Out of the Closet and Into the Library

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

A fantastic and call to action presentation was given by four panelists at ALA on Monday: Erin Downey Howerton, School Liasison for the Johnson County Library in Kansas, Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club and upcoming book about the attack of the soul sucking brain zombies (at least that’s what I think I heard), Sara Ryan, Teen Services Specialist for the Multnomah County Library system in Portland, Oregon and author of Empress of the World, and David Levithan, author of Are We There Yet? (All the panelists are so much more than what I mentioned, but those are a few things about them.

Erin talked about how she wanted to add GLBT books to the collection and the fact that people might object to them. It was a good sign that Rainbow Boys by Sanchez and The Misfits by Howe were tattered copies already in the system. Lists from the ALA 2000 annual conference put together by the GLBT roundtable and updated in 2004 were used as guides to build the collection.
Rainbow Kite by Shyer is a story about a gay teen’s coming out that Erin shared her enthusiasm for with colleagues that opened a lot of doors for further conversation. Adding booklists to binders so that teens don’t have to approach staff for suggestions if they would prefer not to and putting booklists inside of books to point out similar reads were suggested to connect teens with GLBT themed books. Erin thinks of books as people and wants them to meet the people they were always destined to meet. Further recommended resources:

2006 Popular Paperback GLBTQ list
The Heart Has Its Reasons: Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004 by Michael Cart
Outsource: A Handbook for Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens at the Library by Hillias Martin and James Murdock

Brent Hartinger told his story of growing up as a gay teen and how he didn’t see himself represented in books. There was a made for tv movie called What If I’m Gay? which was done from the point of view of straight friends which was not very helpful or enlightening. Like Geography Club, he started a support group and safe meeting place (away from the seedy bar) which grew to 450 members of GLBTQ teens and even offered themselves as a resource to counselors.
Geography Club was in its 3rd printing in less than a month, turned into a stage play, and brought about an avalanche of emails and letters from people that related to Russel (even straight people who understood that everyone knows what it’s like to have a secret). He talked about the controversy of this book in his home town and the importance of continuing to foster diverse collections and helping spread the word as a library for GLBTQ folks.

Sara Ryan suggested the article: If I Ask, Will They Answer?: Evaluating Public Library Reference Service to Gay/Lesbian Youth by Dr. Ann Curry, published in the Fall 2005 issue of Reference and User Services Quarterly. Sara has a fantastic booklist for teens with GLBT related themes and links on the Multnomah County Library site. Sara has been spotlighted by YALSA for the phenomenal work she does (that I can’t possibly capture here).

David Levithan’s book, Wide Awake, comes out September 2006 which is about a gay Jewish President of the U.S. This is his form of a protest song against the last presidential election. As the last speaker of the session, his discussion on the moral imperative of GLBT books themselves and what we do with them was truly uplifting and nothing short of a call to action. In talking about preaching your beliefs, he said that sometimes we need to preach-even though we can’t shove our beliefs down anyone’s throat or force people to do what they don’t want to do, we cannot be afraid of our beliefs just because there might be people louder than us. “Let us make this the loudest god damn fire there is, book by book, shelf, by shelf. . . “ it is about making progress and making things right.

Day of Silence (or no name calling) was recommended for a library program. Partnering with local GLBT organizations, book displays, book lists, and adding authors to your library web site, adding authors myspace accounts to your library’s, adding Spanish/English language GLBT materials from the Human Rights Campaign to the collection-these are free!, adding search words to your catalog that reflect the needs of GLBT people were some of the ideas shared by the panelists and audience.

Also, check out one of this years Movers and Shakers, Bart Birdsall from Tampa Florida, who indeed made the freedom of speech for gay teens the loudest god damn fire there is.

Teen Tech Week (TTW)

Posted by Linda W. Braun

The Teen Tech Week Committee met for the first time face-to-face during Annual and got a lot of work done. One exciting thing is that the Committee selected a logo for TTW and a theme for this year’s week. (Watch this blog and the YALSA site for a formal announcement of each.)

The logo was selected from a group of entries submitted by teens. There were several good entries and the Committee had a good discussion about which to select, how to select, why one over the other, etc. In other words, the teen artists provided quality work. That’s not a surprise but really nice to see.

When looking at the logos, Committee members realized that the teens were really focused on what they knew or thought about libraries and technology. In other words the images created didn’t show a teen technology world of music, games, chat, etc., but instead focused on books/text coming in and out of a computer. (The traditional use of technology in the library.) In the future it would be great if teens and librarians were able to connect technology beyond the traditional sense of the library to a more expansive view of the intersection of teens, libraries, and technology.

Another discussion of the Committee centered around the types of programs and activities libraries might host as a part of TTW. There are an amazing number of ideas out there and more details will be provided on the TTW website over the next several months, but here are a few to whet the appetite:

  • Podcasting Academy with teens as the podcasting teachers/leaders
  • Teen tours for adults of the online world
  • A Machinima movie night
  • Online polls and contests

And there’s lots more.

As plans of the Committee continue and the website for TTW expands I’ll post more on the blog to let readers know what’s up and coming up. Keep your eyes tuned.

The Kids are Alright, and Stephen Abrams is great

Posted by Beth Gallaway

The YALSA Technology for Young Adults committee traditionally hosts a program at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning (okay, 8:00 AM – it’s early!) and it is ALWAYS worth getting up for.

This year, Stephen Abram, whose job title is Vice President of Innovation (how cool is that!?) and blogger extradordinaire of Stephen’s Lighthouse, presented The Kids are Alright! Millennials and their Information Behaviors to a LOT of other people who found were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and eager to hear what he had to say.

I walked in to hear him encouraging the audience to pay attention to gaming (yay!) and to read Beck & Wade’s Got Game (the paperback edition is named The Kids are Alright. Abram went on to impart characteristics of the millennial generation and show by example how they are different from Boomers and Gen X/Y. They are generally:

  • More direct (polite but assertive and demanding)
  • Smarter (IQ tests are revised and made more difficult every year; the current standard of 100 would have been genuis level when the test was first standardized) Healthier (about 8% smoke)
  • Both more liberal and conservative (multiculturally and globally aware, and patriotic and spiritual)
  • Well-balanced (able to both multitask and commune with themselves.

Some stats:
90% own a home computer
85% spend at least an hour a day online
75% have a TV in thir room (cramming 8.5 hours of television viewing into 6.5 hours, due to multitasking

In light of these facts, Abram challenged libraries to meet the youth where they are. “They live on the phone,” he said, challenging us to make our webpages be readable on small screens, to set up IM screen names and get into MySpace where our users are.

One of the most interesting things I heard was they the eyeballs of millennials move differently when reading – they skim the bottom and edges then focus on the center. And specific COLORS attract and repel -red draws attention first, neon green and orange are skimmed, and black is ignored completely. A slide on the teen brain compared activity patterns to show the shift on how the millennial’s brain is being used differently than the boomer’s brain.

Audience questions included:

  • Do you think the prevalence of cutting is due to the detachment of kids and immersion in technology? to which abram replied it’s not a technology related problem, it is more likely a response to pressure to perform and succeed placed upon youth by adults;
  • How do I get my OPAC search bar into MySpace? to which Abram recommended contacting Hennepin County, whose page he had highlighted during the presentation
  • Where can I find a poster of the image of the brain you showed, to use a tool for teachers, parents, admin to SHOW how these kids process information differently? Abram gave several sources for text posters.

All in all, well worth getting up for – watch http://stephenslighthouse.sirsi.com/ for the PPT presentation to appear.

Please continue the discussion of Millennials right here on YALSA’s blog! Do you agree with Abram’s assertations of millennial characteristics? What other programs and services are YOU offering to meet their needs? Share your ideas via comments!

Gaming Discussion Group

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

The Gaming Discussion group met on Sunday afternoon-and what a discussion it was! Chaired by Beth Gallaway and co-chaired by Kelly Czarnecki. Many stories were shared from libraries all over the U.S. of how gaming as programs and services are already working. Several people came to the meeting because they knew that’s what teens are interested in, but didn’t necessarily know a lot about gaming. We apologize for the Skype cast and presentation in Second Life having to be cancelled, but the room the meeting was scheduled in did not have wireless capabilities.

The group was in agreement to request the board to take further action to appoint a video game selection committee. Similar to the committees that select the best audio books or DVDs for teens, this selection list would guide libraries to purchase recommended video games for their library.

Other initiatives the Gaming Discussion group will be involved in include:

  • acting as an interest group which would create bibliographies, tip sheets, brochures, and seek to publish articles in publications such as YALS, SLJ, VOYA, or YAttitudes. (of which the last three all have regularly published gaming columns). Jami Schwarzwalder, discussion member, created very helpful brochures that were passed out at the meeting to get us started on resources. Check out the Mario Brothers Memorial Public Library for more info. Handouts on creating Library Runescape teams, created by Chris Rippel, Central Kansas Library System, were also given out.
  • engage in a research component by applying for the Frances Henne grant which would develop a project that would research aspects of teens and gaming.
  • work with the YALSA Technology for Young Adults committee to help with the marketing aspect of gaming for the 50th anniversary celebration of YALSA.

Other ideas shared that felt this discussion group could contribute to:

  • recommendations on gaming equipment for libraries (cost, differences, age attraction, etc.)
  • addressing the shrinkage problem (i.e., games stolen from the circulating collection)
  • youth participation component (teens wanting to run tournaments and creating promotional materials-videos for games)
  • funding ideas and experiences for gaming programs
  • resources such as where to go on the Internet for cheat codes (GameFacts was recommended).
  • how to convince administration that they need to offer gaming programs and services (relate to mission/vision statement, developmental needs and assets, and new literacies)
  • what are other programs and services related to gaming (CosPlays, anime, machinima, fanfiction)

This discussion will also be available as a podcast. Join the LibGaming listserv to ask questions about video gaming at your library. There are over 300 members and this is an excellent resource for libraries and gaming.

Leadership Development and All Committee Meetings

Posted by Linda W. Braun

On Saturday mornings at Conference YALSA members who serve on committees meet together to get some work done. Today was no different.

The day started with Leadership Development for Committee Chairs. At 8 AM a breakfast, sponsored by Rosen Publishing, was available. At 8:30 the meeting started. There was a full agenda – but it went quickly. Committee Chairs learned about the recent work of YALSA including plans for a Teen Summit and a YA Literature Institute. One of the most exciting pieces of news was the continued rise in YALSA membership. Go YALSA!

Following Leadership Development, and after a short break, Random House sponsored a breakfast for committee members. At 10:30 Pam Spencer Holley called the All Committee meeting to order. After a few short announcements and introductions, committees that meet at All Committee got to work.

Every time I attend an All-Commmittee meeting I think to myself – “wow, there are so many people here and it gets so noisy how will anyone get work done.” But, the fact is, a lot of work does get done. People hop up from tables to ask a question of someone on another Committee. Sometimes there are interuptions as friends and colleagues show up to say hello to someone they haven’t seen in a long time. But, that kind of thing doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on the work of the Division.

It’s all pretty impressive.

Margaret A. Edwards luncheon

Posted by Kara Davis

For those of you who didn’t have the opportunity to make it to the Margaret A. Edwards awards luncheon today, it was fantastic! The winner of this year’s Margaret A. Edwards award is Jacqueline Woodson, for I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This, Lena, From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun, If You Come Softly, and Miracle’s Boys. The luncheon was in the Hilton Ballroom A, and was put on by YALSA. The tables were decorated with complimentary Tabasco cookbooks and miniature Tabasco bottles. Each attendee also was given a copy of School Library Journal, as well as a canvas bag from School Library Journal. The event was opened with a Welcome and Introduction of Guests by President of YALSA, Pam Spencer Holley. Jacqueline Woodson’s speech literally brought a tear to my eye. She is extremely passionate about young adult literature, and commented that although this was a lifetime achievement award, she is nowhere near done with writing and hopes to have many more lifetime achievements. Everything was just wonderful, so if you didn’t get to go, make sure you buy tickets to the one at the next annual conference! Hope to see you all at the events this week!

Booklist Forum

Posted by Beth Gallaway

I make it a point to get into twon in time to see the Booklist Forum at each ALA. Traditionally 8-10PM on Friday night, it is always a delight.

Mo Willems, former stand-up comic, opened with how to draw his famed pigeon: An “O” within an “O” for a head, a strategical placed pupil to indicate emotion), a sideways letter M for a beak, two lines for the neck and to deliniate a throat (sound effects optional), a “cirdrangal” (starts out as a circle with a triangular end) with a wing, stick legs and letter V’s for legs. “The faster you draw the more life it has,” said Willems, before congratulating us on our differently-styled brids and imploring us to “make people draw pigeons!”

Author Lisa Yee spoke about humiliation, headache and heartbreak in humor (Willems helpfully drew a large letter “H” to illustrate her alliteration) and talked about her everyday life that includes researching her books through spying, mostly on her children, blowing up peeps in the microwave (hint – put 2 in, stick a toothpick in each, and let the jousting begin!) and “dropping Mentos… into diet Coke to watch the explosions.” In her research to prove that guys can be sensitive (“Right? Right? Back me up, guys,” she asked of her fellow panelists – Lubar made a great show of laughing at this assertion) she gave us great and funny quotes from young readers. “Girls travel in wolf packs and just talk and talk and talk… about why unicorns have horns” Lisa’s son informed has informed her.

David Lubar was uproarious per usual, noting that now we’d all learned two lessons – don’t go on car rides with Mo and make sure Lisa doesn’t have Mentos when she’s drinking a Pepsi. He gave us some great reasons for writing humor:

  • Mark Twain lived til he was 75 – Kafta, 42
  • Angst is for whiners
  • High school would have been bearable if the Pearl had been funny

Punctuated by two signature Lubar booklists (“Great Books Set in New Orleans” and “Edgiest Books”), David (who is not bitter at all about his books being virtually ignored by bestowers of YA lit awards, really) touched on the need for more humor in fiction for teens. He doesn’t need to write books about kids with alcoholic parents and in other terrible situations: “I don’t write books about those kids… I write FOR those kids.”

Jack Gantos delivered a more sober speech about the background of comedy in the history of literature – the Homeric tradition of engaging the reader by making him/her her smarter than the protagonist. This is Gantos’s way of thinking about the reader when he was writing. Comedy is based on a foundation of truth, and is doubly successful when the character reinforces the reader’s view of the character’s stupidity. He also discussed his theory of dramatic comedy.

The evening ended a little early, but it was a great program – so full they had to bring in more chairs.

Reading with Your Ears Preconference

Posted by Jamie Watson

Highlights #2 from the YALSA Preconference.
Presented by Daniel Bostick and Bruce Coville, Full Cast Audio; Tim Ditlow, Random House/Listening Library; and Eileen Hutton, Brilliance Audio.

Q: How do producers determine what to publish?
A: It must be a good book! Random House gets thousands of manuscripts a year with potential to become just a small list of audiobooks. For Full Cast, a book must be driven by dialogue since, they are read by a “full cast” of characters. All publishers agree that a good review in a review journal can alert them to something they may want for audio. Publishers also look for a balanced list – a variety of age groups, genres, etc.

Q: Is having a cd that releases simulteously with the print book important?
A: For Brilliance, since they are predominantly a retail publisher, it is very important. Now that Listening Library is a part of Random House, there can be a simulatenous release, taking advantage of joint publicity. Often, in retail situations, when a book sells out, retailers will handsell the audiobook.

Q: In terms of young adult material, how do you deal with challenging, potentially controversial material?
A: Full Cast mentions controversial language (ie. the “f” word!) They made the decision to include a “strong language” note on the package. Listening Library mentions that at one time they had the Top 10 Challenged books all on audio. Both agree that if the “controversial” contact is organic and true to the book, not gratuitious, that is a valid reason for publishing the material. Brilliance publishes predominantly adult material, and they label them as such ( ex. Adult Fiction.)

Q: How are casting decisions made?
A: Full Cast has a stable of readers (think theater troup!) They use actual teen readers to narrate the teen characters. Authors are not always (and usually not!) the best choice to read their own works – trained actors and narrators are the true professionals. Sometimes accents drive the decision – Full Cast doesn’t record works that require British or Southern accents, since their stable is from upstate New York. Listening Library hunted far and wide for an authentic midwestern accent for their recent “Dairy Queen.”

Q: How about format? Cassettes, cds, downloadable?

A: Cassettes are over! Retailers are not buying them at all – libraries and schools still are to a point, but it is on a life support. The retail side of Listening Library’s offerings via Audible is now 15% of their total sales.

And now for lunch! Back this afternoon.

Reading with Your Ears Preconference

Posted by Jamie Watson

Throughout the day,I’ll be posting highlights live from the YALSA Preconference entitled Reading with your Ears. Comment if you have any questions, or send me an email at watson@hcplonline.info.

Curriculum Connections
Presented by Sharon Grover, Hedberg Public Library, Janesville, WI and Mary Stump, Arlington County, VA Public Schools.

Why Listen?

Most important point: Listening is not cheating!

A good way to enhance literacy is NOT to try to read along : the narrator can read faster than you can keep up. Rather listen first and then read, or read first and then listen.

Listening can add to the reading experience just like a movie version does.

Preponderence of mp3 players is giving an extra motivation to try listening.

What’s the best reason to listen to audiobooks? It’s fun! The quality of narration is superior and often provided by well-known actors. It’s also a wonderful family activity. It’s a great way to give parents the opportunity to share books with their teens. You can stop the book manually and talk about the story.

How to Listen?

Is the book appropriate for audio presentation? Is the book or story one that lends itself to being read aloud?

And yes, correct pronunciation of all text is REQUIRED for a good audiobook!

An audio edition may make the material more accessible to a wider audience.

Several audiobooks were shared, complete with clips, and then linked to specifics from a variety of statewide curriculum standards. In many cases, the audio demonstrates the selected standard in an even stronger manner than the print version does.

There is such a thing as a Free Lunch

Posted by Jami Schwarzwalder

Remember back in high school economics, where the teacher went on explaining why there wasn’t such a thing as a free lunch? Well at ALA your old economics teacher was wrong.

One part of ALA is attending programs and learning more about interesting opportunities available, hopefully getting just enough ideas to not be overwhelmed.

Another aspect is networking, for students this track could be more important than the programs. Since your time is completely overbooked, and the exhibit hall is overwhelmingly large, many exhibitors offer breakfasts, lunches, and cocktails for invited guests. It doesn’t cost to attend, but what the exhibitors get is your attention for longer than you would stop by their booth. And that to them is worth paying for a meal in exchange for your attention and time.

I would encourage everyone (especially poor students) to pay attention to the pre conference mailings so that you can get some meals for free, and also learn about many different things going on in the library world, because as we all know it is the exhibitors at the different conferences that are our biggest supporters.