Did I Do This Right? A First Time Attendee at ALA

When I first opened the schedule for ALA, I added at least five panels at the same time slots.

Photo by Rachel Weiss

Photo by Rachel Weiss

There was the need to be everywhere and to see everything. After all, Margaret Atwood would be there, and Diane Guerrero! But to see them, I would have to miss panels that I wanted to see. There was an overwhelming pressure not to miss anything, and I still needed to make time to see the exhibit hall.

I was scared to miss out on anything because I wanted to make sure that sending me to the conference instead of someone else was justified. YALSA offered me the Dorothy Broderick Scholarship to attend, and I wanted to make every minute count. I’ve been to the New Jersey Library Association conference before, so I thought I knew what this would be like, but I was wholly unprepared.

I tried a little bit of everything. I was fortunate enough to attend the Michael L. Printz Award Ceremony Friday night. It can be expensive to go to awards dinners, but it was the perfect kickoff to my conference. Laura Ruby got up to speak, and I was enchanted. One thing I definitely learned was that you’re never going to meet all the authors you want to, so seeing them accept an award means you hear more of their beautiful words. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t read her book yet, but after hearing her talk about it, it’s moved up my list. It was just one of the many highlights of the conference.

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Kid Club: Connected Learning in Minecraft

When Mimi Ito, Tara Tiger Brown and I started Connected Camps a little more than a year ago, we did so in part to deepen our understanding of how connected learning could power a mission-driven start-up. As educators and entrepreneurs we wanted to create high quality online learning experiences accessible to young people in all walks of life; as geek girls we wanted to do it in a way that was collaborative, fun, and hands-on.

We chose Minecraft as our core platform and now run a FREE multiplayer Kid Club server where youth (aged 8 to 15) can level up their tech and SEL skills. The server runs year-round from 12pm – 6pm PT daily and is moderated and staffed by trained high school and college counselors. The counselors host a variety of themed clubs and activities daily, including minigames, survival challenges, and build events. The server is supported by forums, which are filled with all kinds of free Minecraft resources, for youth, educators, and parents alike.

Last summer we partnered with LA Public Libraries to offer free programming for the young people they serve. The partnership was so successful that this summer we want to invite all libraries with an interest in Minecraft to have their youth join our free Kid Club server. We know there are a ton of wonderful programs being run at libraries nationwide that are connected learning aligned. Here’s a bit more on our approach:

  1. We are a freely accessible online learning community.

Our online programming is available all year round and youth can connect to our servers and mentors from anywhere—home, school, a library, or a community center. Our format means that we are a persistent community, not a one-time experience. Youth can continue to learn, grow, level up, and develop lasting friendships. Research shows that when we give youth the opportunity to develop friendships and connect with experts while building and problem solving together, the experience is transformative. Not only do they retain specific content and skills better, but they also acquire higher-order skills like problem solving, teamwork, and literacy.

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YALSA’s Top Ten Summer Learning Programs

Last month, YALSA held a “Top Ten Summer Learning Programs” contest on its teen programming database, Teen Programming HQ. Thanks to the HQ’s member manager and content experts for reviewing the submissions, we have the winners of the contest.

The top ten are:

Congrats to all the winners and thanks to everyone who participated in the contest! Don’t forget to visit the Teen Programming HQ to share and find great teen programming ideas!

Registration for YALSA’s 2016 Young Adult Services Symposium now open

feature-slides-reg-openRegistration for YALSA’s 2016 Young Adult Services Symposium, which takes place Nov. 4-6 in Pittsburgh, is now open. Individuals can register for the symposium with early bird rates now through Sept. 15, 2016.

Early bird rates are as follows:

  • $199 YALSA Personal Member
  • $199 Pennsylvania Library Association Members
  • $199 Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Members
  • $249 ALA Personal Member
  • $310 Nonmembers
  • $59 Students (enrolled full-time in a library program)

Register early to take advantage of up to $50 in savings. Registration includes:

  • Opening session and reception Friday evening
  • Educational programming Saturday and Sunday
  • Option to register for additional events
  • Access to a free webinar
  • Certificate of participation with your contact hours
  • Snack breaks Saturday and Sunday
  • Symposium tote bag

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Teens Succeed with Libraries Video Contest

YALSA is looking for creative video entries of up to 60 seconds in length that compellingly demonstrate to the general public how teens make use of 21st century libraries, programs and staff in order to succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life. Winners will be announced no later than June 1, 2016. The top three entries will receive a box of books, audiobooks and graphic novels worth a minimum of $200. Examples of content may include, but are not limited to showing how teens use libraries to do things like get good grades, explore careers, pursue hobbies, plan for college, build digital skills, create stuff, connect with others, serve the community, become engaged citizens, etc.  This is a great opportunity for teens to show off their film making skills!  Get the details via this online entry form.  This contest is being administered by YALSA’s Advocacy Resources Taskforce.

Contact Congress to Support Library Funding in the FY17 Budget

Please use ALA’s super easy web page and take a minute to email and Tweet your members of Congress and ask them to support library funding in the FY17 federal budget. The messages are pre-populated—all you need to do is provide your name and contact information to ensure it goes to the proper members of Congress. If you have the time, you’re also encouraged to phone their offices. Your help, and these funds, make a huge difference in what libraries and library staff can do for their patrons.

It’s that time of year when Congressional cost-cutters sharpen their budget knives and go looking for under-supported federal programs to slash or discontinue. Last year, Paul Ryan, who is now Speaker of the House, proposed completely eliminating the federal agency for libraries (IMLS) and with it over $200 million in funding for libraries (the Library Services and Technology Act—LSTA, and Innovative Approaches to Literacy–IAL). Both of these critical funding streams for libraries are potentially on the chopping block this year and it’s up to you to help save them.   Continue reading

Looking for Programming for TTW? Check out Twist Fate

Still looking for programming for Teen Tech Week? Check out the Twist Fate Competition, an art and writing competition for 13 to 17 year olds . This is a great match for the Create It At Your Library Teen Tech Week theme. The challenge will run from March 6 through April 6 and is hosted by DeviantArt, the world’s largest community for visual art, and by Wattpad, the world’s largest community of readers and writers.

“The Twist Fate challenge provides libraries and classrooms across the globe an opportunity to link connected learning, creativity and technology and gives students a chance to improve their skills and get to know supportive, social communities that can help connect them as mentors, fellow artists, and friends,” YALSA President Candice Mack said.

Youth are invited to submit entries on the website of either DeviantArt or Wattpad. The best stories, comic panels, illustrations or other creations will be chosen as finalists that will be reviewed by a panel of editors who will decide which ones to publish in a book. And, the book will be made available to the public in libraries across the country.

The editors are: writers Sara Ryan (author of “Bad Houses,” “The Rules for Hearts” and “Empress of the World”) and Lauren Kate  (author of “Fallen,” Torment,” “Passion,” “Rapture,” “Fallen in Love” and “The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove”), Walt Disney Animation Studios story artist Brian Kesinger and Antero Garcia, assistant professor of English at Colorado State University.

Twist Fate is being sponsored by the Connected Learning Alliance (CLA), National Writing Project (NWP) and Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Connectedlearning.tv has a series of videos giving more details on the challenge.

“Wattpad and DeviantArt are home to some of the most active and inspiring creative youth communities on the net. They offer a rich and motivating context for young people to connect, learn, and get feedback from others who share their interests and passions,” said Mimi Ito, co-founder of the Connected Learning Alliance and UC Irvine cultural anthropologist who specializes in learning. “This challenge is an opportunity for more educators and youth to tap into this creative energy and experience how social online platforms can fuel learning and engagement in the arts.”

Encourage youth at your library to participate!

For more information, visit DeviantArt.com/TwistFate or Wattpad.com/TwistFateChallenge.

Speak Up for Teens & Libraries in your State!

Now is the time of year when most state legislatures are in session, and the teens in your state are relying on you to speak up for them!  Here’s what you can do:

  • Find out what dates your state’s legislature is in session, by visiting the National Conference of State Legislatures’ web site.
  • Visit your state library association’s web site to find out if they are hosting an advocacy day in your state’s capitol and learn how you can get involved.
  • Stay up to date on the issues by visiting your state legislature’s web site or downloading and using one of these free apps: Congress, Countable, or icitizen.
  • Build your legislative advocacy skills.  A great starting point is YALSA’s free Legislative Advocacy Guide (.pdf).
  • Take action and mobilize others to do so, too.  Connect with your state library association to find out what calls to action they are focusing on this year.  Check out www.ala.org/yalsa/advocacy for tips and resources.  Consider asking your elected official if they will sponsor a resolution in support of libraries (a resolution is not legislation or a bill–just a feel good message that state legislatures pass all of the time in an effort to make nice with the voters).  YALSA has a few sample documents compiled into one file that you can adapt and use, including a sample resolution, emails and a press release.  Access the MS Word file today for an easy way to raise awareness about libraries with the elected officials in your state!
  • Engage the teens in your community, help them learn about the legislative process and encourage them to become active around the issues that matter most to them.  Read “Help Youth Take Action” and share this free Youth Activists’ Toolkit (.pdf).

And don’t forget that National Library Legislative Day is May 3rd!  If you can’t make it to Washington DC, ALA has several ways that you can participate virtually.

-Beth Yoke

Contact Congress Feb. 15 – 20 to Support Federal Library Funding

President Obama released his draft FY17 budget today.  The next step is for Congress to take it up.  Congress will spend the spring and summer working on their version, with the ultimate goal to have a final budget passed in fall.  In the President’s budget, proposed funding for the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) is down by $500,000 over last year, grants to state libraries are down $900,000, and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant program (a funding opportunity for school libraries) is level funded at $27 million.  These are all vital programs that support the nation’s libraries.  ALA’s President, Sari Feldman, issued a statement today expressing disappointment.

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Teen Creative Writing & Art Contest for Teen Tech Week

As part of Teen Tech Week, YALSA is teaming up with the Connected Learning Alliance, Deviant Art, the National Writing Project, and Wattpad for the Twist Fate challenge.

The challenge is to get young people (ages 13-17) telling stories about what happens when a hero becomes a villain, or a villain a hero (through writing, video, digital art, animation, etc.) and sharing them across the Deviant Art and Wattpad platforms. It’s happening March 6-April 6th, and to ramp up for it there will be a series of free webinars with guests including Mimi ito, Christina Cantrill, Candice Mack, Josh Wattles from DeviantArt, and Jing Jing Tan from Wattpad:

Connecting the Creative Sparks of Young Makers to Supportive Communities of Practice Feb. 11, 7pm EST

Storytelling and Making Redefined: Get to Know the Wattpad Community Feb. 18, 7pm EST

Meet the “Deviants”: Networked Artists and Makers of DeviantArt Feb. 25, 7pm EST