So you are planning to talk to your representative and share with them the values of libraries in the lives of our teens; may I suggest you utilize the YALSA District Days brochure.

In a previous life I had the chance to visit my local representatives in an effort to raise awareness regarding sexual violence and the importance of continuing to fund resources for prevention and survivors.  I truly enjoyed going in to the state offices of individuals I had (or hand not) voted for; met their staff; and see where the work was done.  What I took away from that experience is the realization that my pitch wasn’t the only one he/she would hear.  My pitch was one of so many wishes, complaints, and demands our representatives hear every day.

So how can you distinguish your statement, or “ask”, from all the others?  Make your ask easy and short. Leave just enough information in your take-a-way literature (what you leave with the representative) to peek their interest and equipment to know just enough to be dangerous.

YALSA has done an excellent job of putting together for you with a simple brochure that breaks down the numbers and makes the case for the value of libraries in our teens’ lives.  The YALSA District Days brochure not only gives you talking points but also provides hard-hitting national statistics.  In addition to the brochure, I would suggest you provide a short half page invitation to visit your library.  Invite the representative to come talk to your teens; provide a simple statistical breakdown of local numbers similar to that in the YALSA brochure; quotes from your teens about the value of the library to them; and your contact information.  Even better, invite some of your teens to come along.  They can make the formal invitation to your representative to come and visit one of their TAG meetings or attend a teen event and see teens in action at your library.

Good luck and have fun!

Mary Olive Thompson

YALSA receives lots of comments about the annual conference every year, and two common ones are that members crave more variety in the programming offered and that they want more opportunities to present their own ideas. To help meet these desires the YALSA board developed a new format called the Table-Talk Mashup. The Mashup—happening at this year’s ALA Conference on Sunday, June 26 from 4:00 to 5:30—-brings 16 different mini-presentations for attendees to choose from and experience. Think science fair for librarians, and you’ll have a pretty good idea what the feel of the room will be like.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting details about individual presentations that cover similar themes or topics. This time I’m focusing on the presentations that look at technology and how it’s used in the school or public library. I hope to see you there!

Read More →

At the end of this week, the masses will descend upon my library here in Texas. Our Summer Reading Club kickoff starts as soon as school gets out, and we’re expecting pandemonium. Most of our participants, just like in years before, will be elementary-aged, and we’ll hope, just like in years before, that we’ll see more teens that aren’t our volunteers.

The thing is, at least with us, the number of teens we’ll see this summer doesn’t even begin to come close to the number of children that will be running around the library. We’re in a suburban area with a lot of neighborhoods, and we’re right down the street from a high school, so what gives? Simply put, we’re in competition for their attention. No big surprise there. They have summer jobs and their own activities, and for many, the library falls low on their list of priorities. Many of us have found that even when teens do come to the library during the summer, they get their books, magazines, CDs, and movies and leave without ever hanging out here.

Conversely, some branches get more teens than they know what to do with. One of our branches across town has a much better showing of a teen population, but for the most part, they can count on seeing the same people. The question is, how do we get teens who don’t normally come to the library because of homework and after-school activities to visit in the summer? I think the biggest problem is perception. The library can’t possibly be a fun place to hang out because it’s a library.

But what if we have a space just for teens that feels less like a library and more like a place where they can be themselves? What if we don’t make teens adhere to the Summer Reading Club formula we use for children and give them something completely different (and what if our incentives — if you’re in favor of incentives, which I am — don’t suck)? What if we connect with them the way that requires little to no effort on their part? Having a Facebook page is great, but they have to see it to be a fan of it, and that’s effort. What if we fit our programs and our services to meet their interests and needs before we stretch their trust trying to introduce something new?

I know these ideas have worked for other libraries. What’s worked for you? Leave a comment!

A short list of tweets posted over the last week that librarians and the teens that they serve may find interesting:

Ah, summer and the teen summer reading program. It’s one of my favorite times in the library. I love that the library provides a safe place for teens to spend some of their summer hours—a place where they can read, use the computers, hang out, and  go to fun programs. Over the past few weeks, I’ve found that as much as I love the summer reading program, preparing for and promoting it can be just as fun. School visits are the best!

In my district, school visits are usually an all day event, and for the teen summer reading program we normally only visit middle schools. We set up in the school media center and classes come in and visit us throughout the day. It’s a very fun, but very long, day. The time allotted to us varies by school, but is usually about 30-50 minutes per group of kids. We spend the first half of the visit talking about the summer reading program (dates, prizes, programs over the summer, etc.) and the second half booktalking and giving the teens ideas for books to read.

This was my first year doing school visits as a librarian for my district. I’ve been having a blast meeting with teens, telling them about the summer reading program, and booktalking some great books. I have some really great colleagues and I’ve learned a ton while doing school visits this year, so I thought I’d share some tips and tricks to help other new librarians.

  1. Bring candy! Bribery works, and handing out candy for participation gets the teens more involved in, and excited about, your presentation. One of my colleagues gives a piece of candy to every teen who has their library card on them and can show it to us, which is a lot of fun. We also give out candy when we booktalk books—if a teen requests that we talk about a book, they get a piece of candy.
  2. Nonfiction, nonfiction, nonfiction. I personally love novels, but have found that bringing nonfiction is a great way to involve more reluctant readers. I brought Bat Boy Lives! and a book on Phineas Gage this year and both generated a lot of interest. A coworker brought Elizabeth Berkley’s new advice book, Ask Elizabeth, which was also very popular.
  3. Compelling covers are key. There are a few books that I love but don’t have the best covers. I’ve learned to just leave those at home. They never get asked about, and I get sad that I don’t get to share a favorite book with everyone.
  4. Bring more books than you think you’ll need. I’ve found that certain books get asked about over and over again, and I need a break from booktalking them. I will switch them out for other books periodically throughout the day.
  5. Different formats are a good thing. We try to bring a wide variety of formats—graphic novels, nonfiction, audio books, etc.—to have a book that everyone could be interested in. I’ve found with audio books, the trick is to also bring the physical book as well. Audio book covers aren’t always as easy to read or see, and depending on your vendor sometimes aren’t very interesting, so it’s nice to display the actual book on top of the audio book. Then when someone asks about it, I make sure to mention that I listened to the book and loved the audio version. If your library has Playaways, that’s also a great option to share with teens who may have never heard of them before.
  6. Joke around and don’t be afraid of being a geek. When we asked our Teen Advisory Board what they wanted from school visits to make them more exciting, one of our teens said, “More nerdy library jokes.”

As you might have already guessed, school visits are one of my favorite things to do—it’s a great time, a great way to promote the library and literacy, and is one of the many times where I can’t believe I actually get paid to do something so awesome. These are just some of my favorite tips for school visits—what are some things that really help you and make your school visits great?

Title: Instapaper
Platform: iPad and iPhone (The Android Marketplace includes apps, such as InstaFetch, that integrate with Instapaper)
Cost: $4.99

Have you ever been reading through Twitter, or Zite, or Pulse, or something else on an iPhone or iPad and thought to yourself, “That looks really interesting but I don’t have time to read it now.” It’s likely that you have. Or, have you ever talked with teens using an iPad or iPhone for research and looking for a way to collect resources for later reading and use? It’s possible that you have. If the answer to either of these questions is “yes” then Instapaper has the potential to be really helpful.

saving to Instapaper via ZiteThe idea of Instapaper is quite simple, save an article of interest for reading later. Frequently, the easiest way to do that saving is through the Instapaper feature of an app in which articles are accessed. For example, I can be browsing through articles in Zite on my iPad and see something that I’m really interested in but don’t have time to read. I click on the Instapaper link, sign into my Instapaper account, and save. Read More →

April was a month of celebrations as we acknowledged and celebrated School Library Month along with both National Library Week and National Volunteer Week during the week of April 10-16, 2011. And as always we celebrated Support Teen Literature Day on the Thursday of National Library week with the announcement of the 2011 Teens’ Top Ten nominations and the launch of the  Teen Read Week™ website.

Along with thanking all of our hardworking members and library workers this month, I also want to send out a special thank you to the 2011 Summer Reading TF chaired by Charli Osborne. This newly appointed group, not only came together to begin their task, but quickly organized themselves, reviewed and judged the  entries submitted for the Dollar General Summer Reading Grants. These $1,000 grants were given to 20 YALSA members who were recognized for an outstanding proposal of teen-focused summer reading programs.    Read More →

A short list of tweets posted over the last week that librarians and the teens that they serve may find interesting:

  • Gaining Authority in the Age of Digital Overload – http://on.mash.to/iVxeAd – @mashable
  • Why Social Media Tools Have a Place in the Classroom http://dlvr.it/Rdml7 – @gigaom
  • A great way for #libraries & #librarians to support the #ItGetsBetter project http://is.gd/fpJLHY -@friendlyrock
  • Great post “Technology is Still the Wrong Answer”by David Warlick. http://tinyurl.com/3cjnme9 – @FrankiSibberson
  • my daughter tells me that @tumblr is now the exclusive province of 13 year old girls – @alidahanson Read More →

Title: Comic Life
Platform: iPad
Cost: $7.99

Some YALSA Blog readers might be familiar with the MAC and Windows software program Comic Life. It’s a program that makes it possible to create high-quality comics using a computer. Now it’s possible to create, fairly easily, high-quality comics via an iPad with Comic Life for iPad.

comic life template selectionThe first step in creating a comic using the Comic Life iPad app is to select a template. Creators can start with a blank template that doesn’t include a panel layout, or background, or heading, or thought bubbles. Or, it’s possible to start a new comic using one of the layout templates provided as a part of Comic Life. When starting a new Comic Life the number of layout template options is deceiving as there are just nine to choose from, not including the blank template. Read More →

For episode #98 we are joined by critics Francisca Goldsmith, Candice Mack and Eva Volin to discuss the fine art of book reviewing and how it relates to the world of libraries.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If  you prefer, you may go to the YALSA Podcast Site, download the Mp3 file and listen to it on the Mp3 player of your choice. To avoid missing future episodes, add the feed to Itunes or any other rss feed tracker.

After listening to the episode, come back to the post and let us know what you think about the book review sources out there, how you use them and even things about them that frustrate you.