Happy February! Here are some interesting happenings, research, and innovation that you might want to share with your patrons. As always, leave comments if you have any suggestions.

  • Programs such as the It Gets Better Project have made teen suicides, especially those related to homophobia, a more pressing issue. But is it reaching middle school-aged teens and tweens? A new study shows that many teens who have made suicide attempts made their first ones before high school, which means new approaches to mental health and wellbeing need to be taken earlier. U.S. News and World Report did a writeup of the study, which was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
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Happy New Year! Here’s the latest in research and innovation from all areas that might interest you and your teens.

  • High school students in Tucson, Arizona, are outraged that the school board has chosen to eliminate its Mexican American Studies courses in the wake of extremist politics and laws that will deny funding to the Tucson Unified School District if it continues to offer the curriculum. In protest, many students walked out on Thursday and marched to TUSD headquarters, where their pleas were largely ignored. Even if you’re not a librarian in Arizona, you can use this timely piece of news to plan programming or encourage discussion and study of students’ rights, the history of educational policy, or the study of history itself, as well as to highlight relevant books in your YA and greater library collections, like Sarah Jamila Stevenson’s The Latte Rebellion or Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
  • It’s probably not much of a stretch to get your male patrons interested in books on sports, nor to encourage them to get out and play sports themselves. If you’re looking for an angle to get in with your more physical activity-reluctant patrons, male or female, turn them on to new interviews and research published in the latest issues of Latina and Shape, which cite a multitude of benefits (aside from the normal ones, like long, healthy life) for people who engage in competitive sports. Girls who play sports are more likely to have better body images and to avoid teen pregnancy, and researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found that athletes are more skilled at balancing mental activities and multitasking than those who don’t play sports. Between looking pretty and doing well at school, there’s a benefit for everyone. Letting your teens know about this should make your sports and fitness books get off the shelves a little easier.
    Colón, Suzan. “Love It, Dream It, Live It.” Latina, 16:4, 2012. 20-22.
    “On the Ball.” Shape, 31:5, 2012. 19.
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I’m back with another month’s worth of interesting research and writing on scholarly and popular topics related to teen culture, literacy, and library services. I’ve decided to expand from just summarizing research to also linking you to fascinating articles, blog posts, or other more easily-accessed tidbits that might spark meaningful conversation, programming, or reference/advisory transactions. As always, if you have a topic you’d like to know about, or if there’s a journal you miss having access to, comment here and I’ll do some digging for you.

  • The Lilith blog, an online supplement to the Jewish feminist magazine, reports on a “freedom ride” in Jerusalem protesting the ultra-Orthodox custom of requiring women to board and sit in the rear of the public bus only. Sound familiar? If you’re looking for a way to allow your diverse patrons to connect with each other, try bringing this up as a topic and talking about the similarities with the freedom rides in the American South.
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    Here’s another thing to get you geared up for ALA’s Annual Conference in Anaheim this June. The Library Research Round Table is looking for presentation proposals related to three areas of library research. Abstracts must be submitted by December 20, 2011, and notification of acceptance will be sent in late February, 2012. Accepted proposals will be presented at the ALA Annual from June 21-26. If you have recent or in-progress research relating to users, problem solving, or innovation, consider submitting.

    LRRT defines their three categories as this: Read More →

    Miss hiding out in your university library? Tired of only reading library publications? Want to know what other scholars are doing? Once a month I’ll do the browsing for you and let you know what’s going on in the world of pop culture, sociology, literature, pedagogy, and more. If it seems relevant to libraries or young adult services, you’ll find it here. When possible, I’ll also offer some insights or suggestions on application for libraries or librarians. Revel in being a student again!

    • Contexts Discoveries, a sociology blog, says that Facebook isn’t just a tool for social interaction, but it’s a tool for sociologists to study how students create their physical social networks. With our world getting more technological every moment, it’s good to know how your patrons view their social roles and responsibilities.
    • David Darts describes how artists and art teachers have combined social justice education with art education and created street art projects that didn’t just bring art to the public but also brought the streets to the public’s eye. Posing as panhandlers, street artists, and shoppers, students “performed” the streets after a series of activities in the classroom and out including field research, interviews, and journal reflections. This “performance art pedagogy” incorporated visual art, acting, and social research and made the students more aware of street life and culture, in both its positive and negative aspects. Take a look at the community surrounding your library, and think about your teen patron base–would this be an activity for them? And would it be an eye opening one, or a validating one? How can you approach the sensitive subject of homelessness, the sex trade, poverty, and social exclusion in a way that’s meaningful for your community?
      Darts, David. “Invisible Culture: Taking Art Education to the Streets.” Art Education, 64:5, 2011. 49-53.
    • There is a lot of talk in libraries about how best to serve the “underserved,” the “low-achieving,” the “at-risk,” and rightfully so. But what about serving and supporting the needs of gifted and creative young people? Two articles in the spring issue of Gifted Child Today address these issues. Read More →

    Hello! I’m Hannah Gómez, a new blogger and new member of YALSA, thanks in part to the Spectrum Scholarship. I’ll be blogging regularly about research and other topics, but today I wanted to start by telling you who I am, what I do, and why I’m here. Also, I’ll let you know why I find YALSA’s new research agenda so interesting, and why you should as well.

    First things first. I’m a Tucson, Arizona, native who went to the University of Arizona for undergrad, studying creative writing, music, and Spanish. A few months ago, an airplane I was on touched down in Boston, the last flight to be allowed into the closed airport before Hurricane Irene hit. I’ve just started graduate school here at Simmons College, where I’m enrolled in their dual degree program, which will leave me with an MA in children’s literature and an MLS with a focus on youth services.

    The future in library science just hit me one day. I had been answering people’s “So what will you do with your Bachelor’s?” with a general “Dunno. Go to grad school” for so long and all of a sudden I just blurted out “Be a librarian.” But it made since. In high school I never had to work at the mall or the car wash–I was lucky enough to get a job in social services, and though I held a variety of different jobs and internships over high school and college, most of them were related to the world of non-profits and at-risk youth. My favorite job was when I got promoted to community service project leader, supervising 8-14-year-olds who had been arrested and had court-ordered service hours to perform. I, at 19, was deemed responsible enough to oversee their work, keep them on task, and, I hoped, help them see something meaningful in what they were doing, whether it was painting in a community art project or picking up trash at a neighborhood park. I got to be a big sister type to the kids I worked with, and while doing our work we would also talk about the books, music, and movies they liked. So it seems to make sense. I love teenagers, especially middle schoolers, and I am a huge nerd who is always trying to find the right book for someone. I’m also the child of two teachers and the sister of a teacher, so I know how much, especially in these times, both teachers and students need the help of librarians, and both school and library settings are essential to developing youths. Compound that with my interest in social justice and non-profits, and voila! I want to be something like all of you.

    So why the extra degree? Why the crit classes where you read as much Freud and Barthes as you do Virginia Hamilton and nursery rhymes? Well, Read More →