OYAN Review: Salem Library’s Teen Book Club named to the YALSA Teens’ Top Ten panel

This post is an article from the Winter 2017 issue of the OYAN Review and has been edited slightly for publication on the blog. It was written by Sonja Somerville of the Salem Public Library.

The logo for YALSA's Teens' Top Ten listSalem Public Library’s Speak Up! Teen Book Club has been selected for the official Teens’ Top Ten panel for 2017-2018. I’m psyched because it was a bit of a complicated application process and they choose just 20 nationwide.

Teens’ Top Ten is an annual project of the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association. Announced each October during Teen Read Week, the list recognizes the best young adult books published in the previous year, as nominated and voted on by teens across the county. In 2016, a total of 28,000 teens voted on the 25 nominated books to narrow the list to the official Teens’ Top Ten. As part of the panel, Speak Up! will play a key part in choosing the list of 25 nominees for the next two years.

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YALSA YA Lit Symposium 2014

by Aimee Meuchel, Tualatin Public Library

  • Austin? Check
  • Great Authors? Check
  • Scholarship from OYAN? Check
Aimee with Author Andrew Smith

Aimee with Author Andrew Smith

Four days and three nights in Austin proved to be a fun literary adventure.  I was expecting temperatures in the low 70s and instead was greeted by the same cold front that Portland was experiencing with highs of 36 degrees and lows of 28.  Brrrrrr.  Luckily all of the events are in one hotel and you don’t have to leave unless you want to!

I arrived Thursday night and explored Austin on foot.  The next morning, I further explored (ate excellent crepes and drank amazing coffee) until my preconference Friday afternoon.  I attended Tough It Out! Rugged Characters in Young Adult Books.  This session was facilitated by Rollie Welch, Summer Hayes, and Ellsworth Rockefeller, authors of the VOYA column Man Up!  Matt de la Peña, Patrick Jones, Lauren Oliver, Andrew Smith, and Blythe Woolston were the featured authors.  It was a lot of fun to hear the authors speak about their tough characters and learn more about toughness.

Saturday began bright and early.  It was a day full of sessions and a night of book signings!  I attended YA Realness: what makes ‘contemporary realism’ feel true to readers? with our own Sara Ryan.  Also featured were Sara Zarr, Matt de la Pena, Joe Knowles, and Coe Booth.  The best part?  Matt de la Pena announcing that John Green writes Chick Lit!

The most profound session I attended was Talking Book covers with Young Adults: Whitewashing, Sexism, and More.  It was presented by Allie Jane Bruce and Malinda Lo and Jacqueline Woodson (days before she won the NBA)

were the featured authors.  It was fascinating to hear the authors talk about book covers and publishing.  I’m looking at book covers and reading blurbs very differently now that I’m more aware.  Examples: Liar by Justine Larbalestier had a cover with a white girl on the ARC but in the book she is of mixed-race.  Woodson has had her main characters presented in silhouette to disguise their race.

Aimee with author Lauren Oliver

Aimee with author Lauren Oliver

After the Teens’ Top Ten Author Luncheon with Julie Kagawa, Lauren Oliver, and Jennifer A. Nielsen (free books), I attended “Where are the heroes of color in fantasy and sci-fi?”  and “Bridge to Tweenabithia: Reader’s advisory for the gap between juvenile and young adult”.  That evening was the Book Blitz!  Every participant received 6 free books from publishers.  I was lucky enough to get books by Lauren Oliver, Andrew Smith, Blythe Woolston, and more.  My teens enjoyed receiving them as presents.

Sunday was a half day.  It began with GenreQueer: Smashing the closet which talked about LGBTQ representation in teen fiction.  My final session was Keeping it Really WEIRD (books for the fringe & reluctant readers) with tons of authors including the inestimable Bruce Coville.  Lunch was the final event with a speech by R.L. Stine.  He is a funny guy.  Seriously.  He was a comedy writer when he fell into the horror thing.

This experience was awesome.  I met librarians, tons of media specialists, and AUTHORS!  I was a total fangirl for 3 days.  Andrew Smith and Lauren Oliver may have thought I was stalking them.  Susan Campbell Bartoletti is one of the most charming people I have ever met.  I hope she took my Doctor Who and Where’d You Go Bernadette? Recommendations to heart and loved them.

The conference is in our own backyard next year.  It is not a cheap event, but it is worth every penny.  While I didn’t bring back any fresh ideas for programs, I brought back my renewed passion for YA lit.  And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about for all of us bookpushers!

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