I'm the librarian at Holliston High School, a bit west of Boston. In my spare time I advise my school's yearbook and Gay Straight Alliance, write about food, and root for the Red Sox.

30 Days of Innovation #29: New to You

Sometimes it can be frustrating to hear great, innovative ideas that don’t sound like they’d ever be possible with your budget. Or maybe you’re tired of hearing about great “new” tools you’ve been using since you were in grad school. Maybe you even read some of the posts in this series and thought, Yawn. Been there, done that. What’s innovative to another librarian might not be for you–it might be scary, or passe, or just not right for your library.

So why not try something that’s new for you?

When we talk about innovation, I think too often we feel a lot of pressure to be truly on the cutting edge, whether it’s using the absolute newest technology or finding the next Printz winner. And let’s be honest: that can be exhausting. I don’t mean to discourage taking risks–please do!–but I also want us to give ourselves permission to applaud the little innovations in our daily lives.

Is your library embracing bookstore shelving? Way to go! Are you diving in to co-teaching a class? Fantastic! Encouraging a spontaneous dance party in the stacks? That is great, and also please invite me next time.

In the comments, what’s one new thing you’re trying?

30 Days of Innovation #13: Go Mobile

Have you looked at your library’s mobile website lately? Is it a little clunky but mostly functional, like mine? Is it just a squishy version of your full site? Does it work on all mobile platforms?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not thrilled with the mobile version of my site, but then again I’m not thrilled with the full version of my site–it’s just a WordPress blog that I keep tweaking to suit my needs. It’s a huge step up from the site I inherited when I started here, though, which was really just a collection of links on a school website that looked like it was stuck in a mid-nineties time loop (as so many educational sites, unfortunately, do; ours has thankfully gotten a facelift since then).

I don’t have much control over my mobile site right now because I don’t host my own site or do much of my own coding–I use a WordPress template, although I do a lot with widgets and pages–but I do take a look at our site on my phone from time to time to see if WordPress has made any changes to the mobile version, and make sure mobile visitors still have access to the features they need. And what do they need?
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30 Days of Innovation #8: Just Tweet It

What do the following tweets have in common?

Okay, they’re all tweets by me, obviously, but there’s something else: all three are tweets that were favorited by one of my students.

I’ve written before about teens at my school defying prevailing wisdom that teens don’t tweet, about my initial freakout when I discovered students were following me and my ultimate decision to keep tweeting publicly. Since then, things have really exploded: more than a quarter of my 546 followers are current or former students.
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30 Days of Innovation #4: Revamp Your Shelving

As I write this, I’m more or less barricaded by book carts at my desk. The culprit? A reorganization project in the literature section, started by my term three student intern. Term four began on Monday, which means if I want the project finished, I’m actually going to have to do some work myself. The goal of the project? To reorganize much of the 800s so that students can easily walk to the stacks and find both works by a particular author or poet and criticism on that same author or poet, all in the same place.

There’s been much debate on my state organization’s listserv about “neighborhood” shelving (sometimes also called “bookstore” organization) versus Dewey or Library of Congress. Staunch DDC and LOC defenders insist we must prepare teens for academic libraries and teach them how to use catalogs efficiently. Where’s the authority control in a neighborhood system? Who determines the genres? What about books that might arguably “belong” in more than one place? What happens to a new librarian who inherits inscrutable rules and neighborhoods?

And, more importantly, who cares?
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30 Days of Innovation #1: Try Something New

Do you ever feel like you’re just treading water, rehashing your tried and true programs, recommending the same books, reusing the same lessons? Do you feel like a broken record as you try to manage your space or get teens’ attention? Now’s the time for spring cleaning, and not just the physical kind.

For the month of April, YALSA bloggers will be highlighting innovation in all its forms. Whether it’s rethinking the way you organize the stacks, finally giving your library a social media presence or allowing food in the teen section, innovation in your library doesn’t have to mean you’re trying to change the world–but why not change your world?

Each day bloggers will tackle a new innovation topic to help you take the first step in creating your new teen services. So stay tuned and don’t be afraid to jump into the comments section. Who knows what innovation your words will inspire?

Happy Hunger Games

…is the first line in the book for a certain character. Do you know the character?*

Teens (and adults) in my library are all abuzz about the imminent opening of Hunger Games. Students who say they haven’t checked out a book in years are reserving the first book in Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy because they want to know what all the fuss is about, and others are rereading it before the big premiere.

One such student inspired me to create a running countdown behind my desk, which she has helped me update each morning. (Mondays in particular were exciting, since the number dropped significantly from the previous week.) The countdown, in turn, gave me the idea to put on Hunger Games Trivia–and you can too!

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Reading to Distraction

Conversations about teens, technology and distraction are nothing new. When mobile phones first started to move from the domain of Important Business People at airports and into the hands of the general public, we worried that their presence in schools would be too distracting for students. (And we still have to tell the cinema-going public–including an awful lot of people over the age of 18–not to text or talk during movies.) Now that more and more schools allow students to bring their own laptops or tablets to classes, we worry about filtering and blocking sites like Facebook or YouTube during school hours.

And now there’s the question of reading on digital devices, and the threat of distraction by the device itself–or, at least, that’s what New York Times business writers Julie Bosman and Matt Richtel would have us ponder. Is tablet reading “more like a 21st-century cacophony than a traditional solitary activity”?

I don’t know about you, but I’m a multi-platform reader. I have a (print) book in my car in case I find myself early for an appointment. I have OverDrive on my Android phone and my iPod Touch, so that I can easily check a book out from my local public library if I’m on the go. I have a Nook Color, which I mostly use when traveling (and that my partner has all but co-opted after giving it to me for my birthday). And I’m constantly picking up (print) books at work to read at the desk, many sucking me in enough to get tossed in my bag to read at home.

And here’s my secret: I’m always a distracted reader.
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YALSA Writing Award Winners

As the chair of the inaugural YALSA Writing Award Jury, I am proud to announce the four outstanding pieces of writing contributed by YALSA members last year. After receiving a shortlist of nominations from the respective publications’ editors and managers, our committee carefully considered each of the article’s merits to select the winners. Without further ado, here are the winning articles:
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Join the Youth Media Awards LIVE!

Join YALSA with LIVE streaming video of all the YMA announcement, presented jointly by the YALSA Blog and The Hub. Along with the video, we’ll also be offering quick polls and pulling Twitter hashtags like #printz and #alexawards. You can log in to the live session with your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or OpenID username (which will include your avatar), or just jump right in.

YALSA Blog manager mk Eagle (username pandanose) will be offering transcriptions of all the announcements, with live video from The Hub blogger Jessica Pryde. Coverage begins at 7:30 central on Monday, January 23.