One member of the YA-MUSIC list recently proposed we expand the topic of the list to cover all teen non-print media and technology. For one, YALSA doesn’t have a forum for librarians to discuss these topics, so lots of people are forced to write YALSA-BK or YA-YAAC for help. Secondly (and more to the point), our list has been pretty quiet lately. This means, as part of the list and blog, I’ve been quiet lately. So why’s that?

Perhaps you share a lot of my reasons: boredom, disinterest, and even discontent. In a lot of ways, music seems to be in a pretty unhealthy state. I don’t feel that it’s a case of fuddy-duddyism to say that creative otuput is weaker, music sales are dwindling, show attendance is generally down from what it was before (you can read one disgruntled indie promoter’s account). Many of the same bands and artists from the late-90s and earlier are still producing songs for the radio, often at their most uninspiring. Li’l Wayne, Britney Spears, Foo Fighters, etc. are all still kicking.

Popular new bands and artists are mostly still riding out the sounds that seemed fresh and exciting from earlier this decade (poppy emo-rock, crunk, metal-core, etc.). I just asked one of the most vocal proponents of music at the library what new bands are providing him with inspiration, and I got nothing but a blank stare and stammering. And this is someone who listens to music hours upon hours each day. This is also someone whose favorite bands are Offspring, Sum 41, and Pearl Jam–none of which formed after 2000.

I also wonder if librarians get weak knees in discussing music when so many popular artists are knee deep in guns, drugs, and other legal trouble and stints in rehab? Would YALSA-BK go hush if John Green was arrested for a deadly weapons charge? If Meg Cabot got brought in for DUI? At ALA 2007, I shared a knowing glance with another teen librarian, after we mentioned needing to reorder new copies of the most recent Akon CD, Konvicted. This was, of course, right after Akon threw a teen into the crowd from a stage in Fishkill, New York–which itself was hot off the heels of Akon simulating sex with a 14 year-old while on stage in Trinidad (you can find them both on Youtube, if you’re so inclined).

This isn’t to say that there aren’t interesting and invigorating things going on, many of which have implications for library service beyond music. I’ll blog about those soon. But when there’s such a stark contrast in the music and publishing industry, from the industry to the personalities, it’s hard to get motivated enough to actively discuss and promote music to my peers, no matter how much of an advocate I might fancy myself.

But enough about me. What’s been keeping you from feeling chatty on YA-MUSIC?

About Joseph Wilk

I'm a teen library assistant with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Main location. Here, I'm the graphic novel and music librarian in addition to running anime, music, LGBTQ, incarcerated youth, and video programming. I'm happy to serve YALSA as a blogger, member of the Teen Tech Week committee, and as chair of the Music Interest Group. Otherwise, you can find me in da club.

2 Thoughts on “So Quiet You Could Hear a Post Drop

  1. Chris [Visitor] on October 19, 2007 at 2:18 pm said:

    I don’t subscribe to that listserv, but your post did impel me to comment. Maybe it is difficult to discuss music collections because the industry and the format are in flux, and we’re not sure what role the public library will play. Traditional means of dissemination and enjoyment are changing. But please don’t dismiss the music kids listen to today as sub-par. That’s not fair. I think I have decent musical taste, but hey, when I was 12 years old, I liked “Seasons in the Sun” and “Fox on the Run”. Surely many critics at the time found those songs derivative and saccharine. Kids like their music because it is of their time and place. It’s catchy. It’s not high art. That’s why it’s called popular music. Also, if we had misgivings about every musician who ever got in trouble with the law, we would have to throw out an awful lot of music. What about John Coltrane’s amd Miles Davis’s drug problems? And the Rolling Stones? Guess we’ll have to throw away our Beatles albums, too, because of that blasphemous Mop Top, John Lennon! Musicians are not the most law abiding people, and neither are all writers. If we have to start applying some sort of moral code to the artists and writers who produce the things we add to our collections, we won’t have much to choose from.

  2. joseph wilk [Member] on October 19, 2007 at 4:18 pm said:

    Great comment, Chris. Just to clarify one thing as we close for the day, by no means did I intend to say that we should have misgivings about the artists–just that it’s possible that we do. I was just imagining if teen authors were suddenly finding themselves in highly-publicized incidents. Would librarians suddenly stop discussing teen fiction? My musing was based on the assumptions that they wouldn’t. My hope is that it would be a safe assumption to make.

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