I love YA literature, which is probably a good thing since at times it feels like I’m floating in a sea of books. ‘ And the analogy is not an accident. ‘ Depending on which statistic you read there are between 3,000 and 10,000 new books YA books published every year. ‘ How then, can we be expected to sift through all of these titles and find that magic novel that will turn all of our students into life-long readers? ‘ Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or super secret that veteran librarians can pass on to new librarians in some slightly creepy candle-lit ceremony. ‘ The truth is, it takes work. ‘ But the good news is there are so many different options for getting to know more about YA literature that there’s bound to be a strategy to keep even the most overwhelmed teacher-librarian from’ despair.

1) ‘ Start with what you’ve got. ‘ Learn your own collection. ‘ I’ve been fortunate enough to have shifted and reorganized our library’s collection seven times in six years (why this happened is another story). ‘ I say fortunate because it forced me to pick up/touch/look at nearly every book in the collection (about 17,000 titles). ‘ While I don’t recommend this to everyone (I don’t think my clerk has forgiven me quite yet) in hindsight it was a fantastic way to gain an intimate knowledge of what was sitting on the shelves. ‘  Okay, stop. ‘  Deep breath. ‘ For those of you’ hyperventilating’ at the thought of all the dust and heavy lifting, the same thing can be accomplished (almost) during inventory or repeatedly browsing your own shelves. ‘ That’s right. ‘ Get up and head to the stacks.

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image courtesy of Flickr user H GruberOver the past couple of weeks as a part of the 30 Days of Innovation series I’ve written about the importance of embracing failure and the need to breed a culture of innovation in libraries. Last week I had some people ask me what happens when you understand the value of failure and innovative culture in the workplace, but your colleagues and administration do not? People wonder how they can feel safe in failure and get the innovative juices going when those around them aren’t supportive. Some ideas:

  • Ask Yourself Why: Why are your colleagues and/or administrators against innovative practices? Is it because they are scared of looking bad to others? Do they not know how to articulate the ideas of innovation so that they are understood by elected officials and other town administrators? Have they never really had a chance to understand what it takes to be innovative? Do they think that innovation means throwing out everything, even what works really well, and starting from scratch? Ask yourself where the barriers to innovation are and then find ways to break through them. For example, If fear is an issue then come up with low-risk innovative opportunities to get things going so that colleagues and administrators can gain a track record of innovative success. Then build from there. Read More →

The YALSA Board of Directors is always looking for ways to incorporate innovation into our overall mission to expand and strengthen library services for teens and to build the capacity of libraries and librarians to engage, serve, and empower teens and young adults. One of our core functions is to provide continuing education to librarians and library workers who serve teens.

We are all aware that because of the rapidly changing nature of how information is created and delivered, librarians must constantly learn new skills to be effective in our daily work. In addition, we know that in today’s world, learning happens everywhere, and YALSA wants to help librarians and library workers get recognition for the skills they are acquiring outside traditional settings. In looking for ways to be innovative in our approach to CE, YALSA was fortunate enough to be able to partner with Mozilla, the Macarthur Foundation, and HASTAC in their Badges for Lifelong Learning Project.

In March, YALSA, in cooperation with Badgeville, was awarded a $75,000 grant to create a Badges for Learning project that will increase YALSA’s capacity to deliver professional development in an exciting, innovative way. Read More →

When this month’s theme was announced I got to thinking of some of the innovations that have entered into my world since I was a child. I should state here that I am defining innovation according to its “invention” and “evolution” roots. I wanted to think about what new systems/ideas/products have been brought into librarianship that have made me wonder how we could have ever done without.

Like poor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, what have I grown accustomed to? So, I’ve been thinking about this for a while and here are a few of my favorite innovations without which I am sure my job and my life would be far more challenging and far less enjoyable. Read More →

I’ve been avidly following the 30 Days of Innovation series, and throughout the discussion I’ve been thinking about how keeping YALSA as an organization on the cutting edge is a continual process. I was reminded of the conversations the Board of Directors had when developing the Strategic Plan. With limited time, staff, and funds, the Board recognizes the challenge of developing innovation, and in response, created the Capacity Building goal in the plan. The key question is how can YALSA increase capacity so as to devote energy to innovation and the development of ideas that support members and the mission?
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I’m what some circles call a security wife – I think I’ve mentioned before that my husband is in information security.’  Lately, I’ve been sucked into helping plan their conference in November, which has furthered my immersion into the whole field. Yes, a lot of it goes way over my head, but I know more than the Average Jane. So what am I taking away from all of this to use in my own work? Well, I’ve increased my skill at designing the conference badges in GIMP, which is the open-source version of Photoshop. (If you need Photoshop, and the light version isn’t enough, beg your IT department to let you download GIMP. It’s free, and if you already know Photoshop, GIMP is a breeze). Open source shouldn’t be seen as innovative for our libraries in this day and age given how long it has been around, but it is. Read More →

Can we finally put the argument to rest? E-readers are not killing reading, nor are they killing books. As research shows, people who own e-readers not only read more than people who don’t, but they read both e-books and print books. Not to mention, there are plenty of populations, from prison inmates to seniors, who will need print books for a long time coming. Neither one is going away.

That’s not to say that they’re the same, though. Far from it. In my experience, e-readers attract different types of readers than print books, and they’re also engaging more people who were previously non-readers. Anybody who thinks that’s not great, well… There are also scads of e-reading apps available for phones, tablets, and computers, so e-content is available to more than just people with Nooks and Kindles. People use e-readers for a variety of reasons, from pleasure reading to research, so it’s good to consider how many bases you can cover. The Pew Research Center released a report on reading, readers, and e-readers recently, and ALA of course responded. While Pew’s data is encouraging (among other statistics released, the study found that people who use e-readers read more books per year than people who only read in print), ALA pointed out that the stats of who reads at all, and who reads in what format, are also related to education and income level. So what can you do about it? Read More →

So often I’ll hear my colleagues say something to the effect that YALSA put out information such as programming ideas for Teen Read Week or Teen Tech Week that we should consult to see how it might work at our own library. They’re absolutely right, and that’s the point of YALSA putting out information (so that it’ll be used by other libraries) in the first place. But sometimes I think they forget that they’re YALSA too (as members) and can share their own ideas and thoughts with each other as well. Read More →

We are creative people, we do a lot of creative things in our work, and we are subject to the kinds of fear and burnout that can come with being creative.’  How do you fight burnout? Take inspiration wherever you can get it.

I find a lot of inspiration in other people acknowledging the struggles and triumphs of creativity. One person who inspires me is Ze Frank, who I believe I once referred to as the father of modern video blogging.’  He had a successful Internet show, The Show with Ze Frank in 2006 and he is now, with the help of Kickstarter, returning to the Internet to start up a new show.

Ze says if you have an idea, you should just do it. Don’t worry about the skills or resources you might lack, just go for it. Because if you wait too long to get your idea out into the world, it becomes brain crack, an obsession with the perfect version of the idea that just gets more and more impossible to achieve.’  So fight brain crack, take the leap, put your ideas in motion, and don’t be afraid to fail.

His latest video, an Invocation for Beginnings is about just that.

Disclaimer: There is a bit of swearing in this video. (As there is often a bit of swearing in the creative process). I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily NSFW, but I also wouldn’t watch this on a public desk with the volume all the way up.

 

photo of person with light bulb next to their headLast week as a part of the YALSAblog innovation series I posted about failure and how being ready and open to failing is a key ingredient in innovation. Once that post was published, in the comments, and via email and Twitter, I had lots of conversations with colleagues and friends about how one might be open to failure for themselves in the workplace, but if they didn’t feel supported in the possibility of failing in the profession or their work institution, then moving forward with failure as an option was pretty impossible. People I communicated with were particularly concerned about the tone of online discussions over the past couple of weeks. This tone makes those I talked with hesitant about presenting their innovative ideas. Who wants to open themselves up to failure when the profession (and colleagues) is going to call them out on it publicly, and sometimes in not the most supportive manner?

These conversations I had over the last week got me thinking more about how as a profession we need to breed a culture in which innovation can take place and where people feel safe in making mistakes and even in failing. I often talk with librarians about making teens feel safe in the library environment. And by safe I don’t mean safe from violence, I mean safe from bullies and from behaviors that center around putting one person down in order to make someone else feel better about themselves. In libraries in order for innovation to happen we need to make sure that staff feel safe from bullies, embarrassment, and plain old negativity. These are some ideas I have for making that happen: Read More →