Friday, March 30, 2007

Mentoring in Progress

Do you read this blog regularly? Are you a working YA or school librarian? Do you intend to be a working YA or school librarian? Have ever been a working YA or school librarian, and you're just dying to share your wisdom??

Yes, there is a purpose to these questions.

In November, I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of ALA's Emerging Leaders, one of just over one hundred (relatively) new librarians selected to work on various projects for ALA. My group is designing a mentorship program for the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and American Association of School Librarians (AASL). We will design the program, present it at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington D.C. in June, and after that, it's up to YALSA and AASL to decide whether or not to implement the program.

We have decided that, since no librarian works in a vacuum (although, don't you wonder what that might look like? Would it be like the moon, or the inside of a hoover?), we ought to get some feedback from the people who would actually participate in a mentorship program. This will both strengthen our final paper and presentation and offer YALSA and AASL some real-life feedback on some possible responses to a mentorship program.

If you are interested in helping us shape our project, answer the following questions (or at least the ones that apply to you) in the comments by Monday, April 8.

Here are the questions:

1) If you are new to young adult or school librarianship (in the field for less than five years or still in library school), how interested would you be in having a mentor to orient you to your profession and to your professional organization?

2) If you have been a librarian for longer than five years, did you have a mentor? Do you think you would have benefitted from participating in a formal mentoring program?

3) If you have been a librarian for longer than five years and active in either YALSA or AASL for three years (active means any and all of the following: participation in online listservs, attendance at professional conferences, participation on a committee or board), how interested are you in sharing your knowledge with a new librarian?

4) What are your general thoughts on mentorship programs and their place in the field of libraries?

Thank you so much for your help with this! I will be sure to let you know if and when this program gets off the ground so that you can be involved!

Thank you for your help...and I promise to review something next week :).

Thursday, March 22, 2007

On Graphic Novels

I know nothing about graphic novels. I have happily read American Born Chinese and muscled through Blankets, but I know nothing about the substantial number of series to which my library subscribes.

I should know.

It's not that I've ignored the genre. It's not that I believe that teens should be reading books without pictures. It's that it seems like such a huge undertaking to learn about each of these novels. I understand that it's my job and my duty to know how to do readers' advisory on each of the genres in my collection, but how much of my personal reading time should this job take? I know that if I ever plan to be on a YALSA Selection Committee, I'll need to be prepared to read anywhere between 3 and 5 YA books a week.

But right now, I feel like my adult sensibilities are being tossed by the wayside by an onslaught of teen fiction, and reading about a boy who turns into a girl when doused with water and whose father turns into panda bear is asking more from me than I feel ready to give.

Diving into that big, deep pool that is graphic novels seems like more than I can handle at the moment.

Does anyone have any suggestions for making graphic novel reading more enjoyable? Or do you just want to join me in whining about the above-and-beyond forty hour work week?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Summerland by Michael Chabon

All that matters is baseball. Of course, Ethan Feld hates baseball, and that's what makes this all so difficult.

In order to save the world from a Coyote (who is more than just a little wiley) and keep the four different parts of the world all functioning, Ethan is going to have to get good at baseball and fast.

Chiron "Ringfinger" Brown, a hero from the negro league days, has recruited Ethan from his bench-warming days in Clam Island, Washington, to play a game he won't soon forget, a game that involves sasquatches, ferishers, shadowtails, changelings and a wide variety of other creatures he never even thought existed.

And of course, Ethan's father has also gotten pulled into the mix, because the pico fibers he used to create his Zeppalina, the first family-friendly Zeppelin balloon, are what Coyote needs to kill end the world. Of course.

Will Ethan, the boy who hates to play baseball, come to appreciate it when he has to save the people to which baseball means everything?

Summerland by Michael Chabon

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Why Program?

There are some weeks when I look at my low levels of attendance at a particular program, or I get just one too many eye rolls from the teenagers abusing their computer privileges, and I wonder, "Why do something for a group that doesn't even want anything done for them?"

If they really don't want me around, then why bother?

And then there are days like today.

I walked into the classroom of teen moms. A few rolled their eyes at my pink sweater and flat shoes. Others just kind of yawned when they saw I was from the library. Two girls who met with me last month, though, hurried over to see what books I'd brought, what advice I had to offer. Soon, the other girls caught on that something interesting was about to happen, and they sat down to listen.

The conversation started out slowly. I gathered some information from the girls who had completed a homework assignment from the last session. The two talked excitedly about the books they've read for fun, the books they read to their babies and books in general. Another girl said reading just wasn't "her thing" and so she didn't read.

Since this particular session focused on collge and careers, I started out asking the girls what they want to do after high school.

That classroom contained one future doctor, at least two future nurses, a merchandise buyer, a pre-school teacher, a police officer and a cosmetologist. These girls have dreams, some more definite and thought out than others, but dreams nonetheless.

As the girls left to go to their next class, they called out their requests for next time: more information on scholarship programs, cosmetology careers and child development. The two teachers called out their thanks, and I walked to my car filled with joy.

This is why we program for teens.