Blame the Brain: Teen Brain Development and its Effect on Teen Behavior

I’ve been fortunate to teach “Pain in the Brain,” a class on teen behavior, for YALSA several times, and am always on the lookout for new information on how biology influences (undesirable!) actions. Last week, ‘ U.S. News and World Report followed up on their 1999 article “Inside the Teen Brain” with a feature titled “Deploying the Amazing Power of the Teen Brain” that reports on a ‘ Duke University program designed to empower teens to use their brains. The article covers basic brain changes, other factors for teen behavior and a’ quiz you can take to see how much you know about the adolescent brain. Continue reading

Web 2.0 and Selecting Materials for YAs

Reading news items and YALSA-Bk listserv postings during this past month, I noticed two recurring intellectual freedom themes…determining the suitability/appropriateness of materials for teens and balancing that suitability/appropriateness within the current definition of YA literature. “Appropriateness” concerns have been raised recently about a whole gamut of materials from DVD TV movies (Freedom Song) to manga titles (Alice 19 and Treasure), popular fiction (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Succession), and L. Ron Hubbard audio books. Most of the postings asked for guidance in evaluating these titles for suitability for a YA audience.

It struck me that we librarians depend more and more on the opinions of blog and listserv posters and less on our own familiarity with the material in question. Are we in danger of basing our decisions on incomplete information then? Do we prefer postings because we don’t have enough time to read, view, and/or listen to new acquisitions or to become more familiar with our collections? Is it because we fear challenges and it’s simply easier, this way, to avoid them? Continue reading

Teen Programming: Basic Steps for the Overwhelmed

If you are new to young adult services getting started can be daunting. The first step is mental. You must have a clear, professional, and personal understanding of why you are developing a teen program.

Professionally; pleasure reading and library use decline during the teen years. Traditionally we have reclaimed these lost patrons when they have children of their own but the changing face of the information, education, and entertainment world may change this. Young adult programs are needed to help teens think of libraries as relevant to their lives, so that we don’t lose them as patrons in the first place. Continue reading


GITA, the Geospatial Information & Technology Association has a program called Location in Education where educators can borrow 10-15 GPS units (like the one pictured here), free of charge except for shipping and handling.

The units only work outdoors since they depend on signals from satellites that will give the unit longitude and latitude coordinates. People then can use these units to locate treasures that have been hidden around town. Many libraries already have scavenger hunts and chances are that teens will pick up pretty easily on using these devices. If you have the opportunity, try them out with staff first-they’ll discover how easy and fun they are to use. Continue reading


Last night at 12:01 AM I, along with a theater full of teens, gasped with delight when the opening scene from the movie Twilight began. The delight was evident again with the first appearance of Jacob and even more so with the first appearance of Edward. This movie is great! Agree with me or not, I think we can all declare with full confidence that this blockbuster hit is going to make the Twilight Saga even more popular with readers of all ages. Continue reading

2008 Book Challenges

Perhaps it’s hard to believe, but 2008 is almost over. The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) is seeking reports of book challenges that occurred during the year.’  As the OIF post on the topic states:

With the end of the year approaching, the Office for Intellectual Freedom will be compiling our yearly list of most frequently challenged books. We collect information for our challenge database from newspapers and reports submitted by individuals and, while we know that many challenges are never reported, we strive to be as comprehensive as possible in our records. We would greatly appreciate if you could send us any information on challenges in your library or school from 2008. Continue reading

Not Like Those Other Librarians

On the second day I started work at this school, I told one of the first students I met that I was in school to become a school librarian. “You’d make a fun librarian,” she told me. “Not like those boring ones.” I was pleased, but also a little puzzled–we’d only just met, and she knew little more about me than the way I dressed and that I at least knew how to log into the BPL databases.

Earlier today, a teacher at that same school told me in a stage whisper that the way I was sitting at the circulation desk was “not so professional-looking.”

So how do I balance being the Fun Librarian with being A Professional Librarian? Continue reading

Living & Learning With New Media

The MacArthur Foundation just released a new report titled Living and Learning with New Media: Findings from the Digital Youth Project. Every librarian working with teens should download a copy of this report and read it. Why? Because the data presented provides librarians with much needed information to help them, and others, understand why teen use of social media is key to successful youth development.’  It’s clear from the findings and recommendations in the report that teen use of online social media has many benefits, and that as adults it is our responsibility to support teens in their use of this media. Continue reading

Member Survey Results

Thank you to everyone who responded to the recent member survey!’  If you’d like to look at the results they can be found online.

Thanks to the Division Membership and Promotion Committee for analyzing the survey results and reporting the information to the Board.’  You can expect to read more about the survey results soon, as well as see new actions and ideas based on the results.’  Again, thanks to everyone who participated!

Sarah Debraski

YALSA President

The Amazing Power of Facebook

I’ve been on Facebook for a little while now–maybe three years? When I was at my last job, in a school library, I didn’t friend any of my students, because there was too much personal information on my Facebook page…and it would be, I think, crossing a line. But I use it to keep in touch with friends. It’s probably the number one way I communicate with people these days, and I also use it as my photo management tool.

So now that I’m here in my new position, in my new community, I decided to use Facebook as a way to reach out to teens. I set up my new Facebook account at the end of the summer, with one picture and some rudimentary information on it, like my name, where I work, and some innocuous “personal information” that I thought might appeal to teens. (My favorite TV shows, for example–and this isn’t made up, they really are my favorites: Gossip Girl, House, Friday Night Lights, Project Runway, The Office.)

I also set up a fan page for my library. For information on how to create a fan page on FB, read this.

And I waited.

Continue reading