Right before Midwinter, I attended the Association of Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) conference. This year’s the theme, Radical Change, was in honor of Dr. Eliza Dresang who passed away a little over a year ago. Along with being the Beverly Cleary Professor in Children and Young Service at the University of Washington’s Information School, Dr. Dresang also served as former faculty at Florida State University’s School of Information (my current home). Her work has had an impact on many youth services researchers (including myself) and serves as framework for evaluating youth literature, both online and offline.
In 1999, Dr. Dresang published the innovative book Radical Change: Books for Youth in a Digital Age, a book that is still inspiring LIS researchers and librarians today. Radical Change refers to the way in which print books are changing in positive ways along with the evolving digital world. This book in not intended solely for academics, but also for librarians and teachers who learn how to spot and appreciate great books for children and young adults that move beyond the traditional print format.
During the conference, I sat in on several youth services and non-youth services sessions that demonstrated how Radical Change is being incorporated into a range of research areas. To me, these presentations show how youth services are transforming to better meet the needs of young adults. It also shows how LIS faculty (at least some) are recognizing this transformation and incorporating it into their research and MLIS coursework. As always, the ALISE conference turned out to be an excellent lead into my experiences at Midwinter. Along with Radical Change, a supportive theme for the ALISE conference was transformation, inclusion, and innovation. These strongly reflect the theme of this year’s Midwinter, Transform Libraries. Together, these themes show how libraries are in constantly flux, changing and shifting to improve services to patrons and impact their communities.
As a YALSA board member, I saw the influence of Radical Change immediately as we participated in strategic planning to realign the plan with The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report (2014). Much like in Dr. Dresang’s book Radical Change, this report recognizes the paradigm shift that is occurring in youth services. The shift is seen through technology, expanding literacies, connecting learning, and much more. I see a strong connection between Radical Change and YALSA’s Futures report. Clearly, YALSA is dedicated to assisting librarians in improving their work with teens all while keeping an eye on the future direction of teen services.
If you have yet to read Radical Change or The Future of Library Services For and With Teens: A Call to Action report, I would encourage to take the time to do so. The Futures report is a thoughtful and intelligent presentation of the current direction teen services is heading while also demonstrating how librarians can be better prepared to meet these changes. While Radical Change has been out since 1999, it is still an influential book that has significantly inspired the work of LIS researchers, instructors and librarians who are passionate about serving young adults.
Abigail Phillips is a doctoral student at Florida State University and is the 2015-2016 YALSA Board Fellow.