Interested in Serving on YALSA Diversity Campaign Task Force?

YALSA has recently received great news — we are receiving funding from ALA for a 2008 Diversity Campaign!

This funding means YALSA will be able to fund a Spectrum Scholar, start a conference scholarship for a member with a diverse background to attend ALA’s Annual conference and also exhibit at an ALA affiliate conferences in 2008.

A task force will soon be established to help implement this exciting campaign. As the current YALSA President, I will be making the appointments and would love to hear from any YALSA member interested in possibly working on this task force.

Paula Brehm-Heeger
YALSA President, 2007-2008

Podcast #30 NYPL Lit Cafe

In this YALSA podcast Linda Braun talks with Sarah Couri and Rebecca Schosha, from The New York Public Library (NYPL), about the Lit Cafe. The Cafe is a new program sponsored by NYPL that gives adults the opportunity to come together in an informal setting to talk about books.


Mentioned in the podcast:

If you have questions about the Cafe you can email Rebecca at and Sarah at

The YALSA Update: A Holiday Smorgasbord

Teen Tech Week Updates
Stephanie gave details about the Promotional Song contest earlier this week, but did you know there’s still time to win a Teen Tech Week Mini Grant for your library? Applications for the $450 mini grants (plus $50 in Teen Tech Week products) will be accepted at until January 7—visit the Teen Tech Week contests page to download the guidelines and your application form. (And, of course, don’t forget to register while you’re there!)

We’ve also launched two new Tech Guides: one on using online surveys and another on teens and virtual worlds. Download all three tech guides today!

Midwinter: Three Weeks ’til Philly!
Midwinter will be here before you know it. We’ve still got spots open in our Midwinter Institute, Taking Teen Services to the Next Level, and tickets available for the third annual Gaming Extravaganza. Plus, we’ve got giveaways planned at the YALSA Happy Hour and our booth in the exhibits hall, #435. And, of course, we’ll be giving out our annual Youth Media Awards bright and early Monday morning! To learn more about all of YALSA’s amazing Midwinter plans (and download a schedule), visit YALSA’s Midwinter Meeting Wiki!

Can’t make it to Midwinter? We’ll be blogging, Twittering and podcasting Midwinter straight to you from Philly and you can log in to the Webcast of our awards. To find out how to attend Midwinter virtually, check out Linda’s post from earlier this week.

Online Course Registration Continues
Online course registration for our Winter session, beginning Feb. 4, is going strong. Check out our classes —Boys and Books: Encouraging Early Teen and Tween Boys to Read; Pain in the Brain: Adolescent Development and Library Behavior; Power Programming for Teens; and Tech Tools for Teen Leadership&mdash and sign up today!

Finally, Thank You
As 2007 draws to a close, I’d like to thank our members for all of their hard work this year. You made our 50th anniversary the best it could be, and all of us at the YALSA Office appreciate everything you do to make this such a dynamic organization. Have a happy and safe holiday season, and I’m looking forward to all of the great things we’ll accomplish in 2008.

Check back to the YALSA Blog every Thursday for a rundown of news and updates from the YALSA Office. Send your questions and comments to Stevie Kuenn, YALSA Communications Specialist, at

New From Pew

Yesterday the Pew Internet in American Life Project released an updated report on teens and social media. The findings update their original report released in 2004.

The front page of the report states:

The use of social media gains a greater foothold in teen life as they embrace the conversational nature of interactive online media.

This is probably no surprise for most people, but the content of the report provides hard data that librarians serving teens can use in order to gain backing for the programs and services needed to support teens who are heavy users of social media. The data includes notes about changes in use from the last report. These indicators of growth are a clear demonstration that social media is not a fad for teens (or for the general public for that matter.) Some of the change findings include:

  • More teens are doing more than one type of content creation online. In other words, teens might use Flickr and MySpace or they might post to YouTube and a blog. The report states, “…the number of teen content creators who have done one activity has decreased significantly while the number of content creators who have done two or more activities has increased.”
  • More teens blogging is one of the major reasons that the numbers related to content creation have risen over the past three years. Not only are teens blogging for themselves, they are also blogging as a part of school assignments and extracurricular activities.
  • In 2004, socio-economic conditions did not have an impact on who was and wasn’t blogging. In 2007 teens in lower income families are blogging more than teens in higher income families.
  • In 2004, 33% of teens said they shared artwork, movies, etc. online. In 2007 that percentage reached 39%. In that finding the authors of the report also note that older teens are slightly more likely to share this content online.

The report is filled with extremely useful information, not just for librarians to use in order to educate their colleagues, peers, and administrators about the value and importance of social media in teen lives, but also as a tool for thinking about how services from, and at, the library need to be shaped. How are libraries serving teens supporting adolescent needs and desires to create and exchange online content?

As a final note, it’s important to point out that the authors of the report found that teens who spend lots of time in online social networking do not ignore face-to-face interaction. As a matter of fact the authors state:

…we have yet to see compelling evidence that these highly wired teens are abandoning offline engagement with extracurricular activities in favor of having more screen time. In fact, in many cases, those who are the most active online with social media applications like blogging and social networking also tend to be the most involved with offline activities like sports, music, or part-time employment.

The fear of adults that increased web-based social networking might interfere with a teen’s ability to lead a vibrant face-to-face life seems to be an un-warranted fear.

Don’t miss reading this report for more information and data that helps to get a clear picture of who teens really are in the early 21st century, and to use as fodder for discussions about library service to these teens.

Virtual Midwinter

In my early years as a librarian I didn’t have the chance to attend ALA’s Midwinter Meeting or Annual Conference. During those years I wished that there was a way that I could attend without actually going to the city where the event took place. In those days that wasn’t possible. But now there are opportunities to participate in ALA meetings without leaving your house or office. Some of the ways you can participate this year, even if you can’t travel to Philadelphia for the Midwinter Meeting, include:

  • The YALSA blog – YALSA bloggers will post regularly during the meeting in Philadelphia. Check the blog out to learn what people said and what people learned during various programs and events.
  • YALSA podcasts – once again YALSA will produce a series of podcasts as a way to inform listeners of doings in Philadelphia.
  • The webcast of the Joint Youth Media Awards. Login early for one of the spots to watch the Youth Media Awards on Monday, January 14. There’s only a limited number of virtual seats for the webcast. You can login starting at 7:45 AM EST.
  • Visiting the YALSA web site. Award information, for those who miss the webcast, will be available on the site by 9:15 AM EST on January 14. Also, YALSA will post selected lists, completed during the Midwinter Meeting, by Tuesday, January 15.
  • Track YALSA on Twitter. Twitter users can track YALSA and automatically receive any posts from the Midwinter Meeting that are about YALSA programs and events. To track YALSA, when logged into your Twitter account post a message with the text “track YALSA” and you will automatically receive any postings that include that acronym.

I am fortunate enough to be able to attend ALA’s Midwinter Meeting. But, if I weren’t, I’d be glad to know that I could keep up virtually.

Literary Festival and Create an Avatar contest

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usLibrarians around the world, in Second Life are organizing a Literary Festival for Saturday, February 2. Author presentations, a murder mystery theatre, and dress your avatar as your favorite literary character are some ideas. Authors audio (and even video) presentations can be streamed to the teen grid.
Also, don’t forget to create an avatar for YALSA’s Midwinter Gaming Festival with the help of your teens or TAGs. Due January 4, 2008!
It can be a bit of a humbling experience to have teens help you with your avatar (av), but in the end, hopefully it will be all for the good. I’ll share my story, feel free to share yours. I was on Teen Second Life tonight and had a hairstyle on my avatar that other adults have complimented. One of the teen ‘regulars’ however said to me, “what is that black void on your head?” It was then decided that a teen should shop for my av and give me some much needed hairstyles and clothing. As I got the hair and tried to put it on, I was told my head was too big for the hair. Indeed it was. I was pretty determined to just stay bald but after a few adjustments, and shifting of the head size, was able to wear the style. And was told by another teen ‘regular’ that “I’ve heard of Chinese foot binding, but head binding?” Okay-so too small with the headsize. I increased it a bit and guess it passed for okay. Humbling but was it worth it? Yes, definitely, and I learned things on the way thanks to the teens and promoted YALSA and the contest to the teens and the adults nearby. And now I have an av to enter into the contest! (it’s not this av pictured btw).

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Teen Tech Week Promotional Song Contest

Do you know any teens that make their own music? Perhaps they like to sing or have their own band? Now is the time to let them shine! Give teens an opportunity to showcase their talent in YALSA’s Teen Tech Week Promotional Song Contest.

The purpose of the contest is for teens to create a song that promotes libraries and their many technology resources to teens. Judges will be looking for content that promotes library technology and Teen Tech Week, well-written and audible lyrics, creative approach, and clear-sounding production quality.

Teens may begin working on the contest immediately. Every entry will be acknowledged with a certificate. Each of the five finalists will receive a free book and the winner(s) will also receive a $50 gift certificate from a major bookstore, and will be interviewed for a YALS article and press release.

Teen Tech Week will be held during March 2 – 8, 2008. All contest materials are due on March 8, 2008 at midnight.

Visit the Teen Tech Web site at to download the official rules and entry form.

Hop Tip: Want to know how to setup a recording studio for teens so they can make music in the library? Then read one of YALSA’s Teen Tech guides on making music with teens.

Download a PDF of Making Music with Teens here:


December is a slow month in my library system, so its the perfect time for weeding. I’ve been with my library for 6 months, but only weeded out paperbacks that were completely ratty during the summer. So my shelves are very tight, and its hard to display books on the ends. This means I have to buckle down and weed out my books, but this is the hard part.In school they teach you to weed based on condition or use, but you don’t go into library science without have some desire to put books in teens hands. I’d often find myself staring at the books saying things like “well this would be great for that historical fiction assignment.” or “But its still readable”

My job of weeding is even harder because we have a collection development department that does a great job of ordering what the teens want, which means I’m looking at a collection that moves. I can run a report for the items that haven’t circulated in the past year, but that’s not even 20 items. To make room on my shelves for displays, and for the great new titles that will come in 2008 I have to get rid of at least 5 times that much.

Our YA selector showed me how to tell if a book is in poor condition. If you put your hands on the cover and back and wiggle the book, you can test the spine. If it moves or the spine is separating you know that book is going to fall apart soon, so it has to go. Covers are also an important part of a YA collection. If you have books with non appealing covers that are at least 5 years old, you might consider finding a better edition of a title. We don’t want teens to walk into the library and think our books are all old.

Even following these rules I’ve had problems. Its very difficult to put a book on the weeds pile, because you really are worried you’re going to weed something that a teens will want the very next day or week. The truth is however, libraries don’t live in a vacuum. We have Interlibrary loan, consortium, and other libraries in our community. If you get rid of a good book there will be other places to get it.

To help me overcome my fears of removing something I didn’t even know the teens wanted I’ve set rules for myself. A book has to circ a certain number of times to be on the selves. It has to prove itself to be in my teen collection. If I really love a book, and think it should stay I’ve put it on display, thinking maybe teens just missed it. This has only saved one book so far, which has made me more comfortable with weeding out the books.

All in all this is something I’m still not 100% comfortable with, but its something I want to be. I know I can’t be the only one whose hesitant about weeding, but since its such an integral part of being a librarian I wanted to share my experiences, and tips I’ve learned from my colleagues to at least ease my own fears.

If you have any other tips or advice for a librarians first time weeding please post a comment.

22nd Century Library Services to Teens

What, did you read that subject correctly? Can it really be true? You are supposed to think about teen library services in the 22nd century when you haven’t yet made it past the first decade of the 21st century? Well, maybe not really 22nd century library services, but if you let yourself think past today, tomorrow, next month, and maybe the next 4 months, it should be easier to prepare yourself and your library for the world of 2010 and 2100.

What is important to think about in preparing yourself and your library for the future of library services to teens? Consider:

  • Customization: Teens are more and more used to being able to set the parameters around how they use programs and services in all environments, including shopping, social networking, entertainment, and research. Libraries that serve teens effectively need to find ways to make physical and virtual programs and services customizable. That means customization in the same way that Facebook (and other social networking sites) provide customizable content. And it means customization in a more traditional sense, for example the ability to use library space for a wide-variety of purposes and needs.
  • Access: OK, access is a word that gets thrown around a lot in libraries, but think about it in terms of the ways in which teens need and want to access programs and services. It means providing teens with the ability to create a widget that guarantees easy connections to research information on a specific topic. It means easily downloading content from the library to a teen’s handheld device. It means teen librarians make themselves available in environments outside of the physical library space – Teen Second Life for example. All of these are examples of access that demonstrates a willingness to go to where teens are instead of requiring teens to come to where the librarian is. That’s key to access in 2007, and will certainly continue to be key in 2010 and beyond.
  • Going Beta: In order to support teens informational, recreational, and developmental needs, librarians have to be able to test things out in beta format. By testing and revising, and by being willing to go beta, teen librarians demonstrate to the community -adults and teens – that the library wants to make sure they’ve come up with the best way to provide service. Beta also demonstrates that feedback on services, before they are finalized, is important. Launching something in beta and saying to teens, let us know what you like and don’t like about this, works to improve service. Instead of talking and testing only among fellow librarians, go beta and find out what really works and doesn’t work from the people who are going to actually use the program or service under development.
  • Nimbleness & Flexibility: While it’s not always possible to get an idea today and make it happen tomorrow, librarians do need to find ways to break through bureaucratic processes in order to give/get teens what they want when they want it. IM, text messaging, VOIP, RSS feeds, downloadable video and audio, and the ability to upload and distribute content make quick and easy access – at least at times – a necessity. Waiting for the perfect solution isn’t a solution. The solution is to act quickly – taking things slowly often means missing the opportunity to actually provide the service needed.

Of course it’s not really possible to figure out what library service will look like in 2100. However, if methods of service that support customization, access, beta testing, and nimbleness and flexibility are implemented, libraries have a good chance of being able to serve teens in 2010 (and perhaps even in 2100) in the way teens need and want to be served.

ALA Nominating Committee Information

Be a Candidate for ALA Office

The 2009 ALA Nominating Committee is already at work and the 2008 election hasn’t even started, but it’s never too soon to plan ahead. With that thought in mind, I wanted to remind all our members to think about running for ALA Office. The 2009 ALA Nominating Committee will begin its work at Midwinter 2008 in Philadelphia by discussing possible candidates. That work will be enlarged upon at Annual, with a final list due to the ALA Executive Committee in the fall of 2008.

How does that affect you? Well, it’s time to start thinking about running for Council or ALA President. The Committee will submit two names for ALA President and 34 names for ALA Council and you could be one of those names. If you would like to be considered for one of these spots, please send your name, a brief bio, and a paragraph as to what you have to offer for either the Councilor or the President’s position to Pam Spencer Holley [] by Monday, January 8, 2008. Questions can be sent at any time to Pam at the same e-mail address