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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The library will contribute to on-campus events supporting students’ mental wellness with a book display and a “Mindful Moment” before finals. For more resources on mental wellness, especially during the pandemic, take a look at the research guide we developed.
Join the library for a mindful moment before finals. This event will be a chance to make crafts, participate in a mindfulness activity, and check out our e-book display. All are welcome to drop in when you have a chance.
Monday, May 9th
12:30 – 2:30pm
Vestibule Outside the Library
Finals Fest is returning to the library May 13th through the 19th. Spread the word! Finals Fest is back to celebrate all of our students’ hard work and to give them a final push to the end. Spring 2022 features a beach theme: join us for yard games in the Butterfly Garden, relaxing with board games and coloring, and getting energized with drinks and snacks in the Library.
Faculty, we need you! Join us to write encouraging messages on the sidewalks in the Butterfly garden just in time for finals: Monday, May 16th between 9:00 -11:00am.
The library collaborated with Georges Sanon from the Office of Military Student Affairs to create a new research guide for currently enlisted and veteran students. Now, students have access to one space for all of the various resources available to enlisted and veteran students and families. The new research guide includes information on how to navigate the VA system to use benefits, get help for mental health, and learn more about what the Office of Military Student Affairs does.
“Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people”
― Heinrich Heine
There is a current movement to remove books from school libraries, specifically those with LGBTQIA+ characters, any content questioning police, or obscenities. The prevailing narrative is that minors need to be protected from “adult” or “pornographic” materials. In fact, all of the books on ALA's list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021 have been banned for one or more of these themes.
While these movements may appear to be grassroots, they are part of “‘really powerful movements under way to constrain expression. It’s not about discussing ideas objectively. It’s about not discussing them at all,’ says Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Acadia University who tracks free speech in education.” Whether it is a proposed bill in Idaho, HB 666, which seeks to criminalize librarians for providing minors with “harmful materials,” or seemingly grassroots measures to pull books from library shelves across the country, we need to talk about book challenges.
Book challenges are defined by the ALA as "an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group." Banning is simply the successful removal of these items. If it seems like challenging books is just as trendy as wide-leg pants, you would be correct. "Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, told me] that during her 20 years with the organization, ‘there’s always been a steady hum of censorship, and the reasons have shifted over time. But I’ve never seen the number of challenges we’ve seen this year.'"
As a profession, librarians look to the ALA’s Core Values, which include, “resist all efforts to censor library resources.” At Prairie State College, we strive to have books on our shelves that meet the needs of our community members, including those who are marginalized. This shows them that they belong. The removal of these books sends a clear message that people with certain identities don’t have a place, and simply shouldn’t exist. “‘What we’re seeing is really this idea that marginalized communities, marginalized groups, don’t have a place in public school libraries, or public libraries, and that libraries should be institutions that only serve the needs of a certain group of people in the community,’ said Caldwell-Stone.'" We stock our shelves with challenged books to support our communities and to support intellectual freedom.
As mentioned, this isn’t a grassroots group in a small town far from Chicago Heights; this is happening in our Interim Dean Jessica Nastal’s school district in Downers Grove. It is happening in my (Valerie Moore’s) former school district in St. Louis County. So, what can you do?
-If someone challenges a book in your child’s school, push back.
-Attend school board meetings and consider running for a position.
-Check out and purchase banned books for your kids.
-Give your own kids the freedom to read what they please.
-Visit your local library. When it comes time to vote on tax levies, support them!
-If your library has a board, run for a position.
-Local reporters not only care about your area, but they also fight censorship. Support them by paying for a subscription.
-Finally, you can report censorship issues to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, or by calling 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4226.
Each month we will recognize one library staff member and celebrate the unique talents that they bring with them to work. This month we celebrate CJ Raich as library staffer of the month.
CJ Raich started as our Library Technical Assistant earlier this year. In this role, CJ is responsible for cataloging new library materials, fixing old catologing errors, and ensuring that items are organized in such a way that they can be found by patrons like you. He also brought the library into 2022 with our TikTok account. Kudos to CJ for all that you do!
Let’s get to know him better with some questions:
What do you like to do outside of library work?
Where to start? I'm just a normal person. I like to play video games - My current favorite is Assassin's Creed because the games are full of amazing recreations of historical places and events, and they give you the chance to interact with some really interesting historical figures. I also love sci-fi and fantasy. My all-time favorite show is Doctor Who, but I have slowly been making my way through all of the Star Trek TV series. I also participate in a few volunteer orchestras, teach violin and viola part time, and am part of a string quartet with my sister. And I am also a pet dad to a dog named Penny, who is ten years old and half labrador, half sass.
What is the main part of what you do and what are you proud of?
The main part of what I do here is to catalog and process books. I am constantly brainstorming ways to make the library collection more inviting and more accessible for those who need it. As for what I'm proud of, that's kind of a difficult question to answer. A lot of the things I do seem very small, but I'm hoping they make a difference in the long run. One thing I'm proud of was creating labels at the end of each bookshelf that show the actual subjects of the call numbers located on each shelf because, let's face it, the Library of Congress Classification system is not very intuitive for the average student. I can't say for certain, but from what I could see it seems to have improved students' browsing experience. I've also been incorporating more metadata into library records like Tables of Contents, so when students need to research a very specific subject it's easier to find useful books in the catalog. I've also altered the way we physically process new books to keep them sturdier for longer. I've re-organized the graphic novel section, which will hopefully improve usability by making various series easier to find. Basically, if anything I do here helps our students, staff, and other users, I am proud to be doing it.
What brought you here?
Prairie State College has been very important to this area and also to my family. Both of my parents, several of my aunts and uncles, my twin sister and I all graduated and gained valuable life experiences and connections from here. I have always recognized how vital the college is to our community and I am happy to be a part of it.
What is your vision of the library?
My vision of the library is a place where students, staff, and other users are able to easily find what they need to be successful -- whether those things are the traditional resources like research materials, study space, and guidance from library workers – or less traditional things like the latest fiction bestseller, graphic novels, DVDs, board games, puzzles, and outreach events to help them decompress from the stresses of a busy semester.
As mentioned above, this month’s book display features the theme of Mental Health Awareness. This is only a sampling of the books that will be on display. We’ve included thought leaders in the field, such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodron, and Brené Brown.
The Craving Mind
Judson Brewer and Jon Kabat-Zinn
When Things Fall Apart
Self-Care for New and Student Nurses
Dorrie K. Fontaine
The Dharma of Modern Mindfulness
Beth Ann Mulligan
Don't Feed the Monkey Mind
Jennifer and Doug Shannon
A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook
Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein
Lastly, the library is here for you; reach out with any questions at Ask a Librarian!