Cory Doctorow has just released his second Y/A novel.  It’s entitled For the Win and, like his first, Little Brother, is available in downloadable format as well as hard copy format in both the U.S. and the U.K.  If you have gamers frequenting your Y/A collection, this may be the novel for them.  But rather than me telling your teens what they’ll like, why not let them tell you?  For a taste of the types of ideas you’ll find inside this novel, visit his short story, “Anda’s Game”.  And if you need more information, go to the Boing Boing site.  Free Educator and Librarian copies are available by emailing freeftwbook@gmail.com.

I was intrigued to read Penny Johnson’s post (April 9, 2010) about serving older teens and twenty-somethings and the formation of the “Serving New Adults Interest Group” earlier this month.  She suggested that older teens and twenty-somethings are abruptly cut off of the Y/A services currently being offered and, as a result, lose interest in the library until they become parents and return with their children.  One of the comments to this post in particular, got me thinking.  Amber asked, “Where, pray tell, will YALSA draw the line?”  Indeed, drawing the line does seem to be the issue. 

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Last month I posted an interview with Perry Moore, the executive producer of the Chronicles of Narnia films and author of the Y/A novel, Hero, to the YALSA blog.  Did I know Moore personally before interviewing him?  No, I didn’t.  How did I get to know him?  I blogged about his book.  Yes, you read it right.  I posted a blog entry on my own blog about his novel, Hero. Moore read my review, liked what I had to say, and suggested an interview.  I contacted MK to find out if it was something she would like posted to the YALSA blog (it gets more traffic than mine) and she said, “yes”.  The moral of the story?  Get blogging.  If you want to get to know people who can help you develop and practice professional skills – like interviewing – get blogging.

Some, like Huei-Tse Hou, et al (2009) http://www.informaworld.com/smpp.content~db=all~content=a916755380 suggest that teacher blogging has limited value in the area of knowledge construction and one could extrapolate and apply the same reasoning to librarian blogging.  I beg to differ.  For one thing, blogging is practice writing.  And, while teachers may already know how to write, it never hurts to practice expressing your opinion in the written form.  Back in my M.A. days it was publish or perish.  Now it is post, publish, or perish  (pun intended).  Employers want to know not only that you can and have read, but also that you can write and have a well thought out opinion.  Blogging is a public forum in which to show them.  Research from the National Literacy Trust in the U.K. (Wilce, 2009) finds that “[...] blogging and social networking greatly improve [student] attitudes and make[s students] much more confident about their writing.”  The same can be said for teachers and librarians.

Blogging also provides you with a network of professional colleagues – it provides a forum for discussion by way of comments to your posts.  It gives you a way of contacting other people with similar interests who you might otherwise have never had an opportunity to communicate with.  Leuhmann (2008) discusses the case of “Ms. Frizzle” (does this name ring any bells?), a science teacher who used her blog to work through dilemmas, solicit feedback, and display competence, among other things.  Her case study provides empirical support  of the potential of blogging for teachers’ (and I add librarians’) professional development.

Blogging on a professional site like the YALSA Blog might even be considered a peer reviewed form of writing.  You know you will be corrected or asked for clarification if you post something that is not clearly articulated and accurate.  You will also receive comments if you post something controversial like, blogging as a peer reviewed publication!

By blogging you can show others that you have developed an in depth knowledge of a specific area of librarianship.  While my own personal blog is still quite a mix of ideas about library matters I think are important (I am a new graduate and looking for work so I expect my blog will become more focused once my role as a librarian is defined), I think the best blogs are those that are narrow in scope and more specialized.  Like a well written essay, they are a lot of information about one thing.  People who read blogs know exactly what to expect when they go to blogs that follow this model – they know that this blog will have information about X.

In addition, blogging will help increase your comfort level with the ever-evolving world of social software technologies.  Tools like the new Google Buzz, Twitter, Facebook, wikis, picassa, skype, and others have become commonplace in libraries and, while many people read them, fear still holds some people back from actually contributing to them.

Some people think that writing a blog is naval gazing and time wasting.  Well, I suppose it could be.  But it is also a great way to develop a set of professional skills that will either help you continue to work as a librarian in a technologically enhanced world, or prepare you (and me) to work as a librarian when we find that perfect job.

Citations and Suggested Reading:

Hramiak, Alison, et al (2009), “Trainee teachers’ use of blogs as private reflections for professional development” In Learning, Media and Technology, Basingstoke:  Sept, 2009, Vol. 34, Iss. 3, p. 259.

Huei-Tse Hou, et al (2009), “Using blogs as a professional development tool for teachers:  analysis of interaction behavioral patterns” In Interactive Learning Environments, Vol. 17, Iss. 4, Dec, 2009, pp. 325-340.

Luehmann, April Lynn.  (2008).  “Using Blogging in Support of Teacher Professional Identity Development:  A Case Study” In The Journal of Learning Sciences.  Philadelphia:  July, 2008, Vol. 17, Iss. 3, p. 287.

Wilce, Hilary (2009), “Don’t knock blogging – it’s the answer to our literacy problems” In The Independent, Longon (UK), Dec, 3, 2009, p. 2.

Vicedo, Melanee and Angiah Davis.  (2010).  “Professional development on a dime (or less):  Learning and connecting in the new economy”  In College & Research Libraries News. Chicago:  Jan, 2010, Vol. 71, Iss. 1, p. 30.

Perry Moore is the executive producer of the Chronicles of Narnia films, author of a book about making The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, author and director (with his partner, Hunter Hill) of the feature film, Lake City starring Sissy Spacek, and author of Hero, his first novel.  Hero is a book intended for young adults, males or females, males who are gay and/or anyone who just doesn’t feel like they fit in for one reason or another.  It is an action packed story about Thom Creed, an athletic gay high school student who develops super-hero powers.  It begins on the high school basketball court and moves into the community where Thom finds himself fighting one crime after the other.  HeroHero is also a love story.  As Thom becomes more confident about his sexuality he lusts after various people and then finally falls in love with Goran.

YALSA: Perry, before we get started I just want to say congratulations on winning the Lambda award for Hero. You must be very excited knowing that your work has made such an impression in the LGBT community.

MOORE: Great question to start with.  Just like Thom longs to find his place in the universe, I think we all do.

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