Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults: Call for papers

As Chair of the Research Journal Editorial Advisory Board, I’m very pleased to share this call for papers for the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults. JRLYA is YALSA’s spanking new online research journal. Check out the guidelines and give it a go!

Call for Papers: The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults

The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, the official research journal of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), is an online open-access, peer-reviewed journal.  The purpose of Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practices to support young adult library services. Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults presents high quality original research concerning the informational and developmental needs of young adults; the management, implementation, and evaluation of library services for young adults; and other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with young adults. The journal also includes literary and cultural analyses of classic and contemporary writing for young adults. Manuscripts are currently being accepted for the Fall issue. Please submit your manuscript by September 1, 2011.

Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults invites manuscripts based on original qualitative, quantitative, synthetic, or mixed method research; an innovative conceptual framework; or a substantial literature review that opens new areas of inquiry and investigation.  Case studies and works of literary analysis are also welcome. The journal’s editorial board recognizes the contributions that other disciplines make to expanding and enriching theory, research, and practice in young adult library services and encourages submissions from researchers, students, and practitioners in all fields.

The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults uses the Chicago Manual of Style endnotes.  For complete author guidelines including examples of citations, please visit the author guidelines.  While submissions average 4,000 to 7,000 words, manuscripts of all lengths will be considered.  Full color images, photos, and other media are all accepted.

Please contact Editor Sandra Hughes-Hassell at yalsaresearch@gmail.com  to discuss submissions and author guidelines.  All completed manuscripts should be submitted as email attachments to yalsaresearch@gmail.com.  Please attach each figure or graphic as a separate file.

The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults is available online at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya.

30 Days of Back to School: Help! What Do I Do About My Website?

I love my library’s website. It was designed by a very creative and skilled library school student back in 2003. A couple of years ago, one of my high school students reworked the entire back end, turning a (by then old-fashioned) table-based website into a modern CSS-built one. He managed to preserve its unique look and feel. But I must confess that it’s still hard to maintain – especially by someone (like me) who doesn’t do this sort of thing all the time. My html skills are pretty much confined to copying and pasting, which allows me to replicate elements I like but not to branch out or trouble-shoot. When something broke over the summer, I shamelessly hunted down my former student on Facebook and asked him if he would diagnose the problem (which he did, and most willingly!). The future is clear – one day soon I’ll have to migrate the site to Drupal, the open source content management system that is used at my school. I’ll have some in-house help, and the whole effort will be more scalable. I just hope that we can maintain the whimsical feel of the current site once we’ve made the switch.

So, what if you don’t have the kind of talented help I’ve had in building and maintaining a website?
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Dollars & Sense #8: Doing Your Tech for Less (or for Nothing!)

Having a snazzy web presence doesn’t have to cost a lot. One of the great things about the Web 2.0 environment is that so many tools are available for free. What’s more, you don’t have to have particularly sophisticated technical skills to create something that looks great and is fully functional. Sites like Wikispaces, Pageflakes, and Animoto provide the templates, the underlying coding, and the storage. You can even build your entire website using a free service like Google Sites. When you use tools like these, you are taking advantage of cloud computing, meaning your content lives on externally hosted servers and is accessible to anyone who has web access.

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TTW Mini Grant winners announced

The twenty Teen Tech Week Mini Grant winners have just been announced! The grants give each winning library $450 cash and $50 worth of Teen Tech Week products to offer inventive activities, resources and services to celebrate Teen Tech Week, March 2-8. A few of the winners’ plans are already described on the TTW wiki.

Winning grants demonstrated engaging uses of technology, incorporated youth participation in the planning process, had the potential for significant impact, demonstrated clear financial need and a reasonable budget, fit into a clear and realistic timeline, built in evaluation and assessment, and the proposals were clear, concise, and complete.

Thanks to the 2008 Teen Tech Week Mini Grant Corporate Sponsor, Dungeons & Dragons, a subsidiary of Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Teen Tech Week, not?

The countdown is on for celebrating Teen Tech Week! Check Stephanie’s post for links to all the resources and materials you might need.

But wait. Are we really as ready as we think we are? As it turns out, celebrating TTW can be something of a hurdle in school libraries. Yes, those thousands of libraries that serve a huge proportion of our nation’s teens. So, what’s the problem? It’s simple to explain, yet hard to understand. In school libraries, technology use is highly controlled and restricted. School boards and administrators are reacting to the triple threat of online pornography, predation, and bullying, while trying to respond to the demands of No Child Left Behind and shrinking budgets. Schools routinely block social networking sites and a host of Web 2.0 tools. More often than not, Web content is accessible only if it serves instructional purposes.

So what can a school librarian do? As it turns out, a lot. Here are a few ideas from the article I just wrote on this topic for School Library Journal.

Celebrate TTW on your own terms. Is standardized testing scheduled for your district from March 2–8? Celebrate the following week, or during the entire month.

Think tech-related. Host a discussion about how social technologies have changed students’ lives and invite speakers involved with technology.

Low-tech and old-tech are still tech. Even paints, pencils, and hand-cranked ice cream makers involve technology (thanks, Francisca!)

Use the event to educate school administrators about the many safe and productive ways technology can be used in schools. Point them to publications like YALSA’s Social Networking Toolkit for Educators and Librarians and the National School Board Association’s recent publication Creating and Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social – and Educational – Networking, which urges schools to reassess restrictive policies regarding technology.

Have fun! A school librarian’s attitude towards technology can have the biggest impact of all.

Positive Uses of Social Networking One Year Later #3

A year ago YALSA launched the 30 days of positive uses of social networking project. Every day throughout October, three YALSA bloggers posted ideas and information about using social networking in the school and public library. The postings were in response to the U.S. Congress Deleting Online Predators Act and the realization that librarians working with teens needed support and information on using social networking with teens.

Now, one year later, the same YALSA bloggers are each writing an update post during the month of October about the world of social networking, teens, and libraries. You can see Linda’s post here and Kelly’s post here. Now it’s my turn.

As a school librarian, I’ve become sharply aware of the limitations that are placed on the use of social networking tools in our schools. In more schools than not, social networking tools are banned outright. It’s much easier for administrators to say no to all tools rather than try to distinguish among the huge variety that are now available, including those that are designed for educational use. It’s an interesting coincidence that one of my favorite school librarian bloggers, Doug Johnson (The Blue Skunk), posted about some of these same issues during October, even as we are engaged in this review. In his October 3rd “rant” (appropriately labeled with his “rant skunk”), Doug discussed the restrictions in terms of intellectual freedom. Blanket blocking of entire classes of information and tools is an unnecessary and illegitimate restriction of students’ intellectual freedom. On October 8th, he obtained Nancy Willard’s permission to reprint her LM_NET post on Internet fear-mongering. Nancy’s observation is that cyberbullying is causing kids far more harm than is sexual predation. Yet police, district attorneys, the FBI, and their audience – school administrators – seem to be fixated on social networking being a direct link to certain sexual predation. Doug’s October 30th post contrasts the different approaches taken by two videos on Internet safety – the U.S. Attorney’s Project Safe Childhood video and the What You Need to Know video from iKeepSafe. The first video focuses on the Internet and child predators while the second is about what parents can do to protect their children and, more importantly, how parents can teach their children to protect themselves.

Yet great social networking things are happening in schools too. I’ve just returned from the American Association of School Librarians National Conference and the program was peppered with sessions on social networking tools and Web 2.0 topics. Clearly, the times are a-changing. My feeling is that as these tools become part-and-parcel of the fabric of society, the barriers in schools will begin to crumble. There’s simply too much good to be had.

An AASL report

I’ve just returned from the American Association of School Librarians National Conference in sunny Reno, Nevada. While there, I attended a number of great sessions of interest to YALSA members. Here are some highlights:

The opening general session featured speaker Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation, and a contributing editor of Wired magazine. His take-home message was that the world now needs and values adults who are artistic, empathic, and inventive. It’s no longer sufficient to (merely) be skilled in logical, linear, and analytical thinking to achieve economic success. Pink was a dynamic and entertaining speaker. He described how his attendance at law school permanently and profoundly improved his earning power – because law school was where he met his wife. His less than stellar academic performance there “made the top 90% of the class possible.”

I attended two very good sessions on Web 2.0 tools in school libraries, one by Annette Lamb and the other by the team of Shayne Russell and Sophie Brookover (Sophie was unable to attend in person). Annette emphasized that it’s not necessary to use a lot of new tools. Rather it’s more important to use new ways of thinking about the tools. We should think in terms of moving from e-learning to c-learning – using Web 2.0 tools for connection, cooperation, collaboration, and so on. She suggested that we give Second Life a couple more years to become easier to implement before we really see its potential in school settings. Shayne’s presentation made me impatient to get home and try out some things now. She shared concrete examples of using resources like Flickr, del.icio.us, blogs, and wikis to transform and improve student learning. Shayne and Annette both emphasized the benefits of using free and open source applications whenever possible. I wasn’t able to attend Joyce Valenza’s inspirational presentation on Web 2.0 and information fluency, which was so oversubscribed that a second session was arranged for the next day.

YALSA’s own Francisca Goldsmith did a stellar job presenting ideas for how to celebrate the upcoming Teen Tech Week (TTW) in school libraries. She took a low-tech approach to the event, reminding participants that we need not be limited in our celebrations by a lack of expensive technology. Even paints, pencils, and hand-cranked ice cream makers involve forms of technology. A few members of the audience described their own programming from last year’s inaugural Teen Tech Week. One participant sagely advised the group: “If you are going to plan a graffiti wall, don’t tell your principal in advance.” Others were concerned that the upcoming TTW, to be celebrated the first full week of March 2008, would be taking place during peak standardized testing season in their schools. As a member of the TTW committee, I assured them that TTW was bigger than its assigned week and could really be celebrated at a time most convenient for their schools.

A major event of the conference was the release of AASL’s new Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. The four standards are prefaced by a set of common beliefs. Each standard is accompanied by a set of skills, “dispositions in action,” responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies. I went to one of the sessions given by task force members Cassandra Barnett and Barbara Stripling, who walked participants through several examples of standards implementation. The new standards replace the standards for student learning published in Information Power, published in 1998.

For more coverage of the AASL conference, check out the AASL blog.

What’s going on in Illinois re: social networking

Following up on Kelly’s post, here’s the latest from Illinois. Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) has introduced the Social Networking Website Prohibilition Act, which would banish social social networking websites from all public libraries and schools. The bill does not define social networking sites other than to use the term itself. Nor is the bill limited to libraries that utilize e-rate funding for Internet access. According to a February 16th story in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois appears to be the only state where an outright ban is being attempted. But state officials in Georgia and North Carolina have recently called for websites like MySpace to require minors to get parental consent.

This attempt seems particularly scary to me, since it’s both vague and sweeping. I wonder if Senator Murphy really understands what services comprise social networking (so much more than MySpace!) and the potentially damaging impact of such legislation on libraries, schools, and our kids.

Positive Use of Social Networking #27 – Communicating with parents and other stakeholders

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #27.

Blogs aren’t just for kids anymore. They can be an excellent way to share information with parents. One of my favorite examples of social networking software in action in a school environment is the use of blogging at Mabry Middle School in Marietta, Georgia. Every single teacher at the school has a blog. That includes the principal (who is the school webmaster!), the school nurse, the PTSA, the counselors, the media center, PE and intramurals, as well as all the language arts, math, social studies, music, art, science, and foreign language teachers. Sure, some of the blogs are more extensive than others, but every teacher posts at least once a week and categorizes his or her postings. So a parent can go to a teacher’s blog and either read the latest entries and/or select a category of interest, including topics like homework, announcements, quiz help, All State (Chorus) Info, and “Gettin’ down to earth science.”

Wikis can also be used to keep parents and community informed. When track season rolls around again, I’m betting that Deer Valley High School coaches will go back to updating their track wiki. Here’s what they have to say about why a wiki works for them: “Making our website a wiki makes it easier for us to keep it up-to-date. And a wiki is perfect for a track team since we have so many coaches working in the many track & field events. We can all up date when we feel like it.” The photo spreads are made up of images stored on Flickr.com. All around, a great use of social networking software!

If legislation like DOPA is passed, school staffs will lose a valuable method for keeping parents and other stakeholders informed and involved.

Positive Use of Social Networking #19 – Collaborating at school


During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #19.

Social networking software that promotes collaboration has special significance in the school setting. Students who learn collaboration skills at school are likely to be more valuable contributors to today’s workplace, which generally values collaboration and team work.

Linda has written about some of Google’s newer collaborative tools, such as Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Google Calendar. Wikis and blogs are naturals for classroom collaboration. Joyce Valenza tells us about some of the classroom wiki collaborations going on at her school. English classes are using a wiki to create podcasting scripts which they will use to report “on the spot” breaking events in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. And AP U.S. History is using a wiki to build collaborative answers to critical study questions. Helpful design patterns for education-focused wikis have been developed by Bernie Dodge and Karl Richter at San Diego State University.

For our computer literacy semester projects, we are using phpBB bulletin board software for student groups to post their weekly progress reports. Teachers and other students in the class then post feedback on the reports. These interactions are not visible to the world at large, but teachers and students in the class have full read/write access. This semi-public forum encourages sharing among students and creates a sense of accountability that goes beyond the typical closed teacher-student interaction.

Other tools that, on the surface just look like lots of fun, can be adapted for classroom use. A Ta Da list is a simple way for groups to keep track of tasks. As each task is finished, it can be checked off the list. Students can use Flagrant Disregard’s Flickr toys to create movie posters, magazine covers, photo mosaics, motivational posters, trading cards, and photos with comic book captions.

Social networking software clearly has much to offer to the classroom learning experience. Legislation like DOPA would stymie the potential positive contribution it could make in this area.