It’s the holiday season, and Santa Claus is comin’ to town…
Unless he’s not. For many people in my community, Santa doesn’t stop to visit their families. There’s a wide range of religious and personal beliefs about Christmas (even some Christian sects don’t celebrate it as a religious holiday). Yet no matter where one looks in our community it would seem that everyone is celebrating.
If you’re a librarian, should it matter to you that Christmas isn’t celebrated by some your patrons or students? Some in our profession say that Christmas is an American holiday, so decorating for it or emphasizing it in libraries is not a big deal. Others are comfortable with book displays, but nothing beyond that.
When I was a public librarian, I did a few programs for teens that were holiday-related, like Gingerbread House Construction (really just an excuse to eat candy!) and Holiday Cookie Decorating (another excuse to eat candy). We also featured books on display that had to do with Christmas cooking, decorating, and fiction. There usually wasn’t any coordinated effort to decorate the branch for Christmas. Occasionally a patron or staff member would bring by a poinsettia plant and it would sit on the reference desk.
At my new job as a school librarian this school year, I put up a display of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa books. Right next to that I had a full display of snow and winter books. If I was asked to read books to classes for storytimes, I emphasized the snow and winter books. I did have students who specifically asked me for Christmas books to check-out. I chose not to decorate the library at all.
Ultimately, my goal for the library is that it fulfills the all the needs of all of our students, and I think I accomplished that this December without making anyone feel unwelcome or “other” for not celebrating Christmas.