The holidays are upon us again and I wanted to take this time to talk about inclusive holiday celebrations. Most people love holiday time! Adults flutter around busily preparing for festivities and children are abuzz with excitement. While we should have an opportunity to learn about and share information about the important holidays and celebrations in our lives, celebrating specific holidays in a library environment may exclude someone. Some people, based on religious or personal beliefs, do not celebrate holidays or birthdays. That doesn’t mean that holidays have to be forbidden! By connecting holiday themes, you show that holidays are an expression of cultural and religious pride, and help with understanding the commonality of certain human feelings, celebrations, etc. You might look at the way lights are used in the holidays of Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Santa Lucia Day and Diwali, for example. As a reminder, the use of religious symbols such as a cross, menorah, crescent, Star of David, crèche, symbols of Native American religions, the Buddha, among others, that are part of a religious tradition is permitted as a teaching aid, provided such symbols are displayed only as an educational example of the culture and religious heritage of the holiday and are temporary in nature and should not be used as decorations.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my updates and being on this path of learning. I wish you all the happiest of holidays and look forward to seeing you in the new year!


  • Indigenous Reads Rising: Indigenous Reads Rising includes a variety of best practices articles and where to find more books by Native authors and illustrators, as well as extensive book lists organized by age category and topic. They also provide resources for Native writers and illustrators interested in honing their craft and applying for grants and mentorships. Indigenous Reads Rising is managed by the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books. Here are some great links on their site:
  • Inclusive Collections for Supercharged Storytimes by Webjunction: This collection of diverse booklists can help inform your storytime choices and ensure that the children who come to your storytimes experience a sense of belonging and broaden their worldview. Included are links to selection tools, recommendations for implementing inclusive programs, diversity in childrens literature, and webjunction webinars.
  • How to Translate Websites in Any Browser: All of the most popular browsers come with translation tools built-in on desktop and mobile, so you don’t have to limit your reading to sites in your own language.
  • 2023 Best Books list from American Indians in Children’s Literature
  • PLA’s Public Libraries magazine has two great articles this month:
    • Evaluating Connected Learning in Libraries: In this article we discuss the process of evaluating and improving connected learning programs in libraries through an equity lens, and provide accessible strategies that take day to day challenges into account. These strategies will be helpful for anyone who wants to evaluate how well their programs are serving community members.
    • Creating Value from Data: This article is a series of stories of how just a few departments at Arapahoe Libraries (Colorado) use data and what they have discovered
    • along the way. Their EDI take on summer reading programs is especially interesting.
  • A New Toolkit for Program Challenges: ALA’s ALSC tasked the School-Age Programs and Services (SAPS) committee with creating a toolbox focused on program challenges. The toolkit is split into three sections: before, during, and after a program challenge. For each stage, they suggest areas that may need special attention, identify specific steps you can take, and provide adaptable templates for creating a program policy, planning a program, and responding to a challenge.

Continuing Education:

  • Policy Writing and Implementation With an Equity Lens – December 6 at 1 pm Register Here Using a recent Behavior Policy revision process as an example, as well as current Collection Development policy work, Adrienne Doman Calkins will share ways to approach policy writing as a process rather than a product. Join us to learn about the processes and pitfalls in library policy writing and implementation. Get tips for using an equity lens, applying trauma-informed concepts, researching, the writing process, building feedback loops, and a holistic approach to implementation.
  • WI Libraries Talk About Race: Understanding and Challenging Implicit Bias in Decision Making

– December 7 at 1 p.m. Register Here
Scholars and researchers continue to demonstrate that we all carry implicit bias involving social identities like race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, class, and religion, among others. This unconscious bias can work against an organization’s stated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals, affecting everything from hiring and promotion decisions to how staff work with patrons, the larger community, and each other. This workshop addresses what we’ve learned, and how we can use this knowledge to challenge implicit bias in all our decisions.

  • Library services to recently arrived Latino immigrants – December 11 at 1pm Register Here

REFORMA will present a virtual event to help libraries across the country better serve recently arrived Latino immigrants. For that purpose, librarians from public libraries and in cities with large concentrations of recent immigrants will share strategies and resources they are providing to this population. In addition, representatives from an immigrant- serving non- governmental organization will provide relevant information on the topic.

  • De-escalation and Recovery Webinar – December 14 at 1 pm
    Over the past several years, studies have begun to reveal significant trauma experienced by staff in public libraries due to aggressive patron behaviors, including verbal abuse, harassment, physical safety concerns, and drug and alcohol issues. To help address some of the challenges faced by library workers, this workshop will explore concepts of secondary traumatic stress (STS), burnout, and compassion fatigue and identify strategies to manage difficult work dynamics. Resources and tips on de-escalation, setting healthy boundaries, and engaging in ethical practice will be discussed. Finally, ideas on creating a supportive culture will be shared.
    Registration Link:
  • Moving from Allyship to Leadership: Agency, Accountability, and Emotional Intelligence

– January 11, 2024, at 10 a.m. Register Here

As organizations continue to build practical knowledge around addressing microaggressions, minimizing implicit bias, and developing allies, it won’t be enough to just create as many allies and champions as possible. Changing entrenched, biased systems and practices requires leadership at every level of an organization. And leadership around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will require more than management skills. As DEI leaders (whatever our organizational role may be), we will be required to build agency for social change among our colleagues and model how to hold ourselves – and others – accountable. This can feel challenging when we are among friends, but even more daunting in a work setting. Using a frame of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), we identify how we’re already showing up as allies – and how we can develop as relational and brave DEI leaders. With an interactive focus, participants will practice having the challenging – and necessary – conversations that mark DEI work.


Diverse Holidays in December:

December is Universal Human Rights Month. This month people all across the globe are encouraged to come together and stand up for equality, justice, and the dignity of all humans. The Universal Month for Human Rights started in 1948 when the United Nations wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

December 1: World AIDS Day, commemorating those who have died of AIDS, and to acknowledge the need for a continued commitment to all those affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Rosa Parks Day honors an American Civil Rights hero twice a year on February 4th and December 1st.

December 2nd: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery draws attention to slavery that still exists in the world. This day also focuses on the eradication of contemporary slavery.

December 3: International Day of Persons with Disabilities, designed to raise awareness in regards to persons with disabilities in order to improve their lives and provide them with equal opportunity.

December 8: Bodhi Day, the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment, also known as bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the solemn belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

December 8-15: Hanukkah, also called The Festival of Lights, commemorating rededication of Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem at time of Maccabean Revolt

December 9: International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime seeks to raise awareness of the Genocide Convention. It’s also a day to commemorate and honor the victims of genocide. The Genocide Convention was the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 9 December 1948 and signified the international community’s commitment to ‘never again’ after the atrocities committed during the Second World War.

December 10: International Human Rights Day, established by the United Nations in 1948 to commemorate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

December 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a religious holiday in Mexico commemorating the appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531.

December 15: Bill of Rights Day, the national celebration of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, which spell out our rights as Americans.

December 16-24: Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration in Mexico commemorating the trials Mary and Joseph endured during their journey to Bethlehem.

December 21: Yule Winter Solstice, celebrated by Pagans and Wiccans. The shortest day of the year represents a celebration focusing on rebirth, renewal and new beginnings as the sun makes its way back to the Earth. A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the sun reaches its highest position in the sky.

December 22: Śrīmad Bhagavad Gītā Jayantī is the date that Lord Krishna revealed the Bhagvad Gītā to Prince Arjuna while on the Kurukshetra battlefield. It is recorded in the epic Mahabharata and as a sacred text of its own. It is celebrated annually on Shukla Ekadashi, the 11th day of the waxing moon in the Hindu month of Margashirsha.

December 23: Festivus, a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 as an alternative to the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season.

December 25: Christmas Day, the day that many Christians associate with Jesus’ birth.

December 26: Boxing Day, a secular holiday celebrated in the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and South Africa.

December 26-January 1: Kwanzaa, an African-American holiday started by Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate universal African-American heritage.

December 26: Zartosht No-Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathushtra), a day of remembrance in the Zoroastrian religion. It is a commemoration of the death anniversary of the prophet Zoroaster, or Zarathushtra.

December 31: Watch Night, a day for Christians to review the year that has passed, make confessions, and then prepare for the year ahead by praying and resolving.
Sherry Machones (she/her)
Director – Northern Waters Library Service (NWLS)
Inclusive Services Consultant for NWLS and Wisconsin Valley Library Service