With just two weeks left until Teen Read Week 2012 is upon us, it’s time to start putting some real enthusiasm behind your promotion! Besides the traditional print materials like flyers, signs and bookmarks (don’t have yours yet? There’s still time to place orders with the ALA store!), and paper press releases, how else can you spread the word to teens throughout your community?

  • Facebook reaches virtually all of your teen users. The simplest way to let your teens know about TRW through FB is by sharing some of YALSA’s posts and links. But you can also use Facebook to advertise the events going on in your building or classroom, promote some great reads like Teens’ Top Ten, and share pictures of teens “reading for the fun of it” around town.
  • Many libraries connect with their communities through Patch, an online news source featuring local news, events, and topics of interest. Many even welcome guest writers to submit articles.
  • Twitter is a great tool that your library may already be using. Get news out to the masses through words and images, featuring books, audiobooks, ebooks, free downloads, great literature and media apps, and more with simple, short tweets.
  • Interactive displays can really attract attention to Teen Read Week and Teens’ Top Ten. Make them flashy (with bright colors as backgrounds, or even some glitter thrown about), make them loud (maybe not, but be sure to include audiobooks!), and use more than just traditional library materials by including some fun props. Try displaying Halloween masks when featuring spooky titles or plastic food when displaying cookbooks, for example. Take pictures of your display and add them to your library’s tumblr or Pinterest accounts!
  • Programming in the weeks leading up to TRW can be great promotion, too. Prior to TRW, hold a Mock Award’  or book discussion event to hash out what your teens think the top 10 teen titles should be.

It’s not too late to put some of ALA’s Teen Read Week publicity tools to use. Tell us what you are doing to promote TRW in your schools and libraries in the comments!

— Kate Vasilik, Piscataway (NJ) Public Library, Teen Read Week 2012 Committee

Facebook messengerTitle: Facebook Messenger

Platform: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android devices.

Cost: Free.

Facebook Messenger is an app designed by the popular social networking site to be able to send a message to anyone whether it be either text or Facebook message. This is different than sending messages from your Facebook app because it can also send the same message as a text to contacts in your phone who may or may not have Facebook. The app is also able to include pictures and your location.

Thinking that this would be a great tool for advertising library programs to teens, I was quick to download the app, and it is a great tool for messaging both phone contacts and Facebook contacts. The photo function and location functions are easy to use, and sending a message is just like sending a text. Unfortunately, the photo and location features are not accessible to teens already using the Facebook Mobile app on their smart phones. The message must be viewed from the full Facebook page or the Facebook messenger app in order to get these additional features. There is also privacy issue in that names of any recipient of the message are visible to the other recipients.

However, this has the potential to be a great way to send reminders about programs to teen patrons. It reaches them wherever they are, whether they have a smart phone or not. It would also be a great way to send messages to conduct a photo scavenger hunt as patrons could send photos and messages to multiple contacts, such as team members and the librarian running the event.

The second YALSA YA Lit Symposium abounded in riches for the inclusive title hungry: where to mine for new GLBTQ books, how to evaluate requests from teens for street lit, when to stop and do a good readers advisory interview instead of just stocking the shelves and expecting the goods will be found by the readers who want them. Pam Spencer Holley called out the difference between a teen’s reading interests and that of his or her (overprotective?) parent.’  Robin Brenner showed off sequential art panels that speak louder than words.’  Author, educator, and activist Sophia Quintero reminded all that discussion is a necessary adjunct to reading tough stuff. Read More →

As a part of our community outreach each fall, my public library sends representatives to as many “Back to School Night” open houses as we are able. ‘ Library staff bring posters and flyers describing our programs for children and teens, library card applications, giveaways like our nifty color-changing pencils, and raffle tickets. ‘ Students and parents can see what’s going on at the library, get a card and a fancy writing implement with the library’s name on it, and fill out a raffle ticket to win some books.

Since I am new, and the first full-time young adult librarian my library has had, I want the teens, parents, and teachers in my community to see me and have every opportunity to say hello. ‘ So, I have volunteered to go on five of these visits. ‘ The first two were this past week and the experiences were vastly different.
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This week, Time published “The Case Against Summer Vacation,” a cover story on summer learning loss for children and teens. Author David von Drehle’  focused on how students, particularly those in low-income areas, lose important reading and learning skills over the summer due to a lack of intellectual activity. He highlighted a number of camps, academies, and community programs with fun, engaging activities for kids and teens that encourage achievement and get youth interested in reading, writing, drama, math, science, and other academic areas.

In the article, von Drehle laments that these camps and academies have tuition costs and waiting lists, and those lists don’t even take into account the overworked or disengaged parents who haven’t even thought how they can prevent their kids from suffering from isolation, boredom and inactivity over the summer. And then he worries that Americans have no hope in offsetting the summer slide other than a ragtag coalition of volunteers, entrepreneurs, and camp counselors.

Of course, we know one other group that can make a huge difference when it comes to the summer slide. And that’s librarians. Libraries offer free programs year-round that do exactly what von Drehle calls for and they’re nearly absent from the article, save for a mention of ALA’s homepage as a place to find book recommendations.

As you are finishing your summer reading program — which, as a recent IMLS-funded Dominican University study shows, can make a huge difference in the achievement gap — please take a minute and let Time know about the programs your library offers, how they encourage children and teens to become better, more engaged readers — and how anyone, of any background and from any region, can be a part of it for free at your library.

Time has shut down comments for this article online, unfortunately, but you can still send a letter to letters@time.com.

For a limited time only at the ALA Online Store, if you buy a copy of YALSA’s Cool Teen Programs for under $100, edited by Jenine Lillian, or Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults, 5th edition, edited by Amy Alessio, you’ll receive a free copy of Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults, 4th edition, edited by Renee Vaillancourt McGrath.

All three books offer the examples of high-quality programming, submitted by YALSA members and YA librarians and public and school libraries across the country. Both editions of Excellence were sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust and honored the best 25 programs for teens across the country. Cool Teen Programs highlights high-quality programs for libraries that cost less than $100, with tips for adjusting the programs to your budget needs (categories include no money, some money, and lots of money). Cool Teen Programs also includes helpful chapters on budgeting and marketing for youth librarians.

This offer is only available at the ALA Online Store (you won’t be able to take advantage of it at the ALA Store in DC), so be sure to order your copy of Excellence 5 or Cool Teen Programs today!

YALSA will be launching a new section of its website focusing on recruiting young adult and secondary school librarians — and we need your stories! There’s no better recruitment tool than the experience and wisdom of people in the field itself.

How can you help?

Visit the wiki page we’ve created and add your answers to these three questions:

  1. Why did you decide to become a young adult or secondary school librarian?
  2. What motivates you on a daily basis?
  3. What do you enjoy most about being a librarian who serves teens?

Thanks for all you do to support teen services at your library.

In January, YALSA and ALA announced the winners of the 2010 Youth Media Awards. As you begin highlighting the award winners at your library, be sure to take advantage of promotional tools from YALSA:

  • Downloadable bookmarks. These bookmarks (PDF) include all of YALSA’s literary award winners, including the Alex, Edwards, Morris, Nonfiction, Odyssey, and Printz awards. Each bookmark lists the winner and honor books. They also allow you to add the location of the titles in your library and to customize the back of the bookmarks with your library’s logo and contact information.
  • Customizable press releases. You can also spread the word on your library’s website or blog, your school or public library newsletter, or even in your local newspaper. Just download a customizable Word template for each of our awards — the Alex, Edwards, Morris, Nonfiction, Odyssey, and Printz.

How do you promote award-winning books at your library? Tell us in the comments.

Got an idea? Want to be paid for it? Here’s the catch. We’re looking for great ideas that mesh with the goals of YALSA’s Strategic Plan.

Announcing the 2010 YALSA Great Ideas contest – where you – individual members of YALSA and official member groups, including committees, juries, taskforces, discussion groups, interest groups and advisory boards – can make your best ideas a reality.

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Like many people digital photography has opened up a whole new hobby to me: photography.’  I love being able to take as many pictures as it takes to get just the right shot and when I learned how to use the macro setting on my camera, well, suddenly all my photos were extreme close ups.’  And, like many of you, I share my photos with friends, family, colleagues, and strangers via email, photo album sharing (i.e. Picasa, Flickr, Shutterfly, etc.), Facebook, and my personal blog.’  Just yesterday I noticed that WordPress had a new theme specifically for photoblogs (Duotone.)’  Hmm…a blog that is simply a new photo each day.’  I had thought about doing a “365” project for a while and this was the incentive I needed.’  I signed right up for yet another blog. Perhaps you’re wondering what this has to do with teens and libraries? Well, after I posted my first two pictures I started thinking about how much fun it would be to do something like this at the library. I like it that it wouldn’t take up extra space on your website.’  You could just have a link on your front page to your “Picture of the Day” that would take you to the photoblog.

You could photograph all kinds of things at your library: people doing different activities (reading, using the computer, etc.),’  beautiful or unusual parts of the building, staff and patrons interacting, children responding to programs, and whatever else might capture your eye. ‘  And why not get teens involved in this? What a great way to empower the teens who use your library and support their point of view and art.

Aside from just being a cool project, this is a great way to show the many facets of the library and your community.’  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words! Have a 365 project? Why not leave a link in the comments?

Sarah Debraski

YALSA Immediate Past President