May 11, 2018

Rebecca McCorkindale & Julie Syler | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Advocates

Julie Syler & Rebecca McCorkindale

Rebecca McCorkindale


Assistant Library Director & Creative Director, Gretna Public Library, NE


BA, Wichita State University, 1999


In her Hafuboti blog, McCorkindale calls on proud non-MLSers like herself to rebrand themselves as “Punk Rock Book Jockeys”


@Hafuboti on Twitter; Hafuboti blog; Libraries Are for Everyone

Julie Syler


Innovations Librarian, Saline County Library, Benton, AR


MSLIS, Drexel University, 2010


A French horn player since childhood, Syler followed a job at an orchestral library as an undergrad into librarianship. She still plays as a substitute horn player with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.


Julie on Facebook; Saline County Library on FacebookLibraries Are for Everyone

Photo by Douglas Gritzmacher


Everyone Welcome

Julie Syler and Rebecca McCorkindale jointly created the Libraries Are for Everyone campaign, a powerful message that emphasizes the welcoming nature of libraries. Shortly after President Trump’s January 27, 2017, ban on travel from seven Islamic countries, Syler came up with the slogan for Library Legislative Day at the Arkansas State Capitol. She reached out to McCorkindale to include her bright, stylized designs of people from various cultural and ethnic groups holding globes. After a few emails, the two women had finished a poster.

They realized the slogan and images were more powerful than just one event. “I love that phrase and everything it means—it’s a distillation of what I do and why I do it,” Syler says. “There are no caveats, no exclusions, no disclaimers in fine print. It’s a promise. It’s a celebration.”

McCorkindale wrote about their collaboration on her popular blog Hafuboti. Soon, word spread and Libraries Are for Everyone signs were posted worldwide.

“She made it beautiful, she made it accessible, she brought it to life,” Syler says of McCorkindale. “[B]y doing so, she became my collaborator, my partner in crime, and, most important, my friend.”

The original blog post has been viewed 36,407 times by people from 156 countries as of January 2018. By the end of 2017, the phrase “Libraries Are for Everyone” had been translated into 79 languages, from Afaan Oromo to Zulu. McCorkindale says she continues to get new translations, churn out signs, and share them. She also still receives global feedback. Her favorite is a photo of a girl touching the Arabic translation and smiling.

“It’s a reminder to our most marginalized community members that they are welcomed in this public space,” McCorkindale says. “Also, it is a statement that libraries should be a place [where] anyone [can] get the chance to work, regardless of his/her/their socioeconomic background, gender, race, disability, etc.”

McCorkindale’s next challenge has already begun. She is the Nebraska Library Association’s president-elect and will become president in 2019. Syler is working to eliminate fines for children’s materials in her library system.

They both hope to work together again soon.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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