A summer of advocacy with the help of our library
How can you utilize your library’s resources to advocate for the issues you are passionate about?
Summer is here, and thoughts of beachside reading and the tune of Lorde’s “Solar Power” are swimming through our heads. But, for us book lovers, summer can be much more than just lying under a shady tree and reading the day away (although we do spend an awful amount of time doing just that).
Some of our favorite summer memories growing up took place at our local library. From reading programs to speaker series, libraries have plenty to offer for adults, teens, and children beyond simply checking out our next read—which is why we are so passionate about advocating for their funding. Libraries provide online courses in everything from literacy to money management. They provide support for people experiencing houselessness or health issues. Referral systems can help those seeking jobs, and in-person and online events provide child support for busy parents. Plus, as we are still in a pandemic and will continue to be so until vaccine equity is achieved across the globe, we can direct ourselves and those in need to any resources our libraries have on COVID-19, like this page from the Los Angeles Public Library. Getting involved can be as simple as reaching out to your local library to see where they need volunteers.
And that’s not all—libraries provide many opportunities for us to dive deeper into our equity work, especially for those issues our reading has led us to be passionate about. Between Pride and Juneteenth, library sponsored programming provides the space to engage with one another on critical issues, allowing us to take what we have learned through our reading and discuss. Then, we can work together to push lawmakers at local, state, and national levels to pass critical measures, maybe even straight from our library’s computers.
Whether you’re traveling or staying local, summers can be filled with both reading and advocating, especially with the help of your local library.
Summer travel often brings to mind road trips, especially during a pandemic. In Randa Jarrar’s memoir Love Is An Ex-Country, Jarrar uses the framing of a cross-country road trip to depict “home” as more than a physical space. The memoir asks readers to understand that finding home, particularly for a queer, fat, Arab American woman, is a political act.
Have you read the title? If so, I’m curious: How did the framing of a road trip influence your read? Did it shape how you understood Jarrar’s experience?
Read more on the book, or share your thoughts with us.
After far too long, the U.S. government finally acknowledged Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Hopefully you were able to respectfully celebrate the day in one of the many events taking place across the country or virtually. However, our support for the meaning of Juneteenth must extend beyond the day itself—freedom currently is for the few, and not for the many. We rounded up a number of educational resources, organizations to support, and actions to take all year long to further equity.
June also marks Pride month. One of our favorite organizations to support is the Trans Women of Color Collective: TWOCC was “created to cultivate economic opportunities and affirming spaces for trans people of color and our families, to foster kinship, build community, and engage in healing and restorative justice through arts, culture, media, advocacy and activism.” If you have the means, consider donating. We’ve also rounded up a few other organizations in this post. And to ensure our support for the month reflects its original roots in riotism and the identities of the leaders who paved the way, we’ve compiled a list of important reads in this post. Check these out from your local library, or, if they don’t have them, request that they purchase a copy or two.
A book that both of us plan to dive into this July is Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. The title “remaps our understanding of what a ‘border’ is, presenting it not as a simple divide between here and there, us and them, but as a psychic, social, and cultural terrain that we inhabit, and that inhabits all of us.” If you intend to travel this summer, especially to different countries, we encourage reading this book beforehand (and send us a message if you’d like to read it with us!). Not only does it take a critical intersectional lens to our concept of geography, but also puts responsibility on non-Spanish speaking readers to do the work. And, if you find this book interesting and impactful, consider donating to Justice for Migrant Women, an organization that is “engaged in educating lawmakers and other officials globally and throughout the U.S. about some of the issues that prevent migrant women from reaching their full potential and, even worse, pose a threat to their safety and security.”
And, finally, we want to spend a moment acknowledging the importance of @BookishBlueBird and @YanitzaWrites’ #TheBigFatBookClub Summer Reading Challenge. Confronting fatphobia—whether that be our personal biases or those in the media— is always important, especially as summer begins and brings with it an increased attention on bodies. Their challenge can help all of us start that important work.
One of Fiona’s favorite summer memories comes from the local library - especially their summer reading challenges. We’ve created a fun summer reading log for you to keep track of all your reads. Just download, print, and start coloring!
And, as newsletter subscribers, you get access to an exclusive additional reading log. Just visit this page and use the password SummerReading to download.
What’s your ideal poolside read? Let us know. (And, if you’re that brave soul who chooses to read while in the water, we wish you all the luck in not dropping your book.)
Summer 2021 isn’t going to magically be back to “normal,” despite many pretending it will be. As we know, there are huge gaps in vaccine equity around the globe, and many vaccinated folks with disabilities (both visible and not visible) don’t have the same privilege as those without. But transporting readers to different places is one of the things books do best. And our local libraries have plenty of ways for us to get involved beyond reading.
Take the time this summer to read, but also take the time to do some good in your community. And if you find yourself with a spare moment, potentially in-between books, twiddling your thumbs, reach out to us on social or via email. We’d love to get to know each of you a bit better and see how we might collaborate on an issue important for the book community.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read this. If you liked it, consider sharing with a friend. And do leave us feedback— trust us, we want to know it all.
Olivia and Fiona