28 Days of Teens & Tech #28: Help Me YALSA! I’m Blocked

Welcome to the last day of Teens & Tech. I hope you enjoyed it. Sorry for the delay in getting this last post up. I was having, of all things, technology issues. Today’s topic was suggested by the Tech Integrator at my school, Allison Lundquist.

Dear YALSA:

Thank you for all of the great suggestions. Here’s my problem. I’m totally blocked. I want to share awesome YouTube videos with my teachers, but YouTube is blocked. I want to create a Facebook page for my library, but Facebook is banned, too. Skype-An-Author? I’d love to, but Skype is verboten. How do I get around these filtering issues?

All Blocked Up

Dear ABU:

I feel your pain, I really do. Nothing is worse than seeing that SonicWall come up to stop you in your tracks.

Really this is an issue of intellectual freedom, the same as a book challenge. If we feel that a site has merit, we need to fight for it. The ALA office of Intellectual Freedom has a very useful page about filters and filtering.

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28 Days of Teens & Tech #21: Help Me YALSA! No Technology

Dear YALSA:

All of the information you’ve been sharing has been wonderful. I can see so much potential. The problem? I’m in a rural community without broadband. We have one public access computer with dial-up.  Sometimes I feel like I’m failing my teen patrons when I can’t do all of these exciting things I see on the YALSA and other blogs. What’s a country librarian to do?

– No Tech in the Country

Dear NTIC:

Thank you for a great question. Location and economics are still barriers to tech access in the United States, and it impacts teens in rural as well as urban areas. According to a recent FCC report, ten percent of US homes have no access to broadband whether they can afford it or not. As the Washington Post reported, only 68% of American homes have access and “low-income and minority groups are less likely to have a broadband Internet connection in their homes.”

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28 Days of Teens & Tech #14: Help me YALSA! Apps

Dear YALSA:

The teens in my library are app-crazy! They are asking hard questions like, “I’ve made this app for my droid, but I need help getting the bugs out.” Then I’ve got the adults who don’t know an app from their, well, you know. Can you help me and my patrons sort out the ins and outs of apps? Tell me more about the app marketplace and how the web is being overtaken by the entirely more
convenient app world!

Sincerely,

App-Wary
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28 Days of Teens & Tech #7: Help Me YALSA! QR Codes

Welcome to Help Me YALSA!

I have always wanted to write an advice column. So, after I proposed a series of post in which you, them readers of the YALSA blog, propose solutions and tips for those struggling with a particular technology, I decided it would be fun to phrase it as an advice column. Of course unlike Dear Abby or Miss Manners, I won’t have all the answers. I’ll give some information, but it will be up to you, dear readers, to help each other.

So, without further ado, our first question.

Help me YALSA:

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about QB codes. I know these aren’t the things that Tom Brady has written on his wrist, but beyond that, I’m clueless. These just look like funny little boxes to me. What are they and how can they possibly be of use to me as a librarian?

Cold and Codeless in Maine

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Interview with Kelley McDaniel

YALSA member Kelley McDaniel has developed an exemplary school library program at King Middle School in Portland, Maine. Her work was recently honored with the The Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award. This honor did not surprise me. As a colleague, I know her for her innovative programming, commitment to intellectual freedom, and the fact that she will never back down from a fight.

In her acceptance speech, she explained what drives her as a librarian:

The motto of my middle school library is “Inspiring students to be lifelong readers, lifelong learners, lifelong library users and engaged citizens.” Students may not remember my name or the library’s motto, but, when asked about libraries, I hope they smile and think, “I like libraries. I feel welcome in libraries. Libraries inform and enrich me. I see myself in libraries. I support libraries.

Kelley graciously agreed to be interviewed for the YALSA blog.

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YALSA Teen Lit Symposium: Author Happy Hour from the Authors’ Perspective

The thing I was looking forward to least about the whole YALSA Teen Lit Symposium was the Author Happy Hour. Neurotic me imagined me sitting by myself at a table while all the other tables were mobbed.

When the librarians started streaming in, I took a picture because it was just this mob of people coming in, like the Running of the Brides at Filene’s Basement in Boston. And then you mobbed us all! It was thrilling. Continue reading

YA Lit Symposium Pre-Conference: On Beyond Stonewall

The morning began with Michael Cart giving an overview of some of the important social and political events related to LGBTQ issues. Next, Cart and Christine Jenkins presenting a list of all of the books with LGBTQ content from 1969 to 2010. They booktalked many of these, highlighting some trends (resolution by automobile crash, melodrama, impossibly good looking gay men and the women who love them), the breakthrough books, and the real dingers. It was like being back in library school, taking a class on LGBTQ YA Lit, but it was compressed. If you want to spend more time with these books and these issues, check out Cart and Jenkins’ book from Scarecrow Press, The Heart Has It’s Reasons.

If you get your hands on their bibliography and were not in attendance, please note that this is not a list of recommended books. Some are good and some are not so good. During introductions, we each chose books from the list to highlight. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan and Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and Levithan got the most nods, along with the graphic novel Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. Please add your own recommendations in the comments. Continue reading

30 Days of Back to School: The Work-Life Balance

I am cocooned in guilt. I feel guilty when I leave my toddler to come back to school for Open House or the school play. I feel guilty when I forego the homecoming football game in favor of spending time with my family. I want to be more active in professional organization, but worry that I won’t be able to fulfill my commitments.

School librarians are, of course, not the only ones dealing with the balance of life and work. Nor is it simply parents who struggle to find balance. We all have friends, hobbies, and professional commitments outside of our day to day work in our libraries. For example, a recent NPR piece pointed out that Millenials are particularly adamant about maintaining work-life balance having seen their parents work and work only to have it taken away by the recent economic situation. As teen librarians, we have the added stress of trying to help our patrons who may be struggling through weighty issues.

Clearly, we are all feeling the push and pull. Yet the typical advice given often won’t work for librarians. The NPR story touted the benefits of telecommuting, something difficult for librarians whose jobs are typically tied to a place. Or how about the suggestion “Learn how to say no”? We are a profession that prides itself on always saying yes.

So as I go back to work, I wonder how to maintain balance, to continue to do my best possible work all day, and still have some emotional, intellectual, and physical energy left for my family, my friends, and my writing at the end of the day.

I’ve done some poking around, and found a great set of articles at LISCareers.com that cover the stresses of our jobs, working with new children, and the stress of not work. Reading that others are going through the same thing as me is helpful, and I’d welcome more concrete suggestions. I don’t imagine that anyone has it all figured out, but please share any tips – or your own struggles – in the comments.

An example of effective advocacy (crossing fingers!)

Advocacy seems to be the buzzword of the year. With a new superintendent in my district, I decided I should be doing some targeted advocacy of my own. I knew my superintendent liked technology, and he has said he learns visually, so I decided I’d work with the other librarians in my district to create a short video about what we do.

I’d been hearing raves about Animoto, so I signed up for an educator’s account. This took a while, but was worth it since it’s so easy to use. I uploaded pictures from all of our libraries, gathered statistics and some examples, and put it all together into a simple, punchy promo.

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Interview with Alex Award Author Peter Rock

Peter Rock’s My Abandonment was one of the winners of the 2010 Alex Award. The novel tells the story of Caroline and her father who live more than off the grid in Portland Oregon’s Forest Park.

Congratulations on receiving the Alex Award for My Abandonment. This award recognizes books published for adults which are appealing to teens. Did you consider a teen audience while you were writing it?
I’m delighted if a teen audience is drawn to the book and can sympathize with its narrator, Caroline.  That said, I wrote the book because I was very curious about where it would go; I don’t really think about “audience,” I just try to get inside and follow.  The kind of storytelling that appeals to me, I think—full of adventure and mystery, not so worried about demonstrating how “smart” the author is—is a kind that would hopefully include teen readers.  I believe that younger readers are more willing to engage, to go deep inside a book, and that fascinates me; I remember the wonder I felt, reading when I was younger.  Sometimes now I can get back to it.  That’s why I read, and why I write.

Several of your novels feature teen characters; what do you think draws you to characters in this age group?

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