Wednesday, May 7, 2008

YSS Meeting

The meeting opened with coffee and snacks. I knew it was going to be a good one, as the brownies were excellent. It’s my experience no workshop with good food can be a bust.

The meeting started with a review of the March 10 minutes, and then went to voting for new officers. Maureen Ambrosino became vice chair. Bonnie Pierce became secretary.

A Ma teen book award and the committee is in its beginning stages and looking for public and school librarians to be on the board.

The outgoing chair, Cathy Livingstone, spoke

The incoming Chair, Sue Ellen Szymanski, spoke then. She talked about the opportunity to network and share with other youth services librarians. She spoke about school librarians and how public and school librarians have begun to formally work together and archived a lot. She spoke on the rewarding experience with being able to work with Youth Services Librarians at MLA and seen how creative the leaders in the field are. Youth Services has moved on from where it was a few years ago, and that the importance of looking to the future and being productive with kids and teens. Overall circulation in public libraries has grown, but especially in children’s areas and programming. She talked about collaborative learning and information sharing between libraries, and how to improve on that sharing. It’s all about the users, not about us after all. People are using our services in new ways, and we need to be there for them.

Gretchen Hunsberger spoke then on Reach Out and Read: Library Initiatives. This program brings new books to kids, and teaches parents the importance of reading. Listening and being read to helps language development and later on, advances skills in school. Doctors involved because it helps kids be happier and therefore healthier. The program was started 20 years ago at Boston Medical Center. Its spread to all over the country and has been supported by the federal government, including President Clinton and President G.W Bush. It reaches 25% of kids at poverty level all over the country and even better in the state of Ma alone. In this program, doctors and nurses give out books at visits from 6 months to 5 years, and have waiting rooms with children’s books and reading environments. Information about libraries, story hours, and other reading programs are there as well.

Reading is also a way of gauging a child’s development. Board books can show a lot about how developed a child is…can they hold it. Can they track pictures? Do they right the book if you give it to them upside down? It gives a doctor a lot of information.

The doctors also introduce families to libraries by giving books with library themes to kids. “Curious George visits the Library” by Margret and H.A Reys is one, and “Lola at the Library” by Anna McQuinn is the other. I give the Curious George one to all the small children in my life, so that’s a great choice to get kids into a library, in my not-so-humble opinion. (And George goes on a spree through a library on a book truck. Not suggested for any library, but lets be honest…how many of us have secretly wanted to book cart surf. Hands? Yeah, me too. It’s a really fun book, and it makes libraries look fun)

Many studies show a disadvantage of lower income families and learning. Professional families have children that generally learn more words and end up with higher IQ’s and lower income families have a strong disadvantage that is offset when children are read to at a young age.

The program also offers many books in bilingual languages including Vietnamese, Spanish, and many others.

They have a website at, and much of the information on these exact statistics and the program itself can be found there.

Gareth Hinds was the keynote speaker. He is the artist of many graphic novels such as “Beowulf” and “King Lear”.

He’s going to be publishing “Merchant of Venice” very soon. This is something I’m very excited about, being a comics geek and a Shakespeare buff all in one. Two great tastes that taste great together.

He’s been drawing since childhood. He did a comic strip in the school paper in high school ( Same high school as Frank Miller of “Sin City” and “300”. Must be something in the water)

His first book was “Bearskin” based on a Grimms Fairy Tale. He enjoys working with fairy tales, but also wanted to work with something more familiar than some fairy tales, and more meat to it.

(Fairytales have plenty of meat if you ask me, but beside the point…..)

He printed his first Graphic novel with a Xeric Grant, the comics grant founded by Peter Laird of Ninja Turtles fame.

“Beowulf” book two, was all painted on wood for a very ancient look. I’m personally a huge fan of folks that use weird mediums for graphic novels. The look is ancient, as if we just dug this book out of the ruins of a stone fortress on the Norse shores.

He has several pieces in graphic anthologies as well, What I found most interesting about the pieces he showed us was his art, while you can see that its done by the same person, is all different in the way it feels. Some is warm and welcoming, some is awe-inspiring, and some is cold and ancient like stone. He seems very drawn to classic stories, which is a hot thing in comics right now, and a wonderful idea to bring these tales to a more visually oriented generation.

Gareth gave a nice demo on how the drawing programs he uses works, and how he sends sketches of each page to his editors to show them what he’s thinking of as he creates. He uses adobe Photoshop and several other programs for his work.

His next project is an adaptation of Jason and the Argonauts. The art is very active, and exciting. I’m looking forward to it.

He used to work on video games, working on games like “System Shock” and many Pixar game titles. He did artwork for characters and backgrounds for the games.

Some of the books he admires are “Robot Dreams”, “Maus”, “The Tale of One Bad Rat” and “Satchel Page: Striking Out Jim Crow”. He also suggested anything by Scott McCloud for kids interested in creating comics.

In answer to an audience question, he talked about comics being in print, but also web comics coming into their own and being taken more seriously. In part he notes, this is a result in part of the diversity of comics coming out, which is helping to push comics as a popular medium.

He talked about using not only “educational” graphic novels, but also any graphic Novel in a classroom/library setting for an educational purpose. He’s seen them used in many different ways.

He doesn’t see himself as a kid’s comic artist, or an adult one, but a storyteller.

His website is at . I highly recommend anyone looking to bring more variety of graphic novels to check him out.

Getting kids to read and comics, two of my favorite things…..I have to say, the brownies were a good omen.

-Sarah "The Dyslexic Librarian" Hodge-Wetherbe, Springfield City Library


Beth Gallaway said...

From speaker Gretchen Hunsburger (Reach Out and Read):

What are you doing to reach out to minority populations in your community? What are you doing to connect to those families that just come in to check out a DVD, or use the computers?

Continue the discussion on the YSS blog!

Beth Gallaway said...

Links from the YSS meeting: