Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week Tips and Resources

How many times has Teen Read Week or Teen Tech Week rolled around and you’re busy reading the latest YALS issue or scouring the YALSA wiki to come up with programs for your teens related to the theme? While those materials won’t go away anytime soon (and thank goodness for them each year-right?!), we wanted to make sure you’re aware of another great resource that’s a compilation of ideas for both of YALSA’s national initiatives.

Earlier this year, YALSA published a book through the American Library Association, edited by Megan Fink, Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week: Tips and Resources for YALSA’s Initiatives. Following is an interview with Megan about what you can find in this great read.

This book is a compilation of the best articles from eight volumes of YALS. How did you decide what to include and what not to include?
Megan: I surveyed the past issues of YALS for articles that could help libraries with best practices, programming, promotion/marketing, collection development, and general advice for Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week celebrations. The articles we included all gave unique perspectives, experiences and programs. I hoped these could be replicated in libraries across the United States. I think the articles we did not include were not as timely or did not address these specific areas that could be helpful to school and public libraries.

The foreword mentions that the some of the articles have been updated to reflect the current use of technologies such as MP3 players instead of cassettes. Can you talk a bit about any other examples of updating so that readers will find the information relevant for their needs today?
Megan: The articles were all evaluated and fine tuned to make sure that references and suggestions would work with teens in contemporary libraries. The articles “Advocating for Teens Technological Needs”, “Technology for Every Teen at Your Library,” and “Teen Tech Week on a Budget” are three examples of articles that provide tech ideas that were revised to match current trends in libraries.

There are many resources available for Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week. What does this book offer that other resources might not?
Megan: This book collects accessible activities that libraries can initiate and implement to highlight YALSA’s literacy initiatives. With the 2009 study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress that showed 69% of eighth graders and 65% of twelfth graders read below the proficiency level in the US, libraries are the one of the last bastions of advocacy for teens and their educators. There are articles from places such as Hennepin County, where the public library developed a “Teen Tech Squad” to involve teens in teaching and leading tech workshops at the library. Likewise, there are articles that give suggestions for cheap and successful teen programs that would be adaptable to any situation. My goal was to find articles that would be useful and instructive for both large and small libraries, whether urban or rural. I think this book contains a wide variety of options for any library. (Note: view the 2010 NAEP study).

Are there just programming ideas for TRW and TTW in the book?
Megan: No, this book is very versatile because it contains programming ideas for any library that serves teens. The main categories of library programming and best practices delve into all sorts of themes such as how to host a creative writing workshop at your library, book clubs collaborating with academic librarians, and even a section on marketing your library that could be adapted for school or public libraries looking for a fresh approach to book-talking nonfiction books and ways to promote library activities. We also included two essays, one by Walter Dean Myers and one by Cynthia Leitich Smith about their experiences with libraries, which we hope will inspire librarians.

How do you recommend people read the book if they don’t have time to read it from start to finish?
Megan: I would suggest focusing on the best practices and programming chapters since those have the most options that one could adapt to your library’s needs. We highlight programming ideas that librarians could emulate for teen events such as the recent trends in Teen Tech Week and Teen Read Week celebrations.

Can you talk a bit about what Chapter Six covers in Celebrating Teen Tech Week in Challenging Situations?
Megan: This chapter gives a variety of options for libraries to consider when organizing and running a Teen Tech Week program on a budget. There are series of free resources that librarians endorse as well as tips for planning an event at a school library. The goal was to offer a variety of options, that were easy to use and that can be replicated in any library.

There are white papers included at the end of the book. Can you talk a bit about what those are and why they are included?
Megan: The YALSA white papers are advocacy tools for libraries to help them communicate their importance to the community. The white papers cover topics such as “Why Teen Space?” in libraries to the value of young adult literature. There is also a “Teens and Social Networking” YALSA tool kit that helps define some of the technology that teens use in today’s libraries. These are included to help YA librarians be well-versed in the pedagogy of their mission.

This book was published with a Carnegie Whitney grant. Can you talk about the grant and the process for getting a book published through YALSA in case someone is interested in doing something similar?
Megan: Stephanie Kuenn, Communications Specialist for YALSA, is actually the winner of the grant that made this book possible. She and I worked together on the proposal for the book. I would suggest having a lot of the research and background information for your proposal already finished before applying for the grant, so you can accurately project how long the process will take to produce the book. Also, really consider what your goal is and how it will enhance the library users’ experience.
According to the ALA website, “The Carnegie-Whitney Grant provides an award that is based on a special fund first established by Andrew Carnegie in 1902, ‘the income of which is to be applied to the preparation and publication of such reading lists, indexes and other bibliographical and library aids as will be especially useful in the circulating libraries of this country.’ The Carnegie Fund was subsequently enhanced by a merger with a fund established by James Lyman Whitney in 1910. The Publishing Committee, a standing committee of the American Library Association, administers the grant.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Megan: This was a wonderfully rewarding and exciting process for me and I hope that libraries find helpful suggestions and inspiration for their Teen Tech Week and Teen Read Week programs in this book.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.
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