Reflecting (from Pixabay)

I was listening to the news today as I got ready for work, all about primary results and election prognostications and what-is-happening-to-the-Republican-Party discussions.  All very interesting, and important stuff.  Then a report came on about a program for children in the Washington, DC area who are regularly exposed to gun violence.  The interviewer talked with two nine-year-old boys who attend this program where they make art to help them process the violence they deal with in their neighborhoods.  As the kids spoke about the impact violence on their lives, I ended up crying into my pancakes, and thinking about kids who are dealing with unspeakably difficult situations. It’s easy for me to keep that information in the back of my brain, since my own life is so protected from this.

Though right here in this region there isn’t a lot of gun violence, there are still kids in every community who have to manage hunger, family violence, anxiety about where they will be living, discrimination, and isolation.  These are huge problems, and after listening to a report like the one I heard today, I am reminded to think about them more in the context of my work.  Libraries have a role to play in helping kids have positive experiences to mix in with the adverse ones.  And the more we educate ourselves about the reality of the families in our communities, the more able we will be to respond with services, collections, programs and policies that support kids who need it the most.  Of course, we can’t take care of many of the most basic problems and needs they are facing, and the problems are complex and hard to sort out.  But we still need to think about it!

One of my goals this year is to learn more about the extremely complex issues of poverty, and try to think about ways we, as libraries and librarians, can be part of a responsive community.  I bet that some of you are way ahead of me, I’d love to hear from you.  And watch for more on these topics.