Teenagers Reading

research for my PhD thesis

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The Future of Reading

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To continue on the theme of reading books, the March issue of Incite, the news magazine of ALIA, the professional association for librarians and other information professionals, had the theme “The Future of Reading.”

I wrote an article about what the teenagers I interviewed for my research thought about reading, seeing as they are our future. While I had some difficulty sticking to the word limit of 800, there’s a space at the end of the published article (for an ad they didn’t have a taker for) and I could have filled that space with more words, like quotes from the kids. My proof reader Gaby Haddow suggested I delete one quote to get closer to the word count but I could have put multitudes more in. eg.

That book was hell good.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne Despite my friend reading my article and telling me he’d just discovered teenagers didn’t read, one kid did say the above, I think about The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (David Fickling Books, 2006). I agree with said kid’s opinion on that book. It was an assigned text for their Year 10 English class. There weren’t fun books like that when I was at school, but it wasn’t published back then. A number of the other assigned texts teenagers discussed were studied in my English classes 20 years ago. I understand some of them are classics, but The Cay by Theodore Taylor (Doubleday, 1969) is not a classic. Well, if it is, it’s one of the boring ones.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins My parents like to read what I’ve published, but I think they get a bit bored sometimes. My mum said this one was a lot easier to read because it didn’t have annoying references getting in the way (and I’m sure the length helped, shorter always being better).

All the authors in this issue had to say what they were reading. I was reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and despite my article saying I was reading Catching the Fire, I know what the title is. Katniss started a fire, she didn’t catch one, and I highly recommend the story of her fire, but you should read bk1 first. I’m looking forward to bk3 Mockingjay, released the day before my b.day.


Snowball, Clare (2010) Teenagers: Our future readers Incite, 31(3), p.13.

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Written by ClareSnow

20 March 2010 at 10:10 am

Australian Comics and Graphic Novels

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Hollow Fields by Madeleine Rosca I have a list of graphic novels written or illustrated by Australians. It’s not extensive and I often discover titles I’ve missed, but finding Australian graphic novels and comics may become easier. Debbie Cox contacted me to tell about two projects of the National Library of Australia which aim to ensure the library collects published work of Australian comics creators. Collecting Australian Fringe Publishing at the National Library of Australia and The Comics Claiming Project are about the collection and treatment of comics, graphic novels, manga and zines at the NLA. The projects focus on:

  • What’s being published by Australian creators and publishers, whether published in Australia or not
  • Whether the NLA is adding them to the collection
  • If not, how the intake of these materials could be improved

How is this relevant to Australian comics and graphic novels creators?

The NLA needs help ensuring Australian comics, graphic novels, manga and zines are represented in the national collection. For creators this will mean a copy of published work is preserved in a controlled environment and made accessible to library patrons now and in the future. Information about these works will also be made available as a catalogue record to anyone anywhere with access to the internet.

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Written by ClareSnow

9 July 2009 at 7:15 pm

Why collect graphic novels?

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I’m writing about the interviews I conducted with six librarians last year. (Names of people and libraries have been changed to ensure confidentiality.) One of the first topics we discussed was why their library had a graphic novel collection. The most common reason was because their borrowers wanted to read them, with interest gleaned through requests for purchase and circulation statistics once acquired. Ms Marchamley cited the popularity of graphic novels among her students as the reason for Banksia Park High School Library’s collection, “I don’t think you can deny that they’re not getting used, especially all the new ones.” Her colleague Ms Tyler continued, “I mean nothing really sits on the shelf.” Ms Turner said of Tuart Grove High School Library’s graphic novels, “There’s a little hard core of students who prefer that format, so they’re ticking over steadily.”

As a voracious reader of graphic novels, Mr Carlton had slightly different reasons for a library collecting graphic novels. He was passionate about the format and read them in his spare time. He referred to their popularity, but also considered graphic novels were “a part of literature.”

I think you can’t not have graphic novels in your collection, because not everyone wants [conventional books]. I mean if you’re going to have you know, audio cassettes,…you’re going to have videos, books, DVDs…It’s just another format. And you’ve got the internet in there, so you’ve got graphic novels whether you want it or not through the internet [ie. web comics].

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Written by ClareSnow

29 December 2008 at 10:02 am

I can get that from the library!?

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Justine Larbalestier blogged about borrowing books from libraries and how authors benefit from this.

On the big scale, borrowing books is good because that’s what keeps libraries alive: the more people who borrow books from libraries the more likely they are to be funded. And the more libraries there are the more people who are reading.

love is hell - surely not Scott Westerfeld had blogged about Love is Hell [1], which includes stories by him, Justine and others (eg. Gabrielle Zevin a remarkable writer, who loves her pup almost as much as i love mine). One of Scott’s loyal Westerfeldians lamented she would have to wait months before she could find it at a used book store. Justine suggested:

Maybe you could get your local library to order it in?

This idea is surprising to many teenagers, but every teen librarian grapples with how to entice teenagers into their library. I’ve written a literature review on the topic [2]. (Amira-la does know how rocking libraries are and like me is waiting (im)patiently for Love is Hell to arrive on a library shelf, altho our respective libraries are half a world from each other.)

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Written by ClareSnow

3 December 2008 at 2:20 pm

Yaoi in the Library

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Update: I made a mistake in this post and corrected it 11 June 2009.

I interviewed Librarian Ms Davilak at Hakea Park Public Library for my PhD research. (Names of people and libraries have been changed to ensure confidentiality.)

Yaoi Hakea Park’s graphic novel collection was located in the YA area. When complaints were received about titles in this collection (at that time only from staff members before the title was put on the shelf), the title was investigated and if found to be unsuitable for teenagers, moved to the general (adult) collection and interfiled with ordinary fiction. One such title was manga of the genre Boys’ Love, which has themes of romance and love between two men [1]. This genre is aimed at different age groups, and includes Yaoi, erotic titles aimed at adults [2]. The title at Hakea Park had no explicit material – the two male characters only went as far as kissing. It was deemed to be unsuitable for the YA collection and moved to adult fiction. Young People’s Librarian Ms Davilak felt this outcome was acceptable, because the title had not been removed from the library. It was investigated by four librarians at Hakea Park and deemed suitable for teenagers. Ms Davilak explained, “We all talked about it. We decided that we would leave it where it was.” A fortunate outcome for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) teenagers and those questioning their sexuality who would benefit from finding such material in their YA collection. While Yaoi and Boys’ Love is generally created by and for women and McLelland believes,

Gay men tend not to identify with the beautiful youths in women’s manga and feel that these figures are figments of women’s imaginations. [3]

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Written by ClareSnow

10 October 2008 at 11:38 am

Teenagers’ Reality

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In two and a half weeks ALIA and SLA are holding a Seminar Series for Information Professionals, Reality 2.0, with sessions in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. Stephen Abram, the current President of SLA, is the keynote speaker at all three sessions, with various local speakers at each session.

What are some of the strategies information professionals need in the changing information world? Stephen will talk about the real needs of real people living the Web 2.0 experience and information and knowledge economy. How can we use Web 2.0 tools to terra-form the living, breathing worlds we inhabit? What are some practical tools we can use? How can professional associations such as SLA and ALIA help?

I wanted to hear Stephen Abram speak, but my research funds will only cover conference expenses if I present a paper. After reading the above and wondering exactly how one “terra-forms the living,” I submitted an abstract, on the off chance an event sponsored by SLA would want to hear about teenagers. Despite living in Perth, thus not being a Brisbane local* my abstract was accepted. I’ll be giving a paper at the Brisbane session on Thursday 11 September 2008. I’ll talk about what the teenagers in my focus groups had to say about Web 2.0, although it’s not a term teenagers mention much, if ever!? It’s all just:

Go on MySpace
Chat to friends on MSN
Or just plain: Google it

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Written by ClareSnow

25 August 2008 at 11:16 am

Challenges to Graphic Novels in Libraries

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Updated 1 August to correct a misquote from David Serchay**

I’m currently writing my PhD thesis, collating all the data I amassed from my survey, focus groups and interviews. It’s a slow process, but this week my muse has been visiting and I’ve been writing about challenges to graphic novels in libraries. A discussion on the GNLIB-L email list a couple of months ago reflected some of what my interviewees discussed, so I thought I’d blog about it.

Are comics just for kids?

The perception that comics and graphic novels are “just for kids” [1] was true in the past, but is no longer the case. Janna Morishima, a publisher of children’s comics and graphic novels, said at the 2007 New York ComicCon, “It has been over forty years since comics were really a kid’s medium” [2]. The perception still lingers and causes problems in libraries with graphic novel collections, particularly those housed within a Young Adult (YA) section.

What may go unchallenged in words only, may become contentious when delivered graphically. [3]

The visual nature of graphic novels makes titles aimed at a more mature audience more easily accessible than ordinary books, which may have to be read in their entirety to find objectionable passages. A graphic novel could be flicked through, one or two objectionable pictures noticed, and the whole item deemed “inappropriate” [4]. In discussing adult manga in Japan, long time writer on manga, anime and Japanese culture, Fred Patten maintains,

Practically every adult [manga] comic of any length will involve sexual relationships at some point, usually graphically depicted though not to the extent of being X-rated. [5]

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Written by ClareSnow

31 July 2008 at 12:01 pm

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