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.

Give them books, give them wings

The title is a quote from Paul Hazard’s groundbreaking work, BOOKS, CHILDREN AND MEN. I saw evidence of how books give teens wings yesterday when I spoke to an after school book club of about 100 teens. At the end of my booktalks (and their reaction was too terrific; you can read more at my blog: www.professornana.livejournal.com), they each received door prizes. They had choices of books and there were also some passes to movie theaters, iTunes cards, Starbucks and the like. The things left until the bitter end were the gift cards, folks.

This school district spent lots of money getting books into the hands of kids and then bringing in some visiting authors. Nothing too technical or elaborate. The results, though, are incredible.

Posted by Teri S. Lesesne

forthcoming article on school librarian bloggers

American Libraries is preparing an article for its May 2007 issue focusing on school-librarian bloggers. We hope this followup feature will rectify the omission of media specialist voices from the March 2007 feature “Mattering in the Blogosphere,” which the editors regret.

We would appreciate your suggestions about what questions to ask the participants, and invite you to e-mail ideas to Senior Editor Beverly Goldberg (bgoldberg@ala.org) by Monday, March 26, at noon Central time.

Looking forward to your help in making American Libraries’ coverage of librarian blogging more inclusive.

Beverly Goldberg
senior editor
(posted by Beth Yoke)

Interview with Anne Collier

Henry Jenkins posted a two-part interview with Anne Collier on his blog.

Collier is the co-author (with Larry Magid) of MySpace Unraveled. She is an advocate for teen use of social networking and for educating teens (and their families) about social networking – how it works, why it’s important in teen lives, etc.
The interview is worth reading for many reasons which include:

  • The opportunity to better understand why parents and other adults fear social networking so strongly
  • The opportunity to get ideas on how to help parents better understand the positive and negative aspects of web 2.0
  • The opportunity to find out how to articulate for legislators (and other adults) the reasons why legislation like DOPA Jr. won’t work.

Take time to read the two-part interview. It will certainly help prepare you for the educating you have ahead of you when it comes to parents, legislators, and social networking.

New Blog from the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance

Here’s the announcement of the organization’s new blog:

The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance now has a news blog up and running to share news that may be of interest to everyone and anyone who cares about kids, reading, writing, books, libraries, and art. Not only do we want to share news from across the USA, but news and information from around the world as well. And we need your help to do that!

Please feel free to send a blog item to me at mbbarrett@aol.com to be posted on our NCBLA Blog. We ask that:

1. The news, information, and/or item of interest be edited and ready to post.
2. The information be nonpartisan in nature.
3. You recommend great reads, great quotes, great web sites, great events, great places for adults and children!– as well anything you think might be of interest.
4. You please include your name and email address-for our information only in case we need to contact you- it will not be published on the blog unless you request that it be published.

YALSA-BK and ALA

I must confess that with all the committee meetings and other events at Midwinter, I was unaware that yalsa-bk dropped from sight for a time. Imagine my surprise when I began to read all the posts from those worried that it had disappeared totally because of the conference. In any event, all is now well and the messages are flying back and forth with lightning speed.

I think this says a lot about how we depend on yalsa-bk as a learning community. The discussion about the lists and the awards has been brisk as always. As a (now) former committee member of QP and Edwards, it is interesting to see the “Monday morning quaterbacking” about the deliberations and decisions. Even on my own committee, not all the books I thought deserving were included. That is the nature of committee decisions. There is compromise; there are passionate disucssions. Sometimes what one member thinks is noteworthy is not deemed so by another.

Seattle was a wonderful host to the meeetings. Weather was clear and most days saw some sunshine if only through the windows of the meeting rooms. I hope folks will plan now to come to DC and celebrate all the winners.

Posted by Teri Lesesne

Seattle, finally

It took most of the day what with delays at the airport and head winds slowing us down, but there are now hundreds more of us roaming through the streets of downtown Seattle for ALA.

How nice to see some library luminaries on the flight up from Houston (or is it over?). Bonnie Kunzel, past president of YALSA, Jane Claes, on the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee, and Victor Schill, past BBYA and QP Committee member were all on board. There were many others all heading to ALA. We were a quiet group on the flight mostly because all of us (duh!) were reading. However, by now many have made their way to various eateries and are enjoying the wonderful city of Seattle.

No meetings for me until tomorrow afternoon. That gives me time to get my ALA materials and then head off to the first of many meetings, the Margaret Edwards Committee. With any luck, the committee will settle on the 2007 recipient tomorrow. After that, it is off to the USBBY session with Terry Trueman.

Keep up with all the fun and work as we bloggers let those of you who could not come to the lovely Seattle what you are all missing.

Posted by Teri Lesesne

YALSA Blog – One Year Later (Almost)

In just a few weeks the YALSA blog will celebrate its first birthday. We launched with just a few posts on January 9, 2006 and geared up for using the blog as a informational tool during midwinter meeting. Volunteer bloggers readied themselves to write-up the events and meetings they attended in San Antonio. And, with that midwinter meeting, the blog took off.

Almost one year later YALSA’s volunteer bloggers have written 400+ posts on topics ranging from teen reading, to gaming, to technology, to news related to teens and libraries, to professional development. The blog covered YALSA events and programs – as they happened, as they were about to happen, and even after they were over. With the possibility of DOPA looming large the blog proved to be a useful tool for getting the word out about the potential legislation and for educating readers about the positive uses of social networking in teen lives.

The blog was also the avenue with which YALSA launched its podcasts and setup a Technorati account for showing what other bloggers are saying about the YALSA blog. At the time of this post there are 149 links to the YALSA blog from 71 bloggers. The numbers continue to grow and that’s really exciting.

There have been times during the year when the blog received 2000 hits within a 24-hour period. That might not seem like a lot if you are Amazon, Apple, or The New York Times. But, for YALSA and its blog, that’s quite impressive.

Thanks to all the volunteer bloggers who helped to make the first year a success!