2014 ALA Annual Las Vegas Highlights and Celebrating the Alex Award

By Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library-Hollywood

ALALasVegasThere is nothing like 13,000 library folk descending on Sin City during 110-degree weather. How is one to don their favorite cardigan in that? Outside of the conference, 110-degree weather makes for some interesting fashion choices, or should I say complete lack of fashion choice, it is amazing what you do with a little duct tape, (and I wish I could say a little goes a long way, but not always).

OYAN was kind enough to give me scholarship to help fund the cost of attending the conference. This year I am currently serving as administrative assistant to the Alex Award Committee, so most of my time spent at the conference was in committee meetings. Still, there was enough networking and tapping into the buzz to know what the big takeaways of the conference were.

If you haven’t had a chance to read through YALSA’s The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action already, you can start with the executive summary, but it is worth your while to delve deeper into the full report. Many workshops focused on supporting libraries in the ways outlined in the report in “How will we get there? What do libraries need to do?” The steps it sees are:

Embracing our role as facilitator rather than expert.

  1. Refocusing beyond our traditional roles and traditional measurements of success.
  2. Partnering strategically to reach beyond the library’s walls.
  3. Creating a whole-library and whole-school approach to serving teens in physical spaces and online.
  4. Supporting library staff in gaining new skills.

Colleagues that were able to attend workshops commented that many focused on supported Connected Learning. Traci Glass of the Eugene Public Library commented during the Summer OYAN meeting in reference to the conference and Connected Learning is that “many of us are already doing this.” We all care about creating interesting, thoughtful programs for our teens that meet their interests and information needs. For myself, getting a better understanding of the philosophy behind Connected Learning has really helped to put my work with teens into focus, and has given me better tools to advocate for the work that we do.

Alex-AWARDSWinner_lowres Serving this year as the administrative assistant to the Alex Award Committee has been an enlightening experience. I am not an actual voting member, my main duties so far have been to serve as liaison between the committee and publishers, keep the group organized, support the chair, and research eligibility. As a fairly new youth librarian, I have spent a lot of time focused on learning all that I can about the books published as YA that I have forgotten how as a teen it was mainly adult books that I read outside of school that showed me that there was more out there to look forward in life, and showed me the power of writing. Books like Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Tan’s The Joy Luck Club are all books that I remember being pivotal to me as a teen reader. I see the Alex Award as fostering that. Turning teens into lifelong readers by highlighting some of the best books out there that they can find beyond the teen bookshelves in the library and bookstore.

Past Alex Award are great to be familiar with for those harder reader’s advisory moments where you have the teen that has read everything. It is exciting to see a couple of past winners (Ready Player One and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore) on this year’s Oregon Battle of the Books. The 2014 titles is another fantastic list with my personal favorites of Abigail Tarttelin’s Golden Boy, John Searles’ Help for the Haunted, and Lucy Knisley’s Relish just to name a few. To read more on the Alex Awards Presentation from ALA Annual, Paige Battle, 2015 Alex Award Chair and Grant High School Librarian in Portland wrote a great piece for YALSA’s Hub http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2014/07/08/ala-2014-the-alex-awards-presentation/. The Alex Award winners are so important to teens to bridge the transition from teen reader to lifelong reader and have a place in all collections serving teens.

Alex Awards Collage




OYAN Review – 2014 Fall Issue Released

The OYAN Review  – Fall 2014 is hot off the press!

Check out all the exciting articles by your fellow OYANers. You will find author interviews, book reviews, ALA Las Vegas and Alex Awards review, new program ideas and much more.

Download your copy here. 201410-ReviewFall

And don’t forget we are always taking submissions for the next OYAN Review. So if you have a great story, program, book or audio review, or insight into being a teen librarian that you would like to share, send them to oyanpublicaitons (at) gmail dot com.


2015 Book Raves Nominations

by Sonja Somerville, Salem Public Library

We have the promising beginnings of a list of nominations for the 2015 OYAN Book Rave list. All we need now is a nomination (or two or three …) from YOU!

Nominations should be for excellent fiction or non-fiction young adult books published between

November 1, 2013 and October 31, 2014.

(Graphic novels will be addressed separately through the Graphic Rave nomination process.)

Please tell us about any book you think is worthy, but I will note that we have a particularly lively interest in hearing about books that represent cultural diversity, books suitable for middle-grade readers, and non-fiction selections.

The books nominated to date can be viewed on GoodReads at:(http://tinyurl.com/jwrbyma )or in an Excel can be emailed to you.

When you send a nomination, please include:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Month and year of publication
  • Genre
  • 2-5 suggested tags
  • A brief synopsis (not required, but encouraged!)

Nominations will be accepted until December 1.

Please send all nominations to ssomerville@cityofsalem.net

An Open Invitation to the OYAN Fall Workshop & Quarterly Meeting

An open invitation to the Oregon Young Adult Network (OYAN) Fall Workshop and Quarterly Membership Meeting …

A Focus on Non-Fiction for Young Adults:
Selection, Suggestions, and How It All Relates to Supporting the Common Core
10 a.m.-12 noon Friday, October 24
US Bank Room at Multnomah County Library’s Central Library
801 SW 10th Ave., Portland

The OYAN Fall Workshop brings a focus on building stronger, more useful non-fiction collections, responding both to the interests of teen readers and the changing needs driven by the adoption of Common Core in the schools. At this FREE workshop, presenters will discuss best practices for assessing non-fiction texts for young adults, highlight excellent non-fiction graphic novels and narrative non-fiction, and discuss the impacts and realities of Common Core adoption. Presenters include:
• Jen Maurer, School Library Consultant, Oregon State Library – The Low-Down on the Common Core and How Non-Fiction Selectors Should Respond
• Ruth Allen, Multnomah County Library – Assessing Non-Fiction Texts for Young Adults
• Sonja Somerville, Salem Public Library – Narrative Non-Fiction Booktalks and Booklist
• Traci Glass, Eugene Public Library – Non-Fiction Graphic Novels Booktalks and Booklist

So we can be sure to have the right number of seats and handouts prepared, please email OYAN Chair Sonja Somerville (ssomerville@cityofsalem.net) if you plan to come!

After a break for lunch (plenty of great options in downtown Portland!), the Fall Workshop will be followed by the OYAN Quarterly Meeting from 1-4 p.m. Stay for …
o Resource sharing—programming and other great ideas
o Discussion: How is your Teen Summer Reading program structured?
o Vote on the annual budget
o Reports and updates

Mock Printz 2015

From Susan Smallsreed:

Save the date, Saturday, January 24, 2015, and plan to attend the FREE 2015 Mock Printz workshop. We’ll call for registration at a later date. In the meantime, start reading and analyzing the following…
• Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
• This One Summer by Tamaki
• We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
• The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston
• The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavendar by Leslye Walton
• Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King
• The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
• Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
• Noggin by John Corey Whaley
• Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi
Remember, we welcome teen participation in the workshop, so share this list with your teen readers!

Grasshopper Jungle Book Cover

Grasshopper Jungle Book Cover

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Reviewed by Ian Duncanson, Beaverton City Library

andwestayAnd We Stay is written in both verse and prose, with an emphasis on the latter. Emily Beam’s junior year of high school in the mid-’90s was cut short when her boyfriend Paul took a gun to school and committed suicide in front of her in the library. Traumatized from the experience and unable to return to her normal high school, Emily has enrolled in a boarding school in Amherst, MA where she seeks comfort in being alone, writing poetry, and bonding with her new roommate. She also throws herself into the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson, finding strength and hope in the works of the dark and enigmatic American literary figure who lived and attended school in Amherst. As the story progresses, we learn more details about Emily and Paul’s relationship and what drove him to suicide.

I’m normally not one for poetry in prose stories or novels written in verse, but I thought that the poems in And We Stay (written from Emily’s perspective) were strong and provided insight into the character and her coping with violent trauma. Even though the cliché boarding school setting might elicit an initial groan, it does not play a lot into the story. Hubbard focuses more on Emily’s thoughts, growth and literary interests than on the surrounding boarding school life and antics. With school violence in the news, And We Stay is a timely story about a broken person left traumatized in the aftermath of another’s actions and healing through the support of friends.