Contact your House Rep’s Office & Ask for Support on Two Library Bills

Please contact the office of your Representative in the House and ask them to sign on to the “dear appropriator” letters for two critical pieces of library funding: the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL).  Please share this widely and encourage your colleagues, coworkers, friends and family to contact the offices of their Reps as well.  This is an extremely tough budget year, and without huge grassroots support (i.e. thousands of voters contacting Congress), the nation’s libraries will lose this critical funding.  The deadline to sign the letter is April 3.

Thank you for all that you do to support teens and libraries!

-Beth Yoke

P.S. If you’ve been trying by phone to reach your Rep and the lines are busy, try Resistbot instead

Teen Research Trending: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literacy

What insights can the busy YALSA member glean from the new volume in The Handbook of Research in Middle Level Education: Research on Teaching and Learning with the Literacies of Young Adolescents (Malu & Schaefer, 2015)? This research-based handbook is the focus of this blog, which is the 3rd installment in a series of blogs being published by members of YALSA’s Research committee. I used two basic criteria to decide which ideas from this handbook were worthy of sharing with the YALSA community. First, the featured concept had to have some parallel relationship and/or applicability within Library and Information Science research and practice. Second, the concept has, in my opinion, not been fully integrated into in LIS research and therefore warrants more attention by YALSA scholars and practitioners. My aim is to synthesize the common threads in literacy research across the disciplines of Education and Library and Information Science in hopes that either YS practitioners or scholars alike might be interested in furthering their knowledge of this concept or incorporating it into their repertoire of practices.

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Hacking health – and literacy – in the library

How do students’ research skills turn into love of inquiry?  The answer is HackHealth!  I work in a middle school library with grades six through eight.  Because I serve a population of over 1,000 students, it is challenging to see all of my students on a regular basis.  When I did see them, their research skills were very basic and most of them knew only Google.  Although I love Google myself, I know that there is so much more that goes into research.  How can I teach these skills to students with the limited time that I have with them?

The Beginning

Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) in College Park came to me with the idea to form a weekly after-school program, HackHealth, to teach students how to research health topics that interest them.  I jumped at the opportunity.  My first step was to recruit students.  There are several very effective ways to do this, but I will focus on the method that I used because it worked so well for me.  I approached my school’s science team.  I told them about the HackHealth program and asked them to recommend students who were interested and would benefit from this program.  I received responses back from almost 20 students who were interested.  We had an initial meeting with approximately 12 interested students where the program was introduced by the UMD researchers.

Implementing the Program

The HackHealth program at my school lasted for 12 weeks.  During the first session, I talked with them about choosing a topic.  Our students viewed short videos introducing them to the program. The next step was to explore possible sources for their research.  Students brainstormed sources which they would use to find credible information.  For example, would they use the Internet, ask a family member, read a newspaper?  They discussed the pros and cons of each of these sources based on prior knowledge.

How to Take Notes

sandwich boardsUMD researchers and I went over notetaking skills.  Three skills were introduced:  Mind-mapping, tables, and making lists.  The students were introduced to each method and then formed groups to practice these methods.  At the end, they were asked to present their assigned note-taking strategy to the group.  The group discussed which method is most effective for which circumstances.

Credibility Screenshot Activity

postit1 postit2

We used posters of various health-related Web pages for this activity.  The posters included: WebMD, Dr. Oz, Wikipedia, a government website (alzheimers.gov), a blog (“Sharing my life with Lewy Body Dementia”) and a kids health website (KidsHealth.org).  The students were given red and green post-its.  The red represented not credible.  The green represented credible.  The students wrote why they felt the website was credible or not on their post-its. We got together at the end of this activity to discuss the differences in opinion and how to handle the “grey” areas on assessing credibility of online information.

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ALA Council at 2013 Annual and Youth Issues

ALA Council is the governing body of ALA. Council meets during Midwinter and Annual, with significant electronic communication in between.

In January, I posted about Council decisions related to youth issues after Midwinter.

A brief summary of issues with implications for the youth we serve that were taken up by Council at the most recent conference can be found below:

  • Council adopted a resolution (CD#37) Reaffirming ALA’s Commitment to Basic Literacy. While there was discussion disputing the need for such a resolution as well as the perceived implication that one literacy was being privileged over another, the majority passed a statement of support. This resolution can serve as a reminder that literacy is a core service all libraries support and is essential in helping teens become productive adults. Continue reading

App of the Week: Bluefire Reader

Title: Bluefire Reader
Platform:
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch with OS 3.0 or higher
Android app is coming soon!!’ According to’ MediaBistro‘ AND’ Bluefire Facebook page‘ ‘ ‘ 
Cost: Free!

As a school librarian, summer is one of my favorite times to catch up on professional development and read as much as possible. This year I was lucky enough to attend ALA Annual (post on this coming soon) where I was showered with galley after galley of upcoming summer, fall and even winter titles. I left New Orleans with an entire extra suitcase full of finds.

Only occasionally during my rounds through the exhibit hall was I reminded of the great service NetGalley, which allows “professional readers” ‘ (i.e. librarians and other’ eligible persons) access to DRM and DRM-free Galleys of upcoming titles.

The list of publishers in NetGalley’s arsenal is long, and I’ve found out about many great titles through this service. ‘ I turned a few books down when I discovered they were on NetGalley…less to carry.

Upon my return from ALA, I learned that the iPads we ordered for the coming school year were in, so I picked one up with plans to try it out. I’ve put several different reading devices on the iPad; Kindle, Copia, Stanza, Bluefire have all been added, to name a few.

All are free apps, and all have their benefits,* but I’m highlighting Bluefire for a few reasons: Continue reading

Support Teen Book Giveaway through Thursday

The readergirlz are partnering with First Book on a massive giveaway for low-income teen readers—125,000 free books that will be delivered before the holidays. There’s a catch, of course: Organizations serving these teens need to sign up by Thursday Dec. 2nd.

Register at http://booksforkids.firstbook.org/register/. The First Book National Book Bank distributes free books to any program that serve at least 80% children from low-income families.

First Book is also eager to answer questions, either by email to help@firstbook.org, or by phone at 866-READ-NOW or 866-732-3669. You can learn more about the organization at www.firstbook.org. If you participate, drop the readergirlz a note at readergirlz@gmail.com to be included in our blog roll of thanks to run December 31.

Please feel free to share this information with youth serving organizations in your community. If you tweet about it, please use hashtag #novelgift.

Dear Teens at My Desk,

Just as I was about to begin writing my long overdue blog post on the YALSA website you bounded to the circulation desk and challenged me to a duel of wits. “Anything can be linked to Harry Potter” you exclaimed. With such confident swagger and determined stares, how could I NOT take you up on this challenge?

How was I to know that asking’ you about HP’s relationship to formal poetry, chemical engineering and Antarctica would lead to talk of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, and Geraldine McCaughrean’s The White Darkness?’  I don’t know how it happens that I’ve never seen the Harry Potter musical on You Tube though you aren’t the first to try to show it to me. And I’m proud of you for returning to the text to find evidence to support your assertions.

Still, how could I predict that two more would ‘ join your forces– adding environmental sustainability and William Golding’s The Princess Bride into the conversation equation? And why did I’ believe showing you this MeowFail was relevant? Was I linking Winston to Crookshanks? How is it that over an hour passed while we talked? Finally looking back at my screen, I see that ‘ I only have’ a partial’ sentence written for my post:

“While this post is arriving part of the way through National Library Week”

and I’m sure that really just won’t do. Didn’t you all come to the library to do some work or something? Continue reading

WrestleMania Reading Challenge Champs Named in Phoenix

The world championships for this year’s WrestleMania Reading Challenge were held on Sat. March 27th at the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix.’  The winners are:

  • For grades 5&6: Gabe Murrell from Courtice, Ontario, who represented the Oshawa Public Library
  • For grades 7&8: Liam Jose from Oshawa, Ontario, who represented the Oshawa Public Library
  • For grades 9-12: La’Quan Deen from Homestead, PA, who represented the Carnegie Library of Homestead

They all won ring-side seats to WrestleMania XXVI as well as $2,000 for their libraries to use towards the purchase of materials for their tween and teen collections.’  Attending the event was award winning author Will Weaver, who served as judge, and four WWE Superstars.’  More information and photos’ are available from WWE’s web site.’ 

Librarians can register to participate in the’ next WrestleMania Reading Challenge beginning in April.’  Look for information on YALSA’s home page.

Required Reading & Listening

Over the past several weeks I’ve read articles and books and listened to podcasts that I think are must reads (and listens) for any person working in libraries and specifically with teens. Here’s the list: