New Issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults: Vol. 10 N. 2

Volume 10, Issue 2 of of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now available online at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/.This issue features research papers relating to public library teen youth services staff, cultural depictions in award-winning young adult literature, and the digital practices of teens.

With their paper,“Perspectives on Youth Data Literacy at the Public Library: Teen Services Staff Speak Out,” Leanne Bowler, Amelia Acker, and Yu Chi present data and analysis from the second phase of a three-year study exploring the relationship between teens and data literacy with regard to public library teen services.  Through their focus on teen services staff, the authors present a model of youth data literacy that is intended to prepare teens to thrive in a data-driven society.
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Apply now for YALSA’s 2019 Diversity Program Stipend

YALSA invites diverse individuals to apply by August 1 for a chance to present a literacies focused program at its 2019 YA Services Symposium in Memphis, TN. The program will take place on Sunday, November 3rd of the symposium.

If selected, the recipient must become a YALSA/ALA member and will be provided $1,500 to offset that cost, as well as registration, travel, lodging, and meal expenses at the symposium. Funds for the stipend are generously provided by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

With this opportunity, YALSA hopes to create a more just and equitable symposium by providing more professional opportunities for diverse individuals from underrepresented populations, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language, culture, national origin, age, disability status, ideology, religion, power differentiated groups and professional skills.

Only one session proposal per person will be accepted. Literacies, as defined by YALSA, extends beyond traditional literacy and includes, but is not limited to visual, digital, textual and technology literacy or serving underserved teens. Before accepting the award, the recipient must become a member of YALSA/ALA. Learn more and apply by August 1.

YALSA’s 2019 YA Services Symposium will take place Nov. 1-3 with the theme: Show Up and Advocate: Supporting Teens in the Face of Adversity. Now through early bird registration (September 15), those who join YALSA and register for the symposium will be automatically entered for a chance to win free registration for the 2020 YALSA symposium, which will take place in Reno, NV. More information about the symposium can be found at www.ala.org/yalsa/yasymposium.

JRLYA Down Under!

Last summer, I had the extraordinary opportunity to co-direct a month-long University of Washington iSchool study abroad children’s literature course to New Zealand (also known by its Maori name, Aotearoa) and Australia with Michelle Martin. The course had an Indigenous focus – we met Maori and Aboriginal authors, publishers, librarians, storytellers, and more! Through this immersive experience, all of us — ten grad students, two undergrads, and the co-directors — developed a deep appreciation for the richness and breadth of the children’s literature scene Down Under. Needless to say, I was very happy to see Dr. Kasey Garrison’s JRLYA article, “What’s Going on Down Under? Part 1: Portrayals of Culture in Award-Winning Australian Young Adult Literature,” which brings more of these titles to the notice of readers in the US. You’ll find it in the March 2019 themed issue, “Movements That Affect Teens.”

Articles in JRLYA are wide-ranging in their concerns, and relevant to both practitioners and researchers. With this article, practitioners may focus more on the collection development implications. The two appendices work well for this purpose – librarians can see easily which themes (class, disability, gender, immigration, Indigenous Australians, language, the LGBTQIA community, race/ethnicity/nationality, and religion) may be found in each of the twenty-four book sample, and the article introduces readers to two major awards: the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year for Older Readers (chosen by adults) and the Centre for Youth Literature’s Gold Inky Award (selected by teens). Researchers may be as interested in the method – the article is a critical content analysis – as in the findings.

Looking at portrayals of culture in YA books is timely, considering the robust discussion around diverse books in this country, and the paper extends this important conversation beyond books first published in the US. I am looking forward to Part 2, in which Dr. Garrison will look at the implications of the relatively poor representation of Indigenous Australians in the sample.

Annette Y. Goldsmith
Member, JRYLA Advisory Board

YALSA Board at #alaac19: EDI Leadership Training

The YALSA Board embarked on an ambitious plan to weave equity, diversity and inclusion principles into all aspects of their work. This began with the Board approval of an EDI plan in October 2018 and continues as the Board creates a new Strategic Plan. In this work it’s essential that the YALSA Board, staff and member leaders have a common understanding of EDI principles and how to move from EDI awareness to intentional implementation strategies. Board Document 28 proposes a way to accomplish this work through  a continuing education plan that begins with a full day training at ALA Midwinter 2020, the training will focus on :

  • An introduction to structural racism in the United States and its current impact on Black, Indigenous and Youth of Color
  • Developing a  shared EDI vocabulary
  • Leveraging a framework for engaging in difficult conversations about race, equity, diversity and inclusion

At Annual in Washington, D.C., the YALSA Board will review recommendations for the EDI focused full-day training for YALSA Board and staff. Learn more in Board Document 28.

See the full agenda of the Board of Directors at ALA Annual in Washington, D.C. All Board meetings are open to attendees, and you can learn more about the Board meetings on the YALSA Conference wiki.

Libraries Welcome All Families: A Conversation with Urban High School Students about Representation in the CT Nutmeg Nominees

This post was first published on the ALSC Blog on April 23, 2019

Jillian Woychowski is the Library Media Specialist at West Haven High School and a member of the ALA Interdivisional Committee for School and Public Library Cooperation

Kymberlee Powe is the Head of Children’s and Teen Library Services at the West Haven Public Library

I am very lucky as a school librarian to work so well with my public librarians. Our city’s children’s and teen services librarian has held card drives and visits me on a regular basis. We’ve coordinated getting materials for each other and worked together on summer reading. We also share the experience of serving on our state book award committee. I served on the High School Level 2018 Nutmeg Committee and Kym just wrapped serving on the Middle Grades Nutmeg Committee for 2020 (see nutmegaward.org). Being on the committee for a state book is a serious time commitment, requiring reading 75-150 books and monthly meetings to discuss them. For both of us, making sure our students were represented in the eventual nominees was very important.

Kym comes to West Haven High School once a week to hold a book club with students in our Program for Accelerated Credit-recovery in Education (PACE) program. Students in PACE “have had difficulty succeeding in the regular setting. The program offers credit recovery and and intensive support system so that these students can learn the appropriate skills and behaviors needed to be successful in school and beyond. The program takes a unique outside-the-box approach to teaching and learning in order to re-engage students in their own education, with a focus on college and career readiness” (Program of Studies, whhs.whschools.org). Students receive 90 minutes each of Language Arts and Mathematics a day, along with contemporary issues and environmental education to give students an awareness of their own community. Technological literacy rounds out their curriculum.

This March, Kym and I sat down for a conversation with two PACE students to talk about being an urban librarian and the challenges for equity, diversity, and inclusion in potential award-winning literature.

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Book Tastings

In November, I was able to attend YALSA’s Young Adult Services Symposium with one of my coworkers. It was a wonderful experience, and we came home full of ideas for the 6-12 independent school library where we work. One idea we immediately wanted to try at our library was book tastings, which we heard about in a session led by Alicia Blower, librarian at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School.

I like to think of book tastings as the library equivalent of free samples at the grocery store—you get teens to try a bite of various books, hoping they will find one they want to take home. The basic setup involves putting books out at tables, and having teens rotate through the tables in groups. At each table, they “taste” a book that looks interesting to them by reading the blurbs on the cover and the first few pages.


Tasting a book. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

We had the perfect opportunity to run a book tasting just one week after we got back from the Symposium. All of our seventh grade English classes were coming in to check out books, so instead of the usual book talks we give to feature certain genres, we decided to set up book tastings based on the genre of realistic fiction.

First, we decided on our physical layout. Five tables was a good number for us, given the class sizes (18) and how much time we had to run the activity (40 minutes). On each table were books related to a specific theme within realistic fiction, based on what’s popular with our students. Once we decided on the layout, the next step was to pick the books for our tastings. I wanted to have six books at each table, one for each student in a group of four, and a couple of extras to give them alternatives. We also needed to replace the books that got checked out during each class, so I accounted for that when pulling books..

While making book selections, I also had the goal of providing a strong representation of diverse books. To do this, I got a piece of paper and tallied up numbers as I pulled books. How many books had I selected with main characters of color? How about LGBTQ+ main characters? Characters who were differently abled? What about books that were #ownvoices? I had to go back to the shelves quite a few times before I felt I had acceptable representation, and some tables still ended up with less diversity than others. For example, we simply didn’t have enough diverse books for the theme of survival (as in surviving the wilderness or a natural disaster), so now that’s on my watch list for collection development and content curation.

I made place cards to go at each table, with the theme of that table printed on the card. My coworker made tasting forms where students could write down the title and author of a book they looked at, give it a rating from 1-5, and put any comments they had. (See linked documents for examples.)

Filling out a tasting form. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

Finally, I went out and purchased some real “tastings” to go along with the books. I got a variety of Hershey’s kisses, some miniature fruit-flavored candy canes, and a huge bag of Life Savers. At each table, we put two cups. We filled one with the candies; the other was for trash. I am proud to say that our students didn’t leave even one candy wrapper for us to pick up.

In the end, all of our work paid off. The students really enjoyed the experience. A lot of our selected books were checked out, and we were able to highlight the diversity in our collection. It took a little more time to prepare than book talks, but now that we have done it once,  there won’t be as much prep required next time.

Choosing which books to taste. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

Does anyone do book tastings in a different way? I’d love to hear about it!

Whitney Etchison currently lives in Maryland and is in her tenth year as a school librarian. The best part of her job is readers advisory, although teaching research skills is pretty cool too. She loves horror novels but can’t watch scary movies.

YALSA Statement Against Racism and Discrimination in the Library Profession

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) joins our colleagues in ACRL, AILA, APALA, BCALA, GLBT, LITA, REFORMA, RUSA, and SRRT, as well as the ALA Executive Board, in condemning the recent incidents of racial harassment and discrimination that occurred at the 2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. As an association with an unwavering commitment to the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion, YALSA agrees that immediate and sustained action is necessary to redress institutional inequities and systemic power asymmetries that affect ALA and our society, to challenge bias, harassment, and discrimination, and to provide equal opportunity for all persons.

YALSA welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the ethnic affiliates, ALA roundtables, other divisions, and ALA to promote and provide educational opportunities that will ensure that ALA is an inclusive place where differences are welcomed, where different perspectives are respectfully heard and responded to, and where every individual feels a sense of belonging and inclusion.

On behalf of the YALSA Board by Crystle Martin,  President Young Adult Library Association.

Approved by members of the YALSA Board:

Trixie Dantis, Director

Kate Denier, Financial Advancement Committee Chair

Dora Ho, Fiscal Officer

Franklin Escobedo, Secretary

Jane Gov, Director

Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Immediate Past President

Derek Ivie, Director

Todd Krueger, President-Elect

Melissa McBride, Director

Ryan Moniz, Director

Abby Phillips, Division Councilor

Colleen Seisser, Director

Mega Subramaniam, Director

Valerie Tagoe, Organization & Bylaws Chair

Josie Watanabe, Board Fellow


Community Champion Learning Series

This blog post was written by Marijke Visser, Senior Policy Advocate in the ALA Washington Office.

Young woman helping young girl with technology project

Library staff are some of the strongest advocates for teens. The encouragement and support library staff provides helps inspire youth to pursue new opportunities and undiscovered talents. This includes preparing teens for discovering college and career pathways. The ALA Libraries Ready to Code initiative and NCWIT AspireIT are joining forces again in 2019 in a project that will directly increase the meaningful participation of girls and women in computing. We are building on what we’ve learned through our pilot working with local libraries to build capacity for youth programs

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Libraries Welcome All Families: Community Partnerships to Fund Collection Development for English Learners in Urban Connecticut

One of the most difficult moments of the month was observing my English Learners come to check out books with their classes and not be able to find anything they could read at the high school level. It broke my heart to see dejection on their faces. It did not matter that I myself could not understand the words they were saying; I could just see it. Students perform better academically in literature courses when they see themselves in the materials and simply enjoy independent reading more. While I had some titles of interest for my Latinx students topically, all of them were in English. I set out to add books to my school library collection to assist my Spanish-speaking students. To purchase fiction in Spanish, I first posted a request on Donors Choose (www.donorschoose.org) for just ten novels. When the project was funded and the books arrived, I labeled each with a green S and shelved them above our fiction cases to aid new students trying to find them. After that success, I added another Donors Choose project to bring ten Spanish memoirs to West Haven High School, as all of our seniors must read a memoir.     

This project garnered the attention of the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network (GBLN), a local organization working to feature Latinx success stories, encourage political activism, and support community endeavors. GBLN showcased the story on their website, and it was subsequently picked up by a local newspaper, the New Haven Register. It was my desire to inform the audience it was not just me, my school, or my district needing these materials and support from the Latinx community:

“Literacy is necessary for being a productive member of society. Volunteering time such as reading at a toddler story hour, helping at a resume writing class, or speaking on a vocation or cause are all ways to support local libraries, especially those serving predominantly Latino communities. Woychowski welcomes the donation of new or gently used books to her own library, but she also encourages readers to donate both books and time to their own local school or public libraries.” (http://gbln.net/books-in-spanish-needed-for-high-school-library/)

Sharing this story via social media has been a blessing in terms of the varied audience reached. Links to the story appeared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and were shared numerous times by personal friends and professional connections. Books began appearing on my home front porch and in my school mailbox from all corners of the community, from a prominent defense attorney to a small Catholic Church to a representative of the Hispanic Nurses Association of a large local hospital. Our community’s support of literacy is invaluable, and as school librarians, we must be willing to advocate for it on behalf of our students.

Jillian Woychowski is a School Library Media Specialist at West Haven High School and is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.

The Dual Librarian: My Time As a School and Public Librarian

One of the best decisions I ever made in my life was becoming a librarian…twice. Once as a school librarian and again as a public library consultant. As an English teacher, I loved sharing great short stories and books with my students. It was one of the best parts of the profession. So when I heard about an alternative certification program to become a school librarian, I jumped at that chance. I realized quickly that I didn’t truly know all of the things school librarians were responsible for and all of the things they did. However, I learned very quickly. While I was working on becoming certified as a school librarian and earning my MLS, my journey began. I had no clue I would one day become…The Dual Librarian!

Being a School Librarian

I am so thankful that I had a support system through my alternative certification (AC) program when I became a school librarian. It was a lot of on-the-job training since during the AC program, you became a full-time school librarian as you learned and became certified. When I first start programming for my middle school students, it was difficult because none of them stayed after school – they were all bus riders. I had to get creative. I realized that our students had plenty of time in the morning after they ate breakfast and sat and socialized in the open “auditorium” area. So I began doing programs before school! During one Teen Read Week, I got the teachers involved and did competitions such as Are You Smarter than a Middle Schooler and Name That Tune. It was great! It gave our students something constructive to do and let students and teachers learn more about each other and see each other in different ways. It also helped them see the library as a fun place and more students started to be active in the library.

In high school where my students did stay after school, I started programming with only academics in mind. However, I quickly realized that I could program events that were not academic at all, like scary movie nights and game nights just to get students in the library. Other events were connected to academia like book trivia, book clubs, and the Straight Talk program which went over topics that students were interested in like college readiness and health. I learned I needed to do anything I could to connect to the culture of the school and do programs that my students really wanted. Right as I was beginning to get my in my groove and feel successful as a school librarian, an opportunity came up to shake up my world.

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