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YALSA’s Teen Book Finder app

2012 June 8
by Summer Hayes
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Quick! Give me a list of horror books that have all appeared on a YALSA booklist. Betcha can’t do it in 20 seconds or less! Or can you…?

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YALSA launched its new Teen Book Finder app this week, and it is a really fun tool for YA lit lovers. Funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the app has a simple interface that allows users to access the full catalog of YALSA’s book awards and selection lists.

Opening the app lands the user on a home page, where three daily “Hot Picks” are displayed. Tapping on the search button allows users to search by title, author, genre, year, award, and booklist. Users can also build a personalized list of favorite titles. For a thorough overview of all the apps features, please see tech guru Linda Braun’s excellent video on the YALSAblog.

Where this app really shines

  1. It’s wicked fast! There was a short delay when I pulled up the title list, but that wasn’t a surprise given the amount of data it needs to retrieve.
  2. Navigation through the different lists is quick and easy and offers plenty of room for serendipitous browsing across categories.
  3. The author list is an outstanding resource. A quick check will give you a full list of all titles by a particular author that have appeared on a YALSA booklist or won an award.

Room for improvement

  1. There are no search filters for refined searching. It would be great if users could pull up a list of all the Printz Award winners by year but current limitations means the user must sort through either all Printz winners or a prohibitively long list of all award and booklist titles from a chosen year.
  2. Some titles have duplicate records, often with different information.[1]
  3. On my display (iPhone 4), some of the navigation tools overlapped on the screen and were difficult to use. The vertical alphanumeric quick nav on the right side of the screen was frequently incomplete, with last letters of the alphabet permanently hidden behind the “My Favorites” icon. If I wanted to look at titles at the end of the alphabet, I had to tap on the letter S and scroll down from there.

Overall, I give this app a “thumbs up.” I am forever trying to remember titles from different years and lists, and this is certainly much faster than finding a computer and scanning each annual listing on the YALSA booklists page. While I don’t anticipate whipping out my phone in the stacks during a readers’ advisory conversation, I do picture myself using this frequently as I build recommended reading lists for teens and teachers.

– Summer Hayes, currently reading My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

[1] Editor’s note: The book covers and the “Find It” button use the OCLC API key, which uses ISBN-13s to identify records. Some of the items on YALSA’s lists might have multiple ISBNs (e.g., paperbacks vs hardcovers), so that’s where these inconsistencies come from. The developers of the app wrote a script that merges duplicates as much as possible, but it didn’t get everything.

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6 Responses
  1. June 8, 2012

    Just downloaded this one and like the look of it so far. I think it’ll really come in handy when I’m in a bookstore or library and think “Oh, who wrote that book? The one with the title I can’t remember? I really wanted to read it!” (This happens way more often than I’d care to admit.)

  2. Charles J. permalink
    June 8, 2012

    Will there be another announcement when the Android version is available later this year?

  3. Laura C Perenic permalink
    June 8, 2012

    Just downloaded the app, its not showing all libraries. It is pin pointing other cities, often ones that are very far away. Ie we are in southern Ohio and the app is showing books in Philly.

  4. Beth permalink
    June 8, 2012

    Great start. It would also be really helpful if the Popular Paperback Lists were actually connected by theme somehow instead of one big list.

  5. June 11, 2012

    Hello! Thank you all for the feedback. I can answer some questions that you have.

    First, Charles, we will definitely do another announcement when the Android version is ready, so thank you for checking.

    Laura, the Find It! piece is based off of the WorldCat OCLC API key, so libraries may not show if they are not on WorldCat. Sometimes too, the app can randomly insert a different zip code (I once checked it in Chicago and it zoomed to DC) so you can always insert the proper zip code on the OCLC window when it pops up.

    Beth, thank you for the compliment! I took the comments from Summer on refined searching to heart, and that’s something I’d like to implement for future releases — so we can look into adding that for PPYA down the road.

    If anyone has any more questions about the app, please feel free to get in touch with me directly at skuenn@ala.org.

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  1. Top Picks Thursday 06-14-2012 « The Author Chronicles

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