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1. Looking forward to ESEB 2015

My first experience of an academic conference as a biology books editor at Oxford University Press was of sitting in a ballroom in Ottawa in July 2012 listening to 3000 evolutionary biologists chanting ‘I’m a African’ while a rapper danced in front of a projection of Charles Darwin

The post Looking forward to ESEB 2015 appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. SCBWI Retreat 2015: Workshops with Grown-Ups (and FOOD!)



Last weekend I was away from home for 4 days in the historic village of Evesham, near Worcester, doing another of my dream jobs. It involved enormous amounts of eating (best rhubarb crumble I ever tasted), sketching in the sunshine, listening to stories, chatting into the night over glasses of wine... oh, and also delivering workshops and portfolio advice for members of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

I knew the SCBWI retreat was to be held in a lovely old house with pretty grounds, but I was completely gob-smacked when my taxi stopped outside a long, Tudor house, all timbers and thatch. I was shown up a big, wooden staircase into a lovely old room, whose floorboards sloped down into one corner. I unpacked with a smile.


We kicked off about an hour later, with a brilliant getting-to-know-you exercise run by fellow author/illustrators, Loretta Schauer and Alexis Deacon. We paired up and had to draw or describe events from each other's past, stimulated by silly questions like: When have you injured yourself as a result of your own stupidity?

Then I ran my first session of the weekend: teaching people how to make concertina sketchbooks. 




SCBWI had provided a big pile of watercolour paper. We set to, cutting and sticking. We cut up old cardboard boxes for the covers - it worked a treat. Then we all filed into the dining room for the first feast of many.



After dinner, we had a book review cum storytelling session, where we each read a favourite picture book to the rest of the group. There were 30 of us, so it took a while, but was a lovely way to spend the evening.

Next morning was a workshop by Alexis. He taught us techniques for making narratives more interesting, looking at the potential for using dishonest characters with hidden motivations. We all tried to create a story, though mine ran out of steam half way through. After coffee and biccies, we had a bit of free time, so I took my newly-minted sketchbook into the grounds:


Then it was lunch (yum), followed by an interesting talk by Andrea MacDonald, Senior Editor at Random House, about what makes a good picture book:


I did a couple of one-to-one advice sessions next. I found a lovely little summer house tucked away at the foot of the garden, which was perfect for a cost chat. people had booked appointments with me and I did my best to be wise and helpful with first an illustrator, then an author:


My 2nd workshop used the sketchbooks we made earlier. I wanted to explore the idea of finding a narrative in a place, of capturing the essence of a particular period of time using words and pictures, but doing it through close observation, recording what we could see, hear and smell. This is of course something which I am very used to doing in my sketchbooks, and I thought it might make a good source of inspiration.

I sat under a big tree and rang a bell. People gathered from around the grounds. Some had been playing croquet on the lawn!


We had expected mostly illustrators to take up the challenge, but a few authors went for it too. I showed the work I'd done since I arrived, as an example, and talked through easy techniques for getting instant results with watercolour (it was a revelation to most people that you could paint with clear water first, to control the colour), then everyone dispersed for an hour or so of experimentation.


After dinner (yum), we gathered in the conference room and, in small groups, talked though our work-in-progress. Each group then chose the strongest 3 pieces of work for each person - a great idea, as your own favourite bits of work are not necessarily your best and a fresh perspective is very useful. All the work was then displayed for everyone to browse and the next thing I knew, it was midnight!


Sunday began with my main workshop (after breakfast of course - yum). I devised a technique for drawing a journey, one piece at a time, to build up the elements of a story. Only, to put a fly in the ointment and get people out of their comfort-zone, many of the components were chosen randomly, by a neighbour. For me, the challenge was making it work, when about a third of the delegates were not illustrators. Still, it seemed to go extremely well. After coffee (and biccies) people took it in turns to pin up their drawing and tell their story.


Some ideas were hilarious, some were quite dark, some narratives were in a bit of a tangle, which the group helped to sort out: the brainstorming of 30 creative minds, all focussed on progressing one story idea was fantastic to watch.


The 'house cat' decided he wanted to join in. He demanded to be let in from the rain through the French windows, jumped up on the tables, walked across people's work, then took at seat near the front to listen:


After this of course, it was time for lunch (yum). Then we had another talk, this time by Emily Lamm, once my editor at Gullane (who worked with me on Swap!), now working as Commissioning Editor at Hachette. She gave some excellent advice on what editors are looking for and things to try / avoid in your writing. I tried to capture her and highlights from what she was saying in the concertina sketchbook:


I had two more mentoring sessions during the afternoon, sadly in the house this time, as rain was still bouncing around outside. Then Alexis did a demo session, showing how he draws with ink, using different kinds of brushes (in various stages of decay): 


I had my final one-to-one session, then at 7pm the gong sounded and it was time for another glorious dinner. I was impressed with the fact that the veggie choice for every meal was just as adventurous and delicious as its meat counterpart. We were all so impressed as a group that we asked for the chef and kitchen staff to come out and gave them a huge round of applause.

After dinner, we took a group photo in the garden:


Then we were all given a postcard, onto which we had to write three achievable goals for the next 3 months. The illustrators decorated the front of their cards. We stuck stamps on and handed them back to Loretta, whose job it was to post them all back to us in three months time. Good idea, or what?

We stayed up chatting and drinking and taking photos of each other until late, a gradually dwindling group. Finally, at 1am, the last dregs gave up the ghost and headed for bed.

Next morning, I packed my suitcase then luxuriated over my final breakfast (yum):


Then gradually, a few at a time, people had to leave (cue hugging...). It had been such a rich weekend, we all felt rather sad to be on our way. I was so sad that I had to buy myself a present from the gift shop (a VERY funky necklace).


Thank you to Loretta and all the team at SCBWI for inviting me to take part. It was a joy. Thanks as well to Sue Eves and Paul Morton, for the photos.

It was lovely to meet everyone, including the rather amazing Alexis Deacon, who's head is just stuffed with crazy story-stuff. And you know the really good news? I get to do it all again next year, as it's a 2-year invitation!

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3. Alison Weiss: Editors' Panel

Alison Weiss of Sky Pony Press
Alison Weiss is an editor at Sky Pony Press (and was for six-and-a-half years before that was an editor at Egmont). She focuses on chapter books through YA. Her authors include Jessica Verday, the bestselling author of Of Monsters and Madness; Agatha Award winner Penny Warner; YALSA-award-winner Sarah Cross; Micol Ostow, and many more wonderful authors.

A fun fact about Alison: She comes from Sleepy Hollow (for real!).

Voice is essential to projects she takes on, but it's easier to sell a book if it has a killer plot.

What would be your dream submission?

She's looking for books that change her perspective on the world. It can be big or it can be small and subtle. This is the kind of book that has a long-lasting impact of readers.

What she admires: 

The best writing is effortless. It looks like it's so simple, and you can't see all of the hard work that's behind it all. She wants to be sucked into a world and feel lost in it.

What tips the balance on submissions: 

Editors get a lot of submissions. When she sees a problem and knows how she would fix it, that's more likely to be a project she'll take to acquisitions. If she loves it and sees problems that baffle her, it's less likely to go through.

The relationship between writers and editors is vital, and writers shouldn't fear talking to their editor to work through manuscript challenges.

The book she wishes she'd published:

Ruta Sepetys's Out of the Easy.

Follow her on twitter at @alioop7. 

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4. Level Up Your Leadership Skills: Stop Doing Things

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This post was based on my presentation at the ALA Annual Convention, What I Stopped Doing: Improving Services to Teens by Giving Things Up. Slides for the presentation can be found on Slideshare or HaikuDeck.

In order to do improve library service to teens, we have to work differently -- and in order to do that, we have to stop doing some of what we’re currently doing.

From discussion at Annual and among colleagues in my personal network, this is a topic that resonated with large numbers of staff -- not just the necessity of giving things up, but the importance of continuing to talk loudly and proudly about the things we stopped doing. In youth services this is especially important -- often we are solo practitioners who were hired to work with a broad range of ages -- 0-18 in some cases.

Discontinuing or re-assigning tasks and services is challenging, but it’s critical to improving library services to teens -- and it’s an important leadership quality. While there is no one formula that will work for every library or community, when we’re ready to think about what we can stop doing, reflect again on YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens report - it sets a frame for the work that’s most important to consider discontinuing or doing differently.

While within the report there are five areas for change, my presentation focused on two areas of the report---creating a whole library/whole school approach to serving teens and building partnerships outside the library walls.

As library staff who work with teens, we are often hired to manage and deliver services to an age group that very few other staff members want to manage. This reality puts us at risk for feeling like we have to do it all -- that the entire future of teens in our library rests on our shoulders. And sometimes that can be an empowering feeling -- while there is a lot of we can’t control, it can be nice to be totally in charge of something. But this is not realistic or sustainable -- and doesn’t improve our library’s service to teens in the long term. We are generally able to act as a facilitator -- instead of an expert -- in working with teens in program settings -- but what we acted more like that with our colleagues and supported them in building relationships with teens, managing teen behavior and delivering services to teens? This will be slow work; we won’t necessarily see immediate change.

In order to strengthen our services to teens, we also have to get out of our library and build partnerships with other youth-serving organizations in the community. While library staff serving teens are not always in control of their time, there are some things we can consider stopping in order to find more time for partnership building:

* Lots of school visits. What would happen if we didn’t do them for a year? Would our participation or attendance decrease? What if we re-directed this energy into specific groups, schools or organizations we aren’t seeing but want to? We’ll never know what actions are effective and what actions we just assume are effective because we’ve always done them until we stop doing some of them and see what happens.

* Teen programs where nobody comes or attendance is inconsistent. Without a more solid sense of community needs, partners to help co-create and promote and young people in leadership roles, our programs can be hit or miss. What if we took a break from programs and spent time strengthening an important partnership?

* Stop working the desk. If we’re in a supervisor or manager role, think about taking our most experienced, talented and possibly-getting-bored teen librarians and stop wasting their time with auto repair questions -- set them loose in the community. Other library staff will definitely complain about this -- but fairness doesn’t mean treating everyone exactly the same, it means giving each individual what they personally need to be successful.

* Stop putting together displays or booklists and delegate these to other staff members, volunteers or young people in our libraries.

* Stop running book clubs in our libraries. Look instead in our communities for partners who say, “my kids hate reading” and wow them when we bring books their young people will enjoy.

Some things session participants mentioned they changed or were considering changing:
* Discontinued STEM programs because attendance was poor
* Reduced the number of storytimes offered
* Stopped preschool storytimes because 3-4 years olds were in preschool.
* Quit supervising all the teen employees herself and divided their supervision among colleagues.
* Stopped doing regular media classes in the school library.

Since each library’s situation and community are different, not all of these examples will work for everyone and some will seem almost impossible. Before putting them all aside, we should take some time to reflect on our personal feelings about the examples above -- and about other things we’ve been thinking about discontinuing. What’s standing in our way of thinking differently? Are there really factors beyond our control - or is it ourselves getting in our way? We can’t give up everything we love doing, but often there are tasks we know we SHOULD stop doing, but don’t. Be kind to ourselves; take small steps, but keep going and give our change a chance.

If we decide to meet with our Teen Advisory group every month instead of every week, think about the impact on teen patrons -- they will likely need a transition period. What other kinds of support will they need from us for this change?

We’ll continue to need support for our work and may need support in prioritizing differently. Our colleagues or supervisor may be able to help, or we may need to find resources on our own. Some past Level Up Your Leadership Skills blogs that are especially relevant to this topic are:

Ways to Prioritize Your Work
Build Your Network

Stopping current work is challenging in libraries, but it’s not an option, it’s a necessity. As communities and patrons change around us, we have to be able to let our old role go in order to embrace what’s next. What are you going to stop doing?

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5. Annual 2015: Oakland PL's Youth Leadership Council

This is a guest post from Perla Casas, a 2015 high school graduate. She will be part of the panel speaking on Sunday June 28th at 4:30 pm as part of "Empower Your Teens! Civic Engagement Strategies That Work."

The Youth Leadership Council (YLC) is a youth-driven advisory board for the Oakland Public Library. The YLC creates support strategies to improve its service for patrons and promotes the library simultaneously. The YLC is made up of twelve individuals from the ages of thirteen to eighteen. I was sixteen years old when I first stumbled across the YLC application at the TeenZone in the Main Library. I have always enjoyed reading and I am passionate about libraries, so I thought this group would be a perfect fit for me. After a nerve wracking three month application process, I was finally accepted as a member.

The YLC meets for two hours every third Saturday of the month at the Main Library. After my first official meeting, I was given the opportunity to facilitate the next meeting. I received training and multiple handouts on how to properly run a meeting while being respectful towards my fellow members and being an effective communicator. I became more comfortable with the other Youth Leadership Council members after I facilitated my second meeting and I had a better understanding of how we function as a productive team. I was able to identify and recognize the strengths and talents of my fellow members. It was a successful meeting.

The third annual Culture Festival held by the YLC allowed my creativity and organizational skills to shine. I volunteered to be the decorations and activities director alongside my best friend, Julia. After seeing last year’s decorations, we knew we had to completely revamp them. We brainstormed all of our ideas and I created a decorations schedule in order to materialize all of our ideas. Recreating the Great Wall of China for the Oakland Public Library was our greatest accomplishment. Over 100 hours were spent on creating various cultural decorations and we made sure every culture was included. It was an arduous process but at the same time extremely rewarding. Being able to see how our decorations transformed the library was fulfilling and gratifying.

During my time as a member I feel like I have formed a bond with the Youth Leadership Council members (some of which are alumni now), the supervising librarian of teen services, Lana Adlawan, and my amazing moderators, Amy Sonnie and Jeanie Austin. Amy Sonnie gave me the confidence to join the YLC and accomplish things that I thought I never could do before. She taught me how to prosper inside and outside of the YLC. Jeanie Austin, who I have only known for a short time, has become a good friend and has given me support throughout the entire process of my last few months with the Youth Leadership Council. I am thankful and truly blessed for these wonderful, dedicated, and hardworking people in my life. My experience with the Youth Leadership Council has been unforgettable and I am proud to become a YLC alumni in the fall.

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6. Annual 2015: Graphic Novels, Comics, and San Francisco

This is a guest post from Trevor Calvert, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for ALA 2015 in San Francisco.

San Francisco is a literary city and as such a wealth of comic book stores merit a visit if you are eager to experience some of SF’s comic-book culture. Every year SF hosts the Alternative Press Expo highlighting local creators, and even has a Comic Art Museum which showcases both classics Golden Age shows all the way to hosting local-artist workshops. So let’s pack a light sweater (or maybe a cape?) and walk over to a few of these awesome spots!

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Our first stop is Isotope: The Comic Lounge; not only is the design of the store sweet, the comic selection great, but you can stop by it’s lounge--the first of its kind--where you can relax, put your feet up, and feel free to read some sequential narratives from their on-site library. If that isn’t enough to draw you in, its Special Project Director, Kirsten Baldock, is an Oakland Public librarian! Also, the owner is both a real person and a comic character.
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As we continue our journey, brave adventurers, let’s visit Mission Comics and Art. Proprietor Leef Smith knows a lot about comics. He also knows a lot about San Francisco, has traveled the world, and has a passion for fine art. These facets help make his Mission Comics a definite on your list of places to visit.  From his site:

“Leef’s intention is for “Mission: Comics & Art” to help facilitate a greater cross-pollution between the worlds of fine art and commercially produced sequential art i.e. comic books, re-contextualizing both and creating a new community focal point, both locally in the neighborhood, and in the larger artistic world.”

That his store is in the Mission district should not be overlooked: the Mission is a fantastic area in which to wander around, eat delicious food, and see some of the best San Francisco has to offer. If on Friday at 7:30 you are looking for something to do, Mission Comics is hosting writers Jeff Parker, Mike Tanner and Jef Burandt--all with new books with Oni Press!

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 8.45.25 AMIf your travels take you to the Castro district, be sure to check out Whatever: Get Your Geek On. They’re known not only for their great comic collection, but for their collectibles and figure collection. They’ve been around since 2006 and have a super friendly staff and, despite their non-committal store-name, completely love what they do.

While this store is not named after this famous aardvark in comics, it does reference the animal, so can be none other than Aardvark Books, home of Owen the Cat and countless used and new books (mostly hardcover). And while this is not a comic book store, it’s been open since 1978 and much beloved by many. Aardvark’s staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and if wandering a good bookstore (because they’re not classified in DDC or LCS) and petting friendly cats is your thing, then this is a must.

There are so many great bookstores, comic or otherwise, in San Francisco: Green Apple Books, City Lights, Booksmith, Borderlands (one of the best Science Fiction / Horror / Fantasy stores around--and in the Mission!) just to list a small few (not to mention across the bridge in Oakland). If you have the time, checking out the local bookstores (and maybe a few watering holes along the way) is one of the best ways to see this city. Be intrepid, curious, and inspired!

 

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7. YALSA Board @ Annual Preview: Aligning YALS to the Futures Report

heading for YALS
One of the items on the agenda for the YALSA Board at Annual Conference in San Francisco is a discussion of YALS and how to make sure that the official journal of the association is in line with the findings and recommendations of YALSA's Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report. The Board document - under new business - presents some things for the YALSA Board to think about including:

  • A revised function statement for YALS that focuses on the YALS Advisory Board having an active role in developing an editorial calendar for the journal and to make sure that YALSA's resources and initiatives are successfully highlighted in the publication.
  • An updated task list for members of the YALS Advisory Board. Each YALSA committee and/or advisory board has a yearly task list. For 2015/16 the YALS Editorial Advisory Board (as outlined in the Board document) will work with the YALS editor to develop a new model for the publication including focal points for columns and features, as stated above work on an editorial calendar, and provide feedback on a new design for the journal.
  • Changes to the format of YALS which includes re-thinking the recurring theme issues and encouraging authors of articles to also submit digital content for inclusion in the YALSAblog.

The YALS proposal for the Board is an action item which means that it is expected the Board will make a decision about the proposal at Annual Conference. If all or parts of the proposal are approved by the Board then it is expected that the changes will go into effect by early 2016.

YALSA Board meetings are open to all so if you will be at Annual Conference in San Francisco, feel free to stop by and hear what the Board is talking about. You can find the full Board agenda and supporting documents on the YALSA website.

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8. Annual 2015: Check the Wiki!

Annual is almost upon us! We in the Local Arrangements Committee have been working hard to provide you with information on eateries, activities, neighborhoods, and more. You can find all this information on YALSA's Annual Conference wiki: http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/YALSA_at_ALA%27s_2015_Annual_Conference

Some highlights include:

  • Notes on nearby libraries and bookstores, since we know the exhibits hall is only the tip of the iceberg
  • Recommended eateries close to the conference or its hotels
  • All the terminology to know so that you don't get on Caltrain when you mean to get on MUNI
  • Places to go shopping for off-the-beaten-track items
  • See you in San Francisco in just a few short days!

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    9. ALA Annual 2015 — How to Participate From a Distance

    Summer is here and at least in Illinois, it’s heating up fast! With June halfway over, we know that ALA Annual is on the horizon. And what says summer better than San Francisco, California? The theme this year is “Transforming libraries, ourselves.” With 25,000 library affiliated folks coming to town, it’s an event you don’t want to miss!

    Unfortunately, I’ll be diligently working in Illinois during ALA Annual, but that doesn’t mean I have to miss out on the conversations. If you’re like me and won’t be in San Fransisco, here’s a guide to staying in touch, from a distance.

    If you’re looking for a broad overview of the conference:

    1. Get on Twitter. One thing I’ve learned time and time again this past year is that librarians are active on Twitter. Follow the conference Twitter account @alaannual or the general hashtag for the event is #alaac15. Some sessions have specific hashtags, which you can find in the scheduler section of Annual’s website. If you have time to get on early, try to scout out some fellow librarians who will be at ALA Annual. They can be your eyes and ears during the conference.

    Note: It’s really hard to actively follow hashtags on Twitter’s general account. I suggest downloading Tweet Deck or use the website Tweet Chat to track the event. I’m partial to Tweet Deck because you can follow multiple hashtags while watching your feed and seeing who is replying to your tweets. It can be a lot of information but a great way to really stay in the loop.

    1. Check out ALA’s other social media platforms. Following #alaac15 on Instagram or ALA’s general account for visuals of the event. ALA also has an active Tumblr and Facebook. See this general handout for all the handles and account links.

    If you’re looking to dive a little deeper into ALA Annual:

    1. Look at the ALA Annual highlights to get an idea for what’s happening during the six days of the conference. So much is going on during those six days, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is especially good if you want to look at the big speakers during the conference.
    2. Next, take a look at the ALA Annual program book, which is in PDF form on the web. If you’re just interested in the various sessions, skip part I of the program book and jump to part II.
    3. In part II, the sessions are broken up program content areas (most revolving around the idea of transformation). I suggest looking for sessions either within a content area or searching (love Control F when searching PDFs) to look for keywords of topics you’re interested in.
    4. Once you’ve got a list of interesting sounding sessions, go back to the Scheduler and look up them up. Some sessions have a specific hashtag to follow. I also have been looking up the speakers on Twitter, both for me to follow right now and then during ALA.
    5. When looking on the Scheduler, see if any resources, handouts, or additional links have been posted. You might find access to great materials before the conference even begins!
    6. Put the session time in your calendar so you know when to be more actively checking Twitter and other social media sites.

    Hope that helps and here are some of the sessions I’m hoping to virtually check out:

    • DiverseZineties; Promoting Diversity and Self-discovery Through Making Zines with Teens, Saturday, June 27
    • Library of the Future—Learning with the Participatory Library at Cedar Rapids Public Library, Saturday, June 27. This was the public library I went to as an undergrad; their new library is gorgeous. Opportunity does arise from tragedy. 
    • Voices of Youth: Community partnerships for video production, Saturday, June 27
    • From Maker to Make-HER: Leveling the STEM Playing Field for Girls, Sunday, June 28
    • Seeing Through Walls: Library-Based Video Conferencing to Connect Kids with Parents in Jail, Sunday, June 28. I worked for The Director of Outreach Services at Brooklyn Public Library. He’s an amazing librarian and his team is doing incredible things with outreach and engagement at the Brooklyn Public Library.
    • Yik Yak and the Academic Library, Sunday, June 28 (Sunday Ignite Session topic)
    • Naked Truth: connect.create.contribute, Monday, June 29
    • What do LIS Students Really Think About Their Education?, Monday, June 29. These are my peers and I did attend the LIS Symposium on Education [it was awesome!]

    I’m excited about ALA Annual and the chance to participate virtually. I’ll be tweeting from @hailthefargoats and hope you’ll join the conversation too!

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    10. YALSA Board @ Annual Preview: Selection & Award Committee Participation Policy

    Have you ever submitted a volunteer application to express interest in serving on a YALSA selection or award committee--only to hear back that the President-Elect and Appointments Task Force were not able to find a spot for you this year? If so, you’re not alone. YALSA is fortunate to have many talented members who are eager to serve on our selection and award committees--nearly 600 applications were submitted for spots on 2015-2016 committees!--but each year, of course, there are only a limited number of committee spots available.

    This is one of several reasons why the Board will be discussing the possible creation of a selection and award committee participation policy that would open up the committees for broader participation by the YALSA Membership at ALA Annual in San Francisco. The official Board doc is Item #29 on the YALSA Board’s Annual Conference Agenda.

    The proposed policy outlined in the document would institute uniform guidelines for participation in selection and award committees, addressing topics such as as term lengths, maximum years of consecutive service, and frequency of award committee service. As you’ll see when you read the Board doc, this proposal follows up on a recommendation from the Selection Committee Evaluation Task Force that such a policy be explored and created. The proposal is also data-driven, based on an analysis of ten years of committee service records.

    Take a look at the document and let the Board know if you have comments, questions, or concerns. We know that this is a proposal that, if adopted, could potentially impact many of our member volunteers, so we value your thoughts and input. There are lots of ways to share your feedback with us!

    Thank you!

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    11. YALSA Board @ Midwinter: Advocates Advisory Panel Update

    During the Annual 2014 Conference, the YALSA Board approved an agenda item that proposed a new framework to formally include the voices of professionals in related fields with similar goals and objectives. The Advocates Advisory Panel will be charged with tackling a specific area of focus related to the Strategic Plan, the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report, or other topics as identified by the Board each year. The hope is that through this process, YALSA will gain valuable outside perspective on topics that are important for teens, expand its reach through new and/or strengthened relationships, and model the kind of collaborative, collective work that is called out in the Future report.

    Because the Board approved the proposal in concept, as the author, I’ve been tasked with working with the Board Standing Committee on Capacity Building to create an inaugural focus and to hammer out some of the logistics. Although there’s obviously any number of topics that might be interesting to pursue with this, we decided that one viable option would be for the panel to consider strategies that YALSA might pursue in order to connect key principles and guidelines (such as the those presented in the Future report) to LIS education. We determined that this might be a sensible place to start because:

    •  A deeper dive into the state of and needs of LIS educators in light of the report may help inform the work of the Board as well as priority content areas for subsequent Panels
    • Without connecting directly with the ways in which students in LIS programs are recruited and educated, YALSA can’t guarantee that the work recommended in the Futures report can move forward
    • An academic perspective is lacking in YALSA’s current leadership. By actively recruiting experienced LIS educators to serve on the panel, YALSA may build capacity in this area
    • Engaging the perspective of educators in other fields on this issue has the potential to create the opportunity for increased cross-pollination or future collective impact efforts

    You can view the full proposal and other Board docs here. If you have questions or ideas related to this proposal, I’d love to hear them! Please feel free to connect with me at shannon.peterson@gmail.com

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    12. Midwinter Review: YALSA Research and Strategic Planning Programs

    YALSA sponsored a variety of programs and events at this year’s ALA Midwinter Conference held in snowy Chicago.  On Saturday morning, the YALSA Past Presidents held their Trends Impacting YA Services session.  This year’s program featured Dr. Mega Subramaniam, assistant professor at the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland.  Dr. Subramaniam’s research focuses on participatory design and connected learning; in an ALA press release she states:

    “Surveys, interviews, and forming a youth advisory council are no longer sufficient when designing programs for young adults. This paper calls for a substantial paradigm shift in how librarians are trained and how libraries can be used to serve diverse youth. It is time to involve the young adults themselves as co-designers.”

    Mega’s presentation slides from the session can be found here.  She discussed the transition from traditional, “in-situ” learning experiences (such as formal education) to a new landscape of “learning in the wild.”  Librarians can bridge this transition, especially in a profession newly shaped by the Future of Library Services for and With Teens report.  So, how do we design FOR teens, WITH teens?

    Enter participatory design; Dr. Subramaniam shared seven methods that get teens directly involved with planning, other than the traditional “librarian asks what we should do next.”  These methods include use of sticky notes to shape idea processes, “bags of stuff” where teens build and create with provided supplies to see what ideas bubble up, a big-paper approach to teen-led brainstorming, layered elaboration, fictional inquiry, “the cool wall,” and storytelling.  At the end of the program Mega asked each table in the room to think about a current design process we use when working with youth and how we might reshape that in the lens of participatory design.  I came away from the session with a whole new idea of how to work with my TAB as we plan future events.

    On Sunday afternoon YALSA members gathered for the Moving YALSA Forward session.  This program was planned in conjunction with the YALSA Board’s strategic planning process which was also taking place during the midwinter conference.  The board’s strategic planning facilitator, Alan Brickman, also facilitated this member session.  Instead of tacking the full strategic plan, Sunday’s discussion focused on the area of advocacy.  While advocacy can mean many things, Brickman framed it for this purpose as “a direct effort to impact policy, impact public awareness, and build libraries’ capacity to further both these impacts.”

    Attendees were divided into four groups, each with an advocacy area of either awareness or capacity building.  The groups brainstormed what the optimal outcomes would be and what direct actions would lead to those outcomes.  As we worked our way through the still relatively new idea of planning with outcomes as opposed to activities, several great ideas rose to the surface.  After working together, each group posted their ideas on the wall and with sticky dots in hand attendees chose their five priorities.  Brickman will be consolidating the results of this session and sharing with the YALSA Board as they continue their strategic planning process.

    Both of these programs felt very much in line with YALSA’s current work of assisting members to redefine their teen programs and also be advocates for the valuable services we offer our communities.  Check out YALSA’s page on advocacy to find useful resources, and the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report to see how connected learning can fit into your teen services.

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    13. YALSA wants YOU for our virtual strategic committees!

    Happy Monday, amazing YALSA members!

    Can you believe it's already near the end of February?

    For those who've made New Year's resolutions to be more involved in the profession, it's not too late!

    The deadline to apply to join a YALSA strategic committee, jury, or taskforce is this Sunday, March 1st!

    You can see the full list of committees and juries here.

    Strategic committees are a great way to get involved with YALSA, as they are virtual committees. Or, if you are a new member and looking to try committee work for the first time, the strategic committees are a great way to learn about YALSA, connect with teen service professionals from around the country, and help you develop your virtual work skills and teen expertise. So, if travel and conference attendance aren't an option for you this year, please take a minute to fill out the volunteer form here and send it in before March 1st!

    My Appointments Taskforce and I will begin the process to fill the over 200 open positions that help YALSA accomplish the work of the strategic plan and the work that moves the association and members forward immediately after March 1st, so please be sure to get your application in before then.

    I strongly encourage all YALSA members to apply - it is an easy and great way to get more involved in this amazing association, especially if you are interested in joining a YALSA selection or award committee in the future.

    Please feel free to contact me at candice.yalsa (at) gmail.com if you have any questions!

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    14. Annual 2015: Why You Should Attend

    This is a guest post by Kristine Macalalad, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

    Why do we attend conferences? Getting ourselves there - from making the case, finding the funding, pinning down all the details of travel and accommodations, leaving work in the middle of summer reading...all the way down to schlepping all those cardigans with us across a great distance - can be no small feat. So, why do we do it? Is it all that great swag? Is it the marvelous learning opportunities? Some might argue it’s all about the networking!

    Some things are just done best in person, and one of those things is networking. For newbies and seasoned professionals alike, networking affords a chance to make beneficial connections. Imagine: hundreds of like-minded folks, many passionate about the same things, many friendly and wanting to help, and all under the same roof. Magic happens! Ideas are bounced around, brains are picked, burning questions are answered, and connections are made that can have lasting effects long after we return home.

    How to do it?
    First off, orient yourself. Annual is a huge event and can be overwhelming, especially to first-timers. Alleviate the stress by doing some prep work. Peruse the Annual site. Figure out which sessions, meetings, and socials sound interesting to you. The conference’s Resources for First-Timers page gives a helpful breakdown of things to consider, and YALSA’s conference wiki is a great resource for YALSA conference activities.

    Take time to think about who you are as a professional. Leigh Milligan of the website I Need a Library Job recommends preparing a short 30-second speech about yourself. Having something prepared can make introducing yourself go more smoothly. This reflection will also help you home in on the issues and events you really care about, and give you more to discuss with the like-minded people you’ll find there.

    Come prepared with business cards and clothes that make you feel both comfortable and confident. 'Nuff said.

    Consider staying near the conference, sharing a room with other conference-goers, and/or volunteering. Instant networking!

    Ask questions! One of the easiest ways to get a conversation started and to keep it going is to ask questions. This is your chance to do lots and lots of mini-informational interviews.

    Relax, be yourself, and have fun. For many of us, Annual really only comes around once in a great while.

    For more on the art of networking, check out Ava Iuliano’s recap of NMRT’s 2012 online panel, "Professional Networking for New Librarians." The recap/panel discussion brings up excellent points such as the idea that networking is more like farming than hunting in the sense that, bit by bit, we are cultivating relationships in the long run.

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    15. Thoughts on ALA Mid-Winter from a Librarian-in-Training

    Since ALA Mid-Winter was conveniently located in Chicago this January, I decided to make the trip and attend the conference on Saturday. I had been to professional conferences before, but all for writing centers, not libraries. My first thought upon walking into the conference center was the same familiar feeling I got in writing center conferences: a bunch of people who are all passionate about one thing: libraries. I always love the energy at conferences; the energy that helps renew your passions and reminds you why you do what you do day in and day out.

    My focus at Mid-Winter was seeing how ALA and the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation worked together to promote libraries to work with their communities to affect social change. They believe that public libraries should use their position in a community to help facilitate conversations that could lead to effective change. This is all under the ALA umbrella of Transforming Libraries. I was interested in these sessions because during my first semester in graduate school, I found myself drawn to and working with communities (both talking about community ideas in class and then working with a community for my assistantship). I’m currently taking a community engagement class and was interested to see Harwood’s spin on engagement.

    After some freight congestion, I was able to attend two out of the four sessions: intentionality and sustaining yourself. Intentionality focused on the three As: authenticity, authority, and accountability. They wanted to make sure you deeply knew the community you were working with and followed through on promises. The final session, on sustaining yourself, focused on knowing personally what keeps you going (ways to destress and relax) and who you can talk to about frustrations and triumphs. Both sessions stressed small group discussion, which gave me the opportunity to meet other librarians (in all variety of roles). There was good discussion all afternoon however I left wishing I could have heard more from the pilot libraries who were coached by Harwood. Two different libraries gave short intros to start the sessions, but in five minutes, you can’t learn much about all the successes (and also the roadblocks).

    In some ways, I felt out of my element at ALA. I was simply a student, one who didn’t have any long term experience in libraries. I could listen to conversations but sometimes felt I had nothing to add. However, at the same time, I got this great sneak peak into the professional world I’m preparing to jump with two feet into. Public libraries and communities are a big deal right now and if I can present a resume with experience in working with and for communities, then I help to separate myself from the rest of my peers competing for the job opening. What ALA and Harwood are picking up on isn’t a new concept — public libraries have been working with communities since they first began. These sessions serve as reminders that we as librarians are serving our community and should be an open, safe place to have tough conversations and conversations that begin to work towards social change.

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    16. All the college kidlit conferences (as of March 2015)

    Or, more formally, “A Comprehensive List of U.S. College- and University-Sponsored or -Hosted Children’s and Young Adult Literature Conferences, Festivals, and Symposia.” (All of them that I could find, anyway).

    A few years ago, I was looking for such a list, wondered why I couldn’t find one, and decided to just go ahead and make one myself.

    Since then, I’ve periodically updated and reposted it, and I plan to continue doing so. If I’ve missed any, or included some that no longer exist, won’t you please let me know in the comments section?

    Arizona
    University of Arizona Tucson Festival of Books

    California
    University of Redlands Charlotte S. Huck Children’s Literature Festival

    Connecticut
    University of Connecticut Connecticut Children’s Book Fair

    Georgia
    Kennesaw State University Conference on Literature for Children and Young Adults
    The University of Georgia Children’s Literature Conference

    Illinois
    Northern Illinois University Children’s Literature Conference

    Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio
    Northern Kentucky University, Thomas More College, University of Cincinnati, and Xavier University Ohio Kentucky Indiana Children’s Literature Conference

    Kentucky
    University of Kentucky McConnell Conference

    Maryland
    Frostburg State University Spring Festival of Children’s Literature
    Salisbury University Read Green Festival

    Massachusetts
    Framingham State University Children’s Literature Festival
    Simmons College Children’s Literature Summer Institute

    Minnesota
    St. Cloud State University Children’s Literature Workshop
    University of Minnesota Kerlan Award Ceremony
    University of St. Thomas Hubbs Children’s Literature Conference

    Missouri
    University of Central Missouri Children’s Literature Festival

    Mississippi
    The University of Southern Mississippi Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival

    Nebraska
    Concordia University Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival

    New Hampshire
    Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival

    New Jersey
    Montclair State University New Jersey Council of Teachers of English Spring Conference
    Rutgers University One-on-One Plus Conference

    New York
    Manhattan College 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference
    Stony Brook University – Southampton Southampton Children’s Literature Conference

    Ohio
    Bowling Green State University Literacy in the Park
    Kent State University Virginia Hamilton Conference
    Ohio State University 2016 Children’s Literature Association Conference (ChLA 2016)
    The University of Findlay Mazza Museum Summer Conference and Weekend Conference
    Youngstown State University English Festival

    Pennsylvania
    Kutztown University Children’s Literature Conference

    Texas
    Sam Houston State University Jan Paris Bookfest: Children’s & YA Conference
    Texas A&M University – Commerce Bill Martin Jr Memorial Symposium

    Utah
    Brigham Young University Symposium on Books for Young Readers
    Utah Valley University Forum on Engaged Reading

    Virginia
    The College of William and Mary Joy of Children’s Literature Conference
    Longwood University Summer Literacy Institute and Virginia Children’s Book Festival
    Shenandoah University Children’s Literature Conference

    Washington
    Western Washington University Children’s Literature Conference

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    17. Annual 2015: What To Do There -- And When You Come Home

    This is a guest post from Susy Moorhead, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

    You’ve decided to attend the annual conference this year! If you haven’t been before, and even if you have, you must be excited. Attending conference is a lot of fun but it is tiring and it can be overwhelming as well. Here are some tips to help you share what you learned once you get back to your home library.

    1. Pick up handouts from the programs you attend, note the exhibits that catch your eye and get information from those that you can, and ask for business cards from others in the library world that you want to start a network with. Building your professional network is one of the best opportunities of conference. Great ideas come from networking with your colleagues on a national level.
    2. Know that the ALA conference website is your friend. After conference, and sometimes before, you will be able to access slideshows from programs, people who present at programs, and an extensive vendor list.
    3. Be aware that there is no way you can take everything in that interests you at Annual. There will be some things that really excite you and those are the ones you should focus on. If it doesn’t really excite you it will be hard to implement when you get back home. Your excitement will be contagious to your colleagues. That said, if there is a colleague or friend who really wanted to attend but couldn't, it can't hurt to pick up an ARC specifically for him or grab an extra handout for her.
    4. Be ready to fall back in love. One thing I always take back to my library from any conference I attend is a sense of rejuvenation and renewal. I always regain excitement for what I do and I get a greater sense of the importance of libraries, librarianship, and library support positions in the greater world. Just bringing that invigorating feeling back is a wonderful result of attending a national conference.
    5. Once you get home be sure to write up a summary of what you did at Annual. You can share it with your supervisors to justify the time away from the library and to justify the funding that you receive to attend. It will also help to support conference requests you make in the future.
    6. Share what you learned with your colleagues in your library system or if you are a solo librarian with your regional or statewide colleagues. You will inevitably find others who share your passion in implementing what your learned. And you may find others that you didn’t know shared your interests!
    7. Consider writing something up for a regional or statewide organization publication or website. Tweet, Facebook, or get the word out on other social media platforms – you will probably find partners outside of the library too. If you blog, start blogging soon after you get home before you forget things or lose your notes. If you don't blog yet, doing a guest post at a blog you love (cough - YALSA has two) about a conference session is a great way to start!
    8. Know that seeing results of taking action won’t happen immediately. A lot of the programs and vendor wares you will see are the “future of libraries.” Work towards creating similar programs or offering similar services when you get back to your library. Put the seeds in to place and then work them in to your busy summers (and autumns!).

    Have fun, and see you in a program or on the exhibit floor!

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    18. APA Pacific 2015: A conference guide

    We hope to see you in Vancouver, British Columbia for the 2015 American Philosophical Association – Pacific meeting! OUP staff members have gathered together to discuss what we’re interested in seeing at the upcoming conference, as well as fun sights around Vancouver. Take time to visit the Oxford University Press Booth. Browse new and featured books which will include an exclusive 30% conference discount. Pick up complimentary copies of our philosophy journals which include Mind, Monist, Philosophical Quarterly, and more.

    The post APA Pacific 2015: A conference guide appeared first on OUPblog.

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    19. Don, Tom, and me

    Don Tate, Tom Lichtenheld, Chris Barton

    I had the great pleasure of serving on a panel at last month’s Austin SCBWI conference with illustrators Don Tate (shown on the left) and Tom Lichtenheld (the guy in the middle). If those names sound familiar, it’s because I’ve created a book with each of them.

    In fact…

    Today (no fooling) is the publication date not only of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, which Don illustrated, but also of the board book version of the Tom-illustrated Shark Vs. Train. Both books give readers something to chew on — one figuratively, one literally — so if you know someone with a big appetite for something new to read, won’t you please keep these in mind?

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    20. See me, Don Tate, and John Roy Lynch in Hattiesburg, MS, this Wednesday

    Fay Kaigler logo
    I’m excited to be returning this week to the fantastic Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival this week at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

    Much of the festival requires registration, but the Hattiesburg American reports that there are exceptions, and my session is one of them:

    First panel open to the public: Chris Barton, Don Tate and Kathleen Merz discuss “The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch,” a picture book biography of the Mississippi slave-turned-congressman, 11:30 a.m. April 8, Thad Cochran Center ballrooms.

    (Kathleen is the editor of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, and I’m delighted that she’ll be joining Don and me. On only one other occasion in my career have I gotten together in person at the same time with both the editor and the illustrator of one of my books, so this will be special.)

    Another open-to-the-public panel ends the festival on Friday, with David Levithan and Deborah Wiles discussing their relationship as editor an author.

    Whether you’re able to make it to the beginning of the festival, the end, or the whole thing, you’re in for a treat. If you see me, won’t you please say hello?

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    21. Annual 2015: Outdoor Fun Between Conference Sessions

    This is a guest post from Susy Moorhead, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for the ALA Annual conference in San Francisco.

    In a little over a month Annual will be upon us! The conference is always an amazing event and I am sure this year’s will be another one. Sometimes though you just need a break from the hubbub and somewhere outside is often a perfect fit. These are my suggestions of some places to go right around Moscone when you need to take a walk outdoors or get some fresh air.

    The Moscone Center is comprised of 3 halls – North, South, and West. North & South are underground, so you’ll definitely want to head outside periodically.

    The main entrances of Moscone are located between 3rd & 4th streets off of Howard Street.  If you have time between programs, for lunch, or even before or after your day at Moscone, here are some places close by to spend some time outside:

    • Yerba Buena Gardens is the closest large park and it is located just west of the main entrances to the North & South halls. It is between 3rd & 4th and Mission & Folsom. Here you can see the beautiful Martin Luther King Jr. memorial which is behind the waterfall. You will want to walk in the memorial from the north side. The waterfall lands in the largest fountain on the West Coast. If you pay close attention to the detail in the stone around the waterfall you will see our often present fog represented – you’ll probably be in the fog too. You can easily get lunch in the Metreon, which you will see to the south, and eat it on the grass.
    • Another park, a little farther from Moscone, where you can sit and eat lunch is South Park. Walk east and north four blocks to get there. It is between 2nd & 3rd street and Bryant & Brannan. This oval park was modeled after a London square in 1852. Initially it was only open to the residents immediately surrounding it. In the late 90s this was “ground zero” of the dot-com boom and after the bubble burst it quickly built up again as the site of web 2.0. It’s a beautiful spot away from the city. If you’ve read Confessions of Max Tivoli you might recognize this as a setting in the novel.
    • If you walk another two blocks east you will get to AT&T Park and there are lots of benches all along the water to sit and look at the Bay. Even though Otis Redding actually wrote "(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay" while in Sausalito, you may feel moved to sing it here as you gaze at the Bay Bridge and the Port of Oakland.  By the way, the Giants will be playing the Rockies during conference.
    • A pleasant longer walk is along the Embarcadero from AT&T Park to the Ferry Building. Either way it is a beautiful loop, a little over 3 miles, which you can do from Moscone.
      • You’ll get to walk under the Bay Bridge and marvel at how huge it really is.
      • Along the Embarcadero you’ll see Cupid’s Span, inspired by San Francisco’s reputation as the home of Eros, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. I always thought it was an ode to Tony Bennett’s signature song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and to me it can be both--and maybe you, too.
      • At various spots along the Embarcadero you’ll find white posts topped with yellow and black stripes that tell some of San Francisco’s waterfront history.
      • Be sure to go inside the Ferry Building. There are delicious and iconic food stands and restaurants from the Bay Area inside (just to name a few: The Slanted Door, Hog Island Oyster Company, and Cowgirl Creamery).

    If you want to see more of San Francisco’s great outdoors there is going to be a bike ride around the City at 2pm on Friday. Here is a link to the Facebook invite – the ride is open to everyone. The ride will include the Mission Bay Branch Library, AT&T Park, the Embarcadero, Market Street, the Main Library, Valencia Street, Mission Branch Library, and the beautiful Mission Murals. There is a Bay Area BikeShare station close to Moscone at 3rd & Howard. It’s very easy to rent one for either 24 hours ($9) or 3 days ($22) – you just need a credit card. And if the entire ride isn’t for you, you can return your bike at other stations in the City (right now they are only downtown).

    And last, if you want a drink to go with your fresh air there are a couple places close by to get one. Dirty Habit is 5 floors up from the street in the Hotel Palomar on 4th St. between Mission & Market.  They open at 5pm every day except Sunday. A beautiful place to go, especially after dark, for drinks and a meal is Claude Lane. It is located on the other side of Market St. parallel and west of Kearny St. (what 3rd St. becomes on the other side of Market). There are French and Spanish cafes and restaurants with beautiful patios and twinkly lights. You’ll think you’re in Europe! Really close by, but technically not outside, is the View Lounge on top of the Marriott Hotel on the corner of 4th & Mission St. Needless to say the view is amazing; check it out even if you don’t stay for a libation.

    Have fun and don’t forget your layers! San Francisco can be really cold in the summer and you’ll hear this over and over again as a lot of visitors don’t initially believe it. You’ve been warned.

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    22. YALSA Shark Bowl: Meet the Finalist Shanna Miles

    Shanna Miles, Media Specialist at South Atlanta High School in Georgia, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea at the YALSA President's Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon. She will advocate for "America's Next Top Maker" in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA, Tutor.com, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.

    We wanted to catch up with Shanna before she heads to San Francisco for ALA's Annual Conference.

    KM: Hi Shanna! Can you give our readers a short description about the project you submitted to the Shark Bowl?
    SM: I submitted a project called "America's Next Top Maker". In a nutshell, it's a maker competition with an American Idol component. Students are given a backpack with the tools they'll need to make a project, whether that be a song, a short story, or an app. They present their creations to the student body (I work in a public high school) and the students vote. The winner gets to keep the backpack o' tools and goes on to create forever.

    KM: What was your inspiration for "America's Next Top Maker"?
    SM: I wanted to introduce my kids to making in a way that was competition based and had an end project in mind without the icky stench of grade chasing. It couldn't feel like homework and it couldn't be "just for fun". All kids like to play, but my kids live in an urban environment with harsh realities and they are sensitive to activities that seem to waste their time. Play has lost its value in a lot of ways. I want them to reclaim play as useful and fun. They need to see that work can be fun and vice versa. Reality television shows are the game shows of our time so it seemed like a natural fit.

    KM; In what ways were/are teens involved in the project?
    SM: Teens drive the project. I'm just a tool master, checking items in and out. I'll introduce the kids to the software, but they'll be responsible for working with the tools they're provided to come up with something grand. I want to be hands off with it so they can struggle and triumph under their own will.

    KM: How is your community involved in the project?
    SM: We're hoping to conscript a few volunteers from Georgia State University's Digital Aquarium to assist kids in the finer points of app development and we have alumni who are versed in the latest beat making software.

    KM: What are you updating/changing as you get ready for the Shark Bowl at Annual Conference?
    SM: I think the program is fleshed out as much as it can be at this early stage. Changes really depend on resources, but that's the beauty of the program, it can be scaled up or down. It can be tempting to add components to a project, but simplicity is best.

    KM: What are you most excited about in getting ready for Shark Bowl?
    SM: I'm excited to interact with the judges. I love talking about my kids and their unique gifts and needs. They have a lot to offer and they deserve opportunities to shine, too often their creativity is overlooked.

    KM: Anything else you want our readers to know?
    SM: I'm knee deep in YA as I review titles for the 2015-2016 Georgia Peach Book Award, so if you've got great recommendations of newly published titles featuring diverse characters tweet me @labellamedia

    Learn more about YALSA Shark Bowl and don't forget to attend the YALSA President's Program on Monday, June 29th from 10:30 a.m. to noon to see the sharks and pitches live.

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    23. YALSA Shark Bowl: Meet the Finalist Shanna Miles

    Shanna Miles, Media Specialist at South Atlanta High School in Georgia, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea at the YALSA President's Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon. She will advocate for "America's Next Top Maker" in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA, Tutor.com, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.

    We wanted to catch up with Shanna before she heads to San Francisco for ALA's Annual Conference.

    KM: Hi Shanna! Can you give our readers a short description about the project you submitted to the Shark Bowl?
    SM: I submitted a project called "America's Next Top Maker". In a nutshell, it's a maker competition with an American Idol component. Students are given a backpack with the tools they'll need to make a project, whether that be a song, a short story, or an app. They present their creations to the student body (I work in a public high school) and the students vote. The winner gets to keep the backpack o' tools and goes on to create forever.

    KM: What was your inspiration for "America's Next Top Maker"?
    SM: I wanted to introduce my kids to making in a way that was competition based and had an end project in mind without the icky stench of grade chasing. It couldn't feel like homework and it couldn't be "just for fun". All kids like to play, but my kids live in an urban environment with harsh realities and they are sensitive to activities that seem to waste their time. Play has lost its value in a lot of ways. I want them to reclaim play as useful and fun. They need to see that work can be fun and vice versa. Reality television shows are the game shows of our time so it seemed like a natural fit.

    KM; In what ways were/are teens involved in the project?
    SM: Teens drive the project. I'm just a tool master, checking items in and out. I'll introduce the kids to the software, but they'll be responsible for working with the tools they're provided to come up with something grand. I want to be hands off with it so they can struggle and triumph under their own will.

    KM: How is your community involved in the project?
    SM: We're hoping to conscript a few volunteers from Georgia State University's Digital Aquarium to assist kids in the finer points of app development and we have alumni who are versed in the latest beat making software.

    KM: What are you updating/changing as you get ready for the Shark Bowl at Annual Conference?
    SM: I think the program is fleshed out as much as it can be at this early stage. Changes really depend on resources, but that's the beauty of the program, it can be scaled up or down. It can be tempting to add components to a project, but simplicity is best.

    KM: What are you most excited about in getting ready for Shark Bowl?
    SM: I'm excited to interact with the judges. I love talking about my kids and their unique gifts and needs. They have a lot to offer and they deserve opportunities to shine, too often their creativity is overlooked.

    KM: Anything else you want our readers to know?
    SM: I'm knee deep in YA as I review titles for the 2015-2016 Georgia Peach Book Award, so if you've got great recommendations of newly published titles featuring diverse characters tweet me @labellamedia

    Learn more about YALSA Shark Bowl and don't forget to attend the YALSA President's Program on Monday, June 29th from 10:30 a.m. to noon to see the sharks and pitches live.

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    24. YALSA Shark Bowl: Meet the Finalist Jennifer Bishop

    Jennifer Bishop, Library Associate at the Carroll County Public Library in Maryland, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea at the YALSA President's Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon. She will advocate for "CRATE" in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA, Tutor.com, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.

    We wanted to catch up with Jennifer before she heads to San Francisco for ALA's Annual Conference.

    LWB: Tell us about the project you submitted to the Shark Bowl:
    JB: Our idea is to follow the popular subscription box model to create monthly CRATEs (Create/ Re-invent/ Apply/ Teach/ Explore) for teens to explore selected technology at all six branches of the Carroll County Public Library. By providing self-guided access and resources on the public floor of all branches on a monthly basis, we will reach a greater number of teens and showcase technology as a tool for learning, innovation, and play.

    LWB: What was your inspiration for this project?
    JB: Teens are highly motivated to learn new technologies, but they often lack the access and facilitated introduction to emerging technologies. The response to our technology programs for teens has been very positive, but we want to reach more teens and not limit exposure to the small group programming setting.

    LWB: In what ways are teens involved in the project?
    JB: Teens will guide the direction of the CRATES to follow their topics of interest. They will learn multimedia tools as they create short videos of the monthly crate unboxing, will share their ideas and creations on our social media sites, and will gain knowledge in order to volunteer at tech programs.

    LWB: How is your community involved in the project?
    JB: Our community has expressed the need for more STEAM and technology offerings for teens and the library is a perfect partner to support digital literacy. This project will support not only teens but also those who work directly with teens such as teachers, parents, and organization leaders in modeling how they can support technology education for teens.

    LWB: What are you updating/changing as you get ready for the Shark Bowl at Annual Conference
    JB: We are working to refine our pitch by creating a short survey to evaluate success and preparing a draft budget. We are also drawing additional insights to reinforce our pitch from two recent ALA publications: YALSA's The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action and ALSC's Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth (birth to age fourteen).

    LWB: What are you most excited about in getting ready for Shark Bowl
    JB:We are excited to share our ideas, learn more about the other projects, and spread the word at ALA Annual about the importance of empowering teens to innovate and learn through exploring technology.

    LWB: Anything else you want to tell us?
    JB: I encourage all librarians to try out new technologies with your teens and remember that it's okay to learn alongside and even from the teens in your library.

    Learn more about YALSA Shark Bowl and don't forget to attend the YALSA President's Program on Monday, June 29th from 10:30 a.m. to noon to see the sharks and pitches live.

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    25. YALSA Nonfiction: Action Required

    Dear YALSA community

    I have been a passionate advocate for teenagers, and for their reading, for decades. Being passionate means caring -- which thus may also mean advocating, questioning, disputing existing rules and structures. That is why, many years ago, I worked with Michael Cart to bring about the Printz award, and with the Los Angeles Times to create their YA award. If there is one area about which I am equally passionate it is the grand and glorious field of nonfiction for all ages. And so, I have taken the liberty of suggesting to the YALSA board that it is time for us, all of us, to take a look at what truly constitutes excellence in YA nonfiction -- what are the kinds, and types, and subgenres of nonfiction, and what criteria should there be for evaluating them. In this article I discuss what I have proposed to the board, and why.  The official board document (.pdf) is available on the YALSA web site in the Governance Section.  I hope you all will add your voices to the discussion here, or in SLJ -- or that we can discuss this in person at Annual, or any one of the many conferences and workshops where I get to meet you. Nonfiction is growing and changing, teenagers need for quality nonfiction is growing, and thus it seems to me time for all of us to weigh in on what makes for true YA Nonfiction Excellence. What do you think?

     

    Marc Aronson has been an avid advocate for teenagers and their reading for many years. He served on the committee that drafted, and later evaluated, the rules for the Michael Printz prize, and he suggested the YALSA Excellence in nonfiction award. As an author of nonfiction he won the first Sibert award and, with Marina Budhos -- his wife -- was a finalist for the YALSA Nonfiction award. Their next book, which will be published in 2017, centers on another couple who were artists and collaborators: the photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. Aronson is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the MLIS program at Rutgers University.

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