Monday, December 28, 2015

‘Sex, Drugs and Asperger Syndrome’

With Sex, Drugs and Asperger Syndrome (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2016), Luke Jackson offers A User Guide to Adulthood.

When he was 13, Jackson wrote Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence. Now 26, Jackson has accumulated “an entire lifetime’s worth of aging” since he wrote his previous book.

With forthright candor, Jackson offers guidance on various aspects of life — including work, education, bullying, friendship, intimate relationships and the use and abuse of drugs.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Bags from give-away materials

Two bags displayed, one layered over the other one. The bodies of the bags are from a brown- and tan-striped against white-background fabric. Each bag has a decorative square panel on the front with an abstract woven design. Folded and stitched strips of fabric form the bags' handles. One bag's handles are brown and the other bag's handles are black.

Each of these bags is one-of-a-kind and these two are the only two like them there are. Anywhere. In the world. I made them out of repurposed materials. The handles were strips of wool fabric, the decorative panels came from chair upholstery and the body fabric bore evidence of pleating — possibly curtains or a skirt. I feel good that this bag “closes the loop” by salvaging valuable materials and giving them new life.

‘Rules’ is problematic Schneider award recipient

Book cover: Rules by Cynthia Lord. A fish swims upward in water toward a rubber duck that is floating on the water's surface. Circular medalions on the book's cover proclaim it a Newbery Award Honor Book and a Schneider Family Book Award winner.
Continuing with my discussion of the Schneider Family Book Awards: I struggled with this next part’s social acceptability.

Would expressing concern about a prior award recipient be “second-guessing” a past committee, possibly inviting defensiveness, or would it demonstrate the need for nominated titles to be considered carefully?

Here goes:

For discussion of a problematic Schneider award recipient, I ask that the committee read a review of Rules by Cynthia Lord, the 2007 middle-school winner.

‘Commitment’ shouldn’t obligate children to stay in abusive friendships

A 2014 article by writer Amy Joyce for The Washington Post showed up this week in my Facebook feed. In it, Harvard psychologist Richard Weissbourd and his colleagues with the “Making Caring Common Project” offer five strategies to raise moral and caring children.

Friday, December 25, 2015

‘Meh’ means ‘Merry Christmas’

Card propped up against small potted pine tree. The card's hand-drawn and colored image shows a black cat emerging from an open box that is partially covered with red wrapping paper. There is a piece of red wrapping paper hanging off the cat's head and a potted tree is drawn in the background of the card's illustration.

“Meh! Meh!” Starfire says when she attacks wrapping paper, or otherwise behaves like the joyous cat that she is. And so, in this hand-drawn card, “Meh” means “Merry Christmas.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Schneider Family Book Award

Schneider Family Book Award, a circular silver-on-blue logo depicting children holding hands circling a globe with the name of the award rimming the top of the circle. The name of the award is written in Braille beneath the emblem.
Each year in January, I await the announcement of American Library Association Youth Media Award winners.

And each year with its emphasis upon portraying the experience of people with disabilities, the Schneider Family Book Award uniquely piques my interest — both as a woman on the autism spectrum and as a library professional who wants the collection to “mirror” the experience of a diverse readership.

Friday, December 18, 2015

‘The Red Bicycle’ by Jude Isabella

Book cover: 'The Red Bicycle' by Jude Isabella. A young girl stands holding a red bicycle amid a market scene of baskets on the ground that hold a variety of goods. In the background, a woman sits in the shade of an umbrella.
In North America, a young boy, Leo, saves the money he earns by doing work for his neighbors so that he can purchase a new bicycle. When he outgrows “Big Red,” his beloved red bicycle, he donates it to a bike-relief organization that transports it to the West African country of Burkina Faso.

“Big Red’s” story is told in The Red Bicycle by Jude Isabella with illustrations by Simone Shin (Kids Can Press, 2015).

This book offers an informative look at what can be accomplished by bicycle, when the luxury and privilege of automobile driving simply do not exist.

Yarnbombing at Gonville Cafe and Library

Three people stand with arms outspread between railings of a metal structure that has been decorated with 'yarn-bombing,' colorful strips of knitted fabric.
Photo credit: The Inked Librarian on Facebook
Readers of my blog may be familiar with Yarn Bombing at Your Library, a project on Facebook where I curate images and articles about yarn-bomb installations involving libraries. The project’s scope is international and in the latest post to its timeline: the Gonville Knitting Group brought holiday color to the Gonville Cafe and Library in Wanganui, New Zealand. The Inked Librarian (Kelly Scarrow) wrote about the yarnbombing in her column for the Wanganui Midweek newspaper.

Friday, December 11, 2015

‘Every Vote Matters’ in 5-4 Supreme Court rulings

Cases that have direct bearing on students’ lives were decided with a vote of 5-4 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Their rights to free speech, limitations on speech, drug testing and treatment in the courts might be radically different if these splits had gone a different way.

In Every Vote Matters (Free Spirit Publishing, March 2016), Judge Tom Jacobs and his daughter Natalie Jacobs review several U.S. Supreme Court cases that were decided with a single vote.

Like the title suggests, “Every Vote Matters” to Judge Tom and Natalie Jacobs, and they present a strong argument that it needs to matter to young people reading this book. Their one vote could shape who is elected president or elected to U.S. Congress — which, in turn, affects the ideology of who is appointed to the United States’ highest court.

Autism Speaks: Two autists elected to board

From John Elder Robison, I learned this week that, for the first time, Autism Speaks has elected two actual people with autism to its board of directors.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

‘Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop’

After three attempts at learning to knit, I finally succeeded with the help of a circular-knitting class: 16 inches of knit stitch on circular knitting needles to form the body of a bag.

It’s precisely this approach that is taken by Susan B. Anderson in her Kids’ Knitting Workshop (Artisan Books, 2015). “Knitting in the round is the easiest and most effective way for children (and adults) to learn how to knit.” All of the knitting in her book uses circular knitting needles.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Knitting: No longer ‘left-’ or ‘right-handed’?

Knitting-book authors seem to be moving away from terms like “right-handed” and “left-handed” knitting, referring instead to “Continental-” and “English-style” knitting. (In “Continental,” the yarn is carried in the left hand; in “English-style,” it’s carried in the right.

Monday, November 30, 2015

‘Autism and Everyday Executive Function’

Book cover, 'Autism and Everyday Executive Function, A Strengths-Based Approach for Improving Attention, Memory, Organization and Flexibility'  by Paula Moraine. Book's title is inside a white circle with multi-colored circles or dots radiating outward from the center of the circle exterior toward edges of the book's cover.
For a thorough explanation of executive function as developed by people with autism, I recommend Autism and Everyday Executive Function by Paula Moraine (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, November 2015).

Moraine recommends identifying an individual’s particular strengths (described as “Autistic Access Points”) and applying them to “unlock” or support the development of executive function in a child on the autism spectrum.

With comprehensive detail, Moraine describes the “languages” with which people communicate, the “ingredients or tools” that can especially assist children with autism, and the eight skills of executive control.

Commingled books, the Dewey way

In an online group, someone posted a link to an essay by Alexander Chee, which discusses combining — or not combining — bookshelves as part of living as a family. I used the Dewey Decimal subject classification system to combine and organize our books. As a result, many of the issues about commingling books — of one partner’s books isolated in a “cell” or books given greater or lesser prominence — are not really an issue when their order is determined by a numerical system.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Grateful for libraries, today and every day

Cynthia Parkhill holding library cards
Library cards from nearly everywhere I have lived or worked
I have my advocate’s hat on today, to talk about my gratitude to libraries (continuing with a seasonal focus on things I am thankful for).

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving blessings: Work in tough economy

Thanksgiving offers a time each year to take stock of our blessings, and I make a regular practice of listing things I am thankful for. To begin with, I feel blessed by the work I do in southern Oregon’s extremely tough economy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

‘Camp Midnight’ by Steven T. Seagle

Cover image for 'Camp Midnight' by Steven T. Seagle. A girl cowers in her bed, surrounded on all sides by leering, fanged monsters with reaching clawed hands
Within minutes after Skye’s mother leaves her with her father and step-mother for the summer, the adults spring their plans for Skye — they’re sending her to camp.

Only problem (from the adults’ perspective, that is), they don’t remember the name of the camp but they think the name started with “M.” On the basis of that hastily-remembered detail, Skye finds herself on a bus bound for “Camp Midnight.”

From its eerie first impression and the official beginning-of-camp, Skye quickly discovers that Camp Midnight is like no other summer camp.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Religious Explorations: Recent posts

Here are recent posts to social media in my professional role as Administrative Coordinator for the Religious Explorations program at the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. I have worked part-time in this capacity since May 2014.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Oregon Blue Book in Bellview library

Oregon Blue Book almanac and fact book for 2015-2016, standing upright in a wire stand on a library counter
New in Reference, for use in Bellview library, the Oregon Blue Book almanac and fact book is a great official source for looking up information about Oregon economy and government.

The Oregon Blue Book has been published regularly for more than 100 years, according to an introduction by Kate Brown, secretary of state at the time of publication (sworn in as Oregon’s governor after the Blue Book went to press).

The 2015-2016 edition was donated to Bellview library compliments of the Oregon Secretary of State. Its web version can be visited at​.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The librarian’s ‘customer service’ hat

Head and shoulders shot of Cynthia M. Parkhill wearing a brown-and-green paneled 'newsboy' cap
What would my ‘customer service’ hat look like?
Among library blogs, 500 Hats by Barbara Braxton is a personal favorite; it expands the perceptions of people who think of librarians only as “keeper of the books.”

Each entry focuses on one of many “hats” worn by the library professional.

Hats are a big part of my image and so in that vein, I offer thoughts on my “customer service” hat. Customer service is a big part of my daily activities in Bellview Elementary School library.

Monday, November 9, 2015


The Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, where I work part-time, is participating this year in a study and small-group discussion program called “Soul Matters Sharing Circles.” Each month, people work with materials organized around a theme. This month, the theme is “Grace,” a blessing that is unexpected and perhaps even undeserved.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

‘Peeple’ app, now ‘100-percent opt-in’

Cynthia M. Parkhill's 'Bitstrips' cartoon avatar holds a smart phone-type device. Caption reads, 'Positive or negative? Who's more likely to review?'
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips
As a survivor of bullying, I reacted with concern when I learned about the “Peeple” app, particularly that people could be added without their consent and subjected to negative ratings.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Blog posts classified with Dewey numbering

This week I’ve been researching Dewey Decimal classifications for the subject tags in my blog. It seemed thematically appropriate, with my emphasis on librarianship, and is a natural progression from organizing my own books in numerical order by subject.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

In Bellview: Teacher-librarian Weatherly Oakes

Beige-skinned woman with shoulder-length brown hair stands in front of a whiteboard in a wooden frame. She holds up a stack of posters with cartoon-style illustrations. The one on top reads, 'LIBRARY RULES: Always Walk, Never Run.' Behind her, books are arranged on library shelves

Teacher-librarian Weatherly Oakes presented her first library skills lessons in Bellview library today. Using colorful posters (and a Jeopardy-style game for the older children) she reviewed library expectations. Welcome, Weatherly!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

‘The Sign of the Cat’ by Lynne Jonell

Book cover, The Sign of the Cat by Lynne Jonell. Image depicts a red-headed boy with a white kitten on his shoulder, next to a tiger on a log raft with billowing sail
In the island kingdom of Arvidia, Duncan McKay’s mother insists he must always wear a cap with earflaps whenever he is outside. His grades in school must never be too good. And when he fences with the baron’s son Robert, he is (mostly) careful to lose.

Duncan’s cat Grizel taught him to speak Cat, but this too must stay a secret.

About his father, Duncan only knows what little his mother has told him: that he once owned a boat but he was not a fisherman, and was an excellent swordsman. To be near his father, Duncan can only visit a grave that his mother says is his.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Project PALS module 2, ‘Arranging the Library Environment’

“Arranging the Library Environment,” Module 2 in the Project PALS online course, “Serving Library Users on the Autism Spectrum,” invites library professionals to critically evaluate the environment and the structure of activities in the library to consider the effect they might have upon autistic patrons.

STDL and autism: Are self-advocates part of discussion?

From Targeting Autism, a project and blog addressing library service to patrons with autism, I learned that Kate Niehoff, program and outreach coordinator with the Schaumburg Township District Library (STDL) in Schaumburg, Ill. will be part of a panel discussion that focuses on programs for adult patrons on the autism spectrum.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Autism ‘not associated with brutality’

For the New York Times, Andrew Solomon debunks the “Myth of the ‘Autistic Shooter.’” Because it happened again; only a few days into coverage of an act of domestic terrorism — the killing of nine people and injuring of several others at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon — a news outlet drew attention to posts attributed to the killer’s mother in which she claimed that “I have Asperger’s” and “I also have an Asperger’s kid.”

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lingering ‘mandate’ for motherhood

The decision by some women to opt out of having children is highlighted this week in Utne Reader’s “Uplifter” eNewsletter. Melanie Holmes addresses the lingering social “mandate” that all women must have, or at least want, children.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bookmobile memories

Cynthia Parkhill waves from in front of San Francisco Public Library Bookmobile

During a year that I worked in Bel Marin Keys, I was a regular visitor at the Marin County Free Library bookmobile when it parked across the street from my employer. Ever since, I have been intrigued by these portable libraries’ capability to expand libraries’ physical reach.

Five years ago today, during a walk around San Francisco, I couldn’t resist having my photo taken next to the San Francisco Public Library bookmobile. For an assignment that fall in my library studies program, I advocated resumption of bookmobile services among Lake County Library programs.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Saturday, October 3, 2015

‘Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library’

Book cover, 'Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library' by Chris Grabenstein. Black-sillouette characters read books and wrestle with the pointer hand of a roulette-style wheel in a library
My exploration of this year’s titles in Oregon Battle of the Books (third- to fifth-grade division) begins with Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.

Luigi Lemoncello, who made his fortune designing games, has given the town of Alexandriaville, Ohio a new library. Twelve students have been challenged to be first to “escape” during a lock-in at the library before its official opening.

Author Chris Grabenstein presents an array of clues for readers to solve with the characters. The library’s resources — beyond their intrinsic value — advance the students in their quest.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library combines a first-rate, entertaining read with a healthy course of information literacy.I highly recommend it.

Special appreciation to Bellview PTO, which purchased OBOB titles for Bellview Elementary School library

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bullying Prevention Month book display

Books stood upright on shelf-top, their covers facing outward. From left to right, the books are 'Just Kidding' by Trudy Ludwig, 'Tough!' by Erin Frankel and 'Tolerance' by Lucia Raatma

In honor of Bullying Prevention Month (October), I put books on display that address bullying. The books are available from our collection in Bellview Elementary School library.

Halloween bulletin boards in Bellview library

Woman stands to the right of a bulletin board decorated with Halloween posters, die-cut characters and pumpkin shape borders.

Bellview library is home to elaborate bulletin-board designs that combine posters and die-cut characters. They're the work of Traci Ordenez, who put up Halloween themes today.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Appliqued bicycle jerseys

A black cat, Miss Starfire, reclines behind a bicycle helmet, patterned in swirls of green, yellow and brown, that has been positioned atop two folded sports jerseys. The left jersey, a mint-green v-neck, is decorated with a green peace symbol aplique sewn onto a peace of worn blue floral brocade fabric. The orange scoop-necked jersey on the right is decorated with a piece of mustard-yellow on mustard-yellow embroidery inside a 'picture frame' of patterned fabric, light-brown leaves against a darker shade of brown.

Applique designs give exciting new appeal to second-hand bicycle jerseys. On the mint-green V-neck, the peace medallion was made of T-shirt knit fabric layered onto brocade.

RVUUF website Calendar of Events

One project this summer involved professional web-editing for Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. I was hired to locate (or generate) content, edit and post it to RVUUF’s WordPress site.

Friday, September 25, 2015

New books for library: Always a highlight

With a new year at Bellview, I’ve resumed management of daily library operations. I do my best to keep the collection as current as possible: adding titles to my recommendation list based on student interests and curriculum support. Always a highlight: placing that order and awaiting a shipment of books!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mystery bicycle light

Bike light in green clamp wrapped around front-left fork of bicycle near wheel rim

Here’s a mystery twist to my bicycle commute. I worked at Bellview Elementary School this morning, then rode to Body Support Systems, Inc. Someone attached this light to my bicycle fork at some time during the day. When did it arrive? At which work site did someone attach this to my bike? I didn’t notice it when I left Bellview, but the light’s cheerful green contrast against my bike’s teal frame caught my attention right away when I left Body Support Systems, Inc.

Cross-posted from Librarian on a Bicycle

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Oregon Battle of the Books in Bellview library

Books arranged upright with covers facing forward on a shelf-top display next to green sign proclaiming 'Oregon Battle of the Books.'  Titles with author names to come.

Several of the titles for Oregon Battle of the Books have arrived in Bellview library! I spent the past couple of days getting books ready for use and putting them out on display. By the time I left today, many of these titles were already in students’ hands. Big thanks to Bellview PTO, which purchased the books, and volunteers who applied each book’s barcode. This library assistant really appreciates the support.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Town Square Academia, life and learning outside campus walls

I’m continually intrigued by the decoupling of education from the university setting. This latest example, Town Square Academia in the Upper Galilee Region in Israel, offers free courses with direct relevance to “life outside the campus walls.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Library Card Sign-Up Month in Bellview library

Sign on counter-top reads, 'The Most Important School Supply of All. Sign up for a free library card at your public library.' Below, it displays information for Ashland Branch Library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd., Children's Department: 541-774-6995

The beginning of a new school year coincides with Library Card Sign-Up Month. One year ago, I designed this sign promoting Jackson County Library Services, and once again this year, I put it out on display in Bellview Elementary School library. The sign specifically highlights resources through our Ashland library, and when I first designed the sign I made it available to Ashland library children’s department staff. I encourage children’s department staff at other JCLS branches to download the file from Slideshare.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Steve Silberman slams ‘Autism Speaks’

People on the autism spectrum are the ones “most often sidelined or excluded” from public discussions of their condition. For author Steve Silberman, the organization “Autism Speaks” is a case in point. In his Los Angeles Times op/ed, Silberman argues that this organization, which sets “the global scientific agenda” on autism, needs to listen to, and truly serve the needs of, autistic people and their families.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Friends of the Medford Library book shop reopens

Two-panel image, Friends of Medford Library bookstore interior. In the left frame foreground, three women are grouped at a counter with shelves of books behind them. The right frame shows shelves of books with store hours superimposed over the image. Monday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday: Closed, Friday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday: Closed.
Source of image: Friends of the Medford Library
One of the ways I volunteer in support of local libraries is by publicizing “Friends” group activities. From Friends of the Medford Library comes word that its book shop remodel is complete and the shop is now open inside the Medford library, 205 S. Central, Suite 107 in Medford, Oregon.

“With the additional space you have many more books to choose from, including lots of Good As New books.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 24 and visitors during the day will receive a gift certificate for a free book, up to $2 in value, to use during the month of September. Learn more from Friends of the Medford Library’s latest eNewsletter.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

‘Accessing the Future,’ disability-themed SF

Book cover, Accessing the Future edited by Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad. Image depicts a brown-skinned, brown-haired woman in a space suit floating weightless in space above a blue and white planet.
As a library professional, it matters to me that resources in the collection validate the experiences and reflect the diversity that exists among its readership. Science fiction, like other genres of storytelling, needs to advance this aim.

For this reason, Accessing the Future (, 2015), is a vitally important addition to the diverse library collection. Edited by Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad, Accessing the Future explores issues of disability, accommodation and accessibility through speculative fiction and art. Its contributors provide unique and valuable perspectives in which characters with disabilities navigate future societies.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Children understand more than they articulate

“We underestimate our kids all the time, about what they hear and what they understand, based on what they can articulate.” At Mama Be Good, Brenda Rothman shares her child Jack’s understanding of a woman forced to give up her seat on a plane because the gate agent and a flight attendant insisted that her wheelchair “wouldn’t fit.”

Sunday, August 2, 2015

‘Racebending’ challenges literature’s ‘default’ race

Artist's depiction of 'Harry Potter' character Hermione Granger with brown skin, brown eyes and hair in black ringlets
Hermione Granger, via
How do you envision the characters in a book when no description is explicitly given? Do you “by default” attribute white race? Who you are and how you answer reveals whether or not your identity is “mirrored” by the literature you read. At Huffington Post, Zeba Blay highlights “racebending” — where fan artists portray Harry Potter characters as black and other non-white ethnicities.

(Social sharing credit to We Need Diverse Books)

Related posts, showcasing more revolutionary art:
Authors’ books get ‘Coverflip’ treatment
Cosplay ≠ Consent
Hawkeye Initiative: Male superhero duplicates women’s awkward poses

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Teen self-help with self-checkout for privacy

Sign in black lettering against a white background that reads, Teens - Help Yourself. Look for these numbers on the shelves. For more privacy, use the self-checkout machines. Abuse/incest: 362.76 and 362.78. Abusive relationships: 362.8292 and 362.88. Acne/skin care: 616.53 and 646.726. AIDS/HIV: 616.9792. Alcohol: 362.292. Anorexia: 616.8526. Birth control: 363.9609 and 613.94. Body changes/puberty: 612.661. Body image: 306.4613 and 616.852. Date rape: 362.883. Depression: 616.852, 616.8527, 616.85844. Divorce: 306.89. Drugs: 362.292 and 362.2918. Health/hygiene: 613.04243 and 613.7043. LGBTQ: 306.766 and 613.951. Pregnancy: 306.856, 306.8743, 618.2024. Relationships and dating: 305.235, 306.70835, 646.77. Self-esteem: 305.235. Sex: 613.951. STDs: 616.951. Suicide: 362.2, 362.28, 362.283.
Credit: aphroditzy on Tumblr
With this awesome sign created by library supervisor Justin Azevedo, the Sacramento Public Library points teens in the direction of sensitive information that they may be too embarrassed or afraid to ask an adult to help them locate. The sign reminds teens about self-checkout to help protect their privacy.

As Azevedo told Buzzfeed News, “I would notice how popular teen books on these topics were, but how rare actual questions about them from teen library patrons were. Most of the topics would be embarrassing to ask about, but some of them could threaten their privacy or even safety if asked in front of people or discovered by parents in a search engine history.”

Because the Dewey numbering system is a subject classification, many of these topics will likely have their counterparts in the same order in our Jackson County libraries — and our teens, too, can access them in privacy through self-checkout machines. (The photo was first posted by Tumblr user aphroditzy and Buzzfeed News elected to share a reblog by user kassysgalaxyyy).

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UUA Common Read: Children’s book pairing

A few months ago I suggested, concerning the UUA’s “Common Read,” that the adult non-fiction book that is selected each year be paired with books for children and youth that compliment its theme.

Today the UUA announced that this year’s Common Read is Just Mercy, A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau, 2014).

With Just Mercy’s emphasis on people trapped by the criminal justice system — specifically poor people, people of color and children — a possible pairing that came to my mind for this year’s Common Read was Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty (Little, Brown and Company, Hatchette Book Group).

This picture book depicts a boy whose absent father advises him through letters about how to be a man. Incarceration is not identified in the story as the reason for the father’s absence, but is addressed in an afterword. The illustrator, Bryan Collier, received the American Library Association’s 2014 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

‘Just Mercy,’ UUA Common Read

Book cover, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
The Unitarian Universalist Association announced today that this year’s “Common Read” is Just Mercy, A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.

Since the program’s inception, I’ve closely followed each year’s Common Read selection.

I have long appreciated the shared experience of reading a book in common, and the UUA Common Read was an important addition to the UU lending library where I volunteered as librarian. Promoting the Common Read continues to be in-character as Religious Explorations administrative coordinator and web editor for a UU congregation.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Editors’ filters reshape authors’ worlds

At Huffington Post, Deborah Plummer examines the impact of an editor upon the radically different portrayal of Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, compared to his depiction as “racist-rhetoric ranting, card-carrying member of the Klu Klux Klan” in Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

‘The Real Boy’ by Anne Ursu

Book cover, 'The Real Boy' by Anne Ursu. From a darkened hallway, a young boy carrying a lantern enters a room with vials on tables and attached to the wall. Behind him, cats peer into the room he has entered.
In the cellar beneath a magician’s shop, a young boy named Oscar enjoys a life of quiet routine — of gathering herbs from his master’s garden and then grinding them for use while the household cats keep him company.

Oscar’s master, Caleb, and magic smiths of the community create and sell enchanted objects and charms for a city’s privileged inhabitants.

Suddenly, the community is plagued by terrifying and unexplained events and Oscar must emerge from his cellar sanctuary and tend the shop while his master is away. He reluctantly teams up with the healer’s apprentice to try to solve mysterious ailments that threaten the children of the city.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Jackson County Library Services, re-branded as independent entity

During a recent visit to the Ashland library, I picked up a letter that was sent to me. It announced my transition from Jackson County volunteer to being a volunteer specifically with Jackson County Library Services (JCLS).

RVUUF library needs ‘140 linear feet’ of books

Continuing with my personal commitment as an advocate and publicist for libraries, 140 linear feet of gently-used books are needed for a sale supporting the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship library. From the most recent “News to Note,” so far the library has received contributions that measure 20 feet. Elinor Knight asked that donated books be left on the shelf in the library workroom.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

‘Hattitude’: Cap in orange, green, blue and brown

Front view of a eight-paneled crown hat with band around the edge and brim, all constructed from various fabrics in brown, two patterns of orange floral, green lace and blue-multi stripes. Accents include orange braided trim that follows the curve of the brim and a metal sunflower button at the top of the crown where the eight panels come together. Rear side view of a eight-paneled crown hat with band around the edge and brim, all constructed from various fabrics in brown, two patterns of orange floral, green lace and blue-multi stripes. Accents include orange braided trim that follows the curve of the brim and a metal sunflower button at the top of the crown where the eight panels come together.
I assembled various fabrics, in orange, green, blue and brown, into a spectacular hat. I love the way these fabrics work together, most re-purposed from other garments. Old pants, a skirt and fabric cut from a dress to make it “bicycle-friendly.” (’Cause at the risk of digression, a short dress over pants is much easier to ride in than a long dress that might tangle in the chain.) The blue-stripe comes from a sash that was very loose weave — just threads held together at intervals — so I stitched it onto another fabric to give it greater durability. Same thing with the green lace.

RVUUF website goes live

A new website went live this morning for Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship​. For the past few weeks, I’ve been working as its web editor: generating or locating content, editing it for style consistency and populating the site.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

‘Like riding a bike’

Cartoon image of Cynthia M. Parkhill's Bitstrips avatar riding a bicycle on a residential street, rendered in bright pastels with a smiling sun and fluttering butterfly to suggest an idealized setting. The caption reads, 'Just like riding a bike.' Would it be obnoxious if someone said that to you?
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips
I'm always fascinated when the links I read and share, speak to seemingly disparate interests. A recent Wall Street Journal headline resonated both with my interest in colloquial expressions and my passion for traveling by bicycle.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

People with disabilities assert ‘common identity’

More and more frequently, people with disabilities are attacking discrimination, writes Joseph P. Shapiro, discussing a new “common identity” for people with disabilities. “Rejected is the traditional mindset that it’s up to the individual to overcome his or her own physical limitation,” Shapiro writes at the Washington Post. “Instead, according to the disability rights movement, it is not so much the individual that needs to change — but society.” Quoting Judy Heumann of the World Institute on Disability: “Disability only becomes a tragedy when society fails to provide the things we need to lead our lives — jobs opportunities or barrier-free buildings, for example. It is not a tragedy to me that I’m living in a wheelchair.”

Monday, July 13, 2015

Return of the incredible cane baldric

Metal cane, painted with paisley pattern in green, brown and red, with a three-strand braid out of dark-green and olive-green T-shirt fabric secured to the cane near the handle and approximately one-quarter from the base. The cane and braided strap are lying on daffodil-print pale blue fabric.
My cane baldric, braided from strips of T-shirt fabric
I caught my right little toe against a door frame Friday evening and it’s swollen, discolored and tender. This presented an opportunity to once again bring out the incredible cane baldric.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St. John Mandel

Book cover, 'Station Eleven,' a novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Cover art depicts a night-time scene of tents behind a barrier wall. An emblazon on the cover identifies the novel as a National Book Award Finalist.
In Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Vintage, 2015), a deadly virus has wiped out nearly all of the earth’s human population. Its survivors group in pre-industrial settlements in former strip malls, airports and schools.

A troupe of actors and a symphony orchestra travel among these settlements, performing Shakespeare’s plays. When they arrive at one settlement, they discover that it is under the control of a religious cult. A couple who settled there to have a baby have now disappeared and headstones mark their empty graves in the settlement cemetery. The couple’s last-known destination was the “Museum of Civilization.”

Oregon to offer ‘free’ community college

As noted by Nigel Jaquiss for Willamette Week, Oregon will become the second state to offer “free” community college (pending the signature of Gov. Kate Brown). Under Senate Bill 81, Oregon will pay the balance of tuition for eligible students who apply for and receive federal grants for community college.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

‘Enabling Acts’ by Lennard J. Davis

Cover image, Enabling Acts by Lennard J. Davis. The title and author's name are in blue text against a white background at the top and bottom of the cover respectively. In the center of the cover is an illustration of the paper torn open to reveal another layer underneath. The book's subtitle is printed in this torn-paper box. It reads, 'The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disabilities Act Gave the Largest US Minority Its Rights.'
Twenty-five years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Enabling Acts by Lennard J. Davis (Beacon Press, 2015) offers both a detailed history and comprehensive assessment of the ADA.

Davis positions his book outside “the popular story” (16) in which “activism led to dramatic legislative results.” Instead, Davis credits the energies of three groups in creating “the complex thing we call politics” (17): elected officials or “high-profile politicians,” staffers who write legislation and organize hearings and activists “who provide the momentum when the other two groups encounter a slowdown.”

Saturday, June 27, 2015

‘A Tale for the Time Being’ by Ruth Ozeki

Book cover, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is the latest book on my summer reading log through Jackson County Library Services.

The story is told through the alternating perspectives of 16-year-old Nao, a girl in Tokyo whose classmates subject her to cruel and relentless bullying, and Ruth, a novelist who discovers Nao’s diary after it washes ashore on the remote Pacific coast island where Ruth lives.

Nao’s mother is her family’s sole earner and her father, deeply depressed, has already attempted suicide and seems likely to attempt it again. Nao believes that her only option is to commit suicide as well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Standing continues to present challenges

Metal cane, painted with paisley pattern in green, brown and red, with a three-strand braid out of dark-green and olive-green T-shirt fabric secured to the cane near the handle and approximately one-quarter from the base. The cane and braided strap are lying on daffodil-print pale blue fabric.
My cane baldric, braided from strips of T-shirt fabric
Two-and-a-half years after injuring my ankle, I continue the process of recovery. It’s a gradual process and, while I have regained mobility, standing for a long duration continues to present challenges.

‘Bikenomics’ by Elly Blue

Book cover: Bikenomics by Elly Blue. Cover image depicts a bicycle  with birds flying past behind it. The entire image and title text is against a blue background.
My latest “Suggest a Title” recommendation to my public library concerns Bikenomics, How Bicycling Can Save the Economy by Elly Blue (Microcosm Publishing, 2013).

In a recent eNewsletter, Utne Reader magazine directed my attention to an excerpt from chapter 1, “The Free Rider Myth.” In it, Blue challenges the “myth” that auto users pay for the roads they drive on.

Blue argues that drivers only pay for half the cost of our roads. The rest is paid for through sales, property or income taxes — whether or not we drive. And much of the money goes to pay interest on loans that financed road construction projects.

Friday, June 19, 2015

RVUUF web editor

Among professional developments this week, I signed a letter of agreement to work as web editor for the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (RVUUF).

‘Truffula Tree Yarnbomb’

I rely on Google alerts tied to “Library” and “yarn bomb” to help me locate many of the links and images that I post to Yarn Bombing at Your Library.

But I really appreciate it when artists contact me to let me know about their projects, as happened with a Lorax-inspired Truffula Tree Yarnbomb created by Jenny Brown.

Blogging at Hi, Jenny Brown, Brown writes that this was the biggest yarnbomb she’d done by herself with opportunities to learn lessons. Her adventure installing the Truffula Tree Yarnbomb makes an entertaining read and as a fellow cyclist (who rides a yarn-bombed bicycle), I also appreciate Brown’s crocheted seat-cover.

Monday, June 15, 2015

‘Someone with Autism Loves Me!’

Heart keychain divided into four interlocking quadrants on the diagonal that in clockwise order from top, are colored yellow, light blue, dark blue or purple and red. A caption printed on the keychain reads, 'Someone with Autism Loves Me!' The keychain is balanced on a door handle, braced against the frame of the door.

My husband found a heart-shaped keychain with the caption, “Someone with Autism Loves Me!,” propped on our front-door handle, braced against the frame. He thought I might’ve left it for him, but I’m as mystified as he is concerning the keychain’s origin. For whatever reason it was left at our place, my husband is snagging the keychain because someone with autism loves him. But he hung it on our wall and so both of us can enjoy it.

EqUUal Access: Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry

The Accessibility Banner consists of a dancing chalice surrounded by six accessibility symbols: a wheelchair, signing hands, a brain, an ear, a Braille symbol and a person walking with a cane. The dancing figure was chosen because it symbolizes how we could all 'dance' if there were full accessibility for all. The surrounding double circles symbolize Unitarianism and Universalism. The heading words 'Accessible and Welcoming to All' are in an italic font to suggest or hint at the dancing theme.
The Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM) credentialing program is officially being released at the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly.

AIM was developed as a joint program of EqUUal Access (a group of Unitarian Universalists living with disabilities, their families, friends and allies) and the UUA. It builds upon a document that I helped co-author, “Accessibility Guidelines for Unitarian Universalist Congregations.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

RVUUF library: Books due back

It’s natural that this Library Assistant would support books being returned to the library, in this case the library at Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. From this week’s “News to Note” (sent to email subscribers and inserted in the Order of Service), Elinor Knight asks that books be returned to the RVUUF library before inventory time in August. She also announced that a Book Fair is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 15 after church. Can you help meet the library’s goal of 1,000 donated books?

Posted to RVUUFian Parents on Facebook

Thursday, June 11, 2015

‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’

Book cover, 'So You've Been Publicly Shamed' by Jon Ronson. Image depicts an old-fashioned image of a man's face, the letters of the title superimposed over pink graffiti smears across the eyes and mouth of the man's face.
An attempt at shaming directed against a stranger that showed up in my Facebook newsfeed led me to read Jon Ronson’s book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Riverhead Books, 2015).

I felt bad for the person depicted in the photo in my Facebook newsfeed. She made a poor decision in the past and attempted to put it behind her.

The photo campaign was an attempt to force this incident to the top of search results again, and I was profoundly disappointed that anyone I knew would choose to participate. Even worse, the campaign against this person is not an isolated case.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Religious Explorations student art exhibit

Animal masks cut out of paper plates arranged on yellow posterboard surrounding a sign that reads, 'Save the Endangered Animals!' Surrounding the posterboard are pieces of student artwork individually arranged on blue posterboard, including a picture of Francis, patron saint of the animals,  watercolor images and a collage cutout of magazine images of cats arranged on purple posterboard.

Religious Explorations lead teacher Liz Bianco and I hung student artwork Saturday in the Great Hall at Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

ALA Conference by bicycle or bus

How many library professionals will travel by bus or bicycle during the American Library Association conference (happening in San Francisco this year)? Sarah Stone, a librarian in the Collection Development Office at the San Francisco Public Library, has compiled tips for getting around via public transit, ride services and bicycling. Her essay was published on the official blog of the Association for Library Services to Children.

Cross-posted from Librarian on a Bicycle

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ableism affects all of us

Elsa S. Henry smashed Autism Speaks lightbulbs with her white cane instead of giving in to neighbors’ expectations that the whole street would “Light It Up Blue.” “Disability activism requires us to stick up for one another,” Henry says. “Ableism doesn’t affect one person or one group, it affects all of us.”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

‘See you in the library!’

Cynthia M. Parkhill's comic Bitstrips avatar, standing and waving in front of library bookshelf. The caption reads, 'Have a great summer. See you in the library!'
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips
There’s been a lot of reshelving books and “shelf-reading,” putting titles back in order on the shelves, during these final days of the school year. This comic status sums up my wishes for everyone: “Have a great summer. See you in the library!”

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ALA elections: Todaro and Feldman

I may have changed my designation in American Library Association membership from “Student” to “Library Support Staff.” But I retain the same interest in shaping ALA policy by voting in annual elections.

Friday, May 29, 2015

‘All About them Books,’ due back at library

It’s that time of the year in school libraries, in which books are due back and a final flurry of overdue notices are distributed. From media specialist Mary Evelyn Smith at Liberty Elementary School, Powell, Ohio, here’s “All About Them Books” (a parody of “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Public shaming is bullying

Cartoon illustration: Adults direct types of bullying toward Cynthia Parkhill's Bitstrips avatar. A woman stares at her from around the corner. One man talks behind his hand to a listener, who has a shocked look on his face. A woman with a disbelieving expression looks at her computer while a woman in the desk next to her looks over. The caption reads, 'Bullying survivor: What I imagine is happening.'
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips
A photo showed up Monday in my Facebook newsfeed as part of a deliberate campaign to ensure that the person in the photograph is forever after defined by the event depicted.

I am profoundly concerned — and even deeply disappointed — that anyone associated with me would participate in a public shaming.