Ready or Not

You can’t run away

From these styles I got, oh baby, hey baby

Cause I got a lot, oh yeah

And anywhere you go

My whole crew’s gonna know baby, hey baby

You can’t hide from the block, oh no

–The Fugees “Ready or Not”

When I started this blog a year ago, it was a simple experiment in discipline.  Since I was asking my students to turn in timed writing every week, I felt it would be good for me to do the same–write every week–to make time for it, rather than excuses for why I couldn’t do it.  One year later, I can confidently say this blog  has far surpassed any goals I could have had for its creation and readership and at that, I feel truly, and most sincerely humbled and blessed.

I definitely was not ready for the outpouring of love that has been shown for the blog (visitors from 71 countries!!) and for the many different projects that are so near and dear to my heart.  I advocate for changes that have evidently been the long held hopes and wishes of so many, for forward movement in how we serve children, and consequently show up, for the cause of collective liberation.

I also was not ready for the wellspring of opportunity that has opened up in the form of people I’ve met who have been tremendous blessings in my life.  I can no longer see my future without them, and to be honest, I don’t really know how I survived my past…

So first and foremost, I want to thank Janet, and Caroline for so patiently teaching me to be the librarian I am becoming.  This work is so important and I know it cannot be done alone.  I stand on the shoulders of giants (Clara Stanton, Charlemae Rollins, Courtney Young, Carla Hayden, and Wanda Brown–thank you for the important reminder Knikole Taylor) and I do not forget that for one second.  I pray every day that I will make those who have invested in me proud.  Shouts to my #Educolor collective family for being my true north, and to my soul family on the Montbello campus: you know who you are and what you mean to me.

I wasn’t ready for the nearly $40,000 worth of grant and bond/mill money that would be entrusted to me to build a diverse collection for our library community.  I have no idea when the library will see that kind of money again, so it’s important to me to build a collection that is representative, and one that will last.  I remain forever thankful for the guidance and support of our incredible collection development specialist (Suzi Tonini) in DPS.

I wasn’t ready for the people management skills needed to manage and coordinate library programming for over 100 teachers and 1,700 students in the three (five) schools–three middle schools and two high schools–that share a campus.  A couple of months, a few community forums, field trips, and many, many class periods after the library first opened, we are just beginning to find our stride.  I can say (cautiously) that folks know how to request time in the library, where to check the calendar for events, and students know what to expect when they are in the space.  I can say that students from a campus that was divided eight years ago (when Montbello High School closed) are able to come together in a beautiful way as part of Project LIT Montbello (shout out to my #ProjectLITCommunity family) and as scholars in a shared space that everybody loves.


I wasn’t ready for how much I would miss having my own group of students to love, learn beside, and care for, or for how much I would love being everybody’s teacher, everybody’s favorite librarian (even though I’m the only one) and everybody’s sounding board when they just need somebody to listen or recommend a good book that will make the world disappear for a time.

I would be remiss if I fail to mention that I remain so grateful to the principals in the building, especially Rhonda Juett who has backed me all the way from when we were on the African American (in)Equity Task Force keeping it all the way one hundred.

and finally…

I was probably the most unprepared for how I would feel at the outpouring of love and support from adults in the community (The Tattered Cover, Curls on the Block, House Representative James Coleman, and DPS School Board Representative Jennifer Bacon…among so many others) all of whom have shown themselves to be invested in making sure our children have all that has been denied them for far too long from the very beginning.  The fight is long, and far from over, but we have each other, and we will win.

And so, for those of you out there surviving without libraries in middle and high schools across America, know that I’m developing blog posts, articles, podcasts, and other content for three concurrent fellowships that I can only dare to hope will open hearts and minds and help people wake up to the fact that though we are living in the age of technology, BOOKS and LIBRARIES still save lives.

Know that it IS possible for communities to come together in unprecedented ways, with students, and teachers leading the way, to put their differences aside, and turn back the tide of library defunding and removal that threatens to engulf us all.

Know that whether you are in a small town that feels like it’s the middle of nowhere, with a small collection of books that travels between schools in the back of somebody’s trunk, or a bustling city center full of “progressive” thinkers who believe children don’t really need books anymore and that more technology will save us all–I am fighting for and beside you.

I wasn’t ready for any of this, but it’s all happening anyway, so here I come…

I think I can safely say I’m feeling ready to fight for this new beginning.

Some stuff and thangs I’ve been doing over the last few months (resources for you):

Shakespeare #DisruptTexts summary, Twitter moment, and Twitter chat

The POCPD directory is finally out there!  Please share widely!

The Educator Collaborative Fall Gathering presentation: A YA Multicultural Renaissance: Texts and Strategies for Every Reader

The Educator Collaborative Closing Session w/Mari Copeny AKA Little Miss Flint AKA MY PRESIDENT Support her book drive for Flint Kids HERE

Podcast w/Rethinking Learning and Barbara Bray (I love the way this turned out!)

Denver Post article about our library (in case you need to know what it will take to fight for yours)

Librarianship for the Digital Age (mini-presentation given within DPS)

Presentation w/The JLV from TOCA at CU Boulder School of Education–to spark conversation at your site(s).

Graphic novels purchased for our library w/generous grant funding from ETLS in DPS.

Bond/Mill texts purchased for SY 18-19

…More soon, including #NCTE18 (insert lots of scary face emojis here because…that schedule)

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Published by: Julia E. Torres

I am a mother, high school Language Arts teacher, activist, world traveler, and reader. Here you will find the story of a woman making her way in the world and making her mark, one word, and one classroom at a time.

Categories #Educolor, Libraries1 Comment

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