The exhibits are open and the 2008 nMidwinter meeting is well underway. Philly greeted us with unseasonably warm weather. While there were a few showers this morning and early this faternoon, the rain cleared up in time for attendees to obtain badges and enter the Exhibit Hall.

Today was also a day for committee meetings. As the deadline for the Youth Media Awards draws close, many of us are involved in discussions, fervent and impassioned, about the nominations for the committee members to consider.

As I got off the bus this evening, I met a fellow Texan. This is her first ALA and she was grinning from ear to ear. It is contagious, I think, this eagerness to see the “show” and to become more involved in our profession. Side conversations all day have centered on everyone’s best estimations of the books whose titles will be announced Monday at the awards presentation. The buzz is audible.

Have you filled out a volunteer form yet? Consider becoming more active in ALA and especially in YALSA. There are literally dozens of ways to contribute. Selection committees are only the tip of the iceberg. YALSA needs you!

Tomorrow YALSA’s leadership and all committee meetings will convene. If you are here, plan to come by and see how you can become a more active member of the YALSA team.

Posted by Teri Lesesne

Imagine blue skies, sunshine, and spring-like weather. This is Philly in January? Yep, that is what today is shaping up to be here at the start of ALA Midwinter. Winter will return soon, but I plan to enjoy wwalking around a bit today to see the city. The last time I was here for ALA, I never had the chance to see much of this historic place. I vowed this year to take that extra day to see what is here besides the convention center.

After today, the work begins for me on the final stages of the Odyssey Committee. Our committee has many hours ahead of it as wel deliberate on this first award. Ditto for Printz and Edwards and ALEX, too. So, be sure to log on Monday to see the fruits of all this labor. You can join us on the web, have the winners texted to your cell phone, or read my blog.

Registration is now underway for annual. Hurry to reserve hotel space as they are going quickly.

Posted by Teri S. Lesesne

The annual ALAN workshop occurs at the end of the National Council of Teachers of English conference, this year in NYC. The 2 day workshop features over 50 authors, a few educators, and others who pull together to celebrate the rich field of YA literature. There are plenty of YALSA folks here: Mary Burkey, Jamie Watson, Joni Bodart, Bonnie Kunzel, Mary Arnold, and more. Today we listened so far to Chris Curtis, Helen Hemphill, Alan Sitomer, Simon Boughton, Kathleen Jeffries Johnson with Laurie Halse Anderson and others to come.

Next year, NCTE and ALAN is in San Antonio. Hope to see some of you there.

I hope all of you saw the Amazon Top Ten YA books. Here is the tiny URL:

Posted by Teri Lesesne

A few weeks ago, I was able to go to San Francisco to attend YPulse’s first Mashup. The name of the conference was such because it brought together people that normally might not be together at a conference-non-profits, for-profits, media, education, and more. Representatives from Gaia and Claudia Linden with Teen Second Life to a teen panel/owners of such sites as My Yearbook, Scriptovia, Emo Girl Talk, and Whateverlife. Some familiar faces such as Henry Jenkins, Anne Collier co-author of MySpace Unraveled, and Amanda Lenhart with Pew Internet & American Life Project who focuses on teen reports were there as well.

A common thread aside from reaching youth with technology and understanding how they use it so that we can connect more, is that teens are so diverse. While that might sound obvious, being a conference about technology, one might think that every teen uses technology in the same way-and the conference didn’t puport that at all. Teens themselves said many times that they were a diverse group, and when trying to market to them or get their attention, it’s important to remember that. Look for the Tween Mashup at the end of September in NY with organizations such as Whyville and topics such as, “How to market to tweens and be COPPA compliant” and “Are tweens still reading books and magazines and watching TV?”. Anastasia Goodstein with YPulse, opens up the communication lines in ways that will help teens, tweens, and us as professionals talk what we need to talk about; how to connect with each other better.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Free Image Hosting at Second Life’s first conference for Best Practices in Education was a great success. Presenters such as Kathy Schrock, Administrator for Technology in MA, (Kathy Drybaugh in sl) showed the audience some great places to support teaching and learning, Peg Sheehy, Instructional Technology Facilitator, in New York, (Maggie Marat in sl) shared examples of her island on the teen grid where over 400 eighth graders are involved in such projects as creating a mock trial after reading Of Mice and Men. Barry Joseph with Global Kids in New York, (globalKids Bixby in sl) talked about working with teens in real life and second life to raise awareness on global issues. The conference also had poster sessions, exhibit spaces for vendors and non-profits and a wide range of presenters using different paradigms of education to influence their work in second life. Archives of key presentations available here soon. Also, check out the blog or wiki.

Add your blog in the comments if you attended the conference. Great post here about Kathy Schrock and Lisa Perez, (Elaine Tulip in sl) with the Chicago Public Schools.

Also, The University of Illinois has partnered with the Alliance Second Life Library to offer Virtual World Librarianship courses which started last week.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Bonnie Kunzel, Mary Arnold, Pam Spencer Holley, Michael Cart: no, this is not a past presidents’ meeting. These and other YALSA members have spent the past several days at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in Nashville. Yes, Virginia, librarians are joining with English teachers in presenting programs on adolescent literacy. More than 250 people crowded into a room and stood in the hall to hear Kunzel and her two co-presenters, Lois Buckman and yours truly, present a session on motivating reluctant readers (BTW, we mentioned YALSA has some terrific resources such as the QP list). Holley chaired a session at ALAN as did Kunzel and Arnold. Michael Cart presented on a short story panel as well as delivering a session for NCTE. All in all, we leave Nashville laden with new books and happy memories of trailing through Opryland.

It took me a whole week to sort through my thoughts and notes for the YALSA President’s Program! Here they are at last.

The YALSA President’s Program kicked off Monday afternoon June 26 with Pam Spencer Holly and Beth Yoke delivering highlights from the past year (did you know YALSA is the fastest growing division in ALA? 😉 It’s really amazing that not only has membership increased by 10%, but 25% of YALSA members are student members. Could a student interest group be in the works?

The President’s 2005-2006 Report was well-organized and reflects accomplishments that align with the YALSA Strategic Plan.

I think Pam was so eager to pass over her presidential gavel to incoming president Judy Nelson that she forgot to mention an item on the agenda – Friends of YALSA. The website shows that YALSA only has 18 friends! I slipped a form to my boss, and I think I can get my mom to contribute too – who can YOU ask?

2007 sounds like it will be as busy as 2006! Tons of events are in the works as YALSA turns 50, Teen Tech Week lauches, and much, much more.

Judy Nelson announced a return to our roots with the theme of her presidency, “Still Reading After All These Years,” a focus on the wonderful rich and diverse world of our beloved YA literature. Very fitting, and smart, in light of the recent misconceptions of YA novels as fluff and nonsense.

Appropriately, the program that followed the membership meeting was all about the Renaissance of YA Literature, and a sequel to a program 10 years ago on the same topic: What’s so Adult about Young Adult? The afternoon was a celebration of crossover titles including the likes of Weetzie Bat (the original crossover novel) Perks of Being a Wallflower, and more. I missed the names of some of the speakers, so thanks in advance for any corrections you guys who attended can contribute.

Author and YA lit critic Michael Cart (Booklist’s “Carte Blanche” column, My Father’s Scar, and editor of Rush Hour, who convened the original program on this topic, gave a brief history of crossover novels, lamenting that titles so appropriate for teens are published as adult for (mostly) economic reasons, and commenting on the lack of adult recognition of the value of YA lit, stated of those who think that YA lit is “the stuff of Sweet Valley High, more the fools, they.”

What makes a crossover title? They share several traits:

  • first novels
  • young authors
  • coming of age theme (teen protagonist)
  • incorporate the mysterious, puzzling, and enigmatic

Next, a publisher spoke (missed her name!), sharing the stat that of the top 50 bestselling juvenile titles, 9 are (currently YA titles), and explaining a little about why editors publish young adult books under adult imprints.

Author Aidan Chambers (This is All, Postcards from No Man’s Land) offered the British perspective with humor and aplomb, quoting Shakespeare, poking fun at himself and explaining his position on the “life follows art” theory.

Author Greg Galloway (As Simple as Snow) followed, and discussed literature as types of glass – the transparent “windex” kind popularized by the likes of Dan Brown, and the more complex stained glass kind in which literary greats such as Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Chandler delight in use of language.

Sheila (Scofield? sorry Sheila!) provided the librarian in the field point of view, speaking about the gamut of authors and formats and genres teens ask for. She recommended promoting adult titles to young adults and young adult titles to adults by incorporating them into displays and booklists recommending YA titles to librarians serving adults, and asking the adult services librarians to recommend crossovers.” Promoting teen lit IS advocacy for teens, she said; her top suggestions are

Pretties/Uglies/Specials by Scott Westerfield
I is Someone Else by Patrick Cooper
titles by Marcus Zusak
Feed by M.T. Anderson

She concluded by reminding us that authors tell stories; they don’t write for a selected audience, and quoted Ranganathan: “Every reader has his or her book; Every book has its reader.” The concept was followed up in the Q&A period when one of the panelists reminded us that the readership of a book is one (the original Long Tail?).

Three excellent booklists distributed at this program are online at

~posted by Beth Gallaway

Posted by Beth Gallaway

I make it a point to get into twon in time to see the Booklist Forum at each ALA. Traditionally 8-10PM on Friday night, it is always a delight.

Mo Willems, former stand-up comic, opened with how to draw his famed pigeon: An “O” within an “O” for a head, a strategical placed pupil to indicate emotion), a sideways letter M for a beak, two lines for the neck and to deliniate a throat (sound effects optional), a “cirdrangal” (starts out as a circle with a triangular end) with a wing, stick legs and letter V’s for legs. “The faster you draw the more life it has,” said Willems, before congratulating us on our differently-styled brids and imploring us to “make people draw pigeons!”

Author Lisa Yee spoke about humiliation, headache and heartbreak in humor (Willems helpfully drew a large letter “H” to illustrate her alliteration) and talked about her everyday life that includes researching her books through spying, mostly on her children, blowing up peeps in the microwave (hint – put 2 in, stick a toothpick in each, and let the jousting begin!) and “dropping Mentos… into diet Coke to watch the explosions.” In her research to prove that guys can be sensitive (“Right? Right? Back me up, guys,” she asked of her fellow panelists – Lubar made a great show of laughing at this assertion) she gave us great and funny quotes from young readers. “Girls travel in wolf packs and just talk and talk and talk… about why unicorns have horns” Lisa’s son informed has informed her.

David Lubar was uproarious per usual, noting that now we’d all learned two lessons – don’t go on car rides with Mo and make sure Lisa doesn’t have Mentos when she’s drinking a Pepsi. He gave us some great reasons for writing humor:

  • Mark Twain lived til he was 75 – Kafta, 42
  • Angst is for whiners
  • High school would have been bearable if the Pearl had been funny

Punctuated by two signature Lubar booklists (“Great Books Set in New Orleans” and “Edgiest Books”), David (who is not bitter at all about his books being virtually ignored by bestowers of YA lit awards, really) touched on the need for more humor in fiction for teens. He doesn’t need to write books about kids with alcoholic parents and in other terrible situations: “I don’t write books about those kids… I write FOR those kids.”

Jack Gantos delivered a more sober speech about the background of comedy in the history of literature – the Homeric tradition of engaging the reader by making him/her her smarter than the protagonist. This is Gantos’s way of thinking about the reader when he was writing. Comedy is based on a foundation of truth, and is doubly successful when the character reinforces the reader’s view of the character’s stupidity. He also discussed his theory of dramatic comedy.

The evening ended a little early, but it was a great program – so full they had to bring in more chairs.

I hope there are still some folks out there planning to come to New Orleans and see all the work done to accommodate the onslaught of librarians. How better to support ALA and New Orleans than with our support of the conference? There are still hotel rooms available and flights, too. So, come and join us in the Big Easy.

Posted by Teri Lesesne