In October of 2017, the hashtag #MeToo started trending on Twitter as a result of women and some men speaking out against abusers and harassers from all areas of public and private life. Then, in a January 2018 School Library Journal (SLJ) article, “Children’s Publishing Reckons with Sexual Harassment in its Ranks,” (an article that is no longer available on SLJ’s website) #MeToo came to young adult publishing when hundreds of comments were left on the online article identifying authors and publishers in the YA community as harassers and abusers. As a result of this, concern and hesitation was expressed from YALSA’s committee members in regards to evaluating works from authors who have reportedly been accused of harassment.
We all know how important library staff can be to the teens who frequent our buildings, utilize our collections, and see their library as a safe space. Often, these teens have few supportive adults in their lives who can take the time to talk through difficult and nuanced topics that our teens are seeing discussed on social media, in magazines, on television and through conversations with friends. They are experiencing firsthand the impact of the #MeToo movement as it relates to their favorite artists, authors, actors, and celebrities, and since libraries are often repositories of the physical and digital forms of all of this media, those who work directly with teens will often be the ones that will be having these discussions, be it on a reference desk, in programming, during book groups or just when we’re chatting with our teens after school. We see the teens in our lives and our libraries take in all this change that is happening in real time, but how can we be supportive advocates for our teens when this topic is relatively new and unchartered territory?
In response to this need for support, YALSA has put together a Collection Development in Light of #MeToo Workgroup who has been tasked to collect, organize, and provide access to information that will help staff balance important intellectual freedom principals with the need to consider the impact of the #Metoo movement on teens, and the materials they are encountering at their libraries.
How can you help? Please submit articles, blog posts, research, reports, continuing education materials, and sample library policies for possible inclusion on the soon to come wiki page. This content will be reviewed, organized and made available for library staff to utilize in their daily interactions with teens, as well as serve as supplemental material to help with collection development and intellectual freedom principles. After the page is crowdsourced, the group will evaluate the content on the wiki page and make recommendations for the development of any resources that are missing but would be helpful to library staff who serve teens. We are really trying to find out what’s already available that can help staff, and what will need to be created.
The gathering and creation of this material will hopefully help library staff in a variety of ways including best practices around how to talk to our teens and library patrons about the materials that we choose to carry in our libraries. There might be books on library shelves that make us or our teens uncomfortable. Does having a book by an accused or proven harasser or abuser indicate endorsement? How can we talk to our teens about the importance of intellectual freedom in a way that supports and validates the very important #MeToo movement? These are all questions and thoughts that we hope to address with the curation and development of specific materials to help library staff.
Please send any information or content you think would be informative or helpful to have to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 1.