As recent blog posts and podcasts attest, YALSA had a lot going on during ALA’s 2007 Annual Conference. Beth Yoke, YALSA’s Executive Director, put together a short document that highlights some of what happened at Annual that goes beyond some of the more publicized events such as happy hours, parties, committee meetings, and programs and workshops. Beth’s list covers:

  • Brand new literary award: YALSA’s William C. Morris YA Debut Award was just established at the conference. YALSA’s Board of Directors passed a proposal for this new award on to ALA’s Award Committee, which approved the award. This first-time YA author award will be given annually beginning in January 2009. YALSA is currently forming an award committee that will begin work in January 2008. This award celebrates the achievement of a previously unpublished author who has made a strong literary debut in writing for young adult readers. It will be funded by YALSA’s William C. Morris Endowment.
  • New guidelines: YALSA’s Board of Directors adopted “Guidelines for Library Services to Teens,” which was a joint project between RUSA and YALSA. The guidelines are meant to serve as a tool for any library that serves teens. The guidelines will be available on the YALSA web site.
  • Revised Selected List: After YALSA’s 2008 Selected DVDs for Young Adults list is announced at the 2008 ALA Midwinter Meeting, this committee will change its name to Fabulous Films for Young Adults and it will become a themed list. The other major change is that the films on the list will not be limited to a particular release year or years. Films from any release year, so long as they are still commercially available, will be eligible to appear on the list. The first Fabulous Films for Young Adults list will debut in January 2009.
  • YALSA’s 5th Round of Excellence in Library Service to Young Adults winners announced. The top five winners as well as the 20 best of the rest will be compiled by Amy Alessio and published in June 2008. The top five programs are:
  • The Hennepin County (Minn.) Library for its International Teen Club
  • Austin (Texas) Public Library for Second Chance Books
  • Cleveland (Ohio) Public Library for Teen Empowerment: A Motivational Summit
  • Alameda County (Calif.) Library for Teen/Senior Web Connection
  • The New Scotland Branch of the Albany (N.Y.) Public Library for its Skateboarding Discussion Group.

Major projects in progress:

  • Nonfiction award for young adults: a taskforce will submit a final draft of the proposal to the YALSA Board at Midwinter 2008.
  • Young Adult Literature Symposium, “How We Read Now,” November 7-9, 2008 in Nashville, TN. A taskforce is currently working with the YALSA office to plan this event.
  • Teens Need Libraries: training for librarians and library and workers in AR, LA and MS made possible via a grant from the ALA World Book Goal Award.
  • YALSA’s @ your library campaign: the Advocacy Taskforce is launching this at the 2008 Midwinter Meeting via a full day institute.

Major projects still in the planning stages:

  • YALSA Diversity Campaign: phase one is to recruit and mentor persons from diverse backgrounds to be leaders in the association and in the profession. Phase two will be to provide librarians with resources to help them serve the teens who comprise America’s most culturally diverse generation. The proposal was developed by an ad-hoc committee of the Board and the Executive Director will seek grant money for funding.
  • Teen Summit: the Youth Participation Committee will be surveying members to find out their interest level in such an event as well as their needs relating to youth participation.
  • YALSA Web site redesign: as a first step the Website Advisory Committee will be surveying members to find out their needs.
  • A new round of strategic planning will be undertaken by the Board and the Strategic Planning Committee. They will be seeking input from members in 2008.
  • Post MLS Certification program in YA services: a taskforce is being formed to identify the target audience and a curriculum.
  • Awards & scholarships: proposals are being developed for scholarships that would fund members’ attendance at the ALA Annual Conference and/or the Young Adult Literature Symposium. A proposal is also in development for a writing award on topics relevant to YA services.

Reading these lists – Wow!

Don’t forget that YALSA will continue to publish podcasts from Annual over the next week. When you listen to a conference podcast or read a post on this blog remember you can comment about the content. That helps to keep the momentum going.

On the last day I was in D.C. for the annual conference, I spent part of it with the McKinley Technology High School media specialist, Gloria Reaves, whom I heard speak at Computers in Libraries conference earlier this year. I met some of the teachers working with the inner city youth on a concentration in technology including biotechnology, information technolgy, or broadcast and digital media. I talked to teens that had won Gates scholarships to pay for their entire college tuition (undergrad and grad), winners of Carnegie scholarships for the summer to investigate video game design, and students who developed 3D models in partnership with the American Cancer Foundation to look at how cancer affects the body. Rick Kelsey, who is the director of the IT Curriculum not only has an obvious passion for working with the students (incedentally one student was borrowing his car to buy a suit for his award ceremony), but believes that just because the students might come with poor social or math skills, if you give them the tools and resources, they will respond in a positive way. I am grateful for their inspiration and the time they took to show off the great work their students are doing.
What have others experienced at their public or school library in giving teens technology tools to learn?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Forgive the terrible (and virtual…) Jerry Seinfeld impression, but you’ve no doubt noticed the Annual podcasts popping up on the blog (with more to come!) throughout this week. This is part of a pilot project to try and produce podcasts to capture the YALSA experience at Annual, expanding on our conference coverage on the blog.

We supplied five members with digital recorders, gave them some guidelines, and set them loose on the streets of Washington, DC and in the halls of the Washington Convention Center. The results exceeded even my highest expectations; I can’t wait to hear the rest of them.

But enough about me. The success of this project can be attributed to six people.

First off, hats off to Linda Braun, blog manager and podcast editor extraordinaire. Podcasting Annual was her idea, and it was brilliant. Linda’s help, from choosing recorders to finding participants and to editing the files, was essential. The YALSA Annual podcasts simply could not have happened without Linda.

And special thanks to our podcasters, who have done a bang-up job: Francisca Goldsmith, Erin Helmrich, Erin Downey Howerton, Connie Urquhart, and Joseph Wilk. Thank you for taking time out of your schedules to help us make the Annual experience come alive, for your own insights, and for the great interviews you all did.

I didn’t want to forget to blog about Ann Arbor’s Erin Helmrich and Eli Nieburger’s YALSA presentation at conference on Sunday. Their presentation is here which doesn’t capture all the great commentary, but is definitely helpful!

What most interested me was when Erin and Eli both said that they don’t use gaming as a ‘bait and switch’ to get people in the door in the hopes that they check out a book. Not surprisingly, patrons find the services in an organic way and on their own without having to do it for them.

“I need to go relax in the Piers Anthony aisle” said one teen during a particularly heated moment at the tournament.

Why does this work? Because chances are if something is relevant to someone that walks through the door, they will be more likely convinced that other services are as well.

What do people think about this approach to gaming? Would it/does it work in your library?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Zine-a-paloosa was a jovial and inspiring panel about the joys and frustrations in building zine collections in public libraries. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has had a teen-specific zine collection for about three years running (about 400 zines with a small and slowly-growing catalog of circulating zines on LibraryThing) that’s had its own share of joys and frustrations, so I was really interested in what they had to say.

Julie Bartel and Brooke Young talked about the Salt Lake City Public Library’s zine collection. Miriam DesHarnais and Julie Wilde Harrison gave an impassioned and practical look at the Baltimore County Public Library’s zine collection. Jennifer May and Emily-Jane Dawson also chatted about how, in the wake of the terrific efforts of the afore-mentioned zine librarians, the fledgling Multnomah County Library zine collection is faring.

While a lot of the information is covered on their respective sites, and a lot of the speakers referenced Julie’s own From A-to-Zine: Building a Winning Zine Collection in Your Library, they did touch on a lot of topics that can easily influence our own efforts to connect teens and zines.

  • Make it a general, all-ages collection. Teens will be more interested in your zine collection if it’s primarily a general, all-ages collection. This might seem counter-intuitive, but the experiences of our panelists has been that they couldn’t get a teen to look at a zine until they took it out of their teen area.
  • Consider all-ages zine readings. Teen zinesters will probably be more interested in engaging a greater community of zinesters that isn’t age-defined.
  • Outreach, outreach, outreach! Can’t think of an idea for what to do with a group of teens? Make zines (check out the library links above for zine-making pathfinders)! No matter how young, once they hold a zine in their hands, most young people will just “get it.”
  • Push it. Like outreach, do what you can to put a zine in any teen’s hands that you think might be interested. Educate yourself so that you can make zines part of your general reader’s advisory repertoire with the teens.

Thanks for the many laughs and moments of inspiration, everyone!

Fifteen people gathered to discuss teens, music, libraries, and more as part of the Teen Music Media Interest group. After we all introduced ourselves (thanks to a reminder from one of our more aware members), those of us who brought digital music players came up to play a random song and tell a little story about where they first heard the song. We then used it to spark our discussion. Below, you’ll find the artist and song title as well as the discussion it sparked. Even though we would not really consider these songs of teen interest, per se, it got some really great ideas going from our members.

Yellowcard’s “Lights and Sound”

This song was first heard on a younger brother’s stereo system and later picked up.

We considered the idea of playing music out loud at the library, as a way to drive home the idea that music is accessible in the library and spark people’s interest in the collections. For those of us who don’t have a library which would allow such a thing without reason, we talked about playing music at programs (through traditional radio or some of the social digital radio options that we talked about in our To iPods & Beyond program), as both a way to promote music and liven up our pre-existing programs. We discussed music listening stations, which could be anything from a vendor-supplied machine to a few cheap portable CD players lined up on the shelf. We also discussed public computers as music listening stations and having headphones at the desk so that teens can take them back to the computer to listen to music. Due to sanitary considerations, it might be preferred to buy cheap headphones and sell them, in lieu of loaning them out.

We also talked about other ideas, such as having mix CD swap nights, doing impromptu “What’s on your iPod?” sessions, and doing a “New Music Tuesdays” program. A New Music Tuesdays Program involves buying new releases from stores on the day they come out (generally every Tuesday) and having a program that afternoon or evening which raffles off the CDs.

We also talked about the nature of our AV collections. Some of us had dedicated teen CD collections, whereas others had general AV collections with CDs for all ages. (Some of us had general AV collections with NO popular music, because their library was frightened of potential theft issues. Yeesh!) If your library has a general AV collection, it’s important that you make sure the CD selectors communicate what they are buying, so you can be knowledgeable. You also want to make sure your teens’ desires are being communicated to that person.

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “You Can’t Take Love for Granted”

This song was first heard live at last year’s ALA scholarship bash.

Of course, we talked about holding concerts at your library. It’s important to look for local teen bands (through such means as the Myspace music page) to play your shows, as it’s important to pay them. One library pays their teen bands $100, and those of us in touring bands joked that was more than we ever received to play a show. Having local bands play is great so that they invite their friends and get a lot of teen word-of-mouth promotion. We talked about the advantages of holding it outside, if possible, and where the equipment will come from–library-owned? rented? from the teens?

We also talked about booking library-specific bands, such as The High Strung, who’ve played 57 public libraries in 42 states in 2006 and will play 40 in 2007 (we were lucky that one of their associates happens to be part of the group). There’s also all of the Wizard Rock bands, such as Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, and The Remus Lupins. There’s also a band Bloodhag, a grindcore band available to play shows on the West Coast. We stressed how important it is to get local openers involved, for word-of-mouth and an overall satisfying experience for the teens.

We talked about how we can help our teens be in wild, screaming bands without hurting themselves. One person mentioned Melissa Cross’s The Zen of Screaming. We also talked about karaoke programs, which can be great for connecting with youth of East Asian descent. How to get teens to actually do it? Well, you can go up there and embarass yourself first. You can also host a more formally-structured “Library Idol” event.

Fountains of Wayne’s [song title missed in the note-taking process]

This song was first heard on a local radio station.

We talked about inviting radio station to take their promotional vehicles out and give schwag for teens (or anyone) presenting a library card.

But are teens even listening to radio? That might determine your focus in this area.

We also talked about high school radio stations. Do any of your local high schools have one? Would they be willing to feature songs from your recent acquisitions? We talked about what stations teens are actually listening to. Of course, that is going to depend on the teens in your community, though it’s important not to overlook the resurgence of interest in classic rock for teens! In this way, your teens can help put together a radio guide for stations that play music they are or might be interested in.

We also talked about how teens have the most diverse listening interests than any other generation!

It’s also worth noting recent bills that encourage communities to have more low-watt low-watt independent radio stations.

The idea that teens don’t listen to music on the radio still has display possibilities for our collections. We can highlight what teens won’t find on their local radio to up the “cool factor” of our collections.

Tara MacCla…nevermind, Tom Waits

One member was really hoping that Tom Waits would play, so we allowed it as a “gimme.” Tom Waits was first heard in Second Life.

Second life offers streaming music performances and deejaying capabilities. People can use Nicecast (Macs) and Shoutcast (PC/Windows) to stream music through Second Life.

In Teen Second Life, we can use this technology to stage concerts virtually in addition to in person. It could be a help getting teens to play when they know their audience could be worldwide through the web.

Dory Previn’s “The Lady with the Braid”

A member first heard this during intermission at a live concert venue.

What venues do your teens go to see music? Would they be willing to make announcements at intermission?

We also talked about “Yacht Rock”, a production of Channel 101 in California. It’s like a fake Behind the Music, where bands are portrayed ridiculously and often fighting each other. On iTunes, there’s a Yacht Rock essential mix. Would this be a fun possibility to let teens have fun with lambasting the bands they know and love?

Possibly not. Most of us noted that teens more sincere about their music than other generations. Because they might be using this music specifically to create their identity, they might not be ironic about it (like most of the 20-somethings in the room admitted to in their own tastes). We talked about the idea that the music you listen to between the age of 13-18 will be the most important to you in your life and that it servees as a reference point for everything else you will hear afterward.

We also asked how much work does it take for teens to learn about new music? The answer was not as much–kind of. Teens have access to tons of information about music and ways to distribute it. They don’t need the “expert” to tell them about new music anymore, even when they aren’t as interested in Top 40 (which many of us noticed with the teens at our libraries).

It also brought up the great point from one particularly astute member: is what the teen librarians think are important or popular with their teens the same as what’s actually cool with teens? Of course, like most things, the solution is to actually ask, ask widely and through various media, and keep asking. We noted the propensity for “teen” books to be published for librarians, not teens, which teen librarians then pass along and recommend voraciously among themselves. We talked about how we don’t want to replicate that with our own group. But there still might be times in which we’ll come across something we think is cool that teens aren’t talking about–at least not yet. It’s important, we discussed, to then imagine if we know one teen to whom we could recommend the music. If we can honestly convince ourselves of that, then why not?

We also talked about, and I am going to put this in bold because it’s important, actually listening to the music your teens recommend! You’d probably read the books, why not listen to the music? Considering it takes 3-4 minutes to hear a song–and you can do it while you do other things–it seems like a basic professional competancy and a really important means to connect with your teens. This of course isn’t intended to encroach on their interests, but at least show them you’re listening (in all senses of the word).

We then finally got down to business and elected our co-conveners for the next year! Given that we had a sizeable attendance and two willing participants, we are happy to name

Jaina Lewis &
Kate Pritchard

as co-conveners of the Teen Music Media Interest Group.

We also talked about our plans for ALA Annual 2009 (Chicago), including a program about popular music resources that Jaina and another member would like to put on in conjunction with PLA. It would be a great way to go with YALSA’s strategic plan of strengthening alliances with other divisions.

We also discussed staging a live concert with teens at ALA Annual 2009, either at a YALSA social event, as a “performance booth” set up somewhere in the convention center, or included as part of a program on putting on live music events for teens at your library.

Any other ideas? Feel free to discuss them on the ya-music list!

Last on the agenda was finding interested writers for a the winter issue of Young Adult Library Services, which will be focused on Teen Tech Week’s “Tune in @ your library” theme. It sounds like a natural partnership, so let’s do it! Have you done any interesting music programming? E-mail the list with your interest in writing or ideas for content, and we can submit an article proposal.

Thanks again for coming, everyone! While there were a bit of bumps, I was really impressed with everybody’s passion and really appreciate all of your ideas and consideration.