Call for Papers: Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults

Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults (JRLYA), the official research journal of YALSA, is currently accepting submissions for a special themed issue. It will highlight research related to social justice issues and public and school library services for teens. Researchers, librarians, graduate students, and others who conduct research related to teens (ages 12 – 18) and libraries are invited to submit manuscripts. Papers describing both scholarly research (qualitative, quantitative, or theory development) as well as action research are welcome for peer review and consideration of publication. Papers that report library programs but lack an original research component will not be considered.

View the writer’s guidelines here. Email manuscripts by December 5, 2016, to editor Denise Agosto at: yalsaresearch@gmail.com.

JRLYA is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal located. Its purpose is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practice to support young adult library services. JRLYA presents original research concerning: 1) the informational and developmental needs of teens; 2) the management, implementation, and evaluation of young adult library services; and 3) other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with this population.

 

Impact on teen friendships in an age of technology

It’s hard to go through a day without seeing a teen using some piece of technology. Sometimes it seems like they are glued to their phones (similar to their adult counterparts), even when they are walking. Or you’ll see many of them together, snapping and Instagraming their afternoon at the local coffeeshop.

How does all this technology impact teen friendships? As a teenager, friendships are crucial. Your friends become your sounding board, provide advice and support you in times of need, and become a pseudo family as you head towards adulthood. The Pew Research Center was curious about this and in 2014-2015 conducted a nation-wide survey of teens aged 13-17. The report, Teens, Technology, and Friendships, was published in August 2015 and I think it sheds some light on teens’ communication style.

From the report, I pulled three main ideas. The report is jammed packed with interesting statistics and worth a look through. But for a condensed version…

Making friends online

According to the teens surveyed, 57% reported that they had made a friend online at some point. However, it was less likely that these online friends turned into people teens met in person (only 20%). When you break up the 57% of teens who have made at least one friend online, it was more likely these teens were older (15-17 years old).

Boys were more likely to have made online friends through video games (the networked component that allows you to play with other people online playing the same game) while girls were more likely to make friends through social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram).

The so what: As I was reading this section of the report, I thought back to growing up and writing pen pal letters to students either in the United States or across the world. Could something like this be replicated through video games or social media platforms by the library? Perhaps if a library has a video game system for teens to use, they could pair up with another library who has the same video game so their teens could play against and with each other? Or the teens could “take over” a social media platform that the library uses to communicate with teens and talk to another teen department at another library?

Keeping in touch with friends

Regardless if the friend was made online or is an in-person friend, texting is the popular means to communicate with them. Teens reported that 49% used texting as their main form of communication with friends. Other forms of communication included instant messaging, social media platforms (and direct messaging), email, video chat, phone calls, video games, and other messaging apps (Kik or WhatsApp). Many teens said that the medium to communicate was based on the type of friendship they had with the other person. Only the closest friends would be eligible for a phone call, while newer friends were easier to text or talk to in another messaging app. It was interesting that 85% of teens said they had called their friends at some point (analog is not dead!).

The so what: Teens have created a system for building trust in friendships seen through how they communicate with each other. They have rules for how to communicate with each other and these look different than how we might be use to communicating with friends. By seeing that this sample of teens is more likely to use written word to communicate can better help us understand the teens we serve (and what sort of programs could happen with this framework in mind).

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Teen Research Trending: What do we do about Twilight: Continuing the conversation.

Jarvis, Christine. “The Twilight of Feminism? Stephanie Meyer’s Saga and the Contradictions of Contemporary Girlhood.”  Children’s Literature in Education, 45 (2014): 101-115.

As a subscriber of yalsa-bk, YALSA’s listserv about young adult books, I was interested to see a few months ago through messages posted to the listserv that we as professionals still struggle with what do about the Twilight series. Much has been written and discussed regarding the problematic themes in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga, including (but not limited to) issues of abuse and power imbalance.  At the same time, these books have proven to be wildly popular and have served as “the hook” that has opened the door to reading for many adolescents.  

Jarvis acknowledged the problematic themes inherent in this series in her introduction to her own research, in which she attempts to make sense of the enormous appeal of these books by a population of girls whose cultural context no longer reflects the stereotypical gender norms of the early-mid 20th century that Jarvis and others claim are portrayed in this series.  Jarvis researches the transformative nature of literature at the University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom where she also serves as the dean of education and professional development and professor of teaching and learning in higher education.

In her research, Jarvis identified and examined two tropes she found in the Twilight series – the beauty makeover and the runaway heroine.    She analyzed these tropes through the lens of research conducted by education scholars that has examined social and academic pressures that girls face today in schools.  Such research suggests that girls experience a great deal of tension in their lives.  Girls today understand that they’re not supposed to be defined by their appearance but by their success in academics and, later, in the job world.  At the same time girls seemingly judge themselves and others by their appearance and their abilities to attain unachievable standards of beauty.  As Jarvis noted, “Girls are in charge of their own destinies – they can be anything. They are in charge of their own bodies – they can make them slim, smooth, and immaculately groomed and fashionable” (p. 105).

Jarvis noted that the trope of the beauty makeover is one often used in Western popular culture; however, with regard to the Twilight saga, Jarvis explained that Bella experiences multiple beauty makeovers, which she rejects as someone who does not care about physical beauty, but ultimately receives anyway.  This allows readers to enjoy both the character’s feminist perspective and her acceptance of the importance of feminine beauty standards.

Jarvis also examined the trope of the runaway heroine in the Twilight novels.  In various episodes in the books, Bella places herself in danger when she experiences anger toward Edward at times in which he takes actions that prevent the couple of being together or furthering their relationship.  Bella has placed her relationship with Edward above all other concerns and thus feels extreme pressure to succeed.  Jarvis argued that the kind of self-harm that Bella enacts serves as both acts of revenge for Edward’s actions as well as reminders to Edward of the preciousness of Bella’s life.  In other words, you’ve learned your lesson: don’t do it again.

Jarvis argued that understanding the contradictions girls feel today may help us better understand how Twilight serves as a fantasy vehicle by which girls can mentally resolve the pressure they feel to reject traditional gender norms while also succumbing to them.  While the Twilight series may (or may not) be losing popularity with young adult readers, the issues Jarvis presented exist in other, more recent YA books.  Jarvis’ research may help us better understand how series like Twilight appeal to readers and better help practitioners look for other YA book recommendations that can help girls make sense of this tension.

Robin A. Moeller is an assistant professor of Library Science at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina where she researches visual representations of information as they apply to young adults.

 

Expanded-Learning, Collaborations, and How the Library Can Help

A recent report from America’s Promise Alliance looks at four communities who strove to expand opportunities for their underserved students. With support from the Ford Foundation, these communities leveraged local resources to expand opportunities in a variety of ways.

America’s Promise Alliance is an organization, founded in 1997 with the support from former Secretary of State Colin Powell and previous presidents: Nancy Reagan (standing in for her husband Ronald Reagan), Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. The organization strives to create places and situations for students to succeed.

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YALSABlog Tweets of the Week – October 23rd, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between October 23 and October 29 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
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Using Technology to Help At-Risk Teens

Public libraries are, as ALA President Courtney Young said in a July 2014 Comcast Newsmaker interview, “digital learning centers.”’  We are able to provide access to computers, wireless capabilities, and also a space to learn. Access to technology becomes even more important to our “at-risk” teens; the library becomes a safe spot to use these resources. The question becomes how do we help them use this technology and learn from it? Earlier this month, the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) published a report titled “Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning.” This brief defines “at-risk” students as high schoolers with personal and academic factors that would could cause them to fail classes or drop out of school all together. They give three variables for success, real-life examples to why these variables work, and then recommend policies to help achieve these variables. While the article was geared towards schools, these variables are important to keep in mind as we work with the teens in our libraries.

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Statistics you can use from the YALSA Research Committee

Data-driven decision-making. Research-based programming. Outcomes-based planning. Are these some familiar phrases around your library, school, or organization? Do you know how to incorporate research and data about teens into your library services and programming? The YALSA Research Committee’s new project is aimed at helping YALSA members make connections between research about teens and best practices for programming, services, and library advocacy.

This Fall, our committee been curating a collection of existing research related to the lives of young adults. This effort isn’t so much about finding data on young adults and library use, but if you are interested in research related more specifically to teens and libraries, technology, and literacy, be sure to review the most current YALSA Research Bibliography, annotated and organized according to the YALSA Research Agenda.

To complement the Research Bibliography, our committee searched for research and statistics on topics to help inform librarians and their work with teens. Continue reading

Henne Research Grant Available to Support YALSA Research Agenda

Help advance our profession by advancing your research! The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is pleased to support the Frances Henne / YALSA / VOYA Research Grant, an annual competition that awards recipients $1000 in seed money to support small-scale research projects. The deadline for applying is’ December 1.

The proposed research must respond to YALSA’s vision, mission, goals, and’ research agenda; applicants must also be YALSA members. ‘ Proposals are limited to two pages plus an additional page for biographical information. Full information about the grant and requirements for the proposal can be found here. Continue reading

June Eureka Moments

All set for Annual? For this month’s Eureka Moments, I tried to tie some research and news to some of the sessions you might want to attend at the conference. And if you’re not able to attend, I hope these items will allow you to participate from afar and to still feel up to date on what’s happening.

  • A 2010 case study in The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy concluded that “educators cannot expect students to separate their identities from literacy practices” through interviews and observations with two gay teens. The researcher noted how a multigenre research project, rather than the more traditional paper, allowed the teens to explore themselves more fully and integrate their academic study of history and literature with their sexual orientation. The article ends with the researcher imploring schools and educators to become more sensitive to LGBTQ issues and to explore ways to allow students identifying in the spectrum to feel included in traditional classroom topics and texts and to respectfully invite all students to participate together.
    Vetter, A.M. (2010). “‘Cause I’m a G”: Identity Work of a Lesbian Teen in Language Arts. The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(2), 98-108.
    Related session: Stonewall Awards Presentation, Monday 10:30am’  Continue reading