There is a book sitting on the top right corner of my desk: Who Has What? All About Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies‘ by Robie H. Harris. I love this book. It talks about what the body can do and differences between male and female bodies. Beginning with facial body parts and working up to the reproductive system, this book discusses everything in an age appropriate and interesting manner. The illustrations are fun and inclusive of all’ types’ of people. I love this book. But still, this book sits on my desk because it is sent to me at least once a month with a note attached letting me know we had a complaint about the illustrations and could I please remove it from our collection or at least move it somewhere “more appropriate.” I’ve taken to calling this book the boomerang book because each time I send this book back to its home location, it comes right back.’ 

I recently spent sometime contemplating why this particular book seems to be so offensive to my community and why each time’  this book comes to me’ it seems to take me just a little longer to send it back out. Here’ is the answer I’ve come up with:

Fear. Read More →

‘ Title: Smash Your Food HD

‘ Platform: iPad

‘ Cost: $2.99

It’s back to school time and this month the YALSA App of the Week bloggers are’  focusing each week on apps that are good for students and teachers. We’ll cover research, science, math, and staying organized. If you have a favorite school related app feel free to post information about it in the comments on our App of the Week posts. And, don’t forget, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is taking nominations for Best Apps for Teaching and Learning. You can make a nomination on the AASL website.

I must admit, I love science. It started in 7th grade when I had to make a 3D’ model of a cell and include real world things to represent’ each part of the cell. I don’t remember all the objects’ my lab partner and I used, but I remember we had a lot of fun and I still’ understand the function of mitochondria. Since then, I have always’ had an interest in the biological sciences. To me, it seems that the biological sciences have an ugly step-sister in health class. Nobody wants to take health. You might have to talk about changes in your body (Uncomfortable.) or listen to a teacher drone on about how calories are energy and are misunderstood (Boring.). Lately, I have been on’ a mission to find interesting health apps to help people understand that your health affects your biology in a’ very direct way.

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Title:’ Carrr Matey by Lionebra

Platform:’ Android 1.5 and up /’ Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.’ Android 1.5 and up

Cost:’ Free for Android / The iTunes App store says this is Free for a limited time.

Just in time for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19 for ye scurvy land-lubbers.), my favorite GPS locator app has been released for the iPhone! If you commute to work in a busy city, drive to school,’ use a park and ride system, find yourself headed to a theme park, or just do a lot of shopping at busy malls, this app will make finding your car at the end of an exhausting day much simpler. The pirate-themed app by Lionebra Studios allows you to save the location of your parked car, you can also:

  • Get map directions or use the compass to get back to your vessel
  • Share the saved location with your friends
  • Make notes about your parking location. Read More →

Title: Zombies, Run!

Cost: $7.99

Platform:’ Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.


I frequently say that I would not run unless being chased by a _____. The thing chasing me varies widely based on my mood, but recently I have been saying, “Not unless chased by zombies.” My husband came home from work a few weeks ago, happily handed me my iPod Touch, and told me to go for a run. Read More →

It seems that almost every library-related news article I read talks about the de-funding of libraries or how amazing it is the Library X is doing so much with so little. ‘ The 2011 State of America’s Libraries report from ALA and’ Library Journal’s 2012 Library Budget Survey‘ confirm that budgets are still trending down. It can feel impossible to be innovative when you are barely able to cover costs for summer reading programs.

I don’t know about you, but occasionally I must force myself out of a pity party that generally starts with the thought, “If I had more money/time/help, I could do so much for my patrons.” In order to combat this leeching, downward spiral, here are some ideas to beat the blues and come up with your next innovative idea.

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Title: Vogue Knitting
Platform:’ Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 3.1 or later
Cost:’ $3.99

I must make a confession. I am a craft project starter. My latest obsession is knitting. As a new knitter, I frequently start projects, but then get easily distracted or frustrated. Luckily, a friend clued me in to the Vouge Knitting App by SOHO Publishing Company and now I can call myself a craft project finisher!

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I remember the day my husband came home and told me we had received orders from the Navy and we were moving to Okinawa. My immediate thought was not one of adventure or exotic travel, but “Aw, man. I’ll never get a job there!”

Okinawa, part of the Ryukyu Islands

The job prospects were slim. Though there are libraries on each of the bases, the jobs most available are Library Technician positions. Unfortunately, there is a hiring freeze for GS jobs preventing qualified applicants from stepping into full librarian positions. What was I to do until I got a job? How could I keep my newly minted librarian skills fresh? How could I do all this in a foreign country so far away from the library community I knew and respected? Enter Internet. Read More →

Many librarians spend a lot of time plotting and scheming ways to get teens in the door. It is sort of a “develop the programs and they will come” mentality. That is nice, but let’s be honest. What we really dream is having our teen spaces be hangout places; spaces teens feel comfortable spending free time. The main way to make this dream a reality is to build a sense of community within your teen department. There are several ways to jump-start the process:

1. Create a Welcoming Space

The first step is to create a place in which teens will want to gather. Often, our library buildings are older and were not created with specific teen spaces in mind, so spaces have been carved out of nooks, corners, and crannies. If you have a teen specific space, Hooray! It should be easy to make your department teen friendly. If not, here are two tips to help make your space appealing to teens: Make sure teens can be a little loud, without disturbing other patrons and make sure teens have a feeling of privacy. Notice I said Feeling of privacy, not complete privacy. While teens need to feel comfortable enough to relax, it is probably unwise to give them a closed off corridor far away from any adult eyes.

2. Build on Existing Communities

The simplest and quickest way to develop community is to build onto an existing community! Several YA authors and books have sparked interest groups that have developed into powerhouse communities. Though there are many such communities, two in particular are Nerdfighteria‘ ‘ and the Harry Potter Alliance. Nerdfighteria sprung up around the YouTube vlog of John Green (2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award and author of Looking for Alaska and other best-selling titles) and his brother Hank Green. Nerdfighters are people who try to decrease “world suck” and increase awesome. ‘ The Harry Potter Alliance mission statement says they take “an outside-of-the-box approach to civic engagement by using parallels from the Harry Potter books to educate and mobilize young people across the world toward issues of literacy, equality, and human rights.” You can let teens know the library has meeting space available for their group, or, depending on your libraries policies, your TAG could recruit other teens to help start a chapter of HPA or other group.

3. Use your Teen Advisory Group

Another way to build a sense of community is to use your Teen Advisory Group. Of course, you should meet to develop programs and plans for world domination, but you can also meet just to hang out. Get your teens to bring a friend to a meeting. When the newcomers see how much fun everyone is having, they will want to be a part of the group too!

4. Create a Common Goal

Whether it is a reading challenge, a fundraising activity, an outreach plan, or even a fitness challenge, having a common goal is a great way to create a sense of belonging.

5. Give them a Voice and Listen

All of your planning and hard work will be for naught if the teens in your community don’t feel like they are being heard.

If you have tried everything and you still can’t Pay teens to linger in your fabulously designed department, Don’t Give Up! Keep trying different ideas to see what resonates with the teens in your area. My hope is that by creating a sense of community among the teens in our libraries, we will create a greater community for our cities and towns.

As always, I would love to hear what You are doing in your library. What things have worked for you? What has failed miserably, but you think would work for someone else?

Many readers of YALSA’s blog, like me, are new librarians. I hope not as many, also like me, are unemployed, but I fear that the number of unemployed new librarians is higher than anyone would like it to be. Since my graduation in December of 2010, I have been searching for a job. The job search experience has been eye-opening and completely different from what I expected. I expected I would graduate, write and re-write my resume, apply for 20-30 jobs, and in less than six months I would proudly be telling my family about my new position as a librarian. It’s okay, I will wait for you to finish laughing. Instead, I graduated and several resume drafts, many job applications, and six months later I am still unemployed. Fortunately, unemployment does not have to mean stagnation. Here are some of the things I have been doing to keep current within the profession:
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Title:’ Tiny Pixels
Platform:’ Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad / Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later
Cost:’ $1.99 (iPhone, iPod Touch) or $2.99 (iPad) There is also a Free version called Tiny Pixels Lite, but it does not have all the features of the paid versions.

I have always admired video games and web comics that use pixel art. Until recently, I did not think there was anyway for me to create my own (horrible) pixel art except on graph paper, but then I discovered Tiny Pixels. If you are unfamiliar with pixel art, think of popular video games from the mid-1980s to early 1990s. Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda were both created in this pixel-by-pixel style. For more modern examples, you can see some amazing works of pixel art here at Koi Koi Koi, a digital visual arts magazine, or here at Noupe Design Blog.

Though the versions of Tiny Pixels for iPad or iPhone differ slightly, the differences are mainly related to the size of the screen. For example, Tiny Pixels for iPad has a selectable canvas size from 16×16 to 512×512 while the selectable canvas size for iPhone or iPod Touch is 16×16 to 300×300.

Some features available on all versions of the Tiny Pixels app that make it fun and useful:

  • An adjustable brush size makes it simple to draw fine lines or fill in large areas of the canvas at a time.
  • You can opt to show grid lines on the canvas so your straight lines are indeed straight and so you know exactly what pixel you are filling in.
  • There is a works gallery for the artist to store and view completed works.
  • Images can be saved and sent via email (png or jpeg), or exported to iPhoto albums (jpeg only). It is interesting to note that you can also import an image from your Photo albums to Tiny Pixels. This is great for creating pixilated self-portraits!

Naturally, there are some things the creators of this app could improve:

  • There is a transparency tool, but as others in the app store comments have noted, it would be nice to be able to select transparency level in numeric form (10% transparent, 32% transparent, etc.).
  • Because today’s teens are most likely familiar with Photoshop, they might miss a layering feature. Tiny Pixels does not allow layering, and the addition of one might make this app more appealing to established Photoshop Artists.
  • There are not many features missing from this app, but the minor differences among platforms and in pricing could cause confusion.
  • The largest problem for me was my own ability to push single pixels. A stylus would easily solve this problem, but if one is not readily available, it is difficult to draw fine lines.

Though this app would be great to introduce during a graphic novel program (teens could use it to create their own superheroes, villains, city-scapes, or other images), I also see uses for this as a pattern creator. Knitting and other forms of needlework are increasingly popular, and this app could be used to create patterns for cross-stitching or embroidery.

If you know a teen that is an aspiring artist or graphic novelist, Tiny Pixels would be a great app for him or her. It could also be a great suggestion for teens that are already familiar with Photoshop, but are looking for new challenges.