Award Winners and Award Makers

Spring is a great time to highlight the Best of the Best, and ALA Midwinter brought forth the lists of award-winning titles and authors for 2012. If you haven’t already seen the winners for this year, visit the YALSA Booklists or check your copy of Young Adult Library Services‘ for a complete listing. Of course, knowing which titles win doesn’t always mean you know what to do with the information. The following are some ways you can do more with these highlighted titles:

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Don’t Forget Alex!

There’s a profusion of pollen and awards in the air. It must be springtime. ‘Tis the season that YALSA rolls out the award announcements for the Printz, the Morris, the Edwards, the Odyssey, and more; the Spring issue of YALS is devoted to awards, the winners, and the speeches. But even so, in the flurry of awards that get announced in the late winter and early spring, it can still be easy to overlook a few. ‘ But don’t forget Alex!

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30 Days of Innovation #25: Providing Teen Services to Adults

Though teen services are usually defined as serving patrons in the 12-18 age range, in practice, teen librarians serve a broader range of patrons than merely 12-18 year olds—from 10 year olds with mature tastes and reading abilities, to college students uninterested in transitioning to adult fiction, to grandparents pulled to teen books by the young adults in their lives and the quality of the materials.

In serving this broad age range with teen materials, I find that I need to have different cultural glasses at the ready during readers’ advisory.’  After all, the patron whose adolescent experience is being molded right now, page by page, is different from the patron who fondly recollects reading a particular book the summer when she first fell in love.

Here is some information we teen librarians can use during readers’ advisory to guide adults to new teen titles similar to those they loved in their adolescence. Continue reading

YALSA Podcast Episode #98: The Art of Book Reviewing

For episode #98 we are joined by critics Francisca Goldsmith, Candice Mack and Eva Volin to discuss the fine art of book reviewing and how it relates to the world of libraries.

Book Reviewing

If’  you prefer, you may go to the’ YALSA Podcast Site, download the Mp3 file and listen to it on the Mp3 player of your choice. To avoid missing future episodes, add’ the feed to Itunes or any other rss feed tracker.

After listening to the episode, come back to the post and let us know what you think about the book review sources out there, how you use them and even things about them that frustrate you.

YA Lit Symposium Pre-Conference: Meet Them Where They Are and Open the Door: Urban Teens, Street Lit, and Reader’s Advisory

Meet Them Where They Are and Open the’  Door: Urban Teens, Street Lit, and Reader’s Advisory brought together the expertise of Megan Honig of New York Public Library, Beth Saxton of Cleveland Public Library, and Sofia Quintero, author of the YA novel Efraim’s Secret (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010).

Presenters Honig and Saxton demanded participants think critically about the definitions of “urban” and “street lit,” as well as admit, on paper, their biases, preconceived notions, and reservations about recommending street lit to young adults.’  The discussion and reflection segments of this pre-conference proved particularly valuable. Continue reading

30 Days of Back to School: Good Books

Just as in April accountants suddenly find themselves surrounded by friends with tax questions, when September rolls around it seems everyone wants to ask the librarians what we’ve been reading. Okay, so maybe it’s a year-round issue, just as doctors probably don’t have a busy season for identifying rashes at dinner parties, but I find that the questions pile up more than usual as teens head back to school. What’s a good book for a thirteen year old girl who likes sports? What should I get for my nephew just starting high school? What are the popular books these days? Suddenly you’re on the spot, expected to do collection development for teens (and adults) you’ve never met.

Personally, I find these conversations even more frustrating than an hour of back-and-forth with a teen who professes a distaste for reading. Asking a school librarian in suburban Massachusetts “What’s popular?” when your grandson lives in downtown Oakland is probably about as helpful as getting ski resort recommendations in Santa Fe. (There aren’t ski resorts there, right?) And while a teen’s other interests may intersect with her reading tastes, hearing that she loves volleyball isn’t quite as useful as knowing the kinds of books she’s enjoyed in the past.

So how do you handle being ambushed by reader’s advisory questions?
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Some Thoughts on the Future of Reading… Comics

Do your teens read comics online?’  Do they read independently published webcomics? Do they read digitized manga?’  How do they read them? Where do they read them?’  I might be about to start sounding like Dr. Seuss- do they read them in a box? do they read them with a fox?- but these are questions (minus the fox and box parts) we should be asking.
With the advent of technology like the iPad, with current troubles in publishing, with more and more types of content becoming available and being consumed online, the ways our patrons are accessing or might be interested in accessing digital comics is something we need to be thinking about.
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“I Was a Teenage Illiterate”: Missing Reader’s Advisory

In a recent New York Times column novelist Cathleen Schine explains how her adolescent reading was waylaid by a chance encounter with Dostoyevsky. In seventh grade, she picked up The Idiot “thinking it would be a funny book about a stupid person”. From there she moved through an idiosyncratic list of classics, and found herself as an adult without the modern literary context of her peers.

When Anna reflected at the article on Jezebel, a number of commenters chimed in with the classics their English teachers crammed down their throats that made them hate reading.
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Book Club, Party of Two

When I started this school year, I had no idea what a big part of my job reader’s advisory would be. The school I worked in last year had its share of heavy readers, but most of them were pretty self-sufficient; the most common question I heard was “Where are the Triple Crown books?” (Street lit was hugely popular there–we couldn’t keep titles like Black and A Hood Legend on the shelves.)

At my new job, on the other hand, I have quite a mix of readers–from students looking for books they’ve already read to use with essay prompts (testing my mind-reading abilities) to packs of girls asking for books like New Moon and Dear John before theatrical releases to a boy who raids the new book shelves every time I get a book order.

And, of course, there’s my personal book group.

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Business or Pleasure?

On a slow afternoon at the circulation desk a few weeks ago, a teacher spotted me with a book and asked if I was reading for a class. “Just for fun,” I answered without thinking, and she smiled. “I’m so envious. I wish I had the time to read like that!”

I just couldn’t get this interaction out of my head. At first I thought it was the implication that independent reading time is some kind of luxury, something librarians have and classroom teachers want. You know, because teachers have real jobs, and I sit around reading all day.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was my end of the conversation that was bothering me. Just for fun? Was that really why I was reading a book about the history of American intervention in Afghanistan?

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