Tools and Strategies for Managing Frontline Challenges

Learn vital skills for dealing with some of today’s most pressing issues, including book banning, disinformation, patron and staff safety, and more, all from an equity and trauma-informed lens. 




Extend your learning and save more by pairing this course with its companion course, How to Build LGBTQIA+ Centered Spaces, Programs, and Services—starting Nov. 10. View bundle discounts at registration.


Course Description 

Guest speaker sessions via Zoom:
Thursdays,  October 20, 27, and November 3, from 2:00 to 4:30 pm ET (recordings available)

Asynchronous, facilitator-led workshop over 3 weeks

More than ever, librarians and teachers are expected to be on the front lines of challenging issues while serving their communities with empathy and compassion. In this course, you will learn tangible strategies for managing the toughest situations that arise in your libraries and classrooms. This hands-on, project-based course will give you the opportunity to engage in practice scenarios with peer and expert feedback to ensure you are prepared to tackle challenges with confidence. Along with learning to manage difficult situations, you will learn tips to maintain wellness and self-care, because working to increase the safety and comfort of any library or classroom must include staff, too. 

You’ll complete workshop assignments over 3+ weeks in an interactive online classroom environment with personal coaching from an expert in the field. In addition, you’ll have access to our foundational bonus content—rich supporting materials you can explore at your own pace, including a series of webinars from Library Journal and School Library Journal contributors, readings, activities, and videos.

Our transformational online courses have given thousands of librarians the tools and vision for meaningful change. The live sessions run on Thursdays, October 20, 27, and November 3, 2022 from approximately 2:00-4:30 pm ET (recorded for on-demand viewing) with an ongoing facilitator-led workshop over 3 weeks. Don’t miss this opportunity!





When you sign up early, you’ll have immediate access to our Early Access On Demand Resources—a series of webinars from Library Journal and School Library Journal contributors along with rich, supporting materials in the form of readings, activities, and videos—to explore at your own pace.

Learning Outcomes

After you attend this interactive online course and workshop, you’ll be able to:

  • Recognize and reframe misinformation

  • Teach key information literacy concepts

  • Manage challenges and conflicts with confidence and compassion

  • Advocate for your programs, curricula, collections, and services

  • Identify your personal communication style

  • Use communication skills to ease difficult conversations

  • De-escalate stressful interactions and manage conflict

  • Set boundaries and incorporate wellness techniques into your work life


Who should take this course 

Any educator or librarian who needs support managing challenging or confrontational conversations, engaging in empathetic and trauma-informed conflict resolution, or advocating for critical information literacy and diverse materials amid censorship challenges.

Live sessions are also available on demand 

Can’t make a live session? All guest speaker sessions are recorded and available on demand following the initial broadcast. Asynchronous workshops allow you to complete assignments and receive feedback from experts.

Certificate of completion provided 

15 professional development credits are available

For support with online courses, please contact


Group Rates

Have a team attend and increase your impact!

Discounted registration fees are available for groups of 3 or more. When you register your team for our online courses, they will be placed in the same small workshop group, where discussions and project-based assignments receive feedback from an experienced librarian.

Send us a request for a quote.

If your group prefers to work separately, just let us know.


Curriculum Advisor


Martha Hickson

Martha Hickson has been a high school librarian since 2005. Her work has been featured in School Library Journal, Booklist, KnowledgeQuest, the ALA Intellectual Freedom blog, and School Librarian’s Workshop. She has been a presenter at conferences and webinars, including the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), Future Ready Schools, and the Freedom to Read Foundation. She has coordinated successful defenses to six book challenges since 2019. In recognition of her work defending students’ right to read, Martha has received intellectual freedom honors from AASL, NJLA, NJASL, and the National Council of Teachers of English. In 2022, the American Library Association presented Martha with the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. 



Rob Simmons 

Rob Simmons started his role as Director of Social Services and Public Safety at Oak Park Public Library (IL) in March of 2016. Rob is one of the first social workers hired to integrate a social services model into a public library system in the United States. His innovative work has resulted in programs that provide resources such as: free mental health assessments and counseling, educational support for low-income students, supportive housing advocacy, and employment assistance. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University, and a Master’s degree in Social-Service Administration from The University of Chicago.


By registering for this event you confirm that you have read and agree to our Code of Conduct.

For support with online courses, please contact





Week 1: Getting Ahead of Frontline Challenges: Tools for Critical Thinking and Tough Conversations 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Session 1 | 2:00-2:45 pm ET

Combatting Disinformation: How to Teach Critical Thinking

Disinformation and censorship go hand in hand, and it’s more important than ever that everyone has robust critical thinking skills. This session will teach you how to understand and instruct others on how to detect ideology, rhetoric, reputability of any given text or media source. This session is a deep-dive into the most critical foundations of teaching information literacy, and can be applied to almost any audience, no matter what age or in what context you’re teaching. 


Jevin West, (he, him) Associate Professor Information School, University of Washington 


Workshop Q&A | 2:45-3:00 pm ET

An introduction to this week’s assignment and an overview of what to expect from the online workshop in this course


Session 2 | 3:00-3:45 pm ET

How to Have Tough Conversations

Learn strategies for engaging in difficult conversations with people, especially with those who hold different values and ideologies than you. You will learn tenets of cultural humility regarding language, as well as how to assess your own communication styles in order to bring self-awareness into all conversations. You will learn grounding techniques and rhetorical strategies to increase your ability to engage kindly, yet firmly, in a way that matches your values.


 Leah Esguerra, (she, her) LMFT, San Francisco Public Library Social Worker Supervisor


Optional Session 3 | 3:45-4:30 pm ET

Apply Your Learning: Live, Interactive, Expert-Led Workshop

This live working session will give you an immediate opportunity to apply the skills you’ve learned in the previous sessions. You will be put into small, peer groups and given relevant assignments and activities to work through together. Expert facilitators will also be available for live Q&A and feedback. 


 Leah Esguerra, (she, her) LMFT, San Francisco Public Library Social Worker Supervisor


Week 2: Confronting Censorship in Your Library or Classroom

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Session 1 | 2:00-2:45 pm ET

Confronting Censorship: Advocating for Intellectual Freedom 

You’re being confronted by an angry parent, community member, or administrator about your choice of books or educational content. What are your options? This session will teach you tangible ways to advocate for yourself and others, including tips for finding allies and building coalitions, tactics for school board meetings, and tips for countering common arguments. You’ll learn how to conduct a “censorship checkup” for your organization to ensure your policies, processes, and procedures are appropriate, up to date, and will satisfactorily defend intellectual freedom. We’ll discuss best practices for engaging and educating stakeholders in your organization to ensure everyone is equipped with appropriate responses and prepared if/when challenges arise. 


Becky Calzada, (she, her) Library Services Coordinator, Leander ISD (TX), TLA Legislative Committee, AASL Director at Large


Workshop Q&A | 2:45-3:00 pm ET

An introduction to this week’s assignment and an overview of what to expect from the online workshop in this course


Session 2 | 3:00-4:30 pm ET

Digital Safety: How to Protect Yourself Online, Interactive Session

More than ever, censorship challenges are being paired with online attacks, including doxxing, abuse, and defamation of teachers and librarians. This session will teach you how to stay safe online, including tips for digital self-care, strategies for preventing online attacks, and tactics to combat digital attacks if they happen. 


Gwen Taylor, (they, them) Programme Manager, Glitch



Week 3: Protecting Yourself and Others: Tools for Conflict Management and Self-Advocacy

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Session 1 | 2:00-2:45 pm ET

Protecting Yourself: How to Advocate for Yourself and/or Your Staff

Frontline workers have to face some of the hardest challenges in libraries and classrooms, and no matter how much you might love the work, it’s easy to burn out quickly. This session is all about protecting teacher, librarian, and staff needs.  You’ll gain access to resources for dealing with anxiety and other mental health challenges at work and learn how to find helpful services as needed. Finally, you will leave this session with strategies for setting and maintaining boundaries, advocating for yourself in the workplace, and prioritizing wellness through rest and connection to others through affinity groups.


Lauren Comito, (she, her) Neighborhood Library Supervisor at the Leonard Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and Board Chair of Urban Librarians Unite


Workshop Q&A | 2:45-3:00 pm ET

An introduction to this week’s assignment and an overview of what to expect from the online workshop in this course


Session 2 | 3:00-4:30 pm ET

Staff, Student, and Patron Safety: Best Practices for Deescalation and Conflict Resolution

Learn trauma-informed practices for deescalation and conflict in this session in order to promote safety in your library and classroom. Frontline workers often have to be mediators in moments of high tension; this session will equip you with tools to ensure you are prepared with the foundational skills to set you up for success in these moments. 


Farah Fosse (she/her/hers), Defend Yourself Senior Trainer

Hind Essayegh (she her hers), Defend Yourself Trainer






Online Course Preview

A preview of how we build your library skills and bring inspiration to your projects with our online learning experience.

Course Format

One-Week Timeline (Course Runs 3+ Weeks)

DAYS 1-2

On Demand


2.5 hours

DAYS 4-7

1-2 hours (optional)



- Resources

- Discussions

- Bonus Content


- Guest speakers via webcast

- Q&A via chat

- Recordings available on demand


- Project-based homework, applied to your job

- Personalized feedback from a facilitator

- Group discussion in an asynchronous workshop setting via discussion forum


- Facilitator-led feedback


Gather data and set goals


Identify gaps and priorities


Synthesize your action plan




Inspiring Live Guest Speakers + Facilitated Group Workshop for Project-Based Learning



Live session with Andrea Blackman and Tasneem Ansariyah Grace

Live Guest Speakers Each Week

  • Engage with presenters via live video stream, visual presentations, and chats
  • Map out your own initiatives with guidance from an expert advisor
  • Leave with refined, robust strategies designed to make a lasting impact on your community
  • Workshop tangible antiracist approaches to your work with input from peer groups


Online Course Features


Recordings of guest speakers

Recordings Available After The Live Session

  • Real-time guest speakers and conversation via live video stream (with recordings available afterward)
  • Instructor-led online course features personalized interaction over 3+ weeks


Facilitator-led workshop

Online Classroom Organizes All Materials

  • Workshop assignments to help you make progress on your goals
  • Individualized attention from course facilitators who work with you in a coaching environment in the workshop to help sort out challenges
  • Ongoing group conversation via discussion forums


Early Access On Demand Resources

Resources To Support Learning

  • Supporting resources (articles, videos, worksheets) in the online classroom to provide a foundation for your work
  • Access all course content for six months after the course ends
  • Bonus: Register early and get immediate access to archival video recordings from related courses and other bonus content




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