Looking Back/Looking Forward: Library Science

As we enter 2009 -- and before I get lost once again in the maze of a busy academic schedule -- I thought I'd post a few items on the projects I completed this fall and the projects that are up for the spring semester.

Enrolled as a part-time student, I'm attempting to balance three different sets of course requirements: those for my history degree, those for my general library science degree, and those for my archives management focus within the library science program. This fall, I took a haitus from the archives management courses and took LIS 407 (Reference Services). I had the usual frustration with Reference that I have with all introductory-level survey courses: they try to do too much in too little time, and as a result skim the surface of a great deal of information that could potentially take a lifetime (or at least a career) to explore. That pedagogical frustration aside, it was a good class taught by a knowledgeable, enthusiastic professor (thanks Rex!). I particularly enjoyed putting my annotated bibliography together on the topic of providing children and young adults with reference services in the area of human sexuality. For the bibliography, I surveyed the library science literature for articles and books on the topic (slim pickings) as well as poking around the internet for useful resources. Below are the internet sources I ended up listing in the finished project.

Internet Resources

A number of organizations provide a wealth of resources on their websites for sexuality education that would be of use in a reference setting. Below I provide a sampling of organizational websites and selected page descriptions that highlight some of the resources available that may be of particular interest in a library reference setting:

1. Internet Public Library's TeenSpace. The Internet Public Library (based out of the University of Michigan and Drexler University schools of information) has a portion of their website dedicated specifically to resources for adolescents, which includes resources related to sexuality. Two pages of particular note:
Frequently Asked (Embarrassing) Questions. On this page, a list of links are provided for issues such as dropping out of school, medical questions, mental health, and social issues (“what do I do if my friend says something racist?”) as well as sexuality information. Also linked to this page is:

Health & Sexuality Links. This is an annotated list of websites that cover a range of issues on the topics of health and sexuality. These links are further divided into sub-heading categories such as “LGBT” and “Abuse and Exploitation.”
2. Scarleteen: Sex Education for the Real World. The web-based iteration of Heather Corinna’s S.E.X., Scarleteen.com provides message boards, sexuality Q&A, writing by young people, and a variety of other interactive resources and informational content. One of the values of Scarleteen, I believe, is its holistic approach to sexual health and orientation, not assuming its readership is in any one place in the orientation spectrum and emphasizing mutuality and health rather than condemning particular sexual desires or practices.
For Parents. The “for parents” section that explains the philosophy of the site and suggests some further reading for adults who are seeking to support the young people in their lives.

Start Your Sexuality Canon. This bibliography is Scarleteen’s own bibliography of essential books on human sexuality, starting out with the famous Hite Report and making suggestions on topics of gender identity, media depictions of sexuality, as well as providing a list of basic sexual health handbooks.
3. SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States). SIECUS was founded in 1964 by Dr. Mary Calderone, a former medical director for Planned Parenthood. Believing in the lifelong right of all human beings to comprehensive sexuality information, SIECUS provides a plethora of free web-based resources and publications. They are also an advocacy organization for greater access and outreach on issues of sexuality, and press releases on their website can be a useful way to stay informed about current controversies over providing sexuality information to the public. A few specific items of interest:
Bibliography – Books for Young People. This bibliography provides a short list of age-appropriate books for young people, sub-divided into age categories from pre-school to high school.

On the Right Track (PDF). This 78-page booklet makes suggestions specifically for adults who work in youth development organizations on how to integrate sexuality education into their work.

SexEdLibrary. SexEd Library is a database of lesson plans from various sources pulled together and vetted by SIECUS and made available online. Categories include things like “Relationships,” “Personal skills,” “Sexual Health,” and “Society & Culture.”
4. Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), hosted by ALA. For obvious reasons, YALSA’s website can be a useful place to research the intersection of sexuality information access and youth library services. They offer numerous booklists that often feature fiction and nonfiction books on themes of romance and sexuality, support a blog that reports on current issues and a host of other electronic resources for librarians. One example of the sort of resources available would be their “Healthy Relationships for Teens” booklist, which provides web-based and traditional resources on sexuality for young adults and the librarians who serve them.

5. Teenwire.com/Planned Parenthood. Teenwire is Planned Parenthood’s site geared specifically to a young adult audience. Much like Scarleteeen, Teenwire provides multiple avenues for accessing information on sexual health and relationships. There are topical sections, question & answer features, and information about sexual health services. Much of this information is also made available in Spanish.
Parents & Professionals. This portion of the site explains Planned Parenthood’s approach to adolescent sexual health and offers links to Planned Parenthood’s publications specifically for youth advocates.

Next semester, it's back to the archives with LIS440: Archival Access and Use.

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