Registration for housing for the Young Adult Literature Symposium opened today. Rooms at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel will cost $119 per night. For information on how to reserve your room, check out the Young Adult Literature Symposium website

Registration for the symposium itself will open on May 1, 2008.


Early Bird Special
Registration is only $195 for YALSA members and Tennessee Library Association/Tennessee Association of School Librarians members. Only registrations postmarked or made online by September 1, 2008, will be eligible for this special rate.

$195 YALSA Personal Member
$195 TLA/TASL Personal Member
$245 ALA Personal Member

$300 Nonmembers
$50 Students (enrolled full-time in a library program)

Optional preconference: $75

Advanced Registration
Advanced registration runs September 2 – October 3, 2008.

$245 YALSA Personal Member
$245 TLA/TASL Personal Member

$295 ALA Personal Member
$350 Nonmember
$50 Student (enrolled full-time in a library program)

Optional preconference: $75

Onsite Registration Fees
Onsite fees apply to registrations made on or after October 4, 2008.

$270 YALSA Personal Member

$270 TLA/TASL Personal Member
$320 ALA Personal Member
$375 Nonmember
$75 Student Member

Optional preconference: $75

As an instructor in a library school I’m always excited by the ideas and innovations that students bring to class discussions. The students I teach are great thinkers and are ready to advocate for teens through library programs and services, as well as within the communities in which they work (or may end up working some day.)

But, sometimes I wonder, what happens to that excitement and energy when a student goes from the somewhat insular world of library school to the world of real live libraries. It seems that once out in the real world the day-to-day policies and procedures of a library hinder, and sometimes even kill, what I was able to catch a glimpse of in the library school classroom.

So, that makes me think librarians that are in the world of real-life libraries need to better support students, both when in library school and when just out of that rarefied environment. What can we “old-timers” do? We can:

  • Give students and new librarians opportunities to try out ideas that might be outside the box of what is typical or traditional in the library. Instead of saying something like, “We tried something like that once but it didn’t work.” What about saying, “That sounds like a really good idea, let me know how I can help you make it happen.”
  • Work with library schools to make connections with students and find out what happens in library school classrooms of the early 21st century. Then begin to figure out ways to integrate those ideas into teen services today.
  • Just like teen librarians need to talk with teens about the programs and services teens want and need from the library, librarians need to talk to library school students to find out what those students want and need. Also, it’s important to find out what current library school students envision for the job they will end up in when out of library school.
  • Put yourself in the role of a student by taking classes either in a library school, through YALSA, or through another institution that focuses on teens and/or libraries. Find out what new ideas are out there. Get energized by the ideas and possibilities that current library school students are being exposed to.

Don’t forget that YALSA has a Student Interest Group that is geared to supporting the needs of library school students. The group can also provide a way for “old-timers” to connect with students and build relationships for the future.

Anyone interested in the Student Interest Group can contact me,, for more information. Students if you have ideas about how current librarians can help you as you start your new careers working with teens and in libraries feel free to comment here. Let us know what your thoughts are.

Save the date! The first-ever Young Adult Literature Symposium, funded in part by the William C. Morris Endowment, will be held November 7 – 9, 2008 in Nashville, TN. This year’s theme “How We Read Now” features a great slate of programs.

Hit List or Hot List: How Teens Read Now (Rosemary Chance and Teri Lesesne )
Inside the Authors’ Studios: Award Winners Right Out of the Gate (Lisa Wemett and Olivia Durant )
Never Enough Nonfiction (Pam Spencer Holley)
Listening to Literature (Sharon Grover and Francisca Goldsmith)
Just Keepin’ It Real: Teens Reading Out of the Mainstream, presented by Rollie Welch
Reading: It’s Not Just about Books Anymore (Linda Braun)

Thrilling Young Adults: How to Keep the Attention of Today’s Teens (Amy Alessio)
Quickest of YALSA’s Quick Picks (Diana Tixier Herald and Diane P. Monnier)
Zine-a-Paloosa 2008: Teens and Zines! (Julie Bartel)
Explaining and Exploring Fandom, Fan Life, and Participatory Culture (Liz Burns and Carlie Kraft Webber)
Beyond the Rainbow Canon: Books for LGBT Teens (Angie Miraflor and Daisy Porter)
Books between Cultures (Mitali Perkins)
Connections: YA Literature and Curriculum (Jane P. Fenn)
Teen Readers’ Advisory: How Research Informs Practice (Jessica E. Moyer)

Four papers will be presented as well:
Are You There God? It’s Me, Manga: Manga as an Extension of Young Adult Literature (Lisa Goldstein and Molly Phelan)
The Age of Blank? Connecting YA Readers to Each Other and the World (Tom Philion)
Accept the Universal Freak Show: LGBTQ Themes in Contemporary YA Literature and Incorporating Them @ your library (Angie Manfredi)
Bullies, Gangs, and Books for Young Adults (Stan Steiner)

If all this wasn’t enough for one weekend, the Symposium will kick off with a special Pre-Conference on Graphic Novels and Manga. There will also be special breakfasts, lunches and other really fun events!

Registration will begin sometime around May 1st. There will be two Symposium Scholarships- one for a practicing librarian and one for a library school student who is focusing on teen services. More details will be coming soon.

For more information, visit the Young Adult Literature Symposium website, A wiki will be coming soon.

As part of my so-called research & development plan for preparing to start a new teen department this summer, I traveled to Charlotte this past weekend to visit the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. I visited both Virtual Village and ImaginOn.–especially The Loft and Tech Central/Studio i.

There were a couple of reasons for visiting. One, of course, was to see all of the cool, cutting-edge things that PLCMC is doing for teens. The other was to take a look at basic, traditional teen services at their best. I was fortunate to be able to hang out with some super-friendly librarians and Loft staffers who were willing to answer my annoying questions about programming, the collection, staffing, you name it. I also got to play around with Teen Second Life, make a bracelet out of cut-up computer motherboards, and see hilarious teen-created animated films that had been shot in front of Studio i’s fantastic blue screen.

I collected all of the literature I could about PLCMC teen programs, including calendars and flyers. This is a great way to get a sense of what’s really happening in a library.

Back in my hotel room, I made a HUGE list of some of the things I’d learned. Here’s a sampling:

  • use laptops instead of desktops — eliminate wires whenever possible
  • make things portable — put them on wheels, have traveling kits
  • displays that teens can create — chalk boards? white boards? magnetic letters?
  • staff training — staff have to have time to play with stuff in order to learn how to use it
  • get expert to consult on software, etc. (for movie creation, animation, music making)
  • offer workshops and classes — freeware (picnik, Picassa, flickr, etc) and others
  • self-serve kiosks with information about how to use the library (maybe use touch-screen technology?)
  • use teen interns to manage computing areas
  • create myspace or facebook page with links to other online presences — flickr, youtube (figure out what social networking the kids in the community are using)

If you’re starting a new program, starting out as a new teen librarian, or looking for a shot in the arm, I highly recommend visiting another library. I was lucky to be able to go to Charlotte, but you can also check out local libraries that are doing a great job with teens. Everyone I met at PLCMC was so open about things they were happy they’d done, things they would have done differently, things they were still working on…and it got my mind racing.

I really appreciate the people of PLCMC’s hospitality and friendliness. If you’re reading this — thank you!

Ok I’m a webcomic fanatic. You caught me. Today I came across a strip about the MMORPG game World of Warcraft. It talks about a site called WOWhead that has information about quests, equipment, and locations in wow. Its one of the only sites with this information that isn’t run by a gold farmer.

After I read the strip I realized that libraries could stand to be more like WOWhead. Your website doesn’t have to have a flashy interface. Rather its important to have content cross organized in about 4-5 different ways. This is part of what I think library 2.0 is about.

Lately we focus on providing content where teens are at, but we can’t forget that websites we have must be easy to navigate for everyone.

On a side not I’m curious what does your library call databases so that the patrons/customers/users know what they are?

This wasn’t my first Midwinter conference, but it was the first conference I’ve attended since I was hired as a librarian. Previously I went to as many different meetings as I could trying to soak up as much knowledge as I could about the teen librarianship field. This time I felt more focused. I went to vendors, sessions, and other attendees with real challenges I had at my branch instead of hypothetical ones, and I was amazed at all of the information I gleaned from conversations I had with other librarians when I asked how they handle the problems.

On Friday night I ran into someone I went to library school with, who was only at ALA for Friday. She was looking for a job, and wanted to check out the gaming extravaganza. I’m so glad I met her there, because I was able to introduce her to many other attendees just like others had done for me when I first began. See for me at least the greatest part of YALSA is all of the people. We are a community focused on teen librarianship, but we are also very supportive of each other. I’ve heard many stories of one librarian being the only one involved in ALA at their library, and YALSA being the only resource for them when they feel like they are all alone on the edge of the library world.

If you aren’t a member of YALSA I do encourage you to at least sign up for the listservs we have. It is just one of many resources YALSA offers to help librarians connect to each other. Many people say there is no reason to recreate the wheel, and they are correct. Even if you are the only teen librarian in your system, (or the only one serving teens for that matter) You can build off the great things others have done, by just asking your peers questions you don’t have the answer too. Its alright not to know everything, and to be unsure. As librarians we are trained on how to find information, instead of knowing all information, which is an important distinction.

This conference I’ve learned many new ways to approach teen services that I never would have thought of if I hadn’t talked with others over lunches, dinners, or drinks. I encourage you, if you get a chance to go to a conference to attend more that just the sessions and the exhibit halls. Talk to strangers who attend too. You never know what you might learn, because you know Librarians rock 😀

Librarian's Rock
This photo was taken at Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia. Its me and three committee members from Popular Paperbacks.

Yesterday I had the chance to attend a meeting at ALISE about participatory librarianship. (The main focus was on bringing participatory librarianship ideas to library education.) I’d read about the concept of participatory librarianship about a year ago when the ALA Office of Internet Technology Policy (OITP) and Syracuse Univesity published a report (and launched a web site) on the topic. However, after looking at the information all those months ago I didn’t spend much more time thinking about the ideas expressed.

The Participatory Librarianship site defines the concept this way:

Simply put participatory librarianship recasts library and library practice using the fundamental concept that knowledge is created through conversation. Libraries are in the knowledge business, therefore libraries are in the conversation business. Participatory librarians approach their work as facilitators of conversation. Be it in practice, policies, programs and/or tools, participatory librarians seek to enrich, capture, store and disseminate the conversations of their communities.

Isn’t this what those serving teens in libraries try to do every day – have conversations with teens, and those in the community that support and serve teens, in order to provide better programs and services?

Throughout the meeting I took notes of some of the key ideas (sound bites) expressed by participants. Three of these include:

  • If libraries are in the information business then they are also in the conversation business. In other words as a part of the information gathering and seeking process librarians and searchers need to have real conversations about the process, the information, the tools, and so on. Searchers and librarians participate in discussion in order to succeed in the process and to develop ideas.
  • Let users design systems if they are using them. This means that customers – teens and adults – get to mashup and customize tools libraries/librarians provide. For example, instead of forcing users to stick with the technology tools that they find hard to use, why not find ways to give them tools that they can customize in order to make their use more meaningful and easy? For example search widgets, wiki tools, and so on.
  • In the library field we want problem-solvers who can communicate with the community. For those of us working with teens, that seems to mean looking at the barriers to successful teen service in the library and then going out and having conversations with community members, colleagues, administrators, and teens in order to find possible and effective solutions.

There’s a lot to think about within this idea of participatory librarianship and the world of teen services. Why not start a conversation at your library about what the concept is and how you can start integrating it in order to enhance your programs and services – to teens and to the community at large?

Global Kids, based in New York, is offering a professional development workshop to get started in Second Life 101, January 22, from 10am-4pm, EST in New York. Registration here:

Global Kids are the leaders in Teen Second Life in terms of the funding they have received for their projects, and the programs and projects they are able to mobilize youth with. Check out some of their activities on their blog. Almost all of their activities translate into programs appropriate to offer at a library for youth as they are focused on a youth participation model and this is a great opportunity for continuous learning especially in a medium that is an effective learning space for teens.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

A couple of weeks ago Maureen Ambrosino, Youth Services Consultant for the Central MA Regional Library System, spoke with a group of library school students about the LSTA grant she received in 2007. The grant project titled Year of the Teen focuses on providing training and professional development for librarians on how to successfully meet teen needs in the library.

In her presentation, Maureen mentioned that during the grant year someone asked her, “Is this an international thing, The Year of the Teen?” Maureen’s answer was, “No, it’s something I decided.”

That question and response got me thinking. What if every library around the country – or the world perhaps – decided that 2008 was the year of the teen? What might that mean for teen services? Would it mean:

  • All library staff, teen devoted staff and non-teen devoted staff, would be trained in order to be adept at serving teens successfully. All library staff would not pre-judge teens and know to treat them in exactly the same way as they treat other library customers.
  • Budgets for teen materials would be on par with the budgets of other departments in a school or library. Teen library staff would be able to spend the $ provided for materials that teens want and need without fear of reprisal for purchasing something that might be controversial or not of the highest literary quality.
  • Every library would have a space (or work towards a space) that shows teens in the community that the library is a place for them to hang-out, be themselves, be comfortable, work on school assignments, collaborate, etc.
  • Teens with interests beyond those related to books would be welcome and served by the library. Teens whose main interest is music. Or teens who are interested in technology. Or teens that want to create media-based content. All of these teens, along with those who are lovers of the book, would find programs and services to meet their needs available from their school and public library
  • Teens would have access to full-time staff devoted to serving teen needs and interests. All of the hours that a library is open there would be a librarian available just to teens and their services.
  • Technology available to teens in the library would be up-to-date and of the caliber required of teens living in the early part of the 21st century. Hardware and software would be available that supports gaming, social networking, media creation, and other teen technological needs.
  • Librarians serving teens have the ability to act quickly in order to keep up with the current and rapidly changing needs and interests of teens. When a new technology, form of literature, form of entertainment, etc. that is of interest to teens appears, librarians can integrate these new tools and materials without having to jump through extensive bureaucratic hoops.
  • Library staff is able to meet teens where they (the teens) are and do not require that teens come to where the librarian is. Services are available in a variety of formats in order to meet the needs of teens who can and can not visit the physical library space.
  • Every librarian develops programs and services for teens with input from the teens in the community. No library service for the age group is initiated without teens being a part of the development and implementation process.

It’s possible to go on with the list of what a year of the teen might bring in terms of programs and services from a library. What if you were to name 2008 the year of the teen in your library? What would you be able to achieve?

Of course, every year should be the year of the teen but why not start with 2008 and then keep it going for 2009, 2010, 20011….

December is a slow month in my library system, so its the perfect time for weeding. I’ve been with my library for 6 months, but only weeded out paperbacks that were completely ratty during the summer. So my shelves are very tight, and its hard to display books on the ends. This means I have to buckle down and weed out my books, but this is the hard part.In school they teach you to weed based on condition or use, but you don’t go into library science without have some desire to put books in teens hands. I’d often find myself staring at the books saying things like “well this would be great for that historical fiction assignment.” or “But its still readable”

My job of weeding is even harder because we have a collection development department that does a great job of ordering what the teens want, which means I’m looking at a collection that moves. I can run a report for the items that haven’t circulated in the past year, but that’s not even 20 items. To make room on my shelves for displays, and for the great new titles that will come in 2008 I have to get rid of at least 5 times that much.

Our YA selector showed me how to tell if a book is in poor condition. If you put your hands on the cover and back and wiggle the book, you can test the spine. If it moves or the spine is separating you know that book is going to fall apart soon, so it has to go. Covers are also an important part of a YA collection. If you have books with non appealing covers that are at least 5 years old, you might consider finding a better edition of a title. We don’t want teens to walk into the library and think our books are all old.

Even following these rules I’ve had problems. Its very difficult to put a book on the weeds pile, because you really are worried you’re going to weed something that a teens will want the very next day or week. The truth is however, libraries don’t live in a vacuum. We have Interlibrary loan, consortium, and other libraries in our community. If you get rid of a good book there will be other places to get it.

To help me overcome my fears of removing something I didn’t even know the teens wanted I’ve set rules for myself. A book has to circ a certain number of times to be on the selves. It has to prove itself to be in my teen collection. If I really love a book, and think it should stay I’ve put it on display, thinking maybe teens just missed it. This has only saved one book so far, which has made me more comfortable with weeding out the books.

All in all this is something I’m still not 100% comfortable with, but its something I want to be. I know I can’t be the only one whose hesitant about weeding, but since its such an integral part of being a librarian I wanted to share my experiences, and tips I’ve learned from my colleagues to at least ease my own fears.

If you have any other tips or advice for a librarians first time weeding please post a comment.