For immediate release | February 13, 2012

Vardell wins Frances Henne/YALSA/VOYA Research Grant

CHICAGO — The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) awarded the 2012 Frances Henne/YALSA/VOYA Research Grant to Sylvia Vardell. This $1,000 grant will provide seed money for her research project, "Poetry Books and Apps: Complement or Competition?”

This research will investigate student attitudes toward poetry apps and study the impact of the use of apps on poetry book reading and circulation. As described in the research proposal, school librarians will coordinate at least 50 student volunteers (with parent permission) from two middle school settings in a suburban community in north Texas. A mini-set of newly published poetry books appropriate for middle school will be added to each school library and promoted during April, National Poetry Month. Students at both schools will be encouraged to read poetry and will be surveyed on their attitudes toward poetry, and poetry circulation statistics will also be collected. In one of the middle schools, the 50 student participants will also be provided access to poetry apps (such as iF Poetry, PoemFlow and the Poetry Foundation app). These students will also be surveyed about their use of the apps and their attitudes toward the technology and poetry content.

“Poetry provides an intriguing context for the study of students’ use of apps in a library setting,” said Rebecca Morris, 2012 Chair. “I’m curious to hear about how this new and evolving way of interacting with text shapes the students’ experience and interest in poetry and poetry books in the library.”

Dr. Sylvia Vardell is professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University, where she teaches graduate courses in children's and young adult literature. “I look forward to working with middle school kids to assess their attitudes toward poetry, plus adding this new dimension—a look at their attitudes toward apps, too. I think we’re all concerned about how books and apps will compete in the literacy landscape. I’m wondering if apps can help promote book reading? I hope kids themselves will guide me as we explore how technology influences reading choices and habits,” Vardell said. “I am thrilled and honored to receive this support and recognition from YALSA. I’m particularly tickled that my project on poetry is thought worthy, because poetry can be a tough sell!”

The YALSA Research Committee members are: Chair Rebecca Morris, Simmons College GSLIS, Boston; Sara Fade, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, N.Y.; Heather Jill Hopkins, Huntsville, Ala.; Jennifer Burek Pierce, School of Library and Information Science, University of Iowa, Iowa City; and Kate Walker, Anderson (S.C.) County Library.

Guidelines for applying for the YALSA/VOYA/Henne Research Grant are available at Applications are due by Dec. 1, 2012.

For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos and audio books for teens. For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to, or contact the YALSA office by phone, (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390, or e-mail,


Stephanie Kuenn