I won’t get to listen to the NCAA basketball competition known as March Madness; but if games are what people want, the librarians are ready to serve. The award-winning Ann Arbor District Library closed at 6 p.m. on Friday, but patrons have already received two newsletters. Some services will still be provided online such as downloadable books or by phone. No drop-offs. No fines. No over-due items.
The most recent newsletter includes information about how to sign up for an online game that is similar to the game that library patrons enjoy during the Summer when children are not in school. Participants earn points to use later.
Librarians might also want to start a version of the popular Battle of the Books that has children read a certain number of books as a team and then compete against other teams. When I was a child a very long time ago, we did not compete all the time as children today are expected to do. We were encouraged to read a certain number of books,, give a brief book talk to the librarian to prove that we read the book, and then were awarded a sticker or large seal to put on a certificate. I still have my elementary school certificate in a frame somewhere.
I believe that literacy and the “soft skills” will get us through these difficult times. It is, after all, STEM and science that got us where we are today—and will, we hope, get us out of it. Technology, however, has earned my highest respect as it is keeping us connected.
Book Bound Bookstore in Ann Arbor sent customers information about how they will have curb service for sales after they closed. Customers can call ahead and use credit cards. If there is no list of bookstores that are providing these services, perhaps the libraries can add a link. Gift cards for these bookstores would make great gifts for kids and rewards for good behavior. Michigan will be providing two carry-out meals to low income students. Why not books? Or gift cards so students can buy books online?
Why I am experiencing my own “March Madness”:
1. The test for immigration is not available in Braille.
2. There are no self-driving cars that we were promised. How are WE supposed to get to virus testing places when even bus services are being stopped or limited in places like Detroit and Ann Arbor? How are WE supposed to get to drive-in banks and restaurants?
3. Why aren’t independent living businesses promoting the sales of Braille erasures that will allow the sighted world that does not need to feel the dot on the number five on credit card keypads use them safely? The Braill erasure is like a ball point pen that does not have a pointed tip. Check out registers already have pens when people need to write their signatures.
The blind and visually impaired who have lived with social distancing due to discrimination and a lack of funding have a right to be angry when they see so much money now being passed by Congress to save the airline industry, Stock Market, and banks. They should pass a law that remove the high interest rates that pay-day lenders are allowed. They can encourage banks to eliminate their high interest loan fees and reduce them to 0% for anyone who is receiving Medicare or Medicaid. Why? Because most of us who went into credit card debt did so by paying for dental and vision services that are not covered by insurance. Or we went into debt trying to be self-employed before we learned just how many roadblocks government regulations would put in our way. HUD housing, for example, dos not allow residents to have a business in their apartments such as babysitting, tutoring, or an online business. HUD housing does not allow a resident to put the address on a business card. In other words, HUD residents can be employed from home when companies don’t discriminate and if the company’s software works with screen-reading or other adaptive software but not if they are self-employed from home.
One more gripe: I know I have more advanced degrees than one person needs; however, I looked into The University of Michigan Ph.D. program in English and Education because it would be such a good match for the research I want to do. I was told by both the department and the office for students with disabilities that I would have to take the Graduate Record Exam. It could not be waived. Not only would that be a waste of time. It would be a waste of money. I did not need to take the GRE to be accepted into two M.A. programs at Central Michigan University or the Ph.D. program at Michigan State University. Nor did I have to show GRE scores when I was invited to give talks at The University of Michigan School of Public Health or the School of Library Studies. The University of Michigan, “The Leaders and the Best.” I don’t think so.
How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age is available from the Braille and Talking Book Library. I stopped reading it when I got to the part that said we should not correct, criticize, or complain. Sorry, I want to win REAL friends. For now, I am waiting for a cure and a vaccine for stupidity—including my own.