Whether you're a school librarian or a public librarian, this is a great time to start considering how to work with teachers or school library media specialists in the coming school year. With so few schools being able to afford to have librarians anymore (an issue for another time), public librarians are in a great position to offer their support and create a mutual network between school teachers where both parties can learn and benefit. And school librarians can do the same.

This year I was inspired by an English teacher at my school who used iBooks Author to create an interactive textbook for her sixth graders. Since the units she was teaching involved folk tales, fairy tales, and mythology around the world, iBooks Author allowed her to compile myriad resources, from text to images to videos, into one place for her students. Then, because iBooks are for Internet-enabled devices, of course, those same resources can then be clicked on and link the students to the sources they come from so they can learn even more about what they're reading. Goodbye to the readers I used in high school and college, where short stories and essays on our syllabus were compiled into a cheaply bound booklet after the library and the bookstore collaborated to get the legal rights squared away. Read More →

read like a librarian scoreboard

Are you aware of the Hub Reading Challenge? Are you participating this year?
It's quite the undertaking. Read as many of YALSA's award-winning, honored, or selected titles from the past year as possible (or at least 25). You know, while reading everything else you want to read and doing your job and living your life outside of work. It's both exciting and daunting. I signed up for it this year, though with other reading to do for booktalks, articles, and fun, I wasn't sure if I could complete it (though I had already read many of the books on the list, you can only count the books if you read them during the challenge period). However, I was excited enough to think about inviting my library patrons to participate.

I'm lucky enough to work at a school where encouraging students to read for pleasure isn't all that difficult. Castilleja is a school for girls in grades 6-12 in Palo Alto, California, and even with their incredibly demanding academic and extracurricular schedules, most of the girls find the time to read for fun, though this is more common with middle schoolers than upper schoolers. We also provide many of the adults on campus, both faculty and staff, with reading material for work and for fun. So when I set out to develop a reading challenge based on the Hub Reading Challenge, I wasn't sure if it would be overkill or icing on the cake. Read More →

Happy February! If you have no interest in reigniting your observance of Black History Month, read on for tips on how to continue doing the same tired thing every year.

1. Definitely put together a display for Black History Month and then never again feature black authors or stories at any other time throughout the year.
While Black History Month is a wonderful time to celebrate the contributions of African Americans to literature, history, politics, and culture, sometimes it's used as a crutch to avoid promoting these individuals and these stories for the rest of the year. And while booktalking and displaying people by all races and ethnicities is something to be done year-round, ask yourself if you are integrating these books into general displays or if your habit is to always mention that an author or character is black, instead of focusing on the vampire romance or the great writing or the hilarious flying panda bear, you're not going to get the circulation you want. And you're being unfair to the book. White authors are recognized for their stories, not their identities. Give that same courtesy to everyone else. Read More →

While I'm sure you're already worn out pulling out your wallet for all those end-of-the-year donations and holiday shopping, I hope you'll consider taking it out for a good cause today, for Giving Tuesday. And when you do, please consider donating to Friends of YALSA. This year, the goal is to raise at least $2000, which will help send two advocates for teen services to Washington.

Friends of YALSA funds important YALSA initiatives, including the Spectrum Scholarship, which I was a recipient of. Spectrum supports library students from under-recognized groups in order to diversify the workforce, and I was proud to be a part of the program. It made me a member of two powerful and vibrant groups: my Spectrum cohort and YALSA. Being a part of a group of colleagues who were also going through school, finding out their specific niches in library science, going on first job interviews, and all the while concerning themselves with issues of representation and privilege, was invaluable while I was going through those things, too. And being named YALSA's Spectrum Scholar made me a member of arguably the most fun-loving and dynamic division of ALA. Some of the best people I've ever met (some only online, some also in person) welcomed me into the fold and let me blog, join committees, go out for dinner with them at conferences, and generally get to know what YALSA and YA services are all about. That empowered me through out my graduate school experience and helped me land my first job out of library school before I had even graduated. I had a distinct experience in school, thanks to my Spectrum Scholarship.

I owe YALSA and Spectrum a huge debt of gratitude for giving me a community to count on and learn from. Please consider making a donation to YALSA so that other future librarians can have the opportunities I've had. Click here to learn about your giving options, and please consider at least Tweeting about the importance of #GivingTuesday to pass on the word!

Thank you for your support.

All set for Annual? For this month's Eureka Moments, I tried to tie some research and news to some of the sessions you might want to attend at the conference. And if you're not able to attend, I hope these items will allow you to participate from afar and to still feel up to date on what's happening.

  • A 2010 case study in The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy concluded that "educators cannot expect students to separate their identities from literacy practices" through interviews and observations with two gay teens. The researcher noted how a multigenre research project, rather than the more traditional paper, allowed the teens to explore themselves more fully and integrate their academic study of history and literature with their sexual orientation. The article ends with the researcher imploring schools and educators to become more sensitive to LGBTQ issues and to explore ways to allow students identifying in the spectrum to feel included in traditional classroom topics and texts and to respectfully invite all students to participate together.
    Vetter, A.M. (2010). "'Cause I'm a G": Identity Work of a Lesbian Teen in Language Arts. The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(2), 98-108.
    Related session: Stonewall Awards Presentation, Monday 10:30am'  Read More →

Happy Spring! Or is it still freezing cold where you are? Or already hot as summer? Regardless of the weather, spring is a great time for the birth of new ideas, approaches, and programming. Maybe something here will inspire you.

  • You might be working and living in the "stroke belt," did you know? Eleven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia) are designated as areas with incredibly high prevalence of stroke, and new research shows that teens living in these areas are at higher risk for having strokes when they are older. This means that encouraging healthy habits and the cessation of unhealthy ones that could contribute to strokes, like smoking and diet, should be emphasized. Have you done any health programming lately? Read a news report on the study here, or check out the full article in Neurology. Read More →

Schoolyard taunts certainly haven't gone away, but the Digital Age has brought with it the advent of cyberbullying, a method of peer abuse that allows for more anonymity for the aggressors, not to mention giving bullies the chance to engage in these taunts at any time of day or night, not just during school hours.

There are many documented health and behavioral effects of traditional and cyberbullying, and parents, teachers, and librarians are in a position to do a lot to help teach kids to deal with bullying and to stop it before it starts. But some teens are taking things into their own hands, too. College student Emily-Anne Rigal, who founded the organization We Stop Hate in 2010, is petitioning Facebook to add a bullying button to its posts. The button would allow users to report suspected abuse to potentially build up a case against a user and either remove their posts or their entire account from the site. Given that Facebook is one of the major arenas for cyberbullying, this seems like a good place to start.

Currently, Rigal is seeking votes on BullyButton.org for those who support having a method to report harassment. Proponents of the button say that this will help teens learn to recognize inappropriate online behaviors and monitor themselves. But possible drawbacks include teens using the button to incorrectly report behaviors that are not bullying. What side are you on?

How's your team doing in March Madness? Mine just got to the Sweet Sixteen! While you're waiting for the next time your alma mater plays, check out some of these interesting ideas and insights.

  • We all know that teens love to text. To respond to this, many schools and colleges now use text message alerts to notify students of school closures or safety issues. But what about health issues? It turns out, lots of doctors and researchers use text message interventions to tackle adolescent health concerns. In North Carolina, a free texting service offered teens the chance to anonymously ask questions about sexual health, and the teens involved in the study said that the service made them feel confident and encouraged them to follow up and learn more about their health. A similar study in 2011 offered teens weight management tips, and the weight and BMI of the study participants decreased after the intervention. College aged smokers participated in an intervention that left 40% of them staying away from smoking for a period of at least 7 days, while other participants reported less dependency on nicotine, which is also a good sign. Obviously as librarians, we cannot offer health advice. But what can you take from this study? Can school libraries use a texting service to alert students of new titles in the collection or upcoming book club meetings? Can public libraries partner with public health organizations to offer helpful services for teens concerned with a certain health or behavior issue? Can teen advisory groups pilot their own peer mentoring or counseling texting program? There are a lot of possibilities, and medical research shows that such programs can have really great results. Read More →
  • Congratulations! You've almost made it through February. If you're struggling to find ideas for programs or just want to know what's out there in the research world, maybe this will help.

  • Are your newer patrons the kind who wonder why librarians are relevant and useful? Just tell them that Beyoncé recently hired a personal librarian to archive and catalog her life.
  • A new study in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking looks at what influences teens' decisions to disclose personal information to commercial websites. The researchers found that these decisions were linked to frequency of Internet use and social benefits of disclosing that information. It might be time to do a program on Internet security with your teens.
    Wannes Heirman, Michel Walrave, and Koen Ponnet. Predicting Adolescents' Disclosure of Personal Information in Exchange for Commercial Incentives: An Application of an Extended Theory of Planned Behavior. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. February 2013, 16(2): 81-87. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0041.
  • The Journal of Early Adolescence reported on the connections between race, ethnicity, and SES on growing BMI in children and adolescents. For girls, they found that low SES and high birth weight were big predictors of heavy weight gain, while African American and Asian American boys in higher SES brackets were more prone to obesity. It might bear looking at the full article in conjunction with the demographics of your library's neighborhood or patron base next time you are preparing a book display on health and active lifestyles or when updating your collection, to make sure that you are showcasing materials that might hit the right age groups and cultural backgrounds so as to be extra relevant.
    Fred W. Danner and Michael D. Toland. The Interactive Role of Socioeconomic Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Birth Weight on Trajectories of Body Mass Index Growth in Children and Adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence. February 2013, 33(3): 293-314. Read More →
  • We're almost to 2013! Though I know you're probably busy with end-of-year plans, projects, and tasks, I wanted to tell you about some recent news, research, and innovation you might find informative or inspiring for your library work.

  • A study recently published in the Journal of Educational Computing Research surveyed middle school students on their experiences with cyberbullying and found that those who engage are most often both victims and perpetrators. They looked at reporting behaviors, too, and found that even when students report cyberbullying, it rarely stops. If you've been addressing only one end of cyberbullying, you may want to consider changing up your programming to look at why it is that students both engage and suffer from it, and your teen advisory group might be interested in discussing methods that reporting and prevention programs can be made more effective.
    Holfield, Brett, and Grabe, Mark. (2012). Middle school students' perceptions of and responses to cyber bullying. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 46(4), 395-413.
  • It's that time of year - rather, it's been that time of year since before Halloween - when all the ads and commercials you see have a Christmas twist to them. Have you seen this viral video that parodies the Coca Cola bears to draw attention to the harmful health effects of drinking too much soda? Called The Real Bears and sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the video features a song by Jason Mraz (no doubt to hook people who don't know what it's about) and shows a family of bears slowly getting sicker and sicker as they make soda more of a part of their diet. Have your teens seen it? With a lot of strong reactions in both directions, the video might make for a great conversation starter in one of your advisory groups, or it could prompt some programming or displays on health and nutrition. Read More →