“The greatest service which can be rendered to any country is to add a useful plant to its culture…” –Thomas Jefferson; Memorandum of Services to My Country, after 2 September 1800
You may have heard a lot of talk lately about seed libraries. In February, NPR ran a story entitled “How to Save a Public Library: Make it a Seed Bank.” If we put aside the argument over whether or not public libraries need to be saved, this story actually highlighted an interesting movement that has been sweeping across the country and libraries are leading the way.
A seed lending library works on the simple principle that you can ‘lend’ out seeds to be grown by patrons who will then harvest new seeds and return them to the seed library to be lent out again.
Hosting a seed library can help you connect, create, and collaborate with your community, and especially with your teens.
I’m just back from YALSA’s 2012 YA Lit Symposium in St. Louis. It’s YALSA’s third Symposium, but—for a variety of reasons—my first. There will be much discussion over at The Hub about the actual programs and presentations, but I wanted to say a few words about something else that I observed over the course of three days.
I’ve been going to ALA Annual and Midwinter for over 15 years, and they are great. But a Symposium like this is something really special, and it’s all about the connections. Let me just give you a few examples that I observed:
- I was chatting with someone at a break who works at the library in the area where I grew up. We knew people in common from the library, but then I found out where she had gone to high school, and immediately took her over to introduce her to another YALSA member who went to that same high school—turned out they had overlapped by a year or two.
- A librarian told me that she was rooming at this Symposium with someone she had first met at the 2008 Lit Symposium.
- At the closing session, I was asked to take a picture of four librarians who had met and bonded at the symposium. They told me they were all “orphans” who had come alone, but met and had a great time together.
- At the Morris Lunch, a librarian who wanted to know more about staff development models happened to be seated with another librarian who does staff development as a full-time job.
- At the same table, a person who is interested in library apps like Boopsie was put in touch with someone in her local area who was involved in getting the app for her library.
- The symposium Twitter hashtag (#yalit12) was trending on Saturday afternoon, as attendees live-tweeted their sessions and got into back-and-forth discussions about what was being presented.
- I found new people to follow on Twitter, and new people followed me.
- Attendees had opportunities to have real conversations with authors at the Book Blitz on Saturday night, and at the networking breaks. (more…)
Is this what they call the dog days? Not for me! This is my first summer living in Boston instead of Tucson, and I’m soaking up the beautiful high-80s temps they call “hot” around here and spending as much time outside as possible. But I did manage to go inside and find a few interesting tidbits for your personal interest and professional usefulness.
- Have you ever tried to explain to someone why their offhand comment that “that’s gay” offends you? Or been annoyed when you offer to help carry something heavy and you’re refused because you’re female? Maybe someone made a rude joke about Middle Easterners not knowing you are of Saudi descent? These are called “microaggressions,” and the Microaggressions Project, a collective blog made up of submissions from anyone who wants to share an experience of feeling belittled, ignored, or just frustrated, whether because of their religious beliefs, gender identity, race, victim status, or a variety of other factors. Without resorting to hate speech or angry tirades (and no specific names, locations, or other identifying information is in any of the submissions), this blog would not only be a great resource for teens who feel like their voices aren’t being heard, but you could talk with your advisory group and possibly start your own project, with something as easy as index cards and a locked jar or box. (more…)
As the school year winds down for me, it’s easy to get caught up in the last minute whirlwind of final exams, papers, coercing materials returns, and talking my wonderful faculty off the proverbial ledge.
But when I’m really on my game, I begin thinking about the first couple of months of the next school year and cataloging what, if anything, I need to do to lay a foundation for successful programming. Teen Read Week is always an event that sneaks up on me (and I’m on the committee, for goodness sake!) since it usually happens mid to late October and I’m in full project swing by then.
After over a decade of being a school librarian, I can chalk up my success to that much-overused word, collaboration. For me, collaboration just means using the network of relationships I already have with my teachers and students and searching for any new relationships in my community that will help me do my job which, in the case of Teen Read Week, is promoting recreational reading.
There are so many great fiction books on the 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list that it was hard to pick just one to highlight. So, I fell back on an old favorite. The Chronicles of Harris Burdick shares 14 stories from well known young adult authors such as M.T. Anderson, Sherman Alexie, and Walter Dean Myers. All of these stories are based on the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris VanAllsburg, a book with wonderful illustrations and cryptic captions.
For years, I have used the portfolio edition of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick as a writing prompt for my teen writing group. They would each pick an illustration and write a story about it to share with the group. Now, with The Chronicles, I can also share stories with them by their favorite authors that were inspired by the same illustration. The stories are short enough that they could even be read aloud. A great, multi-week writing group program would be to show an illustration from The Mysteries and read the caption. Then, give the teens 30 minutes to write a short story based on the illustration. Then, read the corresponding story from The Chronicles. It’s a great chance to talk about point of view and perspective in writing because everyone can look at the same illustration and come up with a different story, which may or may not be wildly different from the version in the book. This could also tie in to talking about different books by the authors of the stories in the Chronicles and what the teens might have done differently than the authors if they had been writing the story.
To me, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick have always been inspiring. I’m glad to see that some of my favorite YA authors felt the same way. The Chronicles of Harris Burdick adds a whole new dimension to them.