December 15, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Ditch Holiday Programming | Opinion

Every year, youth services staff ask these kinds of questions: “Do you do a Hanukkah/Christmas storytime/program in your library? If so, what do you do?”; “Do you decorate your library for the holidays?”; “Is it important to represent all the holidays in the winter?” And every year, I get ranty about this.

DitchHolidayProgramming2This year, I’d like to challenge you to eliminate holiday-themed programming in your library. You may say, “It’s fun! People want it! I want it!” and I will say to you, “Lots of things are fun! People can get it for free in many other places! And I don’t care what you want—programs are for your patrons (all patrons), not for you!” If you love Christmas, use your programming expertise and plan something for your church or your friends and family—all of them willing participants who likely feel the same way you do.

Allow me to further explain why you should not provide holiday programs this winter, or ever.

You are not an expert on holidays. You cannot accurately explain the meaning behind Hanukkah, Christmas, or any holiday when a young patron asks about them. Nor should you.

If a patron asks about the birth of Christ, you would not tell them your personal beliefs. Rather, you would show them the wide variety of materials available on the topic. You would perform a reference interview to make sure you are answering their question as best you can with the resources you can access. Unless you plan on hosting community members to talk about the various holidays of their cultures and you plan on doing this all year round, just don’t go there. You run the risk of deeply insulting someone who celebrates a certain holiday if you present it inaccurately. This falls under the same category as offering medical or legal advice—just don’t do it! You are representing the library when you present a program on work time. And unless your library is coming out as Christian, you shouldn’t be presenting programs about Christian holidays (or any holidays).

Stop thinking from a traditional, privileged point of view. It often appears as if Anglo tradition is screaming, “It’s not fair! I want to do Christmas in the library!” in a Veruca Salt tone, stomping its privileged feet. However, it is not your right to celebrate Christmas in a public institution. It is your right to celebrate whatever you want on your own time and your job to help patrons find places, outside the library, offering celebrations or events around any holiday in which they might be interested. Remember that those who celebrate holidays during the winter do not need the library to help them celebrate.

Conversely, those who do not celebrate Christmas, specifically, have very few places (basically their own home, if they have one) where “holiday spirit” is not constantly in their face. The library should be one of these places.

We are not being diverse by including a holiday like Hanukkah in our themed winter programs, though we may think we are. Ask yourself, “Why Hanukkah?” Did Jewish patrons request this type of programming? Have you spoken with leaders in your Jewish communities? Muslim communities? Native Peoples? Indians? And on and on and on?

DitchHolidayProgramming1

Have you connected with any of these groups in your community? If you answered, “No” to any of these questions, maybe you should spend time building relationships instead of planning Santa’s visit. Do not ignorantly and selfishly pick holidays from non-Anglo cultures that happen about the same time as Christmas. Not cool, people. Celebrate diversity by allowing all people to participate in all library programs. I really like what Angie Manfredi, head of youth services at the Los Alamos County Library System, said on the “Storytime Underground” Facebook page in regards to inclusive, diverse programming: “…I have 10 pagan patrons and 100 Christian ones. Doesn’t it make more sense for me to have a program for the 100? But ya know? I don’t want to provide services and programs to the 100 people at the cost of 10. It’s that simple to me.”

Still not convinced? Let me paint you a picture. It’s Wednesday, and you’re nine years old. You come to the library every Wednesday for the library’s craft program. Today your mom says you cannot go. Today the craft is making Santas and reindeer, and your family’s religion prevents you from participating. The one place in the world that should be open and inviting for all has just excluded you. And as librarians, we have failed for allowing this to happen.

Step outside yourself this year, get creative, and offer programs in which everyone in your community can participate. If you are having a hard time explaining to patrons and staff why you are leaving Santa out of the library this year, here’s Angie on Facebook once again: “I have books for everyone; I’ll be happy to help you find them and even recommend some favorites. Please feel free to share them with your families and children and in your churches and ceremonies. But we are a public institution and we’ll be programming around snow so that every kid can feel welcomed, not just the majority.”

Finally, some food for thought from Mark Twain. “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”


EH_141120_HolidayProgramKendra Jones is a children’s librarian in the U.S. Northwest. She is a toddler-wrangling Twitter addict (@klmpeace) blogging at “Read Sing Play” and “Storytime Underground,”where she is a joint chief and creator of Storytime University.

Share

Comments

  1. I think this is smart. So many people believe Hanukkah to be a major Jewish holiday just because it falls near Christmas. It’s not. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are our most holy days of the year and they tend to occur in late summer/early fall. Celebrating other religious holidays in December just to appear “balanced” isn’t truly balanced, it’s biased. It assumes proximity to Christmas is what’s important. You’d have to be offering religious programming year-round to capture each religion’s most important reflections. And most of us aren’t looking to the library for religious fulfillment, anyway. We have places of worship for that. I do really appreciate this perspective, especially since it’s a tough one to discuss.

  2. Kell Brigan says:

    [This comment was deleted because it violates our Comment Policy.]

    • Joel Nichols says:

      [This comment was deleted because it violates our Comment Policy.]

    • Libraries are supposed to be inclusive. Which means that, even if you don’t like atheists and Jews and the supposed communists that are rapidly taking over your library, you have to include them. And try not to call them princesses.
      Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to my Good Communist meeting.

    • dan cawley says:

      I left my little red book at the circulation desk. did anyone find it?

  3. Deborah Vose says:

    This is a refreshing POV!
    Channel that good library staff energy toward exhibits, programs, etc that expand patrons’ worlds, not simply reflect them.

    And please buy and promote books, magazines, etc. that broaden Americans’ perspectives!

    • Kell Brigan says:

      So, how are you going to expand the atheist kids’ minds without exposing them to religious traditions and ideas?

      • The ONLY time we bring religion into programming is at the holidays. There is no reason for me to theme my winter storytimes around Christmas when there is plenty else to enrich the minds of my youngest patrons. In the winter, we talk about hibernation, snow, winter animals, climates different from our own… I don’t need Christmas based programming. No one does. If parents want their children to be exposed to the religious holidays of their faith, they have their churches and religious communities. I am in the library to serve ALL of my patrons, not just the Christian ones.

  4. I appreciate this point of view. The community I serve is made up of a wide diversity of religions and traditions both secular and religious, and I have many ways to serve my community that are more inclusive than having Christmas-type programming. We do have a one-off DIY gift making program in late November or early December in which kids make gifts such as home made picture frames, and other things which are not Christmas or other religious holiday oriented, but could be given as a holiday gift. We also have a Gingerbread Cookie decorating program, again not Holiday specific, just a reading of the story, some pin-the-button on the Gingerbread Man play, and other story-based activities, and then decorate the person-shaped cookie and eat it.

  5. I have heard the anti-holiday spiel before. In our community, several preschools that we serve, including Headstart, choose not to celebrate holidays. If you must not celebrate them because your community is against it, then fine-your job is to serve your community. However, the issue that I have always had with giving up the celebration of these holidays is that, by doing so, we are ignoring a big part of our community’s culture. Sharing holiday traditions helps us understand each other and learn about different family histories. There is also a big difference in talking about the secular versions of holidays versus talking about the religious point of view. Most families are okay with talking about Santa, even if they don’t celebrate Christmas, because he is just a fun tradition. However, you do need to always keep your community’s interests in mind. If you are alienating people because your holiday storytimes are over the top, it may be time to change your programming. But if you are alienating people because you are ignoring a huge holiday in our culture, it may also be time to change your programming.

  6. I am much more inclined to provide seasonal programming, as I work in an extremely diverse community whose many holidays I would never be able to accommodate. This is an interesting professional discussion, and heated debate can be useful. However, Kell Brigan’s antagonism and surly tone seem unfitting here.

    • Joan Raphael says:

      Hi Meaghan, Thank you for your comments! I was feeling very alienated and also somewhat intimidated by Kell Brigan’s comments.

    • Meaghan just wrote what I was thinking. I am truly disappointed in this article. I would never speak this way regarding ANY issue. The tone was offensive and it was difficult to finish the article. I think I would have been willing to delve deeper had the author taken a different approach.

  7. Joan Raphael says:

    Why do I vote for doing no religious programming? Has anyone heard of separation of church and state? Hint: it is in the constitution. I don’t think it is likely, but I do believe we are opening ourselves up as a public agency when we do religious programming. I feel excluded when I walk into a public place and there is Christmas/Santa etc. programming. Sorry folks, but Santa IS Christian. You can have gingerbread and snowmen/women without Christmas. You cannot have Santa without Christmas. Tara is absolutely correct in stating that Hannuka is a minor Jewish holiday. Including one item devoted to “Hannuka” is being just as biased as doing a Christmas program and is likely quite condescending. I have memories of being asked to lead a Hora dance as part of the “Holiday” programming at school as a kid. No one bothered to find out that the Hora has nothing to do with Hannuka. The ONLY way to respect all holidays is to observe none publically and make the library inviting to all people, even if not Christian and most likely caucasian.

    • C. Zamora says:

      Joan, Your points may be valid, but please cite the phrase “separation of church and state” in the Constitution. Hint: It’s not there. The first amendment prevents Congress from passing laws which abridge the free exercise of religion, but “separation of church and state” was a phrase used in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson and does not appear in the Constitution.

  8. Santa is Christian? That’s interesting, I’ve never heard that perspective before. I guess if you viewed him as a modern version of St. Nicholas I could see how you’d make the connection between him and the church. However, I grew up in a conservative Christian home and we never believed in or celebrated anything having to do with Santa. Most conservative Christians that we knew viewed Santa as anti-Christian because he took focus away from the “real” meaning of Christmas. I also knew Christians who wouldn’t put Christmas trees in their house, because apparently there are ties to pagan symbols involved. I’m not taking a stance on any of these things, just pointing out that there are a huge spectrum of views out there. I’m not sure it’s always as cut and dry as “this holiday symbol is clearly religious and this one isn’t.”

    In my library we have a few super popular annual holiday programs and I’m pretty sure a mob would form if we tried to cancel them. Thankfully, they’re all one-time events (not part of a weekly program that someone would feel bad about having to skip) and they’re fairly generic – making gingerbread houses, holiday card making (with supplies to make cards for ALL December holidays), that type of thing. When we’re pulling books for weekly storytimes we make a point to choose things that have more to do with the season than the holidays. So spring storytimes might have books about bunnies and eggs, but not “Easter” books, fall storytimes might have some spooky stories mixed in, but not specifically “Halloween” books. This seems to be a good balance for us between having fun, seasonal storytimes, without unintentionally excluding people from the shared experience of a good story.

    • Yes, mainstream American Christianity regard Santa as Christian. Even as they argue about the rest of the package.

      Jews don’t celebrate Christmas or put up Santa decorations.

      Or was that a rhetorical lead in?

  9. Cynthia Lewis-Jessup says:

    A few of these commenters need to get out a little more…Christianity in America is not “just” an “Anglo” or “Caucasian” thing – in fact, it’s presently being transformed into a majority third-world religion – though why Anglos/Caucasian shouldn’t be served as a constituency, I don’t know. The majority of America is diverse and a majority identify themselves as Christian. My public library is not too far away from a very large and active Hispanic church, where they’d be really surprised to hear that Christianity is about white people. Likewise the Christians in the African-American community…And the Christians in the Arabic community at my church… And the Korean-American Christians at my friend’s church!! In any case, having a Christmas themed program isn’t teaching religion, it’s offering something for those who might be interested. Just like the Lego program doesn’t “exclude” those who couldn’t care less about little plastic blocks, a “holiday” program can simply be skipped by those who don’t celebrate either culturally or religiously. As SL notes above, much of the “Christmas” holiday is cultural, not religious. (Haven’t you seen Olive, the Other Reindeer? A more secular book would be hard to find…but it’s meaningless outside of our cultural Christmas). I wouldn’t go to Israel or Saudi Arabia and expect them to cancel their majority religious/cultural celebrations because I’m not of that faith or culture; no reason the majority shouldn’t be served here in public libraries in the US with appropriate programming.

    • “…no reason the majority shouldn’t be served here in public libraries in the US with appropriate programming.”

      But there is a problem in this line of thinking. If I don’t have Christmas/holiday-oriented programming, I’m still going to have programming. I’m still going to have storytimes and craft hours and Lego club and after school extras. It just won’t be centered around a holiday. This isn’t an, “either we serve them or we don’t” issue, it’s an, “either we serve them this way or we serve them this other way” issue. If holiday programming works in your library, then that’s fine, but I don’t think it’s fair to frame it as libraries having holiday programming serving their patrons while libraries that don’t have it are not serving their patrons. That simply isn’t the case.

      • I agree with you, Nikki – these should be community-based decisions made by professionals who know how to consult with and understand community perspectives.

      • It doesn’t have to be either / or, Niki.
        It can be both/ and.
        Both holiday programming and non-holiday programming. Does every program at your library appeal to 100% of your patrons, and can be participated in by 100% of your patrons? What if you offer yoga and you have disabled patrons, and they are offended? What if you offer some food or snacks in your programming, and food-allergy folks can’t have any? What then Niki?!

    • Well said Cynthia! We shouldn’t have knitting groups, not all like to or can physically knit because of arthritis etc. We shouldn’t show films, some may not speak that particular language or even be able to see! This can go on and on….any activity automatically is exclusionary since ALL can’t possibly be included in everything!! I agree that the tone of the article was an attempt to be indifferent but ended up being surly!

    • Totally agree Cynthia! If parents don’t want their kids to go to the Santa visit, it’s easy enough to go a different night. Christmas has a major secular side, many many non-Christians celebrate it as well.
      From PewResearch: Dec. 18, 2013:
      “Nine-in-ten Americans say they celebrate Christmas, and three-quarters say they believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. But only about half see Christmas mostly as a religious holiday, while one-third view it as more of a cultural holiday. Virtually all Christians (96%) celebrate Christmas, and two-thirds see it as a religious holiday. In addition, fully eight-in-ten non-Christians in America also celebrate Christmas, but most view it as a cultural holiday rather than a religious occasion.”

  10. I think the range of responses to Kendra’s opinion piece demonstrates quite clearly that a one-size-fits-all approach to anything in public librarianship is not tenable, even with the best of intentions (not wishing to exclude people is a good intention). Whereas Kendra never states whether or not she is an atheist (as someone accuses her) I doubt her persuasions with regards to religion weighed into her opinion. From what I am able to understand from her piece, she seems to be motivated by a desire to be inclusive of everyone during the “winter holiday” season, as she is aware that some community members neither celebrate nor appreciate majority holiday expressions, secular or otherwise. This may be a perpetually elusive goal, but that doesn’t make it a wrong goal. Also, as someone else suggested, having a goal like this doesn’t make her an atheist – it makes her someone who believes that having programs about holidays that have roots in majority religions might exclude people, for a variety of reasons. I trust that she knows her community and that she is capable of making that determination based on what she knows about her community. While others have resorted to name-calling and capital letters only “yelling”, I am, in disagreeing with Kendra’s assertion that holiday programming has no place in public libraries, being respectful of her opinion and her context for decision making in this regard. I know perfectly well that Kendra is “not the boss” of me so I don’t need to defend my decisions, past or present, about holiday programming to her or anyone else, other than my own actual bosses. I know the processes by which my colleagues and I determine community interests and the decisions that result from our work with community members, many of which reflect specific cultural interests that may or may not spring from one religion or other from time to time). I would like to say to Kendra, and everyone else who jumps on the “holiday ban-wagon” across the public library world – please respect your professional colleagues enough to expect them to be capable of making appropriate decisions that reflect the community contexts in which they work. My opinion is that a very small minority of professional librarians make “ignorant” and “selfish” decisions about what holiday programs to design and deliver. Maybe I am just generally less cynical about what motivates children’s librarians to create responsive programs, but I prefer to believe that my professional colleagues want very much to include everyone, are definitely not striving to assimilate anyone, and are open to exploring various strategies that may enhance inclusiveness in their own communities that they know best. Broaching a topic like this will always get people on the defensive (which is what I see reflected in some of the comments). However, giving an opinion and a rationale for your own decision-making should not be presented as mandate for everyone else to follow lest they reveal themselves to be privileged, selfish and ignorant. If you want people to talk about holiday programming, community diversity and inclusiveness, let’s open the door to a dialogue, rather than giving those who have made different decisions a reason to get on the defensive. No one likes being told what to do, nor do they like being told that what they have done in the past is evidence that they are both ignorant and selfish because it happens to sometimes reflect their own majority culture. However, people who do present holiday themed programs might not mind talking about what they do, how and why they do it and so forth and then (eventually, maybe!) come to a new way of thinking about this issue because of the exchange of ideas within a community of peers who are clear about giving them the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge their mutual professionalism in this regard.

  11. With all due respect, I think it is a mistake to throw Christmas in the trash. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I want my library to be a reflection of the local community. If the patrons by and large celebrate Christmas, then I believe my library should participate. (I am an atheist, by the way). The library should not be a place where we allow political correctness to dictate what kids are and are not exposed to. Parents should be the filter; not us.

  12. Thanks for bringing this up, Kendra! It can be a touchy subject for many libraries. I just wrote a blog post about different ideas for holiday programming, but you make some good points against it. I think the key to having holiday programing is to present it like a cultural lesson. Librarians are not religious or cultural experts, but we are good at research and collaboration. Holidays are just an excuse, like a movie release, to explore books and resources on a topic. Religious practice should be separate from a government institution for sure, but we should encourage public education on any topic.

  13. “Still not convinced? Let me paint you a picture. It’s Wednesday, and you’re nine years old. You come to the library every Wednesday for the library’s craft program. Today your mom says you cannot go. Today the craft is making Santas and reindeer, and your family’s religion prevents you from participating. The one place in the world that should be open and inviting for all has just excluded you. And as librarians, we have failed for allowing this to happen.” And the exact same thing happens when our therapy dog visits, and little Johnny is allergic to dogs. The same thing happens when we don’t buy the hardcover book because we are using that book’s money on a downloadable audio instead; little Johnny with no device nor internet can’t read it. And the same thing happens when we have Lego club on Saturday, instead of during the week because then the Orthodox Jewish family cannot come. Exclusion happens whether we want it to or not (gosh we try so hard for not, don’t we!!), but it happens. Sometimes we don’t see it or know about it, and I think this is the entire thrust of ‘no holiday programs’ – just remove it all together and we won’t exclude (offend) anyone…well, except those that wish we had some kind of fun event because they can’t afford to take their kid to the paid event at the local mall, or don’t want to drag their kids through the department store to see Santa and have to worry about purchasing something. Yep, we’ve now excluded them too, because the library’s events are FREE and open to anyone who WANTS to come. It’s simple really – if you don’t want to come to THIS particular program, then don’t. There will be something equally fabulous some other day that you WANT to come to, not to worry.

    Every single person I know working in children’s services does the best they know how to do for their patrons. We don’t all have to do it the same way, nor do we need to admonished for the choices we have made in our own individual libraries – many of which we don’t even get a say in! Own the programs you offer, understand why you offer them, do the best you know how for your community. They will show their support and will also let you know if you’re ‘doing it wrong’.

    • Very well said, Kate! I agree wholeheartedly.

    • Kate, I also loved what you said! So much so in fact that I quote you in a blog post I wrote in response to this one. I hope that’s okay with you! The post is here: http://jbrary.com/jumping-off-holiday-ban-wagon/

      • Lindsey, of course you may use my words – it is totally fine with me :) I will admit that this particular point is what struck me the most in exploring the holiday programming debate. Exclusion absolutely happens every single day and in so many more ways that most librarians care to think about. I still do not agree with holiday programming being the one exclusionary thing that must mark the line in the sand. Offering a balanced array of options for your patrons is the best way to go in my opinion.

    • Gee Kate, maybe the mom and kid should just skip the craft table that day. It seems like a perfect “teachable moment” – – Mom could say “90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, but we don’t because…. Here is what our family believes / endorses…..”
      It’s not really like the library has excluded them and said “Moslems / atheists etc CANNOT come to the library today.”
      Sometimes I have skipped activities with my kids at the library (Day of the Dead I feel like is too weirdly gruesome, which BTW is pretty darn Catholic – – how’d that get in the library?). Should I have raised a stink? What if I don’t believe in vaccinations, and there is a free shot clinic adveritisement in the library? Did the library violate my beliefs?

  14. I absolutely agree with you. Now if you could only convince my (Jewish) director that we don’t need to do Santa, every year. BTW, I have book displays honoring Dwali, Eid, Ramadan, the Jewish New Year, lunar new year, All Saints Day, Dia de Los Muertos and more. In my library, no one gets left out.

  15. I look at the holidays as a time for children. Children with open minds and happy faces. Storytime at the library is one of those times children can enjoy. Having a variety of books and materials on any religious holiday is great but whatever is organized as an activity for children can be open to all no matter what it embraces. It is not to offend but to enlighten that the world holds different people of all religions. If a parent doesn’t want to attend a certain holiday program then they don’t for whatever reason. However other people have the same right to attend the program and enjoy it too.
    I’m sure not all the people involved in the Macy’s parade are one religion or of one belief but they still participate or watch the parade. Open minds to all cultures and respect what other traditions or religious beliefs are even if yours are not like them.

  16. I first began working in a library while pursuing my degree in youth ministry in a very conservative Christian university. But I did not grow up in a Christian household. We celebrated Christmas and it was just a time of year completely devoid of any religious connotation. We spent time together as family, we decorated, we exchanged gifts and none of it had anything to do with a baby being born in a manger. And yet every year when the library I work at puts up a Christmas tree I do always pause and wonder how, excatly, it is that it is not in violation of the separation of church and state establishment clause, in large part because I know that every library I work at receives public funding and is a public entity. We have always had strict meeting room policies stating that there can be no religious or political meetings. Of course every library removes all of the religious connotations typically from the Christmas themed celebrations – Santa, presents, snowflakes, reindeer remain while crosses, mangers, etc are removed. There are a lot of popular icons associated with the holiday that can or can not have a religious meaning. To be honest, most children growing up in Christian homes don’t even understand the religious symbolism in things like candy canes and Christmas trees, which were actually traditions from somewhere else (often Paganism) that were incorporated by the Christian church.
    As a Christian, my faith is in no way impacted by whether or not the grocery store clerk wishes me Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, because my faith is about the prayers that I say in my closet (a reference to the Bible) and fellowshipping with mutual believers in my church and home bible studies. I recognize that I live in a very diverse world and that not everyone shares my faith. In fact, even in the Christian church we have hundreds of denominations that disagree on many of the finer points of what it means to be a Christian.

    I have no problem at all with public libraries that are publicly funded not participating in or promoting a holiday which can be construed as religious. It can be exsclusionary. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, are not permitted to participate in any type of holiday or birthday celebrations. People who are looking to have their faith and souls nourished can do so in a variety of ways that don’t have to involve the library and are still generally free of charge.

    I feel that my job as a librarian is to provide all people to the information resources that they need, but programming and decorating is something all together different. Unless we are doing a really good job of doing programming that appropriately represents every single faith out there, then perhaps we shouldn’t do any faith based programming at all. There are so many other ways that we can provide broadly inclusive programming that meets a large portion of our community’s needs. Libraries are not a spiritual education center and we shouldn’t duplicate those services, we have our own unique and important role to fill in our communities.

    Secularism isn’t about discriminating against Christians, it about remaining neutral in those things that we actively seek to promote so that we aren’t pushing one primary agenda or putting the needs of one group – even if that group is a majority of our population – over the needs of the others. Library programming is an affirmation, we spend staff time and library resources putting together a program and saying that this is something we value and are actively endorsing. It is different then collection development, where our job is in many ways more neutral. I can have material in my library and stand firmly behind the statement that the library doesn’t necessarily endorse what is being stated by the author. But when we put together a library program we are actively endorsing something; our library logo on that marketing sheet is in fact promotion. That is something for us to consider.

    I think this is a very thoughtful post that leads to some important discussion. It is obviously something that I have wreslted with myself professionally.

  17. FYI, a library in Canada plans to tackle this debate within their Philosopher’s Cafe, open to all.
    http://library.portmoody.ca/index.aspx?page=24&recordid=3025

  18. How about we do what works and is appropriate for our own diverse communities and not tell each other how to do our jobs? Instead of using so much “you should”, maybe try “this is what I do and here’s why”. Ugh, can’t we all just get along?

  19. Hi Kendra,
    “Step outside of yourself this year, get creative, and offer programs in which EVERYONE in your community can participate” – could you please name several specific programs that would meet the requirement that EVERYONE can participate?

    My belief is that the library should have something for everyone and also have something that offends – then we are doing our job of representing diverse viewpoints. This applies to programs and materials.
    Bringing in an expert on Christianity – well, that leads to having multiple experts on Christianity – as every sect has different beliefs – so who should I pick – the Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Pentecostal, 7 Day Adventist, – well you get the picture. The same goes for the Jewish faith, Muslim faith, etc…
    Holiday programming is only one type of the many diverse programs that libraries offer and bear in mind we offer programs, materials and services that meet the needs of our various communities. My community is different from where you work.

    If we want to talk about other holidays – Veterans’ Day – well there are anti-war community members that object to programs that honor Veterans. Should we not honor those who gave their life for our country and our freedoms?

    We must take care not to be so dogmatic. Our role as librarians is to champion the creation of community knowledge and pleasure, inspiring confidence in members of all ages to foster relationships with diverse informational and cultural resources. This means providing services, programs and materials that open the diverse world of ideas and cultures to our community so that tolerance can advance more harmonious relationships between different belief systems. This is also the founding principle of librarianship – that we act as “The People’s University”.

  20. Brenda Martin says:

    It’s getting to be I can’t seem to read an article about youth librarianship without some mention of Angie Manfredi of Los Alamos Public Library. While I generally agree with her p.o.v., there are thousands of other youth librarians out there. Writers are starting to seem a little lazy to use her as the sole voice.

    • Beth Saxton says:

      Nobody benefits from calling out people like Angie and Ingrid who raise questions and start discussions whether you you agree with them or not. Start a blog! Write an article! Do a guest post for ALSC or Storytime Underground. Feel free to put the time in to make your voice heard.

  21. I like to theme my winter programs about commonalities, e.g. “Gifts and Giving” which encourages kids to think about generosity and those less-privileged at this holiday time of year. Today we made wrapping paper and I loved seeing the creativity expressed (I put out all 50 of our big stampers — snowflakes and trees, ice cream cones and bicycles and sea horses co-existed and cavorted across their papers in a rainbow of colors!) http://carolsimonlevin.blogspot.com/search/label/Winter%20Holidays

  22. So, would Valentine’s Day count as a religious holiday? I ask simply because I went to Catholic school growing up so have no idea what’s religious and what’s not when it comes to many holidays. Odd, I know.

  23. Ha ha ha – – I bet every single person posting here works in an institution that closes for – – wait for it – – the Winter Snow Holiday that we have every December 25th…

  24. As a non-christian and youth services librarian, I appreciate all the programming that is open to interpretation…winter craft making, celebration of light, etc. Raising a non-christian child, you notice how ubiquitous the x-mas holiday is. There is almost no place one goes in December that does not display x-mas decorations, Santa Claus figures, baby jesus etc. Suffice it to say…there is plenty of that happening in the schools, shops, clubs, restaurants, gathering places (etc) and homes for every child to get full exposure…I say let (encourage) public facilities and services pursue the middle road…provide a diverse range of materials and programming without further echoing a cultural phenomena that is so well represented. I do not understand how a library can “hurt” it’s standing in the community by not presenting x-mas programming. Being a neutral go-to platform for the entire community should be our calling…the month of December can be a celebration of seasons, light (in the northern hemisphere), weather, environment, habitats, food, with an open interpretation and welcome to any and all rituals…but it does not need to be programmed by library staff…others could take that up and use library space (mtg rooms) to engage in specific cultural rituals. There are likely more non x-mas participants than you know that would feel a sense of relief to find a neutral space that is open to them during this period.

  25. An interesting post raised by the author. One that is highly idealistic and impractical. Life is all about choice and implicit in decision making is discrimination, ie in choosinggthe X I discriminate against y. To take ownership of the choices patrons make is absurd. It is their decision to participate or avoid an activity or program. To attempt to program for everybody is to program for bland.