Column Description: The Nerd Word is here at the crossroads of libraries and pop culture. We’ll be talking about comics, gaming, fandom, and how we’re bringing them to our libraries. We’ll also be talking about pop culture and advocacy: how do you advocate for your communities through a pop culture lens? Do you look for popular materials in different languages? Make sure your collections are diverse and inclusive? Fostering a love of fun and play is one of the best parts of what we do: let’s share how we do it here at The Nerd Word.

Welcome back to The Nerd Word! Did you make it to NYLA 2022 this year? There were some great panels on how we incorporate pop culture and advocacy in our libraries. It was exciting to be around such a dedicated and innovative group of colleagues, and I came back to my library refreshed and recharged!

The Panel Discussion on Book Challenges got me thinking about how, living in Metro New York, I’ve taken the right to read for granted. I’m able to recommend books like Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker, and Jerry Craft’s New Kid to my library folx without so much as a bat of the eye: banning doesn’t happen here, right? We’re downstate! But our library system made the news – TWICE! – when protestors showed up at two different branches for Drag Queen Storytime, and it hit me: it doesn’t matter where you are; the right to read is under attack, and our training and expertise puts us in the crosshairs. What happens when “concerned citizens” borrow and “lose” materials with what they deem questionable or offensive content? When they challenge materials that threaten their world view? How do we make sure that our readers know where to find the information they need?

For me, it’s bibliographies. Bibliographies are valuable readers' advisory tools, sure, but these days, they can be critical in helping readers locate the resources they need. Make a bibliography zine, so your readers can slip them in a pocket or a wallet: a book or DVD and a description per page, and where in the library they can be found; add a page for links and phone numbers to outside resources. And for every book that goes “missing”? Buy another copy. Write grants. Check your shelves for titles in hiding. Speak out. But keep those bibliographies ready for your readers, because those books save lives.

Rosemary Kiladitis (she/her) is a native New Yorker (almost – she arrived here at 5 days old, having been born in Hollywood, Florida) and a self-confessed bibliomaniac with fond memories of burning out many an Itty Bitty Book Light as a child, reading under the covers well past her bedtime. She currently reads by her tablet light when everyone else is asleep. The excitement of rediscovering her childhood favorites – and discovering new favorites! – with her own kids led her to children’s librarianship after a little over a decade in book publishing. She received her Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University in 2013 and is an Assistant Community Library Manager at the Corona branch of Queens Public Library, where she dreams of world domination through storytime. She lives in Queens, New York, with her husband and an assortment of kids and pets.