I like weird books.

Books like Punkzilla by Adam Rapp,
The White Darkness by Geraldine Mccaughrean, and
Going Bovine by Libba Bray.

These books have something more than their weirdness in common. They’ve all been recognized by the Printz Committee in some way.

I think this is because the committee members know something that everyone needs to know: weird books are good.

Punkzilla is a stream-of-consciousness narrative about a boy who travels across the country to be with his dying brother. It’s full of weird characters and scenes that leave your brain feeling muddy and full of fuzz. But it’s also a book about humanity and connection. Zilla says things that make you want to cry they’re so beautiful because everything else is so confusing that only the really true things make sense.

The White Darkness is about a girl following her (possibly insane) uncle to Antarctica on a mission to find a world that may or may not exist. It’s also about that same girl finding her own voice and her own sight, something that she was unable to do in her everyday life. It took a journey into nothingness, a place where her mind was stretched to the limits, for her to discover herself. And the reader gets to go there with her.

Going Bovine, the winner of the most recent Printz Award, is about a kid named Cameron who gets Mad Cow Disease and sets off on a cross country rode trip to save the world accompanied by a dwarf, a lawn gnome who may or may not be a Norse god, and a punk rock guardian angel addicted to sugar. But it’s also about a new interpretation of what reality is, and what it means to each of us individually. The most commonly accepted reality is not the only one that exists, nor is it the most important. Cameron’s hallucinations were as real to him as any of his other experiences were. Going Bovine takes you inside the mind of a sick kid, and when you come out the other side it leaves you thinking that maybe it’s okay that none of it was “real” because it was real for Cameron, and sometimes that’s enough.

The weird books can take you places that you’ve never been before, and sometimes they take you places that you never really wanted to go. But by the time the journey is over, they leave you with something new and something important. The best part is that you might not even know what it is right away. You might have to sit with your own thoughts for a while, which is one of the best things a book can do.

While I think there is a place for fluffy romance and adventure stories in every reader’s life, the weird books need to be there too because they dare you to make sense of the ludicrous and then make it impossible to leave empty-handed.

I love the Printz Awards for seeing what I see in weird books and I love them even more for pointing those books out to the people who can do the most with them-the librarians. Librarians are in the business of opening minds and I think the weird books are a vital tool of the trade. I’m so excited to know that at least the librarians are drawing people’s attention to more than just Twilight and Gossip Girl. I guess I wrote this blog post to tell them that I really appreciate what they’re doing and that I hope they aren’t planning on stopping anytime soon.

So librarians, thanks for the weird ones. I’m not sure I would have found them without you.

YALSA is pleased to announce results for the 2010 election. The election results are:

YALSA President

Sarah Flowers

YALSA Board of Directors

3-year Term

Chris Shoemaker
Shannon Peterson

1-year Term

Jack Martin
Gail Tobin

Edwards Award Committee

Amy Chow
Kate Pickett
Walter Mayes

Printz Award Committee

Patty Campbell
Elizabeth Saxton
Erin Helmrich
Joy Millam

Nonfiction Award Committee

Jennifer Hubert
Elizabeth Burns
Megan Fink
Eva Volin

In addition, all proposals to amend YALSA’s bylaws passed by a majority vote. For details on the proposals and what the changes entail, see the YALSA Election Results webpage.

It’s almost May, which means I’m gathering my books and goodies for my Summer Reading Program School visits.  This will be my third year doing school visits and I’ve been lucky enough to add new classrooms to my roster this year.  But that also means that there will be some students that have heard my song and dance about the Teen Summer Reading Program before.  So I’m always looking for ways to keep my visits fresh and new.

Read More →

Win up to $1K to attend Library Advocacy Day YALSA will offer travel stipends of up to $1,000 each to five YALSA members to participate in ALA’s Library Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. on June 29, 2010, held in conjunction with ALA Annual Conference. Applications are available as a PDF or Word document. They can also be downloaded at YALSA’s Awards and Grants page and must be sent to yalsa@ala.org. Applications are due today, so be sure to get yours in!

Share your Great Idea You can win a prize from YALSA! Do you have a great idea to support YALSA’s goals in its strategic plan (PDF)? Share them with YALSA and you could win a prizes worth up to $250. Download an entry form (Word doc) today. Entries are due by May 1.

May 20, VIPs: Why You Need Them for Advocacy Webinar: Karen Keys will explore how librarians and library workers can help grow their library program by improving communication and developing professional relationships with local town councilors, school board members, Chamber of Commerce members, etc. This webinar will take place Thursday, May 20, at 2 p.m. Eastern. Register today! Registration costs $39 for individual YALSA members, $49 for all other individuals. A group rate of $195 is available by contacting Eve Gaus at egaus@ala.org or 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5293. Learn more about our webinars at www.ala.org/yalsa/webinars. Save the date for our June 17 webinar on YA Classics, led by Sarah Debraski.

First Wednesdays with YALSA: YALSA’s First Wednesdays continue with an online chat on May 5 at 8 p.m. Eastern, this time on encouraging reading by using Web 2.0 tools, hosted by Wendy Stephens. We will be using a private room in Meebo for the chat; the password to log in is available to YALSA members at this ALA Connect post. See you next Wednesday!

YALS at San Jose State’s SLIS Sarah Flowers, editor of Young Adult Library Services, discussed writing for professional journals for San Jose State University’s SLIS Colloquia. Watch the webcast today!

After the jump, learn more about summer e-course registration, applying to our NEW mentoring program, becoming a YA Galley Group, registering for Teen Read Week and the WrestleMania Reading Challenge, and YALSA’s Annual preconferences!

Read More →

Just a quick note from your, of late, comics obsessed blogger, that the eighth annual Free Comic Book Day is taking place this Saturday May 1st.

Free Comic Book Day offers publishers a chance to give comic readers a taste of new material, and to remind them of all of the great stories comic book shops have to offer.  Readers get to pick up special compilations and titles made specifically for the day.  Publisher’s Weekly says this about it.

Here’s a review of the titles that will be available.  I’m excited because Oni Press, publisher of such things as Scott Pilgrim, will have an offering available.  There also looks like there are various things that are either geared toward teens, or that teens would gravitate to and enjoy.

So why am I blogging this on a library blog? Don’t we give our patrons free comics every day? Well, yeah,  but I think we should be supportive of anything that is raising awareness and excitement about reading and great storytelling.

What else could we do? Libraries could partner with their favorite comics shops for the occasion and prominently point the way with a poster and a recommendation. (If you’re in Massachusetts, I will here declare that I like to buy comics at Modern Myths in Northampton)  Or celebrate the fact that we do offer free comics every day with a graphic novel display or a panel discussion or a manga drawing workshop.

Short notice for this year? Yes, it probably is.  But keep it in mind for next year and tell your teens to head for the comic shop this Saturday!

Looking for a way to get your teens involved in your library and shoot a fun video at the same time? Submit an entry to ALA’s contest for Library Advocacy Day! Getting your teens behind the camera (and in front of it) is a great way to show just how vital libraries are in the lives of young adults.

All entries must

1. illustrate the importance of libraries,
2. motivate people to attend the ALA’s rally for libraries during Library Advocacy Day,
3. include interesting visuals and quality sound design, and
4. be no more than three minutes.

To enter, upload your video to Vimeo, tag it “library advocacy day,” and send your full name, phone number, city, state and the url of your work to jroberts@alawash.org with the subject line “LAD video entry.” All submissions must be uploaded, tagged and e-mailed by 12pm EDT, May 26, 2010. ALA will announce the winners and recipients of the prize money–$175 for the first place winner and $75 for the runner-up–on Tuesday, June 1.

For complete rules and more information, visit the District Dispatch from the ALA Washington Office.

I was intrigued to read Penny Johnson’s post (April 9, 2010) about serving older teens and twenty-somethings and the formation of the “Serving New Adults Interest Group” earlier this month.  She suggested that older teens and twenty-somethings are abruptly cut off of the Y/A services currently being offered and, as a result, lose interest in the library until they become parents and return with their children.  One of the comments to this post in particular, got me thinking.  Amber asked, “Where, pray tell, will YALSA draw the line?”  Indeed, drawing the line does seem to be the issue. 

Read More →

YALSA is pleased to offer the following professional development opportunities in May. If you have questions about YALSA’s professional development, please contact Eve Gaus, YALSA’s program officer for continuing education, at egaus@ala.org or 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5293.

YALSA Summer Online Course Registration: Registration is now open for YALSA’s summer online courses! In Beyond Booklists: Serving Diverse Today’s Diverse Teens, instructor Jennifer Velasquez will guide participants in serving today’s diverse generation, including ways to design, implement and evaluate more in-depth services and programs for today’s diverse teen population and recent teen immigrants. Participants will also gain skills in addressing issues such as language barriers, cultural differences, and institutional support. In Power Up with Print, instructor Jamie Watson will show participants how to boost the library’s circulation through the development of teen-centered programs, material evaluation and selection, booktalks and more, as well as discuss the latest trends in YA lit. Course registration now open at www.ala.org/yalsa/onlinecourses. Courses cost $135 for YALSA members, $175 for ALA members, and $195 for nonmembers and will take place July 12 to August 9.

May 5, First Wednesdays with YALSA: YALSA’s First Wednesdays continue with an online chat this month at 8 p.m. Eastern, this time on encouraging reading by using Web 2.0 tools, hosted by Wendy Stephens. We will be using a private room in Meebo for the chat; the password to log in is available to YALSA members at this ALA Connect post. See you next Wednesday!

May 20, VIPs: Why You Need Them for Advocacy Webinar: Join Karen Keys for YALSA’s webinar discussion on VIPs: Why You Need Them for Advocacy. Karen will explore how librarians and library workers can help grow their library program by improving communication and developing professional relationships with local town councilors, school board members, Chamber of Commerce members, etc. These folks are the movers and shakers in your community and it’s important that you reach out to them regularly and educate them about the critical role libraries play in helping your community thrive. Cultivating relationships to help your library meet its mission is critically important in the current economic climate, so join YALSA for this important discussion! This webinar will take place Thursday, May 20, at 2 p.m. Eastern. Register today! Registration costs $39 for individual YALSA members, $49 for all other individuals. A group rate of $195 is available by contacting Eve Gaus at egaus@ala.org or 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5293. Learn more about our webinars at www.ala.org/yalsa/webinars.

Save the Date! June 17 Webinar on YA Classics: Sarah Debraski will lead this webinar on classic YA literature and how to highlight it at your library on Thursday, June 17 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Register today! Registration costs $39 for individual YALSA members, $49 for all other individuals. A group rate of $195 is available by contacting Eve Gaus at egaus@ala.org or 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5293. Learn more about our webinars at www.ala.org/yalsa/webinars.

Mentoring Program Applications Open:YALSA’s new mentoring program will pair an experienced librarian (more than 6 years’ experience) with a new librarian (fewer than 6  years’ experience) or graduate student in a library science program. YALSA believes that we all have important skills and knowledge that we can share with one another and so this program encourages protégés to share their skills and know-how with their mentor. YALSA will accept applications through June 30. Learn more and apply at www.ala.org/yalsa/mentoring.

Posted on behalf of Project U.

Attention all teen librarians: Emerging Leaders Project U needs your help! Our team is creating a job shadowing initiative for YALSA to encourage teens to enter the field of teen librarianship. This initiative will include resources and materials that teen librarians can use to run a job shadowing program in their own library without having to start from scratch.

We’d like to showcase how fun, exciting, and interesting a teen librarian’s job can be, and we’d like your input. Please send an email to elteamu10@gmail.com with your name, where you work, your title, and a short narrative answering this question: “What is your favorite thing about being a teen librarian?” Your answers may be used in promotional materials that will be included with the job shadowing resources we’re creating. Thanks for your help!

posted on behalf of Robyn Vittek, YALSA Advocacy Task Force

So, our library needs to pass a levy on May 4. When I say needs, I mean must, can’t-fail, vital, OMG! I get so nervous with all the articles in the paper and on the newspaper website. Comments like “No one uses the library anymore anyway. I’m not voting for that!” follow the online articles.

Yet, there are some days that I look around our building, when every computer is full, parents are helping kids get books for that report (due tomorrow!), story time is being announced over the P.A. and I’m watching our TAB kids paint windows and decorate the teen area, and think, “Have those commenters ever set foot in a library? I’d love for them to stop in today and see just how many people ‘no one’ is!”  Well, now there’s a way we can make that happen! ALA is promoting Library Snapshot Day, which is an initiative to let elected officials, the press, and even Internet trolls know just how many people use your library.
Read More →