Reading Across America: Was Seuss Racist?

Dr Seuss birthdayRead Across America is celebrated each year on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Seuss Geisel.  For years, Dr. Seuss has been the go-to book for early readers–books that kids loved and would actually read.  Recently, Dr. Seuss has fallen out of favor with  many educators because of the way he portrays people of color.

In a study published earlier this month in Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, researchers Katie Ishizuka and Ramon Stephens found that only 2 percent of the human characters in Seuss’ books were people of color. And all of those characters, they say, were “depicted through racist caricatures.”

Last year when Melania Trump tried to give some Dr. Seuss books to  the Cambridgeport Elementary School Library in Cambridge as part of National Read Day on September 6, the librarian turned the gift down because she considered the books to be racist.  These books were the same titles that Melania had read to her son when he was young.   This was the first (but not the last time) I heard about Seuss as a racist.

Seuss is supposed to have have written “an entire minstrel show in college and performed as the main character in full blackface.”  And Suess wasn’t even a politician….

Seuss is not the first American children’s author who has fallen out of favor because of racism.  Laura Ingalls Wilder, the long time popular author of the Little House series, was labelled a racist last year because of the way her books portrayed Native Americans.  Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn has long been on and off banned book lists for years.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been contested for many reasons. Some readers object to the strong and sometimes racist language and think it’s inappropriate for children. However, most educators think given a proper context the book is a great read.

When is the right time for child to read books that many percieve to be racist?  Does the child need to be old enough to understand that harmful stereotypes are not true and may be hurtful?  In the case of Dr. Seuss, could his books that feature animal characters and not humans be more acceptable?  ( I have heard of people who think that Cat in the Hat is racist so that may not be a suitable idea either.)

Do you think that Seuss was a racist and should not be taught to children?



March Days to Celebrate

women's history monthMarch is  Women’s History Month.  It began as Women’s History Week in Sonoma County, California in 1978.  In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”  The 2019 Women’s History Month theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.” The theme honors “women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society.”

Teen Tech Week is March 3-9.  ALA is promoting promoting Good Digital CitizenshipTeen Tech Week since the digital footprint lasts forever and can have unforseen consequences when applying to college, jobs, and clearances later in life.

March 16 is Freedom of Information Day.  It is celebrated on the birthday of James Madison, 4th President of the United States and Father of the the Constitution.

Freedom of Information Day is dedicated to that very concept, with the Freedom of Information Act being enacted on July 4th, 1966 and coming into effect a year from that date. It declared that every person has the right to get information to federal agency records that are not protected by one of nine exemptions, or special law enforcement record exclusions. This put into law the very concepts that James Madison had held so dear, and ensured that the citizens of the United States were able to obtain that information to which they were entitled.

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17.  It is the one day of the year when everybodyst patrick claims to be Irish.  Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick“), is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick ( c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Spring begins on March 20.  Also known as the Vernal Equinox.  From Wikipedia, “an dogwoods pink and whiteequinox is commonly regarded as the instant of time when the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun. This occurs twice each year: around 20 March and 23 September. In other words, it is the moment at which the center of the visible Sun is directly above the Equator. ”

March 20 i also International Day of Happiness.  This year’s theme is Happier Together. The International Day of Happiness is celebrated worldwide every March 20, and was conceptualized and founded by philanthropist, activist, statesman, and prominent United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien to inspire, mobilize, and advance the global happiness movement.  Don’t worry, be happy.



National Puppy Day is celebrated on March 23.  It was established in 2006

Puppies are the most trusting and joyous creatures on the planet.
Oh, to be more like a puppy.
~Colleen Paige

Not What It’s Cracked Up to Be

crack plumberAccording to a September 30, 2014 Cosmopolitan article by Charles Manning on “12 Types of Cleavage and They Say About You”  rear or butt cleavage

3. Butt Cleavage: You’re ambitious.
Yeah, your butt is showing. So what? You’re focused on what’s in front of you, not what’s behind you. Let ’em stare. You’re moving forward and all they can do is follow in your wake.

I went to the gym today and saw a lot of butt cleavage.  It ain’t purty.

On the butt-meter scale,

Nice firm, rounded butt in tight jeans – 5 points

Saggy or flat butt – 3 points

At least I know you wear underwear – 1 point

Hint of cleavage – 0 points

Hairless butt cleavage- minus 1 point

Hairy butt with clean cleavage –  minus 2 points

Hairy butt with embedded dirt (I hope that’s all it is) – minus 10 points.

Crack kills.

Butt crack disgusts.

Jokes cracked can entertain.

Farts cracked can empty a room.

He who flies upside down and crashes plane dies with crack-up.  (Fake Chinese cookie fortune.) crack pool guy--no cleavage

Winter of ’41

LandscapeTo many of us Winter ’41 probably means Pearl Harbor.  Last December 7th was the 77th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.   Ray Chavez, the oldest Pearl Harbor survivor, passed away peacefully in his sleep on November 20, 2018.  He was from Poway, north of San Diego, California.

President George Herbert Walk Bush, 41st president of the United States, and youngest Navy aviator to serve in World War II, passed away on November 30, 2018.   The last “Greatest Generation” president, he was in marked contrast to what may be the last “Baby boomer” president.  The accolades at his funeral and other memorial services stressed his lifelong service to country despite his patrician background and upbringing.

GHW Bush as president

In the last years of his life, President Bush was asked how he’d like to be remembered. He didn’t pause — and he avoided, as ever, the first-person pronoun, what his mother used to call the “Great I Am” — and replied: “That we put the country first.”

tom bradyForty-one year old Tom Brady is playing in his ninth Super Bowl tomorrow.  He has only won five of them.  The Patriots are predicted to beat the Rams tomorrow in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

The USS Midway (CV-41) Carrier Museum in San Diego is  named after the Battle of Midway, the pivotal battle in the Pacific against the Japanese.  The Midway was the longest serving carrier in the 20th century.  She was christened on 10 September, eight days after World War II ended on September 2, 1945.  For the next 47 years, she served the country including three tours off the coast of Vietnam.  Her pilots shot USS Midway banner.png

down the first and last MiGs during that conflict.  She was the Persian Gulf flagship during Operation Desert Storm, and was decommissioned on April 11, 1992.  She was the first forward deployed carrier, when she pulled into Yokosuka, Japan on October 5, 1972.  Today she is the most successful ship museum in the world.  She was opened to the public in San Diego on June 7, 2004.

February Days to Celebrate

For a short month, February has more than it’s share of holidays and other days to celebrate.

Ground hogThe month kicks off with Ground Hog Day on February 2.  Also known as Imbolc: Summoning of the Flame.  Is Winter on it’s way out?  Will Spring arrive early?  Only the Ground Hog may know for sure.

blackhistorymonthcivilrightsFebruary is also Black History Month and Library Lover’s Month. Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in the U.S., is an annual observance in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It began as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

Library Lover’s Month “is dedicated to the people who love whole buildings devoted to the reading, housing, organizing, categorizing, finding, studying and otherwise loving books.”  It’s not all free and on the Internet.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

saferinternetdaySafer Internet Day is February 5. “This year’s Safer Internet Day (SID) celebrations will take place on Tuesday, 5 February 2019. The campaign’s slogan, “Together for a better internet“, is a call to action for all stakeholders to join together and play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, and especially for younger users.”

Presidents figure prominently in February.  Abraham Lincoln’s, 16th president, birthday is celebrated on February 12th and Presidents Day (which is celebrated around George Washington’s (1st president) birthday on February 22) is February 18th this year.  An easy way to see a portrait of either president is to find George’s portrait on a $1 bill and Lincoln’s on a $5 bill.


Love Your Pet Day, celebrated on February 20, is a good way to remember your dog, cat, snake, fish, turtle, horse, cow, amadillo, hamster, gerbil, frog, rock or whatever type of pet you have.


Happy February.


Volunteers–What Supervisors Want

Before I retired, I worked in base (similar to public) libraries and academic libraries.  In both cases, we used volunteers.  Sometimes the volunteers were family members and other times they were special duty soldiers (SDs)  who were temporarily assigned to the library because they were awaiting reassignment or had some type of physical reason that they needed to be assigned limited duty.

People volunteered for a variety of reasons.  Some high schools required their students to complete a number of volunteer hours as a pre-requisite for graduation. (They made great volunteers.) Occasionally a parent would want a child to get work experience or spend part of the summer doing something constructive, especially if the child considered him or herself too old for the day camp run by the base youth activities.  A few adults really liked the library and wanted to help make it a better place.  The SDs were assigned to the library and did not have a choice.

Take away one:  Do you want volunteers?  If so, what kind of volunteers do you want?  How much time commitment do you want your volunteers to make?  How much training can you provide, if needed?

In the base library, the most popular assignment was usually working the circulation desk, back in the days when books were still stamped and checked out manually.  The ability to alphabetize book cards by the author’s last name, stamp the book with the date due, add the book to the correct borrower’s card, and separate the checked out books from the books being returned for check in  were all prized.  The volunteer also had to be polite to all customers and willing to help them find materials or fetch a staff member to help them.  There was not much of a dress code.

Take away two:  Attention to detail is very important when filing manually.  An item checked out to the wrong person or incorrectly could remain an issue indefinitely. It affected the library’s ability to determine who had checked an item out or whether  it had actually been returned.   Customer service is also important.  A patron should not be kept waiting because  a volunteer prefers to visit with his/her friends at the circulation desk.  

Shelf reading (putting the books back on the shelf in Dewey Decimal order) was a frequent volunteer task and one of the most unpopular because it was boring and could be dirty or uncomfortable.  There was a lot of standing and stooping as the shelf reader progressed from the top to the bottom shelf for each book case and then had to repeat the steps on the next book case. Both the teenagers and the SDs could be relied upon to avoid this assignment whenever possible.

Take away three:  A volunteer can be requested to do a job, but an unwilling volunteer will not do the job well or for very long before deciding this is not a good match.  Both the volunteer and the organization need to benefit from the transaction.  Sometime explaining the value of the task may make a temporary difference, but not if the volunteer really does not want to do it.

At Ft Story, we had SDs for varying periods of time.  Sometimes they were problem soldiers that the first sargeant wanted to temporarily reassign.  Othertimes they were soldiers with “profiles” that limited their abilities to do their military jobs.  These soldiers often had medical appoitments.  The soldiers were all young and became very adroit at working the system.  Many of them had reasons why they could not be at the library on a particular day or by a specific time.  One of them had physical therapy twice a week for two hours.  He continued to vanish during those scheduled times long after the PT ended (we found out afterwards.)

Take away four:  As a supervisor, find out what you can realistically expect from any volunteer.  If the volunteer is part of a program, find out who the program counterpart is.  Is that person willing to support you, if there is a question about the volunteer’s job performance or attendance?  This is important for both SDs (the military) and special work programs for disadvantaged people.  (I had both excellent and problem volunteers/employees paid by some other program) in both categories.)

At the National Defense University, we did not have SDs, but we did have volunteers.  Some volunteers were library school students completing an internship.  The interns were usually  good.  They got professional experience and sometimes a job offer if their graduation coincided with the Library having a job vacancy.  We had one volunteer who had already graduated but did not yet have a job.  She was a friend of one of the employees and was such a chatty-Kathy that even her friend would escape to parts of the library where she was not allowed.  She was also a disaster as a volunteer–she took forever to complete any task and her friend would have to clean up the mess after the project was ended.

Take away five:  Attitude and aptitude are often more important than actual skills or experience.

In both the academic and the base libraries,  previously identified volunteer projects was always a good idea.  What new project or event would you like to see happen, that the staff does not time to do?  Can you partner with another department to provide training or an activity that would benefit both of you?  Story hours, youth job experience, book clubs, literacy programs, technology petting zoos, seasonal displays, local celebrations or anniversaries are all opportunities for the library to shine or perhaps use volunteers.

Take away six:  It should not take more staff time to set up a volunteer opportunity than it does for the volunteer to complete the task.  The opportunity should benefit both the library and the volunteer.  A variety of previously identified projects offer the volunteer a choice on things that you would like to see happen.

What was your experience either as a volunteer or as a supervisor of volunteers?




National Peanut Butter and National Compliment Day–January 24, 2019

peanut butter and jelly sandwichUnbeknownst to me when I decided to have peanut butter toast rather than cereal for breakfast, today is National Peanut Butter day.  Although it is also National Compliment Day, I do not need to be complimented for inherently realizing that today was National Peanut Butter day.

From Holidays Calendar:

National Peanut Butter Day is a holiday which falls annually on January 24th and celebrates the tasty food spread made from grinding up the legume Arachis hypogaea. It’s a food paste that’s been enjoyed since the 19th century. Today, it’s used to make everything from the iconic peanut butter & jelly sandwich to peanut butter cookies, cakes, and chocolate bars. This is the second peanut butter based holiday celebrated in the U.S. The second one is called National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day and is celebrated on March 1st.

george washington carverAlthough George Washington Carver is famous for his work with peanuts, peanut butter has been around much longer than that.  George Washington has also been credited with inventing peanut butter but the invention dates back to the Incas.

Technically speaking, peanut butter can be traced all the way back to about 1500 B.C. This is when Incas ground peanuts down to make a paste. However, many historians don’t consider this to be when peanut butter was invented because that original concoction was less like the butter of today and more like a paste. There is also the fact that they often ground the peanuts up with maize and put the resulting product in a drink. The Aztecs also ground peanuts into a paste they used to treat toothaches.

What is your favorite peanutbutter dish? Is the the ubiquitos pb&j? Peanut butter fudge, cake, icecream. Do you prefer creamy or crunchy? Homemade/natural which separates at room temperature or homogenous which always keeps it’s original form?

In honor of National Compliment Day, practice a random act of kindness (RAK).  Compliment someone on their appearance, a parent or a child for the child’s lovely behavior, a server who has provided exceptionally good service, a member of the miltary or a veteran for their service to our country.  Give a friendly wave or a nod and smile to a pedestrian who looked both ways before crossing the street or the driver who let you merge during rush hour.  Come up with your own list of compliments you have given or received today.

Volunteers–What We Want, Part 2


Pictured above top (l) Archive I in DC, middle (l) Archive II in College Park, bottom (l) Shuttle at Archive II, (r) box containing typed decklogs for the USS Midway 1945-Mar 1946.

After I moved to Central Virginia, I was still able to volunteer for the Midway Library remotely. My shipmates on the Midway arranged a schedule where I could remotely log into the library before the ship opened (thanks to the 3 hours difference between the East Coast and the West Coast). I could access the automated library system to catalog (if they sent me a list of titles ahead of time and were willing to answer questions about titles I was uncertain about), prepare bibliographies, and research a chapter about the Vought FU4U Corsair for a forthcoming book the library is going to publish about planes that flew from the Midway over her almost 47 year career.

Living 2-1/2 hours south of DC, it was feasible to drive to Northern Virginia, catch the Metro into the District, take a free shuttle from the Archives downtown to the Archives in College Park, MD, and spend the day copying Deck Logs onto a thumbdrive.  (I usually combined the trip with an opportunity to see old friends and visit old haunts from the years I lived  and worked in the DC area.)  I upload the thumbdrive to an external drive on the Midway when I got home.  I have been doing this monthly.  I have also taken pictures of battleship presentation silver at the Smithsonian.

Take away four–Think outside the box–does a volunteer have to be onsite to provide value to the organization?  Is there anything the volunteer can do from home or some other location that would be beneficial to both the volunteer and the organization?  Possibilities include remote access, research, outreach, marketing, or providing a service on site (eg. a classroom, a senior center, a hospital) as appropriate to the organization.  Many organizations want the volunteer to start onsite so that both parties know the volunteer’s interests and capabilities and whether the volunteer is a good match for the organization.

Miller Center frontOnce a week, I volunteer for the Scripp’s Library at the Miller Center of Public Affairs for UVA.  I copy catalog books using a Mac laptop and the Koha Integrated Libary System.  It is the first time I have used  an Apple computer or the Koha open source ILS (so you can teach an old librarian new tricks).  I copy cataloging records that have previously been created by the Library of Congress or the University of Virginia.  The solo librarian had to get permission from the Volunteer Co-ordinator for me to be able to help since most of their volunteers are students. (However, most students are not professional librarians with over 30 years of experience who also know how to catalog.)   The work is pleasant but I have been introduced to very few people and mostly sit in the library in a corner, cataloging the books.  I am regularly told how much I am helping and the empty shelf that was previously full of book donations indicate the progress that has been made in the past year.

Take away five–Make the volunteer feel welcome and a part of the team.  Let them know about what is going on in the larger organization. Thank them for the work they are doing  and let them know it does make a difference.

To be continued:  What an organization wants in a volunteer.

Volunteers–What We Want, Part I

One of things I have done since retirement is volunteer, both in San Diego and now in Central Virginia.  In San Diego, I volunteered for the San Diego Public library, the National Park Service, and the USS Midway Carrier Museum Library.  In Central Virginia, I still volunteer remotely for the USS Midway and  for the Scripps Library at the Miller Center.


library volunteers delivering a mlk message
Volunteers put on a MLK Jr story hour at Joint Base San Antonio, TX

At the public library, I shelved DVDs.  On the plus side it was simple, no one had to take time to create a project for me, and there were always DVDs to shelve.  I had a schedule, but I could have shelved DVDs at any time.  On the minus side it was boring–necessary but not a good use of my skill set.  Fortunately, the children’s librarian took an interest in me and had me tutor a remarkable young man one hour a week.  (He did not really need a tutor but his mother wanted him to have it.  He was an immigrant child with excellent English, strong sense of duty, and wonderful manners.  When he saw me come in, he would stop what he was doing, including leaving a game with his friends or participating in a library program.  I usually told him to come back when the event was over.)


Take away one–Make the volunteer feel welcomed and try to give them a task that will enrich them as much as it will the organization benefitting from their time and abilities.


open bunker day re-enactors set up a military checkpont at cabrillo
Volunteer WWII re-enactors set up a check point like there would have been when the tip of Pt. Loma was a Costal Artilley Base during WWII

At Cabrillo National Monunment, the Park Service referred to us as VIPs  (Volunteers in Parks),  a wonderful acronym that already started with you feeling like a Very Important Person.  Unlike the library which had strong rules about volunteers not doing what a paid employee should be doing, the Park Service treated us as equals, not free grunt labor. (Both Rangers and VIPs share a lot of the scutt work from clean-up to manning the Visitor Center.  We all realized that the Rangers had the final word and they were always careful to consider volunteer opinions and recommendations.)  We could do inside work, outside work, behind the scenes work, frontline work–almost anything we felt comfortable doing from leading nature walks, historical re-enactment at the Lighthouse, the WWII coastal artillery batteries, the Age of Discovery exhibits,  at or in the Tidepools, to working with records and files.


Take away two–As  much as possible, treat the volunteers as an intregal part of your team.  Don’t treat them as free grunt labor.


maddy and nan getting thier docent graduation certificates from ceo mac maclaughlin
Maddy and Nancy graduating from Docent Training.  Volunteers can get the training, even if they do not plan to become a Docent.

At the Midway Library, I served as a Lead Librarian one afternoon a week.  The Midway Library is totally manned by volunteers.  The only paid position, is our boss, the Mueum Curator. While I was at the library, I usually  cataloged, but I also helped people who came up  to look themselves or somebody else up in the Master Crew List.  I could wander around the ship learning about different parts of the ship, its history, its crew, and its varying missions.   Anything we learned could be of use, when a guest stopped us anywhere on the ship with a question.  Each section wore a different colored golf or tee shirt and kahki pants/shorts/skirts–but the guests would have no reason to be aware that our uniform indicated our volunteer speciality.  They only knew or cared that we were part of the Midway and could help them with a question or a problem.  We were always invited to take advantage of any learning opportunity on the Midway.


Take away three–Let the volunteer learn as much about your organization as possible.  You never know who will ask them a question.   They are also a valuable marketing opportunity to get your organization exposed to groups that may not be part of your normal constituency.

To be continued…..