Thursday, August 28, 2008

Teens as authors

Nothing develops an interest in books more effectively than seeing your own book in print. The L.A. based project WriteGirls makes this possible for many teenagers. Writing is a way for teen to express themselves and understand their turbulent feelings, and having their writing published validates their personal experience. Libraries could become a part of this effort by buying the books, even though they are not carried in many mainstream booksellers, and by sponsoring workshops to help girls get started writing. It's a great opportunity for school and public libraries to cooperate in supporting a project that has encouraged so many teens to complete high school and enter college.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Libraries on KQED

It's always nice to see libraries being talked about in mainstream media. This morning NPR listeners in the Bay Area could hear a Forum program, hosted by Michael Krasny, which brought together library leaders to talk about new developments and the future of public libraries. Most of the trends will be familiar to people who work in libraries, but it is heartening to hear about increased use of libraries, greater outreach services, and innovative reference services. Of course the lack of funding, especially for school libraries, and California's dismal record in supporting libraries were also mentioned. The program will be available for downloading as a podcast, probably by tomorrow, so you don't have to live in the Bay Area to hears these opinions.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

TV for babies

Libraries have expanded their collections to include plenty of visual media both for adults and children. Among the most controversial of these, are the television shows aimed at children under three. Heavy advertising has urged parents to buy DVD versions of these shows for their toddlers and librarians have responded by adding them to the collection. But is television good for young children? Many scientists and doctors tell us that it is not. Recently France banned TV programming aimed at children under three. Librarians are sure to hear repercussions from this. Some parents will reject the shows and tell libraries not to buy them, others will supply anecdotes about how much their children enjoy the shows and have learned from them. Here's one more topics children's librarians should be aware of and willing to discuss. Should libraries adopt policies about the age level of media products? It's an open question, but one worth talking about.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Media merging

Another indication of how book publishers are trying to tie in with other media, is the new "Gossip Girl" DVD. Most librarians know that the Gossip Girls first appeared in book form and later mutated into a TV show, but many young women who watch the show are unaware that it started life as a book. Now, according to the NY Times, the book publishers are trying to capture the attention of viewers by including an audio version of the book on the DVD of the show. Audio books have not been very popular with teens, but publishers are hoping to tap this market by producing podcasts. It's a move that librarians will want to watch. Will audio books become a larger part of the children's and YA collections in our libraries?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Laptop for every child?

Low cost laptops have been designed and used for children in developing countries, but now they are reaching the U.S. An experiment in Birminham, Alabama, has provided a laptop for every child in the classroom. These small XO laptops look like toys but they are able to handle most of the chores that a regular laptop does. Would it be possible to have a supply of these laptops in a library for children to use in doing their homework or searching for information? This hasn't happened yet, but as budgets grow ever tighter, it may be time to think about moving low cost laptops from the classroom to the library--both school and public libraries.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Taking a Second Look

The old, classic Anne of Green Gables books (there are seven sequels) are still in many children's collections, although they don't hold the central place they once did. Nonetheless they have inspired generations of girls, especially in Canada, where their author lived, and Japan, where they were overwhelmingly popular. It was the Japanese who made Prince Edward Island, the setting for the book, into a popular tourist destination. This year is the centennial of Anne's appearance on the book scene and the N.Y. Times today reviews a new biography of the author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Few librarians will be surprised to learn that Montgomery was a dedicated professional writer rather than a nice lady who sat down to write a children's book, as so many people think children's authors are. This new book "Looking for Anne of Green Gables" by Irene Gammel, uses Montgomery's journals and notebooks to show how ambitious she was. Lucy Maud would probably not appreciate being called a Pioner of Chick-Lit, but the book should be interesting reading for many of us fans of children's literature.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Welcome to Youth Library News

This blog is designed to share news and events that might affect the way we serve children and young adults in libraries. All sorts of changes in the economy, in media, and in education have an impact on libraries--or should have. This blog will offer you a chance to keep up with some of the major ones and add others that you notice.