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 Board @ Midwinter 2019: Advocacy Board Position

At the 2016 ALA Annual Conference, YALSA Board directed the Leading the Transformation for Teen Services Board Standing Committee to explore the idea of changing or expanding the makeup of the YALSA Board of Directors to include board members who are from outside the organization. At the ALA Midwinter Conference the Board discussed document #27 to broaden the scope of the Board to accommodate advocates. The Board has had several follow up discussions regarding the makeup of the YALSA Board, most recently with Board document #12.

The Board has voted to create, with membership approval, an ex-officio (non-voting) board position for person with a non traditional background or experience who will act as an advocate for YALSA outside of the Library profession. This change was embraced by the Board as part of the 2015 – 2016 strategic planning process, and is included in the first-year Implementation Plan. It is also part of the current 2018-19 Implementation Plan. The inclusion of advocates to the Board who work beyond the library teen services space can bring a unique perspective and help broaden the organization’s outlook on serving youth. A more diverse Board can strengthen its capacity by bringing in relevant skills or knowledge from beyond the library community. By including advocates on the Board, YALSA is modeling the behavior it wants members to adopt at the local level in terms of reaching out into the community to forge partnerships that increase their ability to meet teen needs.

In order to make this change the number of At-Large Board members will decrease by one, and we will add an additional ex-officio position to the board. This member will be appointed by the President-Elect for a one year term, with the option to renew for a second term if so desired. This change will require a vote by membership (Board doc #13), so please look for more information closer to the March elections. Please feel free to contact Board member Melissa McBride, mcbride.melissa@gmail.com, with any questions.

Meet YALSA’s ED at Midwinter!

Anita Mechler, YALSA Executive Director

Can you believe the 2019 Midwinter Meeting is only a few weeks away? As the new Executive Director (ED) of YALSA, I am thrilled to take part in my first Midwinter Meeting!

Over the last 5 months as ED, I have traveled to cities such as Albuquerque to meet with attendees at the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color and to Salt Lake City for YALSA’s Young Adult Services Symposium and now I am prepping for my trip to Seattle this month. These gatherings provide me with the opportunity to meet with library staff who do the important day-to-day work of serving teens all around the country.

This is why I am excited to share that at Midwinter, I will be holding “ED Hour,” at YALSA Booth #2609 on Saturday, January 26 from 11:00am-12:00pm and Sunday, January 27 from 10:30am-11:30am. I welcome everyone to stop and say hello. I would also love to hear any feedback you might have on YALSA’s resources and services. I greatly enjoy getting to know the enthusiasm you have for the teens you serve. Your perspective guides me in directing the organization to move forward into a positive, dynamic, diverse, inclusive, and equitable future. If you have time, please stop by the booth. I look forward to meeting with and hearing from you!

At Midwinter, I’m also excited to work on YALSA’s forthcoming Strategic Plan for 2019-2021 during YALSA’s Board Meeting on Saturday, January 26, from 1:00pm-5:00pm. This is an open meeting where all are welcome to attend.

Stay tuned to more forthcoming news from me, as I plan to share with you what I have learned through the process of being YALSA’s new Executive Director for the first 100 days of the job and more.

Let’s build the future of teen services together!

With kind regards,

Anita Mechler

P.S. Don’t forget to check out YALSA’s 2019 Midwinter wiki page to download YALSA’s full Midwinter schedule, as well as find great local info and tips!


Strategic Planning: Exciting Things Happening in Seattle

Last Friday, the YALSA Board held its monthly informal call, and we were joined by Jonny Stax and Annette Rizzo from AdaptNation. AdaptNation is helping us create a new strategic plan to guide YALSA’s work for the next three-years. One of AdaptNation’s strengths is helping organizations integrate the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) into their work which is a priority of the Board. The goal of our call was to clarify scope and intent, identify processes and protocols, and answer any follow-up concerns or questions. We are all looking forward to engaging and thought-provoking conversations in Seattle!

In Seattle, the Board will participate in discussions and activities that will lead to the development of draft documents, and ultimately a finalized strategic plan. Board members will spend Friday afternoon in a two-hour Board EDI training session to learn EDI-infused practices. On Saturday, Board I will be devoted to a strategic session that will include a generative discussion and ultimately lead to the development of an implementation plan for the organization.

Board meetings are always open to observers – please join us in WSCC 203 on Saturday from 1:00-5:00 if you are interested in learning more about the processes we will use to develop our new strategic plan. Board II will take place from 4:00-5:00 in WSCC 203 and will be a regular business meeting. Again, observers are welcome.

If you won’t be in Seattle, follow @yalsa for live-Tweets from the Board meetings. Also, look for regular strategic planning updates on the YALSAblog!

If you have questions, please reach out to me, Crystle Martin, YALSA President, or Todd Krueger, YALSA President-Elect.

The Boys in the Boat and Stuff Just Got Real at Midwinter

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

By Daniel Brown

Penguin Books, 2014

ISBN: 9780143125471

Looking for some holiday reading that features protagonists overcoming adversity and challenge? The Boys in the Boat is a go-to title for my teens who are required to read narrative nonfiction in the thematic categories of community or sports. Written by a Seattle author, it is the true story of how nine young men from the Pacific Northwest went from obscurity to the Olympics. Set during the Great Depression it is a testament to grit and determination, and–best of all for my readers–it reads like fiction. It’s also a title that was featured on the YALSA Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners 2014 list.

Achieving good results is rarely accomplished in a vacuum. Coaches Al Ulbrickson and Tom Bolles were key figures in the success of the UW rowing crew that took a different kind of battle all the way to Hitler. Like Joe Rantz and the other boys in that boat, I have been fortunate to have good mentors. One of the best pieces of advice I got when I attended my first conference came from Patti Tjomsland, retired librarian and book jury committee member extraordinaire: make sure you go to an awards session. Awards sessions represent hundreds of hours of reading and discussion on the part of committee members, and culminate with the Morris and Nonfiction Award Program and Presentation from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on Monday, January 28.  

For those who have never attended an awards session, they are pretty special. The mood is celebratory, filled with discussion of the titles that have won and acceptance speeches by the recipient and their publisher. (One of my most memorable awards sessions was at the Odyssey Awards in Las Vegas when Kirby Heyborne–amazing narrator of audiobooks–busted out a rap in homage to librarians–look it up on YouTube, it’s priceless!) The Morris and Nonfiction Award Program and Presentation will include some light refreshments and a copy of one of the finalist titles. Tickets are $25, and are well worth the opportunity to share good memories with fellow librarians, authors, and publishers, and come home with a great book.

Jodi Kruse is a Teacher Librarian at R.A. Long High School.

Five Flavors of Dumb and the Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Session at Midwinter

Five Flavors of Dumb

By Antony John

Dial Books, 2010

ISBN: 9780803734333

It’s hard for me to believe this book is almost a decade old because it’s still a personal favorite.

Piper is deaf, but she can still tell that the band named “Dumb” stinks despite its local popularity. Ever the determined teen, Piper suggests that she become their manager so she can lead them to success in a Battle of the Bands. Set in Seattle, author Antony John incorporated a path of musical history (including the home of the iconic Jimi Hendrix–though that has now been demolished) that readers can follow along with Piper. Aside from the obvious “feedback” pun connected to music, Dumb and Piper are gathering feedback from an audience in order to win a recording contract.

Content Area 2 of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff focuses on youth services librarians’ Interactions with Teens and emphasizes the need for librarians to listen to and value teen feedback. Midwinter Conference provides one of the best opportunities to hear what teens think about the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) nominees. I had the opportunity to chaperone a group of teens from a Washington high school the last time Midwinter was in Seattle, and it was a memorable experience. Students are given just a couple of minutes to advocate for their favorite titles, and their feedback has historically been integrated into the selection of the award winners. Students lined up–some of them conquering fears of public speaking–to eloquently argue for their top picks. It was truly a sight to behold. This year the Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Session will be held on Saturday, January 26 from 1-2:30pm in the Metropolitan Ballroom of the Sheraton. Don’t miss this unique opportunity! Questions? Mike Fleming (mfleming@lwsd.org) is a great resource for this event.

Jodi Kruse is a Teacher Librarian at R.A. Long High School

2019 YA Services Symposium Program Proposals Open!

YALSA has opened the program proposals for its 2019 Young Adult Services Symposium. The theme of the symposium is “Show Up and Advocate: Supporting Teens in the Face of Adversity,” and is to be held Nov. 1-3, 2019, in Memphis, TN. Submit a program proposal by February 1.

As advocates for teens, school and public libraries must support and push for social change and provide access to library resources, services, and activities to help teens overcome adversity in their lives. Libraries are challenged to create more inclusive and welcoming teen spaces where adolescents are free to express themselves, learn, and grow, as well as to promote literature and offer programming that engages teens and encourages them to take leadership roles in their communities. At this symposium, school and public library staff, educators, researchers, young adult authors and other teen advocates will explore how libraries can best support teens to help them effectively navigate a challenging world.

YALSA is seeking program proposals that address the following questions:

Continue reading

Torchlight Lullaby and the Midwinter Wiki

Torchlight Lullaby

By Ryan Fisher

White Rabbit Comics, 2016

ISBN: 9780989026222

How is a Seattle-based graphic novelist related to ALA and the YALSA Midwinter Wiki? This is a story of resourcefulness.

The Pacific Northwest is home to a multitude of creative endeavors, but my personal brush with it comes in the form of a relationship built almost two decades ago. Once upon a time, I taught high school Marketing as well as Forensics (speech and debate, not dead bodies) classes.   Ryan Fisher was one of my students who,incidentally, was invited to Artist’s Alley at the 2017 ALA Conference in Chicago.

Three things about Ryan stand out:

  • He’s a  Seattle author/artist (the connection to the location is starting to coalesce)
  • The themes of his book Torchlight Lullaby resonate with our teens who have survived trauma (the connection to our work at YALSA is becoming more apparent)
  • He availed himself of the RESOURCES around him (and BOOM the main point of this posting)

Ryan has had to be resilient.  Nothing has been handed to him. His success is the result of building relationships with a network of people who can connect him to needed resources. I got to be one of those resources.  Even after he graduated from high school, we continued communicating about his ideas and how he might go about making the world a better place through his writing. After creating two successful webcomics, he focused his energy on creating Torchlight Lullaby. I display his graphic novel with pride in my school library, since it represents the fulfillment of a dream of a former graduate. Want a copy? They are tough to come by.  Without the backing of a publisher and marketing team, Ryan promoted his self-published title (which currently enjoys a 4.5 rating on Goodreads) and sold out of the first run.  While he is waiting for a larger publisher to pick up a second run, he’s working on The Night Crew, a new trilogy of graphic novels featuring teens that he describes as a drama/mystery.

The use of available resources makes for a much more successful and satisfying venture. As the date for Midwinter approaches, YALSA members have a great resource for discovering some of the exciting things that will be happening at the conference as well as some fabulous sights to see and restaurants to visit. For the past couple of weeks, the members of the Midwinter Marketing and Local Arrangements Task Force have been updating the Midwinter Wiki. Want to know if your favorite book won an award? Check out the wiki to find out when the awards session will be occurring. Questions about how much it costs to hop a bus or Light Rail? Look it up in the Getting Around section of the wiki. Is your mouth watering for the best vegan restaurants in the Seattle area? You guessed it, there’s a section for that on the wiki. YALSA members are some of the most welcoming, fun members of any professional organization of which I have been a part. We hope this resource will enhance your experience with YALSA and make your stay in Seattle memorable.

Jodi Kruse is a Teacher Librarian at R.A. Long High School.

 

An Academic Librarian Crashes YALSA’s Symposium

This weekend, I ventured to Salt Lake City, Utah to hang out with YA librarian crowd and I was not disappointed. Why would an academic librarian want to attend a conference geared toward YA librarians? Well, because I am the Education and Teaching Librarian at my university and a large percentage of my collection supports the curriculum for future educators, including children’s and young adult literature classes.

If I am honest, the main reason I registered for this symposium was the session Disability in YA: Representing All Teens. As a person with Cerebral Palsy, I have seen many books with token characters or books where the character’s disability seems to be the only interesting thing about them. After listening to this panel, I realized I was not the only one who felt this way. It was great to hear from the authors and librarians on this panel about their own experiences as people with disabilities or loved ones with disabilities. I especially related with author Leigh Burdugo when she talked about her hesitancy to begin using an assistive device, in her case a cane. In my case, a few years ago, crutches. I am excited to explore the world she created in Six of Crows and just as thrilled to see librarians across the country tackle the subject of disability with their teens.

I also liked hearing from Karen Keys, Coordinator of Young Adult Services in Brooklyn, NY in her session Later Literacy: Engaging Teens in Books and Stories. She argued for the need to focus on teen literacy as much as we do early literacy and I agree! I believe that literacy at all stages and reading helps students develop students’ ability to think critically—something that we all need for “adulting” in general, not to mention academic coursework. So many students come to college unprepared to use these necessary skills. More emphasis on teen literacy and reading broadly can only help. I loved the practical tips in this session for including teens in readers’ advisory. I can see this translating easily to the student workers in my library. I also appreciated Karen’s slightly sarcastic sense of humor, which definitely kept the audience engaged. I loved her statement: “Read, read anything, everything counts, read whatever you like.” It is definitely a mantra to live by.

No post about the YALSA Symposium would be complete without mentioning the craziness that is Book Blitz. This is the librarian equivalent of Black Friday.  A few hundred librarians with four tickets each, twenty-seven top YA authors–a book signing free for all. Being a first-time attendee with limited luggage space, I found my four books and got out of there! I traded my tickets for signed books from Shane Burcaw, Julie Berry, Brenden Keily, and Vince Vawter, and who doesn’t love meeting authors?

I came away with something useful from each session I attended. For me, the most fun at the symposium were the dine-around dinners. It was simple to sign up and be able to go out with a group. I want to be more involved with YALSA and this gave me a chance to informally network. I met a few people that I hope will become good friends. Since most of the day was spent in sessions, I liked being able to explore the local restaurant options in the evenings. By the way, if you are ever in Salt Lake, I recommend Café Molise—the Crème Brule is amazing!

Rebecca Weber is an Assistant Professor of the Education and Teaching Library at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

YALSA’s 2018 YA Services Symposium: Salt Lake City Travel Tips & Recommendations

Attending YALSA’s YA Services Symposium in Salt Lake City next week? Here are some tips to help you enjoy your visit to Salt Lake City.

Transportation

If you don’t want to wait for the Sheraton Hotel’s shuttle, you can always take TRAX for $2.50 one way. From Terminal One, take the Green Line to the Courthouse Station. Depart and head south on S Main St. Turn right onto 500 S. And speaking of TRAX, you can ride free inside the city limits when you ride in the free fare zone.

Want alternative means of transportation? Check out Lime Scooters and Bird Scooters. Email Nichole O’Connor (noconnor@ala.org) for a Lime Scooter promo code. For bicycle enthusiasts, check out Green Bikes.

Dining Around

If you are looking to have dinner with a group at the Symposium, YALSA has dine arounds scheduled for Gracie’s and Caffé Molise on Friday and Saturday nights. You can sign up near registration.

Or, ask other attendees and start your own dine around. Salt Lake City offers a variety of eating options. Check out some recommendations below.

Italian
If Italian fare is your thing, check out Tony Caputo’s Deli, Valter’s Osteria, Maxwell’s East Coast Eatery, Settebello  and Caffé Molise. Mexican restaurants include Alamexo, and Chile-Tepin. Spanish style cuisine can be found at Finca. For Mediterranean street food try Spitz.

American/New American
Restaurants with American and New American menus include the Market Street Grill, Red Rock Brewing Co., Squatter’s Pub, The Copper Onion, Tin Angel Café and Whiskey Street.

Vegetarian and Vegan
Vertical Diner and Zest Kitchen and Bar.

Casual Dining
Try Mollie and Ollie, Robin’s Nest, Pretty Bird, R&R BBQ and J-Dawgs.

Sushi
Sushi anyone? Try Itto Sushi and Takashi.

Other favorites include Bodega (Bar), Bruges Waffles and Frites (Belgian), Gracie’s (Gastropub), Himalayan Kitchen, The Melting Pot (Fondue), The Pie (Pizza Delivery), P.F. Chang’s (Chinese) and The Rose Establishment (Café).

Around Town

Ever see Ken Sanders on Antiques Roadshow? Well here’s your chance to visit his store, Ken Sanders Rare Books, just two blocks east of a TRAX station. And check out City Creek Center for some major retail therapy.

Along with the Clark Planetarium, Leonardo Museum, Natural History Museum of Utah, and the City Library, Salt Lake City is home to Temple Square and the Mormon Tabernacle choir. Arriving Thursday night? Choir rehearsals are open to the public every Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30pm in the Tabernacle.

Want to jazz up your Friday night? Attend a Utah Jazz basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies beginning at 7:00pm.

Get Away for a Day

If Utah’s five National Parks are too far away, there are a number of places worth visiting within an hour or two drive from Salt Lake City. Do some hiking and experience wildlife on Antelope Island, a State Park 41 miles north of Salt Lake City. There is a $10 per vehicle entrance fee.

Approximately 40 miles east of Salt Lake City, Park City is known for skiing, the Sundance Film Festival and is home to the Utah Olympic Park. The Park hosted five events during the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games. About 30 minutes from Park City is Midway, home to the Homestead Crater, a geothermal spring, hidden within a 55-foot tall, beehive-shaped limestone rock.

Spiral Jetty, a work of art, is located a little over 100 miles north of Salt Lake City on the Great Salt Lake. While up north, take a visit to the Golden Spike National Historic Site located at Promontory Point. May 10, 2019 will mark the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

Learn more about the programs and events taking place at the YA Services Symposium at www.ala.org/yalsa/yasymposium.