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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Strong Girls School at ALA

group of girls facing away from the camera, holding hands and jumping
One of the programs I attended at ALA this year was called Strong Girls School.  Nancy Evans, from the public library in Levittown, New York discussed a program that she developed after teen girls in a library writing group clamored for it.  As a writing sample for the kids, she brought in a blog post by Maureen Johnson about photo-shopping.  Turns out the girls were more interested in talking about the content of the blog post than in the writing style.  Turns out the girls had a LOT to talk about related to body image, gender expectations, sexism, rape culture, and more.

Combining this interest and desire for information and conversation about important topics with sobering statistics about gender inequality, prevalence of sexual assault, and other depressing topics, Nancy decided that there was a need for a program.  She describes it, and some of the resources, in this Programming Librarian blog post.  She talked, both in the program and in the blog post, about her nervousness about having a gender-specific program, but also discussed her reasons for finding it to be worthwhile, despite being exclusive.  It would be ideal, she agreed, to also have a series of sessions about what it is like to grow up male, with all the challenges and societal expectations that this includes.

The girls who attend the 6-8 week sessions are very engaged and want to continue the series as a discussion group indefinitely.  She offers it once a year, but has enough interest that she could run it more often.  Wonderful collaborations for additional free programming have grown from this program.  Hmmm...it seems pretty interesting--I'm wondering if anyone around here is interested in doing it.

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