Cognotes 2016 Annual Conference Highlights - (Page 1)
JUNE 23-28, 2016
Jazz Touches the Soul
By Michelle Kowalsky, Rowan University, NJ
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
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
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
Reciprocal Fandom for
Libraries from Hollywood
By Michelle Kowalsky, Rowan University
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
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Cognotes 2016 Annual Conference Highlights
Cognotes 2016 Annual Conference Highlights