From the Editor

Valerie Ott

When the average person thinks of a library, the image of books is sure to come to mind. For centuries, books have been the centerpieces— the gems, if you will—of libraries the world over. In more recent years, the technology we acquire and make use of in libraries has become a source of pride for our communities, and sometimes gets more “play” than the print resources we so painstakingly collect and maintain. Teens, especially, make use of technology such as downloadable books, blogs, and live chat reference, making it imperative that libraries stay current on this front. YALSA believes in the importance of embracing technology in order to stay viable for our teen patrons. In fact, the next issue of YALS will focus on teens and technology in recognition of YALSA’s first Teen Tech Week, to be held annually during the second week of March beginning in 2007.

For now, however, we’re getting back to basics. This issue focuses on the timeless, and I would contend necessary, service of providing reading material to teens. Most librarians will still tell you that a great sense of job satisfaction comes when, for instance, a teen gives positive feedback about a book that was recommended. I distinctly recall watching one of my former teen advisory board member’s confidence grow over time after I introduced him to Alex Sanchez’s Rainbow Boys. I knew he was struggling with his sexual identity and, as a result, he was unsure of himself, often acted out, and had trouble with depression. I don’t pretend to believe that one book changed his life, but I do think it helped him a little. Jami Jones covers the basic tenets of bibliotherapy in her article in this issue, and Jennifer Burek Pierce traces the practice of reader’s advisory back to its early days in her historical overview. You’ll be brought back to the present with an interesting look at street lit, a genre that’s finding a huge audience with urban youth, and a variety of articles dealing with reader’s advisory and collection development issues, including how best to build a nonfiction collection for teens and how to conduct a reader’s advisory interview by proxy.

Technology is important, no doubt. But it seems that despite numerous predictions that print will soon be superseded by digital formats, books are here to stay. And I, for one, am glad. As always, I hope you find the information in this issue useful, and that you’ll use it to get “back to basics.” Happy reading!