Last year, I analyzed voter turnout for the ALA election and speculated on why certain divisions did better than others (if turnout is a measure of member engagement). Now that data for this year is available, I thought I’d do the same and make some comparisons.
First, comparative turnout between divisions (with all of these graphs, click through for bigger versions):
(In this chart and throughout this post, what’s labeled as ALA voter turnout isn’t the overall turnout for all members; it’s how many members voted for Council and President of ALA — “Big ALA,” if you will.)
It’s been about three weeks since I finished up my work as chair of Amazing Audiobooks and, for the first time in two years, could read what I wanted and at my own pace. But once our list was finished and the press release written, instead of feeling relief and release, I felt anxiety and distraction. I’ve been stuck in a post-selection committee reading slump, and I’ve been worried I might not escape.
It’s been nearly eight months since I last posted here! A lot has happened in that time, and believe me, I’ve missed blogging. I’m not sure I can even pretend this post is the harbinger of a comeback; I’m still doing all of the things that took me away from here last winter, and until that’s over, I’m not sure I’ll be blogging regularly.
What are those things? Well, I’m getting more involved locally. And like I mentioned ages and ages ago, I’ve been on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee, and as of February, I’ve been chairing it. I also took over as member manager of The Hub last summer and I’ve been spending a lot of time on that as well. I started reviewing for School Library Journal. I think those are probably where most of my time is going — and as of the beginning of this month, I also have more hours at work! I’m still not quite full time, but I’m getting there, and there are so many things that have happened at work that I’ve wanted to tell you about but just haven’t made the time to write up. The things I do with YALSA seem to feed back into my work, and the things I do at work inspire new connections and conversations on Twitter, and then I see those people involved with YALSA and think to make new connections. I’ve definitely been busy, and it feels good! And while I miss blogging, I’m kind of enjoying just putting my head down and working. That feels really good.
So the more involved I get with YALSA — beyond committee work, I’ve also been on a taskforce, organized the speed networking session at Annual this year, and helped write up a proposal [pdf] that the YALSA Board form a task force to monitor what’s going on with ebooks and help YALSA create resources about ebooks for its members — the more involved I want to get and the more I want to learn about the organization and help make it better.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is member involvement in divisions and in ALA as a whole. (more…)
Exciting news: I’ve been named the new member manager of YALSA’s YA lit-focused blog, The Hub. I’m really psyched about the opportunity to help guide the The Hub as it becomes an even more awesome resource for people who love YA lit. In addition to the management aspects, I’ll also be contributing to The Hub, so I’ll be cross-posting what I write there here, too, the way I do now for the YALSAblog.
If any of you YA lit fans out there are interested in contributing to The Hub, let me know! I’d also love to hear any ideas or suggestions you have for the blog.
After returning home from ALA this year, I came down with a cold that I just haven’t been able to shake. It’s making catching up on my life and correspondence difficult, but I wanted to write down some of my impressions and thoughts from Annual before they fade too much.
Before I left for New Orleans, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted my conference experience to be like this time. Especially since the last time I’d been to Annual was also my first and I’d been a student at the time, I had a different perspective now that I have my own library to which I’m applying everything I learn rather than just trying to file everything away for later. And just by virtue of being in the field longer and finding more ways to get involved, I knew some of my responsibilities and experiences would change. (For example, in small groups, I was able to actually contribute ideas since I have hands-on experience that I didn’t have a year ago, and now that I’m on a committee, I had more official meetings that I needed to attend at specific times, which precluded me from attending sessions that looked interesting.) And for the first time, I was going to be rooming with a coworker, which turned out to be a lot of fun.
Anyway, my big goals this time were to be more fearless in just jumping into conversations and introducing myself and to learn more about YALSA and to find new ways to step up my involvement. (more…)
Did you vote in the ALA elections this year? I did, but it was the first time I’d done so since becoming a YALSA member in 2009. In previous years, I didn’t feel familiar enough with the organization–what would these candidates be doing if they were elected?–and I was overwhelmed by the long lists of names and the sheer number of positions I needed to choose people for. The elections seemed big and huge and unknown and unknowable. (I think this is, in part, responsible for the 17% voter turnout we saw this year.)
In the years since then, I’ve gotten to know YALSA and its structure a little better and as I’ve gotten more involved and met other members, I’m starting to recognize names on those lists of candidates, so the elections seem a lot less scary. I’ve also grown more invested in seeing YALSA (and ALA, too, I suppose, though I feel less connected to ALA than to YALSA) move in smart directions and in seeing good work be done by the organization, so voting seemed a lot more important to me this year.
And I know that ALA and YALSA can seem faceless and huge, but your vote does matter. If you look at the huge PDF with election results for ALA’s divisions and roundtables, you’ll find candidates who won by twenty votes, or ten votes, or even one vote in a few instances. If you have any preference at all for who runs ALA and your divisions and roundtables, you really, really need to vote. It matters.
Anyway, the elections came in about a month and a half ago, and I was excited to see that Jack Martin had been elected president for the 2012-2013 term. I recently had the opportunity to interview him for the YALSA blog, and in the course of responding to one of my questions, he used the phrase “more cool everything!” which I think is my new mantra at work and at home.
Click through for Jack’s thoughts on teens’ involvement in YALSA, raising YALSA’s profile nationally, creating opportunities for new members, and whether pirates or ninjas would emerge victorious in a fight.
This summer I had my first opportunity to get involved with YALSA in a more concrete way than just blogging: I served on the Mentoring Program Task Force, which evaluated applications for YALSA’s new mentoring program and then paired up mentors and proteges. It was a great experience and it’s encouraged me to find more ways to serve within both national professional organizations like YALSA and local professional organizations like the Connecticut Library Association.
I’ve written a post for the YALSA blog reflecting on my task force experience. If you’re interested in getting involved with YALSA but aren’t sure where to start, I’d highly recommend a task force!
This collection of links is going to be a real mix of things, but there’s so much interesting stuff I’ve seen lately!
YA lit and library news and trends
One of the things I’d like to see more of in librarianship in general and youth services especially is more rigor and research. YALSA is launching the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, an online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal, in November. They’ve put out a call for papers for the Winter 2011 and Spring 2011 issues.
Through 20 September you can also nominate librarians for the I Love My Librarian Award. The winners get a $5000 cash award, a plaque, and a $500 travel stipend to attend an awards reception in New York hosted by The New York Times, so this is a great opportunity for all of you library users to nominate a librarian who’s made a difference in your life or your community.
Alexie’s book has won a number of awards, but that did not sway the board.
“We can take the book and wrap it in those 20 awards everyone else said it won and it still is wrong,” said board member Ken Spurgeon.
Supporters of the book said it was chosen to get high school boys, particularly, interested in reading. Spurgeon said that was a mistake because the book’s reading level is low for high school readers.
Over at Closed Stacks, The Librarienne rails against the ALA for continuing to promote the idea that librarianship is a greying profession and that there will soon be a mass exodus of retirees leaving positions for new librarians to fill, citing the unemployment and underemployment she and her fellow graduates are suffering.
But in non-sucky news, Bitch Magazine recently interviewed Lia Friedman, he head of public services at the UCSD Arts Library, the staff librarian for make/shift magazine, and an active member of Radical Reference. Lia talks about the values of librarianship, stereotypes of librarians, and what Radical Reference does.
The team at Orbit had their summer intern do “a survey of cover art elements for the top fantasy novels published in the previous year,” and a few weeks ago they published their results. The summary in chart form:
Some people are speaking up for their libraries by making videos. The Monroe County Community School Corporation’s school libraries were recently saved and I’d like to think that the video students, teachers, and the librarian at Templeton Elementary School made of the play they wrote and performed during National Library Week, “The Case of the Missing Librarian,” had something to do with it.
And Laura Graff of Sun Valley High School in California created “Bleeding Libraries,” a vision of what will happen when libraries close due to budget cuts.
I tend to assume that everyone within libraryland is an unconditional library lover and supporter, but another recent YALSA blog post challenged that assumption. Linda Braun, the president of YALSA–the president of YALSA–asked if every library was worth saving.
LWB: Yeah, I get that. We do need to get the word out about the importance of libraries. But here’s the thing I’ve been thinking about. As someone who consults and teaches librarians to be – Should all libraries be saved? I hear horror stories about libraries that provide really bad service and have really bad collections.
Do we want to save those libraries too?
mk: Well, is that the fault of the library itself, or is it symptomatic of leadership within the library or the community?
LWB: Either I suppose, but if we have the rallying cry of save all libraries will that change? Isn’t it a band-aid to save all libraries and then have the same service and same problems keep happening?
Why not save some libraries and be honest about the bad stuff that’s going on in some places?
She does say she’s playing the devil’s advocate and if you keep reading, I think what Linda is saying isn’t so much that some libraries shouldn’t be saved, but that some libraries need a lot of work. And in a small way, I agree that we don’t always turn a critical enough eye to our profession, to what our libraries are doing, and to what they could or should be doing. But especially now when libraries are being threatened, it’s frightening to think that admitting our imperfections–even if we’ve also got a plan to remedy those–might mean the end of our library entirely.
But it’s adults who have power and voice in our society, so we need to be able to talk about why libraries matter and what they do and then take action. Zen College Life gives us 85 reasons to be thankful for libraries and while some are jokey (“Colleges need something to remodel every so often” and “A library is a great excuse to get out of the house (seriously, why would anyone argue with you about it?)”), some really get to the heart of what it is libraries do: we offer free Internet access to people who would otherwise be shut out of the online world, not everything can be found online and librarians can help you find very specific information, we teach children literacy and problem-solving skills. In making lists like these, I think instead of thinking about what libraries do, it’s more helpful to think about what would be missing from the community if the library was gone.
Karl Siewert advocates for the library by infiltrating Instructables, explaining in just a few easy steps how you can get any information you could possibly need (hint: the required materials are a library card and the ability to ask questions).
Jessamyn West also compiled a list of single link advocacy sites supporting libraries in need. If a library in your area is on the list, check out the site and see what you can do.
And while talking on the Internet about how great libraries are has its place, the best way to stand up for your library is through concrete, real-world action. Use your library and give them the circ stats and program attendance numbers they need to make their case. Vote for ballot measures that support library funding. Talk to your legislators and tell them libraries are important to you. The best people to advocate for libraries aren’t librarians–they’re people who aren’t formally associated with the library. We need non-librarians to champion us.
“Ask me about the pest that’s infecting your crop, common skin diseases, how to seek help if your husband beats you or even how to stop having children, and I may have a solution,” says a confident Akhter.
This kind of transformative access to information is awesome on its own, but it’s especially great in a country like Bangladesh where 36% of people live on less than $1 a day and 90% of women give birth at home with no medical assistance. Read more at the original Guardian article.
The Westbury Book Exchange in Somerset, England is billed as the “smallest library in the world” at Offbeat Earth. An old red telephone booth was purchased for £1 and stocked with books, CDs, and DVDs. People bring books they’ve read to swap with what’s in the booth. I love this community-driven love for literacy, but it’s not really a library, is it? The books aren’t in any particular order, much less being cataloged or classified, and there’s no professional staff available to help you find what you want. But it’s gotten me thinking about what makes a library a library–and it’s cute!
There’s still time to apply for YALSA’s mentoring program if you haven’t yet. Experienced public and school librarians working with teens will be paired up with newcomers to the field for mutual learning, encouragement, and awesomeness. Applications are due by the end of this month, so if you’re interested but haven’t finished your application, be sure to do so soon.
And finally, a couple videos. As part of the promotion for GUYS READ: FUNNY BUSINESS, which comes out this September, HarperCollins put together “The Joke,” in which Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Adam Rex, David Yoo, Paul Feig, Kate DiCamillo, Christopher Paul Curtis, Eoin Colfer, Jack Gantos, David Lubar, and Jeff Kinney–all contributors to the collection–tell a joke about a new kid in school.
I like that the Internet makes authors so much more accessible than they ever have been. There’s exciting stuff like being able to read their blogs, follow them on Twitter, or watch their video blogs, but even just things like this where you get to see what they look like personalizes them in a way that I didn’t really have growing up.
Some students and faculty members at the University of Washington’s Information School show off the braininess and sexiness of library and information science work in “Librarians do Gaga.”