Friday, November 9, 2012

#yalit12: The Next Big Thing(s) in YA

Good ideas were flying every which way at YALSA's YA Literature Symposium in St. Louis last weekend. I always love hearing what colleagues across the country are doing in their libraries, and the topic of teen services is always fascinating--there is constant innovation going on in the realm of YA. I tend to leave conferences overflowing with ideas of things to try in my own library, and the Lit Symposium was no different. I already shared some sound bites from the weekend; now here's a list of five things I want to try in my own library after hearing about them at the conference.

1. Virtual Book Club for Teens
     There are a couple of teen customers at my branch who have asked us to host a teen book club. We did a bit of research and discussion, and we determined that teens' school reading assignments and work/school schedules would greatly impact attendance at a book club. A possible solution: a virtual book club for teens. I heard great things about the Subtext app at the conference; it's a free app that allows readers to comment and discuss inside of a book. Libraries are able to create groups for their book clubbers, creating a closed space for a book discussion with a specific audience. I am really intrigued by the flexibility a virtual book club would provide: teens can participate when it suits their schedules; teens from all libraries in the district can participate without having to visit a library distant from their homes; and teens who feel uncomfortable talking aloud in groups can be a dynamic part of discussion. We're going to look into the possibility of hosting a virtual teen book club via Subtext, a Yahoo! group, or even Facebook. I'd love to hear if you do anything along these lines!

2. A "What We're Reading" Board
     Peer behavior is a huge influence for teens, and many libraries use that truth to their advantage in order to get more teens reading. Having a "What We're Reading" board in the teen area of the library, along with some writing supplies, allows teens to share the title and author of the books they're currently reading in a sort of public forum. When teens see what their peers are reading, they start to look for those same books, too. Think the spread-the-word popularity of The Hunger Games but on a smaller scale for many more books. We're figuring out a good space in the branch to get our board started.

3. Book Trailers in Programming
     One of my favorite programs at the conference was on the topic of male readers, and four local St. Louis high schoolers sat on the panel to share their thoughts. They all agreed on one particular thing: engage and excite readers with book trailers. With so much media everywhere in teen life these days, sometimes that brief visual teaser for a book is what's necessary to generate a reader's interest. I'm talking to my teen person about including book trailers in our book chat teen programs, and I'll also be incorporating them more often for my middle grade readers.

4. Updated Book Lists for Teens
Providing books for teens means finding a collection balance between classic/favorite books and what's new and hot in YA. We do well in keeping an updated collection--but not necessarily so with our book lists. I love the great and comprehensive listing ideas that were shared at the conference: LGBTQ reads, realistic fiction, blurred genres... There are so many fabulous lists and resources out there that creating book lists for teens needn't be a strenuous process. Do some searching online, poll your teen readers, and make lists with all the newest books your teens will love to read.


image from SLJ
5. Diversifying Author Visits.
     When push comes to shove, my library branch isn't big enough to host the sort of large-scale events some of our larger branches can. Does that mean our readers should have to either a) travel to a further-away branch or b) miss out? Absolutely not! A potential answer: Skype visits. Skype visits do require some technological hardware--computer, webcam, microphone, projector, screen--but the benefits outweight those up front costs. Readers get to engage with authors via Skype, asking questions and having meaningful conversations. Many authors are happy to do Skype visits for discounted fees or, occassionally, for free, making the program a win-win situation for libraries that can't bring an author physically to the branch.
     My interest was also piqued by comments from libraries who pass out copies of author visit books to community members for free in the weeks leading up to a program. In the examples I heard discussed, copies of the books are funded by grants. Does your library have experience with a format like this? I'd love to hear more.

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What are your top takeaways from the 2012 YALSA YA Literature Symposium?

2 comments:

  1. We tried a Facebook Chat book club and sadly it wasn't a huge hit. We had a few attendees and they enjoyed chatting about books in general, but it didn't take off quite as well as I had hoped. I'm interested in Subtext as well and would love to try it. Just need the iPads... :)

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  2. We tried a Facebook Chat book club and sadly it wasn't a huge hit. We had a few attendees and they enjoyed chatting about books in general, but it didn't take off quite as well as I had hoped. I'm interested in Subtext as well and would love to try it. Just need the iPads... :)

    ReplyDelete