Happy new year y’all! This month is National Braille Literacy Month and I just wanted to highlight a few things you may not know about Braille:
  • Many sighted people don’t realize most individuals who are proficient in braille learned it in school as children. It’s uncommon for people who lose their vision as adults to become fluent enough in braille to read large amounts of text, like an entire book.
  • Most legally blind children in the U.S. don’t use Braille resources. Believe it or not, 34% of the more than 59 thousand legally blind American children are considered non-readers.
  • Braille itself is not a language. Most languages have their own Braille system. Louis Braille created this system of reading around age 12. Braille became official in 1824.
  • Braille exists for feet, too! Businesses have to meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. One of those standards is to have Braille on the ground to alert the visually impaired that they are approaching a dangerous area. You know those big, bright, yellow strips you see at the ends of sidewalks and sometimes as you walk out of a store or restaurant? That’s Braille for your feet.
Take care of yourself and try to stay warm,



  • Indigenous Authors Monthly Book Subscription : Raven Reads is a 100% Indigenous-owned and women-run company that creates subscription boxes for people who want to explore Indigenous literature. Their monthly book subscription focuses on new releases and debut authors from Canada and the US. The company has invested more than $500,000 Canadian ($366,000 US) into Indigenous businesses and authors since its founding. Children’s subscriptions and seasonal boxes are also available.

  • American Indians in Children’s Literature Annual Book List : Each year, AICL puts together a list of books we recommend, that we call “Best Books.” Our emphasis is on books by Native writers and illustrators published that year. This year, they are departing from our goal of populating the annual Best Books list with recommended books published in that year and will be listing books they recommend that were published in any year.

  • Programming with Purpose through Community Engagement : Programming with purpose means that ideally every program we offer has some kind of goal for our community behind it. Interested in goingbeyond this article and working with underserved patrons in your community? Take a moment to visit the LSUCTC Toolkit for more recommended resources.

  • Nearly 3,000 people registered for PLA’s town hall to discuss public library threats, safety, and library worker trauma : The recording of this event is now available for free on the PLA website. Additional resources are also available, including: ALA resources on safety, wellness, and trauma-informed care; ALA resources on intellectual freedom and advocacy; public library policy guidance and examples; and resources from the Department of Justice Community Relations Service.

  • Stephen T. Riedner Grant for Life Enhancing Library Programs for People Living with Dementia : This $2,500 grant is designed to provide seed money for new library programs that directly serve your patrons living with dementia.  Applications can be submitted until Feb. 17, 2023.  You do not need to be a member of the RUSA subdivision to apply.

  • Accessibility in Libraries – A Landscape Review : An ALA report about the history of accessibility in libraries, the current landscape, and resources for your community.

Continuing Education:

  • Pre-recorded webinars to view at your convenience:

    • Promote Community Engagement and Challenge Prejudice with a Human Library (WebJunction) The idea of circulating ‘human books’ first emerged in 2000, in Copenhagen, Denmark, as a way to help grow community understanding of the diversity of the human experience, locally and on a global level. The Human Library® model seeks to create safe spaces for dialogue where topics are discussed openly between human books and their readers. Join us to gain insights from a public and academic library using this innovative and impactful model to create meaningful community dialogue. Visit: https://www.webjunction.org/events/webjunction/human-library.html

    • Receptive to Race: Normalizing the Discussion of Race with Children in Libraries (Colorado State Library) Research shows that children notice race at a very young age, and often draw erroneous conclusions if no one speaks to them about it. With a focus on story time, programming, collection development and user services, we will discuss and model ways librarians can talk about race and racism in age-appropriate ways with children. Visit: https://www.librarieslearn.org/calendar/receptive-to-race-normalizing-the-discussion-of-race-with-children-in-libraries

  • Cultivating Racial Equity & Inclusion: Using XR : The XR Equity & Diversity Playbook was constructed for libraries to explore how to use virtual reality (VR) and discuss equity and diversity through an “immersive experience.”

  • Classes from UW Madison’s iSchool:

    • Trans-Inclusive Librarianship, Feb 20-Mar 19

    • Navigating Book and Program Challenges for Public Libraries, Mar 20 – Apr 30

    • Designing for Accessibility, Mar 27 – Apr 30

    • Services to Homeschoolers, Apr 3 – May 1

    • The Next Chapter: Programs and Services for Older Adults, Apr 17 – May 14


Diverse Holidays in January:

January is National Braille Literacy Month. The observance raises awareness of the importance of Braille to the blind and visually impaired community. As audio technology progresses, the use of Braille dwindles. January is also National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month bringing together law enforcement and organizations across the nation in an strive to eliminate human trafficking. Join the effort to raise awareness and prevent human trafficking in your community.

January 4:  World Braille Day. World Braille Day commemorates Louis Braille’s birthday on January 4, 1809. This day highlights the importance of braille as a link to literacy for many people who are blind or visually impaired.

January 5:  Twelfth Night, a festival celebrated by some branches of Christianity that marks the coming of the Epiphany

January 5:  Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs who initiated the Sikhs as the Khalsa (the pure ones) and who is known as the Father of the Khalsa

January 6:  Epiphany or Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day), a holiday observed by Eastern and Western Christians that recognizes the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus twelve days after his birth

January 7:  Christmas, recognized on this day by Eastern Orthodox Christians, who celebrate Christmas thirteen days later than other Christian churches because they follow the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian version of the Western calendar

January 7:  Mahayana New Year, a holiday celebrated by the Mahayana Buddhist branch on the first full-moon day in January

January 11: National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness was designated by the United States Senate in 2007. President Barack Obama increased awareness by declaring January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month in 2010.

January 13:  Lori-Maghi, an annual festival celebrated by Sikhs commemorating the memory of forty Sikh martyrs

January 14:  Makar Sankranti, a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India

January 14: The Orthodox New Year is widely known as the Old New Year and is marked as January 1 in the Julian calendar, which was used before the Gregorian calendar

January 15: Pongal is a traditional South Indian harvest festival, and is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar year

January 15:  World Religion Day, observed by those of the Bahá’í faith to promote interfaith harmony and understanding

January 16:  Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorates the birth of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and an activist for nonviolent social change until his assassination in 1968.

January 19:  Timkat, a holiday observed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians who celebrate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River on Epiphany

January 25/26: Vasant Panchami is a holy day dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, patron Goddess of knowledge, music, arts, science and technology

January 27:  The International Day of Commemoration to remember the victims of the Holocaust; the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945 and UN Holocaust Memorial Day  and (sundown to sundown):  Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time to “mourn the loss of lives, celebrate those who saved them, honor those who survived, and contemplate the obligations of the living.” — Former President Barack Obama


Sherry Machones
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Director – Northern Waters Library Service
Inclusive Services Consultant for NWLS and WVLS