Welcome to the YALSAblog News of the Month. In this post we highlight a few news items from the past month that we think are of interest to staff working with teens in libraries, schools, and youth development organizations.
On Wednesday, the much anticipated Pokémon Go app was released in the United States.
Unlike previous Pokémon games this is an app for your phone that allows players to catch Pokémon in the real world.
February is African-American History Month and libraries all over the country are celebrating this month with a variety of programs and displays. For teens, music and art are tools that will bring them together regardless of their race, religion, sex, and abilities so let’s use these art forms to celebrate this important event in a creative and innovative way. Here are two ideas that will appeal to teens and help them become part of a bigger conversation when it comes to equality and freedom.
With the return of the record player and vinyl, teens can meet up and listen to a variety of Blues artists while learning the history of the Blues. Select a few artists and throw together a PowerPoint, or Prezi presentation, to provide a little background information about the origin of the Blues and how this genre provided momentum for the Civil Rights Movement. Once you have selected artists, play tracks that will interest teens and throw up the lyrics, or provide handouts, so they can read them while they listen. Once they have finished listening to the tracks, ask questions about the songs and see what kind of responses teens come up with. Here are a few examples from youTube that will definitely illicit interesting conversation:
- A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke
- Lift Every Voice and Sing by Aretha Franklin
- Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday
- We Shall Overcome by Mahalia Jackson
- Trouble So Hard by Vera Hall
- Times They Are A Changin’ by Bob Dylan
Just like the traditional book club, we can form the conversation in a similar fashion where the lyrics become the story. Have teens write down their initial thoughts of the songs before discussing the meaning of the lyrics. When everyone has had a chance to write down their thoughts, ask teens to share their interpretations. Once everyone shares their findings, discuss how these ideas convey the meaning of the song. Let teens know that no one has a right or wrong answer, but do ask if this discussion has provided a better understanding of why these songs were incredible tools to help bring awareness to the Civil Rights Movement. If you have the time, or want to turn this program into series, expand upon your program by including the songs of protest of the Vietnam War and the rise of the Black Panther party to inner city violence and the birth of Hip Hop.
If your library doesn’t have access to a record player, you can easily purchase CDs and play them through a sound system. If you have the ability to purchase a record player, it will introduce teens to wonder of record players and provide them with actual evidence as to recording music tracks have evolved over the decades. You can easily purchase a record player on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Target, and Best Buy. As for the vinyl, you can also easily purchase these online or in stores that carry vinyl. I highly recommend visiting your local record store because you may be able to find used records, which will save you money, but make the experience even more awesome.
Rose Quartz and Serenity are the official colors of 2016, according to Pantone.
Normally, one color is selected each year, and it influences fashion, impacts what consumers will see in movies, television, media, and design, and invariably reflects our culture.
Normally I don’t pay attention, but the selections for this year are meant to help start a conversation about gender, and break down our preconceived notions about color assignments.
About 10 years ago, I met Gene Luen Yang at the very first ALA Annual Conference I ever attended in 2006 in New Orleans, at the end of my first year of library school.
As a Chinese-American and comics fangirl, my heart nearly stopped in shock and happiness when 6 months later, his ground-breaking work, American Born Chinese, was announced as the 2007 winner of the Michael L. Printz Award.
As this week leads up to ALA’s Midwinter Meeting, where I am so excited to see my colleagues, talk with YALSA members, participate in the Youth Media Awards announcement, and more, I find it thrilling and fitting that Gene Luen Yang was just announced as the 5th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. (Which yet another example of how forward-thinking YALSA always is – we knew he was awesome years ago.)
For more insight on how best to serve teens today and into the future, check out the YALSA Wiki for dates and times of all YALSA events if you’ll be attending Midwinter!
If you aren’t able to be in Boston, follow Midwinter activities with the Midwinter hashtag, #alamw16.
The YALSA board will start off Midwinter on Friday with training session on best practices in association governance. All day Saturday, Board members will work with a consultant from the Whole Mind Strategy Group on organizational planning. The goal is to develop a focused and responsive plan which will help YALSA meet the needs of members and advance teen services in libraries across the country. Based on the outcomes of the organizational planning discussions, the consultant will help the Board draft a new, 3 year plan. The goal is to have that in place by March 1st.
While the planning discussion will take up all of the Board’s meeting time on Saturday, there are still other topics that the Board will be discussing at the business portion of their meeting on Sun. and Mon.
Those topics include:
- Diversity on YALSA’s Board
- Dues categories & rates
- Updating YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth
- YALSA’s portfolio of guidelines and position papers
If you have a comment, idea or question for the Board, the first 5 minutes of each of the board meetings is set aside for visitors to ask questions. Feel free to or chat with me or any of the board members at YALSA events at ALA Midwinter, too! You can also e-mail me with comments if you are not able to make it to a session to share your feedback.
We’ll also be sharing post conference round-ups over the coming weeks so stay tuned!
A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.
International Games Day (IGD) took place on Saturday, November 21 as libraries worldwide hosted an array of gaming events. Now in its eighth year, IGD is guided by the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with Nordic Game Day and the Australian Library and Information Association. Participation is free, and libraries can request game donations from sponsors or opt to join online international games such as this year’s Minecraft Hunger Games tournament and the telephone-style game, Global Gossip.
In addition to highlighting another way that libraries offer more than books, IGD provides an opportunity for teens to participate in an intergenerational program that is social, educational, skill-building, and fun! Participating libraries offered a variety of activities from tabletop games to life-size versions of Twister, checkers, and Scrabble. Some libraries also provided an opportunity for teens to try their hand at new technology through video games, virtual reality gaming, Lego Mindstorm activities, augmented reality sandboxes, and iPad games. The Future of Libraries for and with Teens report suggests that libraries give teens the chance to experience technology tools and devices in an informal setting, and IGD can provide such occasion.
Did your library participate in International Games Day? Have you hosted teen gaming events at your library? Share with us in the comments section below!
Please visit the International Games Day website for more information about this worldwide event.
For me, the bright spot of every winter happens after the Midwinter conference, when YALSA releases its list of Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults. This list is compiled by the Amazing Audiobooks Committee, which listens to many hundreds of hours of audiobooks and engages in spirited debates in order to select the very best titles for the list. This committee is composed of nine voting members and one incredible administrative assistant. In 2016, the committee will undergo some exciting changes, as it will be transitioning into a virtual committee. This means that committee members will not be required to meet during the Annual and Midwinter meetings but will instead conduct their business in an online environment. Hopefully, this change will make it possible for more people to participate in this dynamic group.
As the committee chair, I am often asked how our committee works. How do we receive titles? How do we share our votes and our reviews? How do we decide what titles are the very best?
As far as titles are concerned, we seek out and receive regular submissions of CDs, MP3s, and digital downloads from various audiobook publishing houses. We also actively seek out suggestions from our members and the public. In fact, if you’d like to suggest a title, please do! The form is here.
Our committee typically considers between 350 and 400 titles a year. That’s a lot of listening! In order to get through all of these titles, we ask that each member commit to an average of 2 hours a day of listening. In addition to listening, we also write reviews and discuss the merits of the titles with our fellow members. We maintain a robust set of spreadsheets, where we list our assignments, voting history, and nomination details. We share our evaluations on ALA Connect, where we are able to carry on discussions about the audios that we’re considering. We also have occasional online meetings and information sessions.
When we first receive a title, it is assigned to a single committee member. That first listener decides whether the title is good enough for further consideration. If it is, it is assigned to five more members. All nominated titles will be listened to by six committee members, all of whom will participate in the year-end discussions in order to decide whether that title is good enough for the final list.
Beyond these nuts-and-bolts details, one question remains–What is it really like to be a member? Debi Shultz and Charlene Hsu Gross, both new members to the committee, share their thoughts:
As a lifelong lover of audiobooks, I thought this committee would be fascinating to join. I have not been disappointed. I have learned so much about evaluating the production of an audiobook and discerning that almost undecipherable element of “amazing.” After many months of experience and gaining insight from other committee members’ evaluations, I gained some confidence and can now usually tell within the first 15 minutes if the title is going to be a yes, maybe, or no. I find that maybe votes are the hardest because there are lots of positive aspects to the production and content, but they might lack that obvious mark of a “yes!” This is when a second listener helps to confirm the pieces that make the decision to go forward with a title or to leave it behind.
I’m really looking forward to our final discussions in January when we work toward delivering a list that is the absolute best we can offer and celebrate the wonder of listening to good books for young adults.
I have been a HUGE fan of audiobooks since the early 1980s when I drove 300 miles every weekend for a job in another state. Audiobooks kept me entertained, engaged and awake while they allowed me to keep up on some of my favorite authors and genres. Since then audiobooks have come a long way from simply being read-alouds to now becoming performances. Multiple voices, multiple narrators, music, and sound effects are fairly commonplace and serve to not only support the text but also often enhance the story.
Since becoming a member of the Amazing Audiobook committee I have been listening to a wide variety of YA genres. Books I wouldn’t read in print I find I will listen to (and enjoy) on audio. My listening habits now go beyond just when I’m driving and include listening while I get ready for work, as I do routine cleaning, when I’m knitting or sewing, and of course when I’m outside gardening. My work on the committee has also fine-tuned my ears. I now listen critically for uniqueness of voices, quality of speech, wet mouth sounds, p-pops, and audible breaths I had always considered myself a fan of audiobooks but since joining the Amazing Audiobook committee, my fan status has changed to that of an addict.
I think that Debi says it best, and most of our members would heartily agree: “While my work with Amazing Audiobooks is intense and often time-consuming, I love being part of this group.” We hope that if you’re thinking about volunteering for YALSA, you consider joining us and helping to create the next list of crazy good audiobooks. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Just in time for District Days! In this podcast (click through to download or connect to online player), Dorcas Hand, longtime Houston-area Independent School Librarian, discusses her experiences working with school board members, candidates, and legislators in support of library services for young people in her area and beyond.
The files and links that Dorcas mentions can be found below:
YALSA Advocacy Benchmarks
Students Need Libraries in Houston ISD webpage
Students Need Libraries in Houston ISD facebook page
Students Need Libraries facebook page
TASL: Parents & School Librarians Partnering for Student Success
TASL: Teachers & School Librarians Partnering for Student Success
Wendy Stephens is a member of the YALSA Advocacy Resources Taskforce.
Since May, I’ve been part of a planning team designing a week-long summer camp (July 20-24, 2015) for 8-12 year olds and for teens in the Peoria Heights (IL) area. This team is a smaller aspect of a much larger project, the Digital Innovation Leadership Program (DILP). This project is funded through the University of Illinois Extension and works with 4H offices across Illinois to plan and lead programs. Our goal is to focus on three learning areas: digital manufacturing, digital media production, and data analytics.
For me, it’s an exciting grant because it really builds off what I’ve done this past year. I get the opportunity to think more about digital literacy and how what I learned can be applied in other situations, always bending the curriculum/workshop to fit the context of the group. Additionally, I played a major role in the creation of the 8-12 year old camp and played a support role in developing the curriculum for the teens. The teens are building off the work of Ann Bishop and her team have been doing in Seattle: InfoMe, which I wrote about in my December 2014 post. Here are five things I learned (or got confirmed) about planning along the way.
My first library program was a failed teen writing workshop which, tragically, no one showed up to. The current teen librarian at our branch was having a little more success than I was at that time. Her programs typically had between 4-8 people in them. I decided to give the anime a shot.
The anime club started off with a bang. 17 people showed up to our first showing to watch Full Metal Alchemist. More importantly, it has held consistent. Over the last 6 months, I have averaged 12 people per showing. When I started doing the anime club, we were using Movie Licensing USA, which has a handful of anime titles on its base list and for a small fee gives access to their expanded anime collection. The list included many classics of the genre. However, our library has a policy against showing rated-R movies. Once we ruled these out, I found the list to be short and somewhat dated. I figured I could do a year worth of once-a-month programming, at this point. The teens were still showing up, but not the 17 that I had at my first showing. 7 would come one month, 8 the next, then down to 4. Then I heard about Crunchyroll.