Sharing stories under the stars

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

I had the pleasure of dining this week with Michael Stephens and Michael Casey, along with other staff from my library, including, Helene Blowers, the tech goddess that organized their visit. I mention dinner not because I learned that Michael ordered stacked brie and tomatoes and scallops with lettuce on the side (wait until the tabloids get a hold of that one!) but because we shared our stories. Our stories about technology and how we use it to create and redefine relationships (idea shared: ask people to bring their laptops or provide computers to have a digital scrapbooking get together), what libraries are considered innovators (Michael S. mentioned Cherry Hill Public Library in New Jersey for ripping their entire music collection into iTunes), and what we can do as a large library system to embrace Library 2.0. (check out: http://plcmclearning.blogspot.com/)

What resonated most about Library 2.0 to me is it’s relationship to DOPA and the affect it will have on the culture that many of us try to create for teens in our libraries. It’s not all about having the coolest and biggest technology available, but the relationships that are possible as a result of these technologies. It’s about our stories and their stories and how developmental needs are fostered through what Library 2.0 allows.

Library 2.0 / Developmental assets:
a culture of trust / positive values
self correcting / empowerment
participation and play / constructive use of time
transparency/boundaries and expectations
collaboration / support

Those are only a few. There’s so many more.

A story to share-we had a drop-in podcasting session at our library yesterday. The teens wanted to upload their recording to their MySpace page. I helped them and got to know them a bit more and they agreed to have their recordings on our library site as well. What are your stories with social networking? The discussion board on the YALSA wiki is a great place to share-because that’s what DOPA is really going to effect-and how dare it.

By the way, Michael S., if you’re reading this-you owe me a round (or two) of DDR.

Long Overdue-A Place for Teen Activities

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

I finished reading the results of Long Overdue, the national study conducted by the Americans for Libraries Council that was just released last week.
As Beth G.’s post indicated, providing services to teens is a high priority to many, according to the report.

While it is great to see that this is a number one priority, the justification for it seemed to me to be more out of using a deficit model for teens than as an opportunity and place where they can create and contribute to the library. Statements such as, “Concerns about the relationship between drugs, crime and teenagers were especially salient among focus group participants” or “providing a place for teens to congregate” seem to be missing something in terms of empowering teens to offer programs with true youth participation opportunities. Perhaps I’m splitting hairs, but maybe not-or perhaps by using a deficit model, it can be then justified hypothetically that since ‘our town does not have a crime problem among teenagers, the money does not really need to be spent to build stronger programs for teens at our library.’

Also, for a report to have the words ’21st Century’ in the title and not mention video games (please tell me I missed this in the report) is something I do not understand.

While Barnes and Noble and Amazon get several mentions as competitors for the relevance of libraries-what about Netflix or even social networking sites that provide a community many are seeking-which might be blocked in libraries and schools receiving e-rate funding? (side note: as Eli Neiburger says, ‘we’re in the content business, not the book business).

I hope people will respond about this report-either on the blog-especially to Beth G’s. discussion questions or in their own communities. What about teens themselves? I hope they were asked for their opinions too.

Friday at the Library

In my library today:

*teens sewing a curtain on the sewing machine that will be used to block out the sun for movies shown in front of the floor to ceiling windows

*teens cutting out butcher paper to cover a refrigerator box for a booth we’re making (gotta pick up the beaded curtain this weekend)

*teens adding the first colors of paint on the courtyard mural outside to represent stories and plays

*teens painting chairs for a civil rights project in the courtyard

*popcorn on the carpet from the moviegoers
*laughter
*friendship bracelets in the making
*putting books on hold
*”Where is the room where you make movies?”
*families on the computers together on the first floor

Typical Friday? Yes. In many ways. It will be two weeks tomorrow since Mr. Joe Martin passed away. He was a generous donor to this library and so much to the community. If I took a snapshot today (digital camera is at home), he would’ve loved this. The spirit of the imagination was so vivid today.

Teen Reviewers

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

I know this is a late post on conference sessions, but forgive me, I didn’t want to leave this out.

I attended a fantastic session on teens reviewing materials. The representation of speakers was fantastic-publishers, Linda Benson from VOYA (it was neat to see her in person!), and the panel of teen reviewers which worked with very passionate YA Galley Group Advisors Diane Tuccillo and Di Herald.

Some of the projects mentioned included:

Teens Top Ten and VOYA Teen Reviewers

A handout created by YALSA included the following links for ‘Where to Review Books?’
teenlit.com
flamingnet.com
teenink.com
smartgirl.org

I received my letter in the mail this week regarding the YA Galley project. Is your library participating? Any VOYA reviewers want to comment what it’s like to work with a teen reviewer?

Serving Teens Behind Bars

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

I’ve recently started providing outreach to the teen male population at a local Jail facility in NC. The speakers at this presentation had well developed, successful and award winning programs for incarcerated teens with lots of great ideas. Jack Gantos, author of Hole in My Life, spoke after the panel and recounted his own experiences in jail and as a writer. Michele Gorman moderated through her involvement on YALSAs Criminal Elements booklist.

What the panel seemed to have in common was a genuine desire to work with and not judge these readers, to meet them where they were at in their reading levels and interests, and not take no for an answer.

In the programs represented by the panel, incarcerated teens have participated in author visits (started off with just cold calling authors to see if they’d speak at the jail), storytellers, and musician visits,
Great Stories Book CLUB recipients, visual art on display at city hall, created partnerships with the judge, probation officer, teen and librarian to read and discuss books, produced a literary magazine and provided readers advisory.

While a mutual goal was to increase awareness of the library as an important community resource and to use literature as a vehicle for discussion, outreach to a jail is not without its obstacles. Funding (grants, scholarships, and donations sought), security (we are part of the library’s security program by being there), and staff (one jail staff member was teasing a teen that they should read the picture book b/c they weren’t smart enough to read. This interaction turned into the teen joking with the staff and choosing the book anyway. While we might not understand or respond in the same way the jail staff does, we need to understand, most have the heart to work there with the teens and connect with them too) can be challenging.

Outcomes:
Reduction in recidivism
Teens read a book for the first time and keep on reading
Reading helps with social and personal issues (Flinn’s Breathing Underwater was a catalyst to for a teen to talk with his girlfriend about her manipulative behavior toward him)
quote directly from a teen:

”Keeps my imagination moving”
(there were more but that’s all I have for now)

Check them out when you can:

Austin Public Library: Second Chance Books created by Youth Specialist, Devo Carpenter.

Hennepin County Library: Home School and Juvenile Detention Center created by Outreach Manager, Patrick Jones.

Johnson County Library System: Read to Succeed created by Teen Services Librarian, Tricia Suellentrop.

Alameda County Library: Write to Read created by one of this years Movers and Shakers, Librarian Amy Cheney.

There are many other libraries serving teens in jails. What kind of tips do you have to share? What has worked well? How many are not quite sure they are comfortable in offering library services to this teen population?

Out of the Closet and Into the Library

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

A fantastic and call to action presentation was given by four panelists at ALA on Monday: Erin Downey Howerton, School Liasison for the Johnson County Library in Kansas, Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club and upcoming book about the attack of the soul sucking brain zombies (at least that’s what I think I heard), Sara Ryan, Teen Services Specialist for the Multnomah County Library system in Portland, Oregon and author of Empress of the World, and David Levithan, author of Are We There Yet? (All the panelists are so much more than what I mentioned, but those are a few things about them.

Erin talked about how she wanted to add GLBT books to the collection and the fact that people might object to them. It was a good sign that Rainbow Boys by Sanchez and The Misfits by Howe were tattered copies already in the system. Lists from the ALA 2000 annual conference put together by the GLBT roundtable and updated in 2004 were used as guides to build the collection.
Rainbow Kite by Shyer is a story about a gay teen’s coming out that Erin shared her enthusiasm for with colleagues that opened a lot of doors for further conversation. Adding booklists to binders so that teens don’t have to approach staff for suggestions if they would prefer not to and putting booklists inside of books to point out similar reads were suggested to connect teens with GLBT themed books. Erin thinks of books as people and wants them to meet the people they were always destined to meet. Further recommended resources:

2006 Popular Paperback GLBTQ list
The Heart Has Its Reasons: Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004 by Michael Cart
Outsource: A Handbook for Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens at the Library by Hillias Martin and James Murdock

Brent Hartinger told his story of growing up as a gay teen and how he didn’t see himself represented in books. There was a made for tv movie called What If I’m Gay? which was done from the point of view of straight friends which was not very helpful or enlightening. Like Geography Club, he started a support group and safe meeting place (away from the seedy bar) which grew to 450 members of GLBTQ teens and even offered themselves as a resource to counselors.
Geography Club was in its 3rd printing in less than a month, turned into a stage play, and brought about an avalanche of emails and letters from people that related to Russel (even straight people who understood that everyone knows what it’s like to have a secret). He talked about the controversy of this book in his home town and the importance of continuing to foster diverse collections and helping spread the word as a library for GLBTQ folks.

Sara Ryan suggested the article: If I Ask, Will They Answer?: Evaluating Public Library Reference Service to Gay/Lesbian Youth by Dr. Ann Curry, published in the Fall 2005 issue of Reference and User Services Quarterly. Sara has a fantastic booklist for teens with GLBT related themes and links on the Multnomah County Library site. Sara has been spotlighted by YALSA for the phenomenal work she does (that I can’t possibly capture here).

David Levithan’s book, Wide Awake, comes out September 2006 which is about a gay Jewish President of the U.S. This is his form of a protest song against the last presidential election. As the last speaker of the session, his discussion on the moral imperative of GLBT books themselves and what we do with them was truly uplifting and nothing short of a call to action. In talking about preaching your beliefs, he said that sometimes we need to preach-even though we can’t shove our beliefs down anyone’s throat or force people to do what they don’t want to do, we cannot be afraid of our beliefs just because there might be people louder than us. “Let us make this the loudest god damn fire there is, book by book, shelf, by shelf. . . “ it is about making progress and making things right.

Day of Silence (or no name calling) was recommended for a library program. Partnering with local GLBT organizations, book displays, book lists, and adding authors to your library web site, adding authors myspace accounts to your library’s, adding Spanish/English language GLBT materials from the Human Rights Campaign to the collection-these are free!, adding search words to your catalog that reflect the needs of GLBT people were some of the ideas shared by the panelists and audience.

Also, check out one of this years Movers and Shakers, Bart Birdsall from Tampa Florida, who indeed made the freedom of speech for gay teens the loudest god damn fire there is.

Gaming Discussion Group

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

The Gaming Discussion group met on Sunday afternoon-and what a discussion it was! Chaired by Beth Gallaway and co-chaired by Kelly Czarnecki. Many stories were shared from libraries all over the U.S. of how gaming as programs and services are already working. Several people came to the meeting because they knew that’s what teens are interested in, but didn’t necessarily know a lot about gaming. We apologize for the Skype cast and presentation in Second Life having to be cancelled, but the room the meeting was scheduled in did not have wireless capabilities.

The group was in agreement to request the board to take further action to appoint a video game selection committee. Similar to the committees that select the best audio books or DVDs for teens, this selection list would guide libraries to purchase recommended video games for their library.

Other initiatives the Gaming Discussion group will be involved in include:

  • acting as an interest group which would create bibliographies, tip sheets, brochures, and seek to publish articles in publications such as YALS, SLJ, VOYA, or YAttitudes. (of which the last three all have regularly published gaming columns). Jami Schwarzwalder, discussion member, created very helpful brochures that were passed out at the meeting to get us started on resources. Check out the Mario Brothers Memorial Public Library for more info. Handouts on creating Library Runescape teams, created by Chris Rippel, Central Kansas Library System, were also given out.
  • engage in a research component by applying for the Frances Henne grant which would develop a project that would research aspects of teens and gaming.
  • work with the YALSA Technology for Young Adults committee to help with the marketing aspect of gaming for the 50th anniversary celebration of YALSA.

Other ideas shared that felt this discussion group could contribute to:

  • recommendations on gaming equipment for libraries (cost, differences, age attraction, etc.)
  • addressing the shrinkage problem (i.e., games stolen from the circulating collection)
  • youth participation component (teens wanting to run tournaments and creating promotional materials-videos for games)
  • funding ideas and experiences for gaming programs
  • resources such as where to go on the Internet for cheat codes (GameFacts was recommended).
  • how to convince administration that they need to offer gaming programs and services (relate to mission/vision statement, developmental needs and assets, and new literacies)
  • what are other programs and services related to gaming (CosPlays, anime, machinima, fanfiction)

This discussion will also be available as a podcast. Join the LibGaming listserv to ask questions about video gaming at your library. There are over 300 members and this is an excellent resource for libraries and gaming.

Summer Reading -at the Jail

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

My ever-thinking colleague suggested we offer to sign up the young men (16-17 year olds) in the Freedom Reads! book club at Jail North in Charlotte, NC for the Teen Summer Reading program. Of course and why not! Since the program is online and the young men do not have internet access, we had to be a bit creative. They chose a username and password which the librarian at the jail will keep track of. They will record their hours on hard copy and turn it in when they reach their goals. Some even said they would read for thirty hours straight and right away. What do they read? So much! Astrology, Dead Sea Scrolls, James Patterson, teen dating violence prevention, and most recently titles from the Great Stories CLUB grant program.

Come see our display (among many others) at the Diversity Fair at the conference on Saturday, 3p-5p at the Convention Center in the Special Events Area behind aisle 3700.

A few other related programs:

All Committee meeting, Saturday, 10a-12p, Hilton Grand Ballroom. Visit the Outreach to Young Adults Special Needs Committee.

Behind Bars: Books & Teens and the Criminal Justice System, Saturday, 1:30p-3:30p, Convention Center, Room 288-289.