Fifteen years ago, the Mayor of the Education City’ was presented with an unwelcome surprise by his superiors: twin six-month-old boys whom he must raise as his own. As the Mayor reluctantly accepted the two babies, Umasi and Zen, he had no way of knowing that when they grew up, they would change the city forever…
Paper Towns by John Green is a fantastic book and a wild ride. Green takes the audience through the adventures Quentin ‘Q’ Jacobsen has with Margo Roth Spiegelman. Q is a very bright senior who is planning on attending Duke the following fall. He is fairly shy and mainly just talks to his band friends. However, he has always loved Margo from afar. One night Margo slips into Q’s room and she takes him on the craziest night of his life. The next day Margo disappears. Q is shocked but he finds clues that Margo left for him. He religiously follows the clues in search of Margo.
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While attending the ALA conference I had the wonderful opportunity of hearing first-hand the successes of a very active teen advisory group located at the Oakland Public Library. Active teen leaders shared stories about reaching out into the community to represent the library to their peers and elders. Here is a summary of what teens at Oakland Public Library are doing to connect the community with library resources:
- Teens participate in library legislative day by traveling to the state capital and meeting with senators to advocate for libraries.
- They represent the library and youth library council at public speaking and community events.
- Teens present concerns and issues to the library board.
- The teen panelists explained how being YLC members has provided them with opportunities to develop skills in public speaking, organization, and reaching out to others. Read More →
In this podcast, Kelly Czarnecki interviews Amy Alessio about the compilation of the 5th edition, Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults.
There will be a session at ALA on Monday, June 30 from 10:30am-12:30pm at the Marriott Anaheim Hotel, Salon A-D where “Winners from the Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults program will speak and highlight their initiatives in an interactive round table format.” For more of YALSA’s annual programs check out the wiki.
One of the things that sticks with me from John Beck’s presentation on the gamer generation is that they expect change and in fact, like it. So when Judy Sheriff’s posted a request recently for YA-YAACers to be her “Consumer Reports for beagbag chairs,” I thought I’d collect responses and add a few of my own favorites. It turns out that bean bags are no longer the YA seating of choice, mostly because they can be tough to clean and don’t hold up well to bellyflops. Some other alternatives:
Library Consultant Kim Bolan reminded readers to not just ask teens what they want but show them options. “Most libraries have the best success if they show kids the wealth of other furniture options that are out there. This will usually steer the majority away from the bean bag. I find that most just assume this is their only comfortable seating choice.”
Some of my favorites:
Bed Bath & Beyond Storage Ottoman – I saw these at a local library, but they were on wheels – a hassock with side pockets and a removeable seat with a reversible cushion that becomes a tray.
JC Penney has floor cushions, seating cubes, and more – click “Home Furnishings,” select “Kid’s Rooms,” pick “Teens,” and then select “Seating.”
Stacks and Stacks has clever hassocks with stands – flip it over, and you have a tray table.
Walter Knoll Nelson 605 Swivel Tray Armchair – like those student desks in high schools across America, only comfy!
And this would be MY dream addition to a YA space:
Double Decker Study Carrels! It meets the developmental need for physical activity! Then again, I always wanted bunk beds growing up, and never got them – maybe that’s why I think these are so cool.
What is YOUR favorite YA seating option?
~posted by Beth Gallaway
LJ Opinion Polls
I am a little delayed reporting on this as I struggle to be diplomatic, but I’m wondering… what kind of message does it send to our profession when Library Journal (Reed Business), publishes an opinion poll focusing on negative teen behavior in libraries?
Online polls about library issues have come under scrutiny before. In February 2005, American Libraries, in a poll via its January 25 issue of AL Direct, “Should ALA Council pass a resolution condemning the Cuban government for its imprisonment of dissident ‘independent librarians?'” was viewed as an “[Intervention] in the business of the Association.”
The great thing about LJ and AL polls is that they do become an opportunity for discussion. A brief discussion on the YALSA-BK listservs had librarians divided on the fairness of the poll. “Our big problems aren’t the teens, it is adults that give us behavior problems at times,” wrote one YA librarian. “I don’t have adults who poke holes in the furniture, shout, shove, and throw things across the room,” contradicted another, generating a lively conversation about patron behavior and serving the underserved.
The poll, although vague, does reflect the negative view of teens held by many adults, patrons AND librarians. The lack of support from administration for librarians working with teens, coupled with the behavior issues and poor attitude from fellow staff, seems to result in burnout. One librarian suggested that “Teen Librarians and Burnout” would be a great research project. There’s money available for research in the field, and I’d say this qualifies as a “Professional Problem,” which is a criteria for the the
Frances Henne / YALSA / VOYA Research Grant. For more details, please visit the YALSA handbook to see YALSA’s Research Agenda, or consider applying for the Henne. Perhaps a YALSA member needs to create their own poll about behavior of all kinds, from patrons of all ages, and how it is dealt with and perceived by all staff.
A Quick Plug for SUS Trainers
Don’t forget, sometimes when you are making the case for teen services (or just arguing that they are valid and valuable patrons), it helps for the staff to hear it from someone else, even after all you’ve done to become the teen expert in your community. Ask someone at another branch, from another town, or even an SUS trainer to deliver a workshop on specific aspects of teen services. From the YALSA web site: “The subjects … include adolescent development, reading interests, behavioral problems, youth participation, facilities, and computer services for teens. The trainers have been trained to work with adult learners and are experts in the specialized field of young adult services.”
This week’s poll, perhaps in an effort to back peddle, focuses on teen participation, a core of library service to young adults. Teen participation is a terrific solution to teen behavioral issues: give them the opportunity to participate and it allows for relationship building, community building, and a sense of ownership that results in fewer behavior problems. As of noon today, 29.73% of librarians do have Teen Advisory Boards, 35.14% get teen feedback on ideas, and 35.14% do neither. The questions are clumsy – presumably, the purpose OF a Teen Advisory Board is to solicit teen feedback – why ask their opinion if you are not going to follow through?
Perhaps that’s a topic for another post.
~posted by Beth Gallaway