One member of the YA-MUSIC list recently proposed we expand the topic of the list to cover all teen non-print media and technology. For one, YALSA doesn’t have a forum for librarians to discuss these topics, so lots of people are forced to write YALSA-BK or YA-YAAC for help. Secondly (and more to the point), our list has been pretty quiet lately. This means, as part of the list and blog, I’ve been quiet lately. So why’s that?

Perhaps you share a lot of my reasons: boredom, disinterest, and even discontent. In a lot of ways, music seems to be in a pretty unhealthy state. I don’t feel that it’s a case of fuddy-duddyism to say that creative otuput is weaker, music sales are dwindling, show attendance is generally down from what it was before (you can read one disgruntled indie promoter’s account). Many of the same bands and artists from the late-90s and earlier are still producing songs for the radio, often at their most uninspiring. Li’l Wayne, Britney Spears, Foo Fighters, etc. are all still kicking.

Popular new bands and artists are mostly still riding out the sounds that seemed fresh and exciting from earlier this decade (poppy emo-rock, crunk, metal-core, etc.). I just asked one of the most vocal proponents of music at the library what new bands are providing him with inspiration, and I got nothing but a blank stare and stammering. And this is someone who listens to music hours upon hours each day. This is also someone whose favorite bands are Offspring, Sum 41, and Pearl Jam–none of which formed after 2000.

I also wonder if librarians get weak knees in discussing music when so many popular artists are knee deep in guns, drugs, and other legal trouble and stints in rehab? Would YALSA-BK go hush if John Green was arrested for a deadly weapons charge? If Meg Cabot got brought in for DUI? At ALA 2007, I shared a knowing glance with another teen librarian, after we mentioned needing to reorder new copies of the most recent Akon CD, Konvicted. This was, of course, right after Akon threw a teen into the crowd from a stage in Fishkill, New York–which itself was hot off the heels of Akon simulating sex with a 14 year-old while on stage in Trinidad (you can find them both on Youtube, if you’re so inclined).

This isn’t to say that there aren’t interesting and invigorating things going on, many of which have implications for library service beyond music. I’ll blog about those soon. But when there’s such a stark contrast in the music and publishing industry, from the industry to the personalities, it’s hard to get motivated enough to actively discuss and promote music to my peers, no matter how much of an advocate I might fancy myself.

But enough about me. What’s been keeping you from feeling chatty on YA-MUSIC?

Many libraries use ACID or GarageBand to create music. Music usually tells someone’s story and creating songs is probably only going to grow in popularity at libraries. How do we decide what can or can’t be part of someone’s story?

There are controversial topics and swearing in books, CDs, and DVDs purchased for a collection. Should song creation be treated differently? If libraries have rules in regards to music creation, does the library support these rules by not playing certain songs during library events or not using certain songs to promote something at the library because of the lyrics-or just hope that most people won’t notice? Is a certain type of music being targeted? Should content creation be reviewed before it’s deemed okay to leave the library?

Most teens are probably familiar with censorship because of the radio. Music is a great way to connect with teens and their stories. Many libraries have the tools and the space to engage teens to create their own music. Share your thoughts and don’t forget about YALSA’s newest discussion list, YA-MUSIC.