Cultivating Latino Cultural Literacy

Pura Belpré Award-Winning Books in Library Programming for Teens and Tweens

By Jamie Campbell Naidoo

The following article appears in the Spring 2012 issue of Young Adult Library Services. Booklists and a full set of references can be found there.

Established in 1996 by the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking (REFORMA) and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), the Pura Belpré Award recognizes Latino authors and illustrators “whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.” The award’s namesake, the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library system, was dedicated to bringing rich stories imbued with Latino cultural elements to the children and youth that she served in barrios and ethnically diverse neighborhoods throughout the city from  the 1920s and 1930s and later in the 1960s and 1970s. In 2011, the Pura Belpré Award celebrated its quinceanera, marking fifteen years of works that carry on the mission first started by that energetic and visionary librarian so long ago.

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Evildoings, Deadly Exes, and Rock and Roll!

Read- and Listen-Alikes Supporting the Fabulous Films for Young Adults 2012 List

by the Fabulous Films for Young Adults Committee

The following article appears in the Spring 2012 issue of Young Adult Library Services.

YALSA’s Fabulous Films for Young Adults 2012 list has been announced! The 2012 theme was “Song and Dance,” and over the ten-month nomination period, committee members, fellow librarians, YALSA members, and teens nominated more than one hundred titles. The committee was pleased and surprised to see that nominators found many ways to interpret our theme, and we selected the best of the best films that would appeal to young adults ages 12–18. The committee is especially pleased to have selected titles that will enhance library collections as well as support young adult programming.

Our committee’s function is to annually select films especially significant to young adults from those currently available for purchase. The committee is then charged to prepare one annotated list, based on the chosen theme, of at least ten and no more than twenty-five recommended titles. The Fabulous Films for Young Adults list is tangible evidence that YALSA believes moving images play an important role in the life of a young adult.
Some titles present beloved tales, while others take on social issues that span the past and present. Still other films offer fun, catchy songs and conversations that will have you singing and quoting your way through the stacks.

To support our list, the committee has created a list of read/listen alikes that will enhance your collection and programming.

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Learning More About the Juvenile Justice System

The following is a guest post by Whitney Winn of YALS‘s Editorial Advisory Board.

In the winter issue of YALS, Barbara Roos writes about her experience with outreach to teens in the juvenile detention center in her Baton Rouge library’s service area. With large numbers of young people incarcerated in such facilities — there were about 70,000 youth in juvenile detention facilities on a single day census conducted in 2010 — this is an issue that librarians working with teens in all capacities should make themselves aware of. Here are some further resources to explore this topic:

  • To connect and share resources and ideas with others who work with teens in the juvenile justice system, join the YALSA-Lockdown listserv. According to the group’s description, discussion can include any issues related to incarcerated youth, including youth in juvenile halls, group homes, treatment centers, mental institutions, etc. The group will address issues such as working within several systems with differing values, issues of censorship within a structure that may or may not acknowledge ALA or its guidelines, issues of providing services to youth with mental health issues, serious criminal charges, etc. The list’s archives dating back to 2007 are also available and searchable, even to non-subscribers.
  • The paper selected for this year’s Trends Impacting Young Adult Services presentation at the Midwinter Meeting was also about juvenile detention center librarianship. Jeanie Austin, project coordinator for Mix IT Up! at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, presented her paper, “Critical Issues in Juvenile Detention Libraries,” in Dallas. According to the press release, she explored the tensions present in juvenile detention center library services, such as institutional limitations and access to technology and how youth and librarians can navigate these tensions within the library setting. Look for the print publication in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults. You can also read more about Extending Library Services to Empower Youth (ELSEY), the outreach group with which Jeanie is involved at their blog.
  • Looking for more outreach groups? Books Beyond Bars consists of graduate students, faculty, and alumni from UCLA’s Department of Information Studies that are committed to bringing high-interest books to young people living at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Detention Center in Sylmar, CA. Does your library or library school have a juvenile detention center outreach program? Let us know in the comments.
  • For a literary perspective on life in and around the justice system, take a look at the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 2006: Criminal Elements list.
  • The ALA has also collected some resources for librarians or students currently working with or considering working with the incarcerated population.
  • If you have access to back issues of YALS, check out “Dream It Do It: At the Library! Technology Outreach at a Juvenile Detention Center” by Kelly Czarneck
    in the Winter 2009 issue (Vol. 7 Issue 2). In the article, the author explains how her libraru collaborated with several partner organizations on a technology project with five incarcerated teens.
  • For more numbers about juvenile justice, The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, collects all kinds of data in its Statistical Briefing Book.

Get Excited About STEM!

The following is a guest post by Cindy Welch of YALS‘s Editorial Advisory Board.

STEM is a relatively new educational initiative to create excitement and energy around engaging with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. For those old enough to remember – or for those, like me – who love history, it kind of reminds me of the jumpstart science and math education got in the 1960s as a result of the launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik and America’s race to regain its technological preeminence in the world. Interestingly, one result of that race was Arpanet, which later became the Internet and our World Wide Web.

Teens today are already engaged with technology, and YA librarians are right there with them, but how do we work with the remaining letters of that acronym? The Winter issue of YALS gives some great tips for getting started with collections and programming, and YALSA has a STEM task force that will release a STEM toolkit in conjunction with Teen Tech Week (March 4-10, 2012). According to a YALSA Board Document from MW 2012, the task force also has plans for a STEM wiki and a programming contest! You can already check the YALSA Blog for posts related to this initiative and follow up on the STEM It Up! Webinar scheduled for Feb. 1. If you missed it, just know that all Teen Tech Week registrants can receive a free copy of the recording, so if you register now – or if you’re already registered – you’ll be able to get a copy. YALSA members will also be able to access the webinar in the Webinars-on-Demand area free of charge.

In the meantime here are a few ideas for science, engineering and math programming, from the sublime to the silly (in no particular order):

  • “Found object” invention contest;
  • Draw or construct a thingamajiggy from your favorite sci-fi novel;
  • Discussing – or re-creating! – the science behind our favorite sci-fi books and movies;
  • Spy toys and tools – create, discuss, draw, get an expert in to talk about them;
  • Re-create engineering contests in your neighborhood; team up with high school physics teachers, or local college faculty to drop eggs, build flying machines (or models), or create mini go-kart races;
  • Host a science-fair extravaganza that has everything from local geeks as consultants, to actual experiments;
  • Create a loop of YouTube or SchoolTube videos that show actual experiments in progress and let it run during the 3-6 p.m. blitz; better yet – get teens to put it together for you;
  • Consult with teens to create a consumer math contest or awareness day, including cost comparisons, budgeting, practical uses of math.
  • Create a geo-cache in or around your library;
  • Host a “Big Bang Theory” night at the library; come as your favorite character? Or, perhaps a “What Would Sheldon Do?” quiz.
  • Partner with recycling agencies, environmental groups, or citizen action groups to raise awareness about the environment;
  • If you have a blog or radio program, consider interviewing or featuring local mathletes or science fair winners;
  • Contact outstanding science students to act as consultants during science fair season;
  • Create book displays based on YALSA Popular Paperbacks lists like the environmentally-conscious “Change Your World … or Live to Regret It,” or “Get Your Geek On
  • Get crazy with Legos, K’nex, or dominos.

As we shift to more inquiry-based learning, more and more people in schools, museums, and colleges are exploring all sorts of ways to make math and science concepts tangible and hands-on, so you don’t have to go it alone. We know about collaboration, so push the boundaries and talk to science and math teachers during your next school visit. Get to know the teen geeks in your neighborhoods – if you don’t already – and ask them what they’d recommend to get people excited about STEM. Most importantly, experiment! (Literally.) As for me, I’m going geo-caching!

Expanding on Communities and Communication

The following is a guest post by Laura Pearle of YALS‘s Editorial Advisory Board.

The current issue of YALS has the topic of Communities and Communication, which I’d like to expand on in this post to include electronic ways one can participate and communicate with peers or the community your library serves.

Obviously, joining YALSA/ALA is the best way to become part of this community – and YALSA does a great job of communicating with its members (via the YALSA Blog, the Hub, ALA Connect, YALSA-BK, etc.).   Jessica Sullenberger’s article in YALS’s fall issue, “Get Connected to YALSA Online,” discusses the pros of each of the different communication/community tools, offering suggestions on how to use each to maximum effect.

But what about other divisions in ALA?  Steve Matthews’ “Stopping the Slow Train to Disaster or How to Talk Up, Trick Out, and Establish Beyond a Doubt That School Libraries Are Vital for Kids (and That Means TEENS!)” highlights the importance of advocacy; one subtle – but effective – advocacy tool is to become a vocal participant in other areas of the library world.  For example, many members are also members of AASL, ALSC and PLA, which are clearly natural fits with YALSA members’ work.  But if you’re a teen librarian, it might also be worthwhile joining ACRL or LIRT – at the YALSA 3.0 Institute in Boston, I listened as a panel of students said that they don’t go to their school librarian for help with research or using databases, they went to their public librarian; at the LIRT program during ALA11, a public librarian stressed her role in helping students prepare for college and beyond.

Thinking of moving up the management chain?  LLAMA is a good place to lurk.  And LITA’s Top Tech Trends (and other tech discussions) is always interesting.  Joining your state library association or a local one (for example, METRO in New York) leads to connections and community with those that are in your situation.

Other ways to foster community are via e-lists (Listserv is actually a trademark, much like Kleenex). The YALSA blog recently had a great post on some lists that are worth joining. Others can be found inside ALA (and you don’t always need to be a member of a division or roundtable to join that list).  Of course, you have to figure out the signal-to-noise ratio for the various lists.  One of the most popular among school librarians, LM_NET, can reach over 100 posts/day!  Twitter and Facebook are great tools for building your personal community and contributing to the greater library world.  It goes without saying that the sharing of ideas is one of the best parts of joining these lists; when someone is looking for titles for a display or a reading club (like one that explores Street Lit), going to Fiction_L or another list can give you titles and authors that perhaps weren’t covered in Vanessa Irvin Morris’ “The Street Lit Author and the Inner-City Teen Reader”, as well was finding out if the authors are good candidates for author visits in person or via Skype.

Three ways for a library to engage their community are via Twitter, blogs and Facebook. Among many others, I’m following @nypl, @somers_library and @warner_library, the Ann Arbor District Library and Danbury Library blogs.  There are no Facebook “likes” from me to any libraries for two reasons: I can see the page without liking it and several of my friends have asked that I not “like” them because I’m not a part of their community (they don’t want to discourage students, who may be intimidated if too many outsiders are there).  Walt Crawford is doing a study of how public libraries are using those tools to communicate and foster that sense of community, and a study published in DLIB that focused on academic libraries has some interesting observations and considerations.  Linda Braun’s webinar “Tweet, Like, Link: Creating a Social Media Policy for Your Library” (login required) is a great resource for starting the process and developing policies.  Garnering community involvement leads to soft advocacy, particularly among teens – as Lauren Comito and Franklin Escobedo say in “Teens as Advocates”, “One of the best ways for teens to become advocates is for them to get involved with a Teen Advisory Board” (and having them assist/plan with your Twitter/Facebook/blog outreach will ensure they’re successful programs).

There is no one way for us to communicate and build a community: it’s all what you feel comfortable with, and what your community feels comfortable with.  Staying in touch with our peers, sharing ideas and resources is so easy now, and translating that to our school and public library communities is something that every librarian needs to consider.

Welcome to the YALS Online Companion

Welcome to the new online companion to Young Adult Library Services, the journal of the Young Adult Library Association.

Copies of YALS‘s fall issue, my first as editor, were mailed last week. In the fall issue, which focuses on communities and communication, you’ll find articles on street lit, hosting an Anti-Prom, an innovative alternative to staid Summer Reading Clubs, and much more. Unsure how to keep up with YALSA online? Jessica Sullenberger, chair of YALSA’s Website Advisory Committee, guides readers through Twitter, Facebook, the Hub, and the YALSA blog in a hands-on tour.

Watch this space for video, audio, and images that supplement current articles, as well as author interviews and updates on past YALS content.