YALSA Podcast #33 – Third Space

In this podcast Linda Braun talks with Carrie Bryniak and Sarah Cornish Debraski, co-chairs of the 2008 President’s Program, about the upcoming program titled Between Home & School: The Teen Third Space The program will be held during the 2008 Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA.

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You can read more about third space:

To contribute a snapshot of your library or MySpace for use in the program slideshow send an email to aorr@pvld.org.

Podcast #29 – Blogging About Teens & Teen Services

This is the first podcast from the 2008 Teen Tech Week committee. The podcast includes two informative interviews with library workers who run successful blogs. Youth services librarian Crystal Niedzwiadek interviews Stephanie Iser about her Alternative Teen Services Blog and gaming expert Eli Neiburger about AADL’s Gaming Blog. These library workers will inform and inspire you to dive in and try your hand at blogging with your teens!

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Topics that are covered:

Giving Thanks for Teens

Dear teens,

You’ll probably never read this post, but that’s okay. I just wanted to write because I’ve been thinking about you lately. Today, Pittsburgh’s loomed with overcast skies and coated us in drizzle. I had some tofurkey with friends earlier, and now I’m back home on the couch, taking stock of my life. You see, I recently read Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It. If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest it. It’s an evocative–if not emotionally excruciating–account of what happens to a family after an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it out of orbit and toward the Earth. Natural disasters, extreme temperatures, and flu outbreaks ravage civilization, killing countless people across the globe. Meanwhile, the main character Miranda documents it all: the mad rush for food, the volcanic ash blocking out the sun, and the knowledge that anyone, no matter how much you love them, is at risk for death.

It’s a lot to think about. And it got me thinking that disaster preparedness isn’t just having the food, fuel, and tools you’ll need to survive. It’s about making sure that the people you appreciate are reminded that you appreciate them, because–well–you can’t predict the future.

That’s why I wanted to write this post. Because you, teens, are people I appreciate.

Never mind the sensationalized news reports. Never mind the heaps of bitter blog posts about you from librarians that don’t “get it.” Every day, I wake up inspired to serve you. I appreciate your energy. I admire your courage. I wonder at your fortitude. The challenge to hold your attention has had a momentous impact on library services across the board, and has kept me striving to keep up with innovations in how I deliver information to you.

Your questioning about our policies, services, and collections helps me constantly reevaluate what I do and why I do it. Sometimes, I have a good answer for you. Other times, it means I have an opportunity to improve the library. You give me somebody I can talk with about cutting edge literature.

I appreciate that you’re so willing to share. I appreciate your engagement, your care, and your concern for the world around you. I appreciate that no matter what you ended up doing while here (and how much trouble you may or may not have gotten for it), you at one point thought, “You know, the library is a place I want to go.”

So thank you, teens. Thank you for the weeks of long hours, stress, and hard work. Thank you for the excitement. Thank you for the exhaustion. And, perhaps above all, thank you allowing me to never hesitate when answering the question “How do you like your job?”

What else is there to say but “I love it!”

So while you may never read this, I just wanted to put it out there. I hope that the sentiment seeps into the ether, so that when you enter your library, you know that at least one librarian, somewhere, really appreciates you. And that thanks to the efforts of people from Margaret A. Edwards and beyond, there’s an awful lot more of us where that came from.

With gratitude,
Joseph Wilk

P.S. — While on the subject of Thanksgiving, I just wanted to give a quick shout out to Debbie Reese’s blog American Indians in Children’s Literature (see http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com for more information). Debbie’s been a critical voice in reminding us that the American Indian Movement is still alive and relevant, and that there’s a lot to consider when we’re presented with teen books featuring American Indian characters or themes. It’s no secret that many people celebrate Thanksgiving based on historical myths, and that many other myths continue to affect people’s perceptions of American Indians. Debbie’s blog will help you think critically about and untangle those notions, wherever they might exist in the literature that we promote to teens. Thanks, Debbie, for the resources! For answers to more questions about materials, services, and resources, check out the American Indian Library Association.

The More Things Change…

A few hours ago I received an email from a library school student that included the following:

I’m on the board of our small public library – we were doing a goal setting exercise – I brought up enticing more teenagers to use this library (they don’t). I could not believe the negative reaction that I got – It was a why do we need that generation here kind of reaction.”

Every time I hear a story like this I feel so sad. Every day I am reminded of the great progress we’ve made in guaranteeing that teens are supported in their libraries. But, then again, at least once a week I’m reminded of how far we have to go.

I ask myself, how does a community get to the point where they think that it’s OK to say no to teens in the library? I wonder, how did some libraries get to the point where they think if they say no to teens today when those same teens become adults they will come back to the library? (By the way, those teens should never return to any library that treats them that way.)

If you encounter a library, librarian, or community member who thinks it’s OK to say no to teens, what can you say to turn things around? Will it work to:

  • Explain that the teen is a future taxpayer and that it’s important to serve the teen today so they will vote for your budget tomorrow?
  • Talk about the developmental assets and the role libraries play in helping teens grow-up successfully?
  • Focus on the library as a place where teens can learn how to use technology tools in positive ways so they know how to be smart and safe while online?
  • Reflect on the ways in which libraries can serve teens through youth participation programs?

These are of course just a few of the ways to help circumvent the negative attitudes that sometimes still exist when it comes to teen services in libraries. If you have other ideas or best practice suggestions, submit a comment for this post.

YALSA Podcast #21 – Teen Space

In this podcast Linda Braun talks with Kim Bolan about library spaces for teens. The conversation includes discussion of:

  • Technology in teen space
  • Selling fellow staff and administration on the importance of teen space
  • Current trends in teen space
  • Working with teens in creating library teen spaces

You can learn more about Kim and teen spaces on her blog – The Indie Librarian.

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Friday at the Library

In my library today:

*teens sewing a curtain on the sewing machine that will be used to block out the sun for movies shown in front of the floor to ceiling windows

*teens cutting out butcher paper to cover a refrigerator box for a booth we’re making (gotta pick up the beaded curtain this weekend)

*teens adding the first colors of paint on the courtyard mural outside to represent stories and plays

*teens painting chairs for a civil rights project in the courtyard

*popcorn on the carpet from the moviegoers
*laughter
*friendship bracelets in the making
*putting books on hold
*”Where is the room where you make movies?”
*families on the computers together on the first floor

Typical Friday? Yes. In many ways. It will be two weeks tomorrow since Mr. Joe Martin passed away. He was a generous donor to this library and so much to the community. If I took a snapshot today (digital camera is at home), he would’ve loved this. The spirit of the imagination was so vivid today.