Library Advocacy Day in New York State is February 28th, 2023.
The New York Library Association (NYLA) has a game plan for participating.
Attend an In-person OR Virtual Legislative Office Visit with your fellow #LibraryAdvocates.
Be a Social Media Advocate. Learn more about how to get involved in social media advocacy in the “Leverage Your Network” Section.
Send a Letter/Email to your Elected Officials. Not social media savvy? No worries. NYLA has both letter and email templates for you to customize and send to your elected officials.
Share Your Story. Tell everyone about how #nylibraries have been important to your communities on social media! Use the hashtags #LAD23, #LibraryAdvocate, and #nylibraries to tell your story. NYLA will retweet/reshare your post throughout the day!
Submit a Video for NYLA’s “I Am A #LibraryAdvocate” Campaign. NYLA is asking #LibraryAdvocates to share via video why #nylibraries are important to you! “Whether you are a seasoned library advocate or this is your first Library Advocacy Day – NYLA wants to hear from you. These videos will be shared via NYLA’s social media channel.”
Locally, the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library (FFAPL) is looking for people to table in February on Tuesdays at Washington Ave or another day at another branch based on your availability.
And if you’re not from New York State, I’m sure there are similar activities in your area.
Libraries under attack
Here are some articles that NYLA has recently posted.
In another hyper-local post, here’s the list of October 2022 book reviews, offered by the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library.
October 4 | Book Review | Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong. Reviewer: Carl Strock, author & prize-winning journalist.
October 11 |Book Review | Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant. Reviewer: Gene Damm, former president, Friends of APL.
October 18 | Book Review | Probable Impossibilities: Musings on Beginnings and OEndings by Alan Lightman. Reviewer: David Guistina, WAMC.
October 25 | Book Review | No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. Reviewer: Jon S. Rice, MSW, LCSW-R, Albany Health Management Associates, Inc.
Book reviews or author talks are offered every Tuesday at noon at the Washington Avenue branch of the Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY.
I post this to inform you that you are welcome to attend these events. Recently, in this not-quite-post-COVID period, coffee and snacks are being offered again.
But my ulterior motive is to offer YOU the opportunity to participate in a more substantial level. If you’re going to be in the area and would like to provide a book review, please let me know and we can work on that. I’ve conned, I mean persuaded my friend Jon Rice to give a talk on October 25.
Or, if you are a writer of books, you could give an author talk. Holly Planells McKenna was the President of the Albany Public Library Foundation from 2012 until 2020 and was the first president of the combined Friends and Foundation of Albany Public Library. In September 2022, she gave an author talk about her book Across the River Jordan: The Journey to Bring My Son Home.
We are generally scheduling these events for three months out so that they make it onto the Albany Public Library calendar. If you’re interested in doing a book review or author talk, contact me via email or Messenger on Facebook.
Recently, I did what was billed as a book review of How To Be An Antiracist (2019) by Ibram X. Kendi. I’m not sure it was a review as much as a reflection of how much I related to it.
That said, if I were to suggest a review, the pull quote by James Forman, Jr., author of Locking Up Our Own and son of a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leader in the 1960s, would suffice. “Ibram Kendi uses his own life journey to show why becoming an antiracist is as essential as it is difficult. Equal parts memoir, history, and social commentary, this book is honest, brave, and most of all liberating.”
It is particularly honest when it comes to Kendi himself. The first section of the book is My Racist Introduction. He still has “nightmares” about a speech he gave at a competition on MLK Day 2000 at Stonewall Jackson High in Manassas, VA. “A racist culture had handed me the ammunition to shoot Black people to shoot myself… Internalized racism is the real Black on Black crime.”
Check out this page of terms by Kendi. Note the assimilationist ideas that try to “fix” people. This is an attitude for which Pope Francis went to Canada to apologize to the First Nations people. The church had said their language, their garb, and even their hair was “wrong.” Compare this with the segregationist ideas that “suggest that a racial group is permanently inferior.”
You might be surprised by the number of times people have told me, “Race is just a social construct.” Yes, I know, but it “doesn’t lessen its force.” Kendi cites Carl Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae (1735). His role in the origins of scientific racism was huge.
Like me, Kendi is not a fan of one trendy term. As he notes, “microaggression is used because, in a ‘post-racial’ era, this term replaces ‘racism’ which went out of fashion. Racism has become the R-word like the N-word is used for the word it replaced.”
I’ve written about the curse of Canaan. Kendi explains English travel writer George Best’s role in this myth. “Proof did not matter when biological racial difference could be created by misreading the Bible.”
“Assimilationists believe the post-racial myth that talking about race constitutes racism.” I’ve heard similar talk from segregationists who fear the evil Critical Race Theory will harm innocent children. The former group “fails to realize that if we stop using categories, then we will not be able to identify racist policies.” This is why I, as a Census enumerator in 1990 and 2020, as well as a librarian, continue to support the racial categories, especially since they’ve allowed for more than one selection since 1997.
The issue of colorism is an odd history. While some enslavers believed a body was better the Whiter it is, others felt “Dark people more perfect than the so-called human mule, or mulatto. I wrote about racial categories.
What got Malcolm X killed was the idea that Kendi states, that Black people can be racist toward White people. I was always bothered by the talk from the Nation of Islam about the “White devils.” “To be antiracist is… knowing there are antiracist Whites and racist non-Whites.”
“When Dinesh D’Souza writes, ‘the behavior of the African American underclass… flagrantly violates basic codes of responsibility, decency, and civility,’ he is deploying class racism.”
Kendi opines, and I believe correctly about individualizing an error in White spaces but generalizing the error in the Black space instead of the individual. “How many times did I have a bad experience at a Black business and then walk away complaining not the individuals involved but Black businesses as a whole?”
Also, “whenever Black people voluntarily gather among themselves, integrationists… see spaces of White hate.” In the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum (1997/2017), “One reason students from similar racial backgrounds may gather together is that “connecting with peers who are having a similar experience as your own serves as a buffer, as a protective force…”
Kendi: “I became a Black patriarch because my parents and the world around me did not strictly raise me to be a Black feminist.” Certainly, black women experience misogynoir.
At a Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library Literary Legends gala a few years ago, I talked to Barbara Smith, a co-founder of Combahee River Collective. I asked if she knew my mother’s first cousin, Frances Beal. Yes, indeed she did. Both are mentioned on page 187 of the book. “Frances Beal… audaciously proclaimed in 1968, ‘the black woman in America can justly be described a ‘slave of a slave.””
I could go on, but this will give you a feel for the book. It is very readable and quite relatable, as he explains his foibles while trying to be an antiracist.
Most of my volunteer time involves the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library. I’ve been on the Board since the merger of the Friends of the APL and the APL Foundation in 2020. Before that, I served on both the Foundation board and as an officer off and on for the Friends.
The purpose of the FFAPL is to provide “critical financial support to the Albany Public Library in order to help the Library provide education, literacy, career development, cultural enrichment, and lifelong learning.” The Friends and Foundation can do things that the library cannot. For instance, the library can inform the public about a library budget vote, but the FFAPL can advocate for a YES vote.
Every Tuesday, there is a book review or author talk. I’m one of the people looking for speakers. If you are in the area and want to consider this, contact my email or IM me on Facebook (Roger Owen Green, the one with the duck). Here are talks for the rest of the month, Tuesdays at noon, 161 Washington Avenue in the auditorium.
August 9 |Book Review | Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire by Caroline Elkins. Reviewer: Karl K. Barbir, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history, Siena College.
August 16 |Book Review | How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Reviewer: Roger Green, MLS, former librarian & past president of the Friends of Albany Public Library.
August 23 | Book Review | The Man Who Understood Democracy: The Life of Alexis de Tocqueville by Olivier Zunz. Reviewer: John McGuire, Ph.D., professor of history, Siena College.
August 30 | Book Review | Her Honor: My Life on the Bench . . . What Works, What’s Broken, and How to Change It by LaDoris Hazzard Cordell. Reviewer: Bonita Sanchez, MSW, retired academic & lifelong social worker.
ROGER GREEN? Yikes, I better read the book!
For the last decade, there has been a Literary Legends gala. This year’s honorees are Sylvie Kantorovitz and Edward Schwarzschild. Sylvie is the illustrator of many picture books. Ed has been a novelist, but his next book is “a non-fiction, interview-based documentary.”
The gala is the primary way the FFAPL makes money to provide to the Albany Public Library. You could be a sponsor, offer auction items, buy ads, and/or attend the event on Saturday, October 1, 2022, at the Delaware Branch of the APL, 331 DELAWARE AVENUE, from 7-9 pm.
Part of my specific task involves recruiting new people to the board. We can use help working on events such as book sales, the gala, talks, and even things no one is doing now. We could also use help with the prosaic but important tasks such as finance, organizational structure, and board recruitment.
Hey, if you live in the Albany area and want to know more about participating in this manner, please let me know.
The Albany Public Library announced that is opening meeting rooms and resuming in-person programs starting Monday, April 4. This means that the book reviews conducted by the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library (FFAPL) are back every Tuesday at noon, starting April 19 at the Washington Avenue branch!
The Friends of the APL, one of the antecedents to the FFAPL, held book reviews or author talks Tuesdays every week when the library was open literally for decades. In recent years, these events were scheduled primarily by Eugene Damm and Jonathan Skinner. They continued until… well, you know what.
For a while, there was no book review programming at all. Then someone suggested that maybe we should utilize that new-fangled electronic device known as ZOOM. I got involved with this mostly because my computer was more robust than Jon’s or Gene’s, and because had retired. Some of the talks were recorded; you can find some of them here. A few we don’t have because the technology failed. A couple that was done outside at the Bach branch had too much noise from neighbors and the wind.
The Upper Hudson Library Council noted the effort that Jon and I had done in the remote world by awarding us as UHLS volunteers of the year. We were among several folks honored in June 2021, online, of course.
Here’s the schedule thus far for the Tuesday talks. Albany people: if you can pass the word, it would be greatly appreciated.
19 April Book Review | Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human by Elizabeth Hess. Reviewer: Joseph Krausman, MA, MFA, retired policy analyst, poet, and teacher.
26 April Book Review | The Color Of Law by Richard Rothstein. Reviewer: Roger Green, a former librarian and past president of the Friends of Albany Public Library.
3 May 3 Author Talk | Pippa Bartolotti, Cornish/Welsh human rights and climate activist, discusses & reads from her poetry book, The Symmetries: Book 1 Poetic Symmetry.
10 May Book Review | The Trial of Leonard Peltier by James W. Messerschmidt. Reviewer: Larry Becker, lawyer, activist, past member of Albany’s Community Police Review Board, & producer of the Radio Free Blues Show.
17 May Book Review | Science on a Mission: How Military Funding Shaped What We Do and Don’t Know About the Ocean by Naomi Oreskes. Reviewer: Jonathan Skinner, Ph.D., retired statistician & amateur classicist.
24 May Book Review | A Wild Idea: How the Environmental Movement Tamed the Adirondacks by Brad Edmondson. Reviewer: Tom Ellis, educator, and activist.
31 May Book Review | Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate by M. E. Sarotte. Reviewer: Gene Damm, former journalist and past president of the Friends of Albany Public Library.