Comics, Comics, Comics!

It’s a great time to be a comics fan.

There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.

Lumberjanes is by  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It’s published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y’all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn’t be missed.

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I’m obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:

PRINCELESS_PREVIEW_Page2

PrinceLess hasn’t been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.

The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They’re amazing. There’s something for everyone in this series!

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager–who’s now a superhero.

Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.” Basically, that’s enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that’s part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.

This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!

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Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner – Lockport Public Library

When the Teen Tech Week grant was written, it was hoped that we could get teens interested in more library programs. Teens will show up to use the computers to chat with friends and watch internet videos, but mention digital literacy or STEM/STEAM and they’ll look at you like you’re an alien. Don’t get me wrong; our schools are hardworking, Title I schools that strive to teach students what they can. But a rural area of Lafourche Parish is not really at the top of the list for the fast paced information technology industry.

Like any library in the country, we know we have to get them young or we lose them until they’re adults. And without many options they’re not going to stay in this area. The public library still has that stereotypical “the library is where the losers hang out” view to contend with among the teens. Our programming has to be unusual to get them in. We all know video games are always a popular draw. I’ve used free programs like Scratch and Kodu with them before. But the funds and resources to host a large scale video game design program were simply beyond our scope before now.

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#act4teens: The Inclusive Library: More than a Diverse Collection: Part 2

In this second blog post on creating inclusive libraries, we examine the need to identify and remove barriers, and have an expanded definition of ‘the library as a safe space’.

Identifying and Removing Barriers

Paramount to our goal of creating inclusive libraries is removing barriers that prevent diverse youth from feeling welcome. In her research, Kafi Kumasi (2012) found that many youth of color feel like outsiders in library spaces, describing the school library as the sole “property” of the librarian. Kumasi argues that “these feelings of disconnect and exclusion should be attended to by school librarians, if they want to make all of their students feel welcome.”

Physical barriers can be easy to spot and can include, for example, detectors and late fees. Consider the unwelcoming message that detectors—particularly those with a ‘push’ gate—can send about libraries, especially for teens who may regularly be followed in department stores. We must recognize that these kinds of microaggressions are daily experiences for many youth, especially male youth of color, and must be mindful not to replicate them in our libraries. We must also realize that late fees represent a financial burden for some teens and their families causing teens to forego visiting the library, and ask ourselves, what other strategies might we use? Finally, our libraries must be physically and intellectually accessible for teens with disabilities (and, of course, stocked with literature that reflects their lived experiences). Project ENABLE provides free training to help librarians create more inclusive libraries that address the needs of youth with disabilities.

Other barriers are more difficult to unpack, but include library policies or procedures that inhibit teens from visiting or participating. For public libraries, this could manifest as an address requirement for receiving a library card. Teens experiencing homelessness would be unable to fulfill this requirement and thus be denied access to essential public library resources including computer time and material checkouts. For school libraries, perhaps a strict atmosphere of ‘shhh-ing’ is excluding teens from joining in library activities. Janice Hale (2001) reminds us, for example, that African American youth “participate in a culture that is highly dynamic. They thrive in settings that use multimedia and multimodal teaching strategies. And they favor instruction that is variable, energetic, vigorous, and captivating.” Do our libraries support this?

Barriers can also exist in programming. Are we scheduling programs at times that allow teen participation? Are we taking into consideration the public transportation schedules? Are we offering programs at locations in the community, rather than expecting teens to always come to the library? Are we coordinating our teen programs with our programs for children so that teens who are responsible for taking care of siblings can attend? Breaking Barriers: Libraries and Socially Excluded Communities explores ideas related to this topic specific to public libraries.

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2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner – Tricia George

YOUmedia Hartford is a digital learning and maker space for teens ages 13-19.  The space is a research-informed, informal learning environment utilizing principles of connected learning, the HOMAGO learning theory and positive youth development.  Students come to Hang Out, Mess Around and Geek Out in content areas that include video and photo production, music production, game design, computer programming, design and making.  Through partnerships with local artists and professionals, businesses, schools and other informal learning spaces, students discover new opportunities and build knowledge and skills in areas of interest.  For instance, this coming summer students will work with award-winning producer Quadeer Shakur to produce, distribute and market a Best of Hartford Hip Hop album.  Others will work with a local botanist to build a hydroponic window garden from recycled materials.  Still more will enter 3D modeling, design and film contests under the guidance of our mentors.  Hundreds others will seek help with homework and personal projects, meet new friends and attend social events.

For Teen Tech Week the YOUmedia Hartford staff wanted to get out of the library and into classrooms, and so we did!  Through partnerships with several local schools we were able to take e-textiles and stop motion animation workshops on the road.  The projects showcased the variety of activities available at YOUmedia and to expose students to the processes behind some very fun and practical technologies.  These workshops also acted as carrots to attract new youth to the space, so that they might find themselves immersed in a resource-rich environment, staffed with knowledgeable mentors and full-to-the-brim with other young people exploring similar pursuits.  All of the materials used for the workshops are available freely to any youth in the space.

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Preliminary Schedule for the 2015 YA Services Symposium

The preliminary schedule for the 2015 YA Services Symposium has been announced!  This year, we’ve expanded our focus to cover the entire spectrum of topics related to providing services to young adults… and boy, do we have an exceptional list of programs for you!

First, there will be three half-day preconferences.  One preconference session, “Hip Hop Dance and Scratch: Facilitating Connected Learning in Libraries,” will focus on resources and best practices for implementing interest-driven coding workshops, with some hands on experience.  More information to come about the other preconferences.

Program topics:

  • Customize to connect – small libraries build participatory learning environments for teens
  • Diverse Teen Fiction: Getting Beyond The Labels
  • Full STEAM Ahead: Lessons Learned From a Library Coding Camp
  • If You Build It, They Will Come: Establishing Teen Services in Public Libraries
  • Lessons from Learning Spaces: Challenges and Opportunities for Maker Programming in Libraries
  • Maker Space Programming without the Space (or How Hollywood Came to Indiana and Brought a Community Together)
  • Moving On Up: Introducing Middle Schoolers to the YA Collection
  • New Adulthood: Literature & Services for NA Patrons
  • Teaching Urban Teens Valuable Skills: A Teen Job Fair
  • Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Connecting School and Public Libraries to Enhance Teen Services
  • Teen Services without Borders
  • Acting and Beyond: Helping Teens and Libraries Establish Connections through Theatre
  • Using Digital Literacy Trends with Teens
  • Elevating Teen Volunteers to Loftier Roles
  • Teens As Parents: Library and Early Literacy Connections
  • Starting From Scratch: My 18-Month Quest to Fill the Library with Teens, Convert my Colleagues, and Keep My Sanity

Paper Presentations

  • Skin Deep:  Hispanic and African American Experiences in Young Adult Literature
  • Teaching digital, media and information literacies to foster youth at a university curriculum materials library
  • Writing within Community:  How Mentoring Works in Online Fan Fiction

See the extended program descriptions and updates at http://www.ala.org/yalsa/yasymposium/programs.

The symposium will take place November 6–8, 2015 in Portland, Oregon at the Hilton with a theme of: Bringing it All Together: Connecting Libraries, Teens & Communities.  Early Bird registration starts April 1, 2015.

There’s also a stipend available for two YALSA members.  Each stipend offers up to $1,000.  Applications are due by June 15.  To apply, view details at:  http://www.ala.org/yalsa/yasymposium/stipend.

Want to help advocate?  Grab a flyer.  Help us promote; tell your colleagues!

Join YALSA as we explore how to connect teens to their community and beyond!

–Jane Gov for YA Services Symposium Marketing and Planning Task Force

Celebrating Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman at your library

Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman is cause for celebration at libraries this summer.  The expected July 14th release date has fans of To Kill A Mockingbird all a twitter.  Here are a few ideas to use at your library to celebrate this great literary occasion. 

  • Turn your inside book drop into a tree knot hole.  Use paper or a large painted sheet to create a tree to drape in front of it.  Have the children knock and ask for Boo Radley.  Children can reach in and get candy, bookmarks or anything else you would like to give away.
  • Host a scavenger hunt in your children’s area for items found in the tree knot such as gum, balls of twine and pennies. 
  • Have a community reads program and discussion group at your library.  Buy a number of copies to giveaway to the first people who sign up.
  • If you are having a book group and want to serve refreshments, you can try recipes inspired by the book at http://leafsandleaves.blogspot.com/2011/08/recipes-from-to-kill-mockingbird.html.  You can find Calpurnia’s crackling bread, Miss Maudie’s Lane Cake, frosted tea cakes and fresh lemonade. 
  • Invite Paul Acampora for an author visit.  He wrote I Kill The Mockingbird.  It is about a group of middle school students who hide the books in local libraries and bookstores to create hype to get their classmates to read it. 
  • Hide the books and have your own I Kill The Mockingbird hype event. 
  • Do a reader’s theater with children and or teens with certain scenes from the book such as a courtroom scene.

Kris Hickey, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH

Planning for Tweens

Like many of you, I’m feverishly planning for summer reading. My complete schedule is due at the end of this week and even here in the Deep South, everything has been thrown off by ice and snow and power outages and missed deadlines…as crazy as Summer Reading is in a public library, I’m definitely looking forward to summer.

My library isn’t large enough to have separate programming for tweens in the summer, so I encourage rising 6-12th graders to come to my teen programming. Which means I’ve had kids as young as 11 at teen programming. This can work. This is good for socialization and some of your kids will really enjoy it. Fun mentor-type relationships have sprung up among my group. You just have to remember a few things.

  • Adult Supervision. I’ve never had any issues at teen programming among the actual teens, but y’all, there is a big age gap between 11 and 18 and we have to be responsible around that. Make sure your programs are staffed properly. Safety first.
  • Participation, not humiliation. Try not to plan any programs that call anyone out specifically, but do encourage participation. Last year I talked about my photobooth program, which was well-attended and wildly popular. Kids were able to participate without feeling like I’m going to call on them at school.
  • Casual forever. My tween/teen programming is MUUUUCH less structured than my kids programming. Part of this is numbers: I’m never going to get 100 kids at a teen program. But part of that is that junior high and high school kids have their lives structured down to every single second and having a place where they can come make a craft or watch a movie without having to ask permission to use the restroom.
  • Have fun with them.  My main problem in the summer is that while I’m trying to do multiple programs a week, I forget to sit down and actually enjoy myself. The teen and tween programs are an ideal place to do this, as they ARE less structured and require less of me running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I try and take this hour every week during the summer to relax and have a chat with my kids. I love it.

Good luck on those summer plans, fellow public librarians! You can do it!

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Our cross-poster from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner – Lana Nix

This is my 2nd year of being a media specialist so this is my first go around with Teen Tech Week.  We have come up with about 17 activities at Chestatee High School for our students to try their hand with at learning.  Some activities are limited for just a few students to be working with at a time like the Spheros, Exofabulatronixx Robot, slow motion animation, Makey Makey, K’nex, Chaos Tower and littleBits.  These items will help our students to learn about coding, building, circuitry, and video making.  This allows our students a new opportunity to learn something or to further their knowledge of a passion they already enjoy.  We received the grant from YALSA and Best Buy and we were able to purchase Spheros and an Exofabulatronixx Robot.  Both of these items will help our students learn the skill of coding.  The Sphero is merely a remote controlled ball in which they can program its movements.  We hope to incorporate the Sphero and coding into a math course next year.  Teen Tech Week will give the students the first glimpse of what they can accomplish with such a simple tool.  The Exofabulatronixx Robot is one in which our students can put together and take apart and put together in a different form again.  Its pieces connect by means of magnets.  When the students have finished creating their robot, they are then able to create a program which will tell their robot what path to take.

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#act4teens: The Inclusive Library: More than a Diverse Collection: Part 1

The growing conversation surrounding the need for diversity in teen literature is wonderful—it is essential, it is long overdue, but it is only a starting point. Wait, what? Yes, a starting point. If we are not using those diverse collections in our library promotions, programming, and reader’s advisory with all students, we are diluting their influence. Furthermore, if diverse collections are housed in libraries that are not inclusive and welcoming to all youth, then we are negating the power of those collections.

“Diversity is not ‘praiseworthy’: it is reality.” Malinda Lo’s recent statement  can serve to remind librarians that focusing on diversity is not an extra facet of our job. It is central to what we do. Consider these facts:

  • In the 2014-2015 school year, youth of color were projected to make up the majority of students attending American public schools (not just urban public schools, but ALL public schools)
  • Approximately 9.1% of students attending America’s schools are English Language Learners
  • Approximately 10% of the general youth population in the United States identifies as LGBTQ+
  • One in 45 youth experience homelessness in America each year [references for all of these statistics can be found here]

YALSA’s The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action details even further the significant shift in the demographics of teens. To paraphrase Ernest Morrell (2015), our multicultural America is in our libraries no matter where we are.

Library collections obviously need to reflect the diversity of our nation. But that is just the beginning. Public and school libraries must be inclusive. Inclusive libraries are staffed by librarians who are culturally competent, use their diverse collections with all teens, identify and remove barriers, and have an expanded definition of ‘the library as a safe space’. In this two-part blog post, we will briefly examine these components. Our goal is broaden the conversation about the needs of diverse youth beyond diverse literature, and to highlight the need for librarians to engage in discussions about equity and inclusivity.

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2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner – Lindsey Tomsu

In 2012 the Teen Advisory Board received a grant from the Nebraska Library Commission (NLC) of $1,900 to start a Teen Media Club to give teens a chance to learn how to create digital content. Many of my teens do not have access to basic technologies. The library’s computer lab does not have filters so you must be 17 to enter which means that our community’s teens that do not have access to computers outside of school can’t even use the library’s resources. Many of my teens do not have Internet at home, have outdated computers that seem to freeze all the time and not connect to the library’s wireless, and many do not have smartphones.

The goal of Media Club was to use technology to enable teens to create such things as book trailers and the creation and maintenance of a teen library website. The original NLC grant funds were used to purchase an HD Digital Recorder, a laptop for the teens, and various props for their videos. While there still is a lot of interest in Media Club we realized that just having a camera and a laptop was not enough. As we went about beginning to create, draft, and record various video projects we learned that we really need certain other tech equipment to properly be able to run our club. We discovered this after a large-scale project (La Vista’s Next Top Project Snazz Maszter—a “reality” show cross between America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway) which we filmed during a 17-hour lock-in (filming all 17 hours!) and discovered afterward that a lot of the film was unusable. Our library has 20-foot ceilings and the sound on most of our film was barely audible because of echoes. We also realized free film editing software can’t do things like green screen effects. The teens decided they wanted me to apply for a YALSA/Best Buy Teen Tech Week grant for funds to be used toward the purchase of the additional equipment we need to get Media Club properly equipped and off the ground again.

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