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Chester County Librarian Aids Guatemala's Readers

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By Chris Williams
Originally appeared in the March 22, 2008 edition of the Daily Local News of West Chester

Frances Sack, volunteer librarian

Frances Sack has visited libraries around the world.

She’s browsed books in Canada, walked the stacks in Italy and Russia, and perused shelves in Colombia.

This past February, the director of Paoli Library added another country to her list: Guatemala.

But this time Sack wasn’t just an observer of the country’s libraries; she worked as a volunteer.

Her adventure began when she was preparing to attend a wedding in Antigua, Guatemala, late last year. Sack, a lifelong Chester County resident, made plans to visit some of the country’s libraries during her trip.

What she hadn’t planned for, however, was a return trip to the northernmost Central American country a few months later to help organize a couple of the impoverished country’s libraries.

Her initial visit to the country “was just an adventure,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do some library work somewhere else, but I wasn’t planning that when I went last November.”

Chicacao, Guatemala, at sunset

Once in Antigua, Sack met with Kristen Anderson, a program coordinator with Child Aid, an Oregon-based organization that assists community library and literacy programs in Mexico and Guatemala. As one of only four Guatemala-based organizers, Anderson wears many hats; some days she’s a coordinator, other days a librarian, and some days she trains potential teachers and librarians.

The two talked about some of Child Aid’s Guatemalan projects that could benefit from the assistance of a trained librarian, said Sack, who has been working in Chester County libraries for the past 15 years.

So, “I decided to do it,” she said, and she made plans to return to the country shortly after so she could dedicate a solid block of time to the task.

Her return trip came this past February, and she spent two weeks volunteering at a couple of libraries.

One of the libraries, in Chicacao, a three-hour bus ride from Antigua on the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala, is a small, windowless library run by Blanca, a native citizen who worked there for free for many years. It is open five hours a day during the week and is closed on weekends. A line of children often forms outside the door, as there aren’t enough seats for everyone.

While there, Sack, Anderson, and two other volunteers, one from Germany and another from Estonia, helped organize the library. They catalogued books, put spine labels on them, and assigned each a Dewey Decimal number. They also sorted through some of the library’s decrepit books so that they could be replaced with new ones. Child Aid last year received about 30,000 new, donated books.

Chicacao’s library has a puppet theater and a storytime area for children.

There is a major emphasis, Sack said, on children’s education. Volunteers at the libraries focus on teaching children reading skills and encouraging them to respond to stories — similar to reading programs at U.S. libraries.

“In a culture where reading for pleasure is almost nonexistent, you can imagine my joy when I see the kids in our programs run into the library begging to have a story read to them, or to borrow a book to take home to their families,” Anderson said. “Many of their parents are illiterate, and it is the kids who read to the parents. I really believe that the cycle of poverty can be changed with education.”

The libraries she saw are not the type that adults visit to browse the bookshelves, Sack said.

For children and young adults, there is some fiction. But for adults there is not much. There’s limited classic literature available. “I think it’s safe to say the concentration is on the children,” Sack said.

Many of Guatemala’s libraries are located in schools, including Sack’s second volunteer location: the Melloto school library in Chimaltenango, a half-hour bus ride from Antigua. The buses, Sack explained, are retrofitted U.S. school buses, usually colorfully painted and individually named, with names of U.S. school districts often still visible on their sides.

Chimaltenango’s library was larger than Chicacao’s and was able to accommodate tables and chairs for patrons, Sack said. Many libraries, especially ones in school, are where students’ textbooks and workbooks are housed. You won’t find many bookbag-toting school children.

Sack and fellow volunteers organized the school’s library in much the same fashion as Chicacao’s. They were also able to create an inventory of each book electronically, which was stored in the library laptop.

One major difference between U.S. libraries and those in Guatemala is that, generally, books are not circulated in Guatemalan libraries.

Volunteers weeding books from the library

Because books are in such short supply in most of Guatemala’s libraries, they are not allowed to leave the library.

In Chimaltenango, however, some books are beginning to be circulated. For circulation to work, librarians must educate their patrons on proper care of the books and ensure that they are brought back. “When they first start circulating materials, sometimes people don’t realize they have to bring them back,” Sack said.

Guatemalan libraries may have antiquated resources, but that doesn’t lessen their importance to the communities they serve. “They’re rudimentary but they’re exciting places,” Sack said, “because people are so enthusiastic about these libraries, and they need them, they want them, they use them. Especially for the kids, it was all for the children.”

The libraries in Chicacao and Chimaltenango are two of 26 Guatemalan libraries being supported by Child Aid.

Child Aid has been assisting libraries and literacy programs throughout Mexico and Guatemala for 20 years. Recently, Child Aid has focused primarily on Guatemala, as its Mexican program is “close to being fully self-sustaining,” said Robert Vesely, executive director of Child Aid.

The organization’s mantra is “people, not projects,” he said.

Its mission is: “To identify and work with talented and committed indigenous groups and individuals to help them build brighter futures for their children and their communities,” according to Robert Vesely, executive director of Child Aid

Child Aid offers financial and physical resources as well as expertise to communities, with a goal of helping them build a sustaining organization in their community, Vesely said. “We try to work with them from the get-go to identify local resources and how to raise money” so they can become autonomous entities, he said.

Libraries are an important community resource in Guatemala, and it is essential that many are, indeed, run by the community and are not government-controlled, he said.

“We use (libraries) as a center for running programs that will educate teachers and librarians,” he said. “Most of the kids don’t have school books, and obviously not books in their houses. If the library didn’t exist, then there wouldn’t be books anywhere.”

Many communities are still recovering from Guatemala’s recent civil war, which ended in 1996 after 56 years.

Chicacao’s library, for instance, is fairly new, as the last town library was burned down several years ago.

Sack said her February trip to Guatemala won’t be her last; she’s enthusiastic about going back and hopes to “bring some others along,” she said.

On her next trip, Sack plans to focus on one library and get the “whole library all organized.”

“Now I feel like I’ll do it every year if I can,” she said. “I have to learn more Spanish though.”

Sack added, “You don’t have to be fluent in the language to do this type of thing. If you know the basics ... then you can do this work.”


Dark Horse Comics, Inc., Donates Complete Collection to Portland State University Library

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Portland State University alumni Mike Richardson, founder and president of Dark Horse Comics, Inc., and Neil Hankerson, executive vice president, have donated copies of all publications generated by Dark Horse over the years to Portland State, and will continue to provide copies of all future items produced by the company. This generous gift will result in a complete collection of the Dark Horse corpus to be preserved in the Portland State University Library Special Collections.

"As a Portland State University alumnus, I am elated to be part of this monumental Dark Horse archive event," said Neil Hankerson. "Being able to bring this locally grown publishing company together with PSU exemplifies the unifying nature of Oregon and demonstrates the amazing advantages of having comics in schools. This archival program solidifies Dark Horse Comics' legacy, not only as a company dedicated to organic growth, but also as one of the world's foremost comic book publishing companies, committed to contributing quality works to the comic literary canon."

This valuable collection will be a destination resource for researchers in American studies, popular culture, art, sociology, gender studies, English literature and many other fields. So far, more than 2,000 Dark Horse comics, manga and books have been received, catalogued and made available for students and faculty to check out at the Millar Library. Dark Horse publications in more than 15 different languages are already being used as a resource by students studying foreign languages, and by international students enjoying material in their own languages.

"Neil Hankerson and Mike Richardson are stellar examples of engaged Portland State University alumni who give back to their community and to their university," said Helen H. Spalding, PSU's university librarian. "Their generous gift of the corpus of the Dark Horse Comics, Inc., is a significant destination collection for those researching the history of comics, popular culture, sequential art and many more facets of inquiry. Because of the reputation and size of the Dark Horse collection, the Library hopes to attract additional comic collections from other publishers and collectors, creating one of the largest research collections of its kind."

One copy of each available title or product given to the Portland State University Library will be catalogued, preserved and housed in Special Collections with supervised access. An additional copy will be added to the general Library collection, where they will be available to more than 207,000 students and faculty in Oregon and Washington through the Orbis Cascade Alliance, and internationally through the Library's interlibrary loan services.

On October 16, 2008, Portland State held a special event in the Smith Memorial Student Union ballroom to recognize and celerbate the gift. The free event was open to the public, and featured Dark Horse materials and a keynote by Mike Richardson.

Dark Horse Comics, Inc.
Founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson, who sought to establish an ideal atmosphere for creative professionals, Dark Horse Comics has grown to become the third-largest comics publisher in the United States and is acclaimed internationally for the quality and diversity of its line. By attracting the top talent in the comics field, Dark Horse continues to change the shape of the industry and grow its brand throughout the world. In conjunction with its sister company Dark Horse Entertainment, Dark Horse Comics has more than 350 properties currently represented under the Dark Horse banner, serving as the jumping-off point for comics, books, films, television, electronic games, toys and collectibles. In 2008, Dark Horse distributed its characters and concepts to more than 50 countries, continuing its mission of content creation and distribution in all of its forms throughout the world.

Portland State University Library
At the heart of an engaged university, the Portland State University Library supports the information, research, teaching and learning needs for more than 1,800 faculty members and 27,000 students at Portland State, covering 125 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees as well as graduate certificates and continuing education programs. The Portland State Library has over 1.4 million volumes, subscribes to almost 19,000 journals with access to over 45,600 electronic journals and over 32,000 electronic books. In addition, Portland State Library is a collaborative regional depository for federal documents and a member of the Portals and Orbis/Cascade Alliance library consortia, collaborating with other libraries to serve the region and scholarly community at large.

By: Haili Jones Graff - PSU Office of University Communications
Source: Helen Spalding - PSU Library
Photos copyright 2008 Burk Jackson.


En tu biblioteca campaign officially launches

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“I can help you” are words that resonate with librarians and library users alike. However, it’s the words “yo te puedo ayudar” (“I can help you”) that are the focus of the En tu biblioteca Campaign.

Launched in September, the “en tu biblioteca” (“@ your library”) campaign was developed with Univision Radio and the ALA to reach out an encourage members of the Latino community to use their local library. The campaign communicates how libraries create opportunities for Latino adults and their children by providing trusted help from librarians and free public access to information.

As part of the campaign, two PSAs featuring Univision Radio personality Javier Romero and Illinois librarian, Semiramis M. Grady, are airing in nine of the country’s top Latino markets, including Austin, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, San Antonio, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Grady says that the PSA’s key message - “Yo te puedo ayudar” (“I can help you”) - sums up her job as both an interlibrary loan bibliographic assistant at the Metropolitan Library System in Burr Ridge, Ill., and as a reference librarian at the Cicero Public Library in Cicero, Ill.
“The campaign is for a good purpose,” Grady said. “It’s something I live for.”

Librarians across the country can listen to and download the PSAs featuring Grady in English and Spanish at  Free downloadable posters, flyer and bookmarks are also available on the Web site, which was created to be a companion Spanish-language site for the public to support the messages of the radio PSAs.

The “en tu biblioteca” campaign is part of The Campaign for America’s Libraries, (, ALA’s public awareness campaign that promotes the value of libraries and librarians. Thousands of libraries of all types – across the country and around the globe - use the Campaign’s @ your library® brand. The Campaign is made possible in part by ALA’s Library Champions, ALA’s highest level of corporate members.


Slow economy fuels surge in library visits

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With the nation facing tough economic times, Americans are visiting their local public libraries more often and checking out items with greater frequency. Libraries across the United States report that more people are turning to libraries in record numbers to take advantage of the free resources available there.

According to the ALA’s 2008 State of America’s Libraries Report, Americans visited their libraries nearly 1.3 billion times and checked out more than 2 billion items in the past year, an increase of more than 10 percent in both checked out items and library visits, compared to data from the last economic downturn in 2001.

ALA President Jim Rettig said, “During tough economic times, people turn to libraries for their incredible array of free resources, from computers to books, DVDs and CDs, for help with a job hunt or health information. The average annual cost to the taxpayer for access to this wide range of resources is about $31, the cost of one hardcover book. In good times or bad, libraries are a great value!”

The value of libraries has achieved wide recognition, including this clip from the CBS Evening News.


Watch CBS Videos Online



A Look At Second Life

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By ALA Tech Source Blogger Tom Peters

I love virtual libraries, the libraries that have sprouted up in three-dimensional virtual worlds such as Second Life, Active Worlds, Teen Second Life, and others. Like their bricks-and-mortar and web-based digital library cousins, virtual libraries offer information resources and services to patrons, but with some interesting twists.

Bradburyville in Second Life

For instance, the patrons served by virtual libraries are avatars, three-dimensional representations of the people who inhabit these virtual worlds. And the information experiences that virtual libraries enable often are immersive and interactive exhibits, such as the “walk-in” version of the Ray Bradbury novel, Fahrenheit 451, at Bradburyville in Second Life.

Second Life alone contains a wealth of interesting, useful libraries. The Alliance Library System in Illinois has partnered with libraries around the world to create the Alliance Information Archipelago, a cluster of dozens of islands in Second Life where libraries and other cultural institutions offer a wide variety of interesting information experiences.

Some virtual libraries are representations of the real world libraries that created them. The Cullom-Davis Library at Bradley University in Peoria, for example, has a virtual library on Bradley University’s Island in Second Life that looks pretty much like the real McCoy. Other libraries in virtual worlds are out of this world. They may be Jetson-like high rises where you can fly up to any floor and land on the balcony, or they may float in the air.

Many of my favorite virtual libraries are those that serve a specific community of interest or focus on a particular topic. The Consumer Health Library on Health Info Island in Second Life contains a wealth of information for anyone interested in healthy living. The new Sustainable Living Library on Emerald City in Second Life helps real-world libraries and the communities they serve to learn more about, to envision, and to test green libraries that are environmentally friendly.

Virtual Harlem

Who says a virtual library has to exist only in the present? The library on Virtual Harlem in Second Life harkens back to the vibrant era of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s. The library serving the Caledon community in Second Life focuses on the Victorian period in English history. When you visit that library, you are expected to exhibit the dress and deportment of a Victorian gentleman or lady.

Virtual libraries provide a wealth of services. Some services are traditional, while others are innovative. These libraries often provide reference services, where visitors can ask questions and receive information from the avatars of real-life librarians. Many book discussions are held in virtual worlds, and the number of author talks, museum and gallery openings, and free musical concerts is amazing.

Many virtual libraries in virtual worlds are open to everyone in the real world, because many virtual worlds have worldwide participation. People from many cultures are meeting in these fanciful worlds to work, learn, and have fun. Gartner Research has predicted that by the year 2011 approximately 80 percent of all Internet users will be active in one or more virtual worlds. Many librarians already are exploring these brave new worlds and developing library services to meet the growing population of avatars. Perhaps the greatest thing about these virtual libraries is that you can visit them all from the comfort of your own home, using your computer and the Internet.

About Tom Peters
Tom Peters is the founder of TAP Information Services (, which provides a wide variety of services supporting libraries, consortia, government agencies, publishers, and other information-intensive organizations. Tom has worked previously at the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC, the academic consortium of the Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago), Western Illinois University in Macomb, Northern IllinoisUniversit yin DeKalb, Minnesota State University at Mankato, and the Universityof Missouriat Kansas City. At Grinnell College he majored in English and philosophy. His MLS is from the University of Iowa. His second master's degree (in English) was completed at the Universityof Missouri at Kansas City. His library experience includes reference service, library instruction, collection management, and administration.


Rock for Reading 2008: A Concert for Literacy

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Rock For Reading (R4R) surely lived up to its name November 22, 2008 at the Concert For Literacy. Not only did co-headliners Steve Earle and Tom Morello, also known as The Nightwatchman, storm the Vic Theatre in Chicago with some righteous rock, but more than $25,000 was raised for reading. Earle sang his songs of love and loss with characteristic emotional intensity, while Morello's anthemic "One Man Revolution," among other pointed numbers, reminded the audience of the historic political event that had recently transpired. There was more than a note of optimism in the air, but these contemporary protest singers also acknowledged the enormous task that lies ahead. There is, in fact, much left to do in the struggle against injustice–and the fight for universal literacy. Still, though the message maybe serious, the messengers sure know how to have a goodtime and their freewheeling energy touched everyone in the room.

Ogden School fifth grader Griffin Lott
has his guitar signed by Tom Morello

Steve Earle, Allison Moorer and Tom Morello seemed larger than life onstage but showed us just how down to earth they are by taking time to hobnob with the R4R faithful. Ogden School fifth grader Griffin Lott, for one, is still pinching himself.

2008 Concert For Literacy sponsors included Hershey's Bliss and the Career Education Corporation. A big thank you was also extended to R4R advisory board member Norm Winer, program director at WXRT (the show was an official 93XRT event), whose heroic efforts cannot be overstated.

About Rock for Reading

Reading is an essential foundation for success in school, competing successfully in the workplace and for dreaming. Lifelong education empowers people to ultimately improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries and future generations. Literacy opens doors of opportunity and understanding that no other skill can provide. The ability to read, write and understand stimulates communications that impact every life.

Rock For Reading’s vision is to inspire a community of readers and to create a community of dreamers.

Rock For Reading leverages the power of ROCK to inspire literacy – motivating and empowering people to enrich their lives through reading.

We accomplish our mission by:

  • Raising awareness and resources through a series of musical concerts and benefits
  • Awarding grants to literacy and reading programs at community organizations, libraries and schools
  • Building partnerships and strategic alliances to raise funds in support of organizations championing the cause of literacy
  • Educating our public to promote activism and direct involvement

Learn more at


2009 Youth Media Award Winners

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The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the top books, videos and audiobooks for children and young adults - including the Caldecott, King, Newbery, Schneider Family and Printz awards - at its Midwinter Meeting in Denver.

In addition, the ALA celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and introduced a new award, the William C. Morris Award. It is also the first year that the Pura Belpré Award will be given annually.

NEW! Watch Newbery winner Neil Gaiman and Caldecott winner Marla Frazee on The Today Show.

Or, watch Stephen Colbert lament his failure to win the Newbery.

Or, view Booklist's interview with Newbery Honor author Ingrid Law.

The following is a list of all ALA Youth Media Awards for 2009:

John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature. Neil Gaiman, author of “The Graveyard Book,” illustrated by Dave McKean and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, is the 2009 Newbery Medal winner.

Four Newbery Honor Books were named: “The Underneath” by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Small, and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing; “The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom” by Margarita Engle and published by Henry Holt and Company LLC; “Savvy” by Ingrid Law and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group in partnership with Walden Media, LLC; “After Tupac & D Foster” by Jacqueline Woodson and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Books for Young Readers. 

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children. Beth Krommes, illustrator of “The House in the Night,” written by Susan Marie Swanson and published by Houghton Mifflin Company, is the 2009 Caldecott Medal Winner. 

Three Caldecott Honor Books were named: “A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever,” written and illustrated by Marla Frazee and published by Harcourt, Inc.; “How I Learned Geography,” written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz and published by Farrar Straus Giroux; “A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams,” illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.  Melina Marchetta,  author of “Jellicoe Road,” is the 2009 Printz Award winner. The book is published by HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Four Printz Honor Books also were named: “The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II, The Kingdom on the Waves,” by M.T. Anderson, published by Candlewick Press; “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks,” by E. Lockhart, published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group; “Nation,” by Terry Pratchett, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers; and “Tender Morsels,” by Margo Lanagan, published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Coretta Scott King Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults. “We Are the Ship: The Story of the Negro League Baseball,” written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, is the King Author Book winner. The book is published by Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group. “The Blacker the Berry,” illustrated by Floyd Cooper, written by Joyce Carol Thomas and published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, is the King Illustrator Book winner.

Three King Author Honor Books were selected: “The Blacker the Berry” by Joyce Carol Thomas, illustrated by Floyd Cooper and published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; “Keeping the Night Watch” by Hope Anita Smith, illustrated by E.B. Lewis and published by Henry Holt and Company; and “Becoming Billie Holiday” by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper and published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc.

Three Illustrator Honor Books were selected: “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball” written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, published by Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group; “Before John Was a Jazz Giant” by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Sean Qualls, published by Henry Holt and Company; and “The Moon Over Star” by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. Shadra Strickland, illustrator of “Bird,” written by Zetta Elliott, is the Steptoe winner. The book is published by Lee & Low Books.

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. “Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum,” written and illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker and published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, won the award for young children. Leslie Connor is the winner of the middle-school award for “Waiting for Normal,” published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers. The teen award winner is “Jerk, California,” written by Jonathan Friesen and published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished book for beginning readers. “Are You Ready to Play Outside?” written and illustrated by Mo Willems and published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group, is the 2009 Geisel Award winner.

Four Geisel Honor Books were named: “Chicken said, ‘Cluck!’” by Judyann Ackerman Grant, illustrated by Sue Truesdell and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers; “One Boy” written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, a Neal Porter Book published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership; “Stinky” written and illustrated by Eleanor Davis and published by The Little Lit Library, a division of RAW Junior, LLC; and “Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator” by Sarah C. Campbell, with photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell, published by Boyds Mills Press.

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Laurie Halse Anderson is the recipient of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her outstanding lifetime contribution to writing for teens for “Catalyst,” published by Viking Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, “Fever 1793,” published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and “Speak,” a 2000 Printz Honor Book, published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group

Pura Belpré Awards honoring Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children's books. “Just in Case” illustrated by Yuyi Morales is the winner of the 2009 Belpré Illustrator Award. It is a Neal Porter Book published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership. “The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom” by Margarita Engle, is the winner of the 2009 Belpré Author Award. The book is published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Three Belpré Illustrator Honor Books for illustration were named: “Papá and Me” illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, written by Arthur Dorros, published by Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; “The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos” illustrated by Lulu Delacre, written by Lucía González, published by Children’s Book Press; and “What Can You Do with a Rebozo?” illustrated by Amy Córdova, written by Carmen Tafolla, published by Tricycle Press, an imprint of Ten Speed Press.

Three Belpré Author Honor Books were named: to “Just in Case” written by Yuyi Morales, a Neal Porter Book published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership; “Reaching Out” written by Francisco Jiménez, published by Houghton Mifflin Company; and “The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos,” written by Lucía González and published by Children’s Book Press.

Robert F. Sibert Medal for most distinguished informational book for children. “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball,” by author and illustrator Kadir Nelson, is the winner of the 2009 Sibert Medal. The book is published by Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group.

Two Sibert Honor Books were named: “Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and Rediscovery of The Past,” written by James M. Deem and published by Houghton Mifflin Company; and “What to Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!” written by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.

Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children's video. Paul R. Gagne and Melissa Reilly of Weston Woods Studios, producers of “March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World,” are the 2009 Carnegie Medal recipients.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award for the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States. “Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit,” originally published in Japanese, written by Nahoko Uehashi and translated by Cathy Hirano, is the winner of the 2009 Mildred L. Batchelder Award. The book is published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Scholastic.

Two Batchelder Honor Books were named: “Garmann’s Summer,” originally published in Norwegian, written by Stian Hole, translated by Don Bartlett, and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; and “Tiger Moon,” originally published in German, written by Antonia Michaelis, translated by Anthea Bell, and published by Amulet, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production. Recorded Books, producer of the audiobook “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” written and narrated by Sherman Alexie and produced by Recorded Books, LLC., is the winner of the 2009 Odyssey Award.

Five Odyssey Honor Audiobooks were named: “Curse of the Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady,” written by L.A. Meyer, narrated by Katherine Kellgren and produced by Listen & Live Audio, Inc.; “Elijah of Buxton,” written by Christopher Paul Curtis, narrated by Mirron Willis and produced by Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group; “I’m Dirty!” written by Kate & Jim McMullan, narrated by Steve Buscemi and produced by Weston Woods Studios, Inc./Scholastic; “Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale,” written and narrated by Carmen Agra Deedy and produceded by Peachtree Publishers; “Nation,” written by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Stephen Briggs and produced by HarperChildren’s Audio/HarperCollins Publishers.

Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences. The following winners for 2009 were named: “City of Thieves,” by David Benioff, published by Viking Penguin, A Member of Penguin Group; “The Dragons of Babel,” by Michael Swanwick, A Tor Book published by Tom Doherty Associates; “Finding Nouf,” by Zoë Ferraris published by Houghton Mifflin Company;  “The Good Thief,” by Hannah Tinti, published by The Dial Press, A Division of Random House; “Just After Sunset: Stories,” by Stephen King, published by Scribner, A Division of Simon & Schuster; “Mudbound,” by Hillary Jordan, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill; “Over and Under,” by Todd Tucker, published by Thomas Dunne Books, An Imprint of St. Martin’s Press; “The Oxford Project,” by Stephen G. Bloom, photographed by Peter Feldstein,  published by Welcome Books; “Sharp Teeth,” by Toby Barlow, published by Harper, An Imprint of HarperCollins; and “Three Girls and Their Brother,” by Theresa Rebeck, published by Shaye Areheart Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House.

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture recognizing an individual who shall prepare a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children's literature, and then present the lecture at a winning host site. The 2010 Arbuthnot Lecture will be delivered by Kathleen T. Horning, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC). 

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, established in 1954, honors an author or illustrator whose books are published in the United States and have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. Ashley Bryan has been named the 2009 Wilder Award winner. His numerous works include “Dancing Granny,” “Beat the Story-Drum, Pum-Pum,” and “Beautiful Blackbird.”

William C. Morris Award. “A Curse Dark as Gold,” written by Elizabeth C. Bunce and published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc., is the winner of the first Morris Award.

Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, ALA awards guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by judging committees of librarians and other children's literature experts, the awards encourage original and creative work. For more information on the ALA youth media awards and notables, please visit the ALA Web site at


Best-Selling Author Sees Value in Libraries

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Eragon author Christopher Paolini discusses how librarians helped his career.

Originally appeared in the Summer/Fall 2008 edition of the Wyoming Library Roundup.

New York Times Bestselling Author Christopher Paolini dreamed of the day he could place one of his books on the shelf in his local library.

“When I was able to do that, it was a memorable day,” he says.

“As an author, it’s one of the true pleasures for me to think that I’ve been able to contribute at least a few entries into the library system.”

Paolini views libraries as shrines to other authors.

“Whenever I step into a library, I start to get a tingle down my spine as I look at those shelves thinking about the thousands of hours of work that went into every single one of those books.”

Growing up in Montana, just north of Yellowstone National Park, the library played an important role in Paolini’s education. He and his sister were homeschooled. When they learned about something new, they would go to the library and check out a stack of books that corresponded with their studies.

Paolini’s newest book, Brisingr, released on
September 20, 2008.

“It was a fairly small library, but the librarians were wonderful and they had a great selection of fantasy authors and books.”

This is where Paolini began his love for fantasy.

“I was addicted to the genre. I was picking up six, seven, eight books at a time and going back the next week to pick up another pile of books.”

The addiction ultimately lead to the creation of his best-selling book, Eragon—the first of his four-part Inheritance Series.

“There I was, 14 or 15 years old, and I felt like I had read all the fantasy out there. I wasn’t going to bookstores much, so I didn’t realize there was a whole lot more fantasy I hadn’t read,” he says.

He says out of near desperation, he decided to write a book—the kind similar to those he’d been reading.

“The only reason I did it was because I loved reading books so much and wanted to give back to the genre. I wanted to contribute a bit to the same stories I had enjoyed so much, and, hopefully, share that enjoyment with other readers.”

It was at 15—now 10 years ago—that Paolini began working on his first book, Eragon. From there, he and his family worked to self-publish that book. Little did he know this would lead to him spending more and more time in libraries. When Paolini was beginning to promote Eragon, librarians allowed him to sell his book and give presentations in their libraries, he says.

“I was dressed in a medieval costume and the kids in the school and people who came to the presentations were looking at me as if they were thinking, ‘What is this kid doing?’”

The first two presentations he gave were in two libraries in Livingston, Montana, near his hometown.

“The librarians here and across the country were wonderful. Without their help and support, we never would have been able to keep Eragon going long enough to catch the eye of Random House,” he says.

Paolini says he doesn’t think he would have written Eragon or received the quality education he did growing up if it weren’t for the librarians who influenced him as a child.

“That combined with my experience traveling to different libraries across the country, both public and school—it’s one of the things that is indelibly printed on my mind—the dedication of librarians,” he says.

After all, librarians are the ones who tell the kids what to read, or recommend one author over another.

“I started saying that people don’t realize it, but librarians actually rule the world,” he jokes.

“They are definitely a force of good in this country. This country needs people like that.”

Paolini went from the walls of those libraries to the best sellers list once author Carl Hiaasen gave a copy of Eragon to Random House. Hiassen was vacationing with his family in Montana when his stepson picked up a copy of Paolini’s book. The stepson loved the book and passed it on to Hiassen, who then passed it onto Random house.

Becoming a bestselling author gave Paolini some notoriety, not only in the literary world, but also in Hollywood. Eragon was made into a major motion picture in 2006 and that followed with the development of a video game.

But that was just the beginning. Eldest followed Eragon in the series and proved to be just as successful. Together Eragon and Eldest have sold 12.5 million copies worldwide. He says he’s hoping his readers will enjoy his third book just as much as the first two.

“I put an awful lot of work into this last book and tried to do some things I didn’t try in the first two with the complexity of the story, depth of character and excitement of the battles,” he says.

His third book in the four-part series, Brisingr, was released in September 2008. Brising is an Old Norse word for fire.

Brisingr is one of the first words I thought of for this title, and it’s always felt right to me,” Paolini has said.

“As the first ancient-language word that Eragon learns, it has held particular significance for his legacy as Dragon Rider. In this new book, it will be revealed to be even more meaningful than even Eragon could have known.”

He may be topping the best seller lists and touring from city to city, but several things remain the same for Paolini, including his love for his Western home in Paradise Valley, Montana.

“The landscape here is so fantastic. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The experience of hiking and coming into contact with wildlife, the trees, the plants, these are the very things that have helped make me a better writer.”

People are often surprised at the number of writers or artists who live in areas like Montana and Wyoming with their low population densities, he says.

Christopher Paolini drew this map for a more visual explanation of the area where the
Inheritance Series takes place.

“One of the most important things for an artist is having the space to think, be quiet and concentrate on your work. That’s something this area offers you. It’s hard to concentrate when someone is blaring a car horn outside your house.”

Paolini says if he’d grown up somewhere else he would still be a fantasy writer, but maybe wouldn’t have done quite the same kind of writing.

“If you’re trying to write something, it certainly helps if you have some actual experience with it,” he says.

That doesn’t mean you have to experience everything you write, Paolini says that’s obviously impractical. But his home resembles the settings in his books, which occur during a different time period.

“If you did have neighbors, they might be miles away, and your livelihood really depended upon your skills as a farmer or rancher. Not to say that’s how I live myself, but just being around the landscape and people who work with the land have certainly helped my writing.”

Even as a successful author, Paolini has no intentions of moving to the big city. He sees no reason why he would live anywhere else.

“I can’t think of a better place to live. I grew up here. My family is here. The landscape is beautiful and the people are friendly and wonderful. I can’t imagine being happy living in the middle of the city,” Paolini says.

He does enjoy the city, but gets plenty of chances to visit those places in his travels promoting his work.

“I like coming back home and settling down and just being who I am here, instead of having to put on a performance out in the city.”

In his career, Paolini has learned he doesn’t have to live in a metropolitan area to be successful. Although he must venture away from Montana to sell books, he doesn’t need to move out of the West.

“I’ve learned to be a writer you really don’t have to be, for example, in New York City. To be a writer you need to write a book that people are going to be interested in. If you do that, it eventually finds the audience it deserves,” he says.

One of the things that made Paolini such an avid reader was simply reading the books he liked. He says one of the most important things you can do to get kids reading is to let them read the books they enjoy.

“If someone had told me when I was 14 or 15 to read the ‘classics,’ I would have done it, but I would have resented being told to do so and probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.”

But on his own he started reading fantasy, and eventually began branching out into other genres including those books considered the ‘classics.’

“It’s important for young people to have the chance to read the books they’ll enjoy reading and that will gradually expose them to other genres and ideas.”

His genre of fantasy and young adult fiction has grown in popularity in the past few years—becoming more popular than that of the adult genre.

“There is always going to be a demand for stories that talk to young people about the process of growing up and that’s what most young adult literature is about. That’s what the Harry Potter Series is about. That’s what my series is about. The demand will always be there,” he says.

To him, this is a wonderful indicator for the future, because if there are people who are reading young adult literature at a younger age, it is more likely those people will grow up to be life-long readers.

So much can happen in a span of 10 years, and in that time Paolini says he has really grown up. He had the story of Eragon in his head as a young age and still enjoys writing the series he started so long ago. He has a few ideas as to what he wants to do after the series, but right now he’s focusing on finishing it.

“I have a couple of stories I’d like to tackle, but at this point I just want to finish the series. These books have been a very intense and challenging experience. I have difficulty thinking too much beyond the fourth book.”


Tell Woman's Day How the Library Helped You in Tough Financial Times

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These days, everyone is looking to save money.  If the library is part of your personal financial recovery plan, Woman’s Day magazine wants to hear about it.  From now until May 18, women aged 18 and up are invited to send in a story about how they have used the library helped them out of a tight financial crunch.  Email your story in 700 words or less to  Woman’s Day will select up to four stories to be featured in the March 2010 issue of the magazine.  For official rules and additional details, visit the Woman’s Day Web site.

The magazine announced the call for entries in its March issue, alongside stories of how women have used the library to improve their health.  Read the article. (PDF)

With access to free programs, books, games, magazines, audio books, and more, you’re bound to save a bundle at your library.  Have you ever added up how much you can save?  Use this calculator from I Love Libraries to give you an idea. 

See news coverage of how people are turning to libraries during this tough financial climate:

In Recession, Libraries Are Booming - CBS Evening News
In a town used to lining up for celebrities, these days the long lines in Los Angeles are forming outside an unlikely place: the public library. CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes has the story.

Clark explores library deals - CNN
Clark Howard heads to the library to show you how many resources are there for cheap!

Good Times At The Library - CBS Evening News
In the face of rising gas and food prices, many financially strapped American families are turning to the library this summer for a fun and free alternative to heavy spending.  Bill Whitaker reports.

Libraries Shine In Tough Economic Times - NPR
With the economy slowing, many Americans are doing research in the public library. Boyd County, Ky., Library Director Debbie Cosper says public-use computers are always full and people are checking out books rather than buying them.


Celebrate Teen Tech Week

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By Stephanie Kuenn, YALSA Communications Specialist

Teen Tech Week, the Young Adult Library Services Association’s annual celebration of the many tech resources available to teens at the library, takes place March 8-14. More than 1,700 libraries across the country are holding special events and offering resources on tech for teens, including gaming nights, workshops on podcasting or photography, online homework help sessions and more. For 20 participating libraries, Teen Tech Week 2009 will be particularly memorable, as they received the second round of Teen Tech Week Mini Grants.

Thanks to the generosity of the Verizon Foundation, a 2009 Teen Tech Week Promotional Partner, YALSA gave out 20 grants of $450 cash (along with $50 in promotional Teen Tech Week products) to plan and sponsor events that encouraged teens to take advantage of the technological resources at their library.

At Passages Academy Library in Brooklyn, N.Y., a school library that serves incarcerated and detained youth between the ages of 14 and 16, Teen Tech Week funds will be used for a program called Nintendo in the Library. Students at the school earn the opportunity to play educational games on a Nintendo DS by engaging in silent, independent reading, based on a similar program that Passages offers in the Bronx.

At the West Covina Library in the County of Los Angeles Public Library System, librarians plan to purchase Flip Video cameras, plus accessories like tripods, backdrops and microphones. Teens at the library will use these to write, produce and edit their own trailers for their favorite books, movies or other library resource available at West Covina. The library plans to show the trailers on the TVs in the teen area throughout the year.

The Grand Rapids Public Library in Michigan will use part of its funds to purchase a Flip Video camera for teens to use to produce video essays on the topic “It’s Easy Being Green.” They’ll also lead a book discussion group session using Twitter, with teens participating and discussing the book Rash by Pete Hautmann in 140 characters or less.

The school library media specialist at Linn-Marr High School Media Center in Marion, Iowa, will use the funds to add 10 playaways to the library. Playaways are self-contained audiobooks and players, and during Teen Tech Week, students will use other technologies available in their library to promote the new playaways to other students. 

Wisconsin’s Baraboo Public Library will give its teen area a much-needed facelift with its mini grant. Three teen artists designed an interactive mural, using LED lights, LED clocks and a moving marquee, to hang on a dull brick wall and become the teen area’s focal point. Staff expect about 20-25 teens to participate in the renovation and creation of the mural during Teen Tech Week.

These events and new resources are just a sampling of what the mini grant winners plan to do with their funds next week. To learn more YALSA’s Teen Tech Week Wiki.