Write for YALSA!

Have you considered writing for YALSAblog or the Young Adult Library Services (YALS) journal but are unsure what topic to write about? The YALSA Publications Advisory Board conducted a survey of blog posts and YALS articles from the past few years. Our results show that some topics get much more coverage than others, creating a need for more articles on certain topics and services. Here is a brief summary of our findings and how you can help fill these holes by submitting to the blog or YALS.

Please note that the purpose of the survey was to identify articles and posts that could be compiled into topic-based publications, so we didn’t include articles that were out of date, that were dependent on a theme such as Teen Tech Week, or were otherwise unsuited for a compilation. All results were finalized November 2015 for the YALS survey and March 2016 for the blog survey.

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Teen Research Trending: Mapping “boring” places—Socio-Spatial Research on Libraries

Ee, L. C. (2015). Mapping library spaces: Measuring the effectiveness of school libraries using a sociospatial approach. School Librarian, 63(2), 78-80.

As a PhD student writing a dissertation on geography in YA literature, I am a self-professed map lover. As a member of YALSA’s Research Committee, I’ve found myself increasingly intrigued with the physical and virtual mapping of our libraries and teen spaces. Loh Chin Ee’s 2015 article in School Librarian proposes a socio-spatial approach for librarians and school administrators to better understand how their libraries are being used. From the initial mapping of the physical space, allowing for recognition of resources and spatial relations, to the employment of ethnographic methods (observation, interviewing, and fieldnotes, in this particular study), Ee remarks on an underutilized school library space opening room for future research.

Focusing her study on a secondary school in Singapore, Ee sought to answer why students were under-utilizing the school’s library.  A preliminary report found that 40.9% of the school’s 1,113 students visited the library (and 21.8% visited at least once a week) and Ee remarked that the library felt empty during most of her visits. Ee illustrated a birds-eye view of the library and took pictures of particular spaces within the library, noting how each space was used. Ee recorded the usage of the library through various times of the day (morning, recess, afternoon), and noted that the space was also used as a space for meetings, hosting foreign visitors, and after school detention. Additionally, she interviewed students on their perceptions of the library, as space can motivate desire and action (Moje, Overby, Tysvaer, & Morris, 2008). Students frequently called the library “boring” and the library was seen as both a “dead space” (with little student engagement) and a “negative space” (as associated with detention) (p. 80).

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New issue of JRLYA

Volume 7, Issue 1, of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now available online at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/all-volumes/.  This newest issue features research papers relating to teens, libraries, and LGBT issues.

In the first paper, “‘They Kind of Rely on the Library’: School Librarians Serving LGBT Students,” author Shannon Oltmann examined school librarians’ perspectives on collecting LGBT materials to show that school librarians generally support collecting them and positioning their libraries as safe, supportive spaces.

With his paper “Sex in the Stacks: Teenager Sex Education Information Seeking Behavior and Barriers to the Use of Library Resources,” Kyle Marshall focused on understanding the information sources teens use to gather sex education information, including curricular materials, interpersonal sources, digital media, and print sources. The teens in his study relied on a wide variety of resources for their sex education information needs, yet none relied on libraries when looking for sex education information.

Moving to a focus on library collections, Elizabeth Chapman and Briony Birdi analyzed 13 British public library collections to look for LGBTQ teen fiction holdings. As the title of their paper, “‘It’s Woefully Inadequate’: Collections of LGBTQ Fiction for Teens in English Public Library Services” suggests, they found generally limited holdings of LGBTQ fiction materials, regardless of library size or budget.

Lastly, in their paper “The Curriculum Materials Library as a Hub of Resources, Literacy Practices, and Collaboration: Expanding the Role of the Library to Support Foster Youth,” Yonty Friesem, Kelsey Greene, and Mona Niedbala show that organizational vision and relationship; structure, responsibilities, and communication; authority and accountability; and resources and rewards are all crucial to the creation and maintenance of successful ongoing collaborations between libraries and other organizations that serve teens.

JRLYA is YALSA’s open-access, peer-reviewed research journal. It aims to enhance the development of theory, research, and practice to support teen library services. JRLYA presents original research concerning: 1) the informational and developmental needs of teens; 2) the management, implementation, and evaluation of young adult library services; and 3) other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with teens. If you’re interested in publishing your research in JRLYA, see the writer’s guidelines at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/author-guidelines/ or send queries to editor Denise Agosto at mailto:dea22@drexel.edu.

Submitted by: Denise E. Agosto, editor, JRLYA

 

Teen Research Trending: Sparks, Caring Relationships, and Developmental Outcomes for Youth

Ben-Eliyahu, A. & Rhodes J.E. (2014) “The Interest-Driven Pursuits of 15 Year Olds: “Sparks” and Their Association With Caring Relationships and Developmental Outcomes.” Applied Developmental Science, 18, 2 p. 76-89. DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2014.894414

As a practicing teen librarian, I am interested in research that helps me with my interactions with teens and the ability to convey the importance of teen librarians to my community. This research study examines the characteristics of teens’ deep interests and the role that caring relationships have in supporting the development of those interests. Ben-Eliyahu and Rhodes performed an exploratory study to examine how emerging deep interests related to a variety of characteristics including academic outcomes, demographics, social and emotional.

They defined a deep interest as a “spark” using previous definition that Benson and Scales used which was a “passion for a self-identified interest, skill or capacity that metaphorically lights a fire in the adolescent’s’ life, providing energy, joy, purpose and direction.” (p.76) They recruited participants through a Harris Poll Online and included only fifteen year-olds who resided in the United States. The participants received reward points in a rewards program and offered to enter into a sweepstakes. The surveys were self-administered and included 1,860 participants.

The researchers used a latent class profile analysis to determine groups of the participants based on the seven components of sparks such as joy and energy, lose track of time, purpose and focus, skills for career, getting along with others, improve surroundings, and encourage learning. These broke the participants into three groups: no spark, low spark, moderate spark or high spark.

Ben-Eliyahu et. al. had several interesting conclusions. The youth who identified with a wide range of sparks and high intensity had positive associations with supportive relationships. These relationships had positive outcomes. They stated that youth in the Low Spark group reported that their spark was in computers/electronics than the higher Spark groups and they spent more time online. They also reported that the Low Spark group spent more time pursuing interests related to studying, reading or learning. They suggested that these were more solitary activities. The High Spark group, on the other hand, reported interests such as sports, dance, or serving others which were more social.  The researchers suggested that these social activities lead to a rich context for developing peer and intergenerational relationships. These activities also contributed to greater academic success and increase their energy levels and readiness to learn.

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Makerspaces: The Utopian Learning Environment for Teens

Sheridan, K.M., Halverson, E.R., Litts, B., Brahms, L., Jacobs-Priebe, L. & Owns, T. (2014).  “Learning in the making: A Comparative study of three Makerspaces.”  Harvard Educational Review, 84, 4, p. 505-531.

A couple months back, I attended the IMLS Focus Convening on Learning in Libraries in Kansas City. While the actions of ideating, making, prototyping, and tinkering were clearly linked to learning, one of the emerging themes throughout the convening was the need to thematically classify the diversity of the intellectual activities that emerge within these growing learning environments in libraries. Sheridan and her colleagues extrapolate on the diversity of intellectual activities that take place in makerspaces (one type of learning environment hosted by many libraries) by conducting comparative case studies of three makerspaces: Sector67 in Wisconsin, Madison; Mount Elliott Makerspace in Detroit, Michigan; and Makeshop at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Using purposeful sampling, Sheridan and her colleagues selected these three salient makerspace sites because they each have specific roles that they play in their communities. Sector67 was created by adult makers for other promising adult makers. The Mount Elliott makerspace was created to serve a community with limited resources, and Makeshop is a museum-based space that is open to all youth and families who visit the museum. The Mount Elliott and Makeshop makerspaces are most likely the closest to the maker environments found in libraries – sharing fairly similar purposes, target participants, media, disciplines, duration of projects, learning arrangements, and learning foci. Both these environments also support the fluid, sporadic, and deregulated “making” that takes places in teen makerspaces that many YALSA librarians host.

In their research, Sheridan and her colleagues found three major unifying themes in these three makerspaces that appear to be distinctive. First, these makerspaces bring together disciplines that are traditionally separate (i.e. computing happens in the same space as welding and sewing happens together with electronics), which is quintessential of an authentic STEAM learning environment.  Disciplinary boundaries are broken down, seamlessly facilitating the creation of novel work using various tools, materials, and practices. “This blending of traditional and digital skills, arts and engineering creates a learning environment in which there are multiple entry points to participation and leads to innovative combinations, juxtapositions, and uses of disciplinary knowledge and skill…” (Sheridan et al., 2014, 526-527).  Secondly, these makerspaces are a hybrid of formal learning practices (such as demonstrations, workshops, etc.) and informal learning practices (such as thinking, doing, and valuing), allowing makers to select which learning arrangements fit their style, the duration of time to spend on tasks, and pursuing ideas that can be impromptu or meticulously-planned. Lastly, each of these spaces value the processes involved in making (i.e. tinkering, playing, prototyping, etc.) and do not stress having end products that must work. These environments embrace failures, and use these failures as a springboard for the generation of the next set of ideas. The observations that Sheridan and her colleagues conducted found that makers sometimes initiate projects that do not come to fruition. However, as is often the case, remarkable and useful artifacts emerge in these making environments.

This research helps to illuminate the wide range of making practices and the types of learning that it supports. Makerspaces are community-driven and support connected learning practices, intergenerational learning, and participatory culture – making it a utopian learning environment for teens. As teen librarians initiate or expand their makerspaces to serve the needs of teens and their communities, it is essential that teen librarians find avenues to further develop or enrich these themes in their makerspaces.

Mega Subramaniam is an associate professor at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland where she researches the diverse role that libraries can play in STEM and digital literacy learning among underserved young adults.

 

Impact on teen friendships in an age of technology

It’s hard to go through a day without seeing a teen using some piece of technology. Sometimes it seems like they are glued to their phones (similar to their adult counterparts), even when they are walking. Or you’ll see many of them together, snapping and Instagraming their afternoon at the local coffeeshop.

How does all this technology impact teen friendships? As a teenager, friendships are crucial. Your friends become your sounding board, provide advice and support you in times of need, and become a pseudo family as you head towards adulthood. The Pew Research Center was curious about this and in 2014-2015 conducted a nation-wide survey of teens aged 13-17. The report, Teens, Technology, and Friendships, was published in August 2015 and I think it sheds some light on teens’ communication style.

From the report, I pulled three main ideas. The report is jammed packed with interesting statistics and worth a look through. But for a condensed version…

Making friends online

According to the teens surveyed, 57% reported that they had made a friend online at some point. However, it was less likely that these online friends turned into people teens met in person (only 20%). When you break up the 57% of teens who have made at least one friend online, it was more likely these teens were older (15-17 years old).

Boys were more likely to have made online friends through video games (the networked component that allows you to play with other people online playing the same game) while girls were more likely to make friends through social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram).

The so what: As I was reading this section of the report, I thought back to growing up and writing pen pal letters to students either in the United States or across the world. Could something like this be replicated through video games or social media platforms by the library? Perhaps if a library has a video game system for teens to use, they could pair up with another library who has the same video game so their teens could play against and with each other? Or the teens could “take over” a social media platform that the library uses to communicate with teens and talk to another teen department at another library?

Keeping in touch with friends

Regardless if the friend was made online or is an in-person friend, texting is the popular means to communicate with them. Teens reported that 49% used texting as their main form of communication with friends. Other forms of communication included instant messaging, social media platforms (and direct messaging), email, video chat, phone calls, video games, and other messaging apps (Kik or WhatsApp). Many teens said that the medium to communicate was based on the type of friendship they had with the other person. Only the closest friends would be eligible for a phone call, while newer friends were easier to text or talk to in another messaging app. It was interesting that 85% of teens said they had called their friends at some point (analog is not dead!).

The so what: Teens have created a system for building trust in friendships seen through how they communicate with each other. They have rules for how to communicate with each other and these look different than how we might be use to communicating with friends. By seeing that this sample of teens is more likely to use written word to communicate can better help us understand the teens we serve (and what sort of programs could happen with this framework in mind).

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Teen Research Trending: What do we do about Twilight: Continuing the conversation.

Jarvis, Christine. “The Twilight of Feminism? Stephanie Meyer’s Saga and the Contradictions of Contemporary Girlhood.”  Children’s Literature in Education, 45 (2014): 101-115.

As a subscriber of yalsa-bk, YALSA’s listserv about young adult books, I was interested to see a few months ago through messages posted to the listserv that we as professionals still struggle with what do about the Twilight series. Much has been written and discussed regarding the problematic themes in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga, including (but not limited to) issues of abuse and power imbalance.  At the same time, these books have proven to be wildly popular and have served as “the hook” that has opened the door to reading for many adolescents.  

Jarvis acknowledged the problematic themes inherent in this series in her introduction to her own research, in which she attempts to make sense of the enormous appeal of these books by a population of girls whose cultural context no longer reflects the stereotypical gender norms of the early-mid 20th century that Jarvis and others claim are portrayed in this series.  Jarvis researches the transformative nature of literature at the University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom where she also serves as the dean of education and professional development and professor of teaching and learning in higher education.

In her research, Jarvis identified and examined two tropes she found in the Twilight series – the beauty makeover and the runaway heroine.    She analyzed these tropes through the lens of research conducted by education scholars that has examined social and academic pressures that girls face today in schools.  Such research suggests that girls experience a great deal of tension in their lives.  Girls today understand that they’re not supposed to be defined by their appearance but by their success in academics and, later, in the job world.  At the same time girls seemingly judge themselves and others by their appearance and their abilities to attain unachievable standards of beauty.  As Jarvis noted, “Girls are in charge of their own destinies – they can be anything. They are in charge of their own bodies – they can make them slim, smooth, and immaculately groomed and fashionable” (p. 105).

Jarvis noted that the trope of the beauty makeover is one often used in Western popular culture; however, with regard to the Twilight saga, Jarvis explained that Bella experiences multiple beauty makeovers, which she rejects as someone who does not care about physical beauty, but ultimately receives anyway.  This allows readers to enjoy both the character’s feminist perspective and her acceptance of the importance of feminine beauty standards.

Jarvis also examined the trope of the runaway heroine in the Twilight novels.  In various episodes in the books, Bella places herself in danger when she experiences anger toward Edward at times in which he takes actions that prevent the couple of being together or furthering their relationship.  Bella has placed her relationship with Edward above all other concerns and thus feels extreme pressure to succeed.  Jarvis argued that the kind of self-harm that Bella enacts serves as both acts of revenge for Edward’s actions as well as reminders to Edward of the preciousness of Bella’s life.  In other words, you’ve learned your lesson: don’t do it again.

Jarvis argued that understanding the contradictions girls feel today may help us better understand how Twilight serves as a fantasy vehicle by which girls can mentally resolve the pressure they feel to reject traditional gender norms while also succumbing to them.  While the Twilight series may (or may not) be losing popularity with young adult readers, the issues Jarvis presented exist in other, more recent YA books.  Jarvis’ research may help us better understand how series like Twilight appeal to readers and better help practitioners look for other YA book recommendations that can help girls make sense of this tension.

Robin A. Moeller is an assistant professor of Library Science at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina where she researches visual representations of information as they apply to young adults.

 

Top 5 YA and Libraries Research in 2015 (But Mostly from Pew Research Center)

In the world of research about young adults and libraries, 2015 has been good year. This blog post will offer a recap of the Top 5 (in my opinion) young adult and library related research that you may have caught or may have overlooked throughout the year. Not surprisingly, several of these studies come from the Pew Research Center. If you aren’t familiar with Pew, it’s occasionally checking out the work that they do or signing up for daily or weekly research alerts (like research nerds, like me, do). According to Pew’s (2015) website, the research center is  “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. (¶1). ” They do some really terrific research on all sorts of topics but of interest to us is their work on young adults, the Internet, and libraries. Well, enough about Pew and more about these five studies that I would like to highlight from this past year. Included in my top five are a couple of leading researchers in young adults and libraries like Drs. Denise Agosto, June Abbas, and Marcia Mardis. Enjoy this research roundup!

Agosto, D. E., & Abbas, J. (2015). “Don’t be dumb—that’s the rule I try to live by”: A closer look at older teens’ online privacy and safety attitudes. New Media & Society, 1–19. http://doi.org/10.1177/1461444815606121

Dr. Denise Agosto is a faculty member and researcher in the School of Information at Drexel University who does amazing research on young adults and libraries. Another fun fact: she is the current editor for YALSA’s own Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults (JRLYA). Dr. June Abbas is a faculty member in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Oklahoma who also does fantastic research on libraries, young adults, and technology. In this article, the authors discuss older teens feelings and concerns about online privacy. The research reveals that while young adults are concerned about privacy they also feel the need to offer personal information online to friends. For librarians, this article closes with implications for instructing teens about online security and privacy.

Horrigan, J. B. (2015). Libraries at the crossroads (pp. 1–52). Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/09/15/libraries-at-the-crossroads/

            When this research came out, it made quite a splash in the library community. The research reveals that citizens see libraries as critical “community institutions” and are interested in the programming and services libraries provide, but indicated that library visits by Americans are slowly decreasing (p. 3). Included in this research were older young adults who expressed a desire for public libraries to support community education, improve the local economy through assist to local businesses, employers, and job hunters. They also wanted libraries to take a lead role in emerging technologies and help the community learn how to use these gadgets. Although this research wasn’t focused strictly of 12 to 18 year olds, it does highlight the needs and desires of older young adults and emerging adults regarding the library and its services.

Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015. Washington, D.C.: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/

                Pew Research Center’s Amanda Lenhart often takes a lead role in reporting on young adults, technology, and social media.  Not surprisingly, this report provides an overview of current young adult social media use. It is worth a scan of the summary of findings, which reveals that Facebook is still the most popular social media platform among teens, and 71% of young adults are using more than one social networking site on a regular basis. For librarians, this report may assist in better understanding current social media and online technology use by young adult patrons. It may answer (or at least help answer) lingering questions young adult or youth services librarians have about the technology habits of the population they serve.

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New Issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults!

I am pleased to announce the publication of a special themed issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA). Volume 6, Issue 4 features practice-based research, with five papers that showcase best practices for the application of research to public and school library services.

With her paper “Find Poetry: Using Found Poems in School and Public Libraries to Enhance Student Creativity and Writing,” Janet Hilbun suggests using found poetry with teens to create dynamic educational library programs. She provides guidelines for writing found poems and shows how writing found poems leads to increased critical thinking skills and creative thinking, and deepens teens’ engagement with written language. Hilbun concludes with suggestions for a host of library programs featuring found poetry activities.

Teen librarians have long used booktalks to excite teens about books and reading. In “Book Tweets and Snappy Reads: Booktalking to Engage Millennial Teens,” Vanessa Irvin offers a set of six new types of research-based booktalks that are likely to appeal to today’s teens. These booktalking techniques use social media and other technologies to excite teens about books and to encourage the development of lifelong reading habits. The six booktalking techniques include: the Book Tweet, the Wrap Back, the Open End, the Graphic Form, the Snap’n Read, and Power-Full Points. Each is suitable for use in a range of public and school library settings.

Based on classroom visits, library observation sessions, and interviews with teachers, librarians, and school administrators, Clayton Copeland and Karen Gavigan describe a case study of inclusive middle school library programming in their paper “Examining Inclusive Programming in a Middle School Library: A Case Study of Adolescents Who Are Differently- and Typically-Able.” They found educational benefits for both differently-able and typically-able students who took park in inclusive library programming as well as social skills and community building benefits for all student participants. The authors provide a list of recommendations for librarians who are interested in achieving a culture of inclusiveness in their own school or public libraries.

Public libraries are community centers, and as such, involving community members in the design of public library programs and services should be a core goal of effective teen library services. In “YouthStudio: Designing Public Library YA Spaces with Teens,” Colin Rhinesmith, Molly Dettmann, Michael Pierson, and Rebecca Spence describe their experiences in working with teens and librarians through a community/university partnership to redesign a public library teen space. Teens involved in the project wanted their library space to serve as a comfortable hangout space, a space for informal learning, and a place for community information exchange. They learned new technology skills as a part of project participation, and they developed new leadership skills. The study shows the value of including community members in action research projects, including both teens and librarians, to put into practice lessons learned from theory and research.

In “Future of Library and Museum Services Supporting Teen Learning: Perceptions of Professionals in Learning Labs and Makerspaces,” June Abbas and Kyungwon Koh discuss the growing trend of opening learning spaces, such as makerspace and learning labs, in libraries and museums. Based on in-depth interviews with nine professionals working in learning spaces in U.S. libraries and museums, the authors describe key challenges, achievements, and goals in implementing and maintaining teen learning spaces. They also offer suggestions for better positioning library and information science (LIS) professional education to prepare students for successful work in running learning spaces and in working toward expanding the educational range and impact of library and museum services for teens.

JRLYA is YALSA’s open-access, peer-reviewed research journal, located at: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya. Its purpose is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practice to support young adult library services. JRLYA presents original research concerning: 1) the informational and developmental needs of teens; 2) the management, implementation, and evaluation of young adult library services; and 3) other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with teens. Writer’s guidelines are located at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/author-guidelines/.

Denise E. Agosto, editor, JRLYA