Sunday, November 09, 2008

YALSA Literature Symposium: Day 2

The first session I hit on day 2 was a presentation of four different papers, each dealing with a different aspect of Young Adult literature and/or Young Adult Services. The papers were Are You There God, It's Me, Manga (which focused on forms of Manga for girls), a survey of Gay Literature for teens entitled Accept the Universal Freakshow, and The Age of ___? which presented an educational approach using literature and online forums to promote teen interest in issue-oriented discussions.

But by far the most fascinating was a paper by Stan Steiner entitled Bullies, Gangs and Books for Young Adults; the author examined a program that brought books into Juvenile Detention Facilities. Although the residents were not required to read, after a few weeks nearly everyone in the facility was reading all the books made available to them. Not given much to and it provided a much needed alternative to watching tv or acting up. After a few months they developed book discussion groups, which only seemed to increase their interest in reading----especially when they chose their own books. It got me thinking about all the books that get donated to my library that we don't sell, not to mention all the ones in the collection that get weeded out every week. We donate some to a couple of local charity groups, but it would be nice to include organizations like Juvenile Detention Facilities or the local county jail as well.

Next I hit a fun panel on fandom put together by librarians Liz Burns and Carlie Webber. Easily two thirds of the presentation acted as a primer on fandom: what it is, what forms it takes, and why it's not as scary or freaky as people might think. Most things they brought up---fanfic, fan crafts, cosplay, conventions--- I was already familiar with in a general sense, but some of the specific resources they mentioned were new to me. Crazy stuff like the Potter Puppet Pals. And I didn't know about some of the interesting interactive things some YA authors like Stephanie Meyer and Holly Black are doing to keep teens super-involved in the worlds of their novels: fanfic contests, lists of songs to listen to while you read, photos of fans in costumes, patterns to make your own costumes, and on and on. Whether it's the author themselves doing this stuff or a PR person I don't know, but it's pretty savvy marketing.

The last one I attended was a presentation by Julie Bartel on Zines. I've actually seen her present this before at ALA when it was in DC, but it was a good refresher for me. It's an area I really would like to explore more, both for my own writing as well as a way to develop some fun programs for teens in the library. If nothing else, she showed us some samples of short book lists done in zine form that teens can put in their pocket and take home. It seems like it would be a fun and different way to give teens a list that looks a little more unique than your standard flier or a bookmark.

There are a lot of good things I missed, just because they were running at the same time as sessions I attended. The majority of the handouts and powerpoints will be up on the conference wiki, and I understand they will even be uploading some audio and video. I'm particularly looking forward to the materials at the Urban Fiction panel; it's an area I really know little about and should know more.

There are further sessions today, but I'm flying back and will miss them. It's ok, though. I'm pretty Nashvilled out and my pocketbook has been stretched pretty thin. The last few days have pumped me up about my profession and I'm ready to get back out there.



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