I just attended my first ALA conference and it was awesome.

I have heard many things about what to expect. Wear comfortable shoes, they said. Bring business cards, they said. Most of the meetings will be closed door, they said. Some of the things they said were right (seriously…who wants to walk around for 8 hours in cute new shoes that pinch the sides of your feet!..), but nothing prepared me for the magic that is Midwinter.

Like most Midwinter neophytes, I didn’t know what to expect, so I arrived bright and bushy tailed to the hotel at 7:30am sharp. I could not check into my room, so I left my bags with the hotel staff, and ubered my way over to the Boston Convention and Conference Center. (For those of you who cabbed your way around Boston, I would highly suggest you invest in the free Uber app. Most of my rides around the city did not cost me more than $6, some as little as $3.)

I arrived at the Conference Center to find that the exhibits were still being put together, and that I was late to all of the lectures that started at 8am. In hindsight, I could have just sat in, but I didn’t know if I needed a ticket. Is it okay to walk in late? Would I embarrass myself in front of my peers? Would I be asked to leave? Instead of tackling these hard questions straight on I decided on the very safe, unintrusive, and foodie-pleasing decision to register, find a coffee shop, and read the Midwinter guide over a hot cup of Joe and a cheese danish.

The guide was very helpful. It was delightfully color coordinated, included start and end times of lectures, events, and meetings, and provided a legend that had information on whether events were ticketed, closed, or open to registrants. I highlighted everything that looked of interest to me – which was half the book, so I marked it up to a fairly unrecognizable degree. And then I discovered there is an app.

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Title: Snapchat

Cost: Free

Platform: iPhone and iPod Touch requires iOS 5.0 or later.

I have to admit, I, like most teens, am a sucker for photography apps especially ones with social networking components. I enjoy sharing my pictures with friends and commenting on the ones they share with me. But what if you could send a picture that would self-destruct just moments after it is viewed? Enter Snapchat. ‘ Snapchat is a social network based on sharing photos with contacts whom you may choose, but only for a moment…or maybe two. Snapchat’s main function is just that! Take a photo of anything you like and select a friend from your phones’ contacts or Facebook friend with whom you would like to share it. Once you have selected the photo and it’s recipient you may then choose a time frame for how long you would like to allow the person to view it. You may choose between 1-10 second increments. When your friend receives the photo and downloads the picture the time will begin to tick and once the allotted time period has expired, the photo will vanish. Read More →

You have probably noticed that Pinterest is getting a lot of attention from teen librarians lately. If you have not seen this site for yourself, Pinterest is a social network/curation site based on the concept of a pinboard. Users share images by “pinning” them. Followers can see each other’s boards and “repin” images they like. It’s a great way to share programming ideas, with a clean, pleasant look and an easy-to-use interface. YALSA recently used Pinterest to share ideas for Teen Tech Week.

There has been plenty of chatter on the ya-yaac listserv about Pinterest as well, mostly singing its praises, but a thread titled’ “Pinterest is awesome, but are we risking a lawsuit” gave me pause. In this thread, people linked to a couple of blog posts that expressed serious concerns with the copyright implications of “repinning” content and some conflicting messages between Pinterest’s terms of service and suggested use of the site.

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A few days ago the Pew Internet and American Life Project released their latest report on teens and social networking. The document is filled with up-to-date data that anyone working with teens will want to take a look at in order to better understand teen use of and engagement in online social environments. The Pew report also provides a look into the role adults play in the lives of teens who are a part of the social networking world.

Check out the Storify created that captures some of the ideas presented in the report and what people are saying about it via the web and social media.
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Title: Tumblr
Platform: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android running 2.1 & higher
Cost: Free

Tumblr is a blogging software that works well for sharing all kinds of media. ‘ It’s been around for awhile, but some of the teens I know have been using it, so I thought I would check out the free’ app.

When you open up the Tumblr app there are five options across the bottom of the app screen. “Dashboard” is where you can see the posts of other tumblogs you follow.’  “Likes” takes you to a list of posts that you have clicked the like button on.’  “Post” takes you to the options for posting: text, photo, link, quote, audio and video.’  These different post types for different media are in my opinion, Tumblr’s strongest feature. You can have multiple blogs on Tumblr, and the “Blogs” tab lets’  you access these blogs and statistics about them.’  Under the “Account” option, you can see the’ blogs you follow and’ search tumblr for new blogs to follow. Read More →

Gagdets, and gizmos, and apps! Oh, my! ‘ Keeping up with technology trends and incorporating new tools into library programming and promotion can be daunting—but it doesn’t have to be.

Join us at the 2011 YALSA Preconference:’ The Nuts & Bolts of Serving Teens, where Jesse Vieau will share his experiences using technology in teen programming and library promotion.’  Jesse is the Teen Services Librarian at the Madison (WI) Public Library.’  Formerly a Teen Services Librarian in the Loft @ ImaginOn, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Jesse’s work with teens includes collaborating with teen interns using Google Docs, facilitating digital projects in teen detention centers, and hosting a digital petting zoo in which teens mentor senior citizens as they explore new technology.

At’ The Nuts & Bolts of Serving Teens, Jesse will deliver ideas for practical, inexpensive ways you can use technology as you work with teens.’  You will discover new tools, gadgets, hardware, and software that are easy to use and appealing to teens.’  Jesse will also share his tips for using technology to manage your heavy workload and to promote library services to teens.’  You will leave the event with a list of user-friendly tools, and will be ready to implement new programs or services at your library.

The preconference will also include presentations on core competencies for teen librarians, collection management, teen behavior, and developing relationships between your library and teens, and is scheduled for 12:30-4:30 PM on June 24 in New Orleans.

To add’ The Nuts & Bolts of Serving Teens to your 2011 ALA Annual Conference Registration, visit’ http://www.alaannual.org/ or call’ 1-800-974-3084. Registration for 2011 ALA Annual Conference is not necessary to participate in the preconference. Tickets for the event cost $129 and include light refreshments.


This month we’ve seen a lot of interesting talk about different technologies and how they affect teens here at the YALSA blog. Now that we’re wrapping things up, I thought it might be interesting to pull back a little and look at the larger social effect of the Internet on society. There are two reports by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in particular that can tell us how the Internet has changed our social lives.
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I recently received my MLS and a few weeks later relocated to a different part of the country where I’m now searching for a job. Many of my fellow graduates are still looking for full-time employment, and library cuts continue across the country, perhaps leaving some jobless. While I was still in library school, I was constantly ingesting new information and synthesizing what I was learning in the classroom with what I was learning on the job, but now that I’m finished with my degree and in a new city, I’m having to think about how to keep my skills fresh until I find a library where I can put those skills to work and continue to develop them. Here’s what I’ve been doing.

Reading lots of YA lit
A library’s collection is the backbone of its services, but it seems like there’s never enough time to read everything. Now that I’m unemployed, I’m able to spend a lot more time discovering new books and catching up on old titles I missed. I’ve also been working my way through the current contenders for my new state’s youth book awards. But to really take advantage of the extra reading time I have, I’m concentrating especially on genres I don’t normally read like romances. When I’m in interviews, I’ll have plenty of titles–books, audiobooks, manga, and graphic novels–to talk about when they ask what I’ve been reading lately, and once I land a position, I’ll have a broader knowledge to inform the readers’ advisory and collection development that I do.

Keeping up on listservs, blogs, and Twitter feeds
While I’ve lost my immediate library connection, I’m still plugged in to what’s going on in the library world by observing what other librarians are doing and thinking. Listservs are full of discussions about upcoming programs and recently published books. Bloggers write book reviews, postmortems for programs they’ve done, interviews with authors and other librarians, and their thoughts on the profession. Twitter feeds offer shorter bites of information but are a great source for links to more in-depth articles on relevant subjects–and Karl Siewert recently compiled a list of YALSA-bk members who tweet, so if you’re new to Twitter, that’s a great place to get started. Observing, reading, thinking, and commenting on all of this helps me stay connected to the profession.

Nancy Bertolotti wrote earlier this spring about blogging as a professional development tool and while I’m not sure blogging has the scholarly heft of peer-reviewed writing, I agree that it’s a great way to practice writing, to develop a professional network and to pursue mutual interests, to develop our thoughts on the profession, and to become or stay comfortable with social networking tools. If you’re thinking about blogging, Blogger and WordPress make getting started easy.

Reading things I missed in library school
This is a little heavier than reading YA lit or blogs or short articles, but since I wasn’t able to take all of the electives that I wanted while I was working on my degree, I’m revisiting some of those topics by reading textbooks and longer discourses on library and information science topics. I’m currently working my way through Thomas Mann’s Library Research Models, will then read my former professor’s textbook on library ethics, and then am going to find something technology-oriented to read and maybe finally learn CSS. These reading assignments appeal to my nerdier side, and they’re introducing me to complex new ideas.

Participating in professional development
I’ve registered for the YA Lit Symposium in November and I’m so psyched about connecting with other librarians and hearing about the newest trends and thoughts in YA lit. In the mean time, I’ve also been attending Booklist’s free webinars. Stephanie Kuenn’s recent post on YALSA’s upcoming professional development opportunities is also full of ways to keep stretching yourself and learning new things. Some schools also offer LIS classes that are completely online and don’t require you to be pursuing a degree to take. The cost for these classes is higher than most webinars or conferences, but you’ll be going into more depth on the subject.

Okay, I’m still figuring out exactly where I’m going to do this, but volunteering is a great way to address the more practical, hands-on side of keeping your skills fresh. You might volunteer at your local library or give your time to a local youth organization to keep that connection with teens. A lot of the other things I’m doing tend toward the theoretical, so it’s important to me to address the practical side, too.

So that’s my plan to tide me over until I find a library for which I’m a good fit. Are you in between places of employment or freshly graduated from library school and looking for your first job? What are you doing to keep your skills and knowledge fresh?

Last month I posted an interview with Perry Moore, the executive producer of the Chronicles of Narnia films and author of the Y/A novel, Hero, to the YALSA blog.’  Did I know Moore personally before interviewing him?’  No, I didn’t.’  How did I get to know him?’  I blogged about his book.’  Yes, you read it right.’  I posted a blog entry on my own blog about his novel, Hero. Moore read my review, liked what I had to say, and suggested an interview.’  I contacted MK to find out if it was something she would like posted to the YALSA blog (it gets more traffic than mine) and she said, “yes”.’  The moral of the story?’  Get blogging.’  If you want to get to know people who can help you develop and practice professional skills – like interviewing – get blogging.

Some, like Huei-Tse Hou, et al (2009) http://www.informaworld.com/smpp.content~db=all~content=a916755380 suggest that teacher blogging has limited value in the area of knowledge construction and one could extrapolate and apply the same reasoning to librarian blogging.’  I beg to differ.’  For one thing, blogging is practice writing.’  And, while teachers may already know how to write, it never hurts to practice expressing your opinion in the written form.’  Back in my M.A. days it was publish or perish.’  Now it is post, publish, or perish’  (pun intended).’  Employers want to know not only that you can and have read, but also that you can write and have a well thought out opinion.’  Blogging is a public forum in which to show them.’  Research from the National Literacy Trust in the U.K. (Wilce, 2009) finds that “[…] blogging and social networking greatly improve [student] attitudes and make[s students] much more confident about their writing.”‘  The same can be said for teachers and librarians.

Blogging also provides you with a network of professional colleagues – it provides a forum for discussion by way of comments to your posts.’  It gives you a way of contacting other people with similar interests who you might otherwise have never had an opportunity to communicate with.’  Leuhmann (2008) discusses the case of “Ms. Frizzle” (does this name ring any bells?), a science teacher who used her blog to work through dilemmas, solicit feedback, and display competence, among other things.’  Her case study provides empirical support’  of the potential of blogging for teachers’ (and I add librarians’) professional development.

Blogging on a professional site like the YALSA Blog might even be considered a peer reviewed form of writing.’  You know you will be corrected or asked for clarification if you post something that is not clearly articulated and accurate.’  You will also receive comments if you post something controversial like, blogging as a peer reviewed publication!

By blogging you can show others that you have developed an in depth knowledge of a specific area of librarianship.’  While my own personal blog is still quite a mix of ideas about library matters I think are important (I am a new graduate and looking for work so I expect my blog will become more focused once my role as a librarian is defined), I think the best blogs are those that are narrow in scope and more specialized.’  Like a well written essay, they are a lot of information about one thing.’  People who read blogs know exactly what to expect when they go to blogs that follow this model – they know that this blog will have information about X.

In addition, blogging will help increase your comfort level with the ever-evolving world of social software technologies.’  Tools like the new Google Buzz, Twitter, Facebook, wikis, picassa, skype, and others have become commonplace in libraries and, while many people read them, fear still holds some people back from actually contributing to them.

Some people think that writing a blog is naval gazing and time wasting.’  Well, I suppose it could be.’  But it is also a great way to develop a set of professional skills that will either help you continue to work as a librarian in a technologically enhanced world, or prepare you (and me) to work as a librarian when we find that perfect job.

Citations and Suggested Reading:

Hramiak, Alison, et al (2009), “Trainee teachers’ use of blogs as private reflections for professional development” In Learning, Media and Technology, Basingstoke:’  Sept, 2009, Vol. 34, Iss. 3, p. 259.

Huei-Tse Hou, et al (2009), “Using blogs as a professional development tool for teachers:’  analysis of interaction behavioral patterns” In Interactive Learning Environments, Vol. 17, Iss. 4, Dec, 2009, pp. 325-340.

Luehmann, April Lynn.’  (2008).’  “Using Blogging in Support of Teacher Professional Identity Development:’  A Case Study” In The Journal of Learning Sciences.’  Philadelphia:’  July, 2008, Vol. 17, Iss. 3, p. 287.

Wilce, Hilary (2009), “Don’t knock blogging – it’s the answer to our literacy problems” In The Independent, Longon (UK), Dec, 3, 2009, p. 2.

Vicedo, Melanee and Angiah Davis.’  (2010).’  “Professional development on a dime (or less):’  Learning and connecting in the new economy”‘  In College & Research Libraries News. Chicago:’  Jan, 2010, Vol. 71, Iss. 1, p. 30.

When it comes to the Internet, how many lives do you lead? Yesterday I read Ellyssa Kroski’s article in School Library Journal, about libraries creating policies for staff social media use. Some of the recommendations include showing respect for your colleagues, not spilling organizational secrets, and adhering to your library manual’s code of conduct. Wow, I thought, we could really use something like this. But then I thought about it some more, and I wonder: to what extent can we enforce such a policy? It’s reasonable to monitor library accounts, but what about personal accounts? Here’s where it gets fuzzy.

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