culture fit” (LinkedIn Talent Solutions’ “Talent on Tap” video series and blog). I share Wadors’ concern that assessing for culture fit can lead to a “hire like me” mentality.

‘Fake news’: library scholars urge ‘metaliteracy’

Cynthia M. Parkhill's Bitstrips avatar accesses information via smartphone while standing on city street next to newspaper box
Information via Internet. Image created with Bitstrips
Implications for digital-literacy education, more critically important than ever: Citing the role of “fake news” in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, library and information science scholars Thomas P. Mackey and Trudi Jaccobson argue that it isn’t enough to be able to search and retrieve information from the online landscape. They advocate instead for what they term “metaliteracy,” an ability to make sense and critically evaluate this vast amount of information.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

‘Battle’ books through Talking Books and Braille Library

Digital player for Talking Book
and Braille Library
For Bellview staff, I research Audiobook formats for Oregon Battle of the Books. Here are titles that can be accessed through the Talking Book and Braille Library. Administered through the Oregon State Library for the U.S. Library of Congress, its services are free to qualified individuals with physical limitations or visual or reading disability.

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
DBC05680 — Seven students relate how their lives are changed by their new teacher.

Escaping the Giant Wave by Peg Kehret
BR016974 — A vacation on the Oregon Coast becomes a nightmare when a tsunami threatens 13-year-old Kyle and his younger sibling.

Post-election, young people feel less safe

As a former Challenge Day volunteer and a survivor of school bullying, I want to amplify the sentiment in an email message from Challenge Day, its post-election statement.

ALA president apologizes for press releases that ‘normalize’ Trump administration

In a post to American Libraries blog, The Scoop, Julie B. Todaro, president of the American Library Association, apologized for recent press releases that appeared to capitulate to, and normalize, the incoming Trump administration.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

‘Culture fit’: Excuse to discriminate?

Cynthia M. Parkhill's Bitstrips comic avatar extends her hand to shake hands with another person who is shown from the partial back view. Nearby, three other people are shown on either side of her, also from  a partial back view. While her expression is one of smiling, two cartoon liquid drops of sweat depict the cartoon avatar's nervousness.
Are candidates treated fairly during screenings for ‘culture fit’?
Sponsored posts promoting a guide with behavioral interview questions keep showing up in my Facebook timeline.

These 30 questions are supposed to screen job applicants for various traits — including leadership and adaptability — but “culture fit” receives top emphasis in the sponsored-post advertisement.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

‘Star Scouts’ by Mike Lawrence

Book cover, 'Star Scouts' by Mike Lawrence. Image depicts human girl Avani, blue-finned alien Mabel and a couple other members of their 'Star Scouts' troop, rocketing through a blue-green sky wearing bubble helmets and space suits
From start to finish, Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence (First Second Books, March 2017) was entertaining and fun to read. 

Mabel, an extraterrestrial child, is working toward a merit badge in teleporting alien species for her “Star Scouts” troop. Mabel bumps her teleport console and finds herself face-to-face not with the Terran “Newt” she’d selected but instead “New Kid” Avani, an Earth child who endures each tedious meeting of her local “Flower Scouts” troop.

Scout kerchiefs, it turns out, are universal and the pair recognize fellow scouts in each other.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Safety pins in solidarity: Is message clear enough?

Safety pin in green-blue fabric
In school, we teach children about bystanders’ power to defuse the impact of bullying by supporting the child who is targeted — which makes it all the more wonderful that adults are embracing the vital role of “upstander.”

By wearing a safety pin, the wearer communicates that she or he is “safe,” an ally in solidarity with people targeted by hate. My only concern as a person who struggles with messages that are implied, not explicit — will people who need support understand what the safety pin signifies?

Value of libraries: Most Americans agree

In refreshing contrast to the divisiveness that plagued this past election, David Kipen asserts that “most Americans still agree” on the value of the public library. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, In fact, according to Kipen (writing in the Los Angeles Times), librarians “may be the only first responders holding the line between American and a raging national pandemic of absolutism.” (Case in point, this election’s hideous outcome of Donald Trump as the next U.S. President.)

Sonoma County Library: Voters pass Measure Y

Congratulations to Sonoma County Library upon Measure Y’s successful passage. Via the Sonoma Valley Sun, a library press release thanks Measure Y supporters.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Library customer service: Are you aware of your library’s resources?

Cynthia M. Parkhill's cartoon Bitstrips avatar stands with left arm resting on counter with books in it.  With her right hand, she makes an open handed gesture toward the books behind her at left. The caption reads, 'Welcome to the library!'

I’ve written before about the librarian’s “customer service” hat, and the ways that customer service manifests in my work in a library.

Today I want to address the importance of familiarity with a library’s resources among people working in the library — because you can’t recommend a resource to a customer if you don’t know about it yourself.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

‘Laura Monster Crusher’

Book cover, 'Laura Monster Crusher' by Wesley King. Illustration depicts a gaping hole in the ground, ringed by tall trees
Accidentally breaking the arm of a smaller classmate during a game of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” sealed Laura Ledwick’s fate to be known by cruel nicknames capitalizing on her size.

So when Laura and her family moved to the town of Riverfield, Laura hoped that by beginning eighth grade in a brand-new school, she would leave that persecution behind.

On the first day of school, Laura gains two new friends, meets a boy she’s attracted to, but also attracts the attention of a mean girl and her wanna-be followers.

But the travails of middle-school are compounded by eerie sightings and reports of wild animals in the dark forest that borders Laura’s home. A mysterious rattling in Laura’s closet leads to her discovery of a hidden world beneath her feet.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Autism and socializing: ‘Armond Goes to a Party’

Book cover, 'Armond Goes to a Party.' Line-drawn and colored image depicts a boy clutching a dinosaur book amidst many other children who are making noise around him: talking, blowing on noisemakers, blowing bubbles, playing games, etc.
There is little-to-nothing pleasant about the prospect of being stuck in a roomful of people simultaneously talking around me.

These numerous conversations — for me all playing at equal volume — are further compounded by  the “soundtrack of life” — air conditioning or heater, utensils clanking against dishes, the movement of people through a room.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Staff photo commemorates new year in library

An official staff photo by Lifetouch School Portraits commemorates my beginning a new year as a library professional.

I’ve come a long way since first going to work in Bellview Elementary School library. That first year, I learned so much — and I continue to learn going forward.

For each staff photo, I dipped into my extensive hat collection, consistent with what has been a key part of my identity.

This year, I wore my “newsboy” cap made from brightly-colored fabrics. I modeled this hat after the touring-cap pieces I assemble for Hat People of southern Oregon, but I added a hat band.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

‘The Screaming Staircase’

Book cover: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. Image depicts two teenagers, a boy and a girl, standing on a staircase and each holding a sword, their attention directed toward ominous dark vapor on the top of the staircase
With The Screaming Staircase (Disney-Hyperion, 2013) author Jonathan Stroud introduces young readers to an exciting adventure series set in a modern-day London that is beset by paranormal disturbances.

Young people with an ability to detect these supernatural entities are essential to psychic detection agencies that compete to combat London’s “Problem.”

In The Screaming Staircase, Lucy Carlyle becomes the newest recruit of Lockwood & Co., an agency staffed entirely by young people.

With agency founder Anthony Lockwood and researcher George Cubbins, Lucy investigates a mansion with a grisly reputation for multiple hauntings and deaths. She also attempts to solve a young woman’s decades-old murder.

This enjoyable first volume combined many of the ingredients I enjoyed in Stroud’s Bartimaeus books, including the first-hand observations of an engaging narrator. I recommend this book to young readers who like supernatural mysteries.

Disclosure of material connection: My taxes support my public library’s acquisition of this and other resources. I consider the access I enjoy to be a “priceless” return on my investment.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bullying Prevention Month, library display

Book covers: Weird!, Dare! and Tough! by Erin Frankel and illustrated by Paula Heaphy
Image credit: Free Spirit Publishing
In honor of Bullying Prevention Month (October), I put books on display again this year, that address the subject of bullying. The books are available from our collection in Bellview Elementary School library.

Bellview Elementary School library ‘Top 10’

The Bellview Elementary School library “Top 10” represent the most often-checked-out books during the previous 30 days, as tracked by the Follett-Destiny online public access catalog. Roughly once per month, I like to create flyers that showcase these often-used resources.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Dewey classifications govern books and blog


As of two years today ... my family’s home library has been classified and arranged according to the Dewey Decimal System, with each book assigned a number based upon the book’s subject (or by genre and era in the case of the 800s, literature).

Shown here, books from my library science courses, arranged in order numerically.

Since then, of course, I’ve extended this classification to subject-tagging on my blog. It seemed thematically appropriate, with my emphasis on librarianship, and was a natural progression from organizing books in numerical order by subject.

Friday, September 23, 2016

‘Weeding’ content, in-library and online

For the Content Marketing Institute, Jessica Coccimiglio suggests library professionals can teach content marketers about “weeding” — that is, about removing outdated content from a library’s (or website’s) collection.

Measure Y on ballot for Sonoma County Library

Cynthia M. Parkhill attaches 'Support Libraries' tag to railing, downtown Santa Rosa library
Circa Jan. 2012: ‘Support Libraries’ installation
at downtown Santa Rosa library
With a special use tax to benefit Sonoma County Library appearing on the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot, it seems a good time to re-highlight (from January 2012) this “Support Libraries” tag that had been installed outside its central library in downtown Santa Rosa, Calif. If Measure Y is approved by two-thirds of voters, it will create a one-eighth of one percent (0.125%) “transactions and use” tax for 10 years on retail sales in the County of Sonoma beginning April 1, 2017. Access more details on the “Funding” page, Sonoma County Library website.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Autistic students and college supports

From an informal survey and a discussion with Julia Bascom, executive director at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Kit Mead, writing for “The Establishment,” has determined that “many autistic students find themselves pushed out of student housing due to a lack of accessibility and support.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Matt Damon, teacher-librarian and author

Ashland, Oregon author and educator Matt Damon in a rocking chair in Bellview library, holding a poster to promote the Back to School Festival and a copy of his book, 'The Fall of General Custard: Or the Overthrow of a Leftover'
In Bellview Elementary School library today, teacher-librarian Matt Damon led children through an exciting rendition of Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock (from Eric A. Kimmel’s retelling of the traditional African folktale).

Encouraging hand gestures to differentiate the characters, Damon used the story to introduce children to the library’s folklore and fairy tale collection.

Damon’s tenure with the Ashland schools includes teaching third-grade and P.E.

Of peak interest to children was Damon’s own book, The Fall of General Custard: Or the Overthrow of a Leftover (White Cloud Press, July, 2016, illustrated by Gideon Kendall). Copies of his book will soon be available for check-out through Bellview library, and Damon plans to share with children, the process that created his book.

Damon is scheduled to read his book aloud during Stories Alive’s Back to School Festival, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Lithia Park Butler Bandshell. After the reading, festival-goers are invited to join a food fight led by characters from the book.

Stories Alive transforms children’s original stories into artistic performances. Proceeds from Saturday’s festival will benefit Stories Alive and the Ashland Schools Foundation.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New books for new school year

Stacks of books on a counter with stamp and ink pad and bundle of library barcode labels on adhesive paper slips
Such a great feeling to find new books awaiting me in Bellview Elementary School library. The new school year began with a summer bounty of Junior Library Guild monthly selections and a shipment of books ordered through Follett Learning.

Processing these books is technically “work” but feels to me like a joy as so many titles pique my own interest. Here’s hoping that each new book finds an appreciative reader, and each student finds the perfect book that will spark a lifelong reading adventure.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

His and her newsboy hats


His and her newsboy hats are assembled from scraps of Guatemalan cotton, interspersed with panels of black cutwork embroidery (repurposed from a skirt) and solid black linen or wool.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Digital archives: Free or subscription-based?

Cynthia M. Parkhill's 'BitStrips' cartoon avatar stands holding an eReader in front of a newspaper coin-vending box on city sidewalk
Digitized newspaper delivery and archiving. Image created with BitStrips
“Google News Archive” provided free digital access to more than a century’s worth of newspapers in the Milwaukee area. At “Urban Milwaukee,” Michail Takach asks why listings for local newspapers suddenly disappeared. The answer concerns privatized digitization through a subscription-model database, and should make compelling reading for anyone interested in how the shift from print to digital publishing impacts historical archiving.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

TIME author equates Asperger’s with trolling

As a survivor of bullying who has personally experienced cowardly attacks on the Internet, I share with TIME magazine author Joel Stein a concern that anonymity is a breeding ground for abuses. That said, I wish to express my concern with Stein’s portrayal of “the web” as “a sociopath with Asperger’s.”

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hand-crafted ‘Pokémon’ hidden at ‘Pokéstops’

Nestled in grass, a red, black and white knitted ball, decorated to resemble the Pokemon Go 'Pokeball'
Source of image: Nichole’s Nerdy Knots on Facebook
Via the MarySue: “[F]inding digital Pokémon in our surroundings wasn’t enough for Nichole’s Nerdy Knots. The nerdy knitter has been stitching up some Pokémon and hiding them around Pokéstops (and other appropriate areas) in the real world for random people to find.” Libraries are often designated Pokéstops and Gyms in this augmented-reality game. If any crafters would like to tag their local library, Nichole’s patterns are free for download on Ravelry.

Posted to Yarn Bombing at Your Library

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer yarn-bombing project at Beaconsfield Public Library

Close-up view of hands cutting thread on piece of crochet that has been stitched around the handle of a library book-drop. The words 'Yarn Bombing at Your Library' have been superimposed on the image.
As reported Aug. 9 by the Montreal Gazette: In Beaconsfield Public Library, Beaconsfield, Quebec, chief librarian Elizabeth Lemyre has organized a summer yarn-bombing project that welcomes both youngsters and adults. The knitting circle will create squares to cover a "nondescript public bench." On a recent afternoon, three young ballplayers used knitting looms to create pieces.

Posted to Yarn Bombing at Your Library on Facebook

Calistoga schools: Student writing confronts bullying

Close-up of Cynthia M. Parkhill, wearing a yellow-crocheted hat with a 'No Bully' pin, the word 'Bully' in black letters on yellow with a red circle and red-line diagonal strike-through
My ‘No Bully’ mugshot
As a survivor of bullying, I try to monitor campus culture to verify that bullying is being acknowledged and dealt with at my former schools.

Most recently, my research led me to “Taking Action on Bullying,” student writing produced for “The Paw” journalism project at Calistoga Junior/Senior High School.

I want to thank Paw staff for their willingness to address bullying in the Calistoga schools. I was physically attacked, verbally abused and socially ostracized throughout my tenure at Calistoga Elementary and Calistoga Junior/Senior High School.

Monday, August 8, 2016

UUA announces 2016-2017 ‘Common Read’

Book cover, 'The Third Reconstruction.' Image depicts person standing on outdoor stage with microphone in front of a crowd. An American flag is on display and a banner partially reads, 'Protect All N-'
My earliest opportunity in library collection development was as volunteer administrator of a small lending library for a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church.

An important addition to the library’s collection was the Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual Common Read.

I have long appreciated the shared experience of reading a book in common and, since the program’s inception, I’ve closely followed — and publicized — each year’s announcement of the latest Common Read.

The program continues to resonate with me in my professional capacity as Religious Explorations administrative coordinator for a local UU church.

Via congregation blog, post to social media and MailChimp email campaign, I had occasion this week to publicize the 2016-2017 Common Read: The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement, by The Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

The Common Read selection committee believes this is a moment for UUs to answer a call by Rev. Barber, to build and sustain a movement for justice for all people. A discussion guide for the book will be available by Oct. 1.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Body Support Systems: Debut blog post

My debut blog post for Body Support Systems, Inc. went live on its website today. The post highlights an appearance by owner/founder Tom Owens at the World Massage Festival this coming week.

Body Support Systems produces the bodyCushion™, an orthopedic positioning system that therapeutic practitioners, including massage therapists, use when treating their clients. I have worked part-time with the company for a little more than one year.

Editing and blogging are activities I enjoy, so I appreciate having this outlet as part of my professional responsibilities. I have a few more posts incubating and look forward to posting them soon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’: Recommendations for reading play

Hardcover bound script of 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' placed on green-ripple afghan
The Barnes & Noble blog cites sales figures to project “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” may “be among the most widely read plays of all time.”

But because reading a play is “a little different from reading a novel,” B&N has compiled tips for getting the most out of reading “Cursed Child.”

I love the idea of people assigning parts and reading aloud together; my family and I have read aloud to each other for years.

With a professional repertory theater company only two miles from our home, it’s especially easy to “Add to the experience” by going to see a play. “An evening at the theater will familiarize you with the tropes and rhythms of plays, which will help inform the experience the next time you read a play.”

‘Intrusive’ vs. ‘inbound’ contact

Via my social newsfeed this morning, a declaration by Andy Mort that telephone calls are, quite possibly, the most intrusive form of contact.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bullying: Arguments promote information literacy

Book cover, 'Matters of Opinion: Bullying' by Carla Mooney. Cropped image depicts the torsos and arms of two male-presenting teenagers. One has shoved the other against school lockers, and reaches to take money from his hand
In Matters of Opinion: Bullying (Norwood House Press, 2016), Carla Mooney presents pro and con arguments for three issues connected with bullying:

“Has the Internet Made Bullying Worse?”, “Are Schools Doing Enough to Stop Bullying?” and “Should Bullying Be a Criminal Offense?”

This brief volume encourages students to critically examine arguments, focused around a topic that bears direct relevance to their school-going experience.

‘Ignore,’ ‘Unfollow’ and ‘Unfriend’

Was that upsetting post in your newsfeed simply motivated by carelessness, or was it a “clear and intentional” message of hate from one of your connections on Facebook? Does this person regularly act in ways that conflict with your values? The Cyberbullying Research Center offers its recommendations for managing Facebook connections during conflicted times — specifically when it’s best to just “Ignore” or “Unfollow” irritating posts and when “Ignore” and “Unfollow” simply aren’t enough and it’s time to “Unfriend.”

Thursday, July 28, 2016

‘Malice in Ovenland, Vol. 1’

Cover art, 'Malice in Ovenland' by Micheline Hess. Image shows a young girl, holding a burning torch aloft. A lizard-like creature holding a red, two-tined fork, cowers behind her. The pair are in a setting reminiscent of a cavern with small shadowy figures behind them. One giant shadow looms directly behind them and shadowy flying creatures flit against the cavern walls.
Lilly Brown, stuck at home for the summer while her friends are away on vacation, is left alone by her mother with a list of chores to get done over the weekend.

While trying to recover her earring from inside the oven, Lilly falls through a tunnel and arrives in an underground kingdom whose sentient beings, the “Oven Frites,” revere grease as a life-giving substance.

At the time of Lilly’s arrival, the kingdom is in crisis; its essential grease supply has ceased. (Above-ground, Lilly’s mother had replaced their fried-food diet with healthier fruits and vegetables.)

From start to finish, I had a lot of fun reading Malice in Ovenland, first volume in a graphic-novel series created by Micheline Hess (Rosarium Publishing, August 2016). It combines a fast-paced storyline, humorous details and entertaining characters.

I think young readers will be able to relate to Lilly as a strong and resourceful protagonist, and the icky, goopy details of a grease-revering kingdom seem sure to captivate their interest.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, July 25, 2016

Children’s books that support diversity, ‘connection’ and engaging in ‘the work’

Collages upon paper, arranged on a table. The collages, made from seeds, display flowers and peace symbols
Pictures from seeds, created by children in ‘Religious Explorations’

My work in library “Readers Advisory” can surface any time, in any capacity. At the church where I work part-time as administrative coordinator for Religious Explorations, I was asked to identify children’s books that reflect the church’s mission: to “Embrace Diversity, Empower Connection, Engage in the Work.”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sonoma County voters consider tax for library

In northern California, the Sonoma County Library has my solidarity as voters consider a 1/8-percent sales tax in the November election. As related by Christi Warren writing for the Press Democrat, the library commission unanimously voted to place the tax on the November ballot. Citing figures from library director Brett W. Lear, the article states that if voters approve the measure, it could add about $10 million annually to the library’s $17 million budget. This library supporter, formerly a volunteer in a three-county cooperative system between Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino County libraries, wishes it every success.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

‘Very small library branch on wheels’

Book cabinet atop bicycle trailer, open to display cabinet shelves filled with books
Image credit: L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library
At Biking Librarians, a public Facebook group, Peter Rudrud posted news of what is essentially a “very small library branch on wheels,” a custom-built trailer pulled by a bicycle, holding about 100 items.

I would love to see more library systems create their own equivalents of the BookBike at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, Wis.

“The BookBike gives librarians a new way to connect with residents of all ages, showcase the library’s digital content, provide an unexpected library experience, and give a fresh perspective of the public library.”

Also posted to Librarian on a Bicycle

‘6Rs of Bullying Prevention’

Cover image, 'The 6Rs of Bullying Prevention' by Micele Borba, Ed.D. Images in circular cut-outs show children interacting with each other in friendly and inclusive ways
The latest reading in my ongoing focus upon resources to combat bullying is, 6Rs of Bullying Prevention by Michele Borba, Ed.D (Free Spirit Publishing, August 2016).

This book belongs in every school’s staff-resources collection. Its value is incalculable if it spares one child from bullying and years of post-trauma, but I actually believe it has the potential to transform entire schools.

The “6Rs of Bullying Prevention” are:

1. Rules -- Establish an anti-bullying policy and expectations for respect
2. Recognize -- Teach stakeholders how to recognize bullying
3. Report -- Create procedures to report bullying
4. Respond -- Teach student witnesses how to respond to bullying
5. Refuse -- Help targets refuse provocation and cope with victimization, and
6. Replace -- Help students replace aggression with acceptable skills

Borba describes the 6Rs as a “process,” not a “program,” moreover it’s ongoing and involves an entire school community. Because it’s not a program in itself, it can be integrated with programs already in place at the school.

Bullying prevention “aims to change a culture of cruelty to one of kindness” (location 417 in a digital advance reading copy). Success is measured by “positive and lasting change in student behavior and attitude” (417, 418).

As a person bullied in childhood who hopes to spare others from suffering the same trauma, I found much of practical benefit in The 6Rs of Bullying Prevention.

I’m especially grateful for insights it affords in my professional capacity: a school library paraprofessional who works directly with students and hopes to guide and model for them, respectful and inclusive behaviors. I will look with keen interest over this book’s several lists of books at varying levels of readership: great resources in themselves for building a library collection.

Personal reflection in response to this book:
Bullying and ‘zero tolerance’

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bullying and ‘zero tolerance’

Cartoon illustration: Adults direct types of bullying toward Cynthia Parkhill's Bitstrips avatar. A woman stares at her from around the corner. One man talks behind his hand to a listener, who has a shocked look on his face. A woman with a disbelieving expression looks at her computer while a woman in the desk next to her looks over. The caption reads, "Bullying survivor: What I imagine is happening."
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips
A keyword search on the phrase “zero tolerance,” performed July 22, 2016, returned 14 usages in reference to bullying among writings on my blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Support group for library workers on autism spectrum

A private email list and support group is being formed for librarians and library paraprofessionals on the autism spectrum who face(d) difficulty finding work.

Collection development vs. censorship

Critical analysis of a book’s suitability for a library is not censorship. At “Reading While White,” Megan Schliesman talks about the work and factors involved in selecting books. Schliesman emphasizes it isn’t “censorship” when a library worker challenges stereotypes in a book. One must consider the context, the variety of factors behind a decision to reject a book, instead of issuing blanket statements of “censorship.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

‘Collaborative’ summer reading programs at libraries

Books arranged in rows, covers facing upward, on carpet. They are 'Rogues' anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, 'The Hero and the Crown' by Robin McKinley, 'The Best American Short Stories of the Century' edited by John Updike, 'The Lost Art of Dress' by Linda Przybyszewski, 'The Art of Racing in the Rain' by Garth Stein, 'Quiet' by Susan Cain and 'Protector of the Small' by Tamora Pierce

What do these books have in common? For one thing, I selected each of them as a prize for turning in a reading log to Jackson County Library Services in Jackson County, Oregon.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Brother 1034D Serger


The Brother 1034D Serger will really streamline bill-assembly for “newsboy” touring caps. I want to credit Candice Ayala for starting me on a firm foundation with my overlock sewing machine. In her YouTube video, she explains the importance of labeling each pathway through the machine in the order that they should be threaded.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

‘Talking to Kids About Racism and Justice’

Parents may struggle with how to help children cope with recent incidents of violence, and even more with how to broach sensitive conversations about racism and justice in our society. Here are possible resources.

Pokémon Go brings people to libraries

‘Welcome to the library.’ Cartoon image created with Bitstrips
In the new Pokémon Go, libraries have been given a “huge gift of outreach,” according to “Teen Librarian, Huge Nerd.”

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Do-it-yourself public art studio

Cynthia M. Parkhill and Jonathan Donihue holding painted mug, angled so that painting of a black cat is facing outward toward viewer

To celebrate the resumption of Saturday bus services, we caught Rogue Valley Transit’s Route 10 from Ashland into Medford, then spent a few hours on-foot. During our ramblings, we discovered The Artist in You, a do-it-yourself creative space fronting E. McAndrews Road on the block between Poplar Drive and Biddle Road. (The studio is in Bear Creek Plaza with its address listed as 1110 Biddle Road.) I love the idea of a walk-in public art studio, and The Artist in You provides ceramic shapes, paintbrushes and a broad range of colors. Once people finish their projects, the projects are kiln-fired for later pick-up. Here we are with our mug, painted with a design that features our sweet cat Starfire.

Also posted to Librarian on a Bicycle

Friday, July 8, 2016

America’s parents face explaining recent violence

America’s parents face the difficult task of explaining this week’s violence to children — the shooting deaths by police of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile followed by the shooting of a dozen police officers in Dallas. For the Los Angeles Times, Sonali Kohli shares insights offered by Suzanne Silverstein, director of the Cedars-Sinai Psychological Trauma Center, for talking with children about this shocking week of violence. Kohli also shares approaches taken by parents Richard Milner, Antoinette Barrett and Tyrone Howard.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bike advocates offer free repairs at library

Via I Love Libraries, relating news reported by The Red and Black in Athens, Ga.: BikeAthens, a bicycle advocacy group, offered free bicycle repair, safety checks and helmets at the Athens-Clarke County Library. The news report relates that BikeAthens’ goal is to “promote walking, cycling and public transit as solutions to transportation needs in Athens through education, advocacy and community service.” This is a great melding of advocacy for bicycling with the importance of libraries.

Also posted to Librarian on a Bicycle

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Facebook ‘lists’ override algorithm

Cynthia M. Parkhill's 'Bitstrips' cartoon avatar stands looking at the screen of a hand-held device
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips

I’ve been interested for awhile in sharing my thoughts about the Facebook “Echo Chamber,” the tendency for Facebook to more-often display things that readers’ friends “liked” or shared, or posts that are similar to those that the reader has already engaged with.

I want to promote actively shaping what you encounter in your Facebook timeline, instead of simply passively accepting whatever Facebook shows to you.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Blue, green and purple newsboy hat


This newsboy-style hat, in panels of blue, green and purple, repurposes fabric from a purple tunic, a blue and green floral-print dress and a green-lace skirt. The hat-band, in green and white stripe, was a remnant of grab-bag fabric.

As with previous creations this hat represents a variant on the Hat People design, with the hat-band my unique addition. I like to add a hat-band because it presents one more opportunity to use a contrasting or complimentary fabric that really pulls the whole design together.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

‘Ninja Librarians: Sword in the Stacks’

Book cover: 'The Ninja Librarians, Sword in the Stacks.' Image depicts three figures against a backdrop of floor-to-ceiling rows of shelves stacked with books and the skeletons of small animals. An enormous portrait of a mustachioed man in a hat glowers down at them.
It was such a delight to read The Accidental Keyhand, first book in The Ninja Librarians, that I eagerly accepted an invitation by series author Jen Swann Downey to read the second book.

As Sword in the Stacks opens (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2016), young protagonists Dorrie and Marcus begin their training as official apprentices to the Lybrariad, a secret society that aids people who were persecuted throughout history for expressing their ideas.

This fantasy series builds upon the image of the library professional as a defender of intellectual freedom and endows its characters with swashbuckling derring-do.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Professional communication and editing

My part-time work for a local church includes posts to social media, “MailChimp” email campaigns and updates to the church blog. The spirit of connecting people with information and resources infuses my work with the church, and is consistent with my work in the field of library service.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Keep politics out of LOC subject headings

Spine-up view of Volumes I through VI in Library of Congress Subject Classification Headings, circa 2011, bound in burgundy-cloth hardcover
Source of image: American Library Association
In an email to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, I urged the House Appropriations Committee to strike language in legislation adopted by its Legislative Branch Subcommittee, which would bar the Library of Congress (LOC) from updating subject heading classifications for the terms “Aliens” and “Illegal aliens.”

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Planter slipcovers from fabric

Green leafy plants inside two round planters that have been covered with multi-color against white, leaf-patterned fabric. The bottom of each planter slipcover and a foldover 'lip' is white polka-dot against light green

Black-cloth planters provide utilitarian and practical housing for a small garden of peppers and kale, but aesthetically, they’re rather “industrial.” Fortunately, we found brightly-patterned canvas fabric at Sew Creative in downtown Ashland, Oregon. At the beginning of June, I used this wonderfully colorful fabric to fashion planter slipcovers.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

‘Re-Thinking Autism’

Re-Thinking Autism covers a lot of ground, making it difficult for this reviewer to single out individual contributions.

I think reactions to this book will vary greatly depending upon readers’ interests and circumstances.

The book positions itself as contributing to “critical autism studies” with four objectives:

1. To challenge the evidence base for biomedical models of autism,
2. To explore the impact of the diagnosis on the lived experience of people so labeled,
3. To offer a conceptual critique of the production, consumption and commodification of autism in the twenty-first century in a global context, and
4. To explore ideas for service provision and practice that move beyond a focus on the diagnosis.

This book is at its strongest when advocating for accommodations and services to be made available without first demanding a medical diagnosis.

Requiring people to “prove” their possession of what can be an “invisible” disability, lets society off the hook for the barriers it imposes against full participation by everyone. It also perpetuates inequality — those who can afford the expense and time of getting an “official” diagnosis are allowed access to concessions, while those who can’t afford to obtain diagnosis through an accepted avenue, must struggle to meet social norms.

I believe the book to be less-successful at examining the impact of an autism “label” on the person who actually bears it. In this aspect of critical autism studies, people who are themselves on the spectrum ought to lead the discussion and — unless I missed something in my reading — I could not find a first-hand perspective among contributions to this book.

If I did miss something, I’d appreciate being told, so I can update this response.

I've read several blogs by people on the spectrum and — far from feeling stigmatized by the label of “autism” — they find their possession of a known diagnosis to be vastly preferable to the labels they would otherwise have been subjected to.

I want to offer my perspective as an “expert by experience.” Given the authors’ acknowledgement of these experts’ belonging in a cross-discipline approach to autism, I believe my personal experience has direct bearing in discussion of this book.

From kindergarten onward, I was a school-wide outcast whose classmates taunted and shunned me. No one offered me a diagnosis of “autism,” but surely the ugly names imposed upon me by my classmates carried far greater stigma.

I hold a similar view of unsolicited criticisms that other adults offered to my parents: I would far rather have been known as “autistic” than be labeled a “brat.”

Only in adulthood, did I receive the label that, quite frankly, liberated me.

I’d known all along that I was “different” from everyone, and this finally provided me with the explanation I needed as to why I felt like an alien on earth.

If you would truly understand the impact of an autism diagnosis, then you have to include my experiences, or the experiences of others like me. We are the ones who live with the “impact” that researchers discuss academically.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, June 10, 2016

Yarn bombing at Dover Public Library

Narrow swatch of striped crochet fabric, with a heart symbol and letters spelling 'BOOKS' arranged vertically along it
Image credit:Dover Public Library
In Dover, Ohio: Crafters of all ages and creative ideas are invited, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, to celebrate International Yarn Bombing Day by decorating the front entrance of the Dover Public Library (http://www.doverlibrary.org/yarn-bombing-the-library/). In a news release submitted to the (New Philadelphia) Times Reporter, writer Jim Gill advised that people attending are asked to bring at least one full skein or several partial skeins of acrylic yarn to participate in a yarn swap. Crafters are welcome to knit, crochet, wrap yarn or make pom poms for the project (http://www.timesreporter.com/article/20160610/NEWS/160619957),

Posted to Yarn Bombing at Your Library on Facebook

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Timaru Library, NZ: Yarn bombing planned

Close-up view of hands cutting thread on piece of crochet that has been stitched around the handle of a library book-drop. The words 'Yarn Bombing at Your Library' have been superimposed on the image.
At the Timaru Library in New Zealand, crafters are creating artwork for International Yarn Bombing Day on Saturday, June 11. Via a news account published by the Timaru Herald: the exhibition is part of a “Now we’re talking” project to raise awareness of family domestic violence. It will be on display from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Posted to Yarn Bombing at Your Library on Facebook

‘On Your Mark, Get Set ... READ!’

On counter-top, a stack of bookmarks proclaiming, 'On Your Mark, Get Set ... Read' next to running figures, with smaller lettering beneath that proclaims, 'When school lets out, summer reading begins at Jackson County libraries!' The bookmarks are arranged on top of other documents. Behind them is a sign with an enlarged image of a library card. Lettering above the library-card graphic reads, 'The Most Important School Supply of All.' Below the sign graphic, lettering reads, 'Sign up for a free library card at your public library. Ashland Branch Library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd., Children's Department: 541-774-6995.'

Jackson County Library Services is promoting “Summer Read” activities that begin as soon as school lets out. Registration is free, and sign-ups can be done at any branch in the system.

Friday, June 3, 2016

‘Ashland Reads,’ book donation to Bellview library

Stack of books atop a blue drawstring bag on counter surface. Image and lettering visible on top book in stack identifies it as 'The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy' by David Soman and Jacky Davis. Behind the stack of books, four book-jacket laminate rolls are stood on end

A bagful of books was waiting for me, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Ashland, when I returned to Bellview library after the Memorial Day weekend. The books were donated through “Ashland Reads,” a celebration of literacy.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

‘Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet’

A sense that outcasts were building their own society particularly appealed to me when reading Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood (SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, June 2016).

For the tourists who flock to Coney Island, circa 1907, Magruder’s is a “dime museum” in a less-fashionable area of the park. Dominant cultural attitudes about race, sexual orientation, gender presentation and “typical” physicality mean that sideshow performers are subjects of curiosity for ticket-paying tourists, but they are also marginalized and excluded from broader society. In the museum basement, Magruder’s provides a gathering place for the performers free from tourists’ stares.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

JCLS seeks relief from library management contract

Officials with Jackson County Library Services in Jackson County, Ore. are exploring options for getting out of a contract for library management with Library Systems and Services (LS&S).

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hat from ‘cycle-hacked’ garments

'Newsboy' style hat with crown assembled from varigated panels of sunflowers-on-green-check, pale green lace over pale green backing fabric and dark green-on-green embroidered fabric. The hat band is bias-cut sunflower-and-check. The visible upper bill is pale green lace over backing fabric. The hat sits atop a folded sleeveless dress of the sunflower-and-green-check print and a dark-green embroidered tunic with a yellow-gold embroidered and appliqued neckline border

Talk about a win-win situation: I chop the hemline of a dress or long tunic so that I can wear it, paired with pants or leggings, while I ride on my bicycle. This saves garments that, while loved, might otherwise never be worn because they weren’t biking-compatible. Here, leftover fabric from recent alterations found purpose of their own when assembled into a “newsboy” hat. The crown, band and brim of the hat were assembled out of fabric from a sunflower-print dress, an embroidered long tunic and a long lace skirt. Shown with it are “cycle-hacked” garments that contributed its fabric.

Also posted to Librarian on a Bicycle

Hats in golds, browns and reds

Eight-paneled crowns for 'newsboy' styled hats in varigated shades of brown, red, green, gold, tan and yellow in various combinations Eight-paneled 'newsboy' hat, in varigated shades of brown, pale yellow, red and tan, hanging from a peg. Tag affixed to hat reads, 'The Hat People'

It’s a treat to see pieces I’ve assembled for Hat People of southern Oregon, in the hats’ final completed form. These varigated creations seemed especially cheerful with their rich golds, browns and reds — so much so that when I saw one of the finished hats at the Lithia Artisans Market, I couldn’t resist snapping a photograph.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hand-made banner for ‘Religious Explorations’

Description of image: Rectangular applique, white against hot pink, proclaims 'Famous Unitarian Universalists' - identified by name - 'and ... Me.' The text surrounds a flame and chalice. The chalice flame has been outlined with gold chain-stitch embroidery. The applique panel is affixed to a banner of brown fabric printed with multi-colored flower designs.

It’s great to employ my creative abilities for the benefit of employers. In this instance, I assembled and hung a banner depicting the names of famous Unitarian Universalists at the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. (I work for the church as web content editor and administrative coordinator for the church’s “Religious Explorations” program.) The sweatshirt from which the banner’s applique panel came, was donated to Religious Explorations and I made the banner with the donor’s permission to make use of the sweatshirt this way. Read a write-up about the banner on RVUUF’s WordPress blog.

Friday, May 20, 2016

‘Classroom Friendly’ pencil sharpener

Sharpened pencils arranged next to a 'Groovy Green' pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies atop a blue, green and purple drawstring pouch on wooden table surface
‘Classroom Friendly’ sharpener in ‘Groovy Green’
Between looking up call numbers or doing homework or some other writing, someone, somewhere, in the library, is going to need a pencil, meaning a fresh supply of sharpened pencils needs always to be on hand. If you understand this, you’ll know why a quiet, efficient manual sharpener is a really wonderful thing.

Recently, I was privileged to try out a really great pencil sharpener, courtesy of Classroom Friendly Supplies. I had a bundle of unsharpened pencils at the ready when my “Groovy Green” sharpener arrived.