Tag: conferences

The Teen Readers’ Advisory Toolkit @ YALSA’s 2010 YA Lit Symposium

I attended the 2010 YA Lit Symposium in Albuquerque. This post is a summary of one of the preconferences that I attended. Check out other posts tagged yalsalit2010 for more session recaps.

My first preconference was the Teen Readers’ Advisory Toolkit, presented by Crystal Faris, Stephanie Squicciarini, and Jerene Battisti.

We started out with an overview of readers’ advisory (RA) for teens, drawing from Heather Booth’s Serving Teens Through Readers’ Advisory. When we do RA with teens, we need to use our active listening skills, be conversational, and make sure to use the right tone. Does the patron want us to be friendly, business-like, chatty, or sarcastic? Tailoring our delivery helps our teen patrons feel welcome and comfortable.

We also need to make sure to describe a book’s appeal (talking about setting, pacing, tone, characterization, and so on) rather than just saying, “oh man, this book was so good! You’ll love it.” Readers of fiction are less interested in what the book is about and more in how it makes them feel. If someone comes to you and gushes that they loved Twilight and want something exactly like it, it might not be vampires and werewolves that they’re looking for; they might want to read another story where the heroine is in constant peril, where the love is forbidden, and where you just can’t stop reading the next page and the next and the next to see what happens. Understanding appeal and being able to articulate it will help us find the right book for a reader.

Doing RA for teens is different than adults because there are three basic kinds of RA:

  1. One-on-one RA: this is what we think of when we first think of RA. Either in person or online, you’re helping a reader find a book her or she will like. Since this kind of RA usually involves patrons coming to us, we need to look both authoritative and approachable. We can use Booth’s four “getting started” questions to get things rolling: Are you looking for something specific? Do you read a lot or not so much? What was the last book (or movie or game) you really liked? Have you read something recently that you really liked or hated?
  2. Doing RA for teens via an adult: this is when a parent either comes in looking for books for their teen or does all of the talking with the teen standing next to them. When the teen patron is actually present, we want to make sure to address the adult’s concerns, but also to turn the conversation to the teen patron since he or she is the one we’re trying to help. And if a parent just wants their kid to read more, try high-action, fast-paced, dialogue-heavy books and audiobooks or downloadable books. Provide lots of options and tell the parents that if none of them work, to bring the teen him- or herself in.
  3. Indirect RA: this includes booklists online or in the building and book displays. Consider what book stores are advertising and how they’re advertising them. Look at your library as a patron: what’s the first thing you see when you walk in? Keep in mind that displays are the responsibility of all staff members, even if they’re not officially YA. Provide a list or pile of materials to refill YA displays when you’re not around.

Some other RA suggestions were to try putting adult, teen, and children’s materials on the same subject all in one display together, to have book trailers playing on digital devices throughout the library, to have patron and staff recommendations on the shelves, and to be willing to suggest adult books to older teens to help guide them into adult reading. We also need to remember that teen RA can be very fiction-centric, but plenty of kids want “reality reading,” so we need to know our nonfiction and how to recommend it.

We next learned about listeners’ advisory, where we suggest audiobooks to teen readers. This part started off with a defense of audiobooks. While some adults (and kids!) feel like audiobooks are “cheating,” they’re not. They’re a great way to reach kids who might otherwise be non-readers (e.g., those with a visual impairment or dyslexia). They help readers connect with the story. They also help listeners learn to pronounce words and author names they’ve only seen in print. And teens are the fastest-growing segment of audiobook listeners, so we can’t ignore them. They can listen to audiobooks while doing chores or cleaning their rooms. (Mary Burkey is a great source for statistics and arguments in favor of audiobooks.)

When we’re doing listeners’ advisory, we need to consider more than just the appeal of the text. How is the narrator’s pacing, emotional distinction, and distinction between speakers? Are there flaws in production like background noise or being able to hear the narrator swallow? Can these flaws be overlooked because the story and delivery are so compelling? Does the narrator help make up for a boring story, pulling you through to the end? Are there additional features and benefits like bonus features at the beginning or end, author interviews, or historical notes?

We need to watch out for narrators who become so associated with a particular story that they become a character, because if that narrator does another book, it might feel like that character is in the story. Sometimes listeners need a cooling-off period between books or series by the same narrator. We also need to know if the narrator changes partway through a series. And having the author narrate their own books can be either awesome or awful, so make sure you give the story a listen or read a review to find out.

Swear words, sexual situations, and violent scenes all have more impact when they’re read aloud, so we need to be especially sensitive when suggesting audiobooks, especially if it’s intended to entertain on a family vacation with an intergenerational audience, or even just kids over a wide range of ages. You’ll also want to find out how long the family drive is so you can find an audiobook that’s an appropriate length.

The question of format came up. Audiobooks are available on cassette, CD, Playaway, and via download, and all of the formats have their various advantages and disadvantages. For examples, Playaways are expensive, but they don’t require additional hardware. The bottom line here is to know your community to know what format will be best for them. Audience members also recommended pooling resources with other libraries in your area and seeing if your state library can help. And as a great tip, since there aren’t ARCs of audiobooks, if you can get a gig reviewing them, you’ll be able to develop your library’s collection for free.

Beyond just doing listeners’ advisory, you could do a “read it, listen to it, watch it” program at your library where you have readers and listeners both enjoy a story and then watch a film adaptation and discuss it. It’ll be interesting to see what each group likes and dislikes in the adaptation, and it’ll provide a great discussion. You can also allow teen listeners to write reviews of audiobooks for your teen blog like you let readers review books. Teens are our best tools, after all!

In general, I think keeping up with what’s out there–in books, in audiobooks, in programming, everything–can be tough. We were given handouts (which should be available on the Ning soon) with recommended review sites and also directed to the Odyssey Award (given by the ALA) and the Audies (awarded by the Audio Publishers Association). Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read has also spun off the Guys Listen project to get boys listening to audiobooks.

During the break, we all selected books and used the “read a book in 10 minutes” guides in Booth’s book to get an idea of what the book is about, what the pacing and characterization and tone are like, and how the storyline unfolds by reading selectively and considering blurbs and summaries.

We also talked about the importance of keeping up with pop culture. It may be daunting to do so, but pop culture will shape demands on your collections and programs and you should be able to be proactive. You may want to have premium cable shows available when they come out on DVD. The songs and artists that are featured on Glee should influence your CD collection and displays. You can recreate popular shows (Survivor and Fear Factor before, Iron Chef and Minute to Win It now). Your summer reading program prizes should be desirable. And more and more YA books are being made into movies–and you should know about them.

To keep up with pop culture, the speakers recommended having pop magazines routed to you first before they go up to circulate so you can flip through them and see what’s going on. Check out the nominees and the winners of the Teen Choice Awards. Check Yahoo top stories to see who’s in the news. Read Pop Goes the Library (or get the book). And take VOYA‘s three-times-yearly pop culture quizzes.

During the Q&A session, a few other things were addressed.

  • You don’t have to read fiction to be a reader.
  • Reading manga is absolutely reading. You have to be able to decode the flow of the panels and text, and especially if the manga is right-to-left, you need real visual literacy skills to be able to read. If parents or teachers are dubious, have them try reading a manga.
  • Having a nonfiction browsing section in your teen area is really great. It allows teens to read books on uncomfortable subjects without having to ask about them, and it gives you a place to put high-interest books for “non-readers” (who’ve fallen prey to the reading = fiction fallacy).

For the final part of the preconference, a lot of recent and upcoming titles from different genres were shared with us. Handouts and the recommended books should eventually be available on the Ning.

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3 Comments November 7, 2010

Conferences: tips, volunteering, and the student perspective

Earlier this semester I submitted some articles for my school’s ALA Student Chapter’s newsletter. Two of them were accepted and the newsletter was published online today.

The SLIS program at IU is split between two campuses: Bloomington focuses more on academic librarianship, rare books, and the information science side of the profession; the Indianapolis campus does more with public librarianship and school librarianship (it’s actually the only place in the state you can get your school media specialist certification). But because each ALA-accredited program can only have one student chapter, the IU ALA-SC (I’m not sure which website is official, this one or this one) is at Bloomington.

The Indy program is starting to provide some similar opportunities and services to its students with ALISS, the Association for Library and Information Science Students, which was resurrected last fall. Erin and Andy and I are stepping down as officers, but we have a great incoming group of officers with high ambitions and new committees and programs planned, and I’m hoping that next year ALISS and the IU ALA-SC will be able to work together more closely.

Anyway, although the IU ALA-SC is headquartered in Bloomington, students in the program at Indianapolis are welcome to submit articles for the newsletter, attend events, and apply for scholarships. I think Indy students have to work a little harder to stay informed about opportunities organized by Bloomington students and faculty, but subscribing to the Bloomington listserv in addition to the Indy listserv helps a lot.

This semester’s newsletter theme was conferences and since the call for articles went out just as I was returning from PLA2010, I thought I’d write a couple about different topics. “Volunteering at Conferences” and “Conferences 102: A Few More Words of Advice” were accepted and published in the newsletter . A third article, “Attending a Conference as a Student,” was not, so I thought I’d post it here.

Attending a Conference as a Student

Ideas in this article emerged in part from conversations with other Indianapolis SLIS students including Erin Milanese and Katie Nakanishi.

Attending a conference while you’re still in school is a great opportunity. Not only will you have the chance to learn a lot and meet other professionals, but your student status confers unique benefits as well. If you’re thinking about attending a conference before you graduate, consider the following.

While you may feel like a cash-strapped student, conference fees will never be lower than while you’re still in school. Registration fees may be half or even a quarter of the regular member rate. There are also travel and conference grant opportunities for students and first-time attendees. Lodging and transportation are also part of conference costs, but your classes are full of potential roommates and maybe even road trip partners.

Your student status also grants you more flexibility once you arrive at the conference. Even if you’re working in a library already, if you’re footing the bill, you get to decide what sessions you attend. While you’ll want to learn about your current or future specialization, if something totally outside of your area looks interesting, go! Conferences are a great opportunity to stretch yourself, and while you’ve been learning a lot of theory in the classroom, it’s at a conference that you can see where best practices and research meet real-world constraints and inspiration.

While you’re at the conference, your primary mission is to keep an open mind and just soak up everything you can. Conferences, especially national ones, give you the chance to see libraries from a multitude of perspectives you might not get just by taking classes. Local and state-wide conferences can also teach you practical, hands-on tips you may not get in the classroom.

Make sure to take advantage of job placement services or resume reviews, too. People are on hand to help you assess your own strengths and weaknesses and help you turn a critical eye to your resume. Even if you’re not looking for a job, these services can help you decide what your next professional step might be.

Your conference experience shouldn’t be all work and no play, though. Plan to go to a social event outside of the official conference schedule. Many ALA divisions and roundtables have happy hours where you can mingle more casually with other professionals. And if you’ve already made new friends during the conference, going out for dinner or drinks afterward gives you a chance to get to know them better and expand your professional network.

Being a student and not having any purchasing power in your library means you’re not a potential sale for vendors in the exhibit hall, but you can still learn a lot from them about the different products they offer. Just be sure to be clear that you’re a student and be willing to decline freebies or to defer to librarians who may be researching a purchase. Talking to publishers can be a good way to pick up books and ARCs if you want to get a head start on writing professional reviews. If you do pick up swag, paying your own way at the conference means that you actually get to keep all of those sweet giveaways (especially the books!) rather than turning it over to your library when you return.

Going to a national conference may seem intimidating, but as a student it gives you a chance to get your feet wet and see how conferences work so that when you attend another one as an official representative from your library, you’ll be better equipped to pick sessions and to navigate the exhibit hall. It also gives you an idea of what presentations are like so that once you have some accumulated wisdom of your own, you’ll be ready to present at a conference yourself.

Conferences are useful no matter what stage of your career you’re in. Being a student means cheaper conference rates, built-in travel partners, flexibility, having your mind blown by the wide world of librarianship beyond the classroom, opportunities for networking, and lots of free stuff. How can you pass that up?

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Leave a Comment May 12, 2010

Full-text PLA2010 blog posts now at Librarified

PLA2010 ended a month ago and it simultaneously feels like it just happened and like it happened a million years ago. But now that the requisite 30 days has passed since I wrote my posts about the conference for the PLA blog, I can have the full text available here. So in case you missed them the first time around:

Writing for the PLA blog was a really neat experience; if you’re attending a conference and have the chance to be a volunteer blogger, I’d highly recommend it. It gave me the opportunity to take time during the conference to think about what I was hearing and doing, it gave me another chance to engage in discussion, and it was honestly just fun.

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Leave a Comment April 28, 2010

PLA Blog: tweeting at the conference

This post was originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

Everyone’s been doing such a lovely job of recapping sessions they attended, so I wanted to get a little meta on you guys and talk about how Twitter was used at PLA this year. For a little context, the way I was keeping up with PLA happenings on Twitter was partly though the people I already followed but mostly by monitoring tweets tagged with #pla10, so I did miss anything that people I didn’t know said about the conference that wasn’t tagged.

What worked
Twitter turned out to be great for getting snippets of sessions I didn’t attend. It was sometimes hard to decide which of two or three concurrent talks I wanted to go to, so it was nice afterward to be able to scroll back through recent tweets to see if anything particularly interesting (and necessarily pithy) had come out of the ones I missed. It was interesting, too, to see how many people quoted the same thought, and it was especially interesting to see what sessions Twitter users attended. There were, as you’d expect, a lot of tweets about the technology sessions, and there were a fair amount from the youth services sessions, but there were very few from the management track sessions. Make of that what you will.

What didn’t work as well
Unfortunately, the #pla10-tagged tweets seemed to mostly be people putting out ideas without much dialog happening around those ideas. That is, Twitter looked like a room full of people talking at and not with each other. I did see some short exchanges, and it’s possible that these follow-up conversations and elaborations happened in @-replies that didn’t get tagged (I know I had a few of those myself), but it didn’t seem like Twitter was being used much to build ideas or community.

My other main disappointment was that plans to have a tweet-up (an in-person meeting of Twitter users) weren’t well published and mostly fell through: one person said that only five people said they’d be there and then only two actually showed up–but I didn’t even hear about it until it was over. This missed opportunity to build community was especially sad since national conventions are such a great time to meet people you normally wouldn’t, or to finally meet people you’ve “known” online.

I’m really glad that I was twittering publicly at PLA, though. I’ve been using Twitter for almost two years now, but with a locked account and just among friends; it’s only in the last few months that I’ve created a public account and started socializing outside of my immediate circle. It added a depth and dimension and feeling of connection, both to content and to people, that I didn’t have at ALA. And from the experience I’ve gained more followers and started following some new people I wouldn’t have found without Twitter and hashtags and the conference. The complexity of what we say is somewhat limited by Twitter’s 140-characters-or-less format, but I’m looking forward to seeing more ideas and thoughts from new library friends in the coming months.

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Leave a Comment March 29, 2010

PLA Blog: volunteering and vendors: the exhibit hall

Portions of this post were originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

Yesterday I volunteered at the PLA Membership Booth between the first and second sessions of the day. It was a lot of fun and a nice way to just chat with people who came by. There was one librarian from Chicago who said she was so happy to see young people entering the profession who were passionate about the issues we stand for and we got into a great conversation about literacy and libraries.

I also answered a lot of questions and it just struck me as funny that I was playing reference librarian to a convention of librarians. Just like at the reference desk, most of the questions I fielded were directional and ready reference inquiries: the ALA Store is right over there under the giant hanging sign that says “ALA Bookstore.” Yes, I can look up where that publisher is and yes you can use the conference program to decide what session you’re going to and yes you may look at this map and yes you may take anything on this table and yes I know where the first aid station is and yes I’d be happy to pass along to the higher-ups that you’re loving this conference. Even we the information professionals need a little help sometimes!

I also spent a fair amount of time on Thursday and Friday cruising around the exhibit hall checking out the different vendors and publishers and other groups. Since I’m not in a position to buy anything for a library right now, I wasn’t of much interest to most of the vendors, but I did have a long and helpful conversation with the rep from Lifelong Education @ Desktop (LE@D). They provide online continuing education classes for cheap–and if you’re a resident of a member state like Indiana, you may even have the cost of your classes subsidized by your state library. The rep mentioned that most librarians seem to wind up in management almost on accident, so it’s important to develop your leadership skills all along your career so you’re prepared. She was very friendly and very helpful and I’m definitely going to keep their classes in mind after I’ve graduated.

One of the other long conversations I had in the exhibit hall was with the reps from Bluewater Productions–you may know them as the publishers of (among other things) the Female Force comics highlighting women in politics, Stephanie Meyer, and JK Rowling. Graphic novels and comics have so long been a “boy thing,” so I’m glad to see publishers opening up content to appeal to a wider audience. I wanted to know, though, if this was a women-driven initiative, so I asked the guys at the booth if they had female writers and illustrators and inkers (they do, and they’re recruiting more) and if any of the executives of Bluewater were women (half of them are). I picked up a couple of their comics and I’m looking forward to looking them over in more detail. I’m also interested in checking out Girl Comics, part of Marvel’s “Marvel Women” project; the first issue came out earlier this month.

My first conference was ALA Annual last year and I found the exhibit hall there with its roving throngs of librarians, massive vendor displays, and general warehouse proportions kind of overwhelming. The exhibit hall at PLA was a lot more manageable. I also really enjoyed being able to help and connect with librarians who visited the PLA booth–I’d highly recommend volunteering for that at the next conference you attend.

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1 Comment March 27, 2010

PLA Blog: serving pregnant or parenting teens

This post was originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

I’m not sure what it is, but I seem to really enjoy the early morning sessions. Today the first one I attended was “Pregnant/Parenting Teens: Promoting Library Services Among the Underserved” with Maryann Mori, the director of the Waukee Public Library in Waukee, Iowa. She addressed the needs of pregnant and parenting teens, what libraries already have for those teens, and what libraries can do to further their service to these patrons.

In some ways, the needs of pregnant and parenting teens are similar to a lot of public library patrons’ needs: they want help with their education, with finding a job, and with entertainment. But they also have more specific needs like learning parenting skills, being put in touch with other community organizations that can help them, and just having someone in their lives that they can trust. We can meet these needs with our usual materials and services that provide for the educational, informational, entertainment, and lifelong learning needs of all of our patrons, but we can also provide a friendly staff, contact names and addresses for community organizations, and storytimes that also teach parenting and reading skills–especially by using the Every Child Ready to Read framework.

With the principles of ECRR in mind, Maryann designed a four-session program that emphasizes the six aspects (print motivation, vocabulary, phonological awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge, and narrative skills) and also explains the general benefits of reading to your baby.

The first meeting is an introduction to ECRR and provides statistics about the benefits of reading to your baby. The second meeting focuses on children’s books, choosing books for your baby, and print motivation. The third meeting covers phonological awareness and vocabulary. The final meeting reviews the first three and touches on teen parents’ reading memories and provides encouragement for the future. Each session combines storytelling and songs and rhymes and fingerplays with parenting skills that include aspects of child development.

Maryann also spent a lot of time talking about partnering with other organizations in the community. Such a partnership might be something as simple as creating a bookmark with information about the classes and good books for babies in the stuff that gets sent home with moms when they leave the hospital, but it can be as much as going to shelters and group homes and correctional facilities to do the classes. There are so many other organizations you can partner with to make these programs a success including high schools, the local WIC agency, the crisis pregnancy center, churches, the department of health, even the grocery store (advertise in the formula aisle!).

Serving pregnant or parenting teens also exists at an interesting intersection of teen services and children’s services, so it can be an interesting collaboration between librarians or departments.

There are some barriers to library access that some of these teen patrons may have. They may be balancing school and work. They may be living in temporary housing. They may be totally dependent on welfare. They may not be strong readers. They may lack transportation. They may not know what good parenting looks like. They might not even be able to get a library card without a parent’s signature since they’re underage–and what if they’ve been kicked out? Does your library have a policy that would provide for them?

Despite these stumbling blocks, this is an important demographic to reach because as they see what’s available to them and their babies at the library, they’ll come back. And Maryann’s program works: she’s not only seen these teens come back for more library services, but they’re also more likely to graduate and more likely to start reading more themselves, and their children develop better reading and language skills through the program.

What does your library have now for pregnant or parenting teens? What more can we be doing to serve them?

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Leave a Comment March 26, 2010

PLA Blog: extreme resume makeover

This post was originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

Since I’ll be graduating in just six short weeks, I was a little disappointed to see that there wouldn’t be a job placement center this year at PLA. I checked out ALA’s site on finding a job, but I wanted something more personal and dialogue-driven, so I made sure to sign up for the resume review clinic yesterday.

I’m going to be totally honest here: the half-hour meeting I had with Miguel Figueroa, the director of ALA’s Office for Diversity and Spectrum, was hands-down the best resume review I’ve ever had. He was very detailed in his advice, explained the rationale behind his suggestions, and was attentive to my concerns and the thought process behind what I’d originally written. He didn’t just give me generic resume advice or assess how well my resume matched an accepted format; he read every word on my resume and told me what I could do to strengthen every single section. He also did a really good job of helping me identify my strengths and what the most impressive parts of each of my jobs and skill areas were and how to best communicate that.

I’m going to have to set aside a large chunk of time when I get home to completely overhaul the design and content of my resume, but I feel a lot more confident about being able to put my best foot forward. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more opportunities like this available here, and that the resume review clinic was only for a few hours on one day. It’s a great service and I’m really glad I was able to take advantage of it.

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Leave a Comment March 26, 2010

PLA Blog: queering the library

This post was originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

[Please note: throughout this post, I’ll be using “queer” to refer very broadly to the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, and asexual/ally) community.]

The first session I attended today was Spanning the Generations: Serving the GLBTIQ Community of ALL Ages. Unfortunately two of the speakers, Nancy Silverrod and KR Roberto, were unable to make the event, but we were left in the capable hands of Allan Kleiman and Angie Manfredi. They talked about how libraries can–and should–serve members of the queer community and how queer patrons’ needs differ by their ages.

Allan told a story about reading what few materials on homosexuality were available to him growing up in secret at the library, always in the reading room and never by checking out the books. While he acknowledged that materials have improved drastically since then and that society as a whole has become more accepting of queer folk, he did tell us that people are still reluctant to ask for information on queer materials or queer resources, so our focus with adults should be making the library an openly welcoming place and making materials available without asking. We can do this by including books about queer characters in displays on other topics, by including queer authors in our book displays, by partnering with community organizations and participating as a library in pride parades, and by linking to queer resources on our library websites.

Angie addressed service to queer teens, tweens, young people, and their families. There’s been a sharp increase in the number of YA titles published recently about queer teens and the content has become much more accepting as well, but we still have a long way to go. One of the ways we can work to see more titles like these are to make sure our library buys these books (or nonfiction titles like GAY AMERICA: STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY) or at the very least thanking publishers who make these materials and things like GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER AND QUESTIONING TEEN LITERATURE: A GUIDE TO READING INTERESTS (part of the Genreflecting series that will be published at the end of the month). She also mentioned the Rainbow List as a good resource.

Angie also talked about how one of the most important things we can do for queer patrons is to make our library a safe place. Refuse to tolerate hate speech. Partner with your local gay-straight alliance–or create one. Be supportive of openly queer teen and tween patrons. And make use of GLSEN’s toolkits.

When serving children, Angie recommended doing both overt things and working to normalize queerness. One overt way we can support the queer community through our youth service is having a Rainbow Storytime that includes stories not only about queer families but also stories about differences, diversity, acceptance, bullying, and originality. We can also include books about queer people in history and in our culture in displays and storytime because just treating queer people like everyone else sends the message that queerness is a part of our society and has been and will be and that that’s totally fine. Supporting queer families should also be a focus in our service to young people.

Allan encouraged us all to support our queering efforts by tying it to our mission (queer patrons definitely fall into the “underserved populations” category) and making it integral to our library service. He finished up by talking more about partnering with local organizations in the queer community and by pointing to successful work in specific public libraries (especially the San Francisco Public Library’s blog, Queerest. Library. Ever.) to support and engage the queer community.

Angie has compiled a list of resources for serving queer youth at delicious.com/youth.lgbtqia to get you started, and Allan emphasized the importance of taking what we learn back to our libraries, so I tell you: go forth! Queer your library!

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Leave a Comment March 25, 2010

PLA Blog: a latecomer from Indiana

This post was originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

My name is Gretchen and I am not an audiobook person. Oh, I understand why our patrons like them–and why they can be such a boon to reluctant readers–but they’re just not my thing. I’m a very visual person and my mind tends to wander just listening to a story and then I realize I don’t know what’s going on and I have to go back and sometimes the voices don’t sound the way I think they should and I’d much rather just have the book in front of me.

But for my car trip today (I drove from Indianapolis to Chicago so I’d have a direct flight to Portland) I stopped by my local public library and checked out a copy of A MANGO-SHAPED SPACE by Wendy Mass after my young cousin recommended it to me. And while I had my usual trouble with staying focused and accepting different interpretations of lines of dialogue or the delivery of pauses, I did enjoy being able to make progress on a book while I was driving. I don’t think this experience is going to make me an audiobook person, but I do like them a little more now.

Normally when I fly I’m alone, so flights–especially longer ones–put me in a reflective mood. This evening I was thinking about this conference, of course, and what I’d like to get out of it. I’m in my final semester of my MLS at Indiana University, Indianapolis, and while I attended ALA last summer and a few regional conferences since then, I’m still pretty new to conferences and honestly, to librarianship. While I learned a lot at ALA and the conference experience was incredibly energizing and the entire thing was a pretty mind-blowing experience, it was also a fairly solitary experience. I didn’t know many people who were going and I didn’t meet as many new people as I wanted. But for PLA I know a lot more people who are here and I’m really looking forward to spending time with them–and to meeting lots of new people. In fact, I’ll be at the PLA membership booth (#2255) from 9:45-10:30 on Friday and I’d love it if you stopped by!

I’m also looking forward to blogging about the experience. You can follow me on Twitter (@librarified), too, if you’d like.

Seeing a real actual snow-topped mountain during our descent this evening was thrilling (I grew up amidst the flat cornfields of northern Indiana, so any sort of topological variation is exciting) and now, after months of anticipation, I am finally in Portland joining thousands of other librarians for learning and networking and having fun.

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Leave a Comment March 24, 2010

Blogging and tweeting at PLA

One week from today I’ll be on a plane to Portland, Oregon for PLA2010! I’ve spent the last few days in a flurry of preparation: I’ve chosen my programs and sessions, I’ve made a list of what I need to pack, I’ve read the Walking Paper Guide to Portland, I’ve watched the Visiting Librarian’s Guide to Portland, and I’ve started to peruse the list of vendors.

I’m also very excited to announce that I’ll be guest blogging for the PLA Blog during the conference! I’ll be writing here, too, of course, but I’ll also post links here to what I write over there. About a month after the conference ends, I’ll mirror what I wrote for them here.

Finally, I’ll be tweeting throughout the conference; you can follow @librarified if you’re interested.

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Leave a Comment March 17, 2010

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