Currently I am the YALSA representative on the ALA Web Advisory Committee. That means that at conference time I meet with other committee members and talk about past, present, and future plans for ALA’s web site and related technologies.

The meeting is always held from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Monday AM at every conference. That of course means that yesterday was the day of our meeting.

The agenda for the day included discussion of the conversion of ALA mailing lists to a new software and conversion of ALA’s web site to a new content management system.

An important update related to the redesign currently in process for the ALA web site. Rough sketches for the new site are available for people to view and provide feedback on. You can actually check out the sketches of the site and fill out a survey by going to the ALA Web Planning wiki. On this wiki you’ll find out about the process ALA is going through as a part of the site redesign and get a chance look at the sketches. (The link to the sketches is in the box on the right on the front page of the wiki.)

The Committee also talked about a variety of ALA Web 2.0 sites and activities including:

  • ALA in Second Life
  • ALA and Ning
  • ALA blogs, wikis, and podcasts

There’s a lot going on with 2.0 at ALA and if you haven’t checked out some of the things mentioned above you might want to. You can find out what’s available on the ALA wiki.

So, this is Lee Catalano, blogging for Selected Audiobooks. I told Linda that I would blog at the conference … although I am pretty technophobic beyond all but the more basic blogging. [For example, Linda asked me if I would Twitter … and I said no idea!] I promised Linda one entry because I knew I would find a few moments at the Internet center here … but who knew that it would take me until today (Monday at 3:30) to get here! Plus, I have to finish this up fast, so I can mail my parcel off at the Post Office (conveniently located right next to the Internet center) and then dash over to Penguin so I can have Nick Hornby sign my ARC of Slam. (Thanks, YALSA for that precious book!)

Just a brief comment on Nick Hornby who read to a standing room only crowd at the Live! stage this afternoon. He was great and the book sounds outstanding! And — inquiring (listening) minds want to know — when will we get the audiobook version, read by Nick?

So, back to Selected Audiobooks … as promised. And, quite frankly … not much to report. We had a lovely social get together one evening, where the oldies (such as myself) got to meet the three newbies on our committee. Each of whom is passionate and opinionated — hooray! I’m looking forward to lots of discussion in January. Already, we’ve got some controversial nominations (WHY oh WHY … did you nominate that book!?!?!?!).

We met the next day to go over some housekeeping (and I can’t — unfortunately — report here on the change we proposed to the YALSA board about our evaluation guidelines on pronunciation because I don’t know the outcome of the Board’s vote … more on that later this summer), and then we got to discuss a few titles that most of us had read. A rep from Listening Library sat in on our discussions — which was actually quite distracting, because we were plying him with questions about Harry Potter VII. And, believe me, beyond a few tidbits, his lips are sealed (I think he had to sign something …).

Mostly we used our time to get acquainted, and although I already knew what thoughtful and interesting women we were via email, it was great to put a face to a name. We exchanged strategies about how to get to all the books we have to listen to … and said goodbye until Philadelphia.

But, don’t forget that you can nominate a favorite audiobook here. Please do so … we so want to know what you find great!

Enjoy the rest of Annual. I’m off tomorrow on a Libraries Serve Communities jaunt weeding the collection at a local high school. More soon …

Outgoing YALSA President Judy Nelson began the day by welcoming us and introducing new committee chairs, board members, and presidents.

Of course, if you haven’t heard yet, YALSA is celebrating 50 years of service to teens and the librarians who in turn serve them. We were then treated to a slide show with pictures of YALSA presidents over the last 50 years.

Where is YALSA today? Judy Nelson’s theme has been “Still reading after all these years…” We most recently have added a new award for best audiobook production, the Odyssey award. YALSA is still the fastest growing (number 4) with 5,565 members and counting!

YALSA has worked on key areas in YALSA’s strategic plan:

1) Advocacy: social networking, “@ your library” campaign, building ties with ALA, etc.
2) Outreach: support teen literature day, launch of Teen Tech Week, first Wrestlemania reading challenge, YALSA Myspace
3) Marketing: new communications specialist, Teen Read, first-time young adult author award

4) Research: variety of surveys such as those partnered with PLA
5) Mentoring: continuous learning such as the Young Adult Literature Symposium in Nashville, task force with continuous education
6) Assocation sustainability: how do we keep our members while going through “growing pains,” dues increase, board restructuring, reviewing committee structure, participation of ALA’s first emerging leaders program (2 of 25 applicants), grants to help build library services in several key states

Beth Yoke, Executive Director of YALSA provided a few quick additions. For one, there are a lot of committee appointments coming up, as well as participating in our several discussion and interest groups. These groups are a flexible opportunity for virtual participation in YALSA. It’s a bottom-up way to engage (or create, as the case may be) your niche in teen library services. YALSA has four folks on staff to help handle questions, so feel free to e-mail Teen Read Week is “LOL @ your library” (humor theme, of course) and will be launching in October, along with the Wrestlemania reading challenge. The year 2008 Teen Tech Week theme is “Tune in @ your library.” YALSA is also working on a non-fiction award, as well as member awards (scholarships and ALA convention funding) and has some really great publications in the works.

Judy Nelson explained that YALSA gives out five different grants this year: Great Books Giveaway, Sagebrush Award, and others. Congratulations to all the winners! Apply, because the more applications we get, the more we can prove that we need more money to fulfill them!

Then we learned about and thanked the Friends of YALSA, who help raise additional financial support for programs, awards, and services.

We then welcomed Paula Brehm-Heeger as incoming president, who greeted us with a Powerpoint full of pictures from YALSA’s Flickr page. We then rehashed all of YALSA and YALSA member’s efforts to promote teens and reading, technology, and more. Paula’s theme is “Leading the Way,” in which Paula will be focuses on commitment and engagement form member leaders, encouraging and supporting members to try new and exciting activities, and increased partnership & sponsorship opportunities. Paula encouraged us to share our ideas with Paula and the board and asked (rhetorically) how YALSA can make our processes more understandable & accessible for us.

We then started “A Day in the Life of an American Teenager – Five Decades with YALSA.” Four delightful young teens gave an enthusiastic rundown of YALSA’s history and the history of teen library services over the last few years. It was so entertaining that I couldn’t think to take notes. You had to have been there when they unleashed a massive sword in their performance of Robin McKinley. What an awesome job! I got quite “verklempt” during Stargirl.

What’s been happening in the last 50 years of teen reading? Michael Cart facilitated a panel celebrating Young Adult literature own 40th birthday, for it was in 1967 that S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Robert Lipsyte’s The Contender. The panel featured authors Robert Lipstye, David Almond, and Nick Hornby, as well as editor Joanna Cotler.

What does young adult literature even mean? Nobody could really answer the question, except to say that they learned it from Michael Cart. Nick Hornby took the closest attempt, in that they–like any other book you could hope for–are books that use simple language which don’t exclude people but address complicated and insolvable issues. Joanna first thought that it meant something edgy & dark but came to a different understanding as the years progress.

One trend is established “adult” authors who are now publishing “young adult” books. In many cases, like with Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat, it’s just an author who submits “a book” that winds it way into the hands of editors in teen-specific imprints of their respective publishers. We’re also looking at a number of books who are originally published for children but embraced for teen audiences. David Almond finds these teen-specific editors are a lot more validating and encouraging–perhaps because the teens themselves are a lot more open and capable readers.

Joanna also mentioned that a lot of consternation toward the number of “young adult” books is probably a reaction to its own mirroring of the variety found in adult books, in terms of how its published (e.g., series) and who its being published for (e.g., “chick lit”). The authors then talked about their own sense of self in their novels, as well as the process of finding a narratorial voice. Nick prefers to simply speak in text, so that the books can have an intimacy in tone. Joanna says that voice creates the clear feeling that builds books that readers will love.

Edit: this is like the blog form of “jinx”

It might have been hard to miss that it’s YALSAs 50th anniversary! A slideshow of past presidents through the decades started off the program.

Judy Nelson, current YALSA president gave the presidents report which will be on the YALSA site here (check out what YALSA has done with outreach, marketing, research, a task force for continuing education, and a few facts blog readers might not know:
YALSA is the fastest growing division of ALA
There are 5565 members of YALSA as of April 2007 (10% increase over last year)

Watch the YALSA site for more information on November 7-9, 2008 in Nashville, TN to the Young Adult Literature Symposium, titled, How We Read Now.

Got an idea for a group that doesn’t yet exist? Discussion and interest groups are available to members to establish-currently five exist (anime, music, gaming, teaching YA lit, and serving YAs in large urban populations). For librarians that aren’t able to attend midwinter and annual to participate, this might be a good option.

Check out the recognition of libraries for YALSA grants and awards

Congratulations to the winner of the quilt! A momento of the 50th anniversary with titles of YA books was put together by Amy Alessio and contributed to by YALSA members. See what the quilt looks like by visiting YALSA’s Flickr page and consider sharing your own photos.

At the end of the program, teens came to the front to read interesting facts and occasionally play-acted against a back drop of photos and music that bring back some memories (walking on the moon!) which happened throughout fifty years, entitled, A Day in the Life of a Teenager: Five Decades with YALSA.

A wonderful panel of publishers presented but I had to leave the program, perhaps a fellow blogger will pick up the conversation.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki