Thinking About Advocacy and Lobbying, Again

Earlier this month I wrote a YALSA Blog post about the difference between lobbying and advocacy. Since publishing that post I’ve been thinking more about the topic. (Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m in the process of finishing a book for YALSA and Neal-Schuman on the topic of teen library services advocacy.) As I’ve done more research on the topic of advocacy and lobbying, and thought more generally about advocacy, I’ve realized there is more to say. Here goes:

  • While those working in libraries might not be able perform extensive lobbying for a particular piece of legislation or policy that’s under discussion by government officials, it is OK to ask members of the community to contact policy makers about a particular issue. Continue reading

We can ALL be Movers & Shakers

Tuesday, Nov. 1st (ahem, tomorrow) is the deadline to submit your nomination for Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers list. That doesn’t leave you much time to nominate that person you met at ALA Annual whose efforts caught your attention. Or your co-worker who seems to be ahead of every trend. Or yourself! It may be that you don’t know anyone who fits the strict criteria. Oh, what are the criteria, you ask?

A M&S is a “leader in the library world” who is “innovative, creative, and making a difference”. Previous teen services-related winners have kick-started teen services in their branch, library system, and community. (One winner got gaming systems in all 20 branches in her library system!!) Others began a project on a small scale only to have it adopted by their surrounding community. Let me highlight a few previous winners so that you might be inspired to nominate someone or strive to be a contender for next year’s award.

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Preparing for the Winter Blahs

We had our first snow here in Colorado last week, and it got me thinking about winter. I love winter: hot chocolate, snow, baking, the holidays, and more time to read—it’s one of my favorite seasons. However, things around the library always get a little slow in the winter months. Circulation is down, and due to people’s busy schedules, attendance at programs is down as well. Teens, like all of our other patrons, get busy with the holidays, schoolwork, and more, and we see less of them.

I’m wondering about what would be a good strategy for this less-than-busy season. As overall usage is down at the library during these months, is building numbers a lost cause? Is it better to stick with some classic programming (like TAB meetings, Game Nights, etc.), but keep the overall programming light and use the extra time for planning for the busier spring and summer months? Or is it possible to fight against the lower usage trends in November and December and do creative, fun programming and other events that could bring more teens in the door? I don’t have answers—I’m hoping this post will spark a conversation.

I’m a relatively new librarian, so I’m curious as to what other librarians do during the winter months. Do you have successful teen programming that you can suggest? Or do you spend the time planning and regrouping for later?

YALSA Blog Tweets of the Week – October 28, 2011

Here’s a short list of tweets posted over the last week that librarians and the teens that they serve may find interesting:

The Technical Reference Librarian

Someone once told me that if I planned on becoming a librarian I should brush up on my trouble shooting skills for the copier and printer. Really, the most often questions I get at the reference desk are technical. From my perspective as a college reference librarian, students who are proficient with their handhelds  still need to help with basic computer skills.  Thank goodness, because somedays they are the only questions I get at the desk! I found that the basic how to computer questions end up becoming the start of an excellent relationship.

Building Trust 

Countless times, I have had students linger in the reference desk waiting for the all clear to whisper (no one whispers in my library) “Can you show me how to print my paper?”.  I have found that getting up and walking to their desk is the best way to help because it communicates that I am going to work with them to fix the problem. Even if it is just to show them where the print tab is.    In a typical reference transaction, my training would have suggested that I turn my computer to show the patron how to print a paper from my screen.  But technical questions are better handled working at the computer with the student.   I also think that my eliminating the reference desk eliminates any of the “power” implication between a student and  me.

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ALA Annual: Going Without Losing Your Shirt

ALA Annual Conference is an absolute blast.  It can also be expensive.  Registration, travel expenses, spending money when you get somewhere, it all adds up.

 However!  There are ways to go to Annual in Anaheim next June on the cheap.  It will take some planning (and maybe some begging) but every little bit helps when it comes to covering the cost of your conference.

If you’re still in library school, the ALA will knock about $100 off registration, since encouraging library school students is important, as well as experiencing the hustle and bustle (READ: publisher receptions) of librarianship first hand. 

Regardless of whether or not you’re in library school, there are grants, fellowships and scholarships that can help finance your conference.  

  • 3M/NMRT Professional Development Grant – Helps finance attendance at ALA Annual. It covers round trip airfare, lodging, conference registration fees and some incidental expenses. Must be a personal ALA/NMRT member working within the territorial U.S.
  • AASL Frances Henne Award – This $1,250 award recognizes a school library media specialist with five years or less experience who demonstrates leadership qualities with students, teachers and administrators, to attend an AASL conference or ALA Annual Conference for the first time. Applicants must be AASL personal members. 
  • ACRL/DLS Haworth Press Distance Learning Librarian Conference Sponsorship Award provides $1200 to help defray the costs of travel to and participation in the ALA Annual Meeting and a plaque sponsored by Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group. Continue reading

App of the Week: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Interactive eBook

Title:  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Interactive eBook

Platform: iPhone (3GS, 4, or 4S), iPod touch (3rd & 4th generations), iPad (iOS 4.0 and later)

Cost: $4.99

Released in time for Halloween 2011, this interactive eBook brings to life the Regency-era undead of Seth Grahame-Smith’s cult-classic novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  The app includes  400 “brain eating pages” of text, graphics, interactive features, music, and animation.

PadWorx Digital Media and Quirk Productions have successfully produced a game-like reading experience that will appeal to teens.  The promotional video illustrates how the text comes to life as the reader taps through the pages.

Atmospheric music and sound effects will further draw the reader into the story, and the interactive features are a true example of the media’s potential.  Dripping blood, brain splatter, and feasting undead–all excellently rendered! Moreover, the developers corrected a minor lag between page turns with version 1.0.1. Continue reading

New Blogger, YALSA’s New Research Agenda

Hello! I’m Hannah Gómez, a new blogger and new member of YALSA, thanks in part to the Spectrum Scholarship. I’ll be blogging regularly about research and other topics, but today I wanted to start by telling you who I am, what I do, and why I’m here. Also, I’ll let you know why I find YALSA’s new research agenda so interesting, and why you should as well.

First things first. I’m a Tucson, Arizona, native who went to the University of Arizona for undergrad, studying creative writing, music, and Spanish. A few months ago, an airplane I was on touched down in Boston, the last flight to be allowed into the closed airport before Hurricane Irene hit. I’ve just started graduate school here at Simmons College, where I’m enrolled in their dual degree program, which will leave me with an MA in children’s literature and an MLS with a focus on youth services.

The future in library science just hit me one day. I had been answering people’s “So what will you do with your Bachelor’s?” with a general “Dunno. Go to grad school” for so long and all of a sudden I just blurted out “Be a librarian.” But it made since. In high school I never had to work at the mall or the car wash–I was lucky enough to get a job in social services, and though I held a variety of different jobs and internships over high school and college, most of them were related to the world of non-profits and at-risk youth. My favorite job was when I got promoted to community service project leader, supervising 8-14-year-olds who had been arrested and had court-ordered service hours to perform. I, at 19, was deemed responsible enough to oversee their work, keep them on task, and, I hoped, help them see something meaningful in what they were doing, whether it was painting in a community art project or picking up trash at a neighborhood park. I got to be a big sister type to the kids I worked with, and while doing our work we would also talk about the books, music, and movies they liked. So it seems to make sense. I love teenagers, especially middle schoolers, and I am a huge nerd who is always trying to find the right book for someone. I’m also the child of two teachers and the sister of a teacher, so I know how much, especially in these times, both teachers and students need the help of librarians, and both school and library settings are essential to developing youths. Compound that with my interest in social justice and non-profits, and voila! I want to be something like all of you.

So why the extra degree? Why the crit classes where you read as much Freud and Barthes as you do Virginia Hamilton and nursery rhymes? Well, Continue reading

iPad, wePad: Programs with Teens

I’ve owned my iPad for several months now and while I enjoy it on a personal-level, I really love utilizing it professionally. When I bring it to the library and hook it up to our overhead projector for after-school programs, my teens can’t wait to find out what we’ll be doing. So far, we’ve only explored one aspect of apps-based gaming—trivia—and the teens have really responded favorably to it, so we’ll continue to incorporate this into our programming as we look to broaden our apps horizon.

The Scene-It? programs that are available, particularly the Horror version, are the current teen favorites, but the Family Feud app is gaining momentum. In both cases, the teens work together to answer the questions and beat the clock, and while they enjoy bragging rights for figuring out difficult clues, the teamwork they demonstrate supersedes everything else. They’re competitive without being cutthroat, and they enjoy showing off their knowledge of pop culture and trivia.

The teens and I haven’t even scratched the surface of programming possibilities; in fact, we’ll be trying Lego’s Life of George soon as well as other creative apps including Toontastic, ComicBook!, and Wordfoto. It will be challenging to coordinate a program where so many teens will have great ideas but only one iPad to voice them; my teens, however, have shown that they’re willing to try anything. While I’d love to have an iPad available for everyone, for now we’ll share mine as we continue to discover new apps and programming ideas together.

Bringing Your Library to Your Teens

What do your teens like to do? My county has a large population of teens who are interested in comic books, anime, and gaming. As any good library system, my system offers plenty of programming to draw this population in, but when the organizers of PalmCon– a local comic book and collectibles convention– approached the library with the opportunity to run a table at this year’s convention, we jumped at the chance. We saw it as an opportunity to gain exposure for our gaming and anime programs as well as our graphic novel collection.

We transformed our table into a mobile branch. Convention attendees were able to sign up for a library card as well as check out the popular graphic novels that we’d brought from our collections. They were able to learn about our anime and gaming programs. Publishers sent the library giveaways and prizes to hand out. Library staff members circulated among the convention’s 500 attendees encouraging people to stop by the library’s table which was busy the whole day.  Costumed participants were photographed with their library cards.

The event was a huge success. Many of the convention’s attendees were not aware of the library’s extensive graphic novel collection or its related events. Convention organizer, Martin Pierro of Cosmic Times, said ” My motivation behind doing PalmCon was to help grow the local comic community and knowing that the library has a vast graphic novel collection – it just seemed like the perfect fit. It was a great arrangement, and as long as the library wants to come back, I will have a permanent table reserved for them for years to come.” Overall, the library signed up 11 new patrons, checked out 37 items, and made a lasting impression on the convention’s attendees.

So, having trouble attracting teens to your library? What do they like to do? Horseback riding? Crafting? Music? Start pairing up with these communities to find out about their events. Then, bring your library to your teens.

Even Stormtroopers love the library.

Even Stormtroopers love the library. Photo by Terry Bosky. Used with Permission.