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1. 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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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. YALSA Board @ Midwinter Preview: Member Survey Report and Strategic Planning

Last fall, YALSA conducted a survey to get member input on the next strategic plan. The Strategic Planning Taskforce’s official report is now available as part of the YALSA Board’s 2015 Midwinter Meeting Board Documents. You can find it at item #26 on the agenda. If you have any responses to share on the survey, we would love to hear from you!

There are lots of strategic planning activities happening at Midwinter! The Board will be dedicating its Board Planning and Board I meetings to strategic planning sessions with consultant Alan Brickman (item #1 on the agenda). Like all Board meetings, these are open to all conference attendees, and you are welcome to drop in and observe. We’ll also be live tweeting from board meetings, so please follow @yalsa for more details.

Member involvement is a key part of successful strategic planning, so YALSA’s also hosting a member planning session at Midwinter: Moving YALSA Forward on Sunday, February 1, from 1-2:30 pm. This session will be facilitated by Alan Brickman as well. Advocacy emerged as an important theme in our member survey results, and it will be the main topic explored here. We hope you’ll come and participate in this session: we need to hear from as many members as possible to make it a success! Light refreshments will be available.

If you’re not attending Midwinter--or your schedule is already too packed!--YALSA still wants to hear from you on the development of the next strategic plan. One way to be heard will be to attend the virtual town hall that YALSA President Chris Shoemaker will be hosting on February 24, 3-4 pm Eastern, via Adobe Connect. (Mark your calendars now!) Or, please feel free to email us with your comments and concerns. You can reach Chris at cinf0master@gmail.com and Joy Kim, Strategic Planning Chair, at joy.kim@gmail.com.

We hope to see many of you in Chicago!

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7. Preparing for APA Eastern Meeting 2014

Look out Philadelphia! Oxford University Press has been attending the American Philosophical Association (APA) Eastern Division Meeting for decades. The conference has been held in various cities including Baltimore, MD, Newark, DE, New York, NY, and Boston, MA. This year, we’re gearing up to travel to Philadelphia on Saturday 27th December, and we’ve asked staff across various divisions to see what they are most looking forward to.

Clare Cashen, Higher Education Marketing:
I’m really looking forward to the APA this year. We, in the Higher Education division, publish the majority of our new books in the fall, and the Eastern meeting is the first time we get to display them all at once. It’s always fun to connect with instructors and share what we’ve been working on. I’m also looking forward to a good Philly cheesesteak and maybe a jog up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum!

Joy Mizan, Marketing:
This will be my first time attending a conference for Oxford University Press. I’m very excited to be representing the company! I’ll be managing the booth from set up to tear down, and it’ll be a very big job. I’m looking forward to putting faces to the names of authors that I’ve been working with. I’m also excited to see what other products the various exhibitors will have. On a personal note, I’m a big fan of Philly and can’t wait to visit it again. I love the historical sites and delicious (albeit, greasy) foods!

LOVE statue by Robert Indiana
Image Credit: Love in Philadelphia by Liana Jackson. CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr

Peter Ohlin, Editorial:
I look forward to Eastern to see a lot of familiar faces – authors and friends in philosophy, as well as colleagues at other publishers. It’s also a great time to take stock of what we’ve published over the last year and get feedback from readers about those books at the book display. Lastly, it’s good to hear about interesting projects that will hopefully turn into OUP books by the time future APA’s roll around.

Emily Sacaharin, Editorial:
I’m excited to be attending my first APA this year! It will be great to meet so many of our authors in person, especially those I’ve already gotten to know via phone and email.

We hope to see you at the Oxford University Press booth! We’ll be offering the chance to browse and buy our new titles on display at a 20% conference discount, and free trial access to online products, including Electronic Enlightenment. Electronic Enlightenment is the most wide-ranging online collection of edited correspondence of the early modern period, linking people across Europe, the Americas and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century. You can access correspondence sent between important figures in this period, such as David Hume and Adam Smith for instance. Pop by and say hello and you can also pick up sample copies of our latest philosophy journals and browse free articles from British Journal of Aesthetics, Mind, and The Philosophical Quarterly.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Featured image credit: Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia, by Khush. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr

The post Preparing for APA Eastern Meeting 2014 appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Annual 2015: A History of Social Change with Youth in the SF Bay Area

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

In full disclosure: As I cannot mention all of the movements that call the Bay Area home nor can I give them full justice. I am going to briefly discuss a few of my favorites and I fully admit that Oakland, where I work, and San Francisco, where I live, will figure prominently.

The San Francisco Bay Area has long been an important spot for progressive social change. Many of the movements that started here or had this Area as an epicenter of activity you may already be familiar with. Some of the ones I find especially interesting are the Black Panthers, the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz, the push for equal opportunities for undocumented students and educational justice for all, and LGBT rights. Youth have been and continue to be very important parts of these movements. I will share brief overviews with you and give you links so you can find more information before your trip to the 2015 American Library Association conference and perhaps even visit some of these places.

The Black Panthers had their home in West Oakland. The core practice of the Panthers was its patrols which monitored police behavior and challenged police brutality. The Panthers are credited with starting the Free Breakfast Program for Children in 1969 in a church in West Oakland. Did you know that co-founder Huey P. Newton was 24 at the time the Party was founded? Did you know that Bobby Seale, first treasurer and first member of the Party, was 16 years old when he joined? Sadly, no museum for the Black Panther Party exists, but if you are interested in learning more about them, you should visit the African American Museum and Library of Oakland or the Oakland History Room at the Main Library of Oakland Public Library.

The Occupation of Alcatraz by the Indians of All Tribes occurred from November 20, 1969, to June 11, 1971. Many students, especially from the University of California at Berkeley, were part of the Occupation. You can visit Alcatraz and still see some of the evidence of the Occupation. Annually there is the Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Gathering to honor all indigenous peoples of the Americas and to promote their rights. I believe this Occupation was the first of its kind in the United States and perhaps served as a model for later Occupy movements of the early 2010s.

The push for immigration reform is happening nationwide and the Bay Area is certainly one of the hotspots, and young people are heavily involved. Great strides have been made in improving the educational opportunities for undocumented students. Although the United States government has yet to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, California has passed our own DREAM Act. It is a package of state laws that allows undocumented students access to financial aid for higher education. Instrumental in getting this act passed were high school and college student activists. On May Day in 2006, a reported 20,000 people of all ages, including many high school students from all over the Bay Area, marched in a sea of white shirts protesting new legislation that would have raised penalties for illegal immigration.

The Bay Area is also a battleground for the larger movement of educational justice, which includes improving educational opportunities for undocumented students. Educational justice is the idea that all children deserve equal access to a quality education, regardless of race, ethnicity and socio-economic status. In Oakland on May 17th, 2005, the anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, 400 teens took part in Take Back Our Schools Day. Some of their demands included: non-compliance with No Child Left Behind, restoration of local control to Oakland schools, and no high school exit exam. The Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting their demands.

The Bay Area is well known as one of the epicenters for various LGBT movements. A great place to see a lot of history is the GLBT History Museum. According to their site the museum “is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States. The museum celebrates 100 years of the city's vast queer past through dynamic and surprising exhibitions and programming.” You can also visit the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center in the Main Library of San Francisco Public Library. According to their site the Center “is the gateway to collections documenting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered history and culture, with a special emphasis on the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to books, periodical and archival collections, the Center sponsors changing exhibitions and public programs.” The Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Network was founded right here in the Bay Area in 1998 “to empower youth activists to start Gay-Straight Alliance clubs to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools.” By 2005 the GSA Network was nationwide. The Hayward Gay Prom is one of the oldest and continually running gay proms for those 20 and under. You can watch a 2011 documentary, Now We Can Dance: The Story of the Hayward Gay Prom, on YouTube. The documentary, created by three Hayward librarians and a group of teenagers, interviews young people attending that prom and civic leaders who helped organize the first dance.

Lastly, I want to mention some of the great places in the Bay Area where people can raise their voices on these issues and many more. Perhaps you have heard the work of the first group on National Public Radio. Youth Radio trains diverse young people in media and technology. They were founded in 1992 in Berkeley and moved to downtown Oakland in 2007. They now have bureaus in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Washington, DC. You can watch, listen, or read about their work on their web site or perhaps even plan a visit when you are in the area. Youth Speaks creates “safe spaces to empower the next generation of leaders, self-defined artists, and visionary activists through written and oral literacies.” They were founded in 1996 in San Francisco. They present local and national youth poetry slams and festivals. They might be hosting an event during Annual, so check their site closer to the time. You may have heard of author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari’s 826 Valencia. They were founded in 2002 to “support students ages six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills and to help teachers inspire their students to write.” There are now seven chapters nationwide. 826 Valencia has a really cool pirate supply store you should visit.

I hope you enjoy your visit to San Francisco and are able to experience some of its beauty and progressive history outside of the Moscone Center. By the way, did you know that the Moscone Center is named for George Moscone? He was San Francisco’s 37th mayor, and he was assassinated by Dan White on November 27th, 1978 along with city council member Harvey Milk. Milk was the first openly gay elected official in the United States. When the voluntary manslaughter verdict for Dan White was announced the White Night Riots occurred. The events led to increased political power for the gay community...

I could just go on and on….

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9. AAR/SBL 2014 annual meeting wrap-up

Thanks to everyone who visited our booth at the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting this year! We had a great time in San Diego.

One of our favorite parts of the meeting was seeing many of our authors (and for many of us, meeting them for the first time!). Check out our slideshow below of some authors that stopped by our booth.

Our conference discount is still good until 25 January 2015! Visit our webstore to browse our newest religion and theology books, and apply promotion code 32205 at checkout to received 20% off.

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10. Annual 2015: San Francisco on the Cheap (Part 2)

(Did you miss part 1? Click here!)

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

As promised, here are even more great ways to enjoy what San Francisco has to offer–on a budget.

Neighborhoods and Landmarks

Twin Peaks
With the 25th anniversary of the television show imminent, why not use this as an excuse to visit a site 1,000 feet above S.F. and with a 360-degree view? It’s a great place to visit but can be windy and chilly, so bring a sweater.

Chinatown
Chinatown is a fantastic place to wander around in, whether you like to eat your way through a neighborhood or prefer to shop or people watch, Chinatown offers it all. It’s the oldest Chinatown in North America, and with its beautiful, historic buildings and landmarks it’s certainly one of San Francisco’s jewels.

The Mission
The Mission District runs along the parallel streets of Mission Street and Valencia. If artisanal coffee, award-winning burritos, fanciful ice-cream, local (and sometimes strange) boutiques, and public art interest you, then the Mission is definitely a place to spend an afternoon. Some highlights, La Taqueria, Humphrey Slocombe ice-cream, murals on Balmy and Clarion alleys, the beer-garden at Zeitgeist, and sitting in the grass at Dolores Park.

Museums and Galleries

Palace of Fine Arts
One of the most lovely places in San Francisco is the Palace of Fine arts in the Marina District. Built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific exhibition, it’s known for its lagoons (home to geese, ducks, swans, and turtles) and Roman-Greek-inspired architecture. If, after strolling around the lagoons, you feel like exploring the world of science, than look no further the Exploratorium interactive museum housed on site. Few afternoons can beat wandering the grounds with a friend and / or a good book.

Musee Mechanique
If idyllic walks through sculpted gardens to the ambient sounds of ducks and frogs is not your preference, and if instead you prefer the whirly-twirl cacophony of old-timey penny arcades, than perhaps the Musee Mechanique on Pier 45 is just the place. Home to over 200 mechanical marvels (some dating back to the turn of the century), the Musee Mechanique still proves surprising and inspiring.

De Young Fine Art Museum
One of the best fine art museums in the world, the De Young is not to be missed. Admission is $10 for general admission, and it is well worth it. With site specific installations from several artists including James Turrell and Andy Goldsworthy, and architecture which emulates the natural landscape, the De Young is a glorious place to spend an afternoon.

Walking Tours

San Francisco City Guides
Because San Francisco has such a quirky and fascinating history, a guided walking tour may be more up your alley, and luckily the city offers free walking tours.

Wanderers Union
The Wanderers Union is a group dedicated to long-distance wandering. And while no organized trips are available during ALA15, they have graciously added their courses and maps to their site, which you can find here:

Nature and Parks

Marin Headlands
The Northern California coastline is stunning, usually windy and clear, explorers can cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head into the headlands for gorgeous views of the ocean, hiking through California poppies, wild strawberries, monkeyflowers, and more. What used to be a military site (there are still barracks along the coastline to explore) is now governed by the Golden Gate Parks National Conservatory and is easily accessible via the 76 Muni Bus.

There is so much to do and see in San Francisco that this list points more to what has been missed and overlooked than what has been humbly provided. San Francisco has an elusive yet individual personality that I think you will enjoy getting to know during your stay, and I hope these suggestions provide a good introduction.

We’re adding more and more things to do and know on the YALSA wiki all the time. Be sure to bookmark it and keep checking back!

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11. Goodbye, YALSA! Hello, ILF and B&N!

There’s nothing better than a crowd of librarians and authors to remind me how lucky I am to be in this line of work, and to inspire me to keep on writing and earning my place among this bunch.

This past weekend, Austin hosted the annual YA symposium of the Young Adult Library Services Association. I participated in the Saturday evening Book Blitz — in which authors seated behind stacks of publisher-donated books get blitzed by librarians snagging their share of signed copies — as well as a Sunday-morning panel discussion including (left-to-right in Paula Gallagher’s photo above) Jonathan Auxier, Lisa Yee, Andrew Smith, moderator/organizer/wrangler Kelly Milner Halls, Bruce Coville, and Laurie Ann Thompson.

It’s going to be a full week, as I’ll also be speaking at the Indiana Library Federation’s annual conferenceShark Vs. Train is a winner of the Young Hoosier Book Award — and then reading Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! at a Barnes & Noble back here in Austin.

If you’re interested in hearing me talk for, oh, 27 minutes and 59 seconds, but won’t be making it to either of those events, I’m happy to offer a third option: this podcast interview that author Jason Henderson recorded with me last week. Enjoy!

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12. Annual 2015: San Francisco On the Cheap (Part 1)

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

San Francisco in the summer is beautiful. Clear, warm days and cool (okay, sometimes windy and cold) evenings make is a perfect city for the contemporary flaneur. Some may recall the “coldest winter was summer in S.F.” quote often attributed to Samuel Clemens, and while the authority control on that is in doubt, the sentiment is not. Make sure to pack light-yet-warm clothes that you can stuff into a knapsack during the day, and later don at night. it’s a gorgeous city, and you’ll want to walk it. Luckily, it’s not terribly large!

San Francisco is only seven by seven miles, but that area includes Gold Rush-era architecture, beautiful Victorians, breathtaking parks, pleasing urban parks , and lots of hills to trolley or walk. If you want to spend money here, it’s really easy–but if you like to travel a little lighter, and perhaps see the city as many of its residents do, then read on for a list of inexpensive and free activities in San Francisco (culled from an informal Facebook survey to ensure authenticity and from this writer’s experiences).

Libraries!
Of course the San Francisco Public Library is a must, but you may also want to visit the Prelinger Library: “an independent research library located in San Francisco’s South-of-Market neighborhood. It is open to anyone for research, reading, inspiration, and reuse.”

Prelinger Library
The library is primarily a collection of 19th and 20th century historical ephemera, periodicals, maps, and books, most published in the United States. Much of the collection is image-rich, and in the public domain. The library specializes in material that is not commonly found in other public libraries.”

Center for Sex and Culture Library
From the site: “The Center for Sex & Culture Library and Archive was born from, and is sustained by, donated collections of books, magazines, journals, zines, comics, dissertations, works of art, videos, memorabilia, and the personal papers of key members of the community. The collection is unique in the world in its dedication to collecting and preserving information about sex as we have known it, do know it, and continue to learn about it, worldwide.”

The Library at the Interval
A crowd curated collection dedicated to long-term thinking is one reason to visit, another is the original artwork by Brian Eno, their 10,000 year clock, or if you are thirsty, their coffee by day and cocktails by night.

Night Life

Trannyshack
One of the best drag clubs around! See great themed musical reviews in a club that is LGBTQ and hetero friendly.

Empress of China
While this is not free, the happy hour on the rooftop cocktail lounge (with views of Nob Hill, Coit Tower, North Beach, and more) offers 50% off drinks from 3:00 to 6:00.

San Francisco Ghost Hunt
Ever wanted to go looking for ghosts? Maybe San Franciscan ghosts? The SF Ghost Hunt is relatively inexpensive ($20 a person) and offers not only a chance to check out what goes bumping around in the evening, but also offers a great way to see the city.

We’re adding more and more things to do and know on the YALSA wiki all the time. Be sure to bookmark it and keep checking back!

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13. 2014 AES Convention: shrinking opportunities in music audio

Checking the website for the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention in Los Angeles, I took note of the swipes promoting the event. Each heading was framed as follows: If it’s about ____________, it’s at AES. The slide show contained nine headings that are to be a part of the upcoming convention (in no particular order because you start at whatever point in the slide show you happened to log-in to the site).

  • Archiving & Restoration
  • Networked Audio
  • Broadcast & Streaming
  • Product Design
  • Recording
  • Project Studios
  • Sound for Picture
  • Live Sound
  • Game Sound

The list was interesting to me on many levels, but one significant one that struck me immediately was the absence of mixing and mastering (my main areas of work in audio). A relatively short time ago almost half of these categories did not exist. There was no streaming, no project studios, no networked audio and no game sound. So what is the state of affairs for the young audio engineering student or practitioner?

Yamaha M7CL digital live sound mixing console left half angled
Yamaha M7CL digital live sound mixing console left half angled. CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

Interestingly, of the four new fields mentioned, three of them represent diminished opportunities in the field of music recording, with one a singular beacon of hope.

Streaming audio represents the brave new world of audio delivery systems. As these services continue to capture more of the consumer market share they continue to diminish artists ability to earn a decent living (or pay an accomplished audio engineer). A friend of mine with 3 CD releases recently got his Spotify statement and saw that he had more that 60,000 streams of his music. His check was for $17. CDs don’t pay as well as vinyl records used to, downloads don’t pay as well as CDs, and streaming doesn’t pay as well as downloads (not to mention “file-sharing” which doesn’t pay anything). Sure, there may be jobs at Pandora and Spotify for a few engineers helping with the infrastructure of audio streaming, but generally streaming is another brick in the wall that is restricting audio jobs by shrinking the earning capacity of recording artists.

Project studios now dominate most recording projects outside the reasonably well-funded major label records and even most of that work is done in project studios (though they might be quite elaborate facilities). Project studios rarely have spots for interns or assistant engineers so they provide no entree positions for those trying to come up in the engineering ranks. Not only does that limit the available sources of income, but it also prevents the kind of mentoring that actually trains young engineers in the fine points of running sessions. Of course, almost no project studios provide regular, dependable work or with any kind of benefits.

Networked audio systems provide new, faster, and more elaborate connectivity of audio using digital technology. While there may be opportunities in the tech realm for engineers designing and building digital audio networks there is, once again, a shrinking of opportunities for those aspiring to making commercial music recordings. In many instances, these networking systems allow fewer people to do more—a boon only to a small number of audio engineers working with music recordings who can now do remote recordings without having to be present and without having to employ local recording engineers and studios to complete projects with musicians in other locations.

The one bright spot here is Game Sound. The explosive world of video games is providing many good jobs for audio engineers who want to record music. These recordings have become more interesting, higher quality, and featuring more prominent and talented composers and musicians than virtually any other area of music production. The only reservation here is that the music is intended as secondary to the game play (of course) and there is a preponderance of violent video games and therefore musical styles that tend to fit well into a violent atmosphere. However, this is changing with a much broader array of game types achieving new levels of popularity (Mindcraft!).

I do not fault AES for pointing to these areas of interest for audio engineers (other than the apparent absence of mixing and mastering). These are the places where significant activity, development, and change are occurring. They’re just not very encouraging for those of us who became audio engineers because of our deep love of music and our desire to be engaged in its production.

 Headline Image: Sound Mixing via CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay

The post 2014 AES Convention: shrinking opportunities in music audio appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. You’re Invited to Bring It to YALSA’s 2015 Symposium! (OR Bringing it Together in Portland, 2015 OR Let’s Bring It Together at YALSA Symposium 2015)

Every day, you find ways to connect teens with the resources they need and want. Now it’s time to share your experiences and ideas with librarians, educators, researchers, young adult authors and other teen advocates at YALSA’s first expanded symposium.

YALSA is currently seeking program proposals and paper presentations for its 2015 Young Adult Services Symposium, Bringing it All Together: Connecting Libraries, Teens & Communities, to be held Nov. 6-8, 2015, in Portland, Ore.

The 2015 theme addresses the key role of connection that librarians have for the teens in their community.

Today’s 21st century teens have unique needs and face significant challenges that they cannot deal with successfully on their own. Library staff are uniquely positioned to help teens by not only connecting them to resources in the library and their hometown, but also to resources from affinity communities that thrive online. How can library staff connect with partners, provide programming, enhance collections, and help teens build both print and digital literacy skills so that they can be successful in the future? How can library staff connect with colleagues to form personal learning networks, increase impact and tell their stories? Join YALSA as we explore how to connect teens to their community and beyond.

Programs will cover the entire spectrum of topics related to providing services for and with young adults, including readers’ advisory and maintaining young adult literature collections. YALSA is seeking proposals in the following categories:

  •    Programming
  •    Collections
  •    Digital and Print Literacy
  •    Youth Participation
  •    Spaces (physical and virtual)
  •    Partnering/Collaborations

YALSA invites interested parties to propose 90-minute programs centering on the theme, as well as paper presentations offering new, unpublished research relating to the theme. Applications for all proposals can be found http://www.ala.org/yalsa/yasymposium . Proposals for programs and paper presentations must be completed online by Dec. 1, 2014. Applicants will be notified of their proposals’ status by Feb. 1, 2015.

Get your proposal in soon and let’s connect in Portland in 2015!

-YA Services Symposium Marketing and Planning Task Force

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15. Island-Hopping with a Sketchbook




Okay, I promise, I'll stop banging on about Brazil soon. But, the thing is, I haven't even mentioned the boat trip (what on earth is going on with my knees below..?):


It was Brenda's idea - she's the kind of person who gets things done. She organised us all, then pep-talked us into it again, when we saw the cloudy weather that morning and started to dither. Here she is, in the red, as we make our way to the pier and the little boat we hired. Well done Brenda!


Because it was a wonderful idea. Despite the lack of sunshine, it was still warm enough to sit up on the top of the boat and sketch together, as beautiful scenery glided by. 


The sea was peppered with pointy islands. It was incredibly restful. 


We anchored just a small way from a tropical island and the more gung-ho members of the party jumped off the boat. A few of us swum all the way to the island. Then our captain rowed the others across to join us. We saw blue butterflies the size of your hand and bright red crabs scuttling on the rocks. A spotty fish came to investigate my toes... Bliss.


The next island we visited had a little bar cum cafe - we didn't swim to this one, but were ferried in shifts in the dingy, so I was able to take a sketchbook. 


I had an odd but delicious sandwich, deep-fried (!), then sat next to my mate from New York, Mark Leibowitz, drawing the view with the boat, above.


The sandwich lady had two little dogs which sat doe-eyed beside each of us in turn (you can see Mark studiously ignoring their pleas). I think it was Brenda who turned out to be the soft-touch (I gobbled mine down - no sharing!). 


We started back shortly after that, because the weather was getting worse. Instead of idling along, we picked up the pace, so it started to get chilly. 

Undeterred we sketched on: 


We piled on what little clothes we had with us (which is why, once again, I donned my fetching bag-lady look):


I was sketching in two different books, both home-made. One from ages ago, my first foray into sketchbook binding, but also one of the concertina books I made not long ago. It was perfect for folding out so I could draw bigger (although I had to hang on to it tight, once the boat really got going):


We made it back to shore before it rained and, as soon as we were stationary, it wasn't even that cold.


We found time on our walk back to do a quick throw-down of the sketchbooks, to get a proper look at what everyone had done:


I hope you appreciate how brave I am being in putting up that photo - what DO I look like? The pink T-shirt was meant for swimming, in case the sun was out: even I wouldn't deliberately match pink and orange!

We had a lovely time and, just like in Rio, it was great to spend several hours with a small group of friends, sketching together, getting to know one-another better and sharing a special experience. Thanks again Brenda. Good one.

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16. Getting Ready For Annual 2015 – It’s Never Too Early

The YALSA Local Arrangements Committee is super excited that ALA15 will be in San Francisco. We hope you’re looking forward to coming to the city by the bay and would like to offer some tips on how to make that happen!

First things first: secure your conference registration. If your supervisor needs a gentle nudge to offer support, ALA has some tips for you.

Additionally, the programs that YALSA sponsors will undoubtedly keep you on the leading edge of your profession. Other perks like free and cheap books, unparalleled networking, and vendor discounts may sway your supervisor.

Next, get funded! If your library can support you going to the conference but can’t justify the financial support, here are a few tips to get some assistance:

9528069608_b3824f4e45_z

“F Special – San Francisco – 2013″ by scottloftesness is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Lodging in San Francisco can be on the pricier side, and hotel rooms can be on the miniscule side. Luckily, you’ll be spending your time out and about at both the conference and the amazing sights that SF has to offer. To save, use the YALSA confererence wiki (which we will be adding to all year) to find a roommate. Sites like VRBO.com and Airbnb.com can lead you to find interesting places that you can share with a group. Another lodging option is to commute like the rest of us and stay in the East Bay, as Oakland and Berkeley are just a 30-minute BART ride away.

Speaking of BART, San Francisco’s public transportation is a great way to save on your expenses. BART runs from both SFO and the Oakland International Airport (where you may find cheaper flights) and you will definitely not need a car while in San Francisco. Streetcars and buses are convenient and offer a unique look at our city.

In the coming months, we’ll be sharing more tips on how to make ALA15 the best conference experience, offering suggestions for food, activities, and more. We look forward to seeing you there!

Sarah Levin

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17. One Adventure Ends, as Another Begins...


Sadly, the 5th Usk symposium had to come to an end eventually (sigh), but we went out with a bang. After Saturday afternoon's sketchcrawl...


...I had a wash and brush up, ready for the evening's party. It was another really late one for those of us who just didn't want it to end, as well as for the Brazilian organisers, like Eduardo and Fernanda, who were just so relieved that it had all gone so well and could finally relax. We danced the night away!


And then people began drifting off home. So many goodbyes! On Sunday, I felt quite melancholy as I sat alone, painting this picture:


But, I needn't have worried: it was only a pause in the action. 

The next morning, I packed up my gear and left Paraty (although those stones did their level best to stop me):


But I wasn't headed home just yet. I got a bus (an extremely comfortable bus, as it happens) bound for Rio, with my sketch-buddies Liz, Esther and Suhita. It took over 4 hours, but we chatted the time away to nothing.


When we got there, we quickly checked into our hotel and then immediately got ourselves back out, on a mission to meet up with a few more sketches who'd arrived the day before.


The others were already set up and sketching, right in the city centre. There was just enough light left for one street sketch, surrounded by bustle and noise and cars and buses and traffic police... and mosquitoes, who immediately set about my exposed ankles. You can just spot me in the photo below, doing the drawing above, if you look carefully:


Then we hit a very posh cafe lined with MASSIVE mirrors. I copped out a little, by not attempting to capture the reflections of reflections of reflections:


We ate and sketched, until finally even I began to wilt.


But after a night's sleep, we were ready to start all over again. We met up with even more sketchers and embarked on an extraordinary day of sketching high up in the air, on Sugarloaf Mountain. But that's another story...

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18. I visited a children’s book conference in the North of...















I visited a children’s book conference in the North of Michigan this past weekend and spent most of it sketching and listening. I’m not going to review the conference, but I’ve posted a few of the sketches I did (mostly of speakers but some audience members). You can also see the layout of my portfolio things which were on display during the weekend.

I really should mention though, that I did really enjoy painting in a butterfly garden (the watercolour & ink above) and getting to know a few really awesome people. 















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19. Reflections on the Future of Library Services for & with Teens Session at the ALA Annual Conference

The YALSA Future of Teens and Libraries taskforce led an interactive panel discussion at the ALA Annual Conference where we reflected on The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report. The session was hosted and moderated by Adrienne Strock, taskforce Chair. Taskforce panelists included Sandra Hughes-Hassell, report co-author; Jack Martin, K-Fai Steele, and Margaret Sullivan. Special guest Traci Slater-Rigaud, Director of the National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Awards kicked off the session by encouraging libraries to get involved in the awards and noted the similarities in our work, particularly the focus on youth development.

As a way to collectively reflect on the report’s significance, the panel highlighted specific content from the report in the areas of demographic shifts, technology, and connected learning. The panel began by examining the demographic shifts presented in the report as well as observable shifts in our library communities. We discussed the importance of engaging non-dominant youth in library settings and debated the library’s role in learning and closing the growing achievement gap. We then considered the importance of technology as a tool, the way in which technology is changing how society interacts and learns, HOMAGO (hanging out, messing around, and geeking out) as a model for engagement, and the need for librarians to continue to keep up with technology as it relates to teen interests and needs. Lastly, we talked about the importance of connected learning, describing what it looks like, noting why it is so powerful and important in library spaces, and reflecting on how partnerships can leverage the strengths of connected learning for more powerful and meaningful growth opportunities for teens.

The main themes from the report that emerged in our conversation included the call for a paradigm shift in services to teens, the growing need for partnerships, and the importance of librarians embracing a facilitator, non-expert role in their work with teens. One specific aspect of the paradigm shift brought up by an attendee was shifting customer and staff expectations about noise. Panelists and audience participants shared excellent feedback that encouraged cultural shifts though catchy signage and designated noise times, educating staff and customers on new expectations while shifting their mindset about noise in the library, and getting staff and customers excited about the activities being introduced to teens by demoing them for staff and customers with opportunities for adults to partake in the fun and engaging learning opportunities.

Slides can be found on the taskforce’s ALA Connect page, and those unable to attend can still get involved!

  • If you haven’t already, check out the report!
  • Reflect, share, and talk to each other using #act4teens via Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, and your favorite social networks.
  • Dive into the actionable sections of the report. Start by following the recommendations (p. 25). Then dig into the questions and guide to local assessment and planning (p. 31) section.

Lastly, the taskforce would love to know what you think! Reflect by commenting on this post. Tell us what excites and frightens you about the report. Share what areas of the report you find the easiest and most challenging to implement locally. Let us know what tools and resources you would like YALSA to provide.

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20. KidLitCon Update!

2014KidLitConLogoThe 8th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference is rapidly approaching. KidLitCon is an annual gathering of children's and young adult book bloggers. It is incredibly fun, educational, and rewarding. This year, KidLitCon will be held in Sacramento, CA, at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, on October 10th and 11th. The theme is Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next? As one of the organizers of this year's conference, I wanted to give you all a quick update of what's been going on with the KidLitCon planning. 

My friend and KidLitCon14 co-chair (with Sarah Stevenson), Tanita Davis from Finding Wonderland, has an excellent new post up at the Kidlitosphere Central blog: What Do We Mean When We Talk About "Diversity" and How Can YOU Contribute to the Conversation? 

Tanita discusses the general buzz around diversity these days, and acknowledges that it can be difficult to even define what we mean by seeking more diversity in books and blogging. There are, after all, many types of diversity. She makes a few suggestions for both diversity-themed and more general session topics that might be submitted for KidLitCon. She concludes:

"We blog, because blogging gives us a voice. We blog about diversity, because we’ve all got different voices. Use yours.Sign up to join a panel or a session or to pitch an idea for this year’s KidLitCon. You can be a part of a game-changing conversation."

So how about it? Do you, in all your uniqueness, have something to contribute to this year's Kidlitosphere Conference? Session proposals will be accepted for one more week, through August 1st. Program Coordinator Charlotte Taylor from Charlotte's Library is standing by for your submissions. If you have an idea but wish to discuss it more informally, you can always email her

We also shared a post recently by this year's Author Coordinators, Melissa Fox from Book Nut and Reshama Deshmukh from Stacking Books, about ways that authors and publishers can get more involved with KidLitCon. Here is their enthusiastic conclusion:

"KidLitCon does have the best of everything: Good books, good conversation and amazing KidLit bloggers under one roof!! We hope you can join us and we look forward to seeing you there!"

Even if you aren't interested in making a presentation, or being actively involved as an author or publisher, you are still more than welcome and encouraged to come to KidLitCon and observe (or participate from the audience). We're expecting librarians, authors, teachers, parents, booksellers, publishers, and readers. Registration Coordinator Maureen Kearney from Confessions of a BIbliovore is ready to accept your KidLitCon14 registration form at any time. Registration closes September 19th.

 

I've submitted my registration form, and can't wait for KidLitCon. October. Sacramento, CA. Kindred spirits talking about ways to get books into people's hands. Don't miss it!

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.  

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21. YALSA NEEDS YOU – for our Award & Selection Committees! Volunteer Form Deadline is October 1st!

Happy Summer! Hope you are all surviving and thriving as your summer reading programs come to an end this year. Don’t forget to look toward autumn, as YALSA’s Fall Appointments season approaches!

As President-Elect, I’ll be making appointments to the following YALSA committees and taskforces:

*Please note that the PPYA Committee is an all-virtual committee for the coming year. YALSA members with book selection and evaluation experience and who are comfortable working in an online environment with tools like ALA Connect, Google Docs, Skype, etc. should put their names forward for consideration.

The Fine Print

  • Eligibility: To be considered for an appointment, you must be a current personal member of YALSA and submit a volunteer form by Oct. 1st. If you are appointed, service will begin on February 1, 2015.
  • For those who want to serve another year: If you are currently serving on a selection or award committee and you are eligible to and interested in serving for another term, you must fill out a volunteer form for this round (this is so I know you’re still interested and want to do serve another term).
  • Qualifications: Serving on a committee or taskforce is a significant commitment. Please review the resources on this web page before you submit a form to make sure that committee work is a good fit for you at this point in time: www.ala.org/yalsa/getinvolved/participate
  • Questions: Please free to contact me with any questions or issues at candice (dot) yalsa at gmail (dot) com

Thanks for all the time and talent you share with YALSA!

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22. Back in the Real World


Hello! Yes, I am back from my adventures (sigh). There is no way I can put into words the amount of fun, fellowship and inspiration that was packed into the 10 days I was in Brazil. 


The atmosphere at Urban Sketchers symposiums is always electric with excitement and creativity, but this year was definitely something extra special. Maybe it was that the Brazilians were such lovely, friendly, fun-loving hosts (we partied hard - it was GREAT!). 


Maybe it was because Paraty was the perfect location: small enough that we took it over, so that sketchers were peppered through every street, literally from dawn until dusk most days. 


Maybe it was also partly because this was my 4th time and, each year I go, I revisit more friendships from previous years and feel more at home as an instructor and correspondent. Also, I got to sandwich the symposium itself between extra 'bonding' days with smaller groups of my fellow-sketchers. A dozen of us went out on a boat trip together the day before it all kicked off - when I opened this sketch onto my scanner, a scattering of sand spilled out:


I filled 5 sketchbooks, so there's no way I am going to be able to show them all here, even spread over a few posts, but I will be gradually adding them to an Usk album on my Flickr page as I scan them. I've done a few already. You can see lots of photos on my Facebook page too.


The workshops all went really well although, on the two sessions I did on Thursday, we encountered some rather surreal and unexpected circumstances, which I will tell you about next time. This is a photo from the final workshop on Saturday:



It's been really hard trying to settle down to normality again. I think today is the first day when I have not felt that at least 20% of my brain was still in Brazil with my chums. I didn't expect to miss everyone so much!


Anyway, as you can imagine, there's lots to catch up on back home, so I'd better get on. I will come back and tell you more in a couple of days.


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23. 5th Urban Sketchers Symposium in Paraty


Though I was in Brazil for 10 days, the actual symposium in Paraty ran for 3 days, each of which was crammed with workshops, demonstrations, talks and SketchCrawls, not to mention all the extra-curricula drawing through lunch and dinner.

I was teaching a full day on Thursday and on Saturday morning, but the rest of the time I got to take part in whatever was happening.

There was so much to choose from and of course lots of things clashed, but I had a go at everything I could fit in, trying to squeeze every last drop out of the precious time.


All the instructors were teaching through most of the workshop slots, which meant that we were only able to opt to take part in one workshop being given by a fellow instructor. It was so hard to choose, but in the end I went for something totally different to my approach, so I would learn something new, I chose Paul Heaston.

Paul usually works with a fine-liner and does mostly very small, very intricate drawings, which are incredibly beautiful and very cleverly put together. One device he uses is a fish-eye lens perspective, to try and squeeze everything which is in his field of vision into his tiny A6 sketchbook. I'd never met him before, as this symposium was his first time.  Turns out he's lovely as well as brilliant, and very funny. Excellent combo.


I tried my best to learn how to draw the fish-eye style.
 It was so much harder than I thought! Paul asked us to start with thumbnails and I discovered to my surprise that doing a thumbnail of a view was, for me, the most difficult of all! My thumbnails all kept growing and growing...
After a few pathetic dry-runs I did one final sketch which worked, more or less. Here is Paul trying to whip me into shape:


I went to a couple of excellent lectures, one about the nature of learning, by my new friend Matthew Brehm, and one by Karina Kuschnir from Rio, about gathering research information through sketching, which was very pertinent to the work I am hoping to do with Manchester University.


I did one evening event with Richard Alomar, about sketch-mapping. He asked us to create a concertina record of a walk down one street, taking note of anything which snagged our attention. It was amazing - I had walked down the same street many, many times while we were there, and thought it very much like all the others; I only really got to know it through Richard's session:


On the last afternoon of the symposium, there was a new feature: the Big Crit, where we instructors gave one-to-one feedback on people's work. It was arranged like speed-dating with just 5 minutes per person (although it did stretch at the end, as the crowds thinned). Everyone said it was very useful, so I think it is likely to become a regular feature.


Straight after this, we had a huge SketchCrawl for all 240 Urban Sketchers, plus any locals who wanted to join in. We gathered together for a group photo then all sketched together in the square until the light was completely gone.


That evening we held a blind auction. Each of the instructors (and some other sketchers too) created a piece of work during the symposium, to be auctioned in aid of next year's symposium fund. I found it quite stressful to do, as I left it until the last minute and had to be sure to do something good enough during the final sketchcrawl. Fortunately it worked okay. This is my piece and the lovely Nelson Paciencia, who bought it:


Then we celebrated with the end-of-symposium party. It's normally reasonably formal, with speeches, but this was Brazil. The locals started dancing fairly early on. Well, it would have been rude not to join in...


We ended up doing a massive conga (in quite a small space - fun in itself). After that, it was impossible to go back to anything formal, so we just kept partying instead!


Later that evening, like each of those before it, a smaller group of us went on to the local music bar, Paraty 33, where we drank Caipirinhas (way too nice) and carried on drawing and bopping into the small hours. I was of course amongst the last small knot of hardened boppers who finally crawled out at 4.30am.




I can't remember the last time I had so much fun. After several days of intensive sketching and partying, I was of course exhausted, but couldn't have been happier when every day we got up and started all over again! 

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24. Tales from the Lead-Up to the Symposium


Today is my last day in the studio for nearly 2 weeks: I am off on a book-tour trip to Spain. There is so much exciting stuff happening at the moment! I will of course tell you all about that when I get back but, in the meantime, I still have plenty to tell you about my extraordinary time in Brazil.

The historical centre of Paraty, where this year's Usk Symposium was based, was a lovely, calm place and very pretty, so perfect for sketching. 


There was quite a lot of variety to draw too. I had a full day to get my bearings before the symposium, so I decided to use one of the concertina sketchbooks I made recently to record my day and what I could see as I walked around.

 

You can see the first couple of sections more clearly - the sketches of the church and the vultures - in my first symposium post. That was my morning, pottering around, sitting down beside other sketchers, or wherever caught my interest. 

At lunchtime, we found a brilliant little self-service place, where you paid by the weight of food eaten - a rather novel and very handy idea. We ate there almost every day and more and more sketchers joined us each time until, on the last day, you couldn't move for urban sketchers:


In the afternoon, I sat on a doorstep to draw this wonderful church across the Praca da Matriz, half-obscured by trees dripping with vines and covered in epiphytes. Unfortunately for me, the woman in the house behind me was doing her cleaning... 


I was suddenly enveloped in a cloud of dust and muck that she swept through a gap under her front door. Bits in my eyes, bits in my mouth... it also filled my paint palette. And then, just a few minutes later, I was sprayed with water from a passing van's windscreen washer. A rather eventful half hour! 


There were quite a few work-horses in Paraty. Some were pulling carts, but this one was for tourists, with a trap. He was unsure of me, because of the eye-flaps, which meant he could hear and smell me, but not see what I was up to, so I tried to be as quick as I could. 


In the evening we did 'drink and draw' sessions, first in a little bar and then at a restaurant. These are a regular feature at symposiums. We all go out together and draw each other across the table. It's great fun and much better than photos when you are looking back. We often pass the books round, so people can add their names to the drawings of themselves - it's a good way of remembering people's names:


Okay, that's all for now, but I have plenty more, which I will set up to publish while I am away. I still haven't told you about my workshops, the flood (!) or my trip to Rio. Watch this space!

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25. Afraid of Colour? - Afraid of Water?!


So, I thought I'd tell you a bit about the Afraid of Colour? sketching workshops I ran for the Urban Sketchers Symposium, in beautiful Paraty. Things were rather more dramatic than I'd anticipated... 


Even before I left the UK, the weather forecasters were saying that my first and main teaching day was going to be dreadful weather. They predicted heavy rain and they weren't wrong. I had one 3.5 hour workshop first thing and another all afternoon. My allocated spot was lovely -a grassy area by the harbour, with colourful boats...



...and the lovely houses we found all over the historic area, with brightly coloured windows and doors. I guided my group there on Thursday morning and found a nice shady spot under a tree, where we sat on the grass. 

I briefed them in and did a very quick demo of using colour before line (you can read more about the specific exercises of the workshop in my post about the dry-run I did in Sheffield): 



People had just got settled and begun painting when it started - huge raindrops. One, two... then, all at once, a deluge!  

We were SO lucky. I was one of the few instructors whose workshop spot had a rain bolt-hole. There was a lot of flapping and squealing and scrabbling around, gathering up gear, but we all made it under the cover of the empty fish-market before any damage was done.

It was a bit grubby, but housed us all easily and we had views out, so that was fine. 




All around us the rain came down and thunder boomed above our heads. It all added a certain drama and we had a great time. It was a lovely group. The 3 exercises went well and I briefed in the last one with a slightly longer demo piece:



I had been slightly concerned about having enough time, because of wanting to do 3 different exercises, but my spot was so close to the Casa da Cultura (the symposium's base-camp) that we got there in a couple of minutes, so I even had a little time left over at the end of the workshop and squeezed in an impromptu demo of how to use the watercolour pencils, by drawing one of the group Ievgen:



He was one of the symposium's sponsors, from PenUp:





At the end, we took this lovely group shot. Big smiles all round. Excellent.


After lunch, I met group number 2 back at the Casa de Cultura. But as soon as we got outside, we realised we had a problem. Though my spot was just around the corner, there was no crossing the road - it was like Venice!


Now, we had already noticed that Paraty has an unusual relationship with the tides. The streets are all created from huge stones and dip in the middle, enabling the sea to flow in and out. This would originally have been a great way to clean the streets twice daily.

This is more how it usually looks at high tide, an easy paddle, with crossing places at high points:





But that day there was a freak, extra-high tide and things went a bit crazy. All the instructors were in the same boat, trailing crocodiles of sketchers down the narrow pavements, trying to find a way to get to where they needed to be:


It took my group about 15 minutes and in the end involved us walking along the top of a narrow harbour wall, an inch under-water in places, with sea either side! The sky was about to burst again, so we headed back to the fish market. I did my quickie demo again, then people got painting. A few worked out on the grass, but we suddenly realised: the water was still rising and they were now cut off from the rest of us!


They paddled through to join us before things got worse but, 5 minutes later, we saw it was STILL rising and was about to inundate the floor of the fish market. So the whole group had to paddle back out onto the grass again, where we finished the workshop on our own island. 
Some people were fretting about ever getting back to civilisatiion! It was all a bit distracting, but I soldiered on, knowing the tide would go back out eventually. Luckily it wasn't raining, but it was now really windy and we were all freezing (dressed for Brazil, not Sheffield!!).

As soon as we were able, we got ourselves into a cafe to warm up. It was a slightly ragged end to the workshop, but quite an experience all round. Luckily my Saturday morning slot was normal - nice, sunny, Brazil weather, no floods:


Thank goodness. It was so lovely to sit out on the grass to brief everyone in and do my quickie-demo:


I had some really lovely feedback from people about the workshop and the handouts I'd created so, despite a certain amount of interesting adversity, in the end I think it was all a big success. Phew. 

Here I am with my 'sunshine' group: 




Thanks to everyone who opted for my workshop (you always fret that nobody will...). I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did and picked up at least something from my package of colour tips. I miss you all!

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