Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Have I Learned?

In my original post,  I endeavored to answer two questions: 

  1. What youth services means as a profession? -and-
  2. What youth services means to me?

Returning back to Virginia Walters' "Six Tenets of Youth Services Librarianship", I feel that she was right on the mark, for the most part.  Throughout the course of publishing this blog, I have come to realize that while Reader's Advisory, Storytelling, and Booktalks are amazing tried and true tools for promoting reading, I do not think they are they only tools for doing so.  To this end, building diverse collections and establishing thorough collection development policies also invariably promote reading, not to mention collaboration efforts undertaken by librarians and the role of technology in learning.  

Here is a list of some other key takeaways I have uncovered with regard to the profession( in no particular order):

  • A child's development is cumulative, with each stage building upon the previous one, effectively underscoring the importance of the library's place in a child's life. 
  • We begin to read from the moment we touch a book, are spoken to, and are read to - it is beyond essential to take advantage of this concept and to communicate this notion to parents and caregivers.
  • Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) represents the best method for establishing literacy skills, successfully leading to increased reading proficiency.
  • Collaboration is crucial to achievement!!   Collaboration amongst public and school librarians, and school librarians and teachers results in increased learning for children/teens.
  • When working with teens, it is important to remember that while everyone struggles with identity issues over the course of his or her life and  with finding his or her place in the world, keep in mind that teens are doing it for the very first time.  As such, it may be increasingly overwhelming for them.  Librarians can support teens in this regard.
  • Young adults DO read!!  It might not be the traditional book format, but they do!
  • Selection policies are essential in substantiating a link between the library and professional ethics and ideals such as Intellectual Freedom.
  • Furthermore, professional ideals such as diversity must be specifically spelled out in such policies - it is dangerous to gloss over these fundamental values, assuming they are a "given."
  • Librarians must build diverse collections, not only embodying a wide range of diverse perspectives, but also a wide range of formats.  Digital resources are simply a way of the new millennium and engender many unique benefits in their own right (space saving, cost efficiencies, remote access, etc.)
  • Finally, librarians must impart valuable information literacy skills to their students/patrons (their survival in the 21st century depends upon it!), and teach them how become critical evaluators and ethical users of information.
When it comes to what youth services librarianship means to me, I still think that the focus upon the individual child remains Walters' strongest tenet.  Moreover, I have learned that librarians and educators can truly make a difference in the lives of their patrons, especially upon considering at-risk populations, for whom the library may be the only source of information and access.  I mean, I obviously already deeply believed in this idea, otherwise I would not be in this profession, but this course and blog helped me cement the why and more importantly the how.  

In closing, I am tempted to return to what I acknowledged in my first blog post.  That to me, youth services librarianship means establishing a genuine connection with each patron or student.  I truly think that is the foundation upon which everything rests.

Thank you for coming along this blog odyssey with me - I sincerely hope that this blog has inspired to stay connected to the existing community of Youth Services professionals, colleagues, and students!!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Comment-tastic Tuesday continues!!!

I am on a comment frenzy, y'all!!!! Try to keep up with the whirlwind - I dare you :)

Click below to check out my comment regarding providing reference service to children on fellow blogger Becca's wonderful blog:

Likewise, fellow blogger Maggie had some amazing nuggets of wisdom concerning customer service to teen library users.  Click on the link below to view my thoughts on the matter:

Finally, Tiffany, another fellow blogger, shared some thoughtful insights on Teen Spaces in libraries.  You can find my two cents by simply clicking upon the link directly below:

I hope you enjoy and don't forget to jump into the conversation yourself!!!


Comment Time!!!!

Hello, hello!

I strongly encourage you to click upon the link below to view my comment on YALSA's blog on the topic of library advocacy!!

Happy reading!!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Turning the Page, A Reading Autobiography - Part 3 - Adolesence/Adulthood

Here comes Part 3 - Signed, Sealed, and Delivered just for you!!!!

In junior high, we had actual classes devoted to Reading and Writing, and the reading material seemed to become a little more serious as well. I remember hating Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, feeling that it was a “boy book” that only boys could relate to. When I re-read it a few semesters ago for my Children’s Lit class, I discovered I couldn’t be more wrong about the epic survival tale. I also had a strong disdain for Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Phantom Tollbooth which were both total snooze-fests in my opinion. I definitely had “awkward stage” written all over me from about fifth grade, until I would say, sadly tenth grade. No matter what I did, I just never felt cool or confident about myself. I started to feel really obsessed with how I looked, and I never thought I looked good enough. I had baby fat and bad skin, wild hair, and felt like I always on the edge of everything, always looking in. It is really hard being a girl in middle school. I began to turn inward a bit, writing more in my journal, and feeling pretty lamentable about life at times. For this reason, I really connected with characters who went through similar circumstances of being the outsider such as Patty Bergen in Summer of My German Soldier, Turtle Wexler in The Westing Game, and Adam Farmer in I Am the Cheese.

During High School, I probably spent more time with my friends and less time reading. I tended to read a lot of lighter fare when pleasure reading such as Sweet Valley High, or Lois Duncan, and I adored reading teen magazines like Seventeen and YM. Moreover, I stumbled upon my favorite book while in high school, Valley of the Dolls, and was irresistibly drawn to the quest for celebrity, stardom, and fame, the scandal, the intrigue, and the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood Lifestyle. I wanted to grow up so badly, to experience life and do things I had never done before, I wanted to live a little more dangerously than I had in the past, which I think is typical for most high schoolers. It was during high school that I also started to gain an appreciation of classics such as Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Julius Caesar and appreciate the complex themes, metaphors, and symbolism.

In college, I read such a wide variety of books for my classes that I tried to take each one for what it was worth and keep an open mind to new genres and authors I had never heard of before. I went through a bad breakup, and used books as a means to escape my problems, the Civil War saga North and South, in particular, really helped me cross to the other side. I started to really finally know and accept myself as a person, and I figured I could do the same with reading, if a book looked good, I would read it. Currently, my reading tastes run a wide gambit, I still enjoy classics like Great Expectations or Pride and Prejudice, and I still love dramatic and the sensational titles like Rebecca or Sidney Sheldon's The Other Side of Midnight. I find myself wanting to revert back to simpler times like high school and junior high, and delight in children’s and young adult literature. For instance, the Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has been one of favorites to discover as an adult. I feel that I was in such a hurry to grow up and to know what would happen in my life, but now I would rather like to return to the intricacies of seemingly less complicated times, even though they seemed so fraught with drama back then. I like to read these (Children's/YA Lit) books, knowing what I know now because it certainly adds something.

Reading over this series of blog posts, I can certainly spot a few patterns. First, teachers and librarians can undeniably make an astounding effect on a child’s life, either for the positive or negative ( Mark, your comment certainly rings true with this idea). In becoming librarians, we are without a doubt in a unique position to make a difference in people’s lives. I also find that books can serve many different purposes in the same person’s life. Books can be a means of escape, a way to explore new lands, a way to relate to others, or a way to relate to someone completely different from who you are. I think all that I have read has taught me that everyone has problems, and that sometimes it is what you overcome that makes you who you are. In this way, I would say my story is kind of like The Princess and the Pea, where each layer added something to my story, but in the end I shouldn’t be so thin-skinned and also not judge myself so harshly. In relating to teenage reading, I think it is important to remember what is like to be that age and listen to those in that age group. When you get know them and establish a genuine connection, then it will clear how to find a book that will speak to them for a moment in time

I had a blast exploring my past like this, hope you all enjoyed reading it, and that it makes you re-examine your reading autobiographies as well. Looking back certainly puts a new and valuable perspective on looking forward!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Turning the Page, A Reading Autobiography - Part 2 - Late Childhood

Picking up right where I left off last time.... 

Throughout second and third grade, I consumed a healthy diet of chapter books, usually based off of the titles our teachers read to us in class.  Some of my favorites included the Little House on the Prairie series, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, and the Wayside Elementary School books by Louis Sachar.  Visiting the school library and having free reading time in class was the best!!  When there was a book fair at school or a book order, oh, I begged and pleaded my mom to please, please let me get something.  However, I am reminded of one negative experience in our elementary school library that I still cannot rectify to this day.  I was in second grade, and wanted to check a Mrs. Piggle Wiggle book out I believe.  When I brought my selection up to the circulation desk though, the school librarian informed me that since I was in second grade, I could not check out books from the chapter book section, only the picture books and easy readers.  Well, let me tell you, I was horrified!  I felt ashamed having the school librarian reprimand me, and I was also beyond bored with the easy reader selection.  If I had to read one more earth-toned, blasé tale of Toad and Frog I could seriously hurl.  But being afraid to speak up, I accepted my fate, counting the days until third grade.

It was during third grade that I really started to come around. I credit the amazing teacher I had, Mrs. Jacobs, with helping me come out of my shell. My teachers in first grade and second grade never took the time to try to get to know me. I was a good student, but terribly shy at school, and at home I had a new baby sister that I had to share my parents’ attention with. This was something new to me, as I was a spoiled only child for five and half years. I can’t conjure any specific reading experiences that I had on account of Mrs. Jacobs, but I do know that what she saw in me helped me turn over a new leaf, and made me feel that it was ok to start voicing my opinions and emerging from my own world. 

Well, now that I finally felt ready to connect with the world and my peers, I discovered it was not so easy to always fit in. Throughout my life, I had always been obsessed with popular culture and gravitated towards TV shows and movies that depicted the teenage and high school scene. Movies that I would watch time and again included Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Can’t Buy Me Love, and Adventures in Baby-sitting. I also enjoyed tv shows like Beverly Hills 90210, Kids Incorporated, Mickey Mouse Club, Saved by the Bell, and Salute Your Shorts. All of these shows portrayed teenagers and their constant struggles and dramas. During the fourth grade, I began to devote a lot more time to thinking about being cool, becoming popular, and wanting to have a boyfriend or at least getting a guy to like me.

At this point, I discovered the series that I would probably say, had the most effect on me overall: The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin. I think I stumbled across the books at a friends house, borrowed one and was instantly addicted. I loved how the girls seemed so mature and sophisticated, going on fabulous trips and taking care of children with relative little adult supervision. I idolized them, the character of Stacey McGill in particular. She was from New York and without fail concocted the most wicked, debonair ensembles. I cannot even tell you how many times I read Boy Crazy Stacey, still my favorite BSC book ever.
When I was in fifth grade, I had another wonderful teacher, Mr. Hunger. He had a way of making every student feel important, and nurturing their individual interests. We did a Civil War unit in our class, and it sparked a great interest with me. I loved the history of the War Between the States, and started garnering more of an interest in nonfiction materials, as long as the books had a good story behind them. I wrote troves upon troves of Civil War poems, that my sister actually happened upon in my closet a few years ago. They were actually quite graphic, but well-crafted, and Mr. Hunger used to give me extra credit for reading them out loud to my class. I never could have gotten up in front the class and shared something so personal without a teacher like him. 

During the same year, I somehow became beyond obsessed with discovering everything I could about Presidents.  I read book after book, and then compiled my own lists and records of presidential facts. I had list after list of everything about the Presidents: where they went to college, the Presidents in height order, what their wives names were, who their vice-presidents were.  It was a bit ridiculous really, but it was my life’s work at the time.  I still can name all the Presidents in order to this day and enjoy presidential trivia. 

I should totes dig those old lists to celebrate the upcoming election!!  Please stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to my trip down memory lane in Part 3 - Adolescence/Adulthood.