When did Librarians get so angry?
I love how BBC.com revealed the news, “A librarian at a primary school in the US state of Massachusetts has rejected a donation of books from First Lady Melania Trump.” The short answer is, if people reject your gift, never give them another one.
Rude: offensively impolite or ill-mannered
The Rules For Accepting a Gift
- Accept gift.
- Say thank you.
- If you don’t appreciate or like the gift, handle your business quietly and without letting the person know. Give the gift to someone else. Return the gift to the store. Or put the gift on a shelf or in a drawer and forget about it.
Advice For The First Lady or Anyone Else Offering a Book
“I wish she had talked to a librarian first,” Roger Sutton, editor in chief of The Horn Book Blog
Roger Sutton applauds the rejection of the books, saying,”…libraries don’t need books. They need money.”
Well, ten (10) Dr. Seuss books at $20 each for new hardcover editions equals $200. I suppose if Melania Trump dropped a cheque for $200 bucks in a card with an encouraging message and mailed it, librarians would reject it for being a paltry sum. It’s just not enough! And besides that, send it to someone who needs it, not me.
It was just a gift, not a line item on the budget.
Abashed: cause to feel embarrassed, disconcerted, or ashamed.
In the following paragraph from a blog post written by Robert Sutton, he explains why the Chicago Public Library Commissioner was “caused to feel embarrassed, disconcerted or ashamed”.
“I remember when the then-commissioner of the Chicago Public Library (not a librarian himself) was just thrilled to pieces with a gift from the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette of a very fancily-bound, completely inappropriate for circulation, gift edition of Baha’i teachings, one copy for every branch. The commissioner was completely abashed when we librarians told him that we would select our own books. Thanks, but no thanks. All libraries have policies for accepting gifts, and mainly those policies are in place to prevent your old National Geographics and drool-glazed baby books from getting anywhere near their shelves.” Robert Sutton recollecting another time he rejected a book donation.
In a comment, Anne Clasper disagrees with the no-donation position saying,
“Dear Roger, I am sorry, but you are wrong. The local public library does need, and loves to receive book donations. We don’t care what kind of worn-out, out-dated, old-fashioned items we receive. Dr. Seuss sells like crazy. When our patrons donate books to us, we always say, “Thank you! We will look at your books and if we cannot add them to our collection, we will add them to the semi-annual book sale run by our fantastic Friends of the Library group. The money they raise supports our programming.” Quite often, the local population may not have money to support the library, but donated books do the trick too, and we value these donations highly.
Well said, Anne. But, probably you’re not a real librarian. And never apologize before saying someone is wrong. Because you have nothing to be sorry about. And neither does the First Lady, Melania Trump.
“To turn the gesture of sending young students some books, into something divisive, is unfortunate.” First Lady Melania Trump’s office source
DramaGuru Smash: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) For Your Mouth
This article is a blue belt DramaGuru lesson.
Some things haven’t changed. Librarians are still persnickety about clean hands and clean books. And there are always two sides to every argument. If you haven’t figured out that verbal drama can be managed using DramaGuru tools, now is a good time to get on the DramaGuru bus.
Librarian Liz and Editor-in-Chief Robert are standing in DramaGuru Relationships card number 13, The Blunt Nose Shark position, when they rudely rebuff book donations. Card 13 states, “Reject or diminish all gifts, compliments and success stories. Push back. Let nothing good sink in.”
“I’m annoyed by those who love mankind, but are discourteous to people.”
― John Howard Griffin,
The Eddie Attack: Insider vs Outsider
If you are not a Librarian with the proper credentials, your opinion doesn’t count.
Because Librarian Liz has back-up and agreement, she feels confident and comfortable snubbing the First Lady’s gift.
Robert Sutton agrees with her. And so does, Kitty Flynn, a consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc. In a case like this, it’s really important to have people on your side. But these are Liz’s supporters from the blog and not from her school.
Hopefully, she has full support from her school administrators too. Or, that might be a huge hole in her game.
“We were prepared for Tuesday’s letter to FLOTUS post to maybe stir things up, but this is insane — the pot is boiling over! And a lot of people seem to be missing the point.
To all who are concerned about manners, common courtesy, rudeness, gratitude, and how our contributor was or wasn’t raised: the letter is far more courteous than many of the negative comments directed at her on this site, on Facebook, and on Twitter. How can you harangue someone for bad manners and then call that person a ‘sorry excuse for a human’ in the same sentence?
She opens the letter with thank you, for cripes’ sake. We take her at her word that she’s sincere in her gratitude. She ends the post by saying how honored she is that the White House chose to recognize her school’s success. She doesn’t like the administration’s policies, but she makes zero reference to the content of Mrs. T’s character.” Kitty Flynn, consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.
The letter was not mailed to Mrs. Trump, just posted online for everyone to see. It’s safer to post a response on a blog that has your back. Hopefully, for the sake of her job, the school where Liz works also has her back — even though she included them — without their agreement — in her rejection of the books and the blog-post-letter she wrote to complete her lambasting of the First Lady.
Grandiose Attacks: Small Move, Big Response. Insults Galore.
I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, but if Melania sent me a gift with “beautiful bookplates with her name and the indelible White House stamp”, I would frame them, take a selfie and post it online.
From First Lady Melania Trump’s letter: “As I was thinking about your return to school, I wanted to send you a special gift. Dr. Seuss’s, ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go,’ is a book my son and I have read over and over again, and one that we want to share with all of you.”
It’s true. I read books while eating potato chips. My greasy fingers touching those delicate, white, absorbent pages. Of course, if Melania gave me the book, I wouldn’t do that.
Everyone has a blind spot. The Horn Blog chose to overlook the following insults taken from Liz the Librarian’s post, reprinted below:
- Sarcasm falls under Grandiose. Say thank you and then say, “(Sent second-day air, no less! That must have been expensive.)”
- Questioning someone’s intelligence as compared to yours: “I can think of no better gift for children, than books. It was a wonderful gesture…that could have been better thought out.”
- Telling someone their gift is all-show-no-substance. “My students were interested in reading your enclosed letter and impressed with the beautiful bookplates with your name and the indelible White House stamp. However, we will not be keeping the titles for our collection. I’d like to respectfully offer my explanation.”
- Lol! Give the First Lady book titles you prefer and then say, “Please make time to learn about and value them.”
- Deliver frosty words and then sign off using the term, “Warmly”. Can you say “gaslighting”? Made me cringe when I read it. Gaslighting structures reality in the way that someone else wants you to see it. There is no trust here, only an opponent. Stop giving her gifts. (Give her a GIF instead. Free. Instant delivery.)
“Why fit in, when you were born to stand out?” Dr. Seuss
What if Horton hadn’t heard that Who from Whoville? There’d be no CindyLou Who to celebrate Christmas with every year.
So, because Horton listened, I made time to understand and hear what Liz had to say. I read her blog post. And a couple more on “The Horn Blog”.
Maybe Liz Phipps Soeiro has a point to make that people have been missing. Here’s your chance to find out.
I’m off to find Mother Goose. The weather’s changing and I really do need to know, “What will the robin do then, poor thing?”
And then I’ll go and see Eeyore. He has mental health issues. Hopefully, I can avoid any (more) piles of doodoo. Hmmm, I wonder, did “Winnie the Pooh” make the Librarian’s list. I can’t take it! I’m not even going to look.
Eeyore the Donkey: “Not much of a house. Just right, for not much of a donkey.”
Entire Blog Post written By Liz Phipps Soeiro and published on The Horn Book blog
Dear Mrs. Trump,
Thank you for the ten Dr. Seuss titles that you sent my school library in recognition of this year’s National Read a Book Day. (Sent second-day air, no less! That must have been expensive.) I’m proud that you recognized my school as something special. It truly is. Our beautiful and diverse student body is made up of children from all over the world; from different socioeconomic statuses; with a spectrum of gender expressions and identities; with a range of abilities; and of varied racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.
According to the White House website, you selected one school per state by “working with the Department of Education to identify schools with programs that have achieved high standards of excellence, recognized by State and National awards and Blue Ribbon Awards…” Each of those carefully vetted schools received ten books: Seuss-isms!; Because a Little Bug Went KaChoo; What Pet Should I Get?; The Cat in the Hat; I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; The Foot Book; Wacky Wednesday; Green Eggs and Ham; and Oh, the Places You’ll Go!.
My students were interested in reading your enclosed letter and impressed with the beautiful bookplates with your name and the indelible White House stamp, however, we will not be keeping the titles for our collection. I’d like to respectfully offer my explanation.
My school and my library are indeed award-winning. I work in a district that has plenty of resources, which contributes directly to “excellence.” Cambridge, Massachusetts, is an amazing city with robust social programming, a responsive city government, free all-day kindergarten, and well-paid teachers (relatively speaking — many of us can’t afford to live in the city in which we teach). My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science. Multiple studies show that schools with professionally staffed libraries improve student performance. The American Association of School Librarians has a great infographic on these findings. Many schools around the state and country can’t compete.
Yearly per-pupil spending in Cambridge is well over $20,000; our city’s values are such that given a HUGE range in the socioeconomic status of our residents, we believe that each and every child deserves the best free education possible and are working hard to make that a reality (most classrooms maintain a 60/40 split between free/reduced lunch and paid lunch). This offers our Title I school and the district a lot of privilege and room for programming and pedagogy to foster “high standards of excellence.” Even so, we still struggle to close the achievement gap, retain teachers of color, and dismantle the systemic white supremacy in our institution. But hell, we test well! And in the end, it appears that data — and not children — are what matters.
Meanwhile, school libraries around the country are being shuttered. Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are suffering through expansion, privatization, and school “choice” with no interest in outcomes of children, their families, their teachers, and their schools. Are those kids any less deserving of books simply because of circumstances beyond their control? Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos? Why not reflect on those “high standards of excellence” beyond only what the numbers suggest? Secretary DeVos would do well to scaffold and lift schools instead of punishing them with closures and slashed budgets.
So, my school doesn’t have a NEED for these books. And then there’s the matter of the books themselves. You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature. As First Lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips. Just down the street you have access to a phenomenal children’s librarian: Dr. Carla Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress. I have no doubt Dr. Hayden would have given you some stellar recommendations.
Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes. Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example), and you’ll see the racist mockery in his art. Grace Hwang Lynch’s School Library Journal article, “Is the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away from Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books,” reports on Katie Ishizuka’s work analyzing the minstrel characteristics and trope nature of Seuss’s characters. Scholar Philip Nel’s new book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, further explores and shines a spotlight on the systemic racism and oppression in education and literature.
I am honored that you recognized my students and our school. I can think of no better gift for children than books; it was a wonderful gesture, if one that could have been better thought out. Books can be a powerful way to learn about and experience the world around us; they help build empathy and understanding. In return, I’m attaching a list of ten books (it’s the librarian in me) that I hope will offer you a window into the lives of the many children affected by the policies of your husband’s administration. You and your husband have a direct impact on these children’s lives. Please make time to learn about and value them. I hope you share these books with your family and with kids around the country. And I encourage you to reach out to your local librarian for more recommendations.
Liz Phipps Soeiro