A new report from America’s Promise Alliance finds that students who leave high school without graduating are often overwhelmed by a cluster of negative impacts of poverty. You can read the full 72 page report (pdf) online, but here are some highlights (if that’s even the right word) to note:
- Approximately 20 percent of young people (that’s about 800,000 per year) don’t graduate from high school
- Toxic home, school, or neighborhood environments–sources of violence, disrespect and adverse health–lead young people to stop going to school
- Connectedness to others can lead young people both toward and away from school
- Even young people who are able to “bounce back” from an interrupted education are often unable to re-engage in the longer-term
So what does all this mean for libraries?
When we think about diversity, it’s easy to confine the discussion to diversity within the collection or within YA literature more broadly. And there are great conversations going on there, from tumblr to Twitter, with YA authors and librarians and readers talking about representation and privilege and our responsibility to serve all teens.
But what about diversity within your library programs?
The library is often an attractive meeting space for groups that otherwise have very little to do with the library. In my district, the library hosts town employee benefit fairs, career morning panels, nursing presentations and many other outside groups simply because the town doesn’t have much in the way of dedicated meeting space. The library also closes early once a month for faculty meetings largely because there’s nowhere else to put the entire faculty at once.
Similarly, the library became the home for the Gay-Straight Alliance more or less out of convenience. I moved both of the extra-curricular groups I advise–the yearbook and GSA–into the library so that I could attend meetings and still more or less keep an eye on the after-school crowd in the library. Holding GSA meetings and events in the library for five years, though, has taught me how well-suited the two are for each other.
1. Built-in meeting space.
Every year around this time, it seems all the adults in my life–whether they’re co-workers, relatives or relative strangers who meet me at a holiday party and discover that I’m a librarian–want to know what the best new books are in time for gift giving. Although this isn’t the way I do my shopping–books, to me, are very personal gifts, and I’m not inclined to give one that I haven’t read myself–I’m usually happy to help, if I can.
But sometimes I can’t. I’m completely out of my depth when it comes to readers under the age of, say, 12, and it’s really hard to recommend a book when you don’t know anything about the intended recipient. “It’s for my nephew,” they’ll say. What does he like to read? (Does he like to read?) “Oh, I don’t know. Just… you know, what’s good?”
The most awkward situations, though, are when I admit my dirty secret: I don’t read grown-up books.
As a school librarian, I spend most of June (or the end of May, if we’re lucky) in panic mode–cramming as many classes as possible into my labs when teachers are looking for computers, squeezing every last drop out of my budget, trying to coordinate summer reading with the public library… and on and on. Some days it feels like I get absolutely nothing done; on others I’m crossing tasks off my to-do list left and right.
But when all is said and done, my library will be closed until the end of August. I might come in once or twice to do some summer work (and raid the shelves for my own summer reading), but I won’t see any of my students until school starts up again in the fall. It’s hard to believe that the slowest season for my library is one of the busiest for public libraries. So how are we spending our spring?
I hate this phrasing, but “obligations” describes anything a student may have forgotten to return or pay for throughout the year–an activity fee here, a biology textbook there, class dues, library books–you name, we bill for it. At my school underclassmen get bills mailed home over the summer, but they’re not technically required to settle up until the end of their senior year, when we can withhold their cap and gown until they pay. Continue reading
The following piece is cross-posted on the ALSC Blog. For more cross-under resources, visit The Hub.
Whether we’re serving older teens whose tastes have matured or trying to appease faculty members who need to catch up on a book club, we’re all familiar with adult cross-overs–books originally published for adults that nonetheless have teen appeal. (YALSA even has an award for them!) But what about cross-unders?
With limited budgets, it can be tempting to limit young adult collections to titles actually written for young adults. And the question of where to shelve books has always been a touchy subject–if teens are reading adult books, should the library buy two copies? Are teens even allowed in the children’s area? In schools, we can’t expect teens to leave the building to find the books they want to read–and again, high school students may not even be able to check out books from the middle or elementary schools, and vice versa.
Double- or triple-purchasing books can be a hard pill to swallow. After all, every book purchased for multiple departments or areas means a unique title can’t be purchased. We all have to remember that our patrons–whether they’re teens, tweens or adults–may not feel comfortable seeking out their books in unfamiliar (and potentially unfriendly) departments. They may not even be able to check out books elsewhere, so why not have the books where our our readers want to be? After all, lots of our teen readers have reasons for choosing cross-under titles–or would gladly choose them if they found them on our shelves. So who are those readers?
It was great to see everyone who was able to attend Midwinter and to tweet and chat with those of you who joined our live blogs. Thanks for bearing with us for some blog outages and video kerfuffles. We’ll have video up to accompany the live blog replays from both the BFYA teen feedback session and the YMA announcements just as soon as we’re able. As many of you know, the crush of attendees and interested viewers around the world can wreak havoc with conference wireless and our websites, so we really do appreciate your patience.
On a more personal note, this marks my last ALA conference as the member manager of YALSABlog. I’m thrilled to be passing the baton to the highly capable Wendy Stephens, and I have no doubt that under her direction this blog will continue to thrive and reach new heights. Thank you, dear readers and YALSA bloggers, for creating such a dynamic community of writers and readers.
One of my favorite parts of any Midwinter Meeting is the announcement of the Youth Media Awards. There’s an Oscar-like buzz in the room. I love the pride and enthusiasm from juries and selection committees (many of whom dress up for the event). I get chills at the emotional outpouring for beloved authors and titles, and it’s a particular thrill when a dark horse title wins.
But if you can’t be in the room for the announcements, have no fear–YALSABlog and The Hub will be jointly covering the YMAs with a live blog, complete with streaming video! Join the session here or on The Hub to watch the video, answer reader polls and add your own commentary live. We’ll also be pulling selected hashtags (like #yma13, #printz, #alexaward and #morrisaward) to bring you thoughts and reactions from Twitter.
If you miss the live session, you can replay the whole thing (including the video) at any time after the live session ends. Don’t miss out on one of the best parts of Midwinter!
Not in Seattle but wishing you could hear what local teens have to say about this year’s Best Fiction for Young Adults nominations? In Seattle but stuck in another meeting or session on Sunday? Have no fear–you can join the BFYA Teen Feedback Session live blog here or on The Hub!
We’ll be streaming live video from the session, pulling tweets with the #bfya hashtag, polling readers about nominated titles and publishing your comments LIVE. The live blog will start shortly before the session opens at 1:30 PM Pacific, and you can join at any time. You can even log in with your Facebook or Twitter account to include your gravatar with your comments.
If you can’t make the live session, have no fear; the complete session, including video, will be available to replay at your leisure as soon as the live blog closes.
Teen librarianship isn’t always the most glamourous of positions in the library world. Fortunately, the back-up we have available to us through YALSA and the many awards they offer feel priceless to the winners. As Katie George, winner of the 2011 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens, puts it, “Receiving recognition like this from teen-serving peers… at this level… is a shot in the arm. It reminds you, ‘Yes! You are making a difference! Keep going!’”
Allison Cabaj was a first-year school librarian, splitting her time between the school library and the English classroom, when she created her MAE-Award-winning program that helped to build “an interactive community of readers” at Riverside Brookfield (Ill.) High School. Whether you are a brand new or an experienced librarian, if you ran an outstanding reading or literature program for young adults in the past year you should consider applying for the MAE Award.
Cabaj replied by email about her experience with the MAE Award.
Q: What would you tell librarians who are considering applying for the MAE Award this year?