So I Won an Award, and am Going to an Academy

I don’t blog to gain millions of followers or to make money (although that’d be nice…). I write because  I have something to say, and think that this is the best medium for that. So imagine my surprise when I won a YALSA writing award for something I wrote for the YALSA blog in February, 2013.

The article, titled Serving Homeless Teens: other ways to help was true third in a series, with the first two authored by Kelly Czarnecki (Technology Education Librarian at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library), and Marie Harris (Teen Services Specialist, ImaginOn-Charlotte Mecklenburg Library). The YALSA blog editor sent out an email asking which YALSA bloggers had experience in serving homeless youth in libraries. The three of us responded, and coordinated topics so we weren’t writing about the same service or situation. Each of the blog posts are distinctly unique to serving homeless youth, which I think proves the complexity of serving that demographic. Each homeless teen has a different story, different dreams, and different needs – but they all need and deserve service from librarians who have ways to help.

Check out the blog posts – linked above – to read about our experiences and our ideas.

A big thank you to YALSA for recognizing my (and our) work. It validates the hard work we put into not only writing, but serving.

 

A second shocking piece of news came across my desk this month – but this one I had been hoping for. I was accepted into the 2014 class of the Virginia Library Leadership Academy – sponsored by the Virginia Library Association. The Academy begins in May with a 2-day workshop in Staunton, Virginia where I (and the other 23 attendees) will receive project management training. I will then meet with my Academy mentor, who will work closely with me for the next year. Over that year’s time, I will plan and implement a program that utilizes the skills I learned at the workshop.

I am honored to be a part of the 2014 VALLA class, and cannot wait to discuss my experiences on this here blog.

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I only read 56 books in 2013

I know most individuals would never be ashamed at a number like that. And it’s not that I’m ashamed, per say…but in 2012 I read 77. Granted, in 2012 I didn’t get married, open a new library, write a column for School Library Journal Teen online, or otherwise stay pretty busy…but I digress. I’m a bit surprised at the low number, but I have the rest of my life to read. And besides, books aren’t going anywhere.*

To see the books I read (more than just what I put on this here blog) check out my LibraryThing account. Where do you log your books?

Other 2013 news, hmm…

ape

Like I said, I got married. This pic was taken as part of our post-bridal shoot which was completely stress-free. Seriously, couples that sneak away to take pics on the wedding day? How stressful must that be?! Post-bridal is totally the way to go. Not to mention, you get to wear your pretty dress again.

I was busy in library land devising and hosting programs; as a member of the 2014 Summer Reading Program committee and the 2013 1Book 1 Community committee; and reading and reviewing books. (Reading and reviewing doesn’t take place during work time because there is never time for that. Despite what my sister thinks. No seriously – she was convinced I was lying to her when I said I didn’t read during work hours. She then became even more impressed that I read 77 books in 2012. HA!)

A couple things I struggled with:
– Honestly, some days I just plum didn’t want to review a book. Not because I was lazy, but because I had other things to do. Dare I say more important? Summer Reading was busy, so my reviews over the summer dropped. The winter months were scarce in terms of number of books read, so I didn’t review much then, either. And I won’t review just for reviewing sake. I need to care – one way or the other. So I just didn’t.
– Did people even care? Were people even reading my blog? Quite a few times I had to remind myself that writing is first a personal thing, a public matter second. If I wasn’t fulfilled personally, how would I fulfill anyone publicly? So I stopped kicking myself in the butt and said, “I care.”

What did you do in 2013? What are you most proud of? What did you struggle with?

*Unless you’re living in Alena Graedon’s world in her 2014 debut novel The Word ExchangeIt’s set in a time when the printed word is completely obsolete and those who want to continue writing words are doomed to an untimely fate. Can April, 2014 arrive NOW so I can get my hands on this?

Other Adventures

Life has been quite busy for this lady recently. As part of the opening team for the new Gum Spring Library, both as a Teen Services Librarian and Page supervisor, I sat on an interview panel last week to fill the twelve Page positions we have been approved to fill.

On top of that I am planning my wedding. My big day. THE big day. It is Saturday, March 2nd.

The new library opens Saturday, February 23.

You can imagine the stress I am feeling, that I am so desperately trying to will away with yoga, deep breathing, and relying on friends and family to keep me sane.

Oh, and I’m throwing my fiance a 30th birthday party next weekend. Yeah, no stress!

But you know what has me the most upset? I’ve only just finished my first book of the year. That’s right. Twelve days into the new year and I have only read, nay…re-read, one book. I first read Devil in the White City in 2006 and just loved it! Well…I thought I did. I read it while recuperating from an operation, complete with super-strength Tylenol and the general wooziness that sticks around for a couple days after general anesthesia. So I picked up the audiobook late in December and am glad I re-read it. I will formally review it at a later time (tomorrow?) but suffice it to say that I still love the book, nearly 7 years later.

These next few months will see sporadic postings, so I apologize up front for that. But sometimes in life there are things more important than hobbies, and the library, my wedding/honeymoon, and *not* being stressed out about not posting on my blog are those things. So, bear (or is it bare?) with me. I promise I’ll be back full strength before too long.

Why Read YA Lit

Kudos to the Washington Post Express who today published a 2-page spread titled The Next Chapter, giving readers a glimpse into this Summer’s hot Young Adult titles. In their explanation lading up to the synopsis, “What makes mature adults duck into the YA shelves at the bookstore of click ‘Teens’ on Amazon? Everybody has personal reasons, but here’s one that’s pretty universal: Many YA books are excellent.”

A couple of the books highlighted are books I myself am after:

What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Perez, the story of a Mexican-American girl who must choose between pursuing her academic goals or following her parent’s wishes of starting a family.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver, set in a world where love is considered an illness that requires surgery to fix. What happens when one teen challenges this ideal?

But the topic of YA lit has also shown up in some negative light this week. Not the literature itself, but its purpose.

Lisa Belkin, a reviewer/blogger for the NYT, claims that two recently published YA books covering the subject matter of abusive relationships don’t send a good message. She writes, “The need to tell a good story gets in the way of the message….Any girl who needs guidance navigating a threatening relationship will probably not find it here.” Another blogger, Sarah Ockler, retorts, “This broad categorization of YA as Establisher of Morals and Teacher of Wayward Youth…is as outmoded as my Sony Walkman…”. Furthermore, “the purpose of young adult fiction is singular: to tell a story. Period.”

I tend to agree with Ockler, given that each reader takes something different from every book. I, for example, am currently slugging my way through Room by Emma Donoghue, an award-winning book that others have read in 3 hours, but I can’t seem to listen to for more than 30 minutes without acquiring a headache. I don’t love it, yet others have felt their lives completely change after reading it. My life was forever altered after reading Eat, Pray, Love but many of my gal pals find it a narcissistic tale of a depressed and lonely woman.

My point is…each reader takes away something different (if anything at all) from every book they read, despite its being well-written, or having a good message. It is not up to a blogger/reviewer to tell parents (her review was posted in the Motherlode: adventures in parenting section of NYT Online) that their children aren’t going to get guidance/a strong message/pleasure from this book or that book. It is up to the reader.

So then she follows it up a few days later with another post that includes a copy-and-paste of her previous post’s conclusion and an additional question to parents, “Do parents really understand how much of an unquestioned given sex and drinking are in these stories?” Wait, what?! First you hate on the books for not giving enough of a strong message, then you turn on them for including illegal/immoral actions? Also, there are PLENTY of YA books that don’t include sex and drugs. Clearly you are not as widely read as then teen librarian that is giving suggestions to your reader’s teens, Ms. Belkin. If you were more widely read, you would know that there are plenty of YA books with sex, drugs, bad words, and great messages, but that are…wait for it…horribly written. Likewise, there are incredibly well-written books that are rife with sex and violence and drugs, and have no message whatsoever.

Crap now I’ve confused myself. Does Belkin hate YA books with no message? Or YA books that aren’t written well? Or YA books that have sex and drugs?

…exactly. And sadly, folks, this woman’s blog is probably read by hundreds of helicopter parents. I’m glad I can be that badass teen librarian who sneaks ‘bad’ books to her young readers. Corruption!!