With Veterans Day upon us, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the unique circumstances of life for our students who are part of a military family. There are many ways their lives are impacted and we need to be aware of what we, as school librarians, can do to make our library and the school as a whole a welcoming environment for these students, whether the family member is on active duty or is a military veteran. A new book, Serving Those Who Served: Librarians’ Guide to Working with Veteran and Military Communities by Kristen Mulvihill and Sarah LeMire, provides practical advice on how we can do just that.
Click here to access an interview with Kristen and Sarah, conducted by Sharon Coatney, that touches on some of the issues addressed in their book. For example, you’ll find advice on some of the following topics:
On building a collection:
“If I had to recommend one picture book, I would recommend one about the military alphabet.”
“It’s important for school librarians to remember that there is no universal experience for the children of veterans and service members. With that in mind, school librarians can consider building collections that represent a variety of military child experiences.”
On dealing with deployment:
“Elementary school librarians could consider providing a quiet corner and a stuffed animal or other toy to young children who are experiencing a deployment, together with some picture books about military deployment or separation.”
On useful programs:
“Programs that allow students to highlight the service of their family members can be a great way both to let military children shine, but also to help other students investigate their family’s history of military service. . . Programming outside of Veterans Day can help keep military service and its associated sacrifices in students’ consciousness for a larger part of the school year.”
Additional Reading for SLC Subscribers:
“Literature for the Children of Military Families” by Kelly Racca
About the Authors
Kristen Mulvihill is a librarian at the Point Loma/Hervey Branch Library at the San Diego Public Library. Ms. Mulvihill earned an MLIS from San Jose State University, in addition to an M.A. from the University of Oregon when she was obsessed with medieval Chinese poetry (not a great conversation starter at parties). During her military service in the early 1990s, Ms. Mulvihill earned her wings by jumping out of airplanes more times than she ever intended, earned two Army Achievement Medals, and was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal for her work in conflict resolution and analysis.
Sarah LeMire is the first year experience and outreach librarian at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, where she provides outreach and support to student veterans and other military communities on her campus. She was recognized as a member of ALA’s 2015 class of Emerging Leaders and as a 2017 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. Before becoming a librarian, LeMire served in the U.S. Army as an Arabic linguist, including a deployment to Iraq in 2005–2006. In addition to her own military service, she has experience as a military spouse and a parent of a service member.