In the Know: August 2014

I was having a serious Cady-with-a-d Mean Girls moment two weeks ago as I walked into my first day in a new Teen Librarian position. Would the teens like me? Would they pity laugh at my jokes like the kids at my old job did? Or would I be just another crusty shushing-machine to them? It’s the time of year when teens across the country make that same terrifying walk into new schools, new grades, and new hormone-fueled social challenges, so let’s give them some extra special love from the library this week.

As for me at my new job, I discovered that a level 50 in Skyrim and knowing the lyrics to “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” can get you a long way. Sometimes all you need is to know a little bit about one thing that interests a teen and you can spark a relationship. Learn a little more, and pretty soon they’ll be saying “hi” to you by name. Keep at it, and they might start liking you enough to actually take your reader’s advisory suggestions.

It’s good to be in the know. Here’s some stuff teens are talking about in August 2014.

The band Five Seconds of Summer, or 5SOS (pronounced “5 sauce”), is currently touring the U.S. with One Direction and gaining popularity. The band, comprised of 4 Australian teenage boys, is often compared to their British your-mates, though they seem to be attempting a more punk rock image. (Attempting is a key word here.) Their self-titled debut studio album was released in the U.S. on July 22, and hit number one on the Billboard 200. Learn more about them here.

The 2014 Teen Choice Awards aired on August 10. Big winners were The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Divergent (films); Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (actors); Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and One Direction (musicians); Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, and The Voice (TV). Selena Gomez received the Ultimate Choice Award. The show also introduced a new set of web awards honoring a new breed of YouTube and social media stars. See the full list of nominees and winners here.

By now you’re not going to impress any teens by knowing what the Ice Bucket Challenge is, but you might earn some cool points by pointing out a few of the best examples of the fad. Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch gets naked in his (don’t worry, it’s safe for library viewing). Oprah Winfrey’s will appeal to those who enjoy a little schadenfreude, and Bill Gates works some STEM into his challenge. The Old Spice Guy, Homer Simpson, and Tina Fey are other winners. My personal favorite is Kermit the Frog. According to their website, donations to the ALS Association are at $94.3 million as of August 27. Looking for a research opportunity? Ask kids to find out how the Ice Bucket Challenge started; there’s plenty of info available online from reputable news sources.

The eighth season of the rebooted Doctor Who premiered on August 23, and was the first full episode in the run of the new Twelfth Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. Despite being “really old” (56) and less crushable than Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, most fans are optimistic about the well-respected actor’s prospects in the role. The jury’s still out on whether good acting will attract as much teen attention as good looks did.

On August 18 Taylor Swift premiered her new single “Shake It Off.” The song abandons her country roots in favor of a power pop piece about how “haters gonna hate.” (That’s an old web adage that means roughly, “People are going to criticize you no matter what, so just ignore them.”) Swift also announced a new album called 1989, set to release on October 27. You can view the video for “Shake It Off” here.

Two of the YA lit-inspired movies of the summer, If I Stay and The Giver, premiered this month, both to lukewarm reviews and box office numbers. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the top movie of the month and has rocketed leading man Chris Pratt to fame (building on his recent success as Andy Dwyer on Parks & Recreation and as the voice of Emmet in The Lego Movie). Ninja Turtles is also going strong despite mostly bad reviews. Check out www.boxofficemojo.com for box office info.

Fans are gearing up for the release of The Sims 4 for the PC on September 2. The newest installment in the classic life simulation game comes 5 years after the release of the vanilla (that is, the original, expansion-free) version of The Sims 3. The new title will have to work hard to win over players, as there has already been outcry over the exclusion of several of the former titles’ features from the new game (most notably, toddlers and swimming pools). No OSX release date has been announced. Read more about the unhappy fans here.

Translation time: the slang of the month is “shade” or “throw shade” (verb), which means to criticize someone in an underhanded of passive-aggressive manner. This term has existed for a long time in LGBT communities but came into wider use apparently about a year ago (although I didn’t hear it until this month). It was recently added to Oxford Dictionaries (the online database, not the hoity-toity print version). For a list of recently-added words and, through it, a remarkably comprehensive overview of modern culture, check out this article.

Back to School: CIPA Policy Brief

This summer, ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy and Office for Intellectual Freedom released a policy brief marking a decade of school and public libraries limiting patrons’ access to online information due to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Titled Fencing Out Knowledge: Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act 10 Years Later, the report advocates an action plan to reduce the nationwide, negative impacts of CIPA. I found it well worth a read, and you will too if you wish to understand the progressive possibilities surrounding CIPA at your library and at libraries across America.

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Back to School: iBooks Author

Whether you’re a school librarian or a public librarian, this is a great time to start considering how to work with teachers or school library media specialists in the coming school year. With so few schools being able to afford to have librarians anymore (an issue for another time), public librarians are in a great position to offer their support and create a mutual network between school teachers where both parties can learn and benefit. And school librarians can do the same.

This year I was inspired by an English teacher at my school who used iBooks Author to create an interactive textbook for her sixth graders. Since the units she was teaching involved folk tales, fairy tales, and mythology around the world, iBooks Author allowed her to compile myriad resources, from text to images to videos, into one place for her students. Then, because iBooks are for Internet-enabled devices, of course, those same resources can then be clicked on and link the students to the sources they come from so they can learn even more about what they’re reading. Goodbye to the readers I used in high school and college, where short stories and essays on our syllabus were compiled into a cheaply bound booklet after the library and the bookstore collaborated to get the legal rights squared away. Continue reading

YALSAblog Tweets of the Week: August 22, 2014

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between August 22 and August 28 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
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Back to School: Challenging the Freedom to Teach and Learn about Labor

What if the collection in your library was circumscribed by your state legislature? This spring, the Michigan state legislature introduced a bill specifically designed to penalize instruction surrounding an important but politically disfavored topic, that of labor organization.

The legislation reads:

Prohibited Instruction Activity. The Senate added new language stating that it is the intent of the Legislature that a public university that receives funds under section 236 shall not participate in any instructional activity that encourages or discourages union organizing of employees including, but not limited to participating with any business or union, or group of businesses or unions, in hosting, sponsoring, administering, or in any way facilitating an academy, seminar, class, course, conference, or program that provides instruction, in whole or in part, in techniques for encouraging or discouraging employees in regard to union organizing. The appropriation in section 236 for any university that participates in an activity described in this section shall be reduced by $500,000 for each occurrence. (Sec. 271A)

Specifically, the bill challenges Michigan State University’s incorporation of a Building Trade Academy as part of their existing School of Human Resources and Labor Relations. The issue seems to have come to a head surrounding coursework that has been described as promoting labor organization.

Promoting labor relations – that seems like a broad umbrella. There is real potential for this movement to stifle any academic debate related to labor history and workers’ rights. Continue reading

Why We Love to Listen: YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults

Previously, you learned about what it takes to serve on the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. Here, some of the current Amazing Audiobooks committee members explain why they love to listen.

Sarah Hashimoto is serving on her first year as a committee member:

I remember listening to The Hunger Games when it first came out on audio in 2008. I was new to audios at the time and was unprepared for how much of an impact they can make. I was listening and gardening when I came to the scene just after Rue has died, when Katniss receives the bread from Rue’s people. It’s such a poignant scene, but the audio version really brought it to life for me. I ended up weeping into my garden gloves, creating a scene of my own!

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App of the Week: Heyday

Heyday logoApp: Heyday
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS (with Android coming soon)

Have you ever wished that you kept a journal, but not been able to find the time? Want to track everything you do without announcing it to everyone you know? If so, Heyday is the app for you. This journaling app automates the process of tracking what you do each day while keeping all of the information private.

To get started with the app, you are asked to give it access to both the media library and the location data on your device. Heyday automatically compiles this information to create an entry for each day that data is collected on your device. Photos (and videos) that are pulled into the app are automatically made into a collage.

Though the app will work without any input, you can also customize each day’s entry by adding notes, rearranging the images, or adding additional location information. If you want, you can also change which images are included in the journal and how they are arranged in the day’s collage. Fans of Instagram and similar photo apps will be happy to know that you can also add separate filters to each of the images, which allows you to display your photos to their best effect. If you are particularly happy with one day’s collage, you can also share it to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or send it via email or text message from within the app. Alternatively, you can also save collages to your device’s media library, making it easy to use them in other apps or simply view them outside of the app.

Heyday truly makes daily journal entries as easy as possible. As an added feature, the app offers the option to create an account, which allows Heyday to automatically sync your journal with the cloud periodically so that you have a backup if anything happens to your device. However, even if you would prefer not to create an account or share your content outside of your device, you can use all of the features. Heyday is a great option for those who want to journal in theory but never manage to in practice.

Have a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know. And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog’s App of the Week Archive.

A Look at YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Committee

Each year after the Midwinter conference, YALSA releases a list of 25-30 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults. The list is the result of hundreds of hours of listening, discussion and debate by the nine-member Amazing Audiobooks committee. The committee also names the top 10 best titles of the year. Committee members generally serve two year terms. We are librarians, professors, and retirees. We work for public libraries, universities, schools, and community colleges. In addition to the nine committee members, we have one extraordinarily hard-working administrative assistant who does not cast votes, but does receive titles and can listen as much as she chooses.

In February, the committee begins gathering possible titles for the next year’s list. We get audiobooks in a number of different ways. First, we make suggestions. Any audiobook published in the last two years with relevance for teens is eligible for the list, so we seek out recent titles. We love to get suggestions from other librarians! If you’d like to nominate a title for Amazing Audiobooks, the form is here. We also receive boxes (and boxes and boxes) of submissions directly from publishers.

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Back to School: Locked, Stocked, and Two Sharpened Pencils: or, Starting Your School Year

It’s almost that time again. Time for all of us school librarians and teachers to pack away the short-shorts, scrape off the beach sand, and start going to bed at a reasonable hour once more. Time for lesson plans, and inventory orders, and new September signage. It’s time for school, ladies and gentlemen, and the start of the next year of academic awesomeness.

Are you ready? Is your bag packed and stocked with notebooks, clean writing pens, and fresh, sharp crayons wrapped in perfect paper? New cardigans folded and washed? Back to school as a grown up can be a huge undertaking; supplies can get expensive, and the gear shift from summer to school can leave you feeling dizzy and suddenly stressed out.

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Kindness for the Solo Librarian

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d8/Seeking_human_kindness.JPG/256px-Seeking_human_kindness.JPG

Goal setting in a school library run by a single librarian can at times seem pointless.  Some days my to-do list gets longer rather than shorter.  Goals languish on the back burner while the fire in the middle of the library is tended to daily.  It is tempting to just let the months unfold reacting to the greatest need.  Being the only person responsible for multiple requests from teens, faculty and administration can mean our days are fractured and attempts to attend to long-range goals are frustrating and futile.  In order to avoid this frustration I have developed the KIND method of goal setting and follow though.  In short, this KIND acronym represents the following attributes, adapted to goal setting and getting things done; kindness, importance, noticeable and developing.  (Photo by Enver Rahmanov (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

RULE ONE.  Kindness. The first rule of goal setting for the solo librarian is to be kind.  Be kind to yourself if you get off track from your goals.  I put my new year’s goal on a list every year.  When I make the annual list I look at past year’s list.  There is one goal that is on the list year after year.  Instead of beating myself up over the fact that it hasn’t been accomplished I put it on this year’s list and celebrate that I am determined and persistent in pursuing this important goal.  By the way,  the goal that keeps coming up on my list it is to establish a teen advisory group.

I put it on the list this year, again, because not only do I know it is important I know that one day I will get that TAG established.  And without shame, I will say it is likely to be this year!

RULE TWO. Importance. Pick the goals that are important to you personally.  Validate yourself as a professional.  You care about your library and the students you serve.  Don’t pick goals that you do not believe in fully.  There are too many distractions in the year and if you do not pick goals that  resonate with meaning for you you aren’t going to carve out the time to work on them.   Goals that important to you and are also what teens want are goals that will keep you motivated throughout the year. An easy way to get input from students is to encourage them write a sentence or two on an index card describing their ideal library.   Make a list of all the things you would like to accomplish in your library.
Include everything you thing would be happening in an ideal library.
Circle the top ten things you would like to work on.
Rank the top ten in order you would like to work on them.
When ranking consider how likely you might be able to work on this goal, or achieve the desired outcome.  Put at least one goal that you know you can/will accomplish this year.

RULE THREE.  Noticeable. Make sure the goals you choose to work on are noticed.  For yourself, post your top goals where you can see them daily.  For others, choose goals to work on that your teens and your administrators can see and relate to the value of the library you manage.  You want to stay visible and let people see the value that the library, and you as the librarian add to the achievement of students.

RULE FOUR. Developing.  Some of the goals you choose you just won’t get to, will fail, or will not work out the way you had planned.  Make sure at least one of you goals is something that you can and will accomplish.  Perhaps it is a program that you have already piloted successfully and your goal is to expand it.  Nothing breeds success like success and it is important to see that you are setting and reaching goals.  Be flexible when it comes to developing your goals over the year.  I’m going to create a makerspace this year with the 3D printer as the focal point.  As I develop this goal I see how it may be very possible that the students that I am working with in support of this goal may end up being the same students that head up the teen advisory group.  I am planning to develop this goal from the ground up and I see that the need to be flexible when I empower others will be key to the success of these goals.  I can embrace these goals as developing.

KIND goals.  Those are my kind of goals.  Flexible, accessible, accepting and empowering of our school’s teens.  It is the same kind of library I like to foster.  The only way to create a kind school library where young people feel accepted and appreciated is to start with the way we treat ourselves.  If we are realistic about the competing demands for our time as a solo librarian we can begin to set realistic goals that we can  and will achieve.  Good luck as you plan your successes this academic year.