Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Got Research?

If you do, YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) has money for you! And it is just a grant application away.

Someone has to be awarded the grant; why not you? And by "you", I mean any member of "YALSA, including student members, although the research project may be undertaken by an individual, an institution, or by a group."

Anyway, here are the details (YALSA's wording):

The 2010 Frances Henne/YALSA/VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) Research Grant

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), the fastest growing division of the American Library Association (ALA) is offering the Frances Henne/YALSA/VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) Research Grant for 2010. This grant of $1000 provides seed money for small-scale projects that will encourage research that responds to the YALSA Research Agenda.

Details regarding the applications for the 2010 Frances Henne YALSA/VOYA Research Grant are available from the YALSA Web site at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/awardsandgrants/franceshenne.cfm

Applications for the grant are due in the YALSA Office by Dec. 1.

For more information please contact us via e-mail, yalsa@ala.org or by phone, 800-545-2433 x 4387.

So go, check out the requirements, print out the application!

Cross posted at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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Sorry this will be quick & short & not finely edited.

YALSA's Board is meeting at Annual; do I usually read the Board documents, unless they are highlighted somewhere thru a message to YALSA BK or the YALSA Blog? No. So when Jen Hubert began reading them yesterday, as I was packing, and shared the information that YALSA Board was entertaining a proposal to eliminate BBYA, I thought she was kidding.

Right after this proposal (so apparently linked to it) is a proposal to instead have a "Readers Choice" when anyone can vote on a short list and then all members can use that short list to vote on a top 5 per category, and that is the New BBYA: Reader's Choice.

I had heard & supported the idea that BBYA needed tinkering -- say, remove GNs from BBYA because there is now a GN list. Or open BBYA up to allow virtual attendance by committee members for Midwinter. I had no idea it was to: "implement a phase out of the Best Books for Young Adult Committee and list"

Source: (you need to be a YALSA member to access): Modernizing Selected List Portfolio (and cheers to Jen, who found this despite the title not saying BBYA and BBYA being the only list being "modernized")

Instead, we get a Reader's Choice award, which is not about opening up committee slots for virtual members but about organizing a popular vote with anyone voting to create a short list, then YALSA members voting for a top 5. (I'll let the math/statistics among you realize that smaller, quieter books and small publishers won't have a chance in this type of arrangement).

I say "instead of" because Readers Choice List, while not mentioned in Modernizing, follows that proposal immediately on the agenda.

I plan to rearrange my schedule and other commitments to attend these meetings. Please comment here to let YALSA know what you think, or blog about it, or Tweet it.

Oh, reasons for getting rid of BBYA:

-- there is overlap with other lists, like adult, nonfiction and GN. (my reply: then narrow BBYA to fiction).

-- number of books published for YA has increased (query: how many books does ALSC's Notables read?)

--membership wants greater participation in list selection. (my reply: then open up the list selection to virtual members! don't remove a list, therefore limiting members' options, and replace it with a participation that will mean little is "I voted for Readers Choice" going on a resume?).

-- BBYA is not useful. (my reply: It's useful to me!!! For collection development, creating booktalks, booklists, etc.)

-- workload issues amongst Committee members. (my reply: see above, for narrowing the scope).

As for Readers Choice; I'm packing. Could I support this in addition to BBYA? Yes. But instead of? I don't have enough time to discuss it. Just: NO.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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Congratulations, Melissa Rabey!

The 2009 YALSA Election Results have been announced; and Melissa Rabey is on the Printz! Congrats, Melissa!

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Our Students, Ourselves

This post was co-written with Erin Downey Howerton of schooling.us (Erin's is the first-person voice in this post) and Liz Burns of Pop & Tea Cozy, and cross-posted at the YALSA Blog. Erin is the school liaison at the Johnson County (KS) Library. She is a member of YALSA and AASL.

Librarians' hearts were aflutter today as the New York Times reported on school librarians in their Future of Reading column. Motoko Richs' article "In Web Age, Library Job Gets Update" features a day in the life of Stephanie Rosalia, a librarian at Public School 225 in Brooklyn. The piece marvels at how she does not simply stamp books and shush students, but rather teaches information literacy. It rose quickly to the #1 slot as today's most emailed NYT article.

My Twitter network was quite active as we traded links to various responses, and, regrettably, the comments on the article itself. Most dismaying was comment #24 from "suenoir," a reader who identified herself as a school board president from King County, WA and who felt that school libraries & librarians are superfluous in the face of the Internet and public libraries. She commented:

"If teachers used the public libraries, imagine what could be done with the space now occupied by the library. What if it were a music room? An engineering lab? Students have access to a librarian at public libraries, they do not have access to so many other resources."

This commenter appears to be affiliated with the Highline Public Schools (Susan Goding, board member, used the email suenoir@hotmail.com in her campaign information which is easily available online). Goding's district indicates that they enroll in excess of 17,000 students, and one of their secondary facilities reports that they see an average of around 100 students a day in their media center for regularly scheduled classes, not including students using the library who are not specifically scheduled for instruction. That's an awful lot of students to absorb at a local public library branch!

This article served to remind us in the library community that our patrons do not always easily or readily understand the differences in purpose between different library types. They may think of us all as interchangeable widgets, able to help in any library we might find ourselves in. This is not so. I had a great email conversation with Liz Burns and Sophie Brookover of Pop Goes the Library on just this topic:

Sophie: This article made me stand up and cheer, right at the breakfast table (because that's where I read it, after a friend posted it to my Wall on Facebook). Stephanie Rosalia is a perfect example of what a great, properly trained and enthusiastic school librarian can offer, which a public librarian cannot: just-in-time learning opportunities for students that relates directly to what they are learning in the classroom every day. She is exactly the kind of school librarian I want to be when I grow up.

edh: Yes, we public librarians often have very little contact with teachers at individual schools despite robust outreach efforts. I know some patrons get the mistaken impression that we're not concerned with student needs.

Liz: Public libraries don't ignore students; far from it! But a public library's main mission is not to be geared towards students. It's a system geared towards the entire public. Yes, that includes the homeless; teens; seniors; young mothers; people using the Internet; and students.

edh: I loved how the article and video demonstrated Ms. Rosalia's ability to incorporate all sorts of content in her school library. She's obviously deeply involved in the curriculum and learning process in her school.

Sophie: School librarians remix and mash up content from all sorts of sources -- online, print, audio, video, and more -- every day, all with a view towards matching the right content with the right kids at the right time. Public librarians do this every day, as well, but to be a great public librarian is to be a fantastic generalist. To be a school librarian is to be what many of us are called these days, a media specialist. As a media specialist, your area of specialization is your school's curriculum. You are aware of a wide body of resources, but you home in on the materials that meet the specific needs of your students' assignments.

edh: Absolutely! I am not entirely sure that the school board member who commented on the article understands the distinction between our libraries' functions.

Liz: Saying "use the public library, there is so much more we can do with school resources and money" is like trying to have one's cake and eat it, too. Because while sometimes there are actual joint libraries (with appropriate funding and staffing), more often shutting the school library does not result in additional funding being given to the public library. So there is an addition of students needing instruction, books and materials for reports, but no funds to purchase those additional books or to hire the needed staff.

edh: And some public libraries have restrictions on the materials they can buy – collection development policies can prohibit us from purchasing the books and media that would best address student learning.

Liz: And that's aside from the loss of the librarian as teacher. When will those students be able to go to the local library? Students get transportation to schools; they don't have the same access to public libraries. Those students with parents who have the transportation and time will benefit from school libraries; those students whose parents don't have ready access to cars and who work while the library is open, won't be able to use the public library. I've been in libraries where there are a good number of local kids who use the libraries; and just as many kids who don't, because they don't live close enough to the library to walk or ride a bike safely. Public libraries may be full of students; but can one imagine that if they are filled WITH school libraries available, how overwhelmed those libraries would be WITHOUT school libraries?

Additionally, public library budgets are being cut. What would your school do when the public library cuts hours, staff, and the materials budget? Open up the school library? By that time you'd have a dearth of materials missing from the years it was closed.

edh: That's just for materials designed to support academic assignments – imagine all the great fiction titles you would have missed out on in the intervening years. The public library alone is not enough to supply a student with the choices they need to read widely for enjoyment.

Sophie: A good school library should absolutely have high-appeal leisure reading. After all, AASL's Standards for the 21st Century Learner are fully 25% about the pursuit of personal and aesthetic growth, and with that in mind, I've sunk a large proportion of my own school library's budget into high-quality, high-appeal books for my students to read for fun. I've been lucky enough to have the unswerving support of my school's English Department, many members of which have brought hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of students to my Library Media Center for booktalks and reader's advisory, all in the service of year-round independent reading assignments. This collaborative effort has been so successful that I plan to continue to develop and promote the LMC's fiction and nonfiction collections for leisure reading.

There are so many opportunities for school librarians to collaborate with public librarians to provide even better services and collections to our students, but I think it's very important, as Liz said, for school and public librarians to spend some serious time educating the general public about the different missions of each institution, as well.

edh: Yes, letting people know about what we do in different libraries is imperative. I find myself also recommending special libraries to students who have a very specific or advanced assignment. We're lucky to have special libraries in the Kansas City area that will lend freely to the public and assist students with individual disciplines. The Midwest Center for Holocaust Education library is great for students looking at Judaism and World War II, and the Linda Hall Library has a special collection just for aspiring teen scientists among their more esoteric materials. Access to only one library is never enough! If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a variety of libraries to educate them into adulthood.

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Break a Leg, Carlie & Liz!

As I type, fellow Pop Tarts and dear friends Carlie Webber & Liz Burns are attending and preparing to present a fantastic-sounding program at the first-ever YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium in Nashville, TN. The theme of the Symposium is How We Read Now, and Carlie & Liz's program topic is:

Fandom, Fan Life, and Participatory Culture
A teens' experience with a book doesn't just begin on page one and finish with the book's conclusion. From birthday parties and proms to fan fiction and role-playing games, teens find many ways to recreate a book's universe in their lives, forming fandoms.
Sounds great, doesn't it? I am clearly biased, but I also truly believe that this is a topic just waiting to explode in librarianship, and it ties in so beautifully with many of the themes we explore here at Pop all the time -- assessing community needs and providing services, programs, and collections tailored to meet those needs; marketing the library as a place to pursue personal as well as academic interests -- so I'm excited to hear all about their talk when they return, and want to wish them as many broken limbs as it takes to rock the Millenium Maxwell House to its very foundations.

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Breaking Dawn Parties on YALSA Wiki

For those librarians wanting to hold a party in celebration of the August 2 release of Breaking Dawn, the final book in Stephenie Meyers' wildly popular Twilight series, Angelina Manfredi has very helpfully compiled party activities, treats, and giveaways for your event! Ideas come from members of YALSA's YA-YAAC listserv, and are posted to YALSA's wiki.

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Congratulations All Elected ALA Candidates (But Most Especially Carlie Webber)!

The results are in, and our dear friend, colleague, and fellow Pop-er (Pop-ian? Pop-ie? What's the best suffix for us?) Carlie Webber has been elected to YALSA's Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She's the second of our crew (Liz Burns was the first) to attain this honor, and we couldn't be more pleased, more proud, or less surprised (I mean that in the best possible way -- anyone who's met or read Carlie knows what a savvy, tough reader she is).  

Congratulations to all of the winners, and, as a member of the 2009 YALSA Nominating Committee, thanks to everyone who ran this year!  

If you're a member of YALSA, please consider running for office next year!  Info on all available positions is at the YALSA Wiki.

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Carlie Webber for Printz 2010!

We are delighted to endorse Carlie Webber, fellow Pop Goes the Library-an, friend, esteemed colleague, and genius of the supremely catchy catchphrase, for the Michael L. Printz Committee for 2010.

Carlie is a smart, sharp reader who can not only articulate her vision of literary quality; she can sniff out a lack of it at twenty pages.

Carlie is passionate about the need for the Printz Award winners and honor books to be more than mere vehicles for shiny labels.

Carlie is a seasoned book reviewer and Mock Printz contest moderator. She cuts through BS with her Ginsu knife-like wit, leaps tall ARCs in a single bound, and has read and reviewed more books than you've had hot dinners. The woman knows her stuff and doesn't mince words.

Carlie Webber! Passion. Vision. Experience. Savvy. Abundant Charm.

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ALA Awards by Text Message

File under: Awesome, Made Out of Five Different Kinds of

Text the word "ALA 5" to 32075 in the U.S. and Canada to receive notification of the winners of the following five awards, one text message per award:
  • Newbery Medal
  • Caldecott Medal
  • Coretta Scott King Awards
  • Michael L. Printz Award
  • Pura Belpré Award

You will receive 5 text messages for this subscription, winners only.

For complete results, text the word "ALA 13" to 32075 in the U.S. and Canada to receive notification of the winners of all 13 Youth Media Awards, including the five previously mentioned and the following, one text message per award:

  • Alex Awards
  • Margaret A. Edwards Award
  • Odyssey Award
  • Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award
  • Andrew Carnegie Medal
  • Mildred L. Batchelder Award
  • Schneider Family Book Award
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

You will receive 13 text messages for this subscription, winners only.

Learn more here:

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31 Flavorite Authors for Teens

Teen Read Week is this October. The Readergirlz and YALSA have decided to celebrate TRW all month, starting today.

Every day this month a different YA author is highlighted, with a nightly chat at the Readergirlz group forum at 5 PM PST/8 PM EST (with the exception of the Halloween chat, which will be held at 9 PM PST/MIDNIGHT EST). More info at the Readergirlz site, including downloadable bookmarks and the like.

Here's the full schedule:

Week One
October 1st: Meg Cabot
October 2nd: Tiffany Trent
October 3rd: Brent Hartinger
October 4th: Lorie Ann Grover
October 5th: K.L. Going
October 6th: Nikki Grimes

Week Two
October 7th: Ellen Hopkins
October 8th: Justina Chen Headley
October 9th: Chris Crutcher
October 10th: Ann Brashares
October 11th: Sarah Mlynowski
October 12th: Cecil Castellucci
October 13th: Kirby Larson

Week Three
October 14th: Tanya Lee Stone
October 15th: John Green
October 16th: Sara Zarr
October 17th: Deb Caletti
October 18th: Rachel Cohn
October 19th: Kirsten Miller
October 20th: Mitali Perkins

Week Four
October 21st: Sonya Sones
October 22nd: Lisa Yee
October 23rd: Carolyn Mackler
October 24th: E. Lockhart
October 25th: Janet Lee Carey
October 26th: Gaby Triana
October 27th: Lauren Myracle

Week Five
October 28th: Holly Black
October 29th: Cynthia Leitich Smith
October 30th: Dia Calhoun
October 31st: Stephenie Meyer (Special time: 9 PM PST/MIDNIGHT EST)



Over at the blog Bildungsroman, there's an interview with Paula Brehm-Heeger, the 2007-2008 YALSA President.



Post-Harry, Whatever Will They Read?

Reading the NY Times piece Potter Has Limited Effects on Reading Habits, I thought, "Well, duh." A quote from a teacher & author sums up the situation perfectly:

“Unless there are scaffolds in place for kids — an enthusiastic adult saying, ‘Here’s the next [book you might like]’ — it’s not going to happen,” said Nancie Atwell, the author of “The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers” and a teacher in Edgecomb, Me. “And in way too many American classrooms it’s not happening.”

You get exactly one guess as to where I'll say it is happening. Did you guess libraries? Oh, well done! A gold star for you. (I mean it! If you see me at a conference, and you guessed "libraries", I will give you a gold star. Either that, or I'll buy you the beverage of your choice.)

I would argue a few things:

  • Harry Potter has had an impact on young peoples' reading habits, but it may be more subtle than the study conducted by the NEA was designed to reflect. Many teens go through a period of not reading much, but those who start out with a foundation of enjoying reading early in life come back to it as older teens or as adults.
  • Harry Potter has had another indirect impact on teen & children's reading, and that is the impact it's had on publishing. Publishing for children & teens is one helluva booming business these days, and although that's partly to do with demographics -- there are more youngsters, with more disposable income, than ever before in this country -- it's also due to Harry's stunning popularity. One of the reasons we see series of all kinds, from Gossip Girl to TrueColors to Cirque du Freak to Bartimaeus to Skybreaker to Keys to the Kingdom to Spiderwick Chronicles to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to the comeback of Choose Your Own Adventure is that Harry showed publishers that kids & teens will read.

I happened to be in my car during NPR's Here & Now program, and was so pleased that Robin Young interviewed YALSA's new president, Paula Brehm-Heeger to get the YA librarian's POV on this topic. Thank you, Robin, and great job, Paula! You can listen to the segment here.

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Congratulations, Liz!

I am beyond delighted to report that the YALSA election results are in, and our very own Liz Burns is a brand-new member of the Printz Committee! I could not be happier, prouder, or more full of squee than I am right now. As everyone who reads Liz's posts here and at Tea Cozy knows, she is brilliant, thoughtful, fair, and funny, which is about as fine a combination of qualities a Printz Committee member can have.

Mazel Tov, Smartie. You earned it.

In other fabulous YALSA/NJ news, Friends of Pop Sarah Cornish Debraski is YALSA President-Elect, and Sharon Rawlins is on the Margaret A. Edwards Committee. A great day for NJ librarians, I'd say.

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Good Press for YA Lit

We here at Pop have complained about the "all YA books suck" newspaper stories.

So it's only fair we say, Way to Go Seattle! Cecelia Goodnow of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR articles about teens and books, and not a nary "YA books suck" article amongst them.

For your reading pleasure:

Teens buying books at fastest rate in decades (interviews actual authorities in the field)

If you're looking for tasty teen titles to satisfy, check out this menu (which highlights YALSA's Best Books list)

Is young-adult fare too mature for some of its readers? (respectfully points out that YA may be ages 12 to 18, but not all books are for all readers)

and Top Trends in Teen Literature

And just when I thought it couldn't get any better --

Entertainment Weekly highlights the YALSA Alex Awards in an online column, Kids Corner.

What great coverage!

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No Blogging for Committee Members?

LibrariAnne has a detailed report on a rumor about ALSC and bloggers who are committee members not being allowed to blog. I did hear whispers about this during Midwinter, and a comment to LibrariAnne's blog confirms that ALSC is "grappling" with this issue.

So I ask you: anyone know the deal? The specifics of the guidelines? Is it just ALSC, or is YALSA doing something similar?

Thanks to A Year Of Reading for the link.

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Idea totally & utterly stolen from Heidi (who is not only a rockin' librarian, but also a fellow Bryn Mawr alum).

Heidi is a Seattle native, so she's got plenty of scoop on where to eat & how to get around. Also potentially useful in this regard: the ALA Midwinter Meeting Wiki.

Here's my schedule, for now:

Saturday, January 20
ALA-APA Fundraising Committee, 10:30-12:30
YALSA Gaming Interest Group, 1:30-2:30
Quick Picks for Reluctant YA Readers, 2:30-3:30
YALSA Publications Committee, 4-6 PM
Seattle Public Library Atherton Reception with the divine Liz B, 7-9 PM

Sunday, January 21
Teen Tech Week Kick-Off, 10:30-12:30
Quick Picks, 1:30-3:30
YALSA Board II, 4-6 OR Pop Culture in Libraries, 4-6
YALSA 50th Anniversary Kick-Off, 7-9 PM

Monday, January 22 -- Happy Birthday, Mom!
Youth Media Awards, 8-9 AM
ALA Exec Board Forum, 11:30 AM (re-check time)
Best Books for Young Adults, 4-6 PM
YALSA/ALSC/AASL Joint Membership Reception 6-8 PM

Somewhere in there, I also plan to have a meal or drinks with Rochelle, Jill, Jaina and my library school pal Chris.

I'm staying at the Sheraton, and it'll be best to reach me by cell. E-mail or IM me if you want the number.

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YALSA Elections (and a personal note)

ALA and YALSA elections are coming up; in order to vote for the YALSA part you must be a member of ALA and YALSA by January 31, 2007.

The election opens March 15 and closes April 24.

Go over to the YALSA blog to see the full slate of candidates for different positions.

Please note the candidates for the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award Committee:

Elizabeth Burns (yes, this is me!)
Donna Cook
Stacy Creel-Chavez
Alison Hendon
Celia Holm
Ellen Loughran
Karyn Silverman
J. Marin Younker

Eight candidates are running for four positions. The full policies and procedures for the Printz are here.

Cross posted at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.

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