The County of Los Angeles Public Library Teen Services department has created some materials that libraries can use to plan and implement library programs relating to the reading writing connection, in particular with diary/journal writing. The resources can be accessed from Meg Cabot’s web site. They include program ideas, a suggested book list, journal starters and downloadable journal pages. YALSA also has a Popular Paperbacks list called “Lock It, Lick It, Click It: diaries, letters and emails,” which can be accessed from PPYA’s web page.

-Beth Yoke

Money makes the world go ’round … and it pays to be a YALSA member!

This is it! Today is your last day to save $25 on Midwinter Meeting 2008 registration or to enter your fantastic Teen Read Week celebration into our Win a Visit from Tiffany Trent Contest (approximate value: $1,500).

…and Tomorrow is your deadline to apply for one of YALSA’s many grants and awards. We’re giving more than $33,000 to our members, and you could be one of them.

Plus Cash for Teen Tech Week! Registration just opened, plus we’re giving out twenty Mini Grants to YALSA members for Teen Tech Week! Have an awesome idea to celebrate Teen Tech Week at your library, but don’t quite have the funds to pull it off? Tell us about it, and you could win $450 cash for Teen Tech Week activities, services, or resources , plus $50 worth of Teen Tech Week products from ALA Graphics. Official rules and the application are at the Teen Tech Week Web site. Mini Grant applications are due January 7, 2007. Questions? Contact Nichole Gilbert at ngilbert@ala.org.

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

As many subscribers may know, the YALSA electronic discussion lists are currently down. This includes private discussion lists for committees as well as our larger, popular public lists like YALSA-BK and YA-YAAC. We have alerted IT staff and are working to restore the lists as soon as possible.

We apologize for the inconvenience. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at skuenn@ala.org.

Greetings … inspired by the Best of 2007 lists that have recently come out from a bunch of publications (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and the New York Times are what I’ve seen [My computer has forgotten my SLJ password and so have I, so I haven't seen its list, but according to Fuse#8 it's out too]), here is my highly personalized list of favorites from this year’s listening:

  • Before I Die by Jenny Downham, narrated by Charlotte Parry
  • Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer, narrated by Katherine Kellgren
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale
  • Larklight by Philip Reeve, narrated by Greg Steinbruner
  • Mimus by Lili Thal, narrated by Maxwell Caulfield
  • The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, narrated by Natalie Moore
  • Soul Eater by Michelle Paver, narrated by Ian McKellen
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, narrated by Joel Johnstone and Debra Wiseman
  • The Wednesday Wars by Gary L. Schmidt, narrated by Joel Johnstone
  • What is the What by Dave Eggers, narrated by Dion Graham

(Bear in mind, of course, that I’m not done listening, there may be other gems awaiting me.)

Our nomination deadline is December 1 (that’s next Saturday!). If there’s an audiobook that you’ve enjoyed — published this year or last — and you don’t see it on our most recent list of nominations, be sure to nominate it yourself. We might have already listened and decided not to nominate it, but your vote might change our minds!

Keep on listening!

Dear teens,

You’ll probably never read this post, but that’s okay. I just wanted to write because I’ve been thinking about you lately. Today, Pittsburgh’s loomed with overcast skies and coated us in drizzle. I had some tofurkey with friends earlier, and now I’m back home on the couch, taking stock of my life. You see, I recently read Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It. If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest it. It’s an evocative–if not emotionally excruciating–account of what happens to a family after an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it out of orbit and toward the Earth. Natural disasters, extreme temperatures, and flu outbreaks ravage civilization, killing countless people across the globe. Meanwhile, the main character Miranda documents it all: the mad rush for food, the volcanic ash blocking out the sun, and the knowledge that anyone, no matter how much you love them, is at risk for death.

It’s a lot to think about. And it got me thinking that disaster preparedness isn’t just having the food, fuel, and tools you’ll need to survive. It’s about making sure that the people you appreciate are reminded that you appreciate them, because–well–you can’t predict the future.

That’s why I wanted to write this post. Because you, teens, are people I appreciate.

Never mind the sensationalized news reports. Never mind the heaps of bitter blog posts about you from librarians that don’t “get it.” Every day, I wake up inspired to serve you. I appreciate your energy. I admire your courage. I wonder at your fortitude. The challenge to hold your attention has had a momentous impact on library services across the board, and has kept me striving to keep up with innovations in how I deliver information to you.

Your questioning about our policies, services, and collections helps me constantly reevaluate what I do and why I do it. Sometimes, I have a good answer for you. Other times, it means I have an opportunity to improve the library. You give me somebody I can talk with about cutting edge literature.

I appreciate that you’re so willing to share. I appreciate your engagement, your care, and your concern for the world around you. I appreciate that no matter what you ended up doing while here (and how much trouble you may or may not have gotten for it), you at one point thought, “You know, the library is a place I want to go.”

So thank you, teens. Thank you for the weeks of long hours, stress, and hard work. Thank you for the excitement. Thank you for the exhaustion. And, perhaps above all, thank you allowing me to never hesitate when answering the question “How do you like your job?”

What else is there to say but “I love it!”

So while you may never read this, I just wanted to put it out there. I hope that the sentiment seeps into the ether, so that when you enter your library, you know that at least one librarian, somewhere, really appreciates you. And that thanks to the efforts of people from Margaret A. Edwards and beyond, there’s an awful lot more of us where that came from.

With gratitude,
Joseph Wilk

P.S. — While on the subject of Thanksgiving, I just wanted to give a quick shout out to Debbie Reese’s blog American Indians in Children’s Literature (see http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com for more information). Debbie’s been a critical voice in reminding us that the American Indian Movement is still alive and relevant, and that there’s a lot to consider when we’re presented with teen books featuring American Indian characters or themes. It’s no secret that many people celebrate Thanksgiving based on historical myths, and that many other myths continue to affect people’s perceptions of American Indians. Debbie’s blog will help you think critically about and untangle those notions, wherever they might exist in the literature that we promote to teens. Thanks, Debbie, for the resources! For answers to more questions about materials, services, and resources, check out the American Indian Library Association.

As chair of Teen Tech Week committee, I am happy to announce that YALSA is now accepting registrations for the 2008 celebration. Please join me by registering your school or public library for the second annual Teen Tech Week, Tune in @ Your Library. Teen Tech Week will be celebrated at thousands of public and school libraries across the nation from March 2 – 8, 2008.

Why should you register?
YALSA is a non-profit organization that depends on its members for support. By registering, you are letting us know that technology literacy is important to you and your teen patrons. By registering, you are telling YALSA that this program is valuable and worth continuing.

Teen Tech Week registrants will have first-hand access to Tech Guides developed by the Teen Tech Week committee. Tech guides provide a basic introduction to emerging technologies and give examples of how to connect teens with these exciting mediums. Registrants will also receive updates about contests and incentives via e-mail.

Start Planning your Event Today
We are nearly three months away from Teen Tech Week! Start planning your event today by browsing the Teen Tech Week wiki for program and display ideas. Teen Tech Week also has an official web site that is full of planning resources.

Stay Tuned for more TTW Resources
•The Teen Tech Week Tech Guides will help you keep abreast of current technologies and how you can use them in a public or school library program. Visit the Teen Tech Week web site in the near future to read the first tech guide, Making Music with Teens.

•You could win one of ten $500 Teen Tech Week Mini-grants for programming in your library! More information to come soon.

•Have your teens enter our Best Promotional Library Song Contest! Teens may enter individually or in a group. Prizes include gift certificates and materials for your library. Details to come.

The annual ALAN workshop occurs at the end of the National Council of Teachers of English conference, this year in NYC. The 2 day workshop features over 50 authors, a few educators, and others who pull together to celebrate the rich field of YA literature. There are plenty of YALSA folks here: Mary Burkey, Jamie Watson, Joni Bodart, Bonnie Kunzel, Mary Arnold, and more. Today we listened so far to Chris Curtis, Helen Hemphill, Alan Sitomer, Simon Boughton, Kathleen Jeffries Johnson with Laurie Halse Anderson and others to come.

Next year, NCTE and ALAN is in San Antonio. Hope to see some of you there.

I hope all of you saw the Amazon Top Ten YA books. Here is the tiny URL:

http://tinyurl.com/2w5rap

Posted by Teri Lesesne

Today the National Endowment for the Arts published a report titled To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence. (Link is to a .pdf file.) The report discusses the reading habits of teens and adults and considers the frequency with which different age groups read for pleasure, read a book, and read at all.

Reading the study one has to ask, how did those gathering the data define reading? For example, there is a finding that states “Teens and young adults spend less time reading than people of other age groups.” How can that be true? Don’t teens read when surfing YouTube, looking for something on Google, figuring out how to improve their gaming scores, checking out photos on Flickr?

Maybe it’s because the authors of the report don’t consider using the web, playing video games, or even emailing to encompass valid reading opportunities. For example another finding states “Even when reading does occur, it competes with other media.” One of the sub-bullets in that finding is that “20% of their reading time is shared by TV watching, video/computer game-playing, instant messaging, e-mailing, or Web surfing.” Isn’t it pretty obvious that IMing, emailing, and web surfing require reading?

There are some valid concerns about multitasking and reading comprehension outlined in this report. However, if we as a society don’t seriously investigate how we define reading, and recognize that reading formats other than books is reading, we are going to alienate many teens and younger generations.

When you read about the report (or read the actual document) think about what the research really looked at, how the researchers defined reading, and how the data does or doesn’t reflect what you are seeing in your community and setting. Be careful not to make teens feel that just because they are reading something online, and not reading a traditional format such as a paperback book, that that reading doesn’t count. Let teens know that reading in a variety of formats is something you respect and value.

In a startling development in the battle for copyrights and royalties, top Democrats have introduced a bill requiring not only “technology-based deterrents” against peer-to-peer filesharing, but also preemptive subscriptions to fee-based alternatives.

The penalty for non-compliance? All students lose their federal aid.

Could this be a harbinger of what’s to come for libraries? It’s no secret that libraries are hotbeds of music piracy, and it’s not as though Congress hasn’t extorted libraries into draconian policies before. It reminds me of Stephen J. Dubner’s post “If Public Libraries Didn’t Exist, Could You Start One Today?” which squarely drove home how fragile our limited rights are under the pressures of industry lobbyists. What use will the first sale doctrine be, if it comes equipped with a hefty price tag–or else?

Teens deserve access to media and information in all its formats. Libraries, by providing CDs and Internet access, give teens just that. What can we do to fortify ourselves against very real threats to intellectual freedom? There’s always writing your representative, but what leverage do we have against corporate entertainment lobbies? What are we building?