Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My My My, Lauren Myracle and Censorship

I was very lucky to be able to attend the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in Denver last week. By far, the best part of my trip was attending the Freedom To Read Foundation's Fundraiser featuring Lauren Myracle. (It was there that I learned that her name is pronounced Myracle, not Miracle.)

Lauren spoke about the censorship and challenging of her books. Many adults across the country have challenged or banned her books, because they tend to deal with themes of sexuality, and have some swearing in them. At the fundraiser, Lauren read some angry emails she has received from parents. Parents called her books "evil, disgusting, filthy, and awful," and even referred to Lauren as "Satan."

TTYL was on the list of Most Frequently Challenged Books in 2007, and has recently been banned at the Round Rock Independent School District near Austin, Texas. The superintendent of the school district removed all copies of the book from the library, despite that fact that two committees reviewed the book and found it suitable for the library.

It is important to remember that librarians face book and material challenges on a daily basis, and we do our best to protect the First Amendment rights of teens.

If you'd like to send Lauren a little email of support or encouragement, please do so here.

I read banned books,


P.S. The photo above is of a two-story tall bear sculpture outside of the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. It doesn't have much to do with Lauren Myracle, but I thought it was awesome, and she was awesome, so there you go.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Here We Go! Get Hyped for Super Bowl XLIII!

Madden 09 Tournament

While we didn't get an official count, about 43 teens came to cheer the Steelers on to victory in Super Bowl XLIII, which will be held this Sunday in Tampa Bay! You can see pictures of participants in their black 'n gold glory on our Flickr page.

We also held our third annual CLP Teen Madden Tournament. Michael R. took home first place, staving off a fourth quarter comeback from Brian V. Check out all the action in the video below.

If you want to brush up on your Steelers before the big game, the library has a lot of great books and DVDs which you can browse in the subjects Pittsburgh Steelers (Football Team) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Football Team) -- History

Here are some of my favorites:

Blount, Roy
About Three Bricks Shy... and the Load Filled Up: The Story of the Greatest Football Team Ever

This classic book traces life on the Steelers, from Bradshaw to the "Steel Curtain," during the dynasty that birthed our first four rings. Surprisingly, it's actually a hilarious inside look at the personalities who were meaner than anything on the field.

Hickoff, Steve
The 50 Greatest Plays in Pittsburgh Steelers Football History

This book breaks down and ranks the greatest plays of Steelers football history. How do your favorites stack up? Check it out here!

Rooney, Dan
Dan Rooney: My 75 Years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL

Dan Rooney's Hall of Fame career has spanned over 25 years of being the owner of the Steelers and a lifetime with arguably the greatest football organization of all time. This is what he has to say from his birds-eye view, from immaculate receptions to one for the thumb.

Steelers: The Complete History

With gameday footage tracing back from Bill Cowher to the early days of NFL history, this DVD chronicles the life and times of the black and gold and the city which calls the Steelers its home.

If you're only just getting into football to cheer on your team, don't forget to try the NFL's Rule Book section. It will give you all the info you need to understand what's happening on the field, from a digest of the rule book to the "Beginners Guide to Football."


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Before, it was just your run of the mill Madden Tournament. Now...


That's why on Sunday, January 25th @ 12:30 PM, we're having a special CLP TEEN STEELERS HYPE PARTY to get ready for the big game. We're stocking the teen section with food, video games, and a special Steelers hype-up DVD.

We'll also be showing our Steelers pride LIVE ONLINE at, so come check out the live action or join us in the chat.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Enter the 2009 Dr. Helen S. Faison Racial Justice Student Essay Contest

Today, people across the world took note of the inauguration of President Barack Obama. In recognition of this historic event, the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh is proud to sponsor the Dr. Helen S. Faison Racial Justice Student Essay Contest.

Here's the information about how you can use Obama's presidency as a springboard to thinking about your own place in the world. Download the application here.

2009 Dr. Helen S. Faison Racial Justice Student Essay Contest
Contest Rules

All essays should address the following question:

Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009. What can young people do to eliminate racism and other forms of prejudice during President Obama’s time in office?

The maximum length for the essay is 300 words. All entries must be printed in ink or typed double-spaced on one side only. Submissions will be judged on response to question, content, writing style, grammar/legibility, creativity, and essay length. (Please do not exceed 300 words.)

The completed form should be the last page of your essay. In order to ensure the fairest selection process, judges will not see student or school names. Parent/Guardian signature required. Please do not edit the form; all sections must be complete with contact information.

First, second and third place finalists will be selected in Grades 6, 7, and 8. Finalists will be recognized at the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh on Wednesday April 15, 2009. Winners will be notified in April and will be invited to attend an award ceremony free of charge as guests of the YWCA.

Return essay and entry form to: Dr. Helen S. Faison Racial Justice Student Essay Contest, YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Office of Racial Diversity and Inclusion, 305 Wood Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Questions? Email or call 412-255-1466. Entries must be received by Monday, March 9, 2008.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Classic Films With Teen Appeal

I just had a lovely conversation with some teen regulars about great movies, growing up, feeling out of place, etc. It made me quite happy to be working where I work, encountering wonderful people and sharing ideas.

They told me about how much they love movies from the 70s and 80s, and were excited about the recommendations my co-worker Connie and I gave them. They even suggested I blog about some more movies they might like but may not have heard of, so here I am! Your wish is my command.

Here's a list of films dealing with teendom that were very important to teenage Corey and which I hope teenage you will also enjoy. (Be sure to check the links and order your copies from the library today!):

Harold & MaudeHarold and Maude: "I haven't lived. I've died a few times." Connie started the conversation by bringing this film up. I first saw it in the ninth grade; my friends soon began calling me Harold. Harold and Maude is the story of a morbid, depressed, teenager who often fakes his own death and goes to funerals for fun. His outlook on life slowly begins to change when he meets Maude, a vivacious 79 year old woman who teaches Harold how l-i-v-e live live live!

amelie1 Amelie: "At least you'll never be a vegetable — even artichokes have hearts." The title character (an adorable waitress in Montmarte, Paris) is sort of Harold and Maude rolled into one; she's a dreamer and an optimist, but she worries her dreams will never come true, that she will die alone, never realizing the love she hopes to find. "Times are hard for dreamers" she is told, and she knows it to be true. However, things change for Amelie when she decides to become a do-good-er, anonymously bringing people the joy she is afraid to reach out and grab for herself. Amelieis whimsical, romantic, sadly sweet and hilarious. It will melt away even the angstiest angst, if only for a little while. Check out the wonderful soundtrack!

rushmoreRushmore: "Sic transit gloria. Glory fades. I'm Max Fischer." The main character of director Wes Anderson's opus is Max Fisher, an overly ambitious fifteen year old playwright who attends Rushmore Academy on scholarship. Max is placed on academic probation when his grades continue to slip. Soon, things spiral out of control when he and his middle aged steel magnate friend, Herman Bloom, both fall for Rushmore's beautiful kindergarten teacher, Ms. Cross. Rushmore is both darkly funny and bittersweet. Check out the AWESOME SOUNDTRACK!

prettyPretty In Pink: "If somebody doesn't believe in me, I can't believe in them." So, I guess this is a bit of a cliche choice, right? I think it's the best of the 80s "brat pack" movies, though. The Breakfast Clubis great and all, but this one strikes more of a chord. You've got Andie (a bit of a misfit but a total sweetheart), Duckie (a pre-lame Jon Cryer who is awesome as the lovelorn best friend, crushing on his pal), and Blane (the wealthy and popular, but nice, guy) in a love-triangle. Andie likes Blane but she feels like she's nothing special; he's cute and popular, so why would he like her? Meanwhile, the duckman suffers. A film about love across class lines. Order the great soundtrack!

poets1The Dead Poet's Society: "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world." Haven't seen this one in years, but it's a heart-breaker; the story of a class of prep school boys inspired by their new teacher, whose call to arms is more than a little similar to Maude's, "Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary." A film about what's expected of us versus what we want, realizing your own dreams and fighting for them - always a good lesson to learn.

Honorable Mentions go to: Dazed and Confused, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Rebel Without a Cause, American Graffiti, Say Anything, The Virgin Suicides


CLP - Main, TEEN

Law of Ueki - A review by Eli Straussman

Law of Ueki is a great comic by Tsubasa Fukuchi. It is about Kosuke Ueki who has taken part of a competition for the talent of blank. Now this means that if he wins the contest, he get any wish he wants granted, be it to destroy the entire world or to have a slice of pizza. Accompanying his mission is his witty friend Ai Mori (Amori for short), who after much snooping figured out Ueki's power. His other companion is his teacher and coach, Mr. Kobayashi. These two characters are very much alike. They are both space cases who don't adhere to all the rules and help anyone and everyone in need. Amori is a nervous wreck who looks out for Ueki at every turn.
The plot goes something like this. Middle schoolers are given powers (I.E the ability to turn CDs into razors, to turn hair into a drill) and a King Candidite. The real purpose of this contest is to choose the new king of the celestial world, because the current king has gotten bored with his job. The King Candidates give the kids their powers and teach them how to use it. Then the kids fight and the loser loses his/her power and the Candidate is no longer running. Also if you win a battle you get a talent. These talents are meant to help you win other battles. More fights you win, the more talents you get. There is a catch though. If you use your power on noncontestants, then you lose a talent. Ueki got the power to turn trash into trees, and when he starts of he has 8 talents (very few compared to other contestants).
Now the comic starts off pretty shaky, the art is very sketchy and the plot jumps pretty badly, but once you get to volume 4, it’s great. The drawing is more solid, and Mr. Fukuchi finally gets a grip on the plot. I recommend this book a lot. The Library contains volumes 1-7 and 10-13. Check it out now.

Friday, January 09, 2009

OMG! It's Ugly Covers Friday!

Let's have another crack at captioning with this lovely cover for Cry Havoc, a relic from the Teen fiction stacks.

Karen: "Hurry Paul, we have to catch the disembodied wolf head."
Joseph: "Cry Havoc: When crying wolf just isn't enough."
Holly: "Wolfie Monster says: Me so hungry. Me want to eat bullet!"
Corey: "Giant wolf heads and Members Only jackets: a surprisingly important part of the Nazi war effort."

We welcome your captions in the comments section.

Happy Friday!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Top Albums of 2008

Pop ruled 2008. From indie to hip-hop to dance to punk, no genre was immune to pop's grasp. Even pop got poppier! Here are some of our picks for top albums for teens in 2008. They may not all be in the teen section, but they're all available through our online catalog.

Any additions? Any albums that made you puke? Let us know in the comments.


Adele is a young London soul singer who drew musical comparisons to Amy Winehouse, both because of their chosen genre (soul) and because they both graduated from the same performing arts high school. Adele breaks from the Amy Winehouse mold with a plush, singer-songwriter element that enmeshes listeners in the dynamics of teenage heartbreak. This is a great album for any teen who, like Adele, seems "older than her years."

New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)
Erykah Badu

While Erykah Badu didn't release an album that one might normally think of for teens, Erykah Badu re-emerged with the kind of album every teen could benefit from listening to. At once moving, intelligent, and bewildering, Badu lobs pronouncements about racism, crime, and the American government from in front of booming basslines and soulful melodies. This is a great album for any teen looking for an album in which style and substance are fearlessly soulmates.

A Pocketful of Sunshine
Natasha Bedingfield

If you take a wayback machine to January of 2008, you might remember this little under the radar pop gem. Full of sweet, upbeat numbers like "Put Your Arms around Me" and the titular "A Pocketful of Sunshine" (as well as reggae-tinged songs like "Love Like This") this album lent teens a solid offering of sunshine during the last dreary winter.

I Am... Sasha Fierce

A counterpoint to albums like T.I. vs. T.I.P. which explore what it means to be a pop star, Beyonce returns with a split-personality album that alternates between personal ballads on the "I Am..." side and infectious pop numbers like "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" from the Sasha Fierce persona. The ballads may feel a little sappy, but just about everything Sasha Fierce touches is as fierce as a dance floor can handle. If you like it, then you should have put a hold on it.

Cute Is What We Aim For

Cute Is What We Aim For aim and hit with a style-conscious emo-pop album that adds some polish (in addition to some synth and horn flourishes) to their 2006 offering The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch. If songs like "Practice Makes Perfect" aren't reminiscent of those joyful, yet excruciatingly painful moments of youthful desire, then I don't know what is.

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus ditches the Hannah Montana moniker for another breakout album from this Radio Disney/Camp Rock star. Breakout is punchier, more guitar driven, and appealing to those tweens are are going through the same sort of growing pains in their lives as "Hannah Montana" is going through musically.


Apparently, the new hard rock that was attracting teens in 2008 didn't go away, it just got darker and angrier. Enter Indestructible, Disturbed's fourth studio album. Indestructible takes the pounding riffs from The Sickness and pairs then with the dynamics of Ten Thousands Fists to create what fans are lauding as their best album yet.


Another Londonite, Estelle, showcases multiple talents on the fine R&B album Shine. Skillfully singing and rapping on tracks that run the gamut between reggae and glitzy pop, Estelle hit it big on the charts with the fun, flirty summer jam "American Boy" (featuring Kanye West). While the buzz quickly dried up, the album remained as a fine piece of pop R&B.

Folie A Deux
Fall Out Boy

Though only released a couple of weeks ago, it won't be long before long-time fans find and snatch this one up. While the album is a lot more on the melodic, powerpop side of spectrum than the crunchy, high-octane (yet unmistakably poppy) anthems they're known for, it retains a lot of the self-conscious reflection by which Fall Out Boy has made a name for themselves. A lot of people have compared this album to developments in the career path of Elvis Costello, which wouldn't be out of place, considering that Elvis Costello guest stars on the album.

Fight with Tools

A little bit of jazz, a dash of funk, a sprinkle of soul, and a teaspoon of hip-hop, blended with some crushed hard rock, round out the album Fight with Tools, from the Flobots. One of the few bands gracing the alternative stations that actually had a record in 2008, Flobots have crafted a hopeful, politically uplifting album for any eclectic, change-oriented teen.

Mail on Sunday
Flo Rida

The party rap album of the year was Flo Rida's Mail on Sunday. From the T-Pain assisted "Low" to the Timbaland collaboration "Elevator," Flo Rida featured several strong club hits. Mix it with the absolutely infectious "In the Ayer" (which I still hear kids singing to themselves on the bus), and you have an album that may not last long but is sure to be a fun ride.

A Little Bit Longer
The Jonas Brothers

The Jonas Brothers somehow managed to become even bigger tween-pop superstars in 2008, with the release of the successful movie Camp Rock and the follow-up album A Little Bit Longer. Featuring saccharine guitars, vocal harmonies, ballads, and the inevitable rocker, these hearthrobs have starred in an album that's sure to get tweens swooning.

Juno: Music from the Motion Picture

Juno's quirky, smart, and youthful exuberance captured the attention of many teens, who clamored for the quirky, smart, and youthful soundtrack (which quickly rose to be a surprising chart-topper). The album predominantly features Kimya Dawson, formerly of the Moldy Peaches, whose rambling lyrical delivery and sweet guitar melodies make it a great companion for those awkward teen years.

Tha Carter III
Lil Wayne

After saturating the rap game with mixtapes and guest appearances, Lil Wayne (aka Weezy F. Baby)'s opus became the most anticipated album of 2008. This bizarre, disjointed joyride takes you from club bangers like "Lollipop" and "A Milli" to songs like "Phone Home," in which Weezy raps through an alien voice filter. There will be no shortage of interest in this album for several years, at least, if Lil Wayne's casual swagger is any indication.

Year of the Gentleman

In addition to producing and writing hit songs for such performers as Plies, The Pussycat Dolls, and Rihanna, Ne-Yo struck gold with the album Year of the Gentleman. With each song expressing heartfelt, gentle affection (from the R&B/house fusion single "Closer" to the upbeat, stacco synth-fueled "Miss Independent"), the album more than lives up to its name.

One of the Boys
Katy Perry

Not too many people realize that this pop sensation, who cloys about kissing a girl (and liking it), was once a Christian artist who wasn't even allowed to listen to secular music. While you might debate the merits of sultry ballads like "UR So Gay" and sassy electro-rock club hits like "I Kissed a Girl," they were nonetheless on the tongues of teens everywhere in 2008. The latest bouncy club hit, "Hot N Cold," shows that Katy Perry may be divine after all.


With every song sounding like the "one hit" from a one hit wonder, P!nk's Funhouse is a raucous pop affair led by P!nk's "divorce song," "So What." Love it or hate it, it's hard to deny that Funhouse is unfailingly spunky for such a personal pop album. Through it, P!nk shows she can still get the party started.


With guest production by M.I.A. collaborators switch and Diplo, as well as a pan-continental flavor, it was easy to write off Santogold as 2008's Kala. Over time, this album proved that it had a personality unto itself, with verses and hooks by Santi White that will catch the attention of "new millennium" teens looking for a fun, intelligent, and altogether interesting indie dance album.

Britney Spears

This album definitely wins comeback album of the year award, for singlehandedly resurrecting an entertainment career that was completely derailed by tabloid escapades. One MTV special and enormously fun, catchy single (yes, I'm talking about "Womanizer" later), Britney was once again part of the teen pop landscape. The rest of the album pumps with a hyperkinetic energy and is flanked by a couple of surprisingly heartfelt ballads. Britney forever!

Paper Trail

While performing 1,000 hours of community service related to federal weapons charges, T.I. spent a lot of time in America's schools, talking to teens about the importance of education and civic participation. This "back to school" theme resonated with T.I.'s latest chart topper, Paper Trail, which holds a title that refers more to a creative process (literally writing lyrics on paper, which hadn't been done since 2001's I'm Serious) than to tracing criminal activity. With a refreshing frankness, T.I. returned to top form with the Rihanna-backed song "Live Your Life" and packed the rest of the album with a thoughtful assessment of life, hip-hop, and life in hip-hop--in addition to fun party jams like "Swing Ya Rag" and the epic guest-filled monster "Swagger Like Us," which features Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West.

Twilight: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Top 3 reasons to get the Twilight Sountrack:

1. It's related to Twilight.
2. Did I mention Twilight?
3. Seriously, Twilight (oh, and Paramore).

Lost in the Sound of Separation

Frenetic and often atmospheric, the openly Christian Underoath have unleashed one of the most pummeling (yet inexplicably accessible) metalcore albums of 2008. From the first breakdown in "Breathing in a New Mentality" to the moment "The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed" fires up its jet engines and explodes, Underoath have offered teens an awesomely brutal album that will have even the most secular moshing.

Here I Stand

Usher returns with a 5th studio album full of piano-sprinkled, synth-laden R&B ballads. While it's been derided as "married man's music," losing the hip-hop energy that got teens excited about 2004's Confessions, Usher is still a household name--and how can anybody deny the magic of the single "Love in This Club"?

The Recession
Young Jeezy

Young Jeezy returns with another album of gritty down south beats, guttural vocals, and a stark, street realism style that's been Jeezy's trademark since Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101. But with songs like "Put On," "Crazy World," and "My President Is Black," Young Jeezy is also beginning to show how even thugs are getting motivated to help build a new America.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

Monday, January 05, 2009

Special Guest blogger!

Igor O. reviews some wicked-awesome manga to start off the new year. Enjoy.

One Piece

When an ordinary boy eats a devil fruit he becomes an empowered being. The powers of the devil fruit have enchanted him, and for it he pays the price of being able to swim. Originally you may think that would be great - getting near superpowers and having to stay on land, but Luffie's goal is to become kind of like the pirates, and that is not any easy task. With a promise he made to someone and other strong pirates with more powers can he do it? Read One Piece to find out!


There is no such thing as coincidence in this world but only Hitsuzen . . . or at least according to this parallel-world book coinciding with Tsubasa. The book is about a boy in high school who has an unusual ability - he can see spirits and ghosts. He is not very happy about this and wants this ability gone. But every wish has a price. Will Watanuki be able to fulfill that price, or will the people he meets change his outlook on spirits and make him acknowledge his gift? Read Xxxholic to find out!

Murder Princess

I have to admit this one was an unexpected find. I was not really expecting it to be any good. But the book was great. The princess and a well-known female bounty hunter switched bodies and now, when the kingdom is under attack, it’s the princess who fights the war. The real princess only wants the kingdom to stay safe and gave up the life to become a servant instead. What will become of this story? One thing I know is that I want to know!

All reviews by Igor. Posted by Connie.

Want to review a book or CD or game or magazine or series or something for our blog? Just ask!