my efforts at making a difference

I currently work in a small university library in the Chicago suburbs. It has become clear to me how similar college patrons are to teens.  The typical college age student is 18- 25 years old, and many of them still have similar characteristics that older teens have. Sex, Brains, and Video Games: A Librarian’s Guide to Teens in the Twenty-first Century by Pierce notes that studies have shown the brain doesn’t reach maturity until twenty-five when it is full developed.  This is evidence that proves my assumption that even  young college students can be still exhibiting teenager like behavior.

I work at the Reference desk, and I notice that many younger students tend to use the library but not many ask for help.  And the younger patrons who do come to ask for help seem shy, nervous, or unsure what to say. So, I try to be friendly, comfortable, and use terms they understand.  I know how scary it can be to ask a unknown person at a big desk a complex question in front of your peers. This is why I try to make myself known to them by a friendly smile, and when I do speak I tone down the library jargon.

I have come to believe that the past expediences that these patrons had greatly influenced how they behave today in a library.  This is why it is crucial for all librarians not just in youth services understand the importance of children and teens to have a great experience at the library.  Those visits to the library as a kid, could make or break them as a frequent library user.  I feel that I need to change the opinions of these young minds to think that libraries are not as scary as they seem.  I know it may be a big task, but I will take it on one patron at a time.


No need to be scared at the library, it’s just teenagers!

Working with teens can be a daunting task, but having a plan prepared with resources and books to turn too can make life easier. These websites and resources are meant for teens to help with homework and life in general. But I found them useful so that as librarians we can understand what they look at, and how to use these sites to help them.

Teen Resources-

  • The Internet Public Library collects resources for teens but also has other websites for kids and special collections. I found this resource helpful because it divided their collections into sub-genres of school and homework help, Graphic novels, poetry, sports and entertainment, etc.  This is very useful for a YA librarian to have in their back pocket to use with teens.
  • The @ Your Library  Campaign website has a section for teens and how they can get involved with libraries.
  • Federal Resources for Educational Excellence is a great resource collection for older teens for homework. This site has a expansive subject list with links to websites about that subject. But I find this can be useful to anyone.
  • iSafe is a non for profit organization dedicated to teaching children and teens about how the internet can be harmful. Their website is a program for teens to sign up for the iMentor program to learn more about web safety.  Even the iSafe website has tools for parents and educators as well.
  • A perfect site for the Halloween season and any teen that is obsessed with monsters.
  • I am even going to include YALSA’s site for Teen Read Week which is coming up soon (Oct. 14-20). YA Librarians should be programming or promoting this week to get teens involved at the library and to promote reading. The theme this year is “It came from the library” a spooktacular theme for a sometimes scary group.

Revelation on Reading

This week I had many realizations about reading and school. It all came from this book,  The Power of Reading: Insights from Research by Stephen Krashen. Krashen provides a well argued point about how reading is very influential in the development of a child.  Krashen uses many different research studies, articles, and profound sources that illustrate this point.

One of the important lessons to take away from this book is that free voluntary reading (FVR) is the best way to develop literacy and results in better test scores. FVR is defined as reading for personal gain or without being graded. This type of indirect education for children is proven to be better than direct instruction.  Direct instruction is when a language arts teacher lectures about spelling, grammar, or vocabulary. Then the teacher gives worksheets or homework, and if the teacher makes corrections on errors students are supposed to just recall the answer. Krashen gives many examples of the methods and explains what the research shows and it points to FVR.

There are many factors that play into if FVR will actually work or not.  Krashen insists that each component be included for a child to read. For example, if the child has the access to get books through purchase or renting at a school or public library.  Other factors include environment, libraries,reading aloud, time,  and encouragement.  The reading environmental should be quiet, comfortable, and inviting. The library should be avaiable to the child whether at school, or have a caregiver take child to public library. Caregivers should read aloud to the child, and then the child should do it on their own.  Time should be allotted for the child to read at school or home. Also, encouragement should be given from teachers, caregivers, and siblings so that the child will feel pleasure from reading.

Another important point that Krashen makes is that light or pleasure reading is not detrimental, but actually important. Krashen uses the example of comics and teen romance as genres that children or young adults are interested in. These two examples are not certainly what the teachers and parents may want them to read, but it is a gateway to other more sophisticated reading. For example, reading graphic novels as a child could lead them to read Stephen King as a adult and then lead them to journal articles about psychology.

Of course like every human, as I was reading I related this book back to myself and my childhood days. I liked reading as a child and always would participate in summer reading. However, while I was in grade, middle, and high school I do not recall ever having time for voluntary reading during school. But I do have memories of being in language art classes and being totally confused.  I am living proof direct instruction does not work, at least on me. I struggled to grasp the rules, grammar, and spelling through this type of instruction.  I was finally able to catch up through reading and repetition  of the same mistake. As I was reading this book, it just clicked with me why this did not work and I was able to comprehend what Krashen was saying on a personal level.

I recommend  this book to anyone who has doubts about the effects of reading on a child. I also think that this book should be read by all teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone on involved in education because it presents a strong argument that there is tremedous power gained from reading.

Early Literacy

         A great article to understanding how to integrate early literacy initiatives into storytime is “Early Literacy Storytimes @ Your Library: Partnering with Caregivers for Success” by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Díaz. It really opened my eyes to all the ways that librarians can promote literacy to infants and toddlers.  This brought a whole new level of what can be done in story time to promote literacy and caregivers importance to allow for such activity.

       They expand on six skills that are important to early literacy development. The authors explain what it is, how to incorporate it into storytime, what to tell caregivers, and provide examples of what to say or do. The formats that are used in storytime are picture book; flannel or magnet board; rhymes, songs,and finger play; movement; activity, writing, craft; and take home activity. The concepts of print motivation, phonological awareness, vocabulary, narrative skills, print awareness, letter knowledge can even be used in most formats not just in picture books. the authors stress sticking with books and resources you know but just enhancing the skills shown in those materials to the children.  

          I think that any Youth Service Librarian that faciliates storytime should be aware of these skills and using one or more in their programs. This was a informative article in understanding storytime as a avenue for early literacy and stressing the need for caregiver involvement. All Youth Services programmers and librarians can benefit from reading this. I certainly have and now I know how important these things are to infant development.  


Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Díaz, Early Literacy Storytimes @ Your Library: Partnering with Caregivers for Success pp. 3-43

opening remarks

Hey everyone! This is my first blog and my first post! Woot!! The purpose of this blog is to present, discover, review, and discuss topics that involve Youth Services librarianship and young adult literature.

Before we dive in here is a little more about myself. I am a first year grad student at University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. I am studying to get my Master’s in Library and Information Science.  I am also new to the Youth Services world, and I am interested in Youth Services in the public library. So, this blog will help me gain more knowledge about the field and I will share my insights along the way.

Hello world!

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