Cognotes 2016 Annual Conference Highlights - (Page 1)

COGNOTES CONFERENCE&EXHIBITION o d n a l r O ORLANDO, FL JUNE 23-28, 2016 HIGHLIGHTS Edition #ALAAC16 Jazz Touches the Soul By Michelle Kowalsky, Rowan University, NJ L ibrarians shared their appreciation of transgender teen Jazz Jennings on June 27 as they asked her questions about her experiences, read letters sent from others at home, and described their emotional reactions to her story. "It's hard to find good friends who will love you for who you are, and who you can be comfortable with and open up to," said reality TV star Jennings, who is the recent author of Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen (Random House, June 2016). "It's sometimes strange when people I meet know more about me than I know about them," she said. Jennings received audience applause when describing her strategies for helping people realize that transgender people are essentially just like everyone else and deserve to be treat- ed equally. "Some people are still ignorant, so we must continue advocacy work so that people will learn more," Jennings explained. Jennings recommended that the best thing librarians and educators can do is to help others to not feel alone. By offering support and respect freely to those you meet, you can help to remove fears that no one will love and accept them. Librarians can also share books with diverse characters, help to avoid repeating stereotypes, and maybe even write some new stories themselves. When asked about her future, Jennings was encouraged by several members of the audience to continue on to college. "Reading books and watching shows on my computer immerses me in a world where nothing else matters and I can relax," said Jennings. "I will just have to keep sharing my story until we come to that point where we are accepted." Holly Robinson Peete, RJ Peete, and Ryan Peete Share Family Life with Autism By Sara Zettervall, Hennepin County Library A ctor Holly Robinson Peete thought she was blessed with a perfect "instant family" when she gave birth to a twin boy and girl in 1997. But she and her husband, former Detroit Lions quarterback Rodney Peete, soon faced the unexpected challenge of an autism diagnosis for their son, RJ. "We call it 'Never Day,'" she said, referring to the day of diagnosis, when she was told her son would never speak, play sports, or have meaningful relationships. Peete decided to do everything she could to help her son. On June 27, Peete, RJ, and RJ's twin sister, Ryan, took the stage as part of the ALA Auditorium Speaker Series to share some of their struggles and triumphs as a family united in autism advocacy. One of the first steps Peete took as an advocate was cowriting a children's picture book, My Brother Charlie. Ryan, an elementary school student at the time, sparked the idea for the book by saying she wished other kids her age could understand more about RJ, but she hadn't been able to find a book to share in the library. Peete also found inspiration » see page 13 JUNE 23-2 8, 2016 AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION Reciprocal Fandom for Libraries from Hollywood By Michelle Kowalsky, Rowan University M ovie star and children's author Jamie Lee Curtis spoke to hundreds of librarians on June 27 during the Closing Session as if they were her longtime personal friends, recounting poignant library stories and amusing reactions to events in her life. She closed the conference with a lively and candid talk about the impact of libraries in her life outside of her career in the "showoff business." Curtis spoke effortlessly about the value of libraries from her own experience as a learner and as a parent. She explained that she creates her own personal curriculum of library materials when she becomes interested in a topic, reading nonfiction, fiction, biographies, and primary sources, as well as viewing movies and documentaries. Her current research is on Native Americans and the American immigrant experience. "One of my favorite errands was going to the library with my children and their wagon to pick up the maximum number of books we could check out," Curtis said. "For all of you who have ever sat with a child on your laps, sharing a storybook together, you know that the connection between you and the child as you turn the pages is one of the most beautiful aspects of being a parent," she explained. Incoming ALA President Julie Todaro described Curtis as one of the most outspoken and consistent advocates for libraries, » see page 15 2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS

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Cognotes 2016 Annual Conference Highlights