Is reading reviews OK?

Here’s post no. 2 from Selected Audiobooks …

I’m not a subscriber to YALSA-BK, but some of my committee colleagues read it, and wrote to the Selected Audiobooks listserv about a recent spate of postings about audiobooks and whether it’s appropriate for teens to listen to (as opposed to reading) required and/or summer reading titles.

They noted that that discussion soon morphed into one about favorite audiobooks, and they realized that many of the books that YALSA-BK posters had said were their favorites had not — in fact — risen to the top for them. (In our listserv discussions about the YALSA-BK listserv discussion, no titles were mentioned, so I truly don’t know which books anyone here is talking about.) One colleague wondered if it was appropriate for a member of Selected Audiobooks to write about audiobooks that she’s enjoyed (and perhaps nominated) in a public forum like YALSA-BK. Is she inappropriately sharing what should remain an internal discussion and/or skewing an electronic conversation by posting an opinion as a member of our committee? Are we being unduly influenced by others’ opinions when we read reviews or listservs like YALSA-BK?

I leapt in with “heck, no!” to this query, since our committee deliberations are public (although our listserv discussions are not), and any of our opinions are just that — our own opinions. I went on (because I do go on and on …) to say that I thought that we represented the larger YALSA membership as committee members and that to share our opinions about why we thought something was great (or not so) as an audiobook was — in fact — a service to the membership. I share my opinions freely — and fully identified as my opinions — on my blog, which I am shyly sharing with you today [but for some reason the YALSA blog software doesn't like blogspot, so it's not linking here, so here's how you find it: readingwithmyears dot blogspot dot com]. I am sharing shyly, because my blog is very basic and is not nearly as entertaining as Betsy Bird’s or Tasha Saecker’s Kids Lit or Hip Librarians [whose blog address doesn't make the YALSA blog software happy either, but can be found by Googling hip librarians] or some other blog I don’t know about. I also said that I found reading others’ opinions helped me to consider other aspects of a book that I had overlooked or dismissed for one reason or another. I say, bring on all opinions!

But, truly what we want to know is … what do you think? Should we post our thoughts about audiobooks in public forums like YALSA-BK? Should we avoid all reviews and postings about titles we’re considering? Why don’t other committee members (BBYA, most notably) post to book discussion forums?

Posted by Lee Catalano

White Rabbit

I’m late … I’m late …

Greetings YALSA blog readers … apologies for the lengthy silence from Selected Audiobooks. After ALA, I went on a nearly month-long vacation, and since coming back (a month ago! eek!), I’ve been attempting to get out from under the pile of stuff that accumulated in my absence.

I have a couple things to share with you today, so I’m going to post in two parts (I do have a problem keeping these entries short). Firstly, as I reported in such a hurry during ALA, we had asked the YALSA board to approve a change in the committee’s Policies and Procedures — particularly the criteria requiring “professional production quality” and “correct pronunciation of all text words.” We asked for and received approval for more flexibility in our evaluation criteria, and our revised policies now include the following sentence: “However, a title would not necessarily be disqualified if an error is deemed by the committee to be minor when evaluating the recording as a whole.”

[Of course, this change is not yet evident on our Policies and Procedures webpage. Oops! I hope the YALSA Board can get right on that?]

Actually, more that a little updating of that page is required: our posted nomination list hasn’t changed for nearly five months. We are now up to 27 nominations … I tried to get through all of the ones I hadn’t listened to while on vacation, but I’ve still got eight to go! I did, however, fly through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as I was deeply jet-lagged from my trip to China and few things make those wee hours fly by than listening to Jim Dale.

So, I hope that the powers that be can get that page updated too.

In the meantime, here are a few other nominated titles that I’ve enjoyed: The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, Mao’s Last Dancer (Young Readers Edition), Soul Eater (Book 3 of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness … get your Ian McKellen fix right here!), and Waves.

Posted by Lee Catalano

Hacking

There have been a flurry of high profile stories lately about teen hackers. There’s of course the unlocked iphone, internet porn filter, and AjaxLife-a web based client for Second Life.

In a recent article by USA Today, many teens cited learning about computers because “it is exciting and challenging” as their main motives for hacking.

While that doesn’t excuse illegal behavior, not all hacking is illegal and hacking itself often has a very negative connotation. Library consultant Linda Braun pointed out, why not consider what ‘hacking’ could be as a library program. What a great opportunity to talk about issues such as the digital millennium copyright act that George Hotz points out after unlocking the iPhone. If your library has done a similar program, share your comments. Why not approach a store like Radio Shack that also offers online classes and see if someone will come to the library and teach a program about modifying devices. Throw out a contest or a problem and ask teens to fix it. Share your best practices on the LibSuccess wiki, check out previous blog posts, add your links like Makezine to the YALSA del.icio.us page. Encourage teens to blog about their legal hacks (check out hackzine.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

YALSA Podcast #26 – Judy Macaluso

In this YALSA podcast, Linda Braun talks with Judy Macaluso, Teen Services Coordinator at the Ocean County (NJ) Library System. Judy talks about a new program she is working on with the County Prosecutor’s Office to educate parents about social networking. The project includes a series of workshops and the distribution of bookmarks based on those created by the Illinois Library Association.

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The YALSA Update, August 28

News and More from the YALSA Office

Register for Teen Read Week! Time is running out! Join thousands of other members and teen literacy supporters by registering for Teen Read Week—registration ends September 17. All YALSA members who register will receive a free paperback courtesy Scholastic, a Teen Read Week Promotional Partner. Teen Read Week 2007 is October 14-20, with the theme of “LOL @ your library,” encouraging teens to read something light or humorous, just for the fun of it.

Share Your Knowledge with YALSA in 2008 YALSA is now accepting proposals for a technology poster session at Annual 2008 and the first-ever Young Adult Literature Symposium in November 2008:

  • Teens and Technology Call for Poster Session: YALSA, in conjunction with the Technology for Young Adults Committee, invites interested parties to present at YALSA’s first-ever Teens & Technology Poster Session at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, June 26–July 2, 2008.
  • Young Adult Literature Symposium: Calls for Program Proposals and Papers are now being accepted. The Young Adult Literature Symposium will take place November 7-9, 2008, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Proposals are due to the YALSA office by October 1, 2007. Contact Nichole Gilbert at ngilbert@ala.org with any questions.

Registration Open for Fall E-Courses Registration is in full swing for YALSA’s four fall courses: Booktalks Quick and Simple, New Technologies and New Literacies for Teens, Reaching Teens with Gaming, and YALSA Competencies Live. Registration ends September 17.

Join Our Two Newest Discussion Lists YALSA now offers two more discussion lists: teachyal, for those who teach young adult literature, or yalsa-lockdown, for those who serve incarcerated teens. To learn more, visit YALSA’s Electronic Discussion Lists page.

Best Books for Young Adults, 3rd Edition, Now Available The freshly updated, uber-useful third edition of Best Books for Young Adults is now available from ALA Editions! Edited by Holly Koelling, Best Books for Young Adults is an invaluable, comprehensive resource for those in public and school libraries who serve teens, as well as an excellent tool for readers’ advisory and collection development. Best Books for Young Adults includes annotated lists of the best young adult books extending back to 1966, indexed by author and title and 27 themed and annotated lists in easily reproducible formats.

Every Tuesday, check back to the YALSA Blog for a rundown of news and updates from the YALSA Office. Send your questions and comments to Stevie Kuenn, YALSA Communications Specialist, at skuenn@ala.org

Outreach

There is a generation gap between experienced librarians and the teens we serve. Most of us know this, and thus shape our services based on what the teens request.
But what happens when the only teens requesting services are the ones who already see the library as a out dated warehouse for books? The things they request are based on what they think is appropriate for the library, and in reaction to how supportive their community is of their interests.

Here are some things you can do reach teens who don’t normally use your system:

  • If you do school visits, don’t just talk to the teens but ask them questions and listen to what they have to say.
  • Partner with other organizations in your community that teens love to hang out at.
  • Or just look at what places in your community teens often hang out at, and try to make your library more like those environments
  • Advertise what you are doing at the library in the places where your teens are
  • Have a website where teens can add content from comments on blogs to regular polls.
  • Give teens examples of what other libraries are doing when you talk to them so they have ideas for what’s possible

I hope these tips help libraries who are developing teen services. For those with successful teen services I encourage you to post comment with any other great ideas you have :D

A Safe Place to Fail

I attended the Second Life Community Convention in Chicago this weekend. There were four tracks; social, business, education, and machinima. What did this conference have to do with libraries and what were some sessions that I could highlight as examples that relate to teens?

Innovation in Second Life is driven by its residents. Wow-what a powerful practice that many libraries are currently doing and could even do better. My library is currently undergoing an organizational restructuring. Part of the change has to do with putting creativity into the hands of our users. What will this look like? What has it looked like in libraries already? Philip Rosedale, the CEO of Linden Lab, wore a tshirt that said ‘missing image’. This meant, he explained, getting the heck out of the way and again, putting the power in the hands of the users. Can we as libraries continue to create spaces, tools and opportunities that will truly allow our users to explore to their fullest potential?

We should be more concerned about the participation gap rather than the access gap. This thought was echoed several times throughout the conference by foundations such as MacArthur and Microsoft. While they are not denying that access is a concern, they feel that it’s coming faster than those that have the skills and those that don’t. Can you have participation without having access? I think that places an interesting responsibility on communities to offer tools so that students can learn. How do we come together and do that? Again, it’s something libraries do all the time, but what digital skills do some teens have that others don’t? Second Life is a powerful tool for educators. Global Kids, based in New York is coming out with curriculum guidance for teachers to use Second Life as a medium to teach.

Virtual worlds are going to be bigger than the Internet. That was also a frequently stated comment. Sure, when you’re at a conference with like minded people, it seems like that’s the whole world-and everyone else? Surely they’re listening via streaming audio on Second Life at the conference. No-I think it’s more than that and something that libraries can definitely wait to see what happens or they can be early adopters and pioneers and as Mitch Kapor (founder of Lotus Notes) said, “you have unbelievably great opportunities to put your stamp, to leave a legacy, to create things which will endure and have value.” What will that look like for libraries to have relevance in virtual worlds and why should we care?

A few examples of presentations to relate to teens:

Global Kids teens presented their machinima from machinima camp this summer. Ten one minute films based on child rights. Teens presented their work at the conference and audience members shared how they/we truly bow down to their expression of storytelling, research gathering, and presentation in a digital medium.

Musicians and dj’s in Second Life predicted that virtual worlds are going to have a huge role in their music performance, participation, and creation. Music is so important to teens-what a great opportunity for a global reach for their art.

Eye4You Alliance Island on the teen grid, sponsored by a public library, presented through a poster session a college fair in October. Teens and colleges from all over the world can come to gather information, share resources, and build community.

The Alliance Library System in East Peoria, Illinois talked about their presence within the virtual world, including Renaissance Island which has period clothing and buildings-including roaming sheep. Imagine teens diving into the Faerie Queen because they can recreate scenes and build community. It’s so cool-it’s hard not to hear the snap of fingers, that lightbulb that goes on, the imagination that has no bounds.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Book Review: Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer

I’m a sucker for a good vampire novel and Meyer makes monsters romantic again in this third episode of the Twilight series. The passion colored ribbon snaking across the cover of Eclipse is a harbringer of rift and bloodshed to come. Bella Swan, ordinary high school student, is still madly in love with beautiful vampire Edward Cullen, but it’s complicating her friendship with Jacob Black (the one who was there to pick up the pieces when Edward removed himself from her life). Jacob just happens to be a werewolf, and werewolves and vampires are sworn enemies. In addition to the “which boy will she pick” dilemma, a parallel conflict is created when a series of brutal murders in the northwest indicates a rogue vampire pack is on the move, and the Cullens are going to be facing a major showdown soon. Per usual, Bella is wrapped up in the middle of it, and in mortal danger.

The best parts of the book are a long storytelling session in which Billy Black tells the myth of the Third Wife. The attention to detail and careful styling are excellent. A scene in which the love triangle are forced to spend a night in a tent together reveals more character than the previous 500 pages. The allusions to Wuthering Heights elevate the plot and are a nod to the tradition of gothic literature, and may even inspire some teens to pick up a classic.

Frustratingly, Bella remains little more than a pawn in this book, trying to please everyone but herself. Much of this tome is taken up with her obsessing over the events of the backstory, and looking to her future, and whether or not she wants to be married, deflowered, turned, or all three, and when. Although she is a terrible role model for young women (marry young, girls are possessions, let your mate control your life, there is only One True Love, etc), the palpable (and chaste) longing will keep fans of the series swooning.

Eclipse is a must-have for YA collections, in spite of the fact that I personally wanted to throw the book across the room when I finished it. See, I’m holding out hope that in the next book, Breaking Dawn, slated for release next year, Bella snaps out of it and ends up with the RIGHT guy — for the right reasons. The debate on WHICH guy that will be rages over at Amazon. If you do comment on this post, please note if your comment contains a SPOILER, in case folks may not have finished the book yet.

Social Resources/Social Publishing

Personalized home pages and social bookmarking aren’t anything new. People have been using del.icio.us, iGoogle, Yahoo! 360, and others for several years. Last week, The New York Times launched their MyTimes home page to a broader audience. On Net @ Night in early August hosts Leo Laporte and Amber McArthur interviewed the CEO of Pageflakes. These two events got me thinking a bit more about home page services and social bookmarking in a broader context.

For a lot of people customized home pages are a way to conveniently bring together RSS feeds. In other words the home page becomes the place to keep up with the latest information from the sources in which someone is interested. This is the main focus of The NYTimes MyTimes service. MyTimes is seeded with RSS feeds from sections of The New York Times. Users of the service can add and delete from those feeds. They can also add feeds from outside of The NY Times.

PageFlakes takes this idea of RSS reader and adds something they call PageCasts to it. PageCasts are customized home pages that users create on a particular topic and that they want to give others access to. For example, one of the highlighted PageCasts at PageFlakes is titled Anime Kingdom. This is a PageCast that is filled with links to blog posts, YouTube videos, filmographies, and news all on the topic of anime.

Another PageCast is Afrosphere. This PageCast acts as a newspaper of recent news. Blog posts, news articles, feeds from organizations are all included in this PageCast.

Anyone interested in a PageCast that’s already been created can copy it or subscribe to it in order to keep up with the topic.

What does this have to do with teens and libraries? Well, what if teens in your library created PageCasts of resources on topics in which they are interested? Wouldn’t this be a great way for the library to develop web-based resource lists? The lists would be by teens for teens? Once created the PageCasts can be available for teens, and others, around the world to use.

With PageFlakes teens can also create the look and feel of their PageCast. There are templates to choose from, but the site also provides for individuality so teens can make the PageCasts they create their own both in terms of content and design.

Of course personalized home pages saved on the web are a form of social networking. As such personalized home pages provide opportunities for teens and librarians to work together to create content of use to a small or large group of people. Giving teens the chance to create PageCasts will also give you the opportunity to talk with them about how to select and evaluate resources. So this not only becomes a great way to create but a great opportunity to critically think about content.

If you are interested in the varieties of personalized home page services available you might check out Mashable’s roundup on the topic that was published earlier in the summer.

LAST CHANCE! Show Us How You Read Your YALS

Tie a string around your camera this weekend! YALSA wants to know where you read your YALS—whether it’s at the office, at home, or out on the town. Show us all the fun places where you read your issues of YALS, and we’ll include them in the Fall 2007 issue! Send hi-res photos of you with your journal to yalsa@ala.org. Questions? Contact YALS editor Valerie Ott at vott724@yahoo.com or YALSA Communications Specialist Stephanie Kuenn at skuenn@ala.org. Submissions are due to yalsa@ala.org on Monday, August 27.