Journal capitalizes on boom in young adult fiction

Dal’s publication YA Hotline celebrates 35th anniversary

Professor Vivian Howard, editor of YA Hotline, says one of the downsides of the growing popularity of young adult Literature is that she can never read everything. Photo: Jessica Jay
Professor Vivian Howard, editor of YA Hotline, says one of the downsides of the growing popularity of young adult Literature is that she can never read everything. Photo: Jessica Jay

If you’re looking for articles about gaming in libraries, or contemporary graphic novels of classic literature or even a history of vampire fiction there is one journal that has covered all this and more in the last two years. It may be turning 35 this year, but that doesn’t make it any less cool.

Published as part of the master of library and information studies program at Dalhousie University is the YA Hotline, a journal written by students and a resource for young adult librarians across the English speaking world.

The journal includes items such as book reviews, recommendations, feature articles, program ideas and resources for further information. Each edition of the journal has a central theme. Issue #90 for example, deals entirely with vampires in young adult literature.

The YA Hotline is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, which records indicate make it one of the oldest young adult journals in the world.  Professor Vivian Howard is its editor, after taking over its publication from Larry Amey in 1997.  Howard says with the growing popularity of young adult literature, the hotline grown, too. 

“It’s almost an embarrassment of riches in terms of the types of themes or resources that can be included in each issue,” says Howard. “It’s actually quite astonishing that the segment of the public market YA literature occupies.”

Young adult literature is one of the fastest growing genres of literature. The number of young adult books published since 2008 has grown by nearly a third. In 1997, when Howard first started teaching the course, she had seven students, she says. As of January 2011, she had 45.

“It’s now become a class where about two thirds of our students choose to take it as an elective and I think that’s really a sign of the popularity of YA literature,” says Howard.

Students in the master of library and information studies program can enrol in Services and Resources for Young Adults; publishing an edition of the journal is a required for the class. The class is offered every other year in the winter term and will begin again in January. The multiple issues produced by the class are staggered in publication between the break of the year the class is not offered.

“When students get the assignment they’re always a little intimidated at the project but at the time they’re finished with it they’re really thrilled with what they’ve done,” says Howard.

For the 25th anniversary of the hotline, a book of select issues was published. The book, which runs 224 pages contains issues published from 1989-2000. Of particular interest is the first issue detailing young adult literature with a new invention called the Internet. This issue was originally published in 1997.

 Larry Amey says in his foreword, “YA Hotline has come a long way from the first paste-up editions to what is now a slickly produced and attractive production. The goal, however, remains the same: to bring adolescents, YA service students, and practitioners together for the good of all.”

Last year, YA Hotline moved to digital publication only. Issues published prior to 2005 are available online free of charge. Other back issues are archived and the hope in the school is eventually they will be available online.

“Since we put it online, we really get a lot of traffic coming to the site. Thousands of people are accessing it,” says Howard. Howard remembers an instance of being in a library in Wales and seeing a copy of YA Hotline on display.

YA Hotline is kept behind the scenes as a professional publication for librarians but Howard says she would love to see its circulation grow to include a larger base that includes young adults.

The latest issue was released in September. With Shakespeare as its theme, it features such articles as “How Online Social Media is Revolutionizing Shakespearean Theatres” and ‘Shakespeare in Graphic Novels.”

Lovers of young adult literature, or those dying to know a knitting pattern for Bella Swan’s mittens, can find their fix in the pages of one of Dalhousie University’s hidden gems.