Young Adult and Children’s Services at UCLA

SoCal Authors & Librarians Unite! February 27, 2013

Two groups of people with relatively similar agendas: Librarians and Authors. Well, there certainly wouldn’t be one without the other. Today, Southern California Library Cooperative’s YA Interest Group hosted a conversation between a panel of YA authors and SoCal teen librarians at the Torrence Public Library. It was a very successful event, well-attended, and was so great to hear authors speak about how much they enjoy libraries and want to support them whenever they can. The authors present included Cecil Castellucci, Jennifer Bosworth, Meadow Griffin, Lissa Price and Ann Stampler. They emphasized how important it is for them to hear teen feedback, interact with teens, and be exposed to situations with teens (libraries!). The authors discussed trends (Horror is the buzz word this year!), and Castellucci enlightened us that more important than knowing a trend, is discovering the excellent book that is the heart of that trend. Thanks Cecil, that is excellent advice!

If you want to collaborate with an author, the best and most respected way to contact them is through email, according to a survey conducted by teen librarian Allison Tran. She also suggests maintaining a presence through social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, so when the author receives your email, your name might be recognized. Networking! She also reminded us that Skype is an excellent way to have a virtual author visit, but it works best with a focused group of teens, such as a book club or school group. Make sure teens have read at least one of the author’s books, or that they have prepared questions ahead of time.

Elizabeth Schneider presented on her experience serving on YALSA committees for book awards and selections. She says not to be intimidated to join a committee, that YALSA is doing a bit of “cleaning house” to ensure there are new voices on award committees at every level. Aside from a huge time commitment (she said there are a lot of TV shows she needs to catch up on), serving on the awards committees can be rewarding, enlightening, and all around enjoyable. Plus, it’s an excuse to read all the great books in a year!

Erica Cuyugen, who we know from her great presentation at UCLA this month, discussed her successful summer writer’s workshop for teens, “Write On!” Erica explained to us that she began the program as a one-week workshop, but received feedback from teens that it was too short and they wanted more time to write. The next year, she attempted a six-week program which worked for a few years, but felt a little bit too long. Now, Write On is a three-week program. The teens meet three times per week for two hours. Authors who have participated in this workshop include Cecil Castellucci, Sonya Sones, and Michael Reisman. At the end of the workshop, Erica publishes the teen’s writing as a Zine, which is housed in the library’s collection. Here are some of her suggestions for the extended workshop format:

  • Summer works for structured and focused teen workshops – the school year is too busy for that type of commitment.
  • Have an official sign-up process, and wait-list if necessary. Start signing teens up approximately one month before the program begins.
  • Teens can sign a commitment contract, so they understand their attendance is important. This allows the workshop to be taken seriously by teens, parents, and librarians alike.
  • Contact guest speakers/presenters like authors, musicians, artists, etc. well in advance.
  • Have ice-breakers to helpteens be more comfortable with participation
  • Have writing exercises or other games for those moments when things do not go as planned!
  • Make sure to get feed back from the teens after the workshop is over. This will allow you to tweak your program so that next year it’s even better!


Attending a collaborative library event like this is great for one’s professional development. Simply hearing about various issues in the field will inspire your own thoughts for contribution to the discussion. Thank you so much to the SCLC YA Interest Group for hosting this event!

Ok, here’s the bonus for reading this post to the end. March 30th, 2013 is the YAppiest Day on Earth! Spend a day at Disneyland with YA authors! How cool!



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