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Funding for Libraries: Grants for the Arts Libraries Fund

5 Aug

Arts-Council-England-jpegThe Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts Libraries Fund opened for applications in September 2012. It’s a £6 million scheme granting funding to public libraries of £1,000 to £100,000 for partnership arts schemes, and it’s open for application until March 2015. Find out more and apply.


Graphic Novel Reading Groups–From Syllabus to Reading List

15 Oct
Some of the graphic novels Alexander Chee uses on his syllabus.

A few of the graphic novels Alexander Chee uses on his syllabus.

Author and teacher Alexander Chee has just posted a complex and varied list of graphic novels he teaches as part of his (university) seminar on the graphic novel. This would make an excellent starting point for library staff germinating a graphic novel reading group (although a few of the volumes might not be appropriate for younger readers). The list runs the gamut from excellently penned superhero comics to literary graphic novels and includes several volumes of manga.

For reading groups I would also add Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, something by Sam Kieth (possibly Zero Girl), and maybe Enigma (by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo).

In my authority we often only hold one or two copies of a graphic novel (with the exception of Watchmen and possibly Scott Pilgrim, so I would suggest basing reading group sessions around teen recommendations and swapping of graphic novels rather than encouraging the entire group to read and discuss one particular volume. Teens will find addition titles to suggest and recommend to one another.

Check out Alexander Chee’s list and let me know if there’s anything you’d add for your graphic novel reading group.

Online Countercultural Resources for Information-Hungry Young Adults

27 Aug

Guest blogger Clyde Beard brings YA Library UK a peek at the avant-garde art and obscure information available online. These countercultural resources will help young people you work with access new and fascinating works.

Many of us will fondly remember the thrill of discovering rare media as young adults. Some of us still detect influence of this thirst for self-directed discovery on our characters. The act of tracking down obscure art that is beautiful, inspirational and shocking can be deeply rewarding and a catalyst for the enhancement of inquisitive minds.

In the not-too-distant past, young adults with obscure tastes struggled to find the works that truly intrigued them. In smaller towns there would only be a handful of kids (at most) who delighted in seeking out weird art and obscure media. In many cases these young people pooled resources and knowledge was locally shared. Now widespread broadband internet access closes the distance between these information-hungry outsiders. Access to the media they desire has increased thanks to several specialised websites.

The media collections presented below are skillfully curated and maintained to a very high standard. They offer free access to a range of rare materials unrivalled by any public library. These online archives provide an overwhelming collection of resources for self-directed crash courses in avant-garde, experimental, and outsider art. A young adult who spends just a couple of hours on any of these websites will find themselves becoming smarter, more cultured and weirder than the average person. These sites also contain hidden creative gems deserving of sustained critical attention and may function as temporary antidotes to the continual distractions of social media.

Ubuweb is an extensive independent archive of avant-garde art in a wide variety of mediums that is an invaluable resource for young freethinkers, artists, poets and intellectual outsiders. Ubuweb provides access to obscure and startling books, sound recordings and videos that will remain absent from any curriculum.

Ubuweb Recommendations:

Avant Garde All the Time is a podcast featuring selections from Ubuweb’s vast collection, hosted by the Poetry Foundation. There is no better introduction to the history of sound art.

Watch videos of several bizarre and terrifying presentations by Survival Research Laboratories featuring the anarchic interactions of machines, robots and explosives and have been described as “the most dangerous shows on Earth”.

Hear live performances by Patti Smith.

Enjoy William S. Burroughs reading his work and captured on film.

Watch Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y by Johan Grimonprez, “the acclaimed hijacking documentary that eerily foreshadowed 9-11”.

Listen to Dial-A-Poem Poets, recordings curated by John Giorno.

The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is an attempt to build an online library suited to the needs of the digital world. High standards of digital librarianship combine with vast technological resources to form an unrivalled resource. is most famous for The Wayback Machine, a service allowing you to view historical versions of almost any website. The Internet Archive also offers a huge selection of copyright-free ebooks, music and films.

Internet Archive Recommendations:

Watch Fritz Lang’s M and Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.

Project Gutenberg
Provides over 33000 public domain ebooks.

Free audiobooks of public domain works read by volunteers.

The website of NYC-based independent radio station WFMU provides streams and podcast of its free form content. The station’s blog also offers weird and rare sound files.

WFMU hosts the 365 Days Project, presenting obscure and peculiar sound files each day in 2003 and 2007. WFMU is also involved with the Free Music Archive, a great source of free outsider music.

For those interested in the systems and technologies at work in the world around us, audio of the talks from July’s The Next Hope conference will be fascinating. Topics covered include computer hacking, circuitbending, cooking, graphic novels, and the phone system.

Many universities around the world (including Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, and UC Berkeley) now provide entire courses for free on iTunes. In addition to recordings of lectures, many institutions offer videos, schedules and course notes.

Training and Courses for Library Staff Working with Young People

4 Aug

You’ve decided to start or improve your library’s offer for young people. Fantastic! Some of you will be ready to go straight out into the community and start recruiting teens with the tools you’ve read about in YA Library UK and Teen Librarian. illustration of woman holding lightbulb Others may be hesitant, worried about a gap between knowledge and practice, wishing they had help constructing a plan. Or perhaps you feel confident in your feel confident in your skills, but other members of library staff are anxious about interacting with young people. Whatever the case, here is a list people and organisations who provide training courses for libraries working with teens.

For Your Library (Group Training)

If your library is able and willing to pay for group training, you have the option of hiring trainers for a staff-wide session. If your library service is very small, or has little money for training (or both), you may consider teaming up with nearby authorities who have similar training needs in order to diffuse costs.

There are two freelance consultants who run private training sessions for libraries: Jerry Hurst and Anne Harding. Both have been profiled at some length on Teen Librarian, so I recommend that you take a look at this post about Jerry Hurst or this one about Anne Harding for more information about them.

Opening the Book is also running a relatively new training program called Effective Outreach Projects that may be tailored to YA/teen library service projects (click through to read more about the course).

For Yourself (Individual Courses)

Perhaps you’re currently unable to access group training. You may always take a course on your own. YALSA offers a host of different courses about teen library services, which are available in two different formats: online courses (about a month in length) and webinars, (hour-long bitesized seminars).

CILIP periodically offers teen library service courses, although they aren’t running any at present. To find out when the next YA services course is available, check CILIP’s training page. CILIP also offers all of their courses to library groups at request.

Last but not least, University College London offers a short course called Services to Children and Young People, which is also an offering in their standard curriculum.

As always, if you know of any other training courses for library staff working with teens, please contact YA Library UK.

Special thanks to Anne Downes from Opening the Book for emailing information about the new Effective Outreach Projects training program.

Wonderful Workshops for Teens

3 Aug

Workshops may pique teens interest in a new subject or build on the momentum of groups/clubs or a special one-off event. Teens are often drawn to workshops because workshops teach desirable new skills in a focused but fun environment.

Workshops image

Although you may base a workshop around just about anything teachable skill, I’ve provided a handful of ideas to get you started, many of which overlap with previous suggestions for teen groups and events (so take a look at previous posts about clubs/groups and special events!). If you have any suggestions, contact me (or tweet @yalibraryuk) and I’ll post your idea (and credit you for it, of course).

Art Workshops

Art workshops may focus on comics, manga, or fine art drawing. On-staff artists or art students from your local university may be eager to teach art courses. Professional artists are also happy to lead workshops for a fee. The best way to contact manga or comics artists is through publishers such as Self Made Hero (manga) or 2000 AD (comics). Publishers outside of the United Kingdom (such as Viz, Dark Horse, Top Shelf, and many others) usually publish at least a few UK-based artists/writers, so they are also worth contacting. Joe, the fellow who publishes Forbidden Planet’s blog, is friendly and often willing to share his wealth of information with anyone interested in hosting comics or manga events. (An aside: large publishers such as DC or Marvel may take quite a long time to respond to requests due to a high volume of queries, so if you’re interested in booking an artist through them it’s important to contact them well in advance of the workshop.)

Art workshops have been tested at Headspace Efford, where teens created a fantastic group-produced manga. Artist Nana Li gave two very popular drawing workshops at Southend Library, which one of the attendees took video of and blogged about (with permission, of course). London Underground Comics also gave a workshop about self-publishing comics at Southend Library. Again, the event was very popular.

Writing Workshops

Many teens–including teens for whom reading is anathema!–write. Some of them simply want to develop their skill or share their work with peers, while others dream of being published writers.

Writing is perhaps the most versatile of all workshops because it can be led either by a visiting author, a vetted volunteer, or an experienced member of staff. Moreover, the type of writing can vary widely: from poetry to autobiography, from short stories to novels. If a member of staff or volunteer is running a workshop, they may find suggestions in previous posts about library events.

If you would like an author to lead a workshop at your library, I recommend contacting publishers directly (they usually have a list of authors interested in engaging with library events). Alternately you may get in touch with The Reading Agency, which has many author contacts.

Crafts, Fashion, Costume and Cosplay Workshops

Crafts workshops may be based on almost any craft, from origami folding to zine publishing to jewellery-making. I will be posting a long list of craft websites later this week, but for now please take a look at Teen Librarian’s suggestions, See YA Around’s ideas, and’s archive of DIY craft instructions.

Fashion events encourage new teens to attend library events and may also serve as a crafty (no pun intended) method of encouraging young people to examine your collection of art and fashion books in greater detail. For more ideas, see YALSA’s blog post on fashion workshops and events for teens.

Costume-making or Cosplay workshops may also be led by staff or professionals, depending on staff knowledge, interest, and time. (Cosplay is dressing up and role-playing based on characters and from manga and anime.) Costumes may be tailored to time of year (for example, you could run a Halloween costume workshop). The best contact for Cosplay workshops are the professionals who run the Cosplay Ball. TokyoPop may also help you find someone interested in running a Cosplay workshop.

Great Library Programmes for Teens: Groups and Clubs

26 Jul

This is the first in a series of five posts about programme and event ideas for teens in public libraries. Check back every day this week for more!

Providing events for teens is one of the best ways of making contact with young people in your community and improving the library’s profile. It’s also a useful method of getting more new teens into your library.

The best way to recruit lots of teens to your service quickly is to run a few high-profile one-off events and simultaneously recruit for recurring groups. However, many libraries may find it easier to begin with a regular programme of recurring groups, which are less demanding on staff and finances. Here are some ideas to get you started or help you expand your menu of teen groups.

One of the wonderful things about teen groups is that they may be teen led (this really reduces necessary investment of staff hours!). Take a look at this YALSA article about teen-led groups (“your in-house specialists”) for additional suggestions. The costs for most of these groups is low, usually limited to snacks and drinks. (Providing nibbles is optional, but it does provide additional motivation to attend.) Typically only one staff member is required to lead the group; if the group is teen-led, you won’t need to provide any staff at all! Drawing and writing groups may require paper, pencils, pencils, and/or library computers to work on. Craft groups generally require craft materials (but these can be very inexpensive or even free if you choose crafts focused on recycled/upcycled materials!). Film showings and film groups present a special obstacle that I’ll cover below.

All groups will need some group-created parameters that you can help them establish from the very first meeting. Allow the group to help decide on ground rules (so long as they’re fair).

Reading Groups

The group may want to read and discuss one book together, in which case you’ll either need to find a reading guide online (these are easily located by searching for the title and author of the book, plus “reading guide”) or invent one yourself. Other options include running quizzes and games based on the book read (for example, last week I linked to some Hunger Games activities). If the group wants to read different books (especially if they have vastly disparate tastes), have them participate in a book reviewing scheme or start a book review blog!

Writing Groups

It would be useful to bring some writing prompts and exercises, which can easily be in creative writing books or on the Internet (Ink Provoking has an especially large selection of good writing prompts). Some may be keen to share and critique work, while others resist showing anyone their work. Establish ground rules including concepts of useful versus unhelpful critique. Again, it’s a good idea to talk this through, so that the group has the opportunity to create their own parameters and feels as though the rules are fair and accurate (instead of being externally imposed). Usually good critique involves being specific, stating strengths of the pieces before discussing its weaknesses, and focusing on the piece of being critiqued (as opposed to critiquing the writer themselves).

Art Groups

Art groups are similar in content to writing groups: prompts are useful (these can be objects or scenes to draw, characters or settings, et cetera) and critiques may feature (and need firmly established parameters to avoid both hurt feelings and soggy dialogue). If you library has a gallery–or any display space at all–you schedule a future exhibition for the group to make work toward. You can also run contests, or (if the group is interested), have them design cool library materials.

Craft Groups

Craft groups can be focused on one type of craft (such as knitting), or many varieties of crafts. Though I’ve never tried a craft activity at my library, they are apparently very popular with teens in the US. For a few good craft ideas, take a look at the Arystocrafts page, as well as some free projects from The Hipster Librarian’s Guide to Teen Craft Projects. There are loads of DIY and crafts sites out there (for example Generation T , which features simple sewing projects that reuse old t-shirts). You can also join the free YA-YAAC mailing list (scroll to the bottom of the page for joining information). It’s regularly updated and often features great free craft projects that have already worked successfully at other libraries.

Comics/Graphic Novel Groups

This is much can take the form of a graphic novel reading/discussion group (like the regular reading groups, or a comics-creation group (like the writing and/or art groups). Reluctant artists who write and writers who are nervous about drawing can be paired to make jointly produced comics.

Anime/Manga Groups

Anime and/or manga groups may wish to watch episodes of favoured anime together, swap drawing tips (and drawing pens!), learn to make better cosplay costumes, or simply want to chat about their favourite new manga.

An important note: if the group is wants to screen anime episodes or films, you will need to contact the distributor of the TV series or movie in order to gain permission. You may need to pay a fee in order screen films or television, although not all anime distributors charge for this service. See the Film Showings section (below) for more information.

Film Showings and/or Film Clubs

Film showings and/or film clubs entice teens uninterested in reading to attending library events. A film club may involve screening, discussing, or even making films (if you lack film equipment, you can always apply for a grant or bursary).

There are many out-of-copyright films legally available to watch on Showing contemporary films is a trickier proposition. Many copyrighted English-language films are licensed by Film Bank. Film Bank charges a flat rate of £95 (including VAT) per year, if you don’t charge for the film or advertise the film showing outside of your library. If you want to advertise and/or charge, the cost is a £92 per film, plus a £150 deposit needed in order to open a Film Bank account.

Other companies (such as Optimum Releasing, who license Studio Ghibli’s animated features) charge a flat rate of around £92 per film. You can always subsidize the cost by charging a small amount to attendees or applying for funding to back the project.

Gaming Groups

Gaming groups can focus on real-time games from board games like monopoly to Role-Playing Games (RPGs) like Dungeons and Dragons, tabletop games such as Warhammer, or Live Action Role Playing Games (LARPs). Alternately, if you video game consoles or well-kitted computers, the group can play video games (from MarioKart to Guitar Hero) or live multi-player computer games.

Usually these sessions run themselves unless members are new and need to have complicated rules explained to them. The most important thing is to build a group around one type of gaming for which you have the equipment, otherwise you might end up with a lot of disappointed gamers.

You can find even more information about gaming in libraries on Teen Librarian.

Computer Groups

Know a group of teens with a passion for Linux, programming, and/or gadgets? A computer group provides a place to exchange ideas, open-source software, and maybe even write new programs or solder circuit boards together (okay, so soldering is a fire hazard, but the rest is viable!).

If you’ve got a great idea for a group that isn’t featured here, email or tweet it at us @yalibraryuk. As always, you’ll be fully credited for your contribution!

Getting Started with Teen Outreach

23 Jul

So you’re out in your local community, all ready to promote library services with a bunch of confused/indifferent/wary/excited teens looking at you, watching for the big pitch. What do you do?!

The answer to that question varies widely depending on the intended audience and venue of your presentation. In fact, there are so many different methods of promoting your library service to teens that it would be impossible to cover them all in one short post. YA Library UK will revisit the topic frequently. For now, here are a few ideas to help you get started (or, if you’re not sure where to find teen groups to speak to, check out Where to Do Outreach for Teen Library Services):

To generally promote the library service:

Bring along library materials (books, graphic novels, et cetera) for the young people to look through. Some won’t be aware of how many interesting items the library has. Bring fliers promoting library events for teens.

Booktalks are quick soundbites that can be used to pique interest in a particular title. Booktalks take no more than a minute or two per book!

Get interactive and ask for feedback, or run an activity such as a round of Library Myth Busters or other interactive games.

If you can, get a few members of your Teen Advisory Group (TAG) to come with you and run games and promotions! Keep in mind that not all teens are up for doing this.

If you’re teaching the teen group a skill:

When teaching a skill, such as database searching, it can be useful to run contests to see who can find the information quickest, have quizzes or other interactive and relevant games to keep the group focused. You can also concentrate on searches related to areas that teens find entertaining, such as careers (idea mentioned by Kelly Jensen on the ya-yaac mailing list–her careers database includes a quiz, which is very popular with teens she’s worked with!).

If you’re speaking to reluctant readers:

Promote quick and exciting library materials such as magazines, graphic novels, manga, select nonfiction (ex: tattoos, popular music), practical resources like study and careers books, instructional books on everything from drawing to building machines to DIY to writing (many teens who don’t enjoy reading write journal entries, poetry, and/or short stories, or write their own comics or graphic novels).

Don’t forget to bring along fliers about teen activities in the library–a teen uninterested in reading might still enjoy the anime or computer or writing or film club.

Mention other types of library services–free computer access, films, video games (if your library rents them).

If you’re promoting the service at a festival or fair:

Bring relevant library stock and fliers! (This is almost always a good idea.)

Run a craft activity related to the festival or fair.

Run a prize draw for anyone who fills out a joining form that day. Announce the winner at the end of the day! It’s easy enough to provide a small prize, or even get a local business to sponsor you with a voucher or some other type of appealing goodie.

A few other ways to get teens interested in your library service:

Request feedback from groups of teens about what they’d like to see in the library. Many teens feel as though the library isn’t for them, or that they aren’t welcome at the library. Asking for their feedback and listening seriously to their ideas can help belie this notion.

Other ideas:

Teen contests reward young people’s creativity and also appeal to non-library users.

Have a tried-and-tested idea for outreach, or one you’ve just thought up? Disagree with any of the methods suggested in this post? Don’t hesitate to let YA Library UK know!