Spring Institute 2021 Virtual

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Spring Institute For Youth Services 2021 Featured Speakers


Sparking Connections and Possibilities

Opening Keynote with Alex Gino

Alex Gino

Learn from Alex how they got into writing as a child in the crossroads of finding a home in reading while also not seeing themselves in the books available at the time. Alex will also discuss some of the issues facing children and young adults today and the support that they both need and deserve and share both the writing process and product of their middle-grade books on LGBTIAP+ kids and the reflects the racially, economically, physiologically, and otherwise diverse world we inhabit.

About Alex:

Alex Gino loves glitter, ice cream, gardening, awe-ful puns, and stories that reflect the complexity of being alive. Their debut middle-grade novel, George, about a fourth-grade transgender girl named Melissa won Stonewall, Lambda, and Children’s Choice Debut Awards, and has been translated into fourteen languages. They are also the author of  You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! And Rick.

Born and raised on Staten Island, NY, Alex is still prouder to have graduated from Stuyvesant High School than the University of Pennsylvania. They have lived in Oakland, CA since 2008, except for when they embarked on an unforgettable eighteen-month road trip through forty-four states before engine troubles led to some unexpected stays, tow truck-related hijinks, and the purchase of a clunker pickup truck in Western Kentucky to get home. Alex has been an activist and advocate for LGBTQIA+ communities since 1997 as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. They are proud to have served on the board of NOLOSE, a queer, feminist organization dedicated to supporting radical fat acceptance and culture. They are a part of We Need Diverse Books and a member of PEN America.

Watering Young Imaginations: Librarians Doing the Decolonization Work

Afternoon Keynote with Alia JonesAlia Jones

Seeing is believing and Native children deserve stories that reflect their lived experiences. In this talk, Alia Jones will discuss the importance of rooting library practices in a foundation of equity, decolonization and respect for Indigenous knowledge & storytelling. She will also discuss the power of native stereotypes in media, the whiteness of LIS, the current state of Native KidLit and will encourage ways to connect with communities.

About Alia Jones:

Alia Jones is a blogger based in Cincinnati, Ohio (www.readitrealgood.com). Most recently she worked as a Library Services Assistant in the Youth Services department of her Public Library. As a member of ALSC, she had the privilege of serving on the 2020 Caldecott Awards Committee (THE UNDEFEATED, BEAR CAME ALONG, GOING DOWN HOME WITH DADDY & DOUBLE BASS BLUES). Prior to libraries, she worked as an indie children's bookseller and an English Teacher in South Korea. She cares about boosting #ownvoices literature for children, especially literature created by Black and Indigenous authors and illustrators.

A 2020 Debut: Connecting with Readers and Community during a Global Pandemic

Friday Morning Keynote with Darcie Little BadgerDarice Little Badger

Debut YA Novelist, Darcie Little Badger will join MLA to discuss her unusual path to writing Elatsoe and experience publishing a debut YA novel during a global pandemic, with the backdrop of heartbreaking personal loss. After the cancellation of in-person events, she was able to stay connected with readers, publishing professionals, teachers, and librarians through virtual events and social media. The support Elatsoe received from others, despite the far-reaching, painful difficulties of this year, highlight the resilience and strength that is possible when the book community comes together. There will be time for questions.

About Darcie Little Badger

Darcie Little Badger is a Lipan Apache writer with a PhD in oceanography. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Elatsoe, was featured in Time Magazine as one of the best 100 fantasy novels of all time. Darcie's short fiction, nonfiction and comics have appeared in multiple places, including Marvel's Voices: Indigenous Voices #1, Nightmare Magazine, Strange Horizons, and The Dark. She currently lives on both coasts of the United States and is engaged to a veterinarian.

How to Love Library Work When it Doesn't Love You Back: Moving Forward in Youth Services

Friday Afternoon Keynote with Julie JurgensJulie Jurgens

The events of 2020 highlighted how damaging the long-standing inequalities in our society and systems, including library work, can be. Library workers are no strangers to being told to do more with less, perform tasks well outside of the scope of library work, and bearing the mantle of "essential" without being adequately compensated or respected as such, but these situations went from frustrating to actively dangerous in 2020. In this talk, we will explore how ongoing trauma informs our library work and our ability to perform that work, how scope creep impacts our communities and our profession, and how we can all connect to support each other in making library work safer for library workers and more impactful for our communities as we move forward.

About Julie:

Julie Jurgens has been working with children and their families since 2001. She began her career in Early Childhood education and received her Masters in Library and Information Sciences, with an emphasis on services for children and teens, in 2006. She's worked at several libraries in different positions, including six years as a school outreach librarian and four years as an early literacy librarian. In addition to her library work, she is also a singer/songwriter, storyteller, and sporadic stand-up comedian. You can learn more about her work and her many, many opinions at himissjulie.com

Burnout and Stress: Science-backed strategies for your library!

Friday Closing Keynote with Ryan DowdRyan Dowd

Are you and your staff burned out?  Is the stress of Covid (and the economy and politics and…) sucking the joy out of work for you?  This training will explain the neuroscience behind what is happening to your brain when you feel burnout (hint:  it’s not good!).  It avoids the “usual advice” (take a vacation, eat healthy, exercise more, etc.) in favor of research-backed strategies for changing the workplace environment so that everyone feels less burnout and stress. It presents strategies and concrete advice for both managers and non-managers. The training finishes with a simple breathing technique that research has shown activates your parasympathetic nervous system to help you relax.

Participants will be able to identify the six things that increase or decrease burnout (according to research!), the eight things managers can do to reduce their staff’s burnout, and the eleven things that non-managers can do to reduce their own burnout.

About Ryan:

Ryan Dowd has worked most of his career in homeless shelters. Currently, he works at the second largest homeless shelter in Illinois.  He trains libraries around the country (and world) on how to work with difficult homeless patrons, using the same tools that homeless shelters employ.  He is the author of the ALA book, “The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness.” He is married, with two children. His favorite book is Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.


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